Sunday, May 8, 2016

Red Rock Cactus and Rain

The Desert Southwest offers some diverse scenery.  While most of the year that days are hot and sunny, there are cooler periods.  On occasion we are blessed with delightful rain.  While these rains can sometimes come down with such intensity they become deadly, they also transform the stark landscape into something of beauty.

I live on the western edge of Las Vegas, Nevada.  Further west of us is a rugged mountain range with peaks that exceed 10,000 feet.  At the foothills of this range is Red Rock Conservation Area.  The lower levels are desert.  From the desert floor there are giant clumps of sandstone jutting up hundreds of feet.  Sandstone walls of the Keystone Thrust, rise up from the valley floor up to  3000 feet.  Just behind them, the mountains.

I was watching the rain pouring on the mountains the other day and decided to drive up to Red Rock to enjoy a different kind of experience.  One of the rain and water flowing, rather than the normal dry, and unforgiving terrain.

Since this was the early part of May and we have had rain more than the past many years, the cactus, plants and bushes were in full bloom.

While not the optimum conditions for photography everywhere I turned I saw different colors.  The rain started again and I had to keep the gear dry.  So I popped back in the vehicle and enjoyed it and the drive out of the park.

For info on Red Rock Conservation Area click this link

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

RETIREMENT DIY - Changing a Brake Light Switch with a dose of humor

The joys of retirement. No money, but lots of time. Do stuff yourself you say. Save money!.....seems like a great plan!

I had to change my brake light switch today. It was messing up my cruise control and activating my trailer brake controller & trailer brakes. It would happen when the brake pedal was normal, driving down the road.

Seems like a simple enough repair on the surface. There was a $125 diag fee, plus parts and labor, to have this repair done. I already knew what the problem was. Not parting with $200-$300 seemed like a good DIY trade-off.

The $12 part came today off Amazon. A simple thing. Remove 1 bolt and a retaining clip, pull the switch out of position. Unplug the wiring harness connector. Reverse the process and call it done.

Now this is where it gets good. About the time you say its a 30 minute job, its not!

The bolt....no problem. The retaining clip....well this could be used for a measurement in an IQ test. I might add this is in a van, up under the dash, in the dark, and in a very awkward location. My arms would not bend that way. And that clip was not clearly visible.

I added a flash light, a stick to hold a major wiring harness out of the way. Knelt on the ground....couldn't see....couldn't bend my hands where I wanted them...

Contemplated the fact if I popped this thing off would I ever get it back on?

Now I am upside down on the drivers seat...head and neck on the floor trying to still figure out that retaining clip....the flashlight falls and rolls. Did I mention I am not 20 years old and can't bend like I used too? Well I guess I still can but it doesn't come without pain. Either immediate, or perhaps the next day. Time to try something else.

Thoughts of parts and labor not so out of line....LOL

I drag out the extension cord and a regular light....Tried the upside down seat thing again....did I mention when you get older your eyes don't focus as well as they did at one time...kept knocking my glasses caddy-wompus and had to re-adjust my upside down seat position so I could bend my arms to fix my glasses. I swear 40 some years ago this stuff seemed easier.

Deep breath and slow sigh.....This required a new tactic. I moved to lay across my two front seats and slipped down between the seats and the center engine hump, on my side, facing forward.....remember this is a van. More later on why a retired, more plump person, might find out later this would result in a new problem to solve.

Hey I found out how to remove the retaining clip. It took 2 seconds once you move through that learning curve. Being able to see from this crammed up vantage point certainly helped. Clip off, switch off, harness unplugged, didn't even break the cheap plastic harness connector lock! Those snap in locks that always break and really cause a problem.....reversed all steps and bolted the switch on, no problem. 5 Minutes.

The next problem (one that wasn't planned on) was getting myself off the floor and back on the seats. Squirming around while making the repair, had eased my body completely onto the floor. It was actually quite comfortable down there.

But I couldn't get back up! I was nearly pinned in there. One arm and hand up grabbing the steering wheel trying to pull myself up....the spare arm up above my head, trying to maneuver that spare arm up under my body to help push up. Several times my steering wheel hand accidentally blowing the horn. Feet thrashing the air trying to get them up on the passenger seat...hoping to get some leverage to help with the body lift.

I mention all of this because I found humor in myself and what I must look like if someone was watching. I started laughing. Had to rest and start over.

I did manage to get free just as my neighbor pulled up. I said "Hi". He made some remark in question format like "Are you laying down on the job again?" He obviously saw the flailing feet through the windshield.

What could I say? Busted!  I just laughed.  He had no clue what had just gone on.

I just chock this up to the joys of retirement. Now I have the time to fix stuff. But not the money to hire it done. The list seems endless. Every day is an experience! Some are just a little more humorous.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Twice a year we have a local group out of Las Vegas that camps at one of Nevada's Ghost Towns.  Our spring event will take place May 12 through the 15th, 2016.  The core group camps with anything from RV's, Teardrops,  to Tents.  RV spots are limited to 11 and normally all get reserved.  There are also a limited amount of rustic cabins for rent.  There is endless dry camping where you can camp out of your car and set up a tent.

