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Published on September 25, 2016, by admin in Adventure.

I had planned on staying at my camp in Colorado until Wednesday, but the remnants of a hurricane moving through the southwest was forecast to bring heavy rain to the area starting Tuesday night. Not wanting to deal with packing everything wet and taking a chance on soft, muddy roads going to the highway, I decided to move a day early. I really enjoyed my ten day stay in the San Juan National Forest below Pagosa Springs but it was time to move south and search for a warmer climate.

I drove 84 south into New Mexico and turned west on 64. A lot of northwest Mexico is Indian Reservation and offers the traveling nomad little in the way of free dispersed camping. On the Internet I found a free campsite below Navajo Lake State Park and stayed one night. It was really nothing more than a parking lot for fishermen and hikers, but it was quiet and free which was the main thing.

The next morning I drove to Pine Campground in the state park. I have been kicking around the idea of buying a New Mexico State season pass and staying in state parks for the next month as I tour the state. It would pay for itself in three weeks and I wouldn’t have to worry about finding camping, dump, and water every few days. The campground at Navajo Lake was like a ghost town. The entry station in front was abandoned to self pay pipes, the visitors center was closed, the camp host was nowhere to be found, and only a handful of fishermen were camped in the park. There was nobody to even ask about a season pass.

I decided to stay one night to take advantage of the dump station, water fill, and hot showers in the bath house. For $10 it was a good deal. Once I was parked and set up, I walked down to the marina to take a look around.

The Marina was filled with rows of houseboats and rental watercraft of any size you could want. You could rent paddle boats, kayaks, rowboats, motorboats, houseboats, and even jet ski boats. This late in the year there wasn’t much going on. Only a few boats were out on the lake and the docks were empty

Years ago Mom and Dad spent many summers at this lake. Dad loved to fish and I could imagine him out on the lake in his little fishing boat, enjoying the relaxing hobby of casting a line into the water, waiting for that big fish to take the bait, and gathering tales to share with friends back at camp. It was nostalgic and sad all at the same time.

I noticed the little store on the main walkway to the rows of tied-off houseboats was open so I went in.

I told the girls in the store about Mom and Dad spending summers here at the lake and mentioned a picture taken of Dad holding a prized, trophy fish he had caught. I didn’t really expect there would be an old shoebox with discarded photographs but I asked about it anyway. Neither girl had any knowledge of such a thing. The only pictures posted on the walls were of proud fishermen holding their catch up for the camera in an advertisement for some fishing guide.

The next day I drove to Farmington and spent the night at Walmart. One thing I noticed about the drab and barren landscape along highway 64 is how rich the ground must be in gas and oil. There were dozens and dozens of well along the road. It seemed that every other vehicle I met was a white pickup, sporting a flag atop a long whip antenna, turning down side roads on their way to check on the wells. I also met quite a few tanker trucks running the highway to deliver the oil to the refineries. A lot of the main and side roads were pretty rough and I don’t doubt that all the heavy truck traffic has something to do with it.

The next morning, Friday, I traveled south out of Farmington on Rt. 371. I looked at some BLM boondocking a mile out of town but it was uninviting. The road in was steep and sandy, and with all the rain, reeked of a bad experience. It doesn’t take much wet sand to bury the tires of a motorhome.

Years of erosion

Years of erosion

I continued south for another 30 miles to a place called Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness that has a parking lot where people can camp overnight. The road in was washboard and filled with puddles. When I arrived at the parking lot I was surprised to see it was almost full of cars. It had been raining and cold for the last two days and I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to hike out to the formations in all this mud and rain. I found one corner of the parking lot open and parked Minnie somewhat level.

later that morning I talked with some of the people here and found out they are a photography group meetings here to learn and share in their hobby. I guess some of the hoodoos and formations are very colorful if you catch them in the right light. They all walked out to the eroded cliffs in the evening and then again before dawn to photograph the sunrise display of color. They sure take their hobby seriously because it was below freezing overnight and some of them were camped in tents. I waited until about noon and the temperature was more human before I walked out into the wilderness area.

 
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Published on September 14, 2016, by admin in Adventure.

It has been a day of rain, hail, and lighting. Thankfully, the hail has been small and the lightning far away. The sky will darken and let loose with a torrential downpour for a few minutes, and then almost immediately, the sun will shine brightly, tempting me to venture out for a ride. I was almost fooled into riding down to a road I want to explore, but luckily I stayed close to home. It has been a good day to hunker down and catch up on the blog.

I’m camped in the San Juan National Forest, just south of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. As the crow flies it is only 15 miles north of the border or New Mexico. I checked out a place called Kinney Flats where RVSue boondocked a while ago, but I couldn’t find a good campsite and I had no cell signal. I unloaded Honda and explored up a road called Valle Seco where I found a good camp with marginal cell signal. I will probably stay here for about a week.

Abandoned comfort station in the woods.

Abandoned comfort station in the woods.

There are several camps of hunters on this road. They are quite friendly and stop to talk as they drive by in their pickups and ATV’s. They always want to know if I’ve heard any “bugling “. I get the sense they like to drive the roads looking for game more than walking in the woods. I know they really like to talk about hunting.

I have been having trouble with my solar the last few weeks. It just didn’t seem to be charging like it should. Yesterday, I grabbed hold of the connector where I plug my portable panels into the pigtail on my rig and found it extremely hot! When I wiggled the wires they fell apart. The connection was all corroded and I was loosing all the juice from the panels. I spliced them back together with a temporary fix and now they are working great again.

Next stop will be New Mexico. I have been looking for a New Mexico Delorme Gazetteer in the last few towns I’ve been through but have not found one yet. The detailed topographic maps help me find dispersed camping in most of my travels and I rely more on them than any other source. I cringe at the investment I’ve made in these maps – I have 9 state atlases at $20 each.

 
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Published on September 10, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
Dunes

Dunes

As I slowly transition my travels from the lofty mountains of Colorado to the warmer climate in New Mexico, I noticed Great Sand Dunes National Park was on the way. It didn’t look like there was any National Forest nearby where I could camp so I decided to stay in the park for a couple days. I also needed to dump and fill with water, and knew I could do both there.

The campground had two loops, one that was first come basis, and another that was reservation only. A few of the sites in the reservation loop could be used if they were not reserved for the night. It was a very confusing system and puzzling to figure out. Two other campers and I looking for a site were not sure if we had to call Reserve.Gov or just pay at the entrance. The camp host finally assured us we could pay here.

I never expected to find the campground so full. It was after Labor Day and I was arriving on a Wednesday. I thought that after the kids went back to school and the weather turned to Fall that the parks would be less crowded. I mentioned this to a park employee and she told me that that is what a lot of people think. The reality is that retired people are out in force thinking the same way I do.

There is not much to see at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Once you walk through the visitor center – two thirds of which is dedicated to a gift shop – and climb up the sand dunes, you’ve pretty much seen it all.

The geology and history of the park were interesting. The sign markers spend a lot of detail telling how the blowing sand from the San Luis Valley got trapped in a basin of the Cristo Mountains and was piled as high as 750 feet.

I climbed part way up the dunes on my second day at the park. One of the attractions for adventurous people who visit the park is sledding the dunes. They use special sleds and snowboards, made slippery with a special wax applied to the bottom surface. I saw quite a few falls but the sand cushions a lot of the impact. I’m sure there are some that take on more hill than skill level and get hurt, too.

