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Published on April 22, 2017, by admin in Alaska Trip.

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I saw this on Facebook.

I saw this on Facebook.

I have started migrating north. Right now I’m camped ten miles south of a little town called Ash Fork, AZ. The nights have been a little cold but the days have been perfect. I was the only one camped on this forest road until yesterday when a class A motorhome parked about a half-mile away.

I road Honda into Ash Fork two days ago. The town was created when the railroad established a siding in 1882, and later received a boost from the famous Route 66. After interstate 40 bypassed the town in the 70’s the town never recovered. The town still celebrates Route 66 with nostalgic old cars on buildings and establishments with themes from the 50’s era, but it will probably fade away in years to come.

I found a Family Dollar on the edge of town and bought a Gatorade for my return ride. On the way back to camp I checked out a couple other forest roads but found no good camping spots on them. I’m going to move on on Monday or Tuesday. It seems good to be traveling again.

 
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Published on April 14, 2017, by admin in Adventure.
Rookie selfie taker

Rookie selfie taker

It has been nearly a month since I last posted. At times it seem like nothing of any interest has happened while I have been camping this last month near Cottonwood and Sedona, but as I think back on my time here, it feels like too much to chronicle. It’s funny how some people living this lifestyle can blog almost every day and have interesting things to say, and I can go a month without coming up with anything worth writing about.

I’m pretty sure there are two reasons why I procrastinate updating the blog: the first reason is because I’m in sort of holding pattern for my next travel adventure. When I’m traveling to new places and seeing new things, it’s easier to share the adventure and chronicle the trip in my blog. The second reason is that our family has a pretty robust connection through a text app and we keep in touch regularly. Things I write in my blog are usually repeats.

The dispersed areas that surround Cottonwood are great places to be this time of year. Cottonwood is a bit higher and cooler than the lower areas of Arizona and significantly warmer than Northern Arizona. When the year moves into March and April, this place picks up many full-time RV travelers looking to transition from the heat in the south to the cool in the north. The only problem with riding out the weather here is that it can take over a month for the higher elevations to the north to shed their cold and snow.

The law enforcement in this area tries to keep boondocking in any area to a limit of 14 days, so we are forced to play “hopscotch” between four or five different areas. There is a lot of fudging going on in some places but most of us try to obey the law. All the people that I hang with are very respectful of the land, don’t leave a mess, or cause problems for anyone. The rangers are looking to crack down mainly on people driving where the are not supposed to, leaving trash in the campsites, and living in the forest.

Living the life of a full-time RVer lets you meet up with lots of people that share the same lifestyle as you. It is in some ways like the AT in that everyone migrates in a loose community to some of the same places. I have met people I saw down in Quartzsite and I have also run into people here from last year. One thing that keeps the group in touch with one another is our blogs.

Donna feeding a giraffe

Donna feeding a giraffe

Last week Donna came up from Mesa to camp with me. We started out camping on the Cherry Creek Road, near Camp Verde, where we took two motorcycle trips to nearby attractions. We first visited Out Of Africa, a compound for a variety of exotic animals in a somewhat natural environment. We road a tour bus that took us around the park where we got to feed a giraffe and watch zebras, water buffalo, ostrich, and many other African animals. Then we walked the area of fenced in animals too dangerous to be let out – lions, tigers, and bears! In the end we saw a show where several trainers play with two tigers and get them to jump in the pool. It was an expensive attraction but worth it to go one time.

With a few hours left in the day we rode over to Montezuma’s Castle. We have both been there before but it was interesting to look again at the magnificent cliff dwelling of the early people who lived there. Donna and I have the Golden Pass that lets us into national parks and monuments for free so that was a good deal.

On the last two days of her trip, we moved over to a dispersed area only five miles from Sedona. Donna liked the area near Camp Verde and the one near Sedona lots better than where we stayed last year. Thousand Trails dispersed area is closest to Cottonwood for supplies, but it is not as pretty as other areas and way more crowded.

Devil's Bridge

Devil’s Bridge

Yesterday we rode into Sedona and hiked a trail to Devil’s Bridge. I had been on the hike with Karen and Noah a few years ago but I had forgotten how far and hard the trail was. We didn’t even take our water bottles because we thought it was only a short walk to the end. It turned out to be 2.5 miles from where we parked and the last quarter mile was a steep rock scramble. By the time we got back to the motorcycle we were both thirsty souls!

