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

Trash

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

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

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

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

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

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

AZT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Campsite

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A campsite

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

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

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

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

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

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

My type of road.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Published on April 7, 2016, by admin in Uncategorized.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

L

 

AT

 
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Published on February 18, 2016, by admin in Uncategorized.
Arch

Arch

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

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

Telescope for looking at the sun.

Telescope for looking at the sun.

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

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

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

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

No Arms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Petroglyphs

13 gallons of water

13 gallons of water

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Published on January 18, 2016, by admin in Uncategorized.
Trail ride to Seeping Springs petroglyph site.

Trail ride to Seeping Springs petroglyph site.

20160116_124335

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

RTR

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

Signs

and more Signs

and more Signs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rugged

Fish Creek

Fish Creek

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

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

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

Cave

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

San Luis Reservoir

San Luis Reservoir

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

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

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

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

 
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Published on October 22, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
An old Minnie trailer.

An old Minnie trailer.

On Thursday I left the California coast and drove Rt. 299 from Eureka to Redding. In the small town of Big Bar there were dozens of PCT backpackers lining the streets all looking for a ride north. The Shasta-Trinity National Forest has been ravaged by fire causing officials to close the trail and reroute hikers around the burned out area. I’m not sure where they had to detour to but it probably involved a lot of road walking. It seemed odd to me that the hikers are still this far south. They still have to finish California and go through Oregon and Washington before winter sets in.

I remembered a boondocking spot near the ghost town of Helena and pulled in to stay the weekend. While I was there I did a little gold panning and rode some of the back roads on Honda. All the streams in the area have claim notices but it looked like no one had been there in the last three years to even tack back up the tattered paper. I guess you could call me a claim jumper.

Rt 299 from Weaverville east is under major construction. The road down from the pass is the kind of road you love to ride on a motorcycle. It snakes down the mountain in hairpin turns and curves that make you lean out to see around the corner. But now they are spending millions of dollars to straighten it out. For several miles they are cutting deep into the mountain and filling huge ravines with dirt to widen and straighten the road. All this means that I had to wait 45 minutes before they let our line of cars through. I even struck up a conversation with a lady walking along the road of cars to see around the bend. She told me she lives in Weaverville and when she has to go to Redding she allows two extra hours drive time.

From Redding I took Interstate 5 south until I got tired of driving and stopped at a Walmart for the night. I thought once of making a detour to Lassen Volcanic National Park but remembered being evicted by the government shutdown last time I was there and stuck my nose up at the thought of going back.

I’m getting far enough south that the shorts and t-shirts are being pulled out of the drawer. It is almost time to return to the southwest for the winter and see the family.

 
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Published on October 14, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Highway 101 along the southern coast of Oregon is spectacular. The road is cut high in the cliffs and open to expansive views of ocean meeting land in violent beauty. There are many pull-out places scattered along the highway and it is hard to pass by even one.

Last Sunday I rode down 101 from Three Rivers Casino to the Umpqua Lighthouse and took the tour. Richard told me the tour was good and worth a visit. I’m really glad I stopped because it was one of the least expensive and most enjoyable attractions I’ve done in a long time. I can see Richard and Dianna hosting a historical feature like a lighthouse; Richard would be good at giving lighthouse tours.

Inside the lens.

Inside the lens.

I have been using obsolete Internet information to find free places to stay as I travel down the coast. It happened last night that the Mill Casino near Coos Bay now has no free parking. I didn’t have another plan and didn’t feel like going on further so I coughed up the cash to stay the night. I did get free showers, dump, and use of the laundry room, so it kind of evened out.

I have noticed that there are many people who bike and backpack along the narrow shoulder of Highway 101. There is a lot of fast traffic on that road and in many places only about two feet separates my right mirror from the head of the cyclist. I try to pull over if I can but sometimes there is oncoming traffic. You couldn’t pay me to bike or hike along that busy road. On the whole AT there are only a very few miles that are along a road, and when I had to walk on one it was always a relief to get back into the woods.

Tonight I’m in California parked on a forest road along the Smith River. I’m only a few miles from Redwood National Park and will enjoy the big trees for a couple of days. No matter how many times I visit this area it always amazes me how big these trees grow. It is almost as if they should be called something different than a tree. It’s like comparing a lizard to a dinosaur.

 
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Published on October 8, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
Laundry Ripoff

Laundry Ripoff

What a ripoff this place is. I will steer clear of a laundromat like this in the future if I can help it.

All the machines use something called an “easy card”, a credit card type of plastic that all washers and dryers require to operate. The card itself costs $.49 and is only good at the store where it is purchased. You must add money to the card through an ATM type kiosk and it appears that no combination will come out even after you wash and dry.

To top it all off there are no single washers in the place. I wish I would have known about this before I rode down here.