I left the park on Friday and traveled west to South Fork, Colorado. South Fork is surrounded by national forest and I explored a few roads looking for a dispersed campsite to ride out the weekend. I looked at a couple pay campgrounds on the Beaver Creek Road but I didn’t think they were as special as the price indicated. I finally met a forest employee and asked him about free camping and he directed me to the Park Creek Road.

Pretty place to camp.

Pretty place to camp.

But cold overnight!

But cold overnight!

I’m not sure what the elevation is here because I have no cell signal. I have a feeling it is probably close to 9000. I’m not very far from the Continental Divide and it was only 25 degrees this morning. It is a pretty campsite, nestled in a valley of lush meadows, surrounded by tall pines and Aspen just starting to change to fall color, and a gentle, clear stream beside my rig. The only thing that gives me pause is the fact it is hunting season, and pickups with quads loaded on trailers have been driving by all morning.

 
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Published on August 30, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
Make up your own caption.

Make up your own caption.

With all the cold weather at my 9500 foot camp, I was determined to find a place where I could sit in the sun and bake. In the morning I drove east on Route 50, and as soon as I crested the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass and started down the other side, the sun came out and the air had a more gentler feel. With the sun on my face and optimism that summer would last another week, I turned north at Salida and drove to Leadville.

Leadville is over 10,000 feet high, and in a hot summer, the perfect place to be. I rationalized that it would be good to explore the area for a few days and mark down future camps. As long as it doesn’t get way below freezing, I should be okay.

From other blogs I knew where a good dispersed camping place was. I followed a road called Half Moon up into the San Isabel National Forest, found a perfect spot, and set up camp.

The sun was warm so I jumped on Honda to explore the forest road past my camp. As I drove the road I found three forest campgrounds and two trailheads that hikers use to climb into the 14,000 foot peaks. I stopped at one trailhead and walked a half mile to where it joined the Continental Divide Trail, just to say I was on it again.

On the way back I pulled into one of the forest service campgrounds to check it out. I first stopped to read the board and see what they charge. I was a little surprised to see it was $16. The sites were tight, the road was in bad need of grading, and I couldn’t see any water spigots. As I drove the loop a pickup chased after me and flagged me down. I turned Honda off and said, “Hi.”

“You can’t ride that in here!”, was the first thing out of his mouth.

“Sure I can. This is licensed for highway use.”

“It doesn’t matter! “, he shot back. “This is a private campground.”

“Isn’t this a forest service campground?”

“It is run by a private concessionare. We get a lot of off road people driving through here with their noisy machines. Campers can’t even sit outside and enjoy their dinner.”

I explained to him that I was just looking for possible places to camp while I was there. I told him that I drove slowly through campgrounds and was respectful of people camping. He kind of softened then and agreed that I was being respectful. It probably helped when he realized I was the same age as he and not some smart-allic kid on a dirt bike.

Nice camp

Nice camp

I asked him why with all the beautiful dispersed campsites along the road would anyone spend $16 to camp here?

“Well, you have the outhouses”, was all he could come up with.

I have run into the concessionare campgrounds before. The forest service doesn’t have the time or resources to take care of campgrounds and they must be having trouble getting camp hosts. This guy said he takes care of three campgrounds and I’m sure it is a paid position. I’m afraid the next change that will come with turning forest campgrounds over to private companies is the end of discounts for seniors.

 
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Published on August 28, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
Cold!

Cold!

It has been raining here for four days. I wouldn’t mind the rain so much but along with it has come chilly temperatures. A few night have been below freezing and the days seldom get out of the 50’s. I don’t like running my heater all the time so I sit under a blanket in the morning and evenings. This is not my idea of migrating with the weather so I guess it is time to find a warmer location.

About the only thing I have done this week – except for staying cooped up inside my camper – is get in short walks when the rain reluctantly lets up. I did build a fire one evening to burn some trash, but the sticks I found were so wet the fire was stubborn to light. I have a stream near Minnie so getting water for washing and flushing is convenient.

Moose

Moose

Two days ago a moose and her two young ones walked by my camp. That was pretty cool! I opened the door and took several pictures. I was afraid of scaring them off but they were pretty tame.

Four days ago, before all the gloomy, wet weather set in, I rode a few miles to a town called Tin Cup. Tin Cup is the site of an old mining town, abandoned when the minerals ran out, and kept alive by the few tourists that spend summer vacations there.

The cafe and store are the only businesses that I saw. In the store were racks of hats, t-shirts, and trinkets, all printed with the town name and priced to reflect a tourist establishment. On a small shelf were a few candy bars for sale, and a small cooler with a glass door held a few drinks.

While I rode the dirt, main street through town, I saw a sign that pointed to the cemetery and decided to take a look. Some of the grave markers dated back into the 1800’s and there were a few that had been erected in the last few years. What was interesting about the cemetery was how it was laid out. There were four distinct hills that defined the burial grounds, and each hill held people of different faiths. There was a Catholic knoll, a Jewish knoll, and two Protestant knolls. I’m not sure where they put the Atheists.

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The sun is out now so I had better pack a few things before it starts to rain again.

 
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Published on August 21, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
Frosty!

Frosty!

It was very cold here this morning. Even though it is still summer in Colorado, the nights can get downright chilly when you’re at 9400′. This morning my thermometer said 31 degrees when I got up. I talked with another couple that camps here every year and they said that after Labor Day it is just to cold to be here. The days warm up nice as soon as the sun comes up, so it is good to sleep in if you can.

I’m camped about a mile from Taylor Park Reservoir on a forest road in the Gunnison National Forest. The area is a haven for OHV. A small community down by the reservoir rents quads and motorcycles and many visitors that come here trailer in their own. It is so friendly to OHVs that you can drive them on dirt forest roads without a vehicle license.

Good views

Good views


Yesterday I rode Honda up Cottonwood Pass Road. The road was all gravel with many washboard and pothole sections for the 15 mile drive to the top. It was really beautiful at the pass. You had views for many miles in both directions. I walked around the summit for a while, enjoying the cool air and scenery, until dark clouds moving closer convinced me to head down.

3000 mile trail

3000 mile trail

I thought it was neat that the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail crosses the road at the pass, and I sampled a bit of the path just to say I had been on it. With Honda doing all the work to get up there – over 12,000 feet of altitude – I’m quite familiar with how much harder it is to walk up.

Long way down.

Long way down.

A lot of weekenders are pulling out today. With school starting back up and many vacationers going back to work, it should be less crowded in the forests and parks. I may stay here for a couple weeks and then find someplace a little warmer.

 
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Published on August 20, 2016, by admin in Adventure.

I knew it was time to leave Caddis Flats Campground when two unfortunate things happened on Monday and Tuesday. The first thing that happened didn’t really affect me much but it was exciting anyway. I had been out doing a little hiking and panning down the river, and on my return to my camper, just as I rounded the last curve, I was met with all sorts of emergency vehicles with flashing lights parked along the road by the campground entrance. As I got closer I saw that a vehicle had lost control and rolled down the embankment where it ended up on its top. I told the Sheriff I had a camper in the campground and they eventually moved the firetruck so I could get in. The good thing was that the guy involved in the accident was not hurt.

Later that night I woke to go to the bathroom, turned on the light, and came face to face with a mouse on my counter. He didn’t seem startled at all and didn’t even run until I started chasing him with a shoe. I checked my drawer where I keep my snacks and found several things chewed. I slept very little the rest of the night, expecting the little intruder to come back and continue his ransack of my kitchen. Early the next morning I packed up Minnie and headed north.

