23 May 2007

Freestyle Bouldering

Boulder heap

Directly behind the Valentine Family house is a heap of boulders beckoning to be explored. So, on a couple of occasions last week, I scrambled around and over and through the rocks to reach the top and enjoy the view.

Standing in the pass

Two of my nieces, Amy and Michelle, joined me one evening and showed me the most direct route through a natural cave formed by the rocks as they settled into position.

Through the gap

Michelle found a good spot for surveying the valley below.


Yep, I was really there. But this is all you get to see.

overhanging feet

The reward!


21 May 2007

Milking Dolly (or How to Get Goat Juice)

Yes, even vacation can be very educational.

Milking Dolly

But first, let's back up to the beginning of the process. Meet Bucky and Dolly, skilled jumpers and eager food consumers.

Dolly and Bucky

Twice a day, at 6:30 am and again 12 hours later, Dolly is lead from the corral to the milking station. Morning duty usually falls to mom, while Michelle takes over in the evening.

Out of the pen

The process starts with a nice udder rubdown -- to remove the dust that has collected throughout the day.

udder rubdown

The first spurts of milk are discarded onto the ground, again to clear the bacteria from the milk supply.

Empty bowl

Quite a bit of foam begins to form atop the fresh milk. The trick is to capture the milk in the teat by encircling it at the base with two fingers, and then squeezing downward with the remaining fingers to release the milk. A proficient milker can finish the task in about 3 minutes.

half full

If a goat is milked effectively and consistently, the milk production will increase. Dolly has been producing two quarts during each milking, providing the family with a full gallon each day for the past year.

jars in waiting

The paper towels filter out any impurities that may be in the milk.

full jars

Ah, the finished product!

two quarts

20 May 2007

Six Pic Saturday: A Hike in the Mojave

19 May 2007

We determined that a short hike in a nearby canyon was a good way to start the day before driving to the airport. Besides, who wouldn't go hiking in the Mojave Desert on the cusp of summer?

The Hiking Crew

The hiking crew slathered in sunscreen with walking sticks in hand: Sarah, Emily (in baby carrier), Juli, Alan, Gina, Lindsey, and Kari

Along the trail

A year ago, oldest daughter Christie had discovered a map indicating natural springs in the canyon. So, we went in search of signs of water...


This cluster of cottonwoods indicated that we were in the right spot. However, a very dry winter meant that no water was visible above ground.


It was the perfect spot to pause for a moment of rest. Sarah announced that it would make a fine camping spot. I had my doubts...

Back down the trail

The return trip was fast and easy since it was all downhill. Sarah and Lindsey led the group.

Abandoned ruins

We stoppped to explore the remaining ruins of homes long ago abandoned, probably due to the harsh conditions and lack of water in the area. Among the intricately contructed stairs and walls of rock was evidence that it has become a popular spot for paintball enthusiasts.