Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Ten Years

Ten years is a long time but sometimes it seems like just a blink of an eye, I still remember watching Kelly scale that windmill like it was yesterday, his infectious grin and his irreverent outlook on life. Here is the journal entry I wrote way back then.

Kelly Brown 1958-2009

It has been a few days since my last blog post. Many of our regular readers have certainly wondered what happen to us.
Thursday the 22nd early in the morning I got a call from my brother, Brent, to let me know that he was on the way to the hospital in Calgary, but that our little brother had passed away.
Shocking doesn't describe it, at first my mind thought "Kelly, who, I only know one Kelly and he is the most unlikely person to have a heart attack I know." Kelly was a fit healthy guy, 50 years old but not any extra weight and always a pretty active guy with a regular workout schedule that is supposed to waylay these kinds of issues. Brent and I both have histories of heart issues, but not Kelly, he seemed to have escaped that part of our genetic make-up. But sadly it was true; he had passed away in same house he came home from the hospital to as a new baby. Dad always said it didn't look like Kelly was going to move away so he finally sold him the house.

Like I said he was our baby brother so almost every step of his way through life I was watching to see what he would do next (and that was never boring). I remember the day he came home from the hospital and the way Brent and I roared into the house with all our grubby little friends in tow to show off our brand new baby brother. Didn't take Mom long to give us the bums rush as she didn't want her shiny new baby mauled by a lot of grubby kids. I think pretty soon she got used to us as I don't remember not being allowed to paw him for very long.

When Brent and I used to go to school down the road Kelly could always be counted on to accompany us on his tricycle and mom talks about him always asking every kid coming down that street if they had seen "JohnnyBrent".

When we were kids my Mom was quite a seamstress so there are a lot of pictures of the three of us all wearing matching shirts. I was always taller and skinnier (not anymore, the skinny part anyway) and Brent and Kelly were much more alike so they actually look like big and small versions of the same guy. I don't think any of those pictures show Kelly without a big grin on his face.

Kelly Brown was a fearless skier who spent a large part of his time on any mountain going straight down the fall line, long traverses being for lesser mortals. In the tribute at the funeral Brent painted a word picture that will forever stick in my mind of Kelly floating effortlessly down the mountain through chest deep untracked powder and although I was never a good enough skier to accomplish that myself I well remember riding up the chair lift at Sunshine, Goats Eye, for those who know it, one day 25 or so years ago and seeing him doing exactly that directly under the lift. Nobody else had dared to take that run and the guy I was riding with couldn't believe what he was seeing nor when we came close enough that the fearless fellow below us was actually my baby brother.

My father is a pretty good gardener so when Kelly took over the house it already had a great deal of landscaping finished and mature, but I think over the years he owned it the garden got even better. You could always find him working there in his yard any time he had a few spare moments. For the great majority of his life he was a bachelor and I'm not sure whether they are connected or not but he spent a lot of time doing the things that gave him pleasure. He skied most of the great mountains in Western North America in the winter and drove his little Triumph TR-6 all through the west in the summer.

All that said he was always around when you needed someone to help with odd jobs. I don't like heights so when we needed to re-roof the old barn Kelly was pressed into service to do the high work. The same thing when the windmill needed some maintenance, Kelly was the man for the job. I don't know what I am going to do without my high angle go-to guy. Ten years later that windmill is likely to need oiling soon, anyone?

A few years ago though, he was struck by a young lady who caught his fancy, and whom he eventually convinced, that he was the guy for her. He and Christine had a great relationship and were good friends first and lovers second. That certainly made his last two years amongst the happiest of his life. Thanks for that Christine.

His memorial service was a great testament to the number of lives he had impacted in his short time here, there must have been at least 400 hundred, maybe 500 folks in attendance and I am betting almost everyone could have told a story about Kelly Brown and how he had added to their collection of lifetime stories. I know I could go on for days or weeks telling absolutely true tales that most people wouldn't believe had actually happened but that was the kind of guy he was.

All these words describe the Kelly Brown that I knew, Irreverent, Politically Un-correct, Outspoken, Opinionated, Kind, Caring, Loving, Funny, Hard-working, Fun Loving, Courageous, Adventurer, Loyal, and most of all a friend you could depend on.

