Calico Mine & Ghost Town, CA

Calico Mine & Ghost Town

Calico is a ghost town located in the Mojave Desert region of Southern California. Founded in 1881 as a silver mining town, today it is a county park. It is located in unincorporated San Bernardino County off Interstate 15, 3 miles from Barstow.

Calico Mine & Ghost Town

At its height, shortly after it was founded, Calico had a population of 1,200 people and over 500 silver mines. Besides the usual assortment of bars, brothels, gambling halls and a few churches, Calico also supported a newspaper, the Calico Print. In the mid 1890s the price of silver dropped and Calico’s silver mines were no longer economically viable. With the end of borax mining in the region in 1907 the town was completely abandoned. The last original inhabitant of Calico before it was abandoned, Mrs. Lucy Bell Lane, died in the 1960s. Her house remains as the main museum in town.
In 1951, Walter Knott, founder of Knott’s Berry Farm, purchased the town and began restoring it to its original condition referencing old photographs. In the late 1950s, a western garbed man with Custer whiskers known as Calico Fred was a local fixture.  Though five of the original town buildings exist today, many others were recreated as replicas of their originals on preexisting foundations. In 1966, Knott donated the town to San Bernardino County, and Calico became a county regional park.
Today, the park operates mine tours, gunfight stunt shows, gold panning, a restaurant, the Calico & Odessa Railroad and a number of general merchandise stores. It is open daily, and requires an entrance fee. Calico is a registered California historic monument and the “official state silver rush ghost town” of California.
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How to Search a Creek Bed for Indian Arrowheads

Dry Creek Bed
Authentic fragments of history, Indian arrowheads fascinate the young and old alike. Finding them isn’t difficult if you know where to look. In areas where Native Americans settled, you will find spearheads and arrowheads in and around rivers and creek beds. With a few hunting techniques, you’ll be well on your way to attaining a piece of the past.
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Instructions

Things You’ll Need:
Metal garden trowel
Sieve, at least 8 inches wide
Plastic zip-type bags
Step 1
Research for the location of former Indian settlements at your public library or by talking to friends. Indians camped near water whenever possible so locating old riverbeds in areas where they lived is a good idea. Be sure to get permission if you want to explore on private property.
Step 2
Determine the time of year when the water in the creeks and rivers is the lowest. Some creeks are seasonal and can be completely dry for months. These make excellent arrowhead-hunting grounds.
Step 3
Dress for the occasion by wearing rubber fishing boots if water will be an issue. Don a multi-pocket vest to hold your “finds” and the implements you will use to locate them. A backpack is a good idea for bringing search items and snacks.
Step 4
Study the creek bed to determine which way the water flows when it is running. Not only did Indians camp by the water, it was a favorite spot to hunt animals as they came to drink. When an arrowhead was lost, it would sink, but due to the flat shape it often swept downstream when the water was rapid.
Step 5
Locate the front side of a bend in the creek. This is the most likely area for an Indian arrowhead to settle. These bends are easy to find because they usually have an additional accumulation of old branches and debris. Remove as much of the debris as you can, but if it is too heavy, don’t worry, you can search around it.
Step 6
Use your metal garden spade to scoop out small amounts of sand from the deposit. Use your sieve to sift the sand from rocks and arrowheads. Alternately, you may slice downward through the sand, listening for the sound of a rock surface hitting your metal spade. Search only the sand; arrowheads are rarely located in the clay sediment layer beneath.
Step 7
Scrape your spade between the exposed roots of trees that grow at the edge of the creek. This is another good place because these roots will often trap small arrowheads and hold them. Again, listen for the sound of metal hitting rock.

Explore, Be Patient and have fun

Published in: on June 13, 2010 at 5:09 PM  Comments Off on How to Search a Creek Bed for Indian Arrowheads  
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How to keep ice COLD in the desert.

