Sunday, December 30, 2012

OMG -- Is This Our Car?

Got an email from home. After thorough examination we found that this IS OUR CAR. Our beloved Jeep is experiencing its very first winter. We took it with us every year since it was new. But this year it had to stay at home. So we parked it with some nice neighbors. And just to remind us what the winter is like at home they sent us the picture. Brrrrrrrrr……

1-jeep 002-001   1-jeep 001 

Thanks Deanna and Leo for taking care of our car!

I “Fired” The Generator

After connecting two more batteries we have enjoyed full power all day until it was time to hit the cushions. I have fired the generator!

Alright, we might still need it a bit when Mrs. Sun isn’t shining for a couple of days. That rarely happens out here.

Today I had to haul water. We have a 45 gal. rubber bladder which I put on top of the roof of the van. I can fill it and don’t have to tie it down. It doesn’t move. The beauty of it is that I don’t need a pump to run the water into the freshwater tank of the trailer. That’s the life of a boondocker!

Yesterday we hauled wood. Hardwood. Eucalyptus wood. It is heavy wood. Old trees on a farm, We hauled two trailer loads. There is wood enough for maybe ten years. Trouble is one needs a chainsaw – a big chainsaw. I have none here, but my friend has one. So we hauled wood – and had a fire in the evening. What a delight!

Then I saw a new motorhome had pulled in. It was of a foreign make and had German license plates. Maybe I post a picture of it tomorrow. It’s quite nice, small and efficient.

See ya tomorrow!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Didn’t feel for blogging yesterday so I skipped a day. Our blogging should never turn into a duty we have to fulfill, but remain a thing we like to do and have fun with.

The Christmas meal, turkey and ham, was another wonderful get-together between friends all of whom have been visiting this place for years. This year one of them bought a huge tent, which has room enough for up to 30 people. The tent comes in handy for all kind of gatherings when the weather is on the cool side.

After the meal we all sat around the fire, chatting about the latest happenings in camp.

Another couple of friends arrived from the north shortly before Christmas and have settled in at the far end of the Hot Springs LTVA.

Today’s agenda included a trip to El Centro to get 2 more golf cart batteries and a few groceries and in the afternoon to pick up some firewood on the countryside. The wood is Mesquite and the trees, which are dead, are probably 600 years old. We got firewood for 10 years easy.

The planning of our annual New-Years-Party is well underway and over a 100 people have already signed up for attendance. It’s a feast with costumes and lots and lots of good food. Of course there’s always good music for the dancers as well.

From time to time we are looking up the webcams back home and what we see is mostly a white and cold landscape. One of our favorite webcams is the one directed to the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove near Halifax, Nova Scotia.
As of this morning high waves from the North Atlantic were rolling in. This webcam gotta be the most popular lighthouse webcam in the world.

Anyway, we do not long back there at this time, but rather enjoy our wonderful sunny skies in the desert south-west.

Thanks for coming over!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Solar Power Setup In The Desert

1,2,3,…and Christmas is all over. Wow and here we are approaching a new year at record speed.

I thought it best to elaborate a bit about our solar setup. It’s all fixed up and producing a lot of power. Our Generator will soon be out of work. (I still have to get 2 more batteries)

Here is what I did:
1-DSC_1088We got 2 solar panels at 235W each. Together they are capable of feeding DC power at about 33-34amp into the batteries. You might compare that to 6amp from a small conventional battery charger.

The two panels are connected plus to plus, minus to minus which is a parallel connection. That way the voltage stays the same. I measured the output voltage at about 24V.

Plus and minus are then fed into a charge controller which can be set at various desired voltages. Ours is set at 14.6V. The charge controller prevents overcharging (cooking) the batteries. The controller runs a plus and a minus wire gauge 6 to the battery’s plus and minus terminal.

A gauge 2 wire (plus and minus) runs from the battery to the inverter, producing 2000W AC and capable of a 4000W peak load.

I have run an AC cord from the inverter to an outside receptacle. That way I can plug in the trailers AC cable thus receiving 120V AC at all inside and outside receptacles.

