Thursday, September 29, 2011


 While I was out walking last week, I saw a corn field and couldn't resist the urge to go mingle with the corn. I suppose it might have something to do with growing up in the Midwest surrounded by corn fields. I love corn!

 According to my husband, our fields are about a month behind the fields in the Midwest (or at least those in northern Illinois, which we got to visit in August). We are hoping that hard freezes will be delayed so that the corn can fully mature. This last week has been absolutely beautiful, but the weather folks are saying we're in for a change this weekend.

 This is field corn, which will be used for feeding cows. I've already harvested most of the sweet corn out of my garden.

 Since the corn fields out here are mostly in pivot circles, it's hard to get a photo of a long row of corn!

I feel like I should say more about corn, but I can't figure out what to say. If I were feeling more ambitious I could research the history of corn, talk about all the varieties of corn, the use of roundup ready corn, corn diseases, where corn is grown, how corn is used, etc. But it's really early in the morning and I'm not feeling that ambitious, so I'll just have to leave you with this: I love corn!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Public Lands Day 2011

 We ended up being able to go to Public Lands Day on Saturday at Great Basin National Park. We got there a little later, but just in time to meet up with a new friend, Evan. Evan and Desert Boy quickly formed their own group to go visit the educational stations. They started with grinding corn in a mano.

 Then we checked out the sun through the solar telescope. We could see several sunspots and also some flares and a prominence. I learned that a prominence looks similar to a sun flare, but has a very different origin.

 Next we visited Ranger Joseph and learned about soundscapes. Desert Girl was willing to participate here, and she was awestruck by the neat sounds that he played.

 The kids had fun trying to guess what the different sounds were.

 Then we met up with Archeologist Eva and found out how Indians hunted and how they made their hunting tools.

 The whole group was enthusiastic.

 Nearby Melyssa was at the pictograph and petroglyph station. Desert Girl had so much fun with the stamps.

 We listened briefly to the wildlife talk, but the little ones were having a hard time sitting still, so we didn't last long. I wanted to touch the furs they had with them, but will have to do that another time!

 The station to make seed "bombs" was just what the kids needed. We put soil and seeds on some clay and rolled it up into a ball. We'll toss it in the yard and hope to see some flowers and Basin Wild Rye next year in a new spot.

 School kids were bussed in from Ely, and some folks were cooking up hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch. Yum. It wasn't time to eat yet, so we could go over to the last station, snakes.

 This was a favorite station of lots of the kids, as Bryan let the kids hold the snakes.

 Evan really got into it, and eventually Desert Boy was ready to hold a snake.

 Evan looks so comfortable with his new neck accessory!

It was a fun morning, and we look forward to spending more time with Evan and his mom. Hurray for new friends!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wheelathon--Will Desert Boy Make It All Eight Miles?

 On Wednesday, the local schools held an annual fundraiser called Wheelathon. The Kindergarten through second grade kids ride eight miles, and the third through sixth graders ride sixteen miles. I had called the elementary school teacher to make sure it was okay for Desert Boy to ride, and she invited us to come to her classroom a little early. We took Ernesto and his mom, too, and the preschoolers had a fun glimpse of what school will be like next year.

Finally it was time to start. The kids all got on their bicycles.
 Then we had to take a couple photos.

 These girls don't seem to sure that this will really be a fun event. But the wind was at our backs and we had a slight downhill, so I was feeling optimistic, despite the overcast skies.

 Getting into position!
 Some of the kids were so ready to go!

 And then we were off! I was really wondering if Desert Boy would be able to make it the whole eight miles. There is a snack stop every mile, where all the kids stop and eat and drink and wait for the entire group to arrive. I knew that would be a big motivator.

But I also knew that we took the training wheels off Desert Boy's bike only about a month and a half ago. He's been riding okay, but not super. He often would get distracted and crash. And he didn't know how to start very well by himself. And he kept begging to have the training wheels put back on.