Mojave Desert
One of the challenges of camping in the desert is keeping your ice cold and thus keeping your food and beverages cold and edible. How can you preserve your ice so it doesn’t melt so quickly? How can you keep your food from getting soggy from the melted ice? How can you keep a cooler cold for 5 to 10 days if ice is not available for purchase nearby? These are some of the most common questions asked by campers.
What type of cooler should you use?
There are many types of coolers to choose from, including metal, plastic, Styrofoam, soft-sided nylon and hard-sided plastic. The soft-sided nylon coolers and Styrofoam coolers are suitable for day trips. If you are camping overnight or going on a longer trip, it is very important to get a durable cooler that can keep your food and beverages cold over a period of time. Metal coolers hold heat longer when left in the sun, so plastic coolers are the most popular choice for campers.
One brand of plastic cooler mentioned numerous times in reviews, in blogs, and in articles, is the Coleman Xtreme Cooler. The Xtreme can keep ice frozen for up to five days in 90 degree F heat. It’s available in a variety of sizes including 52-, 62-, 70-, and 100-quart, and can be purchased with or without wheels. Another thermal-efficient cooler is the Max Cool Series made by Igloo.
When selecting a plastic or hard-sided cooler, make sure to choose a cooler that has an insulated lid with a tight seal. Make sure your cooler has a plug on the bottom for water drainage.
Preparation
Pre-chill your drinks and food before placing the items in the cooler. You’ll extend the life of your ice by pre-chilling all items. You can also pre-chill your cooler by filling it with ice to chill the interior, prior to packing it with food and beverages.
Freeze plastic bottles of water or canned drinks that are not carbonated, such as  fruit juices. The frozen drinks will act as ice and will keep the other items in your cooler colder. You can also freeze water or other non-carbonated beverages in gallon milk or juice jugs. They can be consumed when the liquid inside melts.
Freeze meat, and any other food that can be frozen, to help keep the food cold and fresh. Freeze bread and other food items that don’t require refrigeration, and store these items in a dry cooler without ice to keep food fresh and dry.
Line your cooler with Reflectix (aluminized bubble wrap). You can find it at most home improvement stores. It was invented to insulate homes and buildings. Smart campers came up with the idea to use Reflectix to keep the heat out and the cold air in coolers. Cut the Reflectix into pieces that fit, lining the inside of your cooler, including the top/lid. You can even throw a sheet of Reflectix over the outside of your cooler to further insulate it.
Packing your cooler
Pack items in your cooler in chronological order based on when you plan to use or consume the items. Put the items you will use last on the bottom of the cooler, and those you will need access to first, on top. Cold air travels down, so pack the items in the cooler first and then pack either crushed ice or block ice on top. Make sure you pack your cooler tight as air pockets can increase the temperature inside.
Pack perishables such as meat or dairy products directly on the ice. Put food in zip-lock plastic bags or in plastic containers to keep it dry as the ice melts.
For longer trips it’s a good idea to keep your beverages in a separate cooler that can be opened more frequently. Put all of your food in another cooler and open it less often.
The Ice
What type of ice should you use? Crushed ice cools items faster, but ice blocks last longer. Block ice is recommended for trips that are more than one or two days. Dry ice will last the longest and keep your food dry, but requires some special handling.
You can freeze water in quart-sized zip-lock bags. They will work just like ice packs, but won’t leak water as they melt. In addition, the bags of water, once melted, can be refrozen and used again. As noted above, frozen water bottles, milk or juice jugs filled with water or juice can be used in place of, or with ice cubes or blocks. Frozen blue ice packs also work well in place of ice.
If you are going on a trip where you will not be able to purchase ice or where you need your cooler to stay cold for several days or weeks, consider dry ice. Dry ice comes in blocks wrapped in paper. Keep the paper on the dry ice or wrap it in newspaper or craft paper. Don’t pick up the dry ice with your bare hands. Use gloves or some sort of barrier between your skin and the dry ice as it will burn your skin.
Dry ice will crack a plastic cooler if it is sitting directly on the bottom of the cooler or touching the sides. The dry ice needs to be wrapped in paper (NOT plastic), and placed on a rack or barrier so it doesn’t crack your cooler. You can cut down a cheap Styrofoam cooler, place the dry ice in the bottom of the cut down portion, and then place that inside of the plastic cooler. This creates a barrier between the dry ice and the plastic sides and bottom of the cooler. You might also try putting a stainless steel dish rack with legs in the bottom of the cooler and then placing the dry ice on the rack. Stainless steel dish racks can be found in most stores that sell kitchenware.
Anything stored right next to dry ice will freeze. Keep this in mind when packing fruit, dairy products or other items that you don’t want to freeze. Dry ice does not melt, it sublimates and keeps items cold or frozen, and dry.
Another idea is to pack the dry ice in a separate cooler and surround it with frozen blue ice packs. Don’t put any food or beverages in this cooler, just the dry ice with frozen blue ice packs. Once the blue ice packs in your food or beverage cooler are used up, switch the blue ice packs with fresh ones out of the dry ice cooler. It’s a great way to refreeze your blue ice packs and avoid damage to your food by freezing it too much with dry ice.
Does Salt Keep Your Ice Colder?
Fact or fiction . . . does salt keep your ice colder? Well, kind of. Salt melts ice. When salt is mixed with water and ice together, it can bring the freezing temperature of the water to a lower degree, making the water colder without freezing it. What this means is that the combination of salt, ice and water creates really cold water. The down side is that salt also causes the ice to melt, and the goal of keeping your ice cold for a long period of time is to keep the ice from melting.
The ice/water/salt combo is s a great trick if you are having a party, run out of cold drinks and need to chill something quickly. Put some water in a big bucket or pot, put the canned beverages or bottled beverages into the container, add ice and salt to the water and stir the mixture. Put the container with the salt water mixture and the drinks in the freezer and those beverages will be chilled in a matter of minutes. Or keep the mixture out and spin the drinks in the fluid – that will also speed up the chilling process. If you don’t spin the beverages or put the mixture in the freezer it will still chill the drinks faster than ice alone or your refrigerator would without the ice/water/salt mixture.
During your trip . . .
Once you arrive at your camping location be sure to keep your coolers in the shade and out of the sun. You can put an old sleeping bag over them for further insulation. You can also use a tarp or Reflectix to keep the sun off the cooler. Ice will last twice as long when your cooler is placed in the shade.
Only open your coolers when necessary and when you do open the cooler, close it right away. Don’t drain the cold water from freshly melted ice out of the cooler, as the cold water helps keeps the items in the cooler cold. Drain the water only when necessary to create more space in the cooler or when adding more ice.
Published in: on June 12, 2010 at 6:19 PM  Comments Off on How to keep ice COLD in the desert.  

