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Camping With Donna and Hanna

Friday, November 2nd, 2018

Lots of cows in our camp.

More testing

After my doctors appointments in Tempe, I drove up to Payson for a couple weeks. It is almost time to head for southern Arizona and stake out a spot in the desert to ride out the winter.

I had three reasons to stay in the area for a few days: I still needed to wait for test results ( all ok), the election was coming in a couple weeks, and best of all, Donna and Hanna decided to come up in her motorhome and camp with me in the tall pines and cool weather.

It was chilly nights above Payson and it rained a few times that we were there, but Donna has a car she tows behind her motorhome and we could run around in comfort. We went to see some nearby boondocking sites on a few days, made a trip to places Donna remembered from her time with the Cancer Society, went into town for a movie, and made several trips to Walmart for odds and ends. I think we only stayed all day in camp on two occasions.

S’mores tonight!

We had a campfire on most nights. The nights got very chilly so it felt good to slide our chairs close to the flames and roast marshmallows. I very seldom have a fire when I’m camping alone but those s’mores sure tasted good. About 7:30 or so we would retire to our motorhomes and watch a little tv or read.

I won’t go into any more detail about our camping trip because Donna is going to write about it too.

S’mores tonight!

Right now I’m parked in Bulldog Canyon, just north of Mesa along the Salt River. When I was in Payson the tall pines blocked most of the sun during the day and my solar panels struggled to keep me charged. For the last two days my panels have really appreciated being here in the open desert to soak up sunshine and turn it into electricity; they are usually able to fully charge the batteries shortly after noon.

Tame wild horses.

My plan it to head for Quartzsite next week. Even though I make home base at one of the LTVAs, I still seem to wander abound southern Arizona all winter. Last year I was working my way over to Boot Hill when I made a detour back to Phoenix. I like to go back to places I know I went to when I was young because Ican’t remember them anymore. And my memory is getting so bad as I get older it seem like every place I go to is new – even if I was just there – Wonderful!

Testing a new phone.

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

Not much to tell about. I’m just hanging around Payson until my scheduled doctor appointments are taken care of. I’m testing out a new (to me) phone I received from Donna. It is an iPhone, so will involve relearning different system operations. It has been many years since I had an iPhone.

I can upload pictures in black and white. iPhone has no setting to lower camera resolution.

Over the last few years Don gave me a Samsung 4, Daryl gave me a Nexus Google Phone, and Donna has given me an iPhone 6+. It’s nice to have siblings that upgrade to the latest technology and give me perfectly good devices. Thanks again guys!

Picture Yourself…

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

… in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and… No, that’s something else altogether.

Ready to launch at the boat ramp.

Hard to tell where the water and cliff met.

I haven’t been able to get that song out of my head every since I decided to stop overnight at McHood City Park near Winslow, Arizona and paddle the pretty river of Clear Creek. McHood Park is a small campground and day use area on the shore of Clear Creek Reservoir. The campground is nothing more than a parking lot but it is free for 14 days.

The temperature in Winslow this time of year is still in the 90’s, so I got up early and put my kayak in the reservoir next to the campground. The dam at the reservoir backs up the water into Clear Creek for a few miles and makes a beautiful place to float through the canyon of steep rock walls.

These guys swam right over to my kayak.

The reservoir was not very pretty for 1/2 mile or so – reeds along the shore and seaweed that scraped the bottom of the boat – but then you cross under the bridge and start into the canyon.

Day use area.

The canyon, rock walls get steeper and steeper until they tower over you in your little boat, almost making it dark as the sun is blocked from the narrow gorge. The cliffs are favorites of some visitors that come here to jump from high ledges into the water.

It felt kind of spooky to be all alone in the depths of the canyon, miles from anyone. Once in the deep canyon I had no cell signal. The only blessing was that the shade from the rock walls blocked the sun and increasing heat of the day.


It’s about 3 miles one way.

I finally reached the end of the navigable water. I met a young man there that had paddled his canoe earlier than me and was fishing by the shore. I asked him if I could go any further and he said I could go a little further but would have to drag my boat over many shallow places.

These are ancient petroglyphs on the walls.

On the way back I met six more people in one-person kayaks going the opposite way. One woman had a paddle board with a dog riding with her. My shoulders started hurting on the way back and my butt got sore from sitting so long on an unpadded seat. The wind also came up and blew in my face, making forward progress even more difficult.