Currently we have about a total of 190Amp of battery capacity. We will add on another 2 6V golf cart batteries. I will build a battery box mounted on the tongue of the trailer. Our trailer came with a 12V deep cycle battery. The ideal thing is to have either 6V or 12V batteries. But since I don’t want to throw away neither the 6Vs nor the 12V we will run them together for a few years.

1-DSC_1086Every rig offers different possibilities of where to mount solar panels, charge controller and inverter. We have our solar panels on the ground, while controller and inverter are mounted on the inside of the front wall in a storage under the bed room. For total techno freaks digital panels are available showing information about current charge voltage and amps as well as battery temperature and  what charging state the batteries are at. I decided to keep it simple. If I want to know what charge level my batteries are at I connect a meter to them. I have an older non-digital voltmeter, showing that the voltage stays at 14.6V.
Besides of that the trailer has a light indicator panels for the batteries inside. Shortly after sunrise it shows a full charge.

Other than working with the solar setup we have mostly spent the last two days with food preparations and eating. It’s part of the fun to hang out with friends and enjoying each-other’s company.
1-DSC_1125       1-DSC_1116  
Given the costs of U.S. medical services, I have managed to keep the food intake under critical levels. :-))

1-DSC_1105 1-DSC_1099 1-DSC_1101 On Christmas Eve we went to church. Over several years we have been attending the candlelight service at the Grace Lutheran Church in El Centro. Every year the young pastor remembers that we have been there the previous year. They have a beautiful church and we like to go there.

Even though the weather has been on the cooler side we are very blessed that we do not encounter any tornadoes like they did in the deep south from Florida to Alabama. Being in any RV is not a safe place when a tornado hits.

Today we are expecting high winds in the valley so we have closed the hatches, rolled up the awning and hope we won’t get too much dust blowing.
And that’s all for today folks.

Thanks for stopping by again!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Can YOU Stay Away?

No, No…You are welcome to visit us, that’s not what I meant. I was actually thinking of the cookie jar. Can you stay away from it?  Because me..I can’t. Alright I baked them myself, but still I eat way too many.  And I know that in the long run it’s not too healthy, but then again Christmas doesn’t really last that long. So let’s take another one…or?

A friend out here surprised us with something special. When we met at the evening fire today he had a huge package of Land O’Lakes assorted cocoa classics. WE LOVE COCOA! So this gift hit right home.

1-DSC_1075Of course the trouble with this is the same as with the cookies. Hmm….

Coming home after the fire we got cozy on the couch and turned on the TV. But the Christmas shows they’ve got are not really anywhere near of what I think Christmas should be about. So the TV was turned off again and I had to comfort myself with another cookie. At least it brought back a few thoughts I could write about tonight. I was really lazy and actually had no intention to write anything.

We’ve got a little Christmas tree with small coloured lights standing by the window.
That was not the way we had it at home. At home we had a real tree and real candles. And it was the most beautiful Christmas I ever saw. Nobody does that anymore. The fire hazard, you know….1-DSC_1053
  1-DSC_1046 1-DSC_1047 1-DSC_1049 
“Da Boyz”  Italian Cuisine

And then we got electric lights and then there came the first plastic trees – awful creatures. We never had them at home though, not to this day.
Those artificial trees did improve over time though, or was it just we got used to it? I don’t know.

We needed to fill up two tanks with propane today, so we went to Yuma. Being there I thought we’d do a stroll into old town to see what’s going on there.
They had a Christmas tree alright, but I bet we didn’t see more than maybe 20 people on Main Street. The town looked like in the early stages of becoming a ghost town.
1-DSC_1051      1-DSC_1044  

All we saw was boarded-up little stores and empty curb-side restaurant seats.
Pitiful…. With nothing going on downtown we didn’t want to stay either, so back we went to the almost empty parking lot and went home.

It’s gonna be a while until I try this again.