I’m thinking that next week I will move north. I may run into some cold weather but as long as I stay out of snow it should be OK. I like starting out on new adventures that give me something to write about, but I don’t want to write about being trapped in a blizzard in Wyoming!

 
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Published on March 20, 2017, by admin in Adventure.
Nice temperatured here.

Nice temperatured here.

For the last 5 days I have camped in the Prescott National Forest, five miles southwest of the city of Prescott. The campgrounds is at 6000′ of elevation, providing much cooler temperatures than the blazing heat in Yuma. It has been mid 70’s each day – just about perfect!

You can't have beautiful sunsets every day in Arizona. Sometimes they are just normal.

You can’t have beautiful sunsets every day in Arizona. Sometimes they are just normal.

The limit for camping here is 7 days. I will be moving on tomorrow, but the reason to move is not entirely based on coming up on the stay limit, it is mainly because a cold front is coming and bringing with it temperatures in the 50’s during the day and close to freezing at night.

I rode into Prescott twice since I’ve been here. One time was to Walmart and one time was to check out a free dump at the waste treatment plant. It is nice to have the convenience of a large city close by for supplies but the traffic and congestion was not pleasant to drive in. I’m not sure why the traffic was so bad but I hope my move tomorrow will be easier as I travel through town.

Other than short walks each day, I have hung out near camp most of the time, enjoying the weather, and healing a hole in my mouth where I had a tooth extracted. Even though I haven’t done anything exciting in the last few days, I wanted to post to cronicle this spot for future reference.

I have been testing my batteries with information I accumulated from the meter I got from Richard. I have kept track of amps, volts, and state of charge when fully charged, and then again after using them in the evening and overnight. By comparing battery capacity and use overnight, and analyzing percentages and voltages in the morning, it is apparent I have lost about 20% of my batteries life.

Richard and I have discussed several causes that contribute to early battery failure. Lead acid batteries don’t like to go long time-periods without being fully charged. They also don’t like to be mixed with different types and sizes. I’m afraid I’m guilty of both those infractions. But even the abuse of batteries doesn’t explain why batteries that Donna, Richard, and I, all bought at Costco, have failed early.

The good news is that Richard told me the dealer where he bought his lithium batteries is looking at importing batteries from a new supplier. That should lower the cost.

 
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Published on March 13, 2017, by admin in Adventure.
Richard and Dianna

Richard and Dianna

An early heat wave has come to the southwest. After weeks of wet and cold, the temperature turned from 60’s to upper 90’s in the span of a few days. Richard and Dianna gave up and moved over to the RV park on the Army Base where they can plug in. Richard says it will be cheaper than running his generator to power the AC for six hours a day. I have to be here for another day for a dentist appointment then I’m planning to head for higher ground.

I’m surprised how many RVs there are still here at the LTVA. I drove through the main section on my way back from town today and only a very few have left. Even the ones still here are not running air conditioners – most had their doors open when I drove by.
I guess the people still here don’t have any other options. When you pay for the season, it is hard to justify leaving here early to pay somewhere else. Richard found a statistic that the average temperature for this time of year is 78 degrees. That would be about perfect.

Last weekend Richard and Dianna took me with them to the air show in El Centro. We planned our arrival so that we could catch the Blue Angels perform and limit the time we were in the brutal heat and searing sun. It worked out good. It took a long time to get on the base but we were in a cool car so the traffic was tolerable. We even watched a Mig and an F86 put on a mock dogfight as we waited for parking. When we finally parked and walked to the flight line, the Blue Angels were just taxying out to take off. We found a parking lot outside the base and watched the show in the shade of a tree.

The Blue Angels didn’t disappoint. Every since I was a kid I have always enjoyed watching the Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration, and I try to attend their shows whenever I can. After an exciting performance we went on into the flight line to look at all the planes on display. We figured it would give the parking lot time to clear out a little. Even after spending an hour looking at the planes, the traffic getting out was stop and go for another hour.

On the way home we stopped to eat at my favorite restaurant – Cracker Barrel. It was a fun day! Thanks R&D for taking me along!

 
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Published on March 3, 2017, by admin in Pieces of my Mind.

It has been one month since Mom passed away. I often think of her and wonder how her passing will affect my future. She was the tie that bound all of us in the family to come together in the suburbs of Phoenix from time to time. Family was Mom’s greatest legacy, and I hope we all remember to carry on her memory by keeping in touch with one another.