I spent the night at a Walmart in Montrose, Colorado where I purchased two mousetraps and more snacks. Then I moved all food to cupboards that were sealed. So far my traps remain baited and ready for the next invasion. It is amazing how fast the little varmints can find a way in. All I lost was a few snacks, but I’ve heard horror stories of mice getting in the engine and chewing the wiring. I usually leave the hood open when I park now. It is supposed to discourage mice from hiding and doing mischief under there.

Black Canyon cut by the Gunnison River

Black Canyon cut by the Gunnison River

Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of those places you can’t capture with a picture. Like the Grand Canyon you have to see it in person. The black volcanic rock gives the appearance of Gothic walls descending into the canyon.

I was interested in finding a campsite for the night so I drove a road that parallels the canyon to the north and skirts the southern boundary of Gunnison National Forest. I finally found a forest road that took me to a pretty camp at the base of an Aspen forest. I set up camp with the idea of exploring further up the road to see if there was any cell service.

The next day I rode about 10 miles up into the mountains. I didn’t find any more camps until almost at the top, and even then no cell signal. It would have been way too cold to camp up there anyway. Several times as I rode the narrow mountain road, cows would be standing in groups on the road. The mountain road was cut into a steep bank that offered very little pasture for the herd, but the cows seemed to be content to walk the road grazing the narrow shoulders. The problem was that when I would try to go by them, they would think I was chasing them and run up the road in panic. I usually had to drive along behind them until they would get tired enough that I could zip around.

When I looked out the window the next morning, there were 20 more cows standing in front of Minnie. I saw two move over to Honda and lick the seat. I though back to when I was on the farm and a cow ruined the seat of a motorcycle I had foolishly left parked in the pasture, so I jumped out the door and yelled at them to get out of my yard. They moved back a few feet and gave me a look like – who do you think you are? It wasn’t until I picked up a switch and swung it at them that they moved on across the road. I was going to wait until after the weekend to move, but cows and no cell convinced me to hit the road again.

Tonight I am at a campground a few miles north of Gunnison, Colorado. There is no cell signal here either, but I talked with the camp host who told me there is dispersed camping a few miles up the road by a reservoir that has good AT&T cell service. The host and his wife have AT&T phones and have to drive up there to make calls. I will pay to stay here one night and explore the area around the reservoir tomorrow.

 
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Published on August 13, 2016, by admin in Adventure.

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I have done some exploring of the area near my camp here at Caddis Flats in Placerville, Colorado. Two days ago I rode 25 miles to Ridgeway and checked out a few forest roads along the way. I found some nice isolated campsites but none of them had any cell signal. I would probably move if I could find a more private spot with all the amenities I look for in a temporary home. This campground is okay but a little to close to the main road.

Yesterday I rode to Telluride. The town reminds me of Jerome, AZ., or Julian, CA. There were lots of stores selling trinkets or souvenirs, and restaurants that I could only guess at their prices. The one gas station just outside town had regular for $3.00/gal. I get the sense that the tourists who come here are not worried about what anything costs.

Telluride, Colorado is famous for a world class ski resort, golf course, and even – I found this kind of amusing – an opera house. I didn’t go to the opera or play golf, but the ski resort runs a gondola to the top of the mountain, and it is totally free. You just walk up and get in the gondola. In the summer, mountain bikers ride the gondolas to the top and ride their bikes down several different trails.

Telluride far below

Telluride far below

The view from the summit was fantastic. At 10,500 feet, 1800 feet higher than Telluride, you get a splendid panoramic view in all directions. I liked that ride very much.

The only other time I got to ride a ski resort gondola for free was when I was hiking the AT. Killington Mountain in Vermont offered free rides in their gondolas to any thruhikers that showed up. The difference was that we were hiking over the top of the mountain and got to ride down and back up. Both places are happy if you get something to eat in their restaurant. I remember buying snacks at a vending machine on Killington.

I was fascinated to learn that there are four stores in Telluride that sell Marijuana. I guess there is more than riding the gondolas that will get you high on the ski slope. Years ago I would have been too shy to go into a store like that just to look around, but my exploratory nature has made me more bold in the last few years.

The shop was small with a glass display of all the smoking pipes and supplies on one side and a chalkboard with prices above a counter on the other. On a shelf above the counter there were several glass jars of different varieties that customers could choose from depending on how they wanted the drug to make them feel. I talked with the young lady behind the counter for a few minutes, asking about the business and then asked if I could take pictures. She let me take one of the display case but she did not want me to photograph the price blackboard behind the counter.

Pot store

Pot store

Today I rode west along the San Miguel River. There were several recreation areas, spaced every few miles along the road, and I stopped at several to see what they offered. I sometimes wish I liked to fish or had a kayak to enjoy on rivers like these.

I did find places where it is legal to prospect for gold, and later in the afternoon I returned with my gold pan and spent about an hour panning beside the river. I found several flecks of gold, but they were so small I washed most of them back into the river. The gold found along this river is mostly tiny grains and hardly worth the time.

I have explored every road north, east, and west of here. After the weekend it will be time to move on.

 
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Published on August 10, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
Battle

Battle

My camp in the Monti-La Sal National Forest was great. I had pleasant temperatures for the ten days I was there, I had good cell service, it was close enough to town for supplies, and a nearby stream let me do laundry and supply my non-potable water needs. I was isolated enough that hardly anyone came by and there were shade trees that I could sit under in the afternoon. I will definitely remember the spot for future travels.

Cowboys lost the fight

Cowboys lost the fight

In the last few days I was there I made several sidetrips on Honda. A ride into the mountains towards Colorado brought me to a display of dinosaur tracks in the rocky ground, another rough, dirt road took me to a historic site where there was a battle between Indians and ranchers, and the day before I left I rode several miles to Gold Canyon at 10,000 feet. I waited until after the weekend, packed Minnie, and headed into Colorado.

It took a lot of packing to get ready to go. I had my screen tent set up and an awning fastened to the side of my rig, plus I had unloaded my motorcycle trailer to use for hauling water. I had really set up a nest for an extended stay. By the time I drove down the mountain and reached Cortez, Colorado, it was early afternoon.

Cortez had everything I needed to equip for my next travel leg. I stocked up on groceries at Walmart, found a laundromat to get everything clean again, dumped tanks, filled my propane, and of course, I had a hamburger at Mcdonalds. After all these chores – the laundromat driers were particularly slow – I finally got back on the road.

I wanted to head over to Mesa Verde National Park but I talked with some people who said the cliff dwelling tours are booked several days in advance. I have been to all the National Parks in Utah and several times to the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde National Parks. I decided this trip that rather than fight the crowds at the national parks I would instead explore the national forests that almost always surround the parks. I have found some of the best camping and scenery exploring the back roads of our forests. With that in mind I headed north towards Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Above Telluride

Above Telluride

Most of the time while looking for a good place to camp, I park Minnie someplace safe and ride the back roads on Honda. For some reason I turned up a side road just past Telluride Ski Resort into the Uncompahgre National Forest. It was a mistake! The road soon narrowed to one lane with a dropoff on one side, threatening slides on the other, and an unstable road bed from days of heavy rains. I pushed on with clenched fingers on the steering wheel and heart pounding, hoping it didn’t get worse before I found a place to turn around. Eventually, the road widened some, and after two miles I found a place to turn around. On the way down I kept meeting SUVs on the way up and we would squeeze by holding our breath. Luckily, I met no one on the very narrow streatch. I don’t want to reach for that much drama ever again.

River

River

Right now I’m parked just north of Placerville, Co, at a place called Caddis Flats campground. It is along the San Miguel river on BLM land. I will probably stay here for a few days even though it is a little too close to the road for my taste. At least I have cell and the river out my window is lovely.

