Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

12.3.10

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

I just can’t get enough of Apache country. I spent last night at Chiricahua Nat’l Mon. again, and hiked a short nature trail this morning before heading into New Mexico.  Before that, I stopped at Colossal Cave below Tucson and had a VIP tour, I was the only one that showed up for the 3:00 group. 

Tonight I’m at a free campground in the Gila Nat’l For. I noticed some cliff dwellings on the map and I will take a look tomorrow. It is still cold at night with traces of snow both here and in Chiricahua where I stayed last night. I gathered up enough wood to keep warm for a while and then I will crawl in and pile the blankets on.  Tomorrow I will head east. 

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

10.24.10

There was some pretty bad weather last night. It was the first time I made a campfire since leaving Phoenix, and I realized it was mistake soon after it blazed to life. Usually, the wind will die down after the sun sets, but it picked up and swirled with increasing force through the night.  The fire sent sparks in all directions and chased me with smoke wherever I sat.  On top of that, I cut my finger trying to use a screwdriver and vicegrip to split wood. I need to get a hatchet.   

Along about midnight, there came a driving rain that sounded like hail on my van roof.  I was snug and safe in my vehicle but campers in tents had a rough night. I talked with one tent camper that said sand blew through the mesh of his tent and coated everything with a fine layer.

I’m at Canyonlands NP today. I will hike some tomorrow when I have more time. The air is still cold but the sun is out. The forcast for the next few days looks pretty good.  Cell service is really bad in these parks.     

10.26.10

I hiked about 5 miles today to a place called Lost Canyon. It is no wonder Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid used these canyons to escape and hide out from the law, they are like a maze for miles and miles. I’m headed for Capital Reef NP today.

10.20.10

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

This morning turned out sunny with the promise of warm weather. I drove along the rim of Canyon de Chelly and stopped to admire the view from several overlooks. The view are totally awesome – sheer cliffs of hundreds of feet, colorful sandstone formations, meadows nestled in the valley below. 

The park is located on Navaho Indian land so they take advantage of every oppertunity to sell their wares to the tourists. Every place you stop the Indians have their tables set up to sell jewelry and other trinkets. There is only one trail leading to Pueblo Indian ruins that you can go to unguided, all the rest require that you hire a guide or join a tour.  You can probably guess which trail this high plains thrifter took. 

It was a fun walk down the cliff face to the valley where the ruins lay. Some of the trail was chisled from the rock face and in a couple spots tunneled several yards through. At the bottom, I had to pass more tables of jewelry and a fence kept onlookers back over 100 feet from the ruins.  

On the way back up it started to rain. I ducked under ledges when the showers became steady and hiked when they let up.  At the top, I could see lighting in the distance so I decided to call it a day, get something to eat, and head back to the campground. Tomorrow I will head to Mesa Verde NP. 

Visit To Tucson

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

On Friday 10/15/10, Daryl and I traveled to Tucson. I was hoping to revive some memories of my youth and maybe bring back some of the feelings I had while growing up in Flowing Wells. It would be interesting to see what I recognized from over 40 years of absence. It seemed like such a long time ago, and amazingly still only just yesterday.

Most of the buildings I remember as a boy had been torn down and replaced with something else. Our house was no longer there, instead an apartment building with paved driveways. Daryl and I drove around the parking lot and tried to imagine where the shop and pool once were. Many hours were spent shooting at the basketball rim on the shop, and grass out front of the house would never grow because of our play. I thought about all the circles we made on motorcycles around the driveway before we had licensees.

Even Kilburn road seemed different – more rundown and strange. I thought I remembered more grass in front of houses and less trash scattered about. Maybe I just wanted to think that.

Some of the classrooms at Flowing Wells High School were as I remember them but that was about all. The football field was in the same place and I found the old cafeteria, understandably now used for something else. The parking lot was different and there were new buildings jutting from all sides. I had a desire to look inside some of the buildings and browse through the trophy cases, but in this day and age it is not a good idea for strangers to wander around a school. Donna later told us that school was probably closed because of a winter break and it might have been OK to ask if we could look around.

One thing that seems to stay the same is the names of roads. It was reassuring to know that most of the roads still went where they used to, or you still took this road to get here, or we could find something by going down this road. Oracle Road Rent All was still a business although the building is much larger. We drove out to see the area where Shamrock Dairy was and still is in business – an area where I loved to play, collecting wax to make melted hands and riding bicycles with my friend Wayne.