Thanks for stopping by and have a Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Not The End

Wow, am I ever relieved to wake up this morning and still see that my trailer hasn’t vanished into the depth of the earth. Just 30 minutes ago the good old sun was rising above the desert floor. Everything seems normal – the Mayan has given us another chance – but for how long?

People have been climbing a mountain in France expecting to be picked up as the sole survivors by a UFO coming from outer space. While I understand the effort to make sure human genetics would survive a blow-up of the earth, I find it utterly idiotic to think that an UFO would come to pick them up.

Are we actually living the 21th century?

"The galactic bridge has been established," announced spiritual leader Alberto Arribalzaga in Yucatan at a "galactic connection" ceremony Thursday in Merida. "The cosmos is going to take us to a higher level of vibration ... where humanity is in glory, in joy,"

Well then…

Others are more down to earth like Gabriel Romero, a Los Angeles-based spiritualist who uses crystal skulls in his ceremonies.: "We'll still have to pay taxes next year,” he said.

Bill Leith, the U.S. Geological Survey's senior science adviser for earthquake and geologic hazards, said that by late Thursday, absolutely nothing out of the ordinary had been detected in seismic activities, solar flares, volcanoes or the Earth's geomagnetic field.

"It's a fairly unremarkable day on planet Earth today, and in the last few days," Leith said. "There are no major eruptions going on."

There had been about 120 small earthquakes and a moderate temblor in Japan, he said. "That's very much a normal day."

Bea uses to look at earthquake maps and has often seen that over 300 quakes had erupted over night. so a 120 quakes are way under the normal.

Authorities were worried about overcrowding and possible stampedes during celebrations Friday at Mayan ruin sites like Chichen Itza and Uxmal, both about 1-1/2 hours from Merida, the Yucatan state capital. Special police and guard details were assigned to the pyramids.

As Friday's dawn began sweeping around the globe, there was no sign of an apocalypse.

Indeed, the social network Imgur posted photos of clocks turning midnight in the Asia-Pacific region with messages such as, "The world has not ended. Sincerely, New Zealand."

I think we’ll leave it at that and wait for the next superstitious outburst. I am just so curious what’s next.


Stay tuned and you may be the first to hear it.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tis The Time Again…

When mom went into Christmas mode she baked cookies by the dozens. She filled huge tin cans with it and we ate them all. Amazingly none of us ever contracted diabetes.

Of course being on my own after I left the parent’s house I went into ….baking mode as well. And since it is me who has the love for a special sort of lard-based Christmas cookies I have to bake them myself. Not that I wouldn’t trust Bea doing it – but it’s just the way it has been over the past 25 years. Usually I bake them half white (Vanilla) and brown (chocolate). Today I just went for the brown ones. They are the best anyway. I think you are nodding now..aren’t you?
1-DSC_1022      1-DSC_1025
Measuring the ingredients….                    make sure it’s right on the mark. LOL

Here is how it works:
1/2 lb lard
1 lb flour
1/2 lb sugar
1 full tsp baking soda
chocolate shavings or cocoa powder
for white cookies: vanilla

Make sure that the lard is soft and has about room temperature
Mix flour, sugar, baking soda and chocolate with the soft lard.
Work it as a you would with a bread. Let it rest over night. Leave it at room temps in the kitchen. Next morning roll long long “sausages” and cut in appropriate size for cookies. Roll everyone to a little ball and place on baking sheet.
They are baking at 350F for about 15 minutes.
After removing from oven don’t touch them. They are hot and FRAGILE and will most likely fall apart. After cooling you can pack them away…..
or eat them all.
1-DSC_1028  1-DSC_1033

Now go, bake your own!


Frost In The Desert

It has been cooling down a lot lately. Gone is the heat with 80+F. Mornings are frigid, and tonight we’ll be having frost.. Yes, it does happen. While day temps are still in the upper 60s nights are getting cold. We have been sitting around the campfire most evenings, but tonight there is none. Too cold!

