Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Genuine Fake

While visiting in the southwest we had the opportunity to visit the Turquoise Museum in Albuquerque, NM. It was fascinating!  

Image from the Turquoise Museum Web site

The museum was founded by Jesse and Lillian Zachary in 1993. Today it is operated by their grandson, Joe Dan Lowry.  The museum is a repository for collections begun by Jesse and Lillian, and pieces collected by Joe Dan's parents, as well as those he and his wife Davonna have found on their travels around the world.

Image from the Turquoise Museum Web site

One of the fascinating things about turquoise is that it is a gemstone that varies from mine to mine, and an expert can usually tell by looking at the stone, where it was mined! The stones vary in color and clarity or matrix (the veining caused by other minerals).
The museum educates visitors to help them select turquoise of value, and not imitations or treated minerals. 95% of the turquoise you see today is imitation. It could be colored plastic or low grade stones treated with oil and pressure. They warned us not to ask, "Is this real?", because, if you can hold it, it is real! Instead, one should ask if it is natural. By law, the vender risks consequences if he misrepresents a piece.
Should you find yourself near Albuquerque, taking a tour of the museum is well worth it. Our trip included a great presentation by Joe Dan's son and a few moments in the turquoise shop associated with the museum. Dreaming didn't intend to purchase anything, honest, she didn't! But she fell under the spell of the dark green hue of the turquoise in this little ring. She just had to buy it!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

One Thing Leads to Another

While we were at the Tiffin rally in California, recently, I hopped onto one of the display motor homes. There was a young fella on the floor. "Uh, are you OK?" I inquired?
It turns out that he is the National Sales Rep for Villa Furniture, one of the companies that manufacture furniture for RV's, and he was inspecting the driver's seat.
"Oh," I said, "Let me tell you about the Villa Furniture on my RV..."
He replied, "Better yet, show me."
So, off we trotted to look at a sofa whose back cushions were crooked, and the passenger chair that was so overstuffed it was uncomfortable to sit in.
He seemed to agree with me. He suggested we come to the plant in Cerritos, CA, a mere 90 miles away. After a brief discussion with Mr. Dreamy, we decided we had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
So, off we went to Cerritos.
We arrived bright and early to avoid LA traffic. By 9:00 AM we had taken a
 tour of the plant and Vincent had supervised the removal of the sofa and the passenger seat. By 2:00 PM, we were on the road again. Many thanks to all of the folks at Villa Furniture. Your customer service is so very much appreciated!

Interesting pictures from the day:

Upholstery patterns are cut from cardboard and stored for future use

Pieces of died, matched leather await cutting.
Rolls of vinyl fabric can be seen stacked on the lower right of the picture.

Vinyl is cut by a computerized machine. The software minimizes waste. The vinyl is held on the table by suction as a cutting head moves swiftly according to the computer's instructions.

Computerized sewing machines are used for embroidered features. The machine on the left is stitching the Tiffin logo on a piece that will be used on the backs of the captain's chairs. The blue computer screen shows the progress of the stitching.

A finished logo:

Almost a dozen women use heavy-duty machines to sew the covers of sofas and chairs.

Finished covers are placed in large bins waiting to be fit over forms constructed of foam and fiberfill on top of a steel tube skeleton. 

Huge foam blocks, at least 2' x 4' x 8',  are sliced into different sizes by the blue machine in the background. Different colored foam has different densities.

Here a passenger seat is close to being completed.

Finished sofas for different makes of motorhomes await packaging and shipment

Part of our sofa is removed for repair...

... and carefully returned for installation.

We really enjoyed our hours at the Villa Furniture plant in Cerritos. It was very interesting to see how the furniture is built.

Monday, April 28, 2014

While the dogs are away...

... the cat will host a kitty open house!

Mama Boots (foreground) seems to have acquired a friend! 
We aren't certain if friend is just visiting,
or has moved into the barn. 
Food does seem to go a bit faster,
maybe he is hiding amongst the hay bales.
Regardless, he (or she) is a cutie!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

By the Numbers: Home Again

We made it home last week. 
Phew! What a trip!

Winter Trip - 2014

We visited so many places that Google maps refused to continue showing point to point directions! I had to map our trip using different software!

Our trip, by the numbers:
  • 8265:   miles Mr. Dreamy drove the RV on the trip
  • 1070:   gallons of fuel pumped into the RV (ouch)
  • 131:   number of days we were 'on the road'
  • 91: number of miles Dreaming drove the RV (plus twice around a campground!)
  • 27:   campgrounds visited
  • 30:   most days spent at one park (Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort, Casa Grande, AZ)
  • 14:   states visited with the RV (but we only spent the night in 12)
  • 2: number of RV's we used on the trip
Now we have to sort out everything on the RV that needs to be in the house, 
and get things off the RV that we didn't use, 
and put on things we wished we had with us,
and wash the linens and towels, 
and get them back on the RV for the next trip, 
and clean out the fridge and cabinets, 
and vacuum up more dog hair, 

then we get to pay attention to the house and yard!
What fun!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Writing on the Rocks

We stopped by the Petroglyph National Monument near Albuquerque, NM. The park is located, in part, on a volcanic escarpment. It is estimated that up to 20,000 petroglyphs were left to us by American Indians and early Spanish settlers from 400 to 700 years ago.

Petroglyphs are created by chipping the black top layer (called desert varnish) off of rock by using another smaller stone. It is wonderful that these images have endured, despite the efforts to deface them and remove them.

150,000 years ago a string of volcanos west of Albuquerque erupted. Cinder cones from ancient volcanos are still visible west of what is now the city, and west of the escarpment.