One of Kelly Brown's lifelong friends, who now lives in Melbourne, Australia, sent us a Tribute to Kelly Brown that characterized him as what the Australians call a Larrikin. I stole the definitions here from Wikipedia and if they don't describe the man I called my baby brother I must have missed the point

Larrikin - "a mischievous or frolicsome youth"

"A person may be classified as a larrikin if he or she meets some of these criteria. A larrikin is not concerned with the opinion of other people and so is not socially intimidated into modifying behaviour and structuring it around social norms. Larrikins are also not at all fazed by authorities of all kinds, including whatever power or authority they may possess themselves, and must not take themselves too seriously." I am assuming that when you meet all the criteria you are a Super Larrikin, well Kelly you make the grade.

That pretty much sums up Kelly Brown and although he is gone, he will never be forgotten, he lives on in the hearts of hundreds of people, those who joined at his wake, his memorial, and those who were unable to. Although I confess at times he infuriated me I can honestly say I was always proud to call him my little brother.

As always in the middle of things with his infectious grin
"Catch you later Bro"

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Life goes On

We pulled out of Ogilby Road and headed north to Blythe, California on Wednesday the 8th, and pointed our rig towards a gathering of Grand Design Coaches south of Quartzsite, Arizona. This was the fourth annual Grand Design Quartzsite Rally, our first, but probably not our last. It was a good time, great food and well organised. There were some great presentations from Bluestar and Battle Born Batteries as well as a Q&A session conducted by a couple of Grand Design roving techs.

Chris and Mike were really informative and Grand Design had sent them along with a couple of other guys, complete with their service trucks and trailers to make sure folks were looked after here. They caught up any recalls that were outstanding and then jumped in and fixed a lot of little things that folks had pointed out. In our case they replaced a couple of problematic wall plugs, and I know they changed furnaces, adjusted slides, etc for the folks around us. Customer service is a core value at Grand Design and this was the proof of the pudding. Thanks a lot guys.

Eventually there were 170 rigs in attendance. The red line is us.
 Those who know our habits know that crowded places are not our natural habitat, but this was a special occasion and well worth the crowd. Still had more space than most campgrounds we have visited.

And off to the East we had this view of the Kofa Mountains


As I said we arrived Wednesday and I left on Monday morning but before I left, Sunday night was a little bonfire. It must have been a hundred feet long and probably 3 feet tall. Almost brought a tear to my eye watching all that carbon being released to the atmosphere and not a carbon tax assessor in sight.

Now that's a bonfire!

Monday morning I went about packing up the rig and headed north to a little spot up near Bouse that we have been to many times in the past.

Attentive readers will notice that "we" arrived in Quartzsite and "I" left on Monday, well I didn't leave Brenda behind to tend that fire, early on Sunday morning I ran her over to Palm Springs and she flew home to get a broken ankle tended to. Although we carry all kinds of insurance to deal with those kind of emergencies here in the USA it seemed as if she would receive better and more timely care back north of the Medicine Line and that is proving to be true. She is hanging out with her sister, Cheryl, and things are progressing swimmingly on that front. Canadian Health Care Rocks.

I found our regular spot here unoccupied and got Dogpound Anywhere set up here to await the results of Brenda's treatment. If she is able to come back we will resume our adventures in the desert, if not the mutts and I might just have to make our way back to the Northern Ranges by ourselves, only time will tell.

Good thing we got here Monday and set up, Tuesday it rained cats and dogs and the washes here were running. We don't have to many neighbours in these parts but one of them is that legendary Wandering Willie and I do believe Tuesday morning I saw him out dipping a line in the crick flowing by our rigs looking for a Sonoran Salmon for dinner.

Today the weather has smartened up and I am enjoying the sound of the local hummingbird population buzzing my feeders and the fresh smell of a desert rainfall.

Sunrise this morning

Monday, January 7, 2019

What's Up

Since my last entry we have just been chilling here along Ogilby Road. The weather has not been the greatest, a little windy, a little cool, but the last couple of days it seems to have turned around and maybe winter along the Mexican border is almost over.