After distributing the 12 solar panels I have been setting up one of them temporarily.  Needed to check on the performance. They are putting out over 24V and approx. 16amps depending on angle and available sunshine.  The one panel brought our batteries up to speed in no time. I connected a voltmeter to make sure we could check on the battery voltage. It stayed under the magical 14.5V.

Before I am putting up the other one I need a charge controller, otherwise I’m gonna “cook” my batteries. I am also needing 2 more 6V Golf Cart batteries.
Ordered me a 60amp Morningstar charge controller from Came about 100 bucks cheaper than elsewhere. Almost made a big booboo there. Thinking of a UPS or FEDEX shipment I gave them the address of the Hot Springs LTVA, which is not serviced by USPS. When the order- and shipment confirmation came by email I discovered that they had shipped it by USPS!
I was quick to fire off an email asking to stop the shipment – and they did and will re-ship tomorrow by FEDEX. Talk about great customer service!

Can’t wait to put it all together.

Of course, the pre-Christmas time is always the time when my thoughts wander home. Home to my childhood and my dear parents who did everything they could to make Christmas stand out for the rest of our lives. Somehow they managed to stir our curiosity to the utmost possible.
And of course, mother always made lots of wonderful Christmas cookies for the family.

Mother has now been gone for almost a year and all we have left are memories…wonderful memories all-together. Thanks mom! Thanks dad!

Have a great Christmas time and be with your family!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Big Delivery

From Miami via Atlanta, Dallas, El Paso, Tucson, Phoenix to Calexico --- that’s the route our solar panels have taken now. Today we are expecting the delivery of 12 235W solar panels to the Hot Springs LTVA.
Are we starting a solar power plant?  The answer is both YES and NO.
The 12 panels are not going into one power plant but are to be divided between several people. So there will be several small power plants springing up around here. Including freight from Miami these panels costs only $292.00 a piece. What a bargain!

Solar power is essential for boondockers. Where ever we park we don’t pull out our Genset or start the big Diesel Generator. We simply turn on our inverter and voila we have 120V AC in our rig. No noise, no bother with exhaust fumes.
1-DSC_1005     A leisurely walk along the canal

After installing 2 of these panels we will have 470W of solar power. There will be a 40amps charge controller to prevent “cooking” our batteries. Our inverter is a 2000W (4000W peak) Coleman. It will be able to run just about everything.

I will be back with pictures later.

It is still nice weather around here. Lots of humidity has moved in from the coast, everything outside is drenched with dew this morning, but the sun will dry it up in a heartbeat.
On to a new day in the desert!


Monday, December 17, 2012


Neil Macdonald: Death and delusion in a nation of assault rifles

Neil MacdonaldYet another "national discussion" about guns is under way here, and it's so anti-rational, so politically cowardly, so …unbearably stupid that you have to wonder how a nation that has enlightened the world in so many other ways could wallow in this kind of delusion.

Twenty children are dead, and journalists and politicians have assumed those breathy, semi-hushed tones that have become so much the norm in covering tragedies.

Everywhere, there is talk about "the grieving process," with pious asides thrown in about the need to "go home and hug your children," or pray.

As if that is going to accomplish anything.

The American audience is a giant emotional sponge looking for distraction from its collective gun craziness, and the media obliges, broadcasting endless montages of victims, with somber, hymnal piano music playing underneath.

After the state medical examiner had finished talking about multiple bullet wounds in each young victim, all inflicted by the same Bushmaster rifle, one reporter asked the man to talk about how much he'd cried — "personally" — while performing the autopsies.

To repeat: the 20-year-old shooter used a Bushmaster .223 assault rifle, a commercial model of the military M-16, and the reporter wanted to talk about crying.

The weapon is designed for war, firing ultra-destructive bullets that travel at 3,000 feet per second. It is designed to destroy human life as efficiently as possible, causing maximum internal damage.

As a colleague of mine so bitterly remarked, just perfect for a kindergarten operation.

The shooter's mother, apparently the first victim in this rampage, is being described in media reports here as "an avid sporting enthusiast" who "enjoyed the independence" of shooting.

She reportedly trained her disturbed son (whom she had once yanked out of the system and home-schooled) at the firing range.