So often when children and grandchildren scatter across the country and become busy with there own lives, it becomes increasingly hard to get together as a group and enjoy the memories and affection we have as a family. I know that my plans take me on a new path that I was reluctant to commit to when Mom’s health was such an issue. The gift I received from her will allow me more freedom to travel this summer, and I know she would have wanted me to do that.

Imperial Dam LTVA

Imperial Dam LTVA

I’m still staying at the Imperial Dam LTVA with Richard and Dianna. We have been working on several projects while parked here and found time to do some amazing fun things as well. We installed a new lithium battery system in R & D’s trailer and worked on some air leaks in his truck. Installing the battery system was a lot of fun beside a lot of work. Lithium ion batteries are expensive but way better, way better technology for the future of off-grid RV living. He hasn’t had to run his generator at all since switching to the new batteries, and his solar panels have supplied all the charging the system needs. The price for lithium ion batteries is coming down all the time and maybe by next year I can make the switch.

I have purchased a few things for Minnie: New rubber on the front, new inverter, and a few small household items for the inside. It has also been time to change oil on Honda, Minnie, and Minnie’s generator. You can never anticipate everything that will need repair when on a trip but I hope I can stay ahead of any major breakdown.

Ghost Town

Ghost Town

Yesterday, we all went to visit Castle Dome Mining and Ghost Town. It was a fun day walking through the restored buildings, seeing how the old miners and their families lived, and learning about the history of the town and its people. It cost $10 per person but well worth the price for a fun filled day.

I have a dentist appointment next week in Los Algodones to take care of a problem tooth. Then on the following weekend we are all planning on driving to El Centro for the air show. The Blue Angels train in El Centro and always have their first show of the year there. Richard and I have always been into aviation all our lives and we really enjoy the displays of planes and aerobatics.

By then it will be well into March and probably time to think about moving north. R & D have their summer planned to be back up on the Rim in the Coconino National Forest, volunteering at the ranger station. I will migrate with the weather, trying to guess what Mother Nature will do before I get there. I have been fooled by her before.

 
 
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Published on January 19, 2017, by admin in Adventure.
I thought this was odd.

I thought this was odd.

During the second week of January, I moved from the LTVA over to the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous gathering. Every year, like-minded nomads gather in Quartzsite to share experiences, learn new things about living and traveling on the road, and see friends – old and new.

Most of the seminars at the RTR are geared for people just starting out in this lifestyle, so after doing this for the last five years, I didn’t learn a lot that was new to me. Many travelers new to this way of full-time mobile living – especially solo women – find comfort and safety in traveling with a group of like-minded individuals. It is normal – and I guess healthy – to have a little apprehension in this world of ours, and to join with other people and travel with them is a good way to start this adventure.

The main objective of the meeting is not so much to learn how to live on the road as it is to just make friends. Everyone’s lifestyle is so unique that the only way to figure out how to do this is to just go do it. You can get tips from those that have been full-timing for years, but how they do things may be completely different from what is important to you. I went to the rally to say hi to several people I have met during my travels the last few years.

Each year the RTR gets bigger. There were estimates of 500 people there this year – more than double the number that showed up last year. I don’t enjoy large crowds. It seemed to me that the people were different and not as easy to meet this year. I guess the bigger the crowd the easier it is to stay by yourself. It probably is more me than them. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are 1000 people that show up here next year. I will not be one of them.

With so many people gathered together there are bound to be disagreements. On the second day there was a disagreement over playing music in the evening. Some wanted to play loud music around their camps and others didn’t want to hear it. The music players were consequently bannished to the DMZ (Designated Music Zone) two washes over. There were other squabbles about picking up dog poop, smoking, and toilet paper in the washes from those that came in tents unprepared for taking care of their waste. But mostly everyone got along well.

Raw, unfiltered honey

Raw, unfiltered honey

On one warm, sunny afternoon, my friend Todd and I went to town to browse the booths that crowd the streets of Quartzsite this time of year. It’s all the same from year to year but it is kind of fun to wander the shops a time or two. I bought a large spoon with holes in it that I will use to strain pasta, a jar of raw honey, and a new outdoor rug for the front of Minnie. Just a warning for those coming to Q. They have increased their police force and are handing out more tickets. They probably figure they need money from all the tourist in town as much as the shops do.

