Wash, wax and treat

Cooling off while camping at the beach is a treat that is followed by our annual big wash and wax job. We have learned the importance of washing off salt deposits to prevent or control corrosion. We will probably limit our beach-side camping to once a year, not only to limit the exposure of salt to our trailer, but also to cope with the reality of mandatory water rationing that is about to begin due to California’s third year of drought conditions.

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Notice that I’m using an extended scrub brush compared to flooding the top of the trailer with our precious fresh water as seen in this photo from last year’s washing.  We are following many of the tips to conserve water seen here.

Before washing the trailer, I needed to tend to a few minor details…

dsc_0060-smashed-marker.jpg On our return home from our last beach outing I successfully negotiated the busy Interstate 5 freeway and was driving up our neighborhood hill. A car was coming down the street so I moved over to the right and, when the car passed, I pulled back toward the center of the street as I accelerated up the hill. I heard a barely audible “boom” which sounded like something had shifted in the truck’s cargo area. An hour after unhitching I noticed a slight dent in the rock guard and a smashed amber marker light. I must have hit one of the large plastic city trash cans that were out that day.

dsc_0069-new-marker-lt.jpg This gave me an opportunity to learn how certain parts for the Airstream are obtained. Airstream, Inc. was helpful in giving me the correct part number (511750, Marker Light, Amber Teardrop) and the two closest Airstream service centers. I chose C & G Trailer Service, an Airstream Certified Service Center that has had an association with Airstream since 1946. They had the part and could ship it via UPS, but we drove 113 miles up the coast to get it so that we could see their service center and become familiar with driving there when our trailer needs servicing (San Diego no longer has an Airstream dealer or service center). I installed the light fixture at home and substituted a flat #6S brass washer and added a #60 rubber O-ring to reduce the incidence of moisture getting into the light. Another LED bulb (67-A15) has been ordered to match our other marker lights which Larry had switched to LED.

I was now ready to wash the trailer and used Meguiar’s Deep Crystal Car Wash (See Meguiar’s over 100 year legacy and family history).  San Diego has hard water and water spots are prominent after washing. I added a cup of vinegar to a bucket of water and used a chamois to remove the water spots. Then I inspected the trailer for filiform corrosion which is showing up in newer Airstream trailers and extensively documented in the Airforums.com thread, “Corrosion problems with new Airstreams“. Last year I treated my filiform corrosion with Boeshield T-9. The label on its 12 ounce spray can indicates that T-9 was developed by The Boeing Co. for lubrication and protection of aircraft components and contains solvents, lubricants and waxes designed for penetration, moisture displacement, lubrication and protection. It dries to a thin, clear waxy film that clings to metal. One year ago I applied T-9 to my filiform and I am glad to report that I saw no expansion of the filiform. Compare the current filiform image below with the one taken last year.

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(Whitish circular areas surrounding the rivets are actually incompletely removed waxy residue from Mequiar’s Mirror Glaze sealant.)

The following day was the wax job and, as indicated above, I used Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Professional Polymer Sealant #20 that can be obtained from a good automotive body shop supply store. (Thank you, 2airishuman of Airforums.com for sharing your wisdom and insights on protecting trailer exteriors.)  I bought the 64 ounce size jug and used it to refill the 16 ounce size squeeze bottle which is easier to handle while on the step ladder. (The roof also gets a protective waxing.) This is my third year using this product and I can report that it is durable and withstands washings throughout the year. I also believe that using the above two products goes a long way in preventing and/or controlling filiform corrosion.

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Also note that I observed Sun safety while out in the sun by wearing a broad-brimmed hat, long sleeve white shirt (Columbia Titanium), sun glasses that protect on three sides, and sunscreen.

So by the end of two days the trailer was washed, waxed and treated for this season.

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(Larry made the covers for both the Super Jack and the wheels.)

So now it’s time to relax and enjoy summer and our own back yard.

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(Red Trumpet vine that our hummingbirds love.)

Ocean breeze

Surf’s up and cool ocean breezes are zipping up and over our South Carlsbad State Beach bluff campsite where we enjoyed a break from the desert heat. We camped for four nights on the edge of a 3-mile long bluff, where we were bathed in the continuous sounds of the wind and surf. Seagulls sailed by, both inside and outside the trailer.

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Seagulls by John Perry

The area of Carlsbad was once inhabited by the Luiseno Native Americans who had a village near the Agua Hedionda Lagoon which was a resting place for Gaspar de Portola and Father Juan Crespi on their expedition up the coast in 1769 to establish outposts and missions for Spain. In 1883 the Santa Fe Railroad passed near here and land was opened to homesteaders and real estate speculators, including John Frazier who tapped an artesian spring yielding mineral water which was thought to be curative and likened to the old Bohemian spa of Karlsbad (in Czechoslovakia).