 
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Published on August 1, 2016, by admin in More Stuff.

Going to get water from a nearby stream with my tanker trailer.

Dramatization

Dramatization

Washing by hand is easy!

Hand wringing

Hand wringing

Watch them dry.

Watch them dry.

It is a very nice camp so I will stay for a while.

 
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Published on July 29, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
Mice!

Mice!

Sometimes you get a feeling you should check something. I pulled apart Minnie’s air breather and took out the air filter to find it had been chewed by a rodent. I’m not sure how long Minnie’s engine has been suckling dust through the hole, but it gave me a new perspective on keeping an eye on the engine for invaders. I usually like to sit outside and watch the woodland creatures playing and scurrying around, but when I saw a small chipmunk approaching my van the other day, I picked up a stone and threw it at him.

I left Nevada on Monday and traveled east on US 50. There was hardly any traffic except for a small section where Rt. 50 joined Interstate 15 for a few miles. I like driving the back roads where you can get away from all the traffic and 80 mph speed limits, but the roads are narrower and oncoming vehicles make me flinch with the possibility of distracted drivers.

I spent the night in the Fishlake National Forest a few miles east of Salina, UT. The next day I explored up a road called Gooseberry Canyon and found many camping spots at cooler high elevation. It made me disgusted to see many trailers parked in nice campsites holding spots for weekend campers. You could tell some of them had been there for a long time, like their own private summer home in the mountains. I don’t know why the forest service allows this.

Rock climbers paradise.

Rock climbers paradise.

The next day I drove I 70 to just outside Moab, UT and turned up Rt. 128. The road follows the Upper Colorado River through a beautiful scenic gorge with many campgrounds scattered along the river. As I drove the narrow, winding road, hundreds of people in bright yellow rubber rafts floated by on the river. It must be a thriving business. Most of the traffic was vans pulling trailers filled with rubber boats or returning empty to retrieve them.

I was not looking for a pay campsite that had triple digit temperatures like these along the river so I turned up a road into the Manti-la Sal National Forest. On my map I noticed a road that made a big circle up into the forest and I was hoping to find a good campsite.

Out the windshield I could see ahead of me a majestic mountain range that looked like there might be all my qualifications for a good place to stay. It would be high enough to be cool during the day, I might get a cell signal being this close to Moab, there should be roads to explore on Honda, and best of all, be free.

The road up into the mountains was steep and twisty. Honda would have liked it but Minnie did not. I was relieved after 10 miles and several thousands of feet in elevation gain to come upon a campground called Mason Draw. The campground was small, made mostly for people with tents, but it was priced right – $2.50 with senior pass – so I resolved to stay a couple nights. The only spot that was open to the sky for my dish and solar had a sloped driveway that made getting Minnie level impossible. I put down all the boards I had to ramp up the front end but still couldn’t get anywhere near level. I felt like I was living in the crooked little house on the crooked little hill.

The next morning I took Honda on an exploration. The road up into the forest loops over the top and continues down through a beautiful gorge where it eventually comes out on the highway a ways below Moab. The road is aptly named the Loop Road. Where the road curves through the gorge, I saw a sign pointing to an area where it is famous for rock climbing. I followed a gravel road that branched off and climbed high up the mountain to another campground, but the road was too rough to think of taking Minnie up there. Eventually I found a secluded spot only a half mile from the Loop Road that had good cell signal, level parking, and was free. Even though I had paid for another day in the campground, I drove back and moved here for the weekend.

 
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Published on July 25, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
I'm here.

I’m here.

After spending 10 days camped in the Dixie National Forest in Utah, I packed up and headed for Great Basin National Park, located just inside the eastern border of Nevada. The Park was not far from the circular route of my summer plans this year so I decided to check it out and spend a couple days exploring the area. The weather this summer has been especially hot, and my travels landed me at Great Basin National Park in the middle of steamy July. Fortunately, there are mountains in Nevada where one can camp at such an altitude as to get some relief from the heat of summer.

Almost the entire state of Nevada lies within a land mass known as the Great Basin. It is bounded in the east by the Wasatch Mountains in Utah and on the west by the Sierra Nevada range. What little moisture that falls from summer storms or melts from snow that accumulates in the mountain ranges, never reaches any ocean. The rivers run to the dry desert interior where it evaporates or sinks into the ground. A small portion of the Great Basin was set aside as a National Park by Congress in 1986.

Snow!

Snow!

There are two cool things to do in Great Basin National Park. The first is Lehman Cave, a cute underground cavern where visitors can sign up for an hour-long guided tour. The Ranger was very knowledgeable and I enjoyed looking at all the formations and learning of the history of early explorers to the cave.

There is also a scenic 12 mile highway up Wheeler Peak to 10,000 feet. Honda liked climbing that steep, curvy road very much. It was 50 degrees in the cave and pretty comfortable up on the mountain, so the cave tour and the mountain ride were welcome diversion from the heat.

There is a campground near the top of the mountain called Wheeler Peak. The day I rode up there – not even a weekend – every site was occupied. Many visitors were seeking the cooler temperature of the high mountain.

I stayed two nights in the lower park campground called Baker Creek. Even though the Baker Creek campground was at 7700′, it was still hot during the day. When it would become uncomfortable in camp I would jump on Honda and explore the area. I found a few boondocking sites along Rt. 50 but nothing had any cell service. It is such a remote National Park – 70 miles from the nearest decent town and nowhere even close to an Interstate – that cell towers are few and far between.

On Friday I moved to a campground in the Humboldt National Forest, twenty miles north of Ely, NV. It is a nice campground but the road in was very rough and there is no cell signal. I will stay here until Monday and then head back into Utah. As I cross Utah on my way to Colorado, I hope to find a couple cool places to camp.

 
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Published on July 13, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
Donna

Donna

My sister Donna drove her motorhome to Flagstaff a few days ago and camped three days with me in the Coconino National Forest. While she was there we rode on Honda up to Lowell Observatory and took a guided tour of the restored original telescope. It was quite interesting but we both agreed the tour guide was a little too talkative. He told us detailed history of the Lowell family way back to the 1600’s. He also talked way to much about how the observatory was run on donations, and how much he would appreciate it if we could leave some money in the box on our way out. We figured the price we paid for admission was a little high and we had donated enough. We didn’t stay too long because we were both hungry and we worried that Hanna would be hot in Donna’s motorhome.

We stopped at Wendy’s for a baked potato and then headed back to our camp. It was still cool in Donna’s motorhome so Hanna was fine.

North Rim overlook

North Rim overlook

On Sunday we drove to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, stopping briefly at Marble Canyon and waving hello to the Vermillion Cliffs as we drove by. The temperature through there was brutal so we made tracks to the high country of the North Kaibab National Forest as quick as we could.

The worst part of the drive was the wind. I would never intentionally drive in wind as bad as we saw today. Both our rigs are pretty high-profile and the gusts knocked us around all the way here. The last part of the drive was directly into the wind and I’m sure my gas mileage was cut in half. We were both exhausted by the time we found our campsite and could finally relax.

We are only a few miles from the National Park entrance so Honda will take us the rest of the way in. While we were camping in Flagstaff, we ran into a couple that I had met before in Quartzsite. They had planned to meet us here at the North Rim but so far we can’t find them. There is no cell service here.

When we arrived at our little campsite here in the Kaibab and set up camp, Donna remarked, “No wonder you don’t want to break camp and move every day. You have a lot of stuff to set up!”

