Archive for April, 2016

A New GPS for the RV

New Garmin GPS

I have had the little Garmin Nüvi 205W GPS since July of 2009. Once understanding its limitations, it turned out to be a reliable gadget in our old Denali SUV.

We bought our Ford F-150, which had a built-in navigation system so we retired the 205 to the office shelf. When we bought the Roadrunner, our Georgetown 30X3 32 foot motorhome, I resurrected the 205W and have been using it in the RV when we travel.

The old GPS has only a four inch display which, in the larger dimensions of the RV, could be hard to read from the captain’s chair. I decided that if Garmin were to have a larger format GPS, then we would need to get it to overcome the display size issue. An Amazon query turned up this nice Garmin Nüvi 2797 with lifetime map updates and a traffic report receiver. The price was within budget, so I ordered it.

The GPS showed up yesterday and I have been getting acquainted with the unit which, fortunately, is similar enough to the old unit that familiarization has gone quite fast. The new features (traffic, bluetooth, etc.) will eventually come into focus as well.

The best thing is that the larger display will be MUCH easier to read while seated in the captain’s chair and underway in the Roadrunner. We will not have the opportunity to use it until toward Memorial Day or after since our May is sort of booked up with caduceus-oriented appointments.

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My Good Deed for Today

Curve Billed Thrasher

Damsel and I did some yard chores this morning consisting of clean-up of a pile of cut-down bush branches we left for “later” a couple of weeks ago. We finished that and moved on to pruning some low-hanging foliage on the “Musical” mesquite tree out front. We also pruned some “suckers” from the citrus “orchard” (one orange, one lemon tree).

Later in the day, I was out by the orchard ;-) and spotted a young Curve Billed Thrasher that was caught in a net that Damsel has covering her little orange tree. The net was placed there precisely to keep critters out, but somehow, this little guy found his way in and tangled itself in the mesh.

I had my camera with me, but placed it on the ground to effect a release of the bird if I could, therefore no pix of the rescue, just the one above of a similar bird at our feeder I took earlier.

I reached under the net and got a grip on the bird; it didn’t like me doing so and squawked the whole time I gently held it while getting out my Sog knife to cut through some of the entangled netting. After a minute or so, I managed to free the bird which had minimal injury as far as I could tell. It flew a low trajectory to a nearby cholla where it perched.

I’m glad I found the little guy before one of the local predators did. Damsel and I discussed replacing the net with some wire screen mesh which is less likely to snare the critters.

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Yellow Palo Verde in Bloom

Yellow Palo Verde

This is the time of year that this little yellow palo verde tree on the road out front gets its tiny flowers (see inset). The bees love to browse these and you can hear them buzzing during the day when passing by the tree.

This little tree is one that was already growing here when we had the house built. There was a cat’s paw right next to the tree originally, but we had the landscapers remove it since it was encroaching and causing the little tree to lean over. Since that time, we have been pruning the tree to encourage it to fill out on the side where the other tree was.

This tree will probably continue to be in bloom until late May when the heat starts to come back to our desert. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Joshua Tree Slideshow

This is a slideshow of a few of the photos that Damsel took of Joshua Tree National Park as we drove through on Friday. It was a fairly hasty pass-through since we had to be in Palm Desert (where we are now) fairly early.

When I went to post this slideshow, I had difficulty connecting to the file server with the FTP program I generally use to upload the Javascript embedded in PHP control file. I did, however, find a backdoor method using the host’s file manager via the browser. It’s not the method I’m used to using, but I figured it out and voila! The slideshow is on-line.

There are six images in the slideshow. As you can see, it was an excellent day for a drive through this beautiful National Park. Click on an image to advance to the next.

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First Saguaro Flowers of 2016

First Saguaro FlowersAs of last Wednesday, we have been on the road, visiting friends and enjoying the scenery. Just before leaving Arizona for points west, I saw this saguaro in Parker. I believe this is the first one that we have seen with open flowers this year. Click on the image to enlarge.

We are currently in Palm Desert, California where we meet our son and his wife and our grandson who will be nine months old in a few days. The other set of grandparents, who live near here, are away in Mexico and the kids are watching their house while they’re gone.

We stayed the first two nights along the Colorado River on the California side visiting our good friends that live there. We had a pleasant visit with them and some of their family where we played cards Wednesday evening and went to dinner at the BPOE across the river in Parker on Thursday for Mexican Food Night.

Image: First Saguaro Flowers

Yesterday, on the drive from the river, we took the scenic route across the desert and through Joshua Tree National Park. It is always a beautiful drive through there; we entered the park near Twentynine Palms and exited near Yucca Valley. I took a lot of pictures in there and may post some of them here later.

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Last Great Sunspot for a While?

AR 2529

According to several on line resources, we are probably headed toward the minimum end of the current eleven-year solar activity cycle. Giant sunspot AR 2529 looming toward the right limb of the sun may be the last large spot for a while as solar activity diminishes.

I took my Canon EOS Rebel SL1 out to the courtyard equipped with the 75-300 mm telephoto lens and an inexpensive solar filter to capture this image of AR 2529 before it fades as it circles out of view. Camera settings: 1/3200 sec., F5.6, ISO 6400, 300 mm focal length.

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The Bird Feeder

Cactus Wren and Cardinal

We get a lot of birds at the feeders out back. There is a pair of finch feeders plus fixtures where we usually have a bird block (shown) and bell (just below the block) for the critters to be fed and for us to watch them. Damsel gets most of the good pix, but once in a while, I score a good one, too.

I managed to catch a cactus wren working on the seed block just as a male cardinal lit on the top of the feeder cage. I took this image with my Canon EOS Rebel SL1 and the 75-300mm lens set to 180mm, ISO 100, 1/512sec and F7.1. Click on the image to enlarge.

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