Five miles north of Carlsbad is Oceanside, where Marshal South, once known as Oceanside’s Poet Laureate, met his wife-to-be, Tanya, whose parents were orthodox Jews from the Russian Ukraine and emigrated to New York in 1906. See an image of Marshal and Tanya’s “honeymoon accommodations” while camping on an Oceanside beach in 1923.

Marshal South probably would have found our trailer accommodations interesting even though he apparently had no desire to use or generate electricity at Yaquitepec. Here at South Carlsbad State Beach we are self-contained and, with our two solar panels, we generate more electricity than we use during the day, even through the marine layer. Typically by late morning each day our AGM batteries are 100 percent at 13.5 volts.

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If we did a lot of this coastal camping, a portable wind turbine could possibly take advantage of the almost constant ocean breeze.

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We found that this South Carlsbad bluff is really the turf of the California Ground Squirrel.

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 Their accommodations are underground burrows on the other side of the fence and their favorite activities are surveying the campers and obtaining campers’ food and water. Bungee cords were used to secure outdoor items that contained food or other items of interest.

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A family of nearby squirrels paused for a moment and seemed mesmerized by Larry’s ukulele playing and singing.

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 More beautiful sunsets and summer breezin’ are just around the corner.

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Ghost Mountain spring hikes

Plans were already in place for us to spend four nights just below Ghost Mountain, so when Rich L. and family arrived in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park with their friends Adam and Susan earlier in the week we were poised to go on a joint hike with them and celebrate their last full day in the desert with a sumptuous feast prepared by Larry.  We had already agreed on a hike to see the pictographs near Ghost Mountain and I was especially interested in seeing the nearby morteros for the first time. Adam and Susan had recently viewed the short film, Ghost Mountain – An Experiment in Primitive Living, shown in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park’s Visitors’ Center, and they were interested in hiking up to see Marshal South’s former home site, Yaquitepec, on Ghost Mountain. So we decided to do all three hikes in one afternoon.

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(Pictured above are Adam, Susan, Emma, Rich and Eleanor)

Zoe the cat enjoyed viewing the sites from the vantage point of Emma’s day bag while both Rich and Emma kept their eyes open for any curiosities along the trail.

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Bright yellow flower mounds of  Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) are prolific here at Yaquitepec right now. (The Laguna Mountains are seen along with the Mason Valley below.)

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The Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata) and the Brittlebush brighten Marshal South’s dissolving adobe ruins.

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Desert Agave (Agave deserti) is also very abundant here.  Standing below are two Agave flower stalks.  Native peoples (as illustrated in Marshal South’s frieze in the former Julian Library) once roasted young agave stalks in rock-lined roasting pits for two days which resulted in a sweet, molasses-flavored agave which was consumed.

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Marshal South wrote in his article, Desert Refuge 35, in the June 1944 issue of Desert Magazine:

Mescal roasting is a family affair. Tanya and I find and bring in the sprouting plants that are ready for the baking.  Rider helps dig the pit and fetches stones to line it.  Rudyard and Victoria trot hither and thither, lugging in fuel…  you leave your mescals cooking in their primitive oven for two days… Take a knife or a hatchet and carefully trim off the outer crusting, and the prize lies before you.  Brown and golden and rich!

(All 102 articles and poems written by Marshal South for Desert Magazine from 1939 to 1948 can be read in Marshal South and the Ghost Mountain Chronicles: An Experiment in Primitive Living, 2005, Edited and with a Foreword by Diana Lindsay and Introduction by Rider and Lucile South, Sunbelt Publications, San Diego, CA.)

After hiking the mile back down to Rich’s Armada, we piled back in and continued down a sandy road to our next stop, Morteros Trail.  This .25 mile walk leads to an area where Native Kumeyaay women used rock pestles to pound seeds in the bedrock mortar (mortero).

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Along the way we spotted numerous lizards of various colors.  Emma wanted to see a large one so she performed her “Homage to the colored lizard” by repeated bowing with arms outstretched.

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We then climbed back into the Armada and continued down the road to our next and final hike of one mile into Smuggler Canyon to see the pictographs.  Emma’s homage worked because the next lizard that we saw was the largest one of the day.

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We found the rock art pictographs (pictures with applied color, as contrasted with petroglyphs which have pictures etched into rock) on a prominent boulder.  Manfred Knack says in his The Forgotten Artist – Indians of Anza-Borrego and Their Rock Art, 1968, Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, this rock art may have been associated with girls initiation ceremonies… The diamond chain or “rattlesnake” may have represented a messenger from the god Chinigehinish (or Chinigchinix), who would punish those who disobey his divine laws… Paintings at the conclusion of the rites of passage reaffirmed the final lessons of the ceremonies.