Porch

Porch

I’m now back at the LTVA waiting out a stretch of rainy weather. Donna is planning on joining me in a few days. We will try to visit some of the bloggers she has met online and then go to the Big Tent extravaganza. Richard and Dianna are driving up from Yuma to join us. Then we are planning to drive to Yuma to camp with Richard and Dianna and make a trip to Mexico for dental and drugs. Let’s hope we can get out of Mexico before we sever all trade across the border.

 
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Published on January 6, 2017, by admin in Adventure.
They need a sign like this over in the "Clothing Optional" area.

They need a sign like this over in the “Clothing Optional” area.

I traveled back to Quartzsite on New Year’s Day 2017. Richard and Dianna went southwest to Yuma the same day, planning to spend several weeks at Imperial Dam LTVA. I will move down to join them soon. While I have been here I have stopped to see Barb and meet some of her friends she camps with, and exchanged texts with Todd, a friend I first met at last year’s RTR. You may recall that Donna and I ran into Todd and Cathy in Flagstaff last year and traveled north to the Grand Canyon with them. Todd is coming to the RTR and we made plans to meet there.

I had quite a few projects that I wanted to tackle this season while in Quartzsite. Every time you do any remodeling on your RV there are always parts you need that you didn’t contemplate. I knew the flee markets and RV parts stores in Quartzsite would have everything I needed.

I installed two more batteries under the seat in my rig and cut a hole to vent them out the side. I covered the hole with a vent cover and screen so no bugs can get in. I moved the AGM batteries under the table and installed a switch so I can cut them in and out of the bank. With all the batteries in one place and close to the solar charger, inverter, and converter, it was easy to connect and efficient as well.

Free Juice.

Free Juice.

With more battery power I knew I would need more solar so the next project was adding another panel to the roof. I like the idea of having some of my solar panels that I can set out beside my RV. Besides being able to tilt the panels, I can move them around in a way I like to call, “chasing the sun.” But panels on the roof are easier to live with. You don’t need a place to store them while traveling and they charge even while driving and parked at Walmart.

Vent

Vent

Charging and battery profiles are sometimes complicated and I have attended many intelligence briefings in the form of WhatsApp texts with my brother in Yuma. I would like to have one of those expensive meter electronic systems that would give me better information about my charging but that will have to wait for my ship to come in.

That’s about it. It has been cold for much riding and walking. When I would travel to town to get parts I always got sidetracked looking at all the junk for sale, but I haven’t made the trip yet with the express purpose of browsing. I guess I’m afraid I will buy something I don’t need.

 
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L-R Don, Dale, Donna, Daryl, Richard

L-R Don, Dale, Donna, Daryl, Richard

It’s not often that we are all in one place all at the same time. A great holiday gift of all five siblings visiting with Mom.

 
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Published on December 20, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
Even cold in Arizona!

Even cold in Arizona!

This is a quick note to chronicle the last two weeks. Several days before I had planned to return to Tempe for Christmas, Mom had a serious reaction to a new medication she was taking. During the night caregivers at her apartment noticed she was severely bleeding and called the ambulance to take her to the hospital.

One of the bad side effects from this new blood-thinner medicine she was on is gastrointestinal bleeding. Several people have died from it. As you can imagine we were very concerned for a few days as she continued to bleed. Finally, the bleeding stopped. The GI Dr. did a scope procedure on her and decided not to do any further treatment. Sometimes anesthesia for elderly people can be more life- threatening than the problem itself.

Mom is back in her apartment now. She is still very weak and sometimes confused. We have discussed several times whether she needs to live somewhere where she gets more consistent care, but being in her own place is comforting to her and to move her to a nursing home would be stressful. It will be a hard decision to make but one that needs to be made soon.

I’m camped in Bulldog Canyon again. It is only a short drive from Mom’s apartment so quite handy for me. When she was in the hospital I camped the other side of Phoenix at Buckeye Recreation area. Even though it was closer to the hospital it was still a long ride to go see her. I actually stayed one night in the parking lot of the hospital.

After Christmas I will return to the Quartzsite/Yuma area. I have met a lot of people over the years that will congregate around Q in January and I’m hoping to see some of them again. Then I will travel to Yuma and spend some time with Richard and Dianna. I still have some dental work planned while I’m there but that’s as far ahead as my plans go. And even those plans could change.

 
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Published on December 11, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
Lots of stuff!

Lots of stuff!

This is the first time I have needed shade since arriving in Yuma two weeks ago. The temperature this afternoon hit 80. I love it! Give me 80 degrees over 60 degrees any day.