She is right. After I find my parking spot I have to get out and assemble my satellite dish, wire and aim it, then carry my solar panels out and run the wires, weight everything down with rocks so they don’t blow away, hook up my propane extend-a-tank, and finally unload my motorcycle. After that I can start working on the inside. She sets out her rug and chair and is pretty much done.

We did meet up with our friends at the Canyon and they joined us for two days at our camp. Buffalo hunting season starts on Friday so it was time to get out of here and head north. Next stop Bryce Canyon National Park.

 
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Published on June 27, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
Rain port

Rain port

Flagstaff has a few interesting tourist sites in and around the city. I have been to most of them on past visits but I find there are reasons to see them again. First of all, the places are fun to experience again, and secondly, I am building my trust back in Honda as I ride all over the area. And so when Richard suggested we meet up and ride to Walnut Canyon National Monument, I was happy to agree.

We decided to meet at Del Taco, have lunch, and then ride a back road the few miles to Walnut Canyon. It was only about 10 miles for me to our meeting place, but Richard and Dianna had a long trip from their home. We had a nice lunch and then headed down historic Route 66 going east out of town.

Route 66 parallels Interstate 40, and because it is not a main route anymore, understandably gets less attention from the maintenance crews. The road was very rough in places where the blacktop was broken and chipped. I was following Richard and Dianna down the highway when all of a sudden I saw them hit a particularly bad hole in the pavement. Richard’s travel mug bounced out of its holder and hit the road with a burst of liquid and flying parts. We came to a quick stop, parked along the road , and searched for several minutes for the missing lid. Richard finally located the lid up a bank and fit the damaged but usable pieces back together. We took it a little slower the rest of the way.

Walnut Canyon is a preserved site of ancient Anasazi cliff dwellings. The canyon is littered with dozens of stone structures built hundreds of years ago under the natural eroded cliffs. The park service maintains a walkway down 240 steps to a circular path where visitors can see close up the places the Indians lived. It is quite interesting to imagine what it would be like to live the way they did.
The problem with 240 steps down is that they must be climbed again to return to the visitors center. The afternoon was hot and I had forgotten to bring my water bottle. We all were feeling pooped by the time we reached the top. We spent a few minutes looking at the displays in the visitors center and then rode back into town for ice cream. It rained on us briefly on our way back but it actually felt good. We skipped Rt. 66 on our return and rode the busy but smooth Interstate highway.

It was a fun afternoon. Good times!

 
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Published on June 26, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
Trash

Trash

You never know what you’ll find while out walking in the woods. The other day I discovered an abandoned, family dump area only a few hundred yards from my camp that held the remains of discarded metal parts and tin cans. A lot of the trash was remains of some broken appliance or car part, but most of it was tin cans of the beverage type with two triangular holes punctured in the top (the sight of these always takes me back to another time.)

Probably the only thing that will recycle this boat is fire, but the forest is slowly swallowing up the rest of the trash pile, covering the metal with falling needles and rusting away the once treasured life of the object, and in a few more decades nothing visible will remain. It always makes me think of the answer an archeologist gave when asked how we know so much about past civilization. That answer he gave was: “We dig through their trash.”

When we lived on the farm we had a place back in the woods where all the trash was dumped. Every few weeks we would load up the wagon with discarded cans, bottles, broken plates, and useless trash that wouldn’t burn, and carry it back to a corner of the property and toss it over a bank. In the woods the trash was mostly out of sight and definitely out of mind. It is what all farmers did and probably do today.

I am camped in the Coconino National Forest just west of Flagstaff, AZ. I have my motorcycle back now and it seems to be running fine. After all this time waiting for it to be fixed it turns out that the main problem was just a faulty ignition switch. The good news is that the repairs were all covered by the warranty. The bad new is that this long wait has interrupted my plans for the summer and caused me to rethink what I will do.

It has been quite hot here in Flagstaff this week. The temperature has climbed into the 90’s each day and I would like to find a place a few degrees cooler. I will probably limit my travels this summer to the four states connected at a common point. There are lots of places in Colorado and New Mexico I have not seen, and I’m sure I can find interesting and temperate places to camp. I had planned on doing a lot of traveling this summer, but I have changed my mind. Even though the price of fuel is low, putting gas in this motorhome can quickly eat through my budget.

 
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Published on June 20, 2016, by admin in AZT Hike.
AZT

AZT

It all started a few years ago when Daryl and I backpacked to the bottom of Grand Canyon. It was then that I realized this trail through the Canyon was part of the famous Arizona Trail, a continous footpath running 800 miles across Arizona from the Huachuca Mountains on the border of Mexico to the Kaibab Plateau in Utah. I remember thinking then that it would be neat to hike the whole thing.

Since our hike of the Grand Canyon, I have completed about 450 miles of the AZT and Daryl has joined me for the last 100 miles of the trail. I’m not sure if I will ever complete the whole thing but having Daryl to hike with has made it a lot easier to keep going.

Because of the fires in Arizona, the blistering weather, and availability of shuttles from Richard, we have had to skip around a bit. This weekend we hiked a 33 mile section that goes from below Mormon Lake to a few miles south of Flagstaff. Except for a few hills, the terrain was fairly level, and we had little trouble finding good water along the way.

We spent the first night at a forest campground that was quite expensive but reasonable when we factored in my senior pass and split the bill. It was nice to have a picnic table for meals, water that we didn’t have to filter, and a flush toilet.

The second night we stayed beside a pretty meadow with a spring just a hundred yards down a side trail. During the night an elk came close to our tents and bugled a few times to make sure we were awake.

Because of long mileage on the second day, the third day was short and we arrived back at our car by 10:00 am. I think we were smart to wake each day at 5 am and get an early start before it got hot. Most of the trail was in pine forest, but by mid day the sun would find its way through the branches, looking for skin we missed when applying sunscreen.

I felt good on this hike. We both had some tender feet from the rocky trail on the first day and I was attacked by malicious mosquitos on the second morning, leaving me scratching my legs throughout the day. But we both had a good appetites and even slept well through the night. And even though I understand the physics behind it, it always amazes me what a temperature swing there is in an Arizona night. When you crawl in your tent at bedtime, it is too warm to do anything but lay atop your sleeping bag, and through the night you gradually bundle inside the bag until the chill of morning makes you reluctant to even crawl out.

I think they have finally fixed my motorcycle and I will make a mad dash into town to pick it up next week. Phoenix is expecting temperatures close to 120 degrees this weekend so I don’t want to tarry long in town. I’m not sure of my plans for this summer but I will definitely look for cooler weather.

 
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Published on May 22, 2016, by admin in AZT Hike.
First Campsite

First Campsite

Over this last weekend Daryl and I did a 36 mile, backpacking hike on the Arizona trail. It turned out to be quite challenging for me. My knee has been feeling strong with very little pain, and so I though a weekend hike would be a fairly easy trek. What I underestimated was the strenuous terrain of the trail, the sad fact I’m quite out of shape, and I hate to admit it but I’m getting older.

I’m still waiting for my motorcycle to be fixed. The good news is that they think they know what the problem is, ordered the parts, and should have it fixed by the end of this week. With all this waiting in Arizona, Daryl and I decided to hike a section of the Arizona Trail from Pine Trailhead to Blue Ridge Ranger Station where Richard and Dianna would shuttle us back to our vehicles.

Daryl met me at the trailhead in the afternoon on Thursday and we hiked less than 5 miles to a place called Bear Springs. We found the tank below the spring empty but we were able to walk up the soggy grass above the trail, dig a hole, let the water run until it was clear, and filter enough for the night. I was already tired and lacked an appetite but I managed to eat part of a Mountain House dinner. We were in bed at dark and I slept hardly at all.