When he left home for the elementary school on Friday, he chose the Bushmaster and a few semi-automatic pistols, leaving behind his mother's slower, conventional rifles, along with her dead body.

Terrifying logic

Now, as the so-called national conversation proceeds, politicians and pundits talk sternly about the importance of remembering that gun ownership is a constitutional right, practised responsibly by millions of Americans.

In this country, people actually speak about "enjoying" shooting something like a Bushmaster, as if that were some sort of normal activity.

Republican Jason Chaffetz, a Republican senator from Utah, proclaimed on Sunday that the real problem underlying these kinds of incidents is the mental health issue: "I am a concealed carry permit holder. I own a Glock 23, I've got a shotgun, I'm not the person you need to worry about."

Well, sorry, senator, but you are certainly one of them, at least in my (admittedly Canadian) book.

If I understand properly, you live in an urban area, and carry around a .40-calibre pistol with up to 17 bullets in the magazine, capable of firing up to five a second, just like one of the pistols the Connecticut shooter toted.

In other words, you pack the means to kill more than a dozen people in moments if you choose, and we just have to trust you to be sensible and hold your temper.

Chaffetz's position is, basically, the core of the pro-gun message in this country: The destructive power of the weapon is not the issue. It is all about personal responsibility. And personal freedom.

The logic is terrifying. You could extend it to hand grenades or flame-throwers. Some people here do. (Though grenades are actually illegal here).

Flame-throwers don’t incinerate people, people incinerate people, to paraphrase a favorite gun-lobby aphorism.

The 'child-killing lobby'

For the moment, politically powerful pro-gun groups — "the child-killing lobby," as the New Yorker's Adam Gopnik, another Canadian, called them Friday — and most of their lawmaker allies are silent, save for the occasional declaration that this is a time to mourn, or to denounce "the gun control vultures already circling the corpses."

The National Rifle Association's website contains not a single word about the Connecticut massacre.

But just watch. Soon enough will come the talk about how the Newtown school shooting just underlines the need for even more ordinary Americans to arm themselves in self-defence.

And the weird, horrible reality here is that there is some truth to that. The NRA has helped ensure it.

There are currently about three hundred million guns in this country, and gun laws are looser every year. The high courts have slapped down states that have tried to restrict gun use.

It is now quite normal to see people carrying pistols on their hips in shops and restaurants. Plenty more carry concealed weapons.

And many of these are criminals. Police are overwhelmed.

At the same time, it's a safe bet that if Sarah Dawn McKinley, of Blanchard, Ok., didn't have a gun last January, she'd be a statistic, too.

Alone with her toddler as intruders tried to break in, she called 911. The operator told her to do what she had to do.

She killed one intruder with her late-husband's shotgun long before police arrived. He was armed with a 12-inch hunting knife.

The new normal

There are, of course, other good reasons to own guns, especially in isolated rural areas. There always have been.

I remember a large dog, obviously rabid with foam on its muzzle, staggering toward our farmhouse in Ontario when I was a child.

My dad shooed my brothers and me inside, fetched his bolt-action rifle from the bedroom, slipped in a single round, and shot the beast dead. (He was a pretty good shot).

Another time, he walked out with that rifle in the middle of the night and faced down a car full of menacing, drunken, hoodlums in our lane.

Years later, a neighbour on a nearby farm was murdered by the "Ottawa Valley killer," while watching TV. The nearest police station was an hour's drive from our rural gravel road.

But my father never owned a Bushmaster. Or an Uzi. Or a sniper rifle. Or a flame-thrower.

What's taken hold here in America is lunacy. There have been 16 mass shootings in the U.S. just this year alone, leaving 88 people dead. It's the new normal.

Some of the killers wore body armour and fired weapons that scare Marines.

President Barack Obama has tearfully called for "meaningful action" on guns, just as he did after another mass shooting during his last term, and followed up by doing, well, nothing.

Perhaps he will try something this time, now that his last election is behind him and the history books beckon.