Old Town Temecula, CA

Old Town Temecula, CA

Old Town Temecula

A collection of historic 1890s buildings, antique stores, shopping and restaurants, Old Town Temecula is also home to such events as car shows, western days and summer entertainment. Specialty food stores, unique boutiques, dozens of gift and collectible stores and 7 large antique dealers do business in the district.

Old Town is also home to the Temecula Museum which features exhibits about the local band of Native Americans and the local natural history and city development.

Old Town Temecula, CA

Wine Country

Over forty years after Richard Break and Leon Borel first planted 56 varieties of wine-making grapes in five different locations for the newly formed Rancho California Development Corporation, the Temecula Valley has become recognized as a full-fledged appellation boasting more than two dozen wineries and more than 3500 acres of producing vineyards. A short drive east on Rancho California Road from historic Old Town Temecula takes you into Temecula Valley’s wine country. There the visitor will find wineries and tasting rooms ranging from the rustic to the elegant, from a quaint chateau to a lavish resort, from a “Mom and Pop” operation to the corporate conglomerate. Home of the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival, held annually at Lake Skinner, visitors come to taste the regions wines and enjoy the warm climate.

Old Town Temecula, CA

Go To Their Webpage

Published in: on May 25, 2010 at 1:13 AM  Comments Off on Old Town Temecula, CA  
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Natural Teas From The Desert Floor

The creosote plant in bloom

Tea has been known in China since about 2700 BC. Tea was initially used strictly as a medicinal beverage obtained by boiling fresh leaves in water, but around the 300 AD it became a daily drink, and tea cultivation and processing of Chinese tea began.

