Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

Jodie Was Here!

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018


While I camped at Datil Wells campground in New Mexico, I rode Honda a short side trip over to the VLA. The VLA, which stands for Very Large Array, is a group of 28, giant, parabolic dishes, built in a remote section of windy, New Mexico desert, and used to capture radio waves from distant reaches of the universe. With these radio telescopes they have photographed galaxies, black holes, and thousands of cosmic objects millions of light-years away.

I have been here before but it’s an interesting stop. The visitors center costs $5 for a senior, allowing you to browse the rooms of displays, watch a movie, and take a walking tour out to one of the dishes. All this science and astronomy is all quite boring, of course, but what is exciting and interesting is that Jodie Foster filmed a movie here! She even narrated the movie you watch in the visitors center.

There have actually been several films that have used the VLA as a backdrop for visuals in parts of their story. It pricks the imagination to wonder what alien and unknown things might be out there and movies are good at exploiting our curiosity and making us think about it.

It has been quite warm here. Even though this campground is at 7800′, the temperature has been in the high 80’s. I’m pretty close to Elephant Butte State Park so I may drive there to take a look. It will not be a place to camp, however, because the park is located at 4000′ elevation with temps approaching 100° this time of year. I’m definitely going to have to find someplace high up in the mountains.

No direction home

Friday, June 15th, 2018


I’m doing a little wandering now that all the legal hurdles of residence in Arizona have been taken care of for the next year. I found out that insuring Minnie in Arizona is way, way more expensive than South Dakota, and getting an emissions test every year is more of a hassle, but it feels good to have all my legal pieces of residence in one place.

I still go by the philosophy that inquiries about my travel plans are best answered: “Wherever I end up, I guess.” Right now I’m in the Apache-Sitgraves National Forest at the Rim campground above Payson. I have been here several times before. The campground is full this weekend, mainly because the fire closures have limited choices for campers, and partly because this is a Father’s Day weekend.

It still bothers me that people take a trailer or tent or some other piece of camping gear, drive up to the campground several days before they intend to camp, and leave the gear in prime sites to reserve the place for the weekend. I talked to the camp host about it and came to the conclusion that even though it is illegal, no one is going to do anything about it.

Last night a young couple parked in front of my camp and walked through two adjoining campsite looking for an open site. The site next to me was occupied by a vehicle left to reserve the camp for the weekend. My site is large with room for more than one camper so I told them they were welcome to camp here with me. They were very happy to have a place to pitch their tent. They were courteous, respectful, and quiet during the evening. In the morning when I awoke, they were gone.

There is a storm headed this way. The remnants of hurricane Bud are expected to dump some rain on eastern Arizona and western New Mexico in the next two days. I was planning on moving east into New Mexico but decided to wait here until the storm passed. That’s the nice thing about traveling with no specific time table, you can always stay put until you feel like moving.

Tinder Fire

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018
Smoke from Tinder Fire

Smoke from Tinder Fire

Not long after I moved Minnie from the desert near Yuma to the forest above Payson, some deranged person started the forest on fire. I had set up my camp in the Coconino National forest, only three miles from Richard and Dianna where they live and volunteer for the forest service during the summer months. All was fine for a few days as we made plans to welcome Daryl and Gisele and their new car for a visit and lunch. We even hoped Donna would detour up to our get together.

The fire started when we were on a shopping trip to Winslow. On our way home we could see smoke as we drew closer to the Blue Ridge Ranger station where Richard and Dianna volunteer. We eventually realized that the fire was only a few miles from where we were staying and close enough to give us great concern for safety.

When we eventually arrived at the ranger station we learned that the road I was camping on was closed. I was informed that I could not even go down the road to get my camper out. Richard knew of a back road out of the compound that took me safely to my rig where I packed up quickly and moved up to the ranger station.

Even though we were within a few miles of the fire, there was no danger where we were. The wind over the next few days took the fire away from us to the north. With the dry condition of the area and the strong wind, the fire has grown to over 12,000 acres. Several homes have been destroyed and the fire is headed for more houses ahead of the flames. There is zero containment.

The fire has brought together several units of hotshot crews, fire teams, air support, and personal from all over the west. They have all fought the fire bravely and undoubtedly saved many residences. Tonight there is snow and rain in the forecast so we are all hoping the fire will be controlled with the help of the weather.