But what, exactly? His first election sent gun lovers racing to stock up on ammo and new weapons, for fear Obama would take their guns away. He had to assure them he wouldn’t.

Now, one of Obama's congressional allies, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, is mulling the notion of restricting weapon clips to 10 bullets. "We need a new paradigm," declared Schumer.

How about this instead: Start by taking weapons of war away from people who aren't soldiers or police.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Following Up…

I really had expected a lot more comments on yesterdays posting.
Maybe a bit more elaboration and clarification on my part is necessary.

I do not think that hunting weapons are of any major problem in this Nation. People have gone hunting since humans walked the earth. The problem, like it has been pointed out in the comments, are automatic and semiautomatic weapons. It is pretty clear that someone who buys a semi-automatic Glock has no intentions of going deer hunting with it, and for any other purpose it should be prohibited to be purchased and owned.

The 2 Amendment wasn’t hogwash when it was created. But I must insist it is heavily outdated, and when somebody reacts to a mass murder like the one in Connecticut, by blasting me with his right to carry weapons and the 2.Amendment, I react the way I did yesterday.

One commenter thinks that he can do away with “EVIL” in our society. Let me just point out that he would have to change the human kind and until we have the means to do that the next best thing is to do away with automatic weapons.
He also thinks that only the evil people will have access to weapons. Not true. He forgot those people who own hunting weapons --- that is those who go hunting. Looking to the European countries might also help to understand that the violent crime rate isn’t any higher than in the U.S., matter of fact, it is a good part lower. If you look closely, you’d see that central Europe has the lowest crime rate in the world. They are between those countries with the lowest gun density in the world.

The map below shows violent crime rates by intensity of the blue. The darker the blue the higher violent crime.
1 - >20 homicides pr. 100,000 inhabitants, Source:
Homicide Statistics 2012. UNODC
File:Map of world by intentional homicide rate.png

Our hearts go out to the victims of the Connecticut shooting and we can just hope that this violent crime will force political leaders to re-think the gun laws in the U.S.

Friday, December 14, 2012

10 Days To Christmas

With the murderous shooting in Oregon only a couple of days ago we are again hearing about an even worse shooting in Connecticut.

This Country, the good old U.S.A. has a serious problem. And the problem is anchored in the 2.Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, namely the right to bear a weapon.
The United States is the country with the worlds heaviest concentration of weapons in the population.

Whenever we mention the easy access to weapon in this country we are met with the hogwash argument of the 2.amendment. Another hogwash argument we have been  told is that Americans want to be able to defend themselves. Now, where were the people who could defend Gaby Giffords, the Aurora Theater Visitors or the students at Virginia Tech or today the many poor children which were killed in a senseless murderous act? Nobody raised his weapon against those perpetrators. Nothing at all happened to take out those killers.


Because in most cases it won’t be possible.

The United States Constitution was crafted at a time when the most of the country was without a standing law enforcement. It was also called the Wild West. Over 100 years have passed since that, but it seems that people’s minds are at a stand-still. Not only is the United States the country with most civilian weapons in the world, but it is also the country where its citizens are the most trigger happy in the world. Not only is it easy to purchase one gun, but in most States you can buy as many as you want. Why is it necessary to have a full array of different guns in the house and not even be required to lock them away in a safe place.

What are the views of Americans about gun laws?
Since 1990, Gallup has been asking Americans whether they think gun control laws should be stricter. The answer, increasingly, is that they don’t. “The percentage in favor of making the laws governing the sale of firearms ‘more strict’ fell from 78% in 1990 to 62% in 1995, and 51% in 2007,”
reports Gallup. “In the most recent reading, Gallup in 2010 found 44% in favor of stricter laws. In fact, in 2009 and again last year, the slight majority said gun laws should either remain the same or be made less strict.”

The 2.Amendment never mentioned the right to automatic and semi-automatic weapon either. So there should be good reason to replace the 2.Amendment with something more adequate.

Eleven of the 20 worst mass shootings in the last 50 years took place in the United States.

