Monday, January 28, 2008

Building an Earth Oven

Monday, I finished the basic construction of the earth oven in Boomerville. There still are some things that need to happen before Marlene can bake bread in it, but I am really happy. What started as an idea while we were parked here last year seems to be about to become a reality. The book we have, "Build Your Own Earth Oven", by Kiko Denzer and Hannah Field, says earth ovens can be built almost anywhere in the world using materials native to the area. So, I thought, why not Quartzsite? After scouting for materials and determining they were available, I built a foundation. I scoured the nearby dry streambed and collected about 5 buckets of fine clay dust.
Testing the clay required rolling out a worm and seeing how it stuck together. This clay was on the sandy side, but I didn't have anything else to work with. I got lucky, because the day I really started to build, it rained on the desert so the sand got wet enough to stand and compact and the clay started to get sticky. I buildt a smooth base and leveled it.
I started laying the base of fire brick for the baking surface. And it continued to rain.
With the fire brick in place I turned to mixing the clay.
Mixing the clay means getting into it with both feet and mucking around. All the while it continued to rain.With the rains continuing, I turned to building the sand mold. Unfortunately the clay was beginning to get too wet. Now I turned to building the sand dome. With the dome in place, I could add the 4 inch layer of clay all around. And it continued to rain.
Finally, the next day was bright and sunny. I checked the clay and it turns out it was just a bit too wet for good construction, but I went ahead and started with what I had.
The clay layup is done over a base of sand covered with newspaper. The paper acts as an interface so later when you remove the sand, you don't scrape away the clay. The door is in place as the clay is packed in place. The dome is finally finished and inscribed just for the fun of it. Now we have to let it dry to be firm enough to remove the sand through the door.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

More from the Desert

The sun doesn't always shine here. Thursday it was raining in the morning, but soon the clouds passed and the sun came out. I drove to Parker with Odel and played 18 holes of golf at a beautiful course there.
On Friday I took a six mile ride up the Jeep road above our camp site.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Couple of Days at Quartzsite "Boomerville"

An early morning surprise. I hear a buzzing and look up and see one of my neighbors flying his parasail ultralite. That night we have a potluck dinner at our house for 4 couples. Believe it or not everyone had a place to sit and a place to put their plate and glass. It was cozy and fun. Bob and Gretchen Chalsma from Wisconsin met us here and joined us for dinner.
The next day we took Bob and Gretchen down town Quartzsite to the big RV show which is going on this week. We stopped for ice cream at a vendor who made home made icecreame using an old John Deere engine and a couple of wooden tubs. Late that afternoon I got started on my "earth oven" project. My plan is to build an oven out of clay so that Marlene can bake bread and other things. The first thing is to have a good foundation.

That night we enjoyed another sunset out our front windshield.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Getting to Quartzsite

We left home on Thursday, January 17, about noon. Took a short cut out of Reno and went over the mountains through Virginia City.
Virginia City would have been fun to explore, but there was no place to park.
That night we had an interesting stop at the ghost town of Goldfield, Nevada. It seemed like everything was boarded up or deserted. We did take a nice walk around town on the gravel streets.
We stopped in Needles, California, to wash the rig, but the battery on the Jeep was dead as a result of towing it for 4 days without starting it to charge the battery. Fortunately we got some help from some young people whose house we stopped in front of.

We made it Boomerville on Monday about 2:30 and parked near our friends in a beatiful setting with a wonderful view of the valley near Quartzsite.That afternoon we checked in at the "Happy Hour" gathering. I think we were about the 110th vehicle to arrive.

I'll post more tomorrow.

Monday, January 14, 2008

From Sunrise to Sunset and a lttle longer.

Sunrise in Minnesota.Across the grasslands of South Dakota. More of South Dakota.

Sunset in Wyoming. We continued for another couple of hours and spent the night in Billings, Montana. Nice long day and we made 1020 miles.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Funeral in Wisconsin

The call came on Tuesday that Beth had died from a long battle with cancer. We decided to drive back to Wisconsin to be with Marlene's brother and the rest of the family. We knew there would be snow in the passes, but fortunately the roads were bare. A rest stop in Montana was welcome even if the snow was a little high in the parking lot.
There was snow on the ground across the whole country. Here in rural Wisconsin near Galesville, the little Lutheran Church in the country looked right at home.
The funeral was a big event. Beth was born in this community, babptized, confirmed, married, and buried in this church and cemetery.
Harlan, on the right, and all the rest of the sibblings.