New Years Day we joined our friends from Dease Lake, Bill and Margaret at the Texas Roadhouse to celebrate Bill's birthday, he was a New Years baby way back in the middle of the great depression, so you do the math. That said he looks like he hasn't aged a day since we first met back 10 or 15 years ago.

The next day we had visitors out to rig, Skip and Jean are staying over in the Pilot Knob LTVA and ran over to chew the fat with us and see our new outfit. Hopefully we cross trails with them later in the winter again.

Then it was off to Mexico with Bill and Margaret, while Bill visited his dentist the rest of us wandered the town. Brenda got some puffers for Rebecca, and I got my Sunday go to meeting boots all polished up for Ryan and Lisa's wedding later in March this year. We stopped and grabbed some lunch at a pretty good little restaurant down there and then while the rest of them headed off to grab a spot in the line to cross back over the border I ran back and bought a bushel of shrimp from the Sea of Cortez. Despite Donny's threats the border was still open and we got back on the north side without issue.

Since then we have just hung out here and done the regular stuff like hitting the laundromat and Wally World to restock our larder. We needed to reprovision as we are heading towards Quartzsite tomorrow, we think, to join a group of folks who have rigs similar to ours for a little rally.

I have been hanging out shooting Hummingbirds and the odd sunrise.

A dogfight at the feeder

Tough little guys to catch sitting still

Sunrise over the Cargo Muchacho Mountains

Monday, December 31, 2018

Imperial Dunes

The last day of 2018 started early when I headed over to Glamis to see if I could get a sunrise shot in the dunes. Although the picture I envisioned never materialized I did see some nice colours.

It was interesting that even though I was there before sun-up there were sand machines roaring through the dunes already. Yesterday I mentioned there were hundreds of rigs over by us, well over near the Glamis flats there were literally thousands of rigs spread for miles down the eastern side of the dunes. There is a stretch of these dunes north of Glamis that is a wildland so the dune system is protected from the marauding sand warriors up there I guess, although as I walked around it seemed like the wind pretty near erases most traces just overnight. I guess in a perfect world eventually vegetation would establish itself and these dunes would just become hills but that is probably not in the cards.

Other than the run to the Dunes it was a lazy day, I ran into pick up some smokes for Brenda and then just hung around camp the rest of the day. It clouded up pretty much and even some rain fell here and more over near Yuma, so it was an inside day and not much on the solar generating front either.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Eve of New Years Eve

A week or more has passed since I bored you with our adventures. We are still up on Ogilby Road enjoying the serenity and peace and quiet. Our nearest neighbours are 3 or 400 yards away from us, and pretty quiet folks as well. Across the road pandemonium reigns supreme as that is where the folks who have brought their quads, side by sides, and sand rails to tear around the Imperial Sand Dunes are camped. There must be a few hundred rigs, toy haulers and car trailers parked on the East side of Ogilby Road where they stage to head out into the dunes.

Lots of Rigs

Imperial Sand Dunes

Earlier this week we were over to the gravel pit, north of Yuma, where our friends Ron, Edie, Bill and Margaret are camped for a visit, and then on Christmas Day Bill and Margaret came over here to Dogpound Anywhere for Christmas Dinner. Brenda of course went all out so we had a bird along with all the usual trimmings. The wind has been howling these last few days and we have been hiding out in the rig and catching up with some trips to Yuma to pick up some stuff we needed.

One day we stopped by Rockies Pizzeria to satisfy that craving, what a wonderful pizza those guys concocted for us, if not the best ever, certainly in the top 3.

Of course we had to do all those usual things, like laundry, and we combined that with a trip over to Don and Angela's to pick up Brenda's Christmas present and some other things Amazon had dropped off with them. One of those things was a new phone for me, my old one decided it had had enough and quit charging so it died a slow painful death. I ordered it online and the Apple elves managed to get it delivered in one day so it was waiting with the rest of our packages. 