But tea beverages have been drunk by most of the world’s cultures for millennia. Many of these were herbal teas, using a wide variety of native plant leaves, roots and stems steeped in boiling water.

There are, likewise, many desert plants, which have been used for centuries by Native Americans to brew tea. As in the Far East, they were primarily used for medicinal purposes rather than as a daily beverage. Below is a sample of some of the more common desert plants used for brewing tea.

Creosote Tea

(Larrea tridentata)

Place a sprig of Creosote leaves and flowers in a cup. Add boiling water, cover and steep 5 to 10 minutes (depending on strength desired), then strain. You may want to sweeten this strong, aromatic tea with honey.

Creosote bush is the dominant shrub over most of the southwestern deserts. California’s Cahuilla Indians brewed Creosote tea to relieve coughs, colds, flu, infections and bowel complaints. They also covered their heads with a blanket and inhaled the steam of creosote leaves in a boiling pot of water to relieve congestion.

Sagebrush Tea

(Artemesia spp.)

Place several Sagebrush leaves (preferably from a small plant) in a cup. Add boiling water, cover and steep 5 minutes. Strain, sweeten and serve. Native Americans regarded this bitter tea useful to promote sweating and to aid in digestion. Many prefer honey or lemon for flavoring. Note that the many species of Sagebrush are not really a sage, but are an annual evergreen shrub. All are aromatic.

Mormon Tea, Desert Tea, Squaw Tea

(Ephedra spp.)

In a boiling pot of water, place a small handful of green or brown Ephedra twigs for each cup desired. Cover and steep 20 minutes. Strain and drink. There are many species of Ephedras in the Desert Southwest, but all make a tasty, energizing tea. Southwestern Indians and European desert travelers have long brewed Mormon tea or chewed the twigs to quench thirst and boost energy. Mormon tea is considered a general tonic for stomach ailments and kidney disorders.

Note: Those who are sensitive to caffeine should probably avoid this tea. The drug ephedrine is obtained from a Chinese species of Ephedra.

Mesquite Tea

(Prosopis spp.)

Among the 3 species of mesquites in the desert, Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) is most preferred for brewing tea. Place 8 or 9 green or dry yellow twigs in a cup. Fill with boiling water, cover and steep 20 minutes. Or boil 24 seed pods in a pot for one hour. This sweet, mild tea has a vanilla-like flavor. It was used by Native Americans to treat diarrhea and stomach ulcers.

Sage Tea

(Salvia apiana / mellifera)

Bruise one leaf of either white or black sage, place in a cup and add boiling water. Cover and steep 5 minutes; strain, sweeten and serve. Native Americans used Sage Tea as a gargle for sore throats and to aid digestion. It was also used topically as a disinfectant. Note that White Sage is much stronger than Black Sage, which may require moderation.

WARNING: Many native and cultivated plants are extremely toxic and can result in severe illness, or even death if ingested. Never ingest any portion of any plant unless you are absolutely certain about its identity and harmlessness.

Published in: on May 15, 2010 at 1:07 AM  Comments Off on Natural Teas From The Desert Floor  
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Preparing Edible Cactus