The next day we walked 12 miles to to the base of the Mogollon Rim to a place called Washington Park Trailhead. With very little sleep the night before and the constant climbing over hills and through ravines, I basically “hit a wall” when we arrived there. We filtered water from the East Verde and picked out a place to camp that was not great but worked for the night. I had just enough room to set up my tent and Daryl cowboy camped under the stars. I ate very little and was in bed at 7pm.

The next morning I felt somewhat better after a good nights sleep and we set off to climb what seemed like a 60 degree slope for two miles. The two good things about climbing to the top of the rim were the facts that only about a mile was rediculously steep and the wind was blowing hurricane force at our backs, helping us along.

The winds had been strong for several days but nothing compared to the way it howled on the face of the rim. Once we crested the top and hiked back into the Ponderoda Pine forest, the wind still gusted but the trees blocked much of it.

Through the forest the walking was fairly easy. A lot of the path was level and the pines had laid down a carpet of soft needles for us to walk on. We made camp Saturday night in a steep valley called Clear Creek. There was no water where the trail crossed so we explored up the riverbed until Daryl found a small pool at the edge of the gravel. The pool was full of polliwogs, but we filtered them out and the water tasted surprisingly good.

We made camp on a grassy shelf by the riverbed, Daryl used his satellite phone to let family know we were okay and our ETA. We ate a good dinner and were in bed before dark.

Sunday on the AZT gave us only one climb out of the canyon. We took our time knowing we would reach Richard and Dianna midday. The trail was good and we arrived at their home before noon.

I had a good time even though it was tough. Except for the constant wind the weather was great. We had to wear a jacket in the morning but as soon as we started hiking a t-shirt and shorts were our attire. We met one thruhiker. A lady named Anne who we caught early on the third day. We also met a man that rode his bike from Ajo and pushed it up the rim.

Thanks to Richard and Dianna for a welcome shower, a delicious lunch, and a generous shuttle back to our vehicles. They have always been my “Trail Angels” for hiking the AZT.

I will hang out up here in the high country till this weekend and then drive down to Mom’s birthday party. Then I’m hoping my Honda will be ready to travel new places and find more adventure.

 
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Published on April 29, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
A campsite

A campsite

I was getting tired of all the cold and rainy weather near Payson so I broke camp this morning and headed south. Just a few miles from Phoenix there is a recreation area I had read about in another blog and I decided to check it out.

Buckeye Hills Recreation Area lies a few miles west of Phoenix, in the southwest corner of I10 and Rt.85, amongst sprawling desert landscape similar to what you would find in Quartzsite. Usually, this time of year, it would be too hot to camp here. But this year has not been normal and forecast for this weekend is for highs in the 80’s. While I linger here, a couple hours drive from Phoenix, my hope is that my motorcycle will be fixed soon and I can start my migration north.

This camp is pretty nice. There is a loop road with several sites scattered along it, each with a picnic table, shade canopy, and charcoal stand. Some of the sites will accommodate big rigs, too. There are trashcans, pit toilets, and best of all, it’s free to stay here. I think it was built as a day use picnic area but there are no signs for no camping.

The major drawbacks are overcrowding on the weekends, off road vehicles, and a constant roar of fighter jets headed to Luke AFB. When I came in there were several tent campers and a few trailers. I doubt if many more RV’S will come in this weekend – most full timers have moved north by now.

When and if I ever get my motorcycle back from the Honda service center I will blog about the ordeal. The exact problem and time frame to fix it still seems to be a mystery. I was always afraid of a breakdown on my Sym motorcycle because of finding places to get repairs done. Honda dealers are all over the US and it would be easy to find competent, reliable service people. Wouldn’t you think so?

 
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Published on April 19, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
My type of road.

My type of road.

For the last three weeks I have been camping a few miles north of Phoenix, AZ near the towns of Payson and Cottonwood. The temperature is about 10 degrees cooler at both those locations than it is at the lower altitude around Phoenix, and it has been a good compromise between the weather near Flagstaff – still dealing with freezing temps and occasional snow flurries – and the weather in Phoenix that will be in the high 90’s this week. I didn’t intend to drive back into the inferno of the Valley, but here I am parked at my brother Daryl’s house again.

I have done lots of exploring around Payson and Cottonwood on previous visits but that didn’t stop me from jumping on Honda and riding those same roads again. The Payson area has many scenic forest roads that snake below the Mogillon Rim, offering unlimited adventure and fun. Sometimes when I would find myself on a deserted trail, miles from civilization, I would wonder what would happen if my motorcycle were to quit while I was so far from my motorhome and the thought would conjure up some uneasy feelings.

The day before I left my camp near Payson, Richard and Dianna drove down from their summer, volunteer home at the Blue Ridge Ranger Station and joined me to visit a couple historic sites. On a road north of town we walked through the ruins of an ancient Indian village and then a few miles further stopped to puzzle the existence of a waterwheel built high above the Verde River.

After I moved to Cottonwood, my sister Donna joined me for three days of RV practice and sightseeing. On our first trip up to tour the historic town of Jerome, our motorcycle ride turned out to be both good and bad. We had a great time learning the history of Jerome and visiting the tourist shops, but on the way back Honda decided it didn’t want to start after a quick stop at Walmart. After a lot of tries, I finally got it started and we high-tailed it to home. We were lucky that we weren’t stranded without a way to get back to our RV’s; I’m not sure what we would have done in that case.

I decided to take Honda back to where I bought it to let them fix it. Even though it will be uncomfortable to stay here in this heat for a few days, there is a chance my warranty will cover the repairs to my bike and I can be on my way up north without too much damage to my pocketbook. The service department is backed up for a week but I’m hoping they will get it in ahead of schedule.

On the other hand, it is nice to be back in town where I can see Mom and family here in Tempe and Mesa, but I hope my next post will be several miles closer to the North Pole.

 
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Published on April 7, 2016, by admin in Alaska Trip.

It has been a busy time for me in the last few weeks. I drove back to Mesa from Tucson and stowed my motorhome at an RV park, flew back east for a whirlwind visit with my kids and grandkids, and worried all the time I was gone about Mom after a serious illness landed her back in the hospital.

I had a wonderful time visiting with all family in PA and NY. I have some great kids and grandkids. They all made me feel so welcome and all went out of their way to spend as much time as their busy lives could allow. I thought it was going to be another year before I would meet my newest granddaughter, but Karen, Jen, and Dave would not hear of that and bought me a ticket for a flight home.

All of Karen boys were in Pittsburgh while I was there. Zack graduates from college this year, Nate will follow next year, and Noah will be a senior in high school this fall. It really makes me feel old when I realize that at any time they could make me into a great grandfather.

I got to see Lucy compete in a gymnastics meet where she took several ribbons and trophies for her work on the bars, balance beam, and floor exercise. Good job Lucy! One day we all went to the movies in Bradford – lots of fun.

Dave had to work most of the time while I was there, but Lisa being a teacher had a few days off during spring break and it allowed me to spend more time with Lily and Harper. Harper was not feeling well the first days I was there so it took her a little longer to warm up to me. When a little one doesn’t feel well all they want is their mom. I wish I would have taken pictures of all the family while I was there but I didn’t. I’m not sure what I was thinking. I guess I wasn’t.

I have been spending the last week in Tempe, parked at my brother Daryl’s house. Mom is still very weak and having a little trouble finding all the words she would like to use, but she is getting better each day.