Before we left, Daryl drove across town to Davis Monthan AFB. One of my favorite things to do in Tucson was drive along the fence by the base and look at all the stored aircraft. You used to be able to drive for miles and view row upon row of obsolete airplanes abandoned to the ‘bone-yard’ of the dry Arizona desert. There were a few places where we saw planes but mostly now they keep you back and away from them. We did however find one spot by the fence, along an off road, maintenance path, and Daryl tried out his 4WD SUV.

It was a good nostalgic trip. Daryl and I did a lot of reminiscing and I want to thank him very much for taking me there. Maybe someday I’ll go back, but for now I’ll leave the past behind and try something new.

105 Degrees!

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

On Friday, October 1, after six days of travel, I finally arrived at Daryl’s home in Phoenix, Arizona. It was a shock to drive down from the White Mountains and be met with 100-degree temperatures. Only a few hours before, at a place called Datil, New Mexico, I awoke to a chilly 40 degrees at my pre-dawn campsite. As I descended through Salt River Canyon to lower altitudes, I kept thinking it was a good thing my van has A/C.

I did a lot of sightseeing on Thursday and Friday. A short detour below Amarillo, Texas brought me to Palo Duro State Park, a place of stark contrast to the flat plains and endless grasslands of the Texas Panhandle. Palo Duro is like a mini Grand Canyon carved over the years by the Red River. There is a scenic roadway all the way to the bottom that was built in the 1930s by the CCC. I stopped to enjoy many fine views and read about the history of the park.

Then it was on to New Mexico where I enjoyed the scenery as the flat plains gave way to hills and magnificent rock formations. I entered Albuquerque, NM just before rush-hour and thought once of calling Dick for directions to the house he built. I would have liked to see it, but the traffic was about all I could handle, and I lamented into just getting through. As it turned out, minutes after I turned south on I25 and headed out of the city, all the interstate highways both coming into and going out of the city were closed, snarling traffic for hours. It seems that VP Biden was in town campaigning and now was leaving for the airport. A few minutes later and I would still be stuck in Albuquerque.

Then it was on to Rt.60, a beautiful highway running through the mountains from Soccoro, NM to Show Low, AZ. I passed the VLA (Very Large Array of radio telescopes) and continued on to a cute little campground run by the Bureau of Land Management and spent the night for a mere $5. With a Golden Pass the price would have been $2.50. It was getting late so I decided to find a campsite and return the next morning to the VLA. The campground even had free firewood for the campers, something I had never seen at any of the campgrounds back east.

I awoke before dawn, made coffee, and took a stroll around the campground. A sign announced that the Datil Well in this area was used as one of the watering stops for cattle drives through the mountain pass in the 1800’s. A thermometer on the office building read 40 degrees, and I thought of Mom when she said to ‘soak up’ all the cool weather before descending into the Phoenix area. Before I did though, I headed back to visit the VLA.

I could see the giant dishes for 15 miles before I arrived. The remoteness of their location, along with the altitude – over 7000 feet – make this a perfect spot for interference free signals from space. There are 27 dishes, each about the size of a baseball diamond, arraigned in a “Y” formation. All the antenna’s signals can be synchronized so that they act like a single antenna, reading images millions of light-years into space. I watched a short film and then did a walking tour to see the antennas up close. One of the neatest facts about the VLA is that in 1997, a large part of the film “Contact”, staring Jodie Foster, was shot there.

The rest of the drive into Arizona would take me through the Salt River Canyon and 60 degrees of rising temperatures. I remember the stories of Salt River Canyon and the truckers who lost their brakes coming down the steep grades. I was glad that I have good brakes on the van, and also glad I was behind the U-Haul truck that gave off the odor of burning, brake pads all the way to the bottom. Some of the views from the pullouts were really breathtaking.

Last night, Mom, Donna, Daryl, Gisele, Derek and I went out to eat. It was good to see everyone again and spend some time together. Today, Daryl and I did some shopping for our backpack adventure next week. The weather in the Sierra’s looks kind of cold and rainy for the start of our hike, but what do you expect when you’re hiking with the Soggy Shoe Hikers?