I rode to Yuma this morning to pick up some supplies. My refrigerator has been cooling good since the problem a week ago, and I though I would pick up some ice cream to really give it a test. I’m still a little gun shy of the trouble maker, so I’m not brave enough to load it to the gills yet.

I have been using my tanker trailer to fetch water. It follows along behind my motorcycle like there is nothing there. I see a lot of people pulling blue boy tanks behind their car, and the little plastic wheels only work at 5mph or less. I pull my bike trailer at 20mph with no problem. The tank is actually made for sewage transport and I get some funny looks when I pull it up to the water station. I have never used it to haul anything but water, and I suppose I should camouflage it with a blanket or something so as not to alarm spectators.
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Yesterday I hiked one of the slot-canyons west of the LTVA. Each year the canyon changes slightly due to a fresh supply of eroding water cascading down the wash. It seemed to me the final vertical wall and boulder were much harder to get over than they were the last time I was here. I’m not sure if the wall was higher because of eroding, or it just seemed like it because I’m getting older. I’m going with erosion.

Because I have a good supply of water I do some laundry by hand. I’m not about to wash everything by hand, but doing a few things now and then stretches the interval between laundromat visits. It’s also nice to wash in hot water. Propane is available a mile down the road, and even though it is more expensive than it is in Yuma, the proximity makes it the better bargain.

I found an ingenious method to wash clothes. I fill a tub with socks and underwear, add a little soap, agitate with my hands, soak and then agitate more, and then wring them out and throw in the shower stall. Then I take a soapless shower and stomp around on the clothes – kind of like you would make wine from a tub of grapes – until they and I are rinsed.

I can feel the call of a date shake becoming very powerful. If it were not for the fact I had ice cream in my pack I would have stopped this morning on my way back. I think I may have to make a special trip!

 
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Published on December 5, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
I don't know! Mexico in background. Where the wall will be built.

I don’t know! Mexico in background. Where the wall will be built.

Not long after I moved to the Ogilby Road, I noticed my refrigerator was not working. When I checked the freezer compartment everything was soft and wet. This was not the first time I have had trouble with this fridge and it probably won’t be the last. But why does it always happen after I have freshly stocked the thing with food?

Appliances in an RV seem to develop problems a lot more than their counterparts do in a sticks-and-bricks house. I’m not sure whether it is the constant banging around from movement or maybe they just aren’t built as well. I have replaced refrigerator coils, microwave, water pump, and A/C thermostat. My furnace is not working at the moment and I have lost battery connection to the compartment under the coach. I guess it is a good thing I know the systems pretty well now, and I can fix most problems myself. If I had to take it to a shop each time something broke, my savings account would be broke, too.

Fortunately, I have a 12 volt refrigerator that I bought when I was having problems last year. Unfortunately, it is a lot smaller that my coach refrigerator and there is no freezer compartment. I transferred as much of the food that would fit – mostly expensive items – into the little portable, and inventoried all the frozen items from the freezer. There were several packages of meat: hamburger, hotdogs, and sausage; a few frozen dinners I resolved to eat that evening; and a box of ice cream bars that were a total loss and tossed into the garbage.

I knew the eggs and cheese would last a couple of days without refrigeration, and most of the condiments would be okay, but unrefrigerated meat is something you don’t want to mess around with for long. I fried up the hamburger and with the TV dinners cooking in the microwave, I just had room for the meat in the small fridge.

Over the next two days I felt like I was on the Atkins Diet. I have never in such a short time eaten so much meat. I literally fried up half a pound of bacon and ate it in one sitting! For lunch I had sausage and hamburger and more bacon. For dinner I ate the last TV dinner and washed it down with more hamburger. I’m not sure how much meat I ate yesterday, but my carnivorous ancestors would have been proud.

The wind finally died down on Sunday and I moved to Pilot Knob LTVA. I wanted to remain close to Yuma in case I needed parts for my propane supply to the fridge. Once I pulled out the little jet orifice that regulates the propane gas to the refrigerator, I knew right away it was just plugged. With a little cleaning and picking, I had the jet looking like new, and as soon as everything was back together and turned on, the unit started cooling again.

This LTVA would not be on my list of favorite places to stay. The area is quite barren – void of any vegetation except creosote bushes, there is no dump or water available, and the close proximity to the highway and railroad tracks makes it noisy. While I was out walking yesterday I asked a man I met why he likes to stay here and he told me it is because there are no crowds of people. He said the other LTVAs have too many people. I guess if you want to be alone this would be a good place to stay.