I will head north tomorrow to a cooler spot in Arizona. It will be close to 100 this week, and although people actually live here in the summertime, I don’t want to. I still want to stay close to town for a couple weeks to make sure Mom continues to improve, and then I will likely migrate further north.

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Arch

Arch

I have been in Tucson at Snyder Hill BLM campground for two days. I had a good time in Why and Ajo last week getting in the loop ride through Organ Pipe NM and hiking the short trail in the mountains. I found a place to get free water in Why, and groceries were plentiful at the market. The biggest drawback to my stay there was high prices for gas and groceries. In a town that is so remote I can understand the prices but it is nice to pay $1.30 / gallon here in Tucson when I paid $2.30 in Why(I would not have thought $2.30 was high a few years ago). One thing you want to remember when drivng into Ajo is the speed limit. The limit goes from 65 mph to 25 mph in the span of a couple miles while coming into town, and the sheriffs were busy working that area every time I went to town.

Ajo also has a museum with a few displays. One of the displays held brochures for attractions in the area and I picked up one that described a walking tour of the town. As you walk around town the pamphlet describes some history and architecture that went on there. It was an ok way to spend a little time in town.

Telescope for looking at the sun.

Telescope for looking at the sun.

The temperature in Tucson today hit 90. That’s not an unusual temperature for Tucson but it is unusual for it to happen in the middle of February. I figured it would be a good time for a ride up to Kitt Peak observatory. The observatory is only 40 miles from my camp, it would be much cooler at the top of the mountain, and best of all, there is a fun, winding road for Honda all the way to the top.

Kitt Peak has more telescopes scattered around its summit than you can shake a stick at. I think I counted 26. There are many universities all over the country that have there own telescope up there, and each time they would build one bigger than the one before. It was all quite interesting to walk around to the different structures and read about all the things they have discovered.

I will stay here for a couple weeks and do some more exploring. There are places I remember from 50 years ago, though some are gone and some have changed.

 
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Published on February 8, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
No Arms

No Arms

There was a story told to me by two people camped here at Gunsight Wash about a woman and her son who lived in the desert behind the BLM boondocking area. She was known as the crazy lady. Sometimes people get an unflattering label attached to them just because they are different than what we perceive is normal. This story is based mostly on rumor but here is what was told to me:

Long before this land was BLM, a woman and her son lived in Ajo, AZ. It is not altogether certain if the son got mixed up with the wrong crowd and got into drugs or if he was afflicted by some disorder like severe ADD, but whatever the reason, the mother took her son and moved to a remote part of the desert. No one knows what they lived in or much of anything more about how they lived. The story is that every day the woman would walk her son two miles to the road where he would meet the bus. There are rumors of how they lived but the only fact that can be substantiated is the display of rocks that the boy crafted during their time there.

I wanted to see if there was any evidence of the rock art that still existed so I rode Honda back through the desert yesterday. The people camped there gratiously showed me around and told me what they knew about the lady and her son. Apparently, the son did most of the work of carrying stones, laying them in heart-shaped rings around every bush and tree, making walkways, and building rock gardens. It was probably some kind of therapy activity.

The people that are camped there now are cleaning up some of the trash left. I guess not all the old lady and her son’s activities were making home beautiful. Eventually, the land became BLM and they moved all squatters out.

Ajo was home to the first copper mine in AZ, but since it closed the only thing that keeps the town alive is the tourists driving through to visit Organ Pipe National Monument, and the modern, mega complex located a few miles south in Why, AZ., comprising the headquarters to hundreds of boarder patrol agents. Every day the helicopter stationed there takes off to patrol the surrounding area.

Organ Pipe cactus don’t like frost. They are mostly indigenous to Mexico but some thrive in the south part of Arizona. This is all part of the Sonoran Desert, a place so arid that here the Saguaro have trouble getting enough moisture to make arms. Where I’m camped about the only thing growing is creosote bushes. Everyone says that no one is enforcing the 14 day limit. Even the camp host says that if a ranger comes through and says anything we will just play musical chairs and shuffle everyone up.

 
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Published on January 31, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs

13 gallons of water

13 gallons of water

For over a week in the middle of January, I was one sick puppy. I had a fever that flirted with 103 degrees and the energy resembling that of a slab of meat. Concensus is that it was the flu, and if there is even a remote chance it can be prevented in the future, I will certainly get that flu shot next year. Even now my energy level is not quite up to par and I still have a bit of congestion deep in my lungs.

I have been to Mexico for dental and my annual meds. I still have one more trip tomorrow for the permanent crown. There is more work to do on my teeth but I’m trying to space it out each year so as not to break the bank. It is a toss-up whether the fixes will ever catch up with the damage. Like most of us this age we all wish we would have taken better care of our teeth.

Yesterday I rode Honda up to Imperial Dam LTVA. I keep hoping that AT&T has put up another tower and now I will be able to get cell signal. Imperial Dam LTVA is the best long term facility that I have ever stayed at and they keep making improvements to it all the time. They now have separate lanes to fill water tanks and relieve congestion at the faucets. For the long term visitor, Imperial Dam has everything you need except….. AT&T cell signal.

Of course I had to stop at Imperial Date Company and have one of their delicious date shakes. It has been quite some time since I’ve had any ice cream and that shake sure tasted good.

The trip wouldn’t be complete without stopping to wander through the old war tanks on display outside the Yuma Proving Grounds. There is a new building on site that advertised itself as a visitors center but it was locked tight. I looked through the window of the door and thought I saw chairs arranged in front of a screen. Maybe there is a time they will show a film.

I drove back through Yuma and stopped to pick up a couple cheeseburgers at Burger King. I would like to take some fresh fruit back to my camp but I’m always afraid the checkpoint entering California will trip me up. There is probably no worries because I have always been waved on through whenever I have been on my motorcycle.

 
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Trail ride to Seeping Springs petroglyph site.

Trail ride to Seeping Springs petroglyph site.

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I have been giving my blog address to a few fellow travelers I meet along the way and I have mixed feelings about it. As you know, I make a lot of mechanical errors in my writing. It’s one thing to share my blog with family that overlooks my bad grammar but quite another to subject myself to the scrutiny of strangers. Bad grammar and misspelled words can be as distracting as trying to concentrate on someone talking to you while sporting a missing, front tooth. It may be a silly segue, but I am also sporting a missing, front tooth.

About 30 years ago I chipped a front tooth and had it repaired with a filling. Crowns weren’t as common as they are today, and even if I was given the option, I probably wouldn’t have spent the money anyway. Over the last few weeks I noticed the filling was getting loose, and just yesterday, while eating a taco chip, the filling fell out leaving a cavernous hole in my mouth. Time to get to Los Algodones.

I’m now on the Ogilby Road, 10 miles west of Yuma. The RTR in Quartzsite came to an end today and people are moving to several different locations in the southwest. There is a group going to Ehrenburg with Bob, another group is headed to Slab City, and I found out a few are caravaning down into Mexico. Others like me are dispersed around Yuma with plans to go into Algodones.

It was a good experience being at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous. I met a lot of nice people that are mostly financially challenged. Sometimes life happens and people get left at the bottom. Whatever the reason, most of us don’t want to be a burden to society or our families and look for some way to be independent. Most of them say when it comes to a choice of throwing themselves into the welfare system or living in a van, the van makes more sense. And I really think they are for the most part happy living this way. They like to say that they are not homeless, just houseless.