Time has the full list here. In second place is Finland, with two entries.

More guns tend to mean more homicide.

The Harvard Injury Control Research Center assessed the literature on guns and homicide and found that there’s substantial evidence that indicates more guns means more murders. This holds true whether you’re looking at different countries or different states. Citations here.

Today, European countries are standing by, looking at America with wonderment, asking what’s going on in this society and condemning the stand America has taken to protect their citizen’s love affair with the “Right” to carry a weapon.

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Oregon Shopping Mall and now an elementary school in Connecticut. How many more dead people, how many more shootings will it take before gun advocates like the terrible NRA will be told to shut the h*ll up. A government has the duty to protect the lives of it’s citizens.

When will it happen in the United States?

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Can you withstand the begging eyes of your dog?

If you ever had an idea that you could…you haven’t met Molly. 




Got something?


This for me…huh?




Thank you Dad…


What about you?


Thanks for feeding me!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Searching For Gold

“There is plenty of Gold so I am told at the banks of the Sacramento”
(Line in a German sailors shanty)
oday we are thrilled to walk through an old ghost town looking at now ancient artifacts, trying to imagine what life was like, how them gold diggers lived. We proceed through the old wooden buildings trying to breathe by-gone days. We touch old tools, take pictures of everything like we want to take home the  spirit of those old times. But are we able to comprehend what we are looking at? Wouldn’t we have to step into a time capsule and be transported back 150-200 years to really understand?

What were the days of a Gold Miner (49er) like?
Early on between 1848 and 1849 it wasn’t uncommon that a miner dug up gold worth $2000 a day, though the average miner would have been lucky to find gold for $10 a day.
Searching for Gold

49'er and Mule (Source: Library of Congress)

But soon all of the easy gold was found. Some struck it rich, others barely had enough to eat.
After 1852 there was hardly any surface gold left to be found. Surface gold panning was no longer profitable.

Being a miner also was a dangerous business. Thousands of miners died on the journey or under prospecting. Diseases and accidents took a high toll on many miners.

How did miners live out in the rugged terrain?
Camping was the way most miners lived out at their claims. As RVers we can relate to this simple form of life. Meals were cooked over the open fire and usually contained beans, bacon or local game. The food was not very nutritious, often resulting in poor health. The lack of fresh fruits and vegetables made scurvy a common problem.

Even though one often finds an old rusty bathtub in the ghost towns, personal hygiene was generally poor and mostly clothes were  never washed.
The camps and mining towns springing up were built with canvas tents and wooden buildings. many were destroyed by fires.

Weather conditions like extreme heat during the summer, heavy rain and snow at other times
could make life in the camps and at work difficult.  Many miners spent the winters in San Francisco.Family and Friends









Miners Camp in the Evening
(Source: Library of Congress)

Life in the bigger camps were dominated by men. Of those very few women living in the camps some were involved in housekeeping others had other more dubious sources of income.


Card games, gambling and betting were common ways to pass the time.

Like in the oil camps of today gold digging drove up the prices paid for everything. The average worker might make anywhere between $6 to $10 per day. Food and supplies could cost much more than that.

Getting to California could cost as much as 6 months of earnings and often the miner had no money left to buy basic supplies.

It might be interesting to have a look at prices paid at “Lassen’s Ranch” on September 17 1849:

Flour, per 100 pounds ........……… $50.00
Fresh beef, per 100 pounds .......... .35.00
Pork, ........…………………………….. 75.00
Sugar, ..…………………………......… 50.00
Cheese, per pound ……………......… 1.50

H. A. Harrison, in a letter to the "Baltimore Clipper," dated San Francisco, February 3, 1849, gives the following price-list:

Beef, per quarter ........……. $20.00
Fresh Pork, per pound .....….... .25
Butter, per pound .....………... 1.00
Cheese, per pound ........……. 1.00
Ham, per pound .......………….1.00
Flour, per barrel ........……… 18.00
Pork, per barrel .........$35 to 40.00
Coffee, per pound ...………..... .16
Rice, per pound .......…………. .10
Teas, per pound .60 cents to 1.00
Board, per week ………....... 12.00
Labor, per day .......... ..$6 to 10.00
Wood, per cord .........……… 20.00
Brick, per thousand ..$50 to 80.00
Lumber, per thousand …... 150.00

If we compare these prices with what we pay for the same today and factor in that more than 160 years are gone, we realize that life was very expensive in those days.