Right now the thermometer in my freezer says 3 degrees.

 
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Published on December 3, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
I did this to keep it from blowing away!

I did this to keep it from blowing away!

On my way to Yuma I stopped overnight at the Imperial Dam LTVA to check on cell signal. Imperial Dam is one of my favorite camps in the southwest. It’s equipped with many dump stations and water spigots, and the facilities are arranged logically so there is little or no waiting to take care of essentials. Although the terrain is quite stark, I have always found places to hike and explore the area. There are a couple of really neat slot canyons within walking distance of camp. And probably the best perk to staying at Imperial Dam is the fact you are only a short distance from the city of Yuma, AZ.

I drove around the roads in the camping area and finally found a place where I could pick up a little AT&T signal. With the amplifier I got from Richard I received a pretty good signal. I settled in for the night and the next morning drove to Yuma for groceries and on to meet Barb in the parking lot of the Quechan Casino.

Barb needed to have dental work finished in Los Algodones and I needed to pick up my yearly meds, so we went together to save money on parking and provide each other moral support while in a strange country. I always enjoy trips to Los Algodones and we finished our shopping so early there was no waiting at the border on our way out. Barb had another appointment the following day so she stayed at the casino parking lot while I drove west to Ogilby Road to wait out the weekend.

The BLM area on Ogilby Rd has always been another favorite place for me to park. There are trees along the washes where you can tuck in out of the wind, the rest area four miles away has free water and dumpsters, I get good cell reception, and it is close to shopping in Yuma. I drove back along the access road to one of my favorite sites and set up camp. The wind was predicted to pick up over the next two days and I was prepared to hunker down until it passed.

Just after dark I heard a knock on my door. It was a BLM Ranger. He told me – to my shock and disbelief – that I was not allowed to camp here. I have been camping here for several years now and was really puzzled why this was the first I had ever heard of it. He said the only place legal to park was within 300 feet of the road. I asked him if this was something new because I know hundreds of RVs park here every year. He said they are all parking illegally and he would be enforcing no driving on roads and no camping anywhere it is legal past 14 days. He then mentioned something about this area being protected because of the desert tortoise. He then told me something that made me roll my eyes in an “ah” moment. He was a brand new transfer to this area from NV and said the other rangers that used to cover this area were terminated. I told him I would move in the morning.

Throughout the night the wind increased until my rig rolled like a boat slapped around by rough seas. At times in the night I could smell dust as the wind forced puffs of sand through cracks in my doors and windows. In the morning the wind still raged on with what seemed like hurricane force. I expected to look out to find my lawn chair gone, my satellite dish tipped over, and my solar panels smashed on a distant fire ring. Fortunately I had weighed everything down with rocks so nothing was harmed. When I opened the camper door it was all I could do to hold it against the wind. I resolved then and there to wait until the wind let up before I would move. To pick up my panels in this wind would turn me into a test pilot on a glass wing! The ranger would just have to understand if he returned. It is hard to believe he would want a glass panel shattered over the desert floor.

If the wind dies down tomorrow I will probably move back to Imperial Dam LTVA. If the weather would warm up a little – temps mostly in the 60’s now – I would ride into Yuma to see a movie. It is actually a better ride to town from Imperial Dam than it is from here. And, I may even stop for a date shake along the way.

 
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Published on November 27, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
Oh My!

Oh My!

I have moved around several times while here in Quartzsite. Two days ago, I found a spot in the La Posa South LTVA, close to facilities where the dump and water fill are located. My plan was to experiment with my motorcycle trailer to supply water for my rig as I became gluttonous with showers. Now, I’m not even sure I will unload my motorcycle. The cold nights, relentless wind, and the limited supplies in a tourist town have got me to thinking about traveling to Yuma.

Yuma is only about five degrees warmer than here but it makes a difference to these old bones of mine. And besides the warmer weather, there is always the city itself. It is nice to buy groceries without paying the inflated prices of a small market, there are tons of fast-food places to eat, you can get hardware for projects on the rig, and it will be nice to see a movie once in awhile. The biggest problem with moving to Yuma is that the LTVA north of town has no cell signal for me. That’s kind of a deal breaker.