The mobs of humanity that descend on Q this time of year are shocking. I rode to town a few times, fighting the crowds at the vender booths, checking out if there was anything I needed or wanted, and finally wandering through the big tent the last day I was there. Most of the booths in the big tent are selling things like appliances, jewelry, magnetic devices to relieve pain, and other objects you would buy if you had a Class A motorhome or house somewhere. There are a lot of campground people along with Amazon recruiters looking for workers, too.

I will be here for a while. I hope to pick up my meds and take care of a badly neglected mouth. That is as far as I’ve thought ahead. One guy at the RTR found out I was hoping to travel to Alaska this year and wanted to do some planning with me. I told him that I am the wrong person to ask where I will be, when I am going, what will I see, and how long I will be anyplace. I had a plan once and I didn’t like it.

I met a young lady at the last seminar of the RTR that has quite an impressive list of accomplishments. She is writing a book about the subculture of van dwellers. You should look at her biography and read the article she wrote for Harpers Magazine. Here are the links:

http://www.journalism.columbia.edu/profile/141-jessica-bruder/10

http://harpers.org/archive/2014/08/the-end-of-retirement/1/

 
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Published on January 13, 2016, by admin in Adventure.

In the place where I’m parked there are several pretty, young ladies all around me. Someone said I should try to hook up with one of them, but I’m afraid I would have better luck winning the billion dollar Power Ball lottery than that ever happening. However, if I was to win the lottery, it might not be too difficult to find one that would have me.

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I’m still at the RTR hanging out until after the big tent show. I have attended some of the seminars here at the gathering, and while I can say that I have not learned anything new, it is fun to go and listen anyway. Today’s talk was on going to Algodones for dental, vision, and medicines, and it is good to hear people talk about positive experiences while there. I probably will attend the talk by a BLM Ranger tomorrow and one about boondocking on Friday. The Big Tent show starts Saturday and I will head south to Yuma after that.

I guess everyone knows that my refrigerator stopped working. My options were to drive back to Phoenix and try to get it fixed, go without a fridge, or figure out a temporary fix. I decided to buy a small portable compressor fridge that would let me get by for a while and also be a backup in case this happens again. My luck with this gas refrigerator has not been good.

Yesterday, while running to town to pick up the new fridge at a store that accepts Amazon deliveries, I lost the ramp to my motorcycle loader. If you change your routine while packing up, you will undoubtedly forget something. I left the motorcycle here when I went to town and forgot to tighten the clamps that hold the ramp on. I drove up and down the road twice once I realized it was gone but to no avail. This morning I walked past the neighbors camp and there it was laying by his trailer. I guess he thought finders keepers.

I think one reason the people camping out here have so many dogs is for warmth at night. With the clear, cloudless sky, it gets down close to freezing every night and I’ve heard some say they have to snuggle with their dogs. Once the sun breaks over the hill, though, it warms up fast. By noon or sometimes earlier I can get out on the motorcycle for trips into town. All this sun is giving me good charge with my solar, too.

These van dwellers bring back a lot of memories of my time traveling in a van. Life was sometimes simpler then, and I could go places and do things I can’t in my class C, but I wouldn’t want to go back to stooping over all the time, not being able to take a shower, and digging cat-holes in the woods. I guess I’ve gotten soft.

 

RTR

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Published on January 8, 2016, by admin in Adventure.

Signs

and more Signs

and more Signs

Quartzsite has been pretty dull for a week now. The weather for the last four days has been rainy and cold and the desert empty of boondocking RV’S. Yesterday, many more rigs started filling the area where I was camped. I found myself trapped between a group advertising themselves as Solo SKP’s and another with a sign that said Christian Fellowship. I’m sure both groups were nice and they would willingly take me in, but I didn’t feel like I belonged to either one.

I was ready for a change of scenery anyway so I packed up and headed south of town to a gathering known by the name RTR or Rubber Tramp Rendezvous. If you have a $500,000 motorhome, this is probably not the place you want to be. 90% of the people here live in a van and enjoy a simple life of off grid existance.

I was surprised at how many young people there are here. The majority are retired but quite a few working age couples and singles have found that not having a house and the lifestyle that goes along with it has given them the freedom to travel and be happy on a lot less income. Some have Internet business, some work part time at places like Amazon, and some camp host or work for the Forest Service.

I didn’t write this to debate their lifestyle or even judge what they do, and I suppose why I drove in here was more curiosity than anything else. So far most of the people I have met are very nice, not at all what you would think of when you hear the word “Tramp” in their title.

The one bad note I have to report is a dead refrigerator. I’m not sure what I will do to remedy that problem. The best report is sunshine all day today and forecast to stay that way for several days to come. I will try to get a picture of the sea of camper vans in this area to post later.

 
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Published on January 3, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
Q

Q

I’m parked on a lonely stretch of desert, just off Plomosa Road, nine miles north of Quartzsite AZ. There are a few RVs about but nothing like I have seen before. It is still early for the influx of snowbirds that come here for the mega reunion and event know as the big RV tent show. I expect the area where I’m camped to fill up in the next two weeks.

The weather has been cool so today was my first trip into town. On my way I explored Hi Jolly campground and road down 95 to check out the LTVA south of town. Each area was filled with many more rigs scattered about than here on Plomosa rd. It seems like people want to be close to town and those places fill up a lot quicker.

My new batteries are doing a good job. They run my electronics, pump, and furnace with plenty of power and hold up well overnight. It is very overcast today so I will see if my solar can bring them back up to full charge.

My propane will probably be the first supply I will have to replenish. With all the cold nights lately, I let my furnace kick on if it gets down to 50 degrees in Minnie. During the day my catalytic heater does a nice job of keeping me warm but I never use it at night.

That’s about it. If I do anything I’ll let you know.

 
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Published on November 19, 2015, by admin in Adventure.
Rugged

Rugged

Fish Creek

Fish Creek

Yesterday I rode Honda up the Apache Trail. The road is paved for the first few miles and then becomes dirt just past a tourist settlement called Tortilla Flats. Along with hairpins turns and steep sections, the dirt surface is filled with potholes, ruts, and washboard ripples. It is a road suited more to motorcycles, jeeps and 4 wheel drive vehicles than cars, and Honda handled the drive without problem.

I turned around before I made it all the way to Roosevelt Lake. It was getting late and I mainly wanted to sample the road anyway. Someday I will ride all the way through.

 
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Published on October 27, 2015, by admin in Adventure.
Cave

Cave

After four months of touring the northwest, I will return to the Phoenix area in a few days. I have seen a lot of beautiful country and enjoyed the rambling lifestyle that has become the trails of my retirement. People ask me what part of the country is my favorite and I have to say it is the next place down the road. Sometimes it is hard for me to remember all the places I’ve been. In fact, I have to go back and read my blog to remember what I did.

San Luis Reservoir

San Luis Reservoir

Central California is dry as a bone and flat as a pancake. If they don’t get rain soon, It wouldn’t take much to turn it into another dust bowl. Below Sacramento on Interstate 5, I felt like I was driving through Kansas. On my map I noticed a National Park that I haven’t been to before and decided to make it the last attraction on my journey.

Situated below San Jose in the foothills of the Coastal Range is Pinnacles National Park. Pinnacles sit right on the San Andreas fault line. It was formed by molten rocks and lava that spewed out between the plates in the Earth millions of years ago and eroded to form towering spires of rock.

I asked Carrie Esau to go see the park with me and we had fun hiking, biking, scrambling through two caves, and enjoying the Ranger led campfire talk at night. I say campfire but there is actually no fires allowed in this park or just about any park in the northwest.

I am at Quartzsite tonight. It is still pretty hot in Arizona but I’m hoping for some nice temperatures soon.

 

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