A blog about living outside, first in my car, then in tents.
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Living Outdoors with Chiggers, Season Two

It started with ant bites swelling into red bumps on my foot and thigh. As if they sensed that a party had started, the chiggers joined in the next day. First my left arm, which I scratched raw a few times before buying Calamine lotion, which only helped a bit. Then something — a deer fly? Some other flying critter that specializes in sharp, fast stings or bites? — discovered the inside of my right ankle. I swatted it, it hurt, I swore, but thought nothing of it. Bug bites are so common as to not merit inspection. Until the next day, when my right ankle displayed a bruise — yes, a bruise —...
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I woke up with a whole new crop of itchy welts on my hands, forearms and one ankle. I don’t know if these bites are from chiggers, ants or mosquitos. I have to presume these happened overnight in the car while I slept.
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Mosquitos, Chiggers and Flies, Oh My!

I’m sitting in the car, trying to work, but in between every few words I type I stop to smack a mosquito or fly. It’s a little before before sunset, my favorite time of the day. But during the monsoons, which have been in full swing for a couple weeks (rain almost every day), the kings and queens of dusk are mosquitoes. My body is a colorful reminder that I moved stuff to new storage last weekend (i.e. bruises everywhere) and that the bugfest is taking its toll. I have an itchy half-inch welt on my left wrist that is getting bigger every day. The tiny bump between my fingers itches just as much....
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I’m close to falling apart

AGAIN it rained last night. Two people have stated their assumption that that is good for me. Lower temperatures, they note. And everyone in town loves the rain, which is so badly needed here. People even accept the storm damage as the price for the blessing of rain. For the first time in nine years living in Arizona, I can not welcome this rain. EVERY afternoon or night for several days the rain has soaked everything. I have no dry dog towels. The campsite is a mess, kitchen items and empty plastic water jugs muddy and scattered on the ground instead of organized. Witnessing a major lightning storm just over head from inside the...
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Smoke Relocation Unearths Cow Pies and Ashy Dirt; I Yell and Dance for “Bear”

Someone at the store suggested yesterday that I relocate to a canyon south of here and at a higher elevation. I wish I had thought of it when I drove into town Sunday night and saw the smoke layer covering much of the valley. Now it’s pack and unpack again — not that I have that much. On the drive up through the canyon we passed through one of the most beautiful hilly meadows I’ve ever seen. I stepped out of the car and was assaulted by flies. Cow pies. Everywhere. The rough dirt roads that climbed into various canyons branching off and adjacent to the main one were mostly empty of people, as...
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I’d forgotten about these nasty biting bugs. Damn. Chiggers love the grasslands. The higher the grass the better. And I’m living in a meadow full of high grass. Bleached dead grass, albeit, but high nevertheless. My first bites of the season are three in a line, across the fronts of both legs, just above the knee where my skirt ends. But they don’t itch (yet), so I asked around: Could it be chigger season already? One person swore and refused to talk about them, he hates them so much. Another said, “It depends on how high the grass is.” “It’s high,” I answered. “Then, yes.” Some number of years ago, after a particularly bad outbreak...
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