I had my phone in a plastic baggie in a fanny pack when I started out, but taking it out of the plastic every time I wanted to take a picture got to be too much of a hassle. Of course when I got back to the boat ramp, I would fall in the water.

I stepped out of the boat and grabbed hold of the front handle to pull the boat up on dry part of the ramp. I didn’t realize just how slippery the algae covered concrete was and I went down in an instant. I floundered around for a bit and succeeded in dunking myself even deeper. Finally, I got hold of the dock and stood up, immediately pulling my phone from the fanny pack and setting it in the sun to dry. It was somewhat protected in the zippered pouch so just a little water got to it. Seems like it is fine.

It was noon when I got the kayak loaded and strapped down. I drove south to a familiar camp near Blue Ridge Ranger Station. The weather here should be nice for a few days.

Boat Trailer

Saturday, September 8th, 2018

My trailer will probably get some laughs!

It always seems that campgrounds by a lake are never right near the lake. It posed a problem for launching my kayak. I either had to carry it the distance to the shore or pack everything and drive Minnie to the boat launch. If I had a separate vehicle it would be easy to carry the kayak on a roof rack and spirit away to the boat launch.

Here at Storrie Lake you can pull down and camp anyplace along the lake. That makes it handy to put Boat in the water but not good if it rains and your stuck in the mud. Many campers like to park right by the water but it just feels too exposed to me.

One day I was pondering this dilemma and decided to see if my bicycle trailer would fasten to the end of my kayak. With a little modification and a couple tie down straps, the trailer fits snug to the boat. I added a couple boards and put an old rug down to cushion the plastic. I used it like this for a few times. I could pick up one end and either pull or push the boat like a wheelbarrow. This soon got old too. It was ok for a hundred yards or so, but any further left me with wobbly legs, reminiscent of a drunk walking along side of the road.

My workhorse.

In the middle of my dream a couple nights ago I thought of a way to use a PVC pipe that I picked up for my awning last year and modify the pipe to fasten to Honda. It’s still in the experimental stage with a couple of bugs to work out but I’m confident it will work. For now Honda has to be my workhorse around camp. I don’t know what I would do without him.

Nice kayaking when water is smooth.

Two more parks

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

Villanueva State Park

My two weeks were up at Storrie Lake so I packed up and headed south along the Pecos River to check out two more state parks. I was a little concerned that I would be dropping lower in altitude and thus finding hotter temperatures, but I hoped to find an electric site to ride out the Labor Day weekend with air conditioning.

Forty miles south of Las Vegas, New Mexico is the little state park called Villanueva. It’s another one of those parks built in a valley along a river. There is fishing and hiking trails. I only stayed overnight and hiked two short trails. There was no cell signal from a tower but up at the visitors center there is a booster where you could connect as long as you were close to the building. The Pecos River that runs along the length of the park supplies moisture to the valley so that lush, tall trees provide a pretty campsite.

There is a lot of history along the Pecos River. Early Spanish explorers were believed to have traveled through the valley, and later the area became part of the Santa Fe Trail. The town of Villanueva was a busy crossing when the Pecos was part of the border between Mexico and the United States. Supplies brought in by traders heading west were heavily taxed by the Mexico government.

Trail above the Pecos River.

In the morning I hiked up the valley to a mesa where early Spanish settlers built rock walls as a place to thrash wheat. They would fill a large, round, stone walled area with wheat and walk cattle in a circle to separate the grain. Then they would fluff it into the wind to remove the chaff.

After my morning hike, I packed up and drove 80 miles south to Santa Rosa State Park. Santa Rosa is 2000′ lower than Storrie Lake and the heat was definitely in full swing when I reached the the campground. I drove the non-electric camp loops and only saw a couple sites occupied. It was the opposite when I looked at the electric sites. Luckily, I found a couple non-reservable sites open and snagged one for the next seven days.

Santa Rosa Lake lookout.

I haven’t explored much of the park yet. The lake is not a place where I can launch my kayak so I will just hang out and enjoy the electricity. I did ride Honda into Santa Rosa today and met Richard and Dianna on their trip back to Tennessee. We had a quick lunch at McDonalds and then they continued on east. I will not see them until next year.