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Category: DesertCamping
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It has been good here in Arizona.  The desert is a quiet and serene place, punctuated occasionally by coyote howls and gusts of wind.  There are other campers around me, but they are mostly a solitary lot and don't make a lot of noise or leave their porch lights on.

I have made a few acquaintances out here that have been enjoyable, and one in particular that I would like to stay in contact with.  His name is Bruce and we found we have many similar interests, right down to alternative building practices and Linux.  His wife Sarah was very nice to me and fed me a salad for lunch, and gave me some hand lotion and cooking oil.

I am adapting to the desert more, and make sure to keep my hands well coated with lotion or body oil.  The super glue was okay for spot repairs, but when my hands started to resemble alligator skin it was time to take more preventative action.  I also drink more tea to stay hydrated, even though I don't really sweat down here.  Just breathing exhausts lots of moisture when the humidity is around 8%.

I am in Quartzsite, just east of the California border, and north of town about 9 miles in a BLM 14 day camping area.  I contacted some people I met three years ago at Alisa's wedding in Ventura who live in Quartzsite, and they have been very nice.  They took me out to a fish dinner at the local VFW last Friday night, and today Earl will take me on a tour of the desert in his ATV.  Then this coming Friday afternoon we will have a barbecue at their place, which is in a subdivision about 6 miles southwest of Quartzsite.

I might be in California next week, as it will be full Moon and I am only about 4 hours away from Los Angeles.  I could visit Errol and Mitzi in Long Beach and Joel in Hollywood.  Then I could go up to Ventura and see Aunt Vida and Linda.  It might also be fun to drive up to Ojai and check on Sylvia's place, and maybe try to contact Kirk and see Jan Smithers, the lady whose house I rewired and replumbed when I was there three years ago.

In March Jerry and I will be getting together somewhere for a week of observing.  He will drive down and we will camp with our telescopes in the desert, probably in Arizona or New Mexico, but possibly in Nevada.  It is still somewhat chilly in Nevada, but it would be a lot closer for Jerry, and probably darker. 

I don't mind temperatures around 40 at night, or even a little lower.  Right now in Quartzsite it has been getting into the low 80's during the day and the high 40's at night.  That is almost a little too warm for me, as my sleeping bag is too well insulated for that, and I have to go around without a shirt when I am in my tent during the day working.

My astronomy skills are progressing slowly, and each night I learn something new about my system.  I have gathered a few science images, but haven't reduced the data yet.  I am trying to work out a schedule where I can teach my online class during the day and observe in the early morning.  I go to bed at around 8 PM and get up at 2 AM.  That gives me about 4 solid hours of observing before it gets too light, and then I can fix my breakfast and take a walk in the desert while eating.  I wouldn't say the system is fully operational yet, but it is getting closer.  I hope to have everything working smoothly by the time Jerry and I observe together.

You can read about some of my other experiences on my website, www.trueeclectic.com.  I put edited copies of email correspondence up there in several blogs, depending on if they are camping related or astronomy related.  Mostly I am too busy with my classes to do much extra besides eating and sleeping and observing. 

I have gotten my video gear out to see how my new slider works, but I need an adapter to get the camera connected to the slider plate.  I have been taking pictures with my camera phone when I walk in the morning, and sometimes when there is a particularly nice sunset.  I will post some of those on my blog when I can get free wifi somewhere.  I have to be pretty careful with my data allotment, especially since my connection was lousy in the last place I camped and it ate enormous amounts of data in retries.