Edible Cactus Pads
Edible cactus is also known as nopales (no-PAH-les), nopalitos or cactus pads. This vegetable is popular in Mexico and other Central American countries, parts of Europe, the Middle East, India, North Africa and Australia. Its popularity is increasing in the United States where it can be found at Mexican grocery stores, specialty produce markets and farmer’s markets.
Edible cactus is characterized by its fleshy oval leaves (typically called pads or paddles) of the nopal (prickly pear) cactus.
With a soft but crunchy texture that also becomes a bit sticky (not unlike okra) when cooked, edible cactus tastes similar to a slightly tart green bean, asparagus, or green pepper.
Cactus pads contain beta carotene, iron, some B vitamins, and are good sources of both vitamin C and calcium.
What is the difference between cactus leaves (edible cactus or nopales) and the prickly pear?
As part of the cactus plant, the prickly pear is a fruit that is 2 to 4 inches long and shaped like an avocado. Its skin is coarse and thick, not unlike an avocados and it ranges in color from yellow or orange to magenta or red. Tubercles with small prickly spines can be found on the prickly pear’s skin. This fruit’s flesh, which ranges in color also from yellow to dark red, is sweet and juicy with crunchy seeds throughout.
The prickly pear can be diced like pineapple and used as a topping on yogurt or cereal or blended into a smoothie.
Availability, Selection, and Storage
Edible cactus is available year-round with a peak in the mid-spring and the best season from early spring through late fall. When picking them wild wear gloves our use something rather than your hands to pick these up to avoid the spines, I prefer the use of a small fire to burn the spines from the fruit. Even after this type of preparation be extremely careful for remaining spines use gloves when available.  When buying edible cactus, choose small, firm, pale green cacti with no wrinkling. Be sure to pick cacti that are not limp or dry. Very small paddles may require more cleaning because their larger proportion of prickers and eyes.
Edible cactus can be refrigerated for more than a week if wrapped tightly in plastic.
Edible cactus is also sold as:
Canned — pickled or packed in water
Acitrones — candied nopales, packed in sugar syrup and available in cans or jars.
Preparation
The edible cactus you buy should be de-spined though you will need to trim the “eyes,” to remove any remaining prickers, and outside edges of the pads with a vegetable peeler. Trim off any dry or fibrous areas and rinse thoroughly to remove any stray prickers and sticky fluid.
Edible cactus can be eaten raw or cooked. To cook, steam over boiling water for just a few minutes (if cooked too long they will lose their crunchy texture). Then slice and eat! Cactus can also be cut and sautéed in butter or oil for a few minutes.
I prefer cactus to be added to scrambled eggs and omelets, or one can add to diced fresh and added to tortillas. They can also be substituted for any cooked green in most dishes.
The pads can be served as a side dish or cooled and used in salads. They taste especially good with Mexican recipes that include tomatoes, hot peppers and fresh corn.

Cactus Recipes

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 2:53 PM  Comments Off on Preparing Edible Cactus  
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Bodie Ghost Town State Historic Park, CA

Bodie State Historic Park, CA Map
More than 170 buildings are protected in a state of “arrested decay” on more than 1,000 remote acres, administered by the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

Seasons / Hours
Bodie State Historic Park is open year round. It opens at 8am everyday but closing time changes seasonally (mid summer closing is at 7pm, mid-winter at 4pm).
Winter Visits
Bodie is open all year. However, because of the high elevation (8375 feet), it is accessible only by over-snow equipment during the winter months.
Many four wheel drive vehicles get stuck each year in powdery snow that is deeper than it first appears. Spring thaws bring mud, and wheeled vehicles are not advised. TOWING FACILITIES ARE NOT AVAILABLE. Snowmobiles must stay on designated roads within the park.
Winter weather is often unpredictable. Sub-zero temperatures, strong winds and white-out conditions are not uncommon. Call 760-647-6445 for current conditions
Rates & Fees
$5.00 per person – $3.00 per child (No Credit Cards) – pets must be leashed.
Facilities
There are no services, camping, lodging, food vending or stores. There is one bathroom one museum open during the summer where books on Bodie and a few other items are available for sale. Restrooms (flush toilets) are located at the parking lot.
Bodie Ghost Town State Historic Park, CA
Climate
At an elevation of 8,400 feet, it’s hot during the summer, and potentially very cold during the winter. The weather can be changeable and layered clothing is recommended.
Location – Directions
The park is northeast of Yosemite, 13 miles east of Highway 395 on Bodie Road, seven miles south of Bridgeport.
Latitude/Longitude: 38.2122 / -119.0111