I had talked Chandra, who has four athletic kids, and she advised me to bring the training wheels, but see if he could do it without. "He can learn to ride in eight miles," she said.

I liked that advice, so we went with it!

Desert Boy made the first mile just fine.

 After snacks, we got back on and rode some more. Desert Boy wasn't fast, but he kept pedaling his tiny bike with the 12 inch wheels. That's a lot of pedaling!

 We eventually met up with the older kids coming the other direction. They were riding into the wind first, and it was slowing them down a lot. We all assured them that riding the direction we were going was really nice, and they would have an easy ride back.

 The bigger kids also had a variety of bike problems. Some of the bikes get taken out of the garage once a year, for the Wheelathon.

 John had volunteered to be a chaperone. He said it was harder riding slow than fast!

 Ernesto did a great job of plugging along. His biggest problem was he got so warm from riding. He took off his sweatshirt but still was so warm.

 Bill and Marj were volunteers manning one of the snack stops. They had a lot of free time to read and relax while they waited for the older kids to get back to them.

 Even though there are mountains around, the road is straight and flat, making it easier to ride. There also are a lack of trees along the route, and no houses or buildings, so restroom stops are nonexistent. Fortunately that didn't turn out to be a big deal.

 As we approached one snack stop, we saw a structure up in the air. It turned out to be an orchard ladder, and we enjoyed some freshly picked peaches.

 The peaches revved up the bicyclists, and they were ready to go again. They had collected pledges for each mile they rode, so they were doing their best for the school.

 Before we took off from the peach stand, I climbed up the ladder to get a fun shot of the riders.

 Desert Boy riding with the teacher. We were a bit of a parade, with the bus and a few vehicles following us.

 Desert Boy showing his determination (and his shoes on the wrong feet, which he would not switch.)

Both Ernesto and Desert Boy made it! Good job preschoolers! They're showing off the marks they got at each mile. They think they are big stuff now.

It was a fun ride, and we're already looking forward to it for next year.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mount Moriah

 After breakfast at Cleve Creek, we packed up our gear, headed across Spring Valley and headed up Fourmile Road to go join friends and family. Desert Boy really wanted to go play with his cousins. I wanted to see some of the beautiful northern Snake Range. We led the way for some friends who hadn't been up the rocky road.

 I had to stop a couple times for photos. Yelland Dry Lake bed wasn't dry--it had some water in it, reflecting the clouds.

The rabbitbrush was blooming, along with a few other flowers, but the peak flower season was over by a long ways.  The air was cool, but the aspens still all green.
When we got to the camp, we found that most of the adults had left to go hiking, but nearly all the kids (with a few adult supervisors) had decided not to go hiking, but rather hang around camp.
 Sam looks like he's mastered the art of hanging out!
 Desert Boy loved his hot chocolate--one of several that day. Then he disappeared into the woods with his cousins and friends to play shoot the animals and who knows what else.

Some of the teenagers emerged from the teenager tent for a short while.
 Desert Girl managed to accumulate an impressive amount of dirt. Finally she conked out and Chandra and I left Brian in charge of all the kids and headed out for a walk.

 Mount Moriah is in the background, and I had never noticed the neat looking ridge leading to a minor peak. I will have to get up there some time to do that hike!

 Chandra and I wandered on all roads, across a meadow, and came across this road. It was so tempting to keep following it. I think it goes down into Negro Canyon and out into Spring Valley. Hmmm, another hike for another day.

We took off uphill and found this aspen grove. The medium-sized aspens all looked fine, but the young ones were all dead. We went a little farther and then took a short-cut back to camp, which really was a short-cut. (Some times my short-cuts don't quite work out right, but this one did!)
 The kids were still all being good and Brian didn't even have to get out of his tent. :)

The kids were having a grand old time. They were making up all sorts of games, and Desert Boy came home with some new sayings.
After the hikers got back, we all gathered around the fire and then started cooking dinner. It was a nice, relaxed time, just what I needed!
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