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So after a total of 4.5 miles of hiking…

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We were ready to find out what Larry had been preparing back at camp just southeast of Yaquitepec.

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In Larry’s own words: “Wednesday afternoon involved preparing dinner while Bill went hiking with our friends. A majority of that time was used to assemble the vegetarian pot stickers and cook the falafels. We found that another picnic table had been moved to our campsite. We aligned them end-to-end and set out a Mexican serape as a table cloth and hung 2 Chinese bamboo flutes with red tassels, which danced in the wind, on the branches of the grove of picturesque mesquite trees. This made for a festive ambiance with plenty of seating and a buffet table for serving. The weather was beautiful with mild breezes.

I had fixings out for salad and/or pita sandwiches, which included falafels, tomatoes, onion, pepperoncini, hummus, tahini, pita wedges, vegetarian pot stickers (which were a favorite), lemonade, poppy seed short bread cookies, and celery sticks. Allowing guests to pick and choose their favorite eats always makes for a successful meal. Our guests (Rich, Eleanor, Emma, Adam and Susan) brought a bottle of wine and a delicious Julian apple pie topped with a crispy streusel topping.”

Larry enjoys researching and preparing food, recipes, and menus that are inclusive and compatible with guests’ dietary limitations.

I enjoyed the food and company so much that I forgot to take out our camera to capture the moment.  Perhaps we can entice the Man In The Maze to post some of his shots of this dinner gathering in his next post.

Pegleg Smith’s gold

On January 24, 1848, James Marshall, a Mormon immigrant from New Jersey and foreman for John Sutter’s saw mill in Coloma, Ca. (50 miles northeast of Sacramento), waded into a stream to see if the current was strong enough to turn a mill wheel and saw a shiny small yellow rock.  A few days later Sutter’s headquarters verified that it was gold and newspaper articles a few months later triggered what became known as the California Gold Rush (1848-1855).  Argonauts poured into the San Francisco area from around the world, including Chinese gold seekers dreaming of wealth on “Gold Mountain“.  Gold fever also spread to the desert and legends arose.

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Pegleg Smith is one such legend.  Thomas L. “Pegleg” Smith (1801-1866) was a mountain man who was also known as a fur trapper, prospector and horse thief.  During a trapping expedition, he was shot in the leg by a local Indian resulting in an amputation and a wooden leg.  There are many legends about Pegleg Smith and his “lost gold mine”.  Some say that he found black pebbles while crossing the desert and held on to them until he reached Los Angeles, thinking they were copper.  When he was told they were gold, he boasted about his gold stories for drinks in the saloons and sold maps to his mine.  He became a celebrated liar and Hollywood set designer Harry Oliver started the Pegleg Smith Club, erected a monument in 1947, and held the first official Pegleg Smith Liars’ Contest in 1949.

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The sign beckons, “Let those who seek Pegleg’s gold add ten rocks to this pile.”  Many have come here over the years and the rock pile has grown substantially. Bert Gildart photographed this pile last February while camping here.  Rich L & family, Rich C, and Bill & Larry also boondocked here in March, 2007.  Pegleg Smith Monument is at the junction of Pegleg Road and Henderson Canyon Road at Highway S-22, 6.7 miles northeast of Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs, Ca.  Nearby is the field that was covered with Desert Sunflowers seen in my recent article, “Desert Blooms 2009“.  Earlier this month on our way to the flower fields we stopped at the Pegleg site just in time to see “gold” glittering on Pegleg’s rock pile…

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in the form of the Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa).

dsc_0178-peglegs-insect-trap-sign.jpgThe Pegleg Smith Liars’ Contest starts at sundown on the first Saturday of April each year and attracts storytellers from all over the world…

 along with other interested parties and/or creatures…

Watch DesertUSA’s video, “Riding on Gold“, which tells more about the legend of Pegleg Smith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desert blooms 2009

Each year’s desert wildflower bloom is unique in its variety, profusion and timing.  Much depends on rainfall and temperature.  Anza-Borrego Desert recently had rain and with warming temperatures the blooms are popping.  A good blooming year here happens only a couple of times a decade.  A good example is found in the fields of Desert Sunflowers and Desert Sand-Verbena of Henderson Canyon near Borrego Springs.

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Desert Sunflower, Geraea canescens

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Along with Desert Sand-Verbena near Ocotillo Wells.

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Below is Desert Chicory in the Palm Canyon area where we camped.

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And the Barrel Cactus

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And the Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla)…

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Last Friday we drove out to the Ocotillo Wells area where we photographed what some people consider the holy grail of the desert wildflowers, the Desert Lily…

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Hesperocallis undulata

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Read and/or listen to the March 5, 2009 NPR, All Things Considered story, ‘Good Blooming Year’ For California Wildflowers.