Thursday, September 9, 2021




I only had you for nine years and eight months, but during that time, you made every
aspect of my life better.

You made me want to be a better, nicer person by showing everyone your 
unconditional love.

You will forever be in our hearts. 💓💔💕

On August 29th, I got the news that no pet owner ever wants to hear.  Your boy
has cancer and there's nothing that can be done, except make the next few hours
as comfortable for him as we can.

I had been noticing a definite change in Dexter's behavior and energy level in the week
preceding his death, but I thought he was just having a tough time with heat.

On Sunday the 29th, I took him to the emergency vet and within two hours, I
got the dreaded call.

I had to make the very difficult, but right, decision to let him go, but at least I
could have another hour or so with him and I could be there at his side to the very end.

We laid down on the grass outside of the vet's office and reminisced about our life
together and relived our favorite memories.  He wasn't in pain, but he was very

While we were laying on the grass that night, the automatic sprinklers came on and
drove us off the grass and to the inevitable "cold, final room."  Since he was moving
so slowly, we both got pretty wet before we were able to get out of the path of those
sprinklers and into the office.

As I was laying with him for that final moment, a sense of calm came over me, 
as I realized that Dexter had never passed up an opportunity to get wet and now, 
in his final moments, he was a wet Labrador Retriever.

I laid down next to him and put my arms around him and just kept telling him
the doctor slowly pushed the syringe that would take away all of Dexter's pain.

As I was bawling, I felt the life leave my sweet boy and as heartbroken as I was
(and still am), he now looked so peaceful and calm that a certain sense of
relief came over me.  In the end, he had made it easier for me.

Now, his cremains are in a beautiful wooden box on the mantle above my fireplace,
where he can look out over his house and keep an eye on things.

I plan to take most of his ashes to a place that's sacred to me (those of you
who know me will probably know where I'm talking about) and scatter them.

I've already scattered the ashes of one of my best human friend's there and I've told
my kids that's where I want to be scattered too, so DEXTER, I'll be back with you
one of these days and I look forward to you licking my face again.

You're a good boy!

You were my constant companion...

You were a family man...

You were a goofball...

You were a master of the slumbering arts...

You were a guard dog...the friendly kind...

You were tolerant...




AUGUST 13-15, 2021

So, the Blackrock desert (playa) was calling to me again and it was time for another visit.  What better time to go than when Friends of the Blackrock/High Rock was hosting their annual Perseid Meteor Shower campout.

On the plus side this year, Burning Man had been canceled, so the skies would be a lot darker than in years past because Burning Man was always under construction in the background and all of their powerful lights polluted the sky and diminished the visibility of the lighter, dimmer "shooting stars."

On the negative side, however, the forecast predicted a heatwave over that very weekend.  In the desert, you might be able to find or create shade, but there is no getting out of the heat.

Everyone's gathered around the main tent waiting for their Paella dinner on the second night.

Stacey (in front) is the Executive Director of the Friends of the Black Rock-
High Rock.  She and Susan were enjoying the Playa happy hour with a
couple of cocktails.

The first night, every camp did their own dinner, etc.  The "members only" Paella
feed was on the second night.

We all know that the playa dust gets everywhere and some CSI-styled evidence
was left behind on this behind...

Dexter immediately found a friend or three...

Installing a kickstand on Susan's new eBike.

The first sunset of the trip was beautiful and, due to the wildfire smoke in
the sky, kind of surreal.

I brought out a pair of night vision goggles and they opened up the sky
even more.  Even without the NVGs, the meteors were plentiful 
and were streaking all over the north, east and western skies. 

A trip to the Black Rock wouldn't be complete without an evening
scorpion hunt.  As usual, we founds dozens of them in the bushes that
are just outside of the playa itself.

Next time you're out there, bring a black light flashlight and see for yourself!

Waiting on that Paella...

Can you believe this?

Both of these huge Paellas were made in camp and they were INCREDIBLE!

They had scallops, shrimp, mussels, chicken and sausage, all of which were
cooked with rice and vegetables in a very flavorful broth.  This was not only good 
for camp Paella, but was some of the best Paella I've ever had.

Belly up to the bar--there's plenty.

Everyone had seconds and even thirds if they had room.

There were also a lot of delicious side dishes, fruit and desserts tonight too.

Susan and I finally got to put a few miles on our new eBikes on this trip.

There's nothing like the desert after the sun goes down and the heat
abates to make you want that first cocktail of the day.

Dexter had a tough time dealing with the heat, especially on day two, but
I tried to keep him wet down and in the shade.

The second day of the trip was no easy day.  The thermometer read 104°
and that was the air temperature only.  The light playa absorbed even more
heat and reflected it upwards and there was no escape.  One girl was taken into
Gerlach with symptoms of heat stroke, but she got better after she cooled down
and got re-hydrated.

The Black Rock is a very special place for a lot of people, especially us desert
rats, but it needs our help to keep it pristine and enjoyable for future 

If you like the desert and wild places in general, I would encourage you to
become members of Friends of the Black Rock.  I would also encourage you
to donate some of your time to keep this area beautiful.

Click here for the FBR's website: 

Thursday, June 24, 2021


June 11-13, 2021

I don't usually care for campgrounds and I find myself usually only going to them when I'm meeting friends, who have chosen to go to them, but when it's a campground like Highland Lakes, I'll easily make an exception.