A few of the cinder cones as viewed from the escarpment

The eruptions had extensive lava flows that moved around ancient hills and filled ancient arroyos. The land around the deposited lava has since eroded, leaving the escarpments where the petroglyphs are found. How cool is that?!

Google satellite map image

A view of the escarpment from below

The images and symbols most likely had spiritual meaning. Some of the designs are similar to those used by present-day Indians, so the meaning of the symbols may be the same. Others are unique to the ancient people. 

I'm thinking Ma and Pa Indian wanted the kids out of the teepee and told them to go out amongst the rocks and play! (OK, so, I'm kidding... but it coulda been true!)

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Grand Staircase - Escalante

Now, more about Zion and Bryce canyons and the beautiful geologic formations of the west:

Millions of years ago most of what we now know as the southwestern United States was underwater. There were numerous lakes and seas and for millions of years, layer upon layer of sand and sediment settled on the sea floor and sand dunes were formed along the shores. These were compressed to form layers of rocks. Uplifts occurred over time, moving the layers upward, and breaking them here and there. The layers were exposed to the elements and began to erode.

In the 1870's Clarence Dutton, a geologist, first identified and described this area as a grand staircase comprised of five layers.

Grand Canyon (A), Chocolate Cliffs (B), Vermilion Cliffs (C), White Cliffs (D), Zion Canyon (E), Gray Cliffs (F), Pink Cliffs (G), Bryce Canyon (H)

Although modern geologists have identified other rock formations within these layers, Dutton's 'steps' are visible in this photo, taken north of the Grand Canyon and looking north. The chocolate cliffs are toward the bottom of the photo, then the vermillion cliffs are towards the center. Above those you can easily see the white cliffs, then the gray cliffs, with the pink cliffs topping them all.

As we drive along the highway I am always in awe of the layering of the rock along the side. It is fascinating to see. What I wasn't aware of is the geologic differences in age of the different areas we have visited. When we were in Zion, the canyon cut through the white cliffs and the gray cliffs, layers put down in the Mesozoic period, 65 - 225 million years ago. While we were at Bryce, we were seeing younger rock from the pink cliffs, formed during the Cenozoic period, 65 million years ago up to present day. Years ago, when we were at the Grand Canyon, we could see the oldest rock at the bottom of the canyon formed during the Precambrian period, over 2600 million years ago. The rock at the rim,  where we found fossils of sea life, was formed during the Paleozoic period, 225 - 570 million years ago. It is possible that the pink cliffs, the most recently formed layers of rock, at one point covered the entire area, formed on top of the layer that created the gray cliffs, which in turn covered the white cliffs and so forth. The entire southeast may have been a rich layer cake of differently colored rock formations. 

Over time the newer layers eroded, as water moved 'downhill', which in turn removed more layers, leaving the oldest formations to the south, the next oldest formations north of that and so on, until you reach the area of Bryce canyon which is comprised of the newer rock. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bryce Canyon National Park

Whereas Zion National Park was best seen from inside the canyon, 
most of Bryce Canyon, Utah is best viewed from above. 

My first view of Bryce took my breath away. 
One might think it was due to the brisk wind blowing in my face, 
with a bit of snow pelting me, 
but no, 
it was the expanse and beauty of the place.

As we drove from viewpoint to viewpoint, 
we experienced snow squalls and sunshine. 

But the racing clouds alternating with brilliant blue skies brought their own sort of beauty to the grandeur of the knobby spires, called 'hoodoos'.

Although Bryce and Zion are only about 70 miles apart, they are millions of years apart as far as their geology is concerned. Zion is comprised of older rock formations (Mesozoic period) created 65 to 225 million years ago, while Bryce's rock was formed from 65 million years ago to more recent times, during the Cenozoic period. (I will be adding a brief post about the geology of this area later.) 

Ebenezer Bryce homesteaded here in 1870, and thus the name originated. Local folks referred to the area as Bryce's Canyon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Zion National Park

We visited Zion National Park in the southwest corner of Utah. Zion was carved out of the layered sandstone formed by the sediment of ancient seas and nearby sand dunes. The main road in the park follows the river valley with immense walls of sandstone towering above.

At the bottom... looking up

 A turn in the river

Water seeping out of the rock from far above

Water dripping
I love the spiral on the right

 A hawk soars high above the canyon wall

Mr. Dreamy does his part to insure safe passage

Water from snow melt and rains continues to shape the canyon

After hundreds of years, the water will cut the rock
forming a new canyon

We drove out of the canyon as impressive rock walls
continued to astound us

In some places you could see almost perfect 'amphitheaters'
where softer rock let go of its hold and fell below 

As you climb higher in Zion, you must travel through a tunnel over 1 mile in length. It was completed in 1930. Some modern vehicles cannot fit in the tunnel unless traffic is stopped and they drive down the middle of the road. No... we won't be bringing the motorhome through the tunnel, even though we would fit. The switchbacks leading up to the tunnel are unnerving enough in a car!

As you emerge from the tunnel you are welcomed by more massive formations, but here the geology is different.  Instead of being in the canyon, you are suddenly on top, where you can see fossilized sand dunes and rock with interesting patterns of striations.

The beauty took my breath away

Checkerboard Rock

Pictures don't accurately represent what one sees in person. Pictures fail to give one the feeling of the size and grandeur of the formations. I am so glad that we had the opportunity to explore just a bit of the park.

What is Four?

Have you ever thought of the meaning of "four"?  Four is the number of: seasons in a year. corners and sides to a square. virtues....