On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Juicers who are are on the road, traveling, or just want to share a little bit of their world via stories and pictures. So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note, and our community delivers – a view into their world, whether they’re far away or close to home – pictures with a story, with context, with meaning, sometimes just beauty. By concentrating travel updates and tips here, it’s easier for all of us to keep up or find them later.

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For each picture, it’s best to provide your commenter screenname, description, where it was taken, and date. It’s tough to keep everyone’s email address and screenname straight, so don’t assume that I remember it “from last time”. More and more, the first photo before the fold will be from a commenter, so making it easy to locate the screenname when I’ve found a compelling photo is crucial.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

Sorry to all who I tried to publish for today, I encountered lots of errors and have little mental “pow” to deal with more than the path of least resistance.


Thank you JR – I think I stomped something else of yours, but I’ll try to solve  that another day.

Mom is doing ok, not good. I’m now here all the time (only son, no other family outside of Texas) so I’ve not paid the attention I should to this feature. I will, soon.

Until then, let me share with you a picture I took nearby. This is the view from where we (me and then-best-friend Brian) dropped off a stolen quarter-full keg of beer from some stupid Georgetown University frat boys our junior HS year, 30 years ago. Unfortunately, it didn’t have a tap, and no store would rent underage boys a tap without a credit card and deposit. So it sat outside until it was reported to police officers and then returned to the store from whence it came. Ah, the good old days, and getting away with stupid shit without digital evidence of all shapes and sorts!

This is looking over the (former) train bridge over Canal Road/Arizona Avenue in Washington, D.C. In the distance you can see forested cliffs; that is Virginia, across a deep, rapid stretch of the Potomac. During the Civil War, there were Rebels there – in view.

In my neighborhood is a former Battery a hundred or so feet higher in elevation than my family home where cannon were emplaced to shell across the river and defend against any efforts to cross the river up to Chain Bridge or down to Fletcher’s Cove. Gettysburg may be a two hour drive, and Bull Run much less, but it’s crazy how literally close the enemy was here, in our Nation’s Capital – within view, within hearing, but not effective rifle range.

It reminds me of visiting Bogota in 1996 – you could not believe that “los guerillas” were just over the mountain, and were likely viewing you in their scopes. Crazy that rebellion can be so physically close to the seat of power and yet not destroyable. Perhaps the best, most unheralded change of the past few years is the conclusion of the civil war in Colombia, and the beginning of repatriation of FARC. Finally a great people can work together to forge a better future for their children.

Today, pictures from valued commenter J R in WV.

When I saw the garden photos this weekend, WaterGirl had a pretty statue of a fox in her yard, and it reminded me of the one time I saw a fox and was able to take photos. So here are some photos of the fox, taken from the front seat of my truck in the AZ desert, about half a mile from our winter camp, which we were building when I took these photos. There are some other desert photos too.

Fox looking at us

Taken on 2010-02-26

In the foothills of the Dragoon mtns in SE Arizona, in the dusk after 4 of us worked all day to get the winter camp under roof.

This was the first photo after we saw the critter looking at us. I have the camera with me most of the time, the gadget bag has room for it and my other gadgets, so I whipped it out and preserved the memory for all of us.

Fox, scampering away in the desert

Still in the Dragoon foothills just 14 miles east of Tombstone AZ.

Here you see Renard scampering away into the desert underbrush, although he is still very visible, with a huge tail behind him.

Fox, stopped to look back at us

Still in the foothills of the Dragoon Mtns, just NW of Gleeson, AZ, a ghost town famous for silver mining and still today providing collectible minerals and silver, mined by hand.

The fox, having dashed into the brush, stopped to look back to see what the hell that big green thing really was. It may have been the first time Renard saw an F-350.

Camp under roof

Taken on 2010-03-18

On the hill behind the level cut where we built the house. The next winter we cut out for doors and windows, installed the doors and windows, framed the interior, did wiring and the plumbing inside the sheetrock we hung. You can see that in the foothills there is much more

This is the camp house after nearly 3 months of work, roofed and being closed up so we can leave for WV. You can just see the front of the PU truck, in the brush on the left the orange is the Kubota tractor/backhoe we towed from WV, and a silver water tank.

It was a hard spell of work, we got a lot more winter than we expected, worked in sleet and drizzle, spent several days replacing burst water pipe at my cousin’s place on the valley floor after record breaking lows one night. We also worked on her roof, which had been “repaired” by guys who didn’t understand you need a certain amount of slope to lay shingles. We used rolls of rubber roofing, tore up the old shingles, glued down the white rubber and stopped leaks.