We also have an October trip scheduled for October 13-16, 2016.

If you want the experience and car camping is your thing.  This would be a unique opportunity to attach to your Havasu Falls trip if you are coming in through Las Vegas.  Or just join us and have a fun weekend.

This is paved roads the entire way.  You can travel here with the family car or a rental with no fear of needing an off-road vehicle.

Gold Point, Nevada is about a 3 hour drive north out of Las Vegas.  It is remote but offers a rewarding experience.  The Saloon is opened for our group.  There are also some prepared meals available for purchase, but head count must be given. 

This is rustic camping for the most part.  Pit toilets, but there is a shower.  No tables.  No tree's.  Don't expect comforts and you won't be disappointed.  A shade/rain fly is recommended but not necessary.  As is a folding table.

Hard Luck Mine Castle
There are no services or store.  The nearest small town is about 40 miles away.  Be sure to bring everything you need.  Water is available.

The area is full of photogenic buildings, old iron, mining equipment, and machinery.  A handful of people live in the town and are restoring buildings while maintaining the old dilapidated look.

The town sits at an altitude just above 5000 ft so during spring and fall expect chilly nights and pleasant days.  Some years its rained and  we spent the day in the saloon sitting around the wood stove with a roaring fire.

One of the Las Vegas Dutch Oven cooking groups does a Saturday Potluck. Cost of admission to the potluck meal is to bring a dish or food of some sort.

There are endless gravel roads going off into the mountains in all directions.  One snakes over a hill to another Ghost Town called State Line...though 4 wheel drive may be required for that one. 

Or head over to the Hard Luck Mine Castle.  If you can get the owner to give you a tour (donations required) you will be amazed at what someone built in some very unforgiving terrain.

The Ghost Town of Rhyolite, Nevada is about a hour and a half drive one way from Gold Point (On paved roads).  It is another photographers dream. Totally awesome at sunrise or sunset!

You are pretty much on your own as far as food.  Though some meals can be arranged in advance.  Sheriff Stone (one of the proprietors will do breakfast, lunch, and dinner if arranged for in advance)

Come joins us around the campfire!

Sponsored by: "The Las Vegas Dutch Oven Enthusiasts"

Thursday, February 25, 2016



Do you write or shoot photos professionally, as a hobby, or just a passion in your off time?

TOPONAUTIC actively seeks blog material from our readers and those wishing to publish outdoor related articles and photos.  We have several outdoor related blogs.  Publish with us, and use us as a reference to help or start your career.  Or send your material just for the pleasure of seeing your work online?  At the same time you will help us help others. 

We have one specialty blog on “Backpacking Havasu Falls”.  For that blog we need articles, photos, and videos specific to that area.

We currently strive to offer free content to our readers.  With your support as a writer or photographer, you allow us to continue this service.  Without your generous contributions we could not offer this service or even exist.  All of our time and labor is donated.

We are not a group of professional writers or photographers, so don’t feel that you need to be.  Those of you that are professional, we gladly accept and encourage your donations of writings and images.  We give credit to authors and photographers of all levels.  If requested we will not only include your name, but links to your website, email or other contact information.

We accept anything outdoor related such as trip or trail reports, travel destinations, hiking spots, and more. 

We have a large following that is interested in Dutch Oven & Outdoor Cooking.  We particularly enjoy recipes that are accompanied with photos of the food.  These recipes will eventually be combined into a cook book and published.  Those people submitting recipes will be offered a discounted first printing.  We are currently exploring a version we can offer as an eBook to keep the cost low.

We also accept Outdoor related “Upcoming” events.  Car Shows, Dutch Oven Cook-Offs, Chili Cook-offs, BBQ Events, Street Fairs, Rodeo’s, Farmer Markets,  Charity Events, Fund Raisers, and more. 

Contact us if you are interested in Commercial Ad space.  First Month Free with no obligation to continue.  No set up, or hidden fees.

Email material to info@toponautic.com with a statement stating you release the media for use by TOPONAUTIC.  Photos with recognizable people must have a release from each person, and each identified in the photo.  Contact us for release form.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Ozark Cook Off

First Annual Ozark Mountain Cook-off

Ropers Campground
996 Ropers Campground
Onia, Arkansas  72663


Saturday, February 13, 2016

DUTCH OVEN Cook-Off Old Mormon Fort (Las Vegas, NV)

For registration forms and a full description of contest rules email: oldfortranger@parks.nv.gov or stop by and visit the fort at:
500 E. Washington Ave. 
Las Vegas, Nevada  89101
For additional information contact:
Garrett Fehner: 702-486-3511

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Slaw Cutters & Buttermilk Coleslaw

2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons Agave Syrup
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ to full Head of Cabbage sliced on a slaw cutter
In a large glass bowl, whisk and combine the mayo, buttermilk, agave, celery seed, pepper, and lemon juice.

Add sliced cabbage and stir well to coat with the combined mixture. Refrigerate for several hours to let the flavors blend before serving.

Here is a way to produce your own wholesome Buttermilk full of beneficial probiotics.

Put your vintage kitchenware/cookware to good use.