Situated at 8,600 feet elevation, the lakes are a great destination when trying to escape the summer heat in the valleys below.  Both lakes are close to the campground and are super "kayakable."

From the campsites, you get a beautiful view of the smaller lake with the gorgeous background of Hiram Peak looming on the other side.  There's a trail to the summit, on which you'll have to commit to 1,187 feet of elevation gain and the trek is very exposed to the wind and sun.  The boundary of the Carson Iceberg Wilderness is near the base of the peak.

The road from Ebbetts Pass to the lakes is drivable, but it's narrow, steep and not in the best of condition and I believe this is the reason why it's not a super crowded destination.  The camp host, however, said that in the last few years (after Sunset Magazine did an article on the lakes) that he has seen it full to capacity for most of the summer.

On this particular trip, I went with friends and we were able to get, what I considered to be, the best sites in the campground.  We hiked, paddle boarded, relaxed and enjoyed some good food and great company around the evening campfires, which at the time of our visit, were still allowed.

Hiram Peak (9,795' elev.), our backdrop for the weekend.

Got the camp set up.

Tri-Tip on the grill...there's nothing like that smell.

Mark did a great job with dinner.

Some happy campers.

The next day, we all set off to do some hiking and exploring.  A couple of the girls headed out on a more ambitious hike towards Hiram Peak and the rest of us explored a milder trail to the west of the campground that we were told had fantastic views of the area.

The smaller of the two lakes, which is where our campsite was located.

The views definitely didn't disappoint.

It's hard to see from the photo, but you can see Spicer Reservoir way off in the distance.

This is what a tired "hound dog" looks like...

Dexter took every opportunity to cool off, whether it was rolling in the snow or soaking in the many snow melt run offs flowing down from the mountain.

Coming down off the mountain was a lot harder than it looked.

After hiking for a good chunk of the day, it was time to cool off in the lake.
The water was very cold, as the snow melt was still flowing into the lake
and there was a lot of wind that would pass through intermittently, so 
we had to take advantage of the calm phases.

Susan took her new inflatable paddle board on its maiden voyage.

The girls were much braver than the men, as they were the only ones who decided to take swim
in the icy lake.

This dog wouldn't leave Dexter alone, so he had to endure a little "Prison Love" on the trip...

After a full day of activities, it was cocktail time.  Everyone brought something nice to the table to share: from Japanese scotch to hummus to berries.

Susan made a wonderful Caprese salad...

We ate appetizers in the warm sunshine and still had room for a nice pot luck dinner that evening.  We had another nice campfire, laughed and told lies
until bedtime.  It had been a wonderful day.

Leaving a beautiful place is always kind of sad, but we'll be back to
enjoy this little gem.

Monday, May 17, 2021

New Truck for my SOON TO BE Camp Rig


As retirement looms less than a year away, I figured that it was time to start putting the plans for my ultimate camp rig into play.  I bought this 2004, Dodge Ram 2500, 5.9 ltr. diesel truck and it is in EXCELLENT condition.  

Over the course of the next year, I plan to start purchasing all of the materials I'll need to start building it out, so that I'll have everything ready by the time I retire.

I'm going to attempt to build the entire camper myself and it'll be a big undertaking, but hey, I'll have plenty of time to devote to it...right?

I plan to build a flatbed, hard-sided cabover camper with an all aluminum frame and aluminum skin.  Imagine a popped up FWC Flatbed that's hard-sided...   

Here's what I'm planning so far:

- Aluminess aluminum winch bumper with brush guard (on order);

- 12,000 lb. winch w/synthetic rope (probably Smittybilt)

- Hillsboro aluminum flatbed (on order);

- 1 1/2 inch square tubing aluminum frame with aluminum skin (attached with rivets and VHB tape and insulated with foam panels;

- Artic Tern-style European windows and door;

- Marine grade roof/escape hatch (will also allow roof access to clean and maintain solar panels);

- 450 watts of Renogy solar panels charging two Battle Born lithium batteries with inverter, charger, controller, etc;

- 60-70 liter two compartment DC compressor fridge/freezer combo (probably Iceco);

- Maxxair powered fan;

- Flush mounted sink and two burner propane stove;

- Queen-sized bed on the cabover with under the bed storage;

- Chinese diesel heater;

- Simple Porta-Potty stored in a lower cabinet;

- Dimmable LED pot lights throughout the interior;

- Gravity fed water from several Jerry Cans stored in a rack inside (I don't want to deal with plumbing, pumps, flushing and freezing issues);

- Rear dinette (can turn into a second bed) with under the seat storage;

- Lightweight, bin-style storage throughout;

- Two outer storage/tool boxes mounted under the flatbed;

- Stirrup-type stairs mounted to the flatbed rail;

- Two knockoff MaxTrax recovery tracks mounted on the rear;

- Receiver hitch & bike rack for two ebikes (with solar charging pigtail);

- Two Jerry Cans mounted on the rear of the camper;

- A low-mounted awning on the driver's side of the camper; 

- Some sort of wrap or large decal applied to the camper's exterior; 

- Etc...

Hopefully, there won't be more fuel, lumber, aluminum, materials and shipping shortages that have become all too common this last year.

I plan to start a build thread on this blog when I start putting it all together and I welcome any suggestions from the more experienced of you out there on the dirt roads...