Arizona Camp up on the HIll

Taken on 2010-03-19

This is looking west back at the hill where we built the winter camp house. The top of the hill has a 1913 US Survey monument set in concrete, where surveyors mapping the new territory of Arizona, and there’s a VERY steep jeep trial up to the hill top, and a fire pit just below the monument that’s been there a very long time. You might be able to see a white pole on top of the hill, that marks the corner of our little lot, which is 666 feet square, for 9.99 acres.


Thank you so much J R in WV, do send us more when you can.


Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.


One again, to submit pictures: Use the Form or Send an Email

18 replies
  1. 1
    NotMax says:

    Back in olden times those who were underage learned early to get a pony keg of root beer (modest deposit paid in cash), which came with a tap ready to be re-purposed..

  2. 2
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Nice views.

  3. 3
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Mom is doing ok, not good. I’m now here all the time (only son, no other family outside of Texas) so I’ve not paid the attention I should to this feature. I will, soon.

    I think it is safe to say Alain that your mother is a wee bit more important than this feature.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    rikyrah says:

    Great pictures. Thanks 😄

  6. 6
    eclare says:

    Sorry to hear about your mom, only child with sick mom too, I understand. As others have said, she is a bigger priority. Thank you for the photos and stories. And wow, JR, some fox!

  7. 7
    MomSense says:

    Alain, sorry to hear your mom is not doing well. I’m spending as much time with my dad as I can now, too. It is precious time.

    JR those fox photos are fab! I had to embiggen the one of the fox looking back at you from the brush because s/he was so well camouflaged.

  8. 8
    satby says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: also co-signed.

    Alain, take care of your mom and yourself. Caregiving a seriously ill person can be brutal for the caregiver too. Hoping for the best for your mom.

  9. 9
    Elizabelle says:

    @ Alain: all the best to you and your mom. Am sure she loves having her with her.

    @ JR: what’s the deal with the winter camp? Is it private? What a cool place to hang out, and I love the fox. Well designed for his/her environment, and a smart little creature.

  10. 10
    WaterGirl says:

    @MomSense: Is your dad close to getting strong enough for surgery? (she asked, hopefully)

  11. 11
    WaterGirl says:

    J R in WV, your fox photos are amazing!

  12. 12
    MomSense says:


    Nope. We are hoping if he is with us in three months. Also found out it is hereditary so now we all have to get our aortas scanned. :(

  13. 13
    WaterGirl says:

    @MomSense: Slow recovery, wish for all of you that it could be faster. Is it hard for your dad to be patient? (I’m sure it’s hard for the rest of you.) Scary that this is hereditary. Not fun, when do you get tested?

    P.S. Hereditary as in your kids have to get tested, too?

  14. 14
    MomSense says:

    He hates not being allowed to do anything and keeps trying to do things. We caught him moving little bits of compost around and teased him about needing supervision.

    It’s Marfan Syndrome so my kids and nieces and nephews will all get tested. Some of us also have mitro valve prolapse which is apparently associated with it. I think we will all get tested in November when my middle son is home from school.

  15. 15
    J R in WV says:

    About the winter camp, it is a small house, very insulated (R-42), at 5500 feet in the mountains. The valley floor below us runs around 4400 feet, so we get the long view to the 5 mountain ranges around the valley. We found this place on vacation visiting a cousin who lives in a tiny village on the valley floor, surrounded by industrial agriculture, mostly center-pivot irrigation growing alfalfa, grain, etc.

    It is private, we use it as a brief winter escape from WV, which as beautiful as it is, has a pretty dreary period where the leaves are on the ground and the sun is rarely out. Snow off and on, rain, gloomy. In southern AZ, while at 5500 feet it does get cold a night, and snows once in a while, days are usually sunny and warm for winter, into the low 70s, usually mid 60s. We heat with a tiny wood stove, the size of a big breadbox.

    We visited the site after seeing it advertised in a glossy real estate magazine we looked at while eating lunch somewhere. Most of the property was faux-Spanish in the nearby city of Sierra Vista, which thrives from an Army base next door. Not interesting to us, suburban, close together, etc. Then we saw a rural 10 acre tract, and the pix had green foliage and even trees. So we called on a lark just to see a local hillside with greenery. Cousin wife and I followed the agent, who drove his Dodge van (or ford, I don’t recall) – this was probably around 2008.

    As we walked up that hill, which did have trees and brush, and as you can see is pretty attractive for high-country desert, I ranged ahead of the women, and turned around to see how they were doing. That’s when I first saw that long 40-mile view to the N, S and East. The Dragoon mountains are west of us, and the hill is a foothill of those mountains, ranging up to around 7500 feet, so lots of higher rocky peaks there. There is a unit of the National Forest in these mountains.