The nearest Walmart to Quartzsite is in Parker, 40 miles north of here. I rode my motorcycle there a few days ago but I didn’t enjoy the trip. Route 95 to Parker is a narrow two-lane road with a speed limit of 65 for most of the way. Of course you know that a speed limit of 65 means most everyone is driving 75 or 80. Route 95 has a lot of traffic, and with that much traffic drivers get impatient waiting to pass, making me uncomfortable when they think I should move over to the edge of the road so they can get by whether anyone is coming or not.

Old naked people!

Old naked people!

Where I’m parked now is right across the wash from the nudist section of the LTVA. When I found this nice spot I wondered why there was no one parking here. As I walked around I came upon signs scattered along the boundary and on all roads warning that you may encounter nudity in this area. Their website talks about the lifestyle they believe in and emphasizes that there shall be no display or approval of sexual activity. That makes sense to me considering they are mostly retired people with bodies well past the sexual stage. I’m far enough away so that I’m not being offended and disgusted by their shameful activities. Why… I can just barely see them with my binoculars!

 
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Published on November 11, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
20th Century Artifact

20th Century Artifact

I arrived in Quartzsite late Thursday night and found a temporary place to park. The plan was to pay in the morning and search for a nice quiet, out-of-the-way, piece of desert I could call home for a few weeks. What I didn’t plan on was that everything was closed for Veterans Day and I would have to wait until the next day.

It was sort of ironic because I used the dump station, filled with water, and threw away a couple bags of garbage, all with great intentions of paying tomorrow. Now, with no one here to collect my money, I will have another day to contemplate dishing out the money for an LTVA or moving out to a desert boondock. I hate parting with my money but an endless supply of water for showers is a very tempting thing.

There are a few tasks that keep us vagabonds tied to the realm of civilization. As long as we can find a place to legally park, get food and water, and find someplace to dispose of our poo, we can pretty much live off-grid and under the radar. It usually takes a little planning, but we get good at it.

I rode around town this afternoon. There are a surprising number of RVs at the four La Posa sites and Hi Jolly was filled almost to the same level I have seen in January. Only the Plamosa Road – several miles out of town – was sparsely occupied. No venders are in town yet.

While riding through Hi Jolly this afternoon I saw a van I thought I recognized. It was Sheri and her little dog Tony. I met Sheri and Tony a few weeks ago in Cottonwood and we became friends and spent time chatting on our walks in the evening. She has been in Chandler at the same time I was in Mesa. How nice we got to see each other again here in Q.

Barb is still camping in Yuma. She has been crossing into Los Algodones, Mexico for some dental work but is planning on coming to Quartzsite in a few days. I was happy to find out that Dean is still traveling with her and I will get to see him, too.

There are other things to talk about – like a new phone, a Bulldog Canyon hike with Daryl and Les, babysitting Donna’s little dog Hanna, and trying out my new metal detector, but I have never used this phone to post and worried it will be a problem. I’m going to stop now and try it.

 
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Published on November 2, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
Campsite

Campsite

Ready to fly

Ready to fly

I enjoyed the time I spent on forest road 525 outside of Sedona, AZ. My campsite was close to a model airplane runway where I could sit outside in the morning and watch the pilots flying the little planes through all sorts of aerobatic maneuvers. One morning I talked with one model pilot that offered to let me try my hand at flying his airplane. Sadly, I left the area before I could try it. Probably just as well that I didn’t learn to fly his plane – I would get hooked and have to buy one!

The temperature in the Phoenix area finally dropped back from the high 90’s to a more tolerable range in the low 80’s. I found a free, dispersed camping area near the Salt River called Bulldog Canyon where I can stay for a few days while I visit Mom.

Campsite

Campsite

Bulldog Canyon is accessible only by obtaining a combination from the forest service for a locked gate. The locked gate is designed primarily to keep people from trucking their trash out for disposal in the desert and driving where they can damage fragile vegetation. You can never stop all the abuse on public land, but the gates give the forest service a little more control.

This is an area used heavily by OHVs. So far it has been very quiet and dust free, but I imagine that in two more days the weekend warriors will bring their machines out to play and the silence will be broken by the roar of ATVs. I usually try to camp back away from the traffic, noise, and dust, but the only campsites were right along the road.

Mom is still struggling with shoulder pain. She is taking some heavy medications for pain and becomes very confused at times. She stays mostly in her room and sleeps a lot. The Doctors are still not sure what is causing her pain. If we could resolve the issue of her shoulder pain, I’m sure she would return to a more normal life.

I’m not sure how long I will stay here. There is a time limit on how long you can camp in this area, but if the weekend is chaotic with off-road racers, I may have to move out before my time is up.