From U.S. 395 seven miles south of Bridgeport, take State Route 270. Go east 10 miles to the end of the pavement and continue 3 miles on an unsurfaced road to Bodie. The last 3 miles can at times be rough. Reduced speeds are necessary. Call the park if there are any questions about road conditions.
History
The town of Bodie rose to prominence with the decline of mining along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. Prospectors crossing the eastern slope in 1859 to search for gold, discovered what was to be the Comstock Lode at Virginia City and started a wild rush to the surrounding high desert country.
By 1879, Bodie boasted a population of about 10,000 and was second to none for wickedness, badmen, and “the worst climate out of doors.” One little girl, whose family was taking her to the remote and infamous town, wrote in her diary: “Goodbye God, I’m going to Bodie.” This phrase came to be known throughout the west.
Killings occurred with monotonous regularity here in Bodie, sometimes becoming almost daily events. The fire bell, which tolled the ages of the deceased when they were buried, rang often and long. Robberies, stage holdups and street fights provided variety, and the town’s 65 saloons offered many opportunities for relaxation after hard days of work in the mines. The Reverend F.M. Warrington saw it in 1881 as “a sea of sin, lashed by the tempests of lust and passion.”
Nearly everyone has heard about the infamous “Badman from Bodie.” Some historians say that he was a real person by the name of Tom Adams. Others say his name was Washoe Pete. It seems more likely, however, that he was a composite. Bad men, like bad whiskey and bad climate, were endemic to the area.
Whatever the case, the streets are quiet now. Bodie still has its wicked climate, but with the possible exception of an occasional ghostly visitor, its badmen are all in their graves. Only about five percent of the buildings it contained during its 1880 heyday still remain. Today, it stands just as time, fire and the elements have left it — a genuine California gold-mining ghost town. Designated a state historic park in 1962, it is now maintained in a state of “arrested decay.”
Bodie was named after Waterman S. Body (also known as William S. Bodey), who discovered gold here in 1859. The change in spelling of the town’s name has often been attributed to an illiterate sign painter, but it was really a deliberate change by the citizenry to ensure proper pronunciation.
You can see the Standard Mine and Mill on the west slope of Bodie Bluff. Because the old mill buildings and surrounding area are extremely unsafe, they are closed to the public. The mine was known as the Bunker Hill Mine when it was registered in July 1861. It passed through several hands before being sold for $67,500 to four partners, who changed the name and incorporated as the Standard Company in April 1877.
The Standard Mine yielded nearly $15 million over 25 years, and its success caused the 1878 rush to Bodie. In only a year, the population rose from about 20 to an estimated 10,000 miners, gamblers and other entrepreneurs. The Mill was destroyed by fire in 1898, but was rebuilt the following year. While the boom lasted, some 30 companies produced $400,000 in bullion per month for an overall total estimated at $90 to $100 million.
Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 2:23 PM  Comments Off on Bodie Ghost Town State Historic Park, CA  
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How to Make Maple Syrup at Home

Maple

What you need to start

First, you will need to obtain a sap spout from either a local farm supply store, or a sugaring supply company such as Leader Evaporator Company a sap bucket (also available at your farm or sugaring supply store), and some kind of cover to keep the rain and snow out.

Next, select a maple tree that is at least 14 inches in diameter (which would make it at least 40 years old). Drill a hole with a 7/16 drill about 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep…at about waist high. Hammer your spout into the tree and either attach a
sap bucket or a plastic bucket. .Put only one tap per tree.

Sugaring season begins around mid-February and goes until March and early April (depending on where in New England you live and how early the spring thaw arrives.)

How do you know when its time to tap? Check the outdoor temperature during the day and at night: If its gets 40 to 50 degrees F during the day and somewhat
below freezing at night, you can bet the sap is flowing.   This combination temperatures during the day and night pushes the sap up from the roots into the trunk and branches, where it freezes, and then the next day as it warms up, it drips out your spout.

How much sap do you need? It takes 40- 50 gallons of sap to make a gallon of maple syrup, so you might expect in 4 to 6 weeks to get 40 quarts of sap from a tree which would make one quart of syrup, this is why it is recommended to take advantage of several trees at once . Sap looks like water and is about 2% natural maple sugar.

Directions for making sap into syrup

Collect the sap from your bucket every day the sap drips (some days may be too cold or too warm and you won’t get much of anything) and try to boil it within 24 hours. Since you are evaporating most of the water, you will be producing lots of steam so back yard boiling works best on a gas grill. As the water is evaporated, the sap gets thicker and starts to look golden brown.