Today was a mixed bag, this morning I headed over to Gray Well, a rest stop just to the west of Ogilby Road where you can drop off your garbage and fill up with water. I have a bladder I have carried around with us for the last ten years or so and it once again was pressed into duty.
Water hauling
After hauling a load of water we once again headed for Foothills and a lunch date with Don and Angela at a local Chinese place called Sesames.

One morning the wind was down a little so I kicked the Mavic up so I could give you a look around our little slice of desert. It is pretty gray and not many trees but it is quiet and the hummingbirds are buzzing us constantly and that is the kind of spot we like to be in.

The sunsets aren't to bad either.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

In Search of a Canine MASH Unit.

Maya has had an ear infection that Brenda has been treating for about 10 days. She develop a swelling in her ear that made us decide she needed to see a vet before Christmas. We started off looking around Quartzsite without much luck although the vet in Parker could see her after we got the appointment organised it turned out that vet was in Parker, Colorado, a long drive from Western Arizona. We tried Blythe but they couldn't do anything till mid next week, so we figured we needed to head for somewhere bigger. Yuma was our next choice of spots and they have 4 or 5 vets but as we got hooked up and heading down the road Brenda called them all and none of them had time yesterday to squeeze us in.

I guess through the miracle of social media Brenda got in touch with our own vet back home. Heather Van Esch from the Cremona Vet Clinic gave her some advice and a few tips on what to look for and some possible treatments.

Meanwhile I found a Truck/RV Wash in Ehrenberg, Arizona so we pulled in their before we crossed the border into California to wash some of the road grime off of our rig. It is a cash only outfit so I had enough to get them started then I ran over to the Flying J to raid a bank machine for the balance. It wasn't the greatest job, but they did get the big lumps off so it is better than it was. After that we headed through Blythe and then south towards the Dunes and Ogilby Road. We found a little spot just east of the road on Road 707 where we got ourselves set up. It was a little cloudy and cool yesterday, great day for traveling, but the sunset was pretty nice.

Dogpound Anywhere photobombing a great sunset.

Today we got up early and headed into Yuma to set up a blockade at the Ironwood Vet Clinic. They opened at 8:00 and Brenda was ready to knock the door down to get Maya looked at. We pulled into the parking lot about 7:00AM and one of the tech's was just getting out of her car. After hearing our sad story she took us in and we filled out all the paperwork and prepared to wait till they could squeeze us in. Fortunately an early morning surgery they had scheduled was late showing up so Maya was first up. Turns out Heather had nailed the diagnosis all the way from down the road from Dogpound and even the treatment, so we have some prednisone to deal with the hematoma in Maya's ear and the infection that was there last week is all cleared up so it is just a matter of time till all is right in her world again.

The vet visit out of the way we headed over to Walmart to re-stock our larder, we were running low on ice cream and that is critical component to our well being while we are down here. Picked up some other stuff and then headed back to rig.

It was a beautiful day today so we read a little, sunned a little, snoozed a little and then Max and I took a walk in the desert which brings us to now. No excitement planned over the next few days but who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Hi Jolly or Hadji Ali

I didn't make that name up, he was a pretty well known character in the South West, camel driver for the Army, later ran a freight business after the Army kiboshed the camel experiment, but they tell me he was later known as Philip Tedro. He died here in Quartzsite in 1902 and his name, at least one of them is seen all over this area including the 14 Day BLM area we are camped in presently.

We have been sticking pretty close to camp but have taken a few runs into town, one for lunch at an old favourite spot the Grubstake, they used to have some of the best fish and chips in the area, it is advertised as cod and it still tastes like cod although the pieces were so narrow it could very well have been from an eel. Pretty skinny and the price had been pushed up a couple of bucks so probably not high on our list of places to repeat.

Today, Monday, was laundry day, we had not done any since back in Las Cruces so it was time, we got our clothes all caught up and over the next day or two will probably be doing another load or two of bedding before we move on down the road.

At this point we are not sure which way we are going, we need to get our rig washed up and that is pushing us towards Yuma at least for a few days, but then we heard Wandering Willie was hiding out at an old favourite spot so who knows we may go that way, or just maybe some other direction all together. When we know, you'll know so till then we'll just keep wandering Down the Road from Dogpound.