 
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Published on October 28, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
First fast food in two weeks!

First fast food in two weeks!

The 14-day time limit was up at my Cottonwood camp so I packed up and moved this morning. Where I am now is only about 15 miles away, but it is in another national forest so I should not be bothered for a few days. The weather for this weekend is still too hot to return to the valley but I’m hoping next week will be more normal.

I really enjoyed my stay at the Cottonwood campground. A couple of days were pretty warm, but for the most part it was lovely weather. Remember that I have been in the mountains of Colorado and New Mexico for the last month, waking to freezing temps every morning. For the last two weeks, it has been good to soak up some Arizona sunshine.

I met some nice people while camped in Cottonwood. When I take walks in the evening I sometimes stop and talk with people I meet along the way. I follow a blog called Me and My Dog and My RV, dewelldesigns.blogspot.com, and one evening I met the owners of the blog, Barb and Katie(a cute little K9) by their motorhome as I was out walking. We saw each other several times during the time we were camped together and always had great conversation whenever we would meet. She introduced me to Dean, another camper living the lifestyle we share. We will all be in the southwest this winter and hopefully see each other down the road.

I plan to be here for the weekend and then head back into Phoenix on Tuesday or Wednesday. Richard has been exploring some dispersed camping areas near Usary Park and I hope to stay there for a few days. It will be good to see everyone again.

 
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Published on October 14, 2016, by admin in Adventure.
After the storm

After the storm

It has been almost two weeks since I’ve posted so I guess I should catch myself up to date.

My travels continued south through New Mexico to Bluewater Lake State Park. I noticed on my map that west of the park was the Cibola National Forest, and when I saw a sign announcing forest access, I turned to check it out. About a mile up the road I met a forest ranger and asked her about dispersed camping. She told me of a meadow a few miles further where a lot of people camp. The road was good, void of potholes and washboard unlike most of the forest roads I have been on lately, so I continued on up the road.

The road climbed higher up the mountain until I was above 8000 feet. I could already tell there was a chill in the air, and when I checked for cell signal, the dissapointing circle with a line through it stared back at me. It didn’t take me long to find a place to turn around and head back down the hill.

On my way up I had seen a few places that looked like good camping spots. One particular side road disappeared over a rise and I parked to walk back and check it out. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a cute little clearing, open to the southern sky, out of sight from the main road, and offering good cell signal. It would become my home for the next week.

I made a few trips exploring the forest roads while I was there and even rode several times into the town of Thoreau, NM to shop at the Family Dollar. Daryl even had a tire for my motorcycle shipped to the post office by Amazon. The weather was good the whole time I was there. It got a little chilly overnight but warmed up nicely during the day.

After much communication with the family about Mom’s medical problems, the realization that the weather would be too cold to stay in the mountains much longer, and the fact that I had no desire to see any more of New Mexico, I decided to head into Arizona and make my way to Phoenix. I did take a quick detour and spent an afternoon at El Morro National Monument, an interesting place of petroglyphs and history of early explorers.

By the time I made it to Payson the weather was once again perfect and I spent the night a few miles from town in a secluded spot not many know about. I contacted Donna to ask if I could park in her driveway for a few days and the next day made my way into Mesa.

It was nice to see family again and especially good to visit Mom as she fights the affects of a painful ordeal with shingles.

Mom has been in and out of the hospital and nursing home for the last couple weeks with awful pain in her shoulder. Just today she has finally transitioned back to her apartment and it seems that the pain is under control. Let’s hope she gets back to normal soon.

On the day I had planned to leave town I found a note on the door from the city of Mesa. It was a form letter of rules and regulations for how to live in town. One regulation about RVs parked in the driveway was highlighted in yellow. I knew it was probably frowned upon but thought that being there for only a few days would not attract any attention. What I didn’t know is that some neighbors were already complaining about another RV parked down the street, and I was caught in the crosshairs.

Have to follow rules here too.

Have to follow rules here too.

Right now I’m in Cottonwood. It is still a little too warm here but in another couple Weeks the temps should be just right. I am only a couple hours from Mom in case I am needed in town.

Mom sure gets a lot of loving care even without me there. Daryl, Donna, Richard and Dianna, and Heather all live in town and are constantly at her side making sure she gets the best care and support for all her needs. My brothers and I have never been a kissing and hugging bunch of guys, but not many families can match the love and empathy we feel for one another.

 
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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 New 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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