For several reasons, including but not limited to, snow, rain, freezing temperatures, high wind, fire traffic and road closures, I decided to travel down to a lower altitude for a few days. I’m now at the same camp I found last year, only five miles from Payson. I will go back up on the Rim after summer returns.

Mesa Del Caballo

Thursday, April 12th, 2018
My camp near Payson.

My camp near Payson.

Mesa Del Caballo is a small village about 5 miles north of Payson, AZ. Last year I found a secluded boondocking campsite along the Houston Mesa Road just a stones throw from the small village, and luckily, I found the same campsite open this year, too.

Payson is a good place to stay in the spring and fall. The winters are too cold and the summer too hot, but here in the middle of April, I have enjoyed most days in the high 70’s and nights hovering right around 50 degrees. I have been here a little over a week now and my plans are to return to Tempe this weekend for a Dr appointment and then down to Yuma for another dental appointment. Yuma may be brutal with the temperatures normally experienced this time of year, and I may be running my generator for air conditioning for part of the day.

When I first set up camp, I noticed the location I chose was trampled down to bare dirt and the cows had left calling cards all around my parking spot. As I looked around I noticed a salt lick left by the rancher very close to the place I liked to park. The next day I moved the salt block down away from my camp in hopes of encouraging the cows to congregate someplace else. That night several cows stood around my camp and complained that the salt block was no longer there! The next day I tried to explain to them that the salt block they coveted was only a few yards away and they should look harder to find it.

All was well until the rancher that manages the cattle here on the land leased from the national forest, pulled in with another salt block. We got to talking and he explained that the national forest managers wanted the salt block here by the crossroads so the cows wouldn’t congregate and destroy the vegetation in other places. He asked very nicely if I could move to another spot so the cows wouldn’t be agitated by my presence. I told him I would be happy to move to another spot. I understand that the national forest is for multiple use and we need to share and get along with each other. Before he left we both talked about our displeasure of people that bring trash back to the woods, and the neglect of some to close gates after they drive through.

Cow ponds are way low.

Cow ponds are way low.

Today, I rode a few miles north to hike back to the waterfalls along the second crossing of the Verde River. It is a very pretty hike along the river, offering views of tranquil pools and towering canyon walls. The waterfall was hard to see and not very impressive. It has been so dry this year that ponds, rivers, and reservoirs are all way below normal.

Canyon waterfall.

Canyon waterfall.

I was alone on the short hike to the waterfall and I couldn’t help feel a little sad and contemplative as I walked the path back into the canyon. Two years ago a flash flood caught an unexpecting family enjoying a hot summer day as they played in the pools of water. They had no chance to escape as a wall of debris and water swept several of them to their deaths. You are reminded of the tragedy as you pass several momentos left along the river to remember the family.

Doctor Appointments

Sunday, April 1st, 2018
This is where our 100th cache was hidden.

This is where our 100th cache was hidden.

I'm not good at taking selfies!

I’m not good at taking selfies!

I’m back in Tempe parked in front of brother Daryl’s house. I have a couple doctor appointments coming up and Daryl was gracious enough to let me park and plug in to his electric. There are several days this week where the temperature will be 90 degrees, and it would be unbearable without air conditioning. Depending on doctor appointments, I hope to move up into the mountains in a few days.

I had a wonderful time with Richard and Dianna down in Yuma. We camped at the Imperial Dam LTVA for most of the month of March. We took many trips out on back roads and along canals to hunt for geocaches, finding over 100 caches in total during the month. There were only a couple hides that we could not find. Most were easy and close to the road, usually hidden under a few rock and very obvious.

Some nice sunsets.

Some nice sunsets.

Other excursions included a visit to Imperial Wildlife Refuge where we drove deep into the wilderness along the Colorado River and hiked a path into some pretty, painted rocks, a trip to Picacho State Park that I already blogged about, visiting the museum at the YPG army base, and two trips to the golf course to hit our balls around.

The one thing we missed was riding motorcycles together. Richards scooter was being repaired in Phoenix so we rode together in their car wherever we went. It actually worked out well because most of the roads we traveled to attractions and geocaches were not made for motorcycles or scooters.

Almost every night we would eat together and enjoy great conversation. Dianna made some delicious meals, and I can’t thank her and Richard enough for letting me join them each night. I had a great time and look forward to another fun winter with them next year.