 
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Published on October 7, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
Flown by two famous aviators

Flown by two famous aviators

One thing I’ve noticed about the back roads in Oregon is the lack of any shoulders. Only inches from the edge of the blacktop and lane marker the ground falls almost vertical to a deep ditch or dropoff. There is hardly any place to safely pull off the highway. In the event you are startled by a deer, or nudged over by a large truck in your lane, or suddenly had a flat tire, you would surly suffer a calamity of great proportions down some unearthly embankment. Even when the road is on the level the builders decided to raise the grade six feet to make sure there were dropoff on either side. If you showed any normal, highway superintendent a section of this road, they would ponder only a second and say, “We should put a guardrail along here.”

All this got me to thinking today as I drove back to the coast from the Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, OR. The road over the coastal mountains was smooth but curvy and narrow. I was going the speed limit but several cars would pile up behind me anyway. If I’m going the speed limit I usually don’t worry to much about holding up traffic, but after a while I want to pull over and let them go by before someone gets too impatient and tries to pass on a curve. It sometimes was many miles before I could find a good place to pull over.

More airplanes

More airplanes

The museum in McMinnville is where the Spruce Goose, Howard Hughes gigantic wooden airplane is kept on display. It was a little expensive to get into the museum but worth it. Not only is the Spruce Goose on display but hundreds of other aircraft and rockets. I spent four hours wandering through the place. You can see inside Hughes plane but it cost an extra $25 to go up to the flight deck and sit where Howard flew the plane.

STOL Airplane

STOL airplane

I’m back over on the coast near Florence. It has been raining today so I have been hiding, but maybe tomorrow I will check out the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. I have come half way down through Oregon. My plan is to continue slowly down the coast and then gradually ease up on the pace.

 
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Published on October 2, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
Making cheese.

Making cheese.

I drove back towards the coast and found a free campsite in the Tillamook State Forest. From there it was only 15 miles to the town of Tillamook and only 8 miles further to the Oregon Seashore. From my campsite here it is an easy ride on Honda to explore the coast.

Tillamook has a cheese factory that is somewhat famous in this area. They brag about there cheese and ice cream being the best around. The factory where they make everything has a visitors center where you can watch people make cheese and, of course, purchase some to take with you when you go. They have a line you can move through and sample the different kinds of cheese they make. I thought the cheese wasn’t nearly as good as Cuba Cheese but I did buy some curd to take home.

Curd

Curd

From there I rode over to the coast to look at a lighthouse. As I got closer to the ocean a thick, cold fog enveloped me and all views of the Pacific were lost in the mist. The lighthouse was cute, definitely smaller than many I have seen. It is called Cape Meares Lighthouse, and is one of many in a row that are either abandoned or automated. Modern navigation doesn’t need them much anymore.

Cute Lighthouse

Cute Lighthouse

On my way back I stopped at a state park that has camping. I thought that maybe prices would be better as we get into October and I could stay one night and use the hookups. No one is ever in the booth at the entrance to state and federal campgrounds anymore. The usually have an honor system self registration board to collect your money and a ranger to drive by once in a while to catch the cheater.

It would add up in a month.

It would add up in a month.

I’ll be here through the weekend and head down the coast next week. I may stay at a casino for my next sightseeing romp. I read where they are used quite often by rvers looking to see the area on a cheep budget.

One thing that seems strange is the way they sell gas in this state. It is against the law to pump your own so you must wait for the attendant to come out and pump it. I thought gas prices would be higher here because of the extra help but they are the same or cheaper than they were in Washington. When I pulled in on Honda the attendant set the pump and then handed me the nozzle.

 
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Published on September 29, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
Big building.

Big building.

Seattle is no fun to drive around. I stayed overnight at a Walmart a few miles north of Everett Friday night, took the tour of the Boeing plant the next day, found a fairground where the guy let camp for $5 Saturday night, and got up early to drive around Seattle on Sunday morning. Now I don’t know where everyone was going on Sunday morning – I can’t believe they were all going to Sunday school or out to get an early parking spot at the Seahawks game – but the traffic was so bad I even ran into a traffic jam! I was never so glad to get by a city.

I really enjoyed the tour of the Boeing plant. The building where they build the airplanes is big. Over 100 feet tall almost 100 acres inside. I forget how many football fields he told us you could fit inside the building but it was a lot. Maybe I will look it up before I post this, or you can. I just remember if you want to buy one of the finished 747s, they are about $400,000,000.

After the Boeing tour I just wanted to find a Walmart where I could get a few hours sleep. I tried three stores on my way down Interstate 5, but they all had no overnight parking signs. After I struck out the third time I noticed a fairground and pulled in to ask if they had overnight parking.

He said. “Yes, and for $25 I could have electricