Thursday, January 22, 2009


For those of you who have been following this blog, I realize most of what you have seen is about the oven, the people, the activities, and the RVs around us. Here are some scenes of the desert around us taken from the other side of our coach looking south.

We are really fortunate. We arrived here in Quartzsite a couple of days before our group had scheduled as the beginning of the "Boomers Gathering". As a result, we were able to park in the same spot we had last year which was right beside the old oven.

This spot also is at the edge of all the RVs that have gathered. What that means is that when we look to the north, we see the other RVs of our friends and neighbors. This opens up unlimited possiblities for socializing and greeting people passing by.

However, when we want some solitude and time for contemplation, we simply move our chairs around to the other side of the coach and take in a private view of a beautiful desert.

We are very grateful for this time we have here, the beauty around us and the interaction with people we really enjoy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


This is a day many of us will never forget. Years from now we will be asking each other, "where were you when Obama became President?"

We were with a croud of like minded people in the desert near Quartzsite, Arizona. There are now over 105 RVs around us and one of the couples set up two TV monitors and had a good dish connection. They invited anyone who wanted to join them for the celebration.
It was good to be with others. We were a micro-representation of the masses that gathered in Washington, D.C. The events of the morning brought tears and cheers.

Today feels like a bright clear beginning of a new age for America and the world.


The oven seems to be in working order so we have committed to putting it to use. Here at the "Boomer" gathering there is a bulletin board where daily activities can be posted. We have posted that each Saturday and Wednesday, we will fire up the earth oven and anyone who wants can come and bake a pizza. Marlene makes up a batch of dough and those who want to participate need only to bring the sauce and ingredients they want on their pizza. I started a fire in the oven and kept it going from noon to 5:30 pm.

Marlene was ready with the dough and by 5:15 people began to arrive.

To establish some kind of order, we gave out a playing card to people as they arrived with their makings. The first person would get the Ace of hearts, the second the two of hearts and so on. They would take a ready made crust and present it to me by the oven along with the playing card. When the pizza was ready, I would call out the next number and a new pizza would go in.

Things were going pretty well. The first few pizzas came out a little dark on the bottom, but the toppings looked deliciously melted together.

Soon, more pizzas were ready for the oven than the oven could handle. It would take between 3 to 5 minutes of 600 degree oven to bake the pizzas. As time went on it became difficult to get the raw pizza to slide from the plate to the peel used to insert it into the oven. Some pizzas did not turn out "pretty", but I guess they tasted alright because no one complained.

Marlene came down to check on progress and between the two of us we figured out that by delaying the preparation slightly it kept the dough from sticking to the plate while waiting for an opening to the oven.

Here are a couple of the pizzas ready for the oven.

This is Kaz. He seems to be enjoying the finsihed product.
By the end of the evening we had made and baked over 25 pizzas. Marlene and I made three more for ourselves and shared them with Kris and Dean, our neighbors, who had helped us keep things moving.

Friday, January 16, 2009


The day started with a buzz in the air. Our neighbor, Tom, fired up his "powered parachute" and took off using about 150 feet of runway between the RVs parked near us.

After a 4 mile fast pace walk, Marlene got busy on her caning project.

She finished the horizontal and vertical grids and is ready to start the diagonal tomorrow.

In the meantime, I split wood and got ready to fire up the rebuilt oven. We wanted to test it today before we open it up tomorrow evening for a community pizza bake. We have invited all the people gathered here to bring their favorite pizza sauce and toppings over tomorrow evening and we will provide the crust and oven for baking their pizzas.

The fire started nicely. Notice the new wall thickness on the edge of the door. The walls are now 6 to 8 inches thick.

Once I got the fire started it was pretty nice to sit back with a cup of coffee and add the firewood as needed. I kept a small fire going in the oven for 3 hours. Then I raked out the coals and put the door in place letting the heat inside radiate uniformly through the oven.

As a test, we put in some potatoes to bake. After an hour of baking the potatoes were ready. For dinner tonight we had the potatoes along with brussel sprouts which were steamed and then dressed with a teaspoon of butter mixed with like amount of stone ground mustard and two teaspoons of lemon juice. As a condiment for the potatoes Marlene sauteed some mushrooms. Our salad was a half of avocado with raspberry vinegar and mayonaise blend. A meal fit for a king.

As the sun was setting tonight there were over 60 rigs around us. When we first arrived we were the eighth rig to pull in. That was 4 days ago. By the end of the two weeks there may be as many as 150 in total. The nice thing is that there is so much room out here that it never seems crowded

After dinner, we checked the oven temperature and it was over 370 degrees. So, Marlene prepared a pot of beans which will be part of one of our meals tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


This morning, after Marlene and I went for a bike ride for exercise, had a warm shower, and breakfast, I started mixing the clay for rebuilding the oven.

John Black came around to offer help and was gladly put into service. We added the sagebrush straw to the wet clay mix and I began the "earth oven stomp".

We would stop occassionally and roll the mixture to the center of my mixing tarp. Then I would stomp again and we would repeat the process until the straw and clay were thoroughly mixed.

Then we began packing the adobe clay mixture around the old oven. The old oven walls were about 3 1/2 inches thick because some of the clay had weathered away during the year we had been away.

We added about 4 inches of new clay to the surface so when it's dry, the rebuilt oven walls will be almost 8 inches thick. The rebuilt oven should hold it's heat for 4 to 6 hours.

In the mean time, while the oven repair was progressing, Marlene started on her project of recaning our dining room chairs. We brought two of them along with enough material to redo the seats. These chairs originally were used by my great grand parents and have been in the family for over 100 years. She did this job once before in the 60's shortly after we were married. Then we had it done again by an antique dealer who did it as a side hobby.
Here Marlene is removing the old seat by cutting out the cane.

Now she is starting to weave the new cane into the holes in the chair. Today she completed the horizontal and vertical patterns and tomorrow she will start on the cross weaving. That is the part that takes the most time because you have to go over and under so many previous runs of cane.

After a long, but fun day, it's time to relax. This is taken about 6:00 pm and the sun is just going down. The temperature is still about 70 degrees and it's very still and peaceful here in our spot in the desert.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Last night at the informal gathering of "Boomers" one of the guys told me about a quarry near us that has a layer of clay exposed. So this morning on a bike ride we found the quarry.
Marlene and I went back a little later with the Jeep and a couple of buckets and we loaded up enough dry clay to add another layer to the oven.We had to fill the buckets and carry them about 100 yards back to the Jeep. The quarry is on BLM land, but it has not been used in years and there is a gate that keeps vehicles from driving into the quarry itself.
We made 3 trips with two buckets each and dumped the dry clay into the back of the Jeep on a plastic tarp.
Later, Marlene began to gather the straw (dried tops of sage brush). This will act as a binder in the clay and make it stronger. The straw acts like reinforcing steel in concrete.Now we have all the material assembleed and tomorrow we will mix water with the clay and turn it into a "cob" mixture. This is the same as the adobe that the native americans used in building houses and ovens.

On the way back from getting our clay we stopped to admire a saguaro cactus. These desert plants develope arms only after they have been growing for more than 100 years.

Monday, January 12, 2009


We made it to Boomerville at Quartzsite, Arizona, this afternoon. We left Indio, Ca, and after stopping for groceries, ice, fuel, and water, we arrived in Quartzsite about coffee time this afternoon. We parked in the same location where we did last year and found that our earth oven is still standing. When we left last January, we covered the oven with brush and wondered what would be here when we returned. What a pleasant surprize to find it pretty much in tact. Tomorrow we'll gather some materials to build another layer over the existing one and hopefully by Friday we will be ready to make some pizzas. When we rolled in this afternoon, there were 10 other rigs here already. I took this picture from the top of our motor home when I went up to tilt my solar panels into the sun. Just before dinner, we gathered together with the other couples and had an informal intoduction session. Tomorrow other rigs will begin to arrive and by the weekend there will be more than 100 RVs at our location in the desert. I'll keep updating the pictures so you can get an idea of how the area fills.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


We're on the road again. Chemo is finished! Marlene is feeling 100% and her hair is growing back. We celebrated Christmas with the family and left the snow behind.

This year we had snow.

And more snow.

For Christmas, Steve and Diana gave us a beautiful roof for our earth oven. The oven project is underway. The foundation and now the roof are finished. All we have to do is build the oven when we return to Oregon.

This will be the "Dopp Backerei" USA. There already is one "Dopp Backerei" in Yurgenshagen Germany which has been in operation for 400 years.

Anyway, here we are on the road. This was our second night out at the Klamath River rest area in California. A beautiful spot off I-5. We are now in LaQuinta, Ca. at a Riverside County Park called Cahuilla Reservoir.