    Starting in the north, the Little Dragoons are an extension of the Dragoons across Texas Canyon from the main range, which runs N-S on the west side of the Sulfur Springs Valley. East of them are the Dos Cabezas (Two Heads) mountains, up to 8,300 feet. There is an 11,000 acre wilderness area in these mountains.

    Next and biggest are the Chiricahua Mountains, up to 9700 feet, with both a National Monument and another unit of the National Forest, there was a huge fire in these mountains, which drove most of the wild game down into the valley to the west – including the mountain lions! That linked wiki page links to the other mountain ranges.

    Just south of the Chiricahua Mountains is the Swisshelm Mountains another north-south range running up to about 7200 feet. There’s a wildlife preserve in this mountain range.

    So, any way, not long after we came back home from that trip, I was sitting in the solarium of our kitchen in the afternoon, reading, with all the lights on, because it was very cloudy and raining sleet mid afternoon. I asked wife if she thought you could buy a piece of property in AZ by mail, and she said she would be shocked if you couldn’t!

    I like building things, tangible things, and have three structures under my belt, the house and garage/shop in WV, which were built in the early 1990s and just before I retired in 2008 respectively, and the house in AZ, which was built from 2010-2014, working 2 or 3 months in mid-winter. The first two winters I brought 3 friends who work with their hands out from WV, after that I hired a local helper or subcontractor to help or do their specific trade.

    All these mountain ranges are what they call Sky Islands, because their altitude creates a completely different environment from the desert floor. As air rises over the mountains, it cools and the available moisture condenses out and falls into the hills. Here’s a list of critters found in the Swisshelm Mountains for an example of the many species common to the Sky islands.

    We’re a couple of hours from Tucson, which is one of the two big cities of AZ, we quite like it for urban eating and shopping, there’s a great Gem and Mineral show in February, people from all over the world bring the best to sell from shops, hotel rooms, giant arena sized tents, and the Convention Center. There are also antiques and folk art from all over the world around the rocks for sale, up to and including big dinosaur skeletons, meteorites, gems and jewelry, scientific equipment and specimens, etc. You can bargain people down to an absurdly good price on a rug, for example.

    I have bought mineral samples from folks who communicate a price with their calculator, as they speak no English at all. I use the calculator to make a (lower) offer, and we go back and forth til there’s a deal or I bow and leave.

    Tombstone is the nearest town (18 miles or so west) with hotels and restaurants and shopping for collectibles. Bisbee is another nearby town popular with tourists, brewpubs, hotels and B&Bs and shops and galleries. It’s a pretty enjoyable place to spend a couple of months in a remote place. We’re 3 miles and 30 or 40 minutes from the blacktop, with closed ranch gates to pass through, so it’s very private. We have water from a tank, filled by truck delivery ( a well could cost $40,000 and may have water, or not ) and solar power, which cost a little less than connecting to the grid would have cost, much less after a power co-op credit for not becoming part of their load and income tax credits.

    There’s standing dead wood trees because of the droughts in the SW, I cut those for firewood, which also lowers the fire hazard, and buy firewood when I don’t have time to cut enough. The house has thick Portland-based stucco on the walls, applied by Tomas Villas, and the roof, eves and soffits are covered by sheet-metal, so the house is as fire resistant as I could make it. The structure is Structural Insulated Panels, a foam sandwich with OSB sheets on each side of the foam. I got a deal on surplus panels intended for a development that wasn’t built after the dot-comm crash, so they finished out-gassing on a warehouse floor, where we picked them up.

    I enjoyed working with my friends to build the little house (24/48 feet, 4 rooms, a bath and a utility room) but I also used up the cartilage in my shoulders, both of which have been replaced since we finished working on the house. I spent about 3 months each winter for 4 years, and finished the shower the last winter I went out.

  16. 16
    WaterGirl says:

    @MomSense: When I was in high school, my sisters and I had to be tested when my mom was diagnosed with Thalassemia. My oldest sister is the only one who has it. She’s also the one who looks the most like my mom, though surely that had nothing to do with it. Ours was a simple blood test, though. Good that all of you will be tested at the same time.

  17. 17
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @J R in WV: Nice.

  18. 18
    Fellow Keg Thief says:

    Nice photos! I know that bridge in DC well. One quibble: Georgetown is a Jesuit school, so the only frat is the service fraternity, and they NEVER had parties. Hopefully you stole the keg from the crew team, they were a bunch of douchebags.

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