I have found an eyewitness report ("The California Gold Rush, 1849" EyeWitness to History, (2003) describing what was going on at Sutters Fort along the American River. A book has also been written about the Swiss Citizen Johan Sutter, who fled his home land leaving wife and children behind for many years. He became the “Kaiser of California” after he acquired widespread areas in the Sacramento area and started a large trading company. When gold was discovered on his land he wasn’t able to keep gold diggers out ending up loosing almost everything he had strived for.


Thanks for stopping by.





Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Olde Mine II

The main problem the old Arizona mines were facing was that they had no railroad access. The ore had to be shipped out some other way. At Castle Dome Mine they built the worlds largest wagon. It had a load capacity of 20 tons and it did require 40 horses or mules to be pulled.

1-DSC_0801Many mines of the old days have gone bust when prices fell below cost or the ore simply had run out. Castle Dome Mine never followed the cycle of boom and bust. With WWII there came a huge demand for bullets and large scale lead mining kept life at Castle Dome Mines. 9 million pound of lead ore were extracted. In fact Castle Dome Mines became the country’s largest producer of lead. But eventually also Castle Dome Mine was closed in 1979.

Artifacts gathered at Castle Dome have been found in surrounding shafts and old buildings as well as in garbage heaps.

Every building is full to the brim with stories, pictures and unique artifacts.
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As most visitors would do, I wandered the premises at my own pace. The old wooden floor creaked at every of my steps and more than once I shrank back when being met by one of the many mannequins behind the door.
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I said Hello to them, asked the 4 guys around the table how they were doing, but they were engrossed in their own conversation and didn’t seem to take any notice of the lonely visitor. It was cool inside the Flora Temple Bar, and I could well imagine to sit down here with a beer having a chat with the bartender who really seemed to be a friendly guy as far as bartenders go.
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1-DSC_0810 Didn’t quite like his customer though. The guy had a mean attitude towards strangers and I decided not to linger any longer. Never know when a guy pulls out his big iron.
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Had me a look at the Polly Gas Station near the exit. Seemed that the owner had lived right besides of his office. Probably safer than leaving the place alone at night. Head gaskets and drive belts were hanging off the wall. It was a time when gas stations didn’t have to sell you milk and burgers or candy bars. Instead they could actually help you repair a car, fix a problem and get you back on the road. They always had a mechanic around. Not anymore!
Instead there was a small bar attached to it. Very sensible!
After finishing the main exhibits we drove the van over to the main road and parked there. The second half of the museum is located on the south side of the road.
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A sign on the fencepost  warns trespassers from entering without first having paid the fee. Obviously they have buried a couple of them illegals right behind the gate. A still open grave is waiting for the next trespasser…
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Found a guy fast asleep in the domitory!
Not much of a talker – this guy!

1-DSC_08501-DSC_0830The round walk through this section takes at least 30 minutes. There are old mine shafts 250-450feet deep. Dug by hand in scorching summer heat. Hard to imagine. There are smaller mine entrances dug by single persons – not very deep. They gave up before hitting the rich ore. Doctor’s office was on the second floor sporting a great view across the valley floor. Lots of heavy equipment in this section. Wonder how they got it all up here. Some of the iron wheels running the machinery must weigh many tons.
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Watch out for rattlers when you look around here. There are plenty possibilities for them to hide under all that rusty stuff lying around.
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      Doc’s Office

As the clock was approaching 2pm it was time to be heading home.
On our way back we drove along Imperial Dam Road. At the date farms we stopped for a refresher course of how to enjoy a date shake. Yum…

Thanks again for coming along and sorry you had to eat our dust.