When the boiling is getting near done, and reaches 212 degrees F. the syrup will double in volume so be sure to have a large enough kettle to handle this expansion. When your product is near syrup, it might be best to take it inside and finish cooking it on your stove (be sure to have the exhaust fan going or you may loosen your wall paper with all the steam).

Maple syrup is cooked enough when its 219 degrees F. so a candy thermometer is critical. Overcooking will result in burning of the syrup and the pan. Maple syrup needs to be refrigerated once it’s done, and will keep for a couple years in
a glass jar. After all your hard work, pure maple syrup never tasted better.

Radiator Leaks in the Backcounty

Black Pepper

You’re out for a picnic driving the backcounty roads all of a sudden you hear the sound of a hiss coming from your engine block, The steam seeping from under your hood tells the rest of the story – you have a radiator leak. And now you need a radiator repair.Pull over! Many thousands of dollars are wasted on major engine repairs only because the driver “tried to make it” someplace while their car was overheating. When coolant is escaping from your radiator, your car’s ability to stay cool goes with it. If your engine’s insides get too hot, they start to distort, melt and break, leading to very costly repairs. Radiator repair is far less expensive than inner engine stuff.

If there is coolant gushing all over the place or you can see a broken or split radiator hose, you should try a radiator hose emergency repair patch or some duct tape. But if you have a pinhole leak, which usually appears in the radiator itself, you can save the day with a condiment. All you need is some pepper.

VERY IMPORTANT: Wait at least 15 minutes for your car to cool before attempting to make a roadside radiator or hose repair! Hot coolant will burn you!

Once things have cooled off, open the coolant filler cap and pour in as much pepper as you can find, up to a full shaker’s worth. Start the car and let it warm up, allowing the pepper to circulate. With a little luck, the little pepper pieces will find the pinhole and clog it right up, giving you a chance to get to the shop for a real fix.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that the pepper fix is permanent. Not only is it unlikely to last long, you need to get all of that pepper out of your car’s cooling system. It’s not supposed to be there, and while it will not likely cause any damage, it’s certainly not good for all those sensors and valves in there.

Published in: on February 25, 2010 at 5:21 PM  Comments Off on Radiator Leaks in the Backcounty  
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Dandelion fritters

Dandelion
During, spring in Michigan one of my favorite activities was making and eating dandelion flower fritters.
The simple dandelion is one of my favorite herbs.   This plant is tenacious, despite many folk’s best efforts to eradicate them from their lawns this plant has so much to offer.
They are easy to pick and so bright and cheery on a sunny day.  Pick these in the sunshine when they are open, and when you have time to make the fritters right after gathering.
Find a bowl, and mix together one egg and one cup of milk.  Stir in a cup of flour and your fritter batter is ready to go.  (If you like your fritters sweet you can add a little maple syrup or honey.)
Now, prepare a skillet on the stove with gently warmed olive oil – keep it over medium heat.
Take one of the flowers and hold it by the greens at the base of the flower petals. Dip the petals into the batter and twirl until the flower is covered.
Drop it into the skillet, flower side down.  Continue dipping and dropping flowers, checking the first ones every once in a while to see if they are brown.  When they’ve lightly browned, flip them over and brown them on the other side.
When they’re brown on both sides remove them from the skillet and drain the excess oil on paper towel.
For a sweet treat, drizzle them with maple syrup, honey, jam, or powdered sugar.  For savory fritters try dipping in mustard or adding some savory herbs to the batter.
A second method for fritter making is to pull the dandelion flower petals from the green base and add the petals to the batter.  Then you can cook them up just like pancakes.
Not only are the fritters delicious, the dandelion flowers are good for your heart.  Dandelion flower tea can help relieve pain from headaches, menstrual cramps, backaches, stomachaches and depression.  The rest of the plant (greens and roots) has nourishing, healing properties as well, the younger greens are great boiled and eaten as you would eat boiled spinach. So, once you’ve fallen in love with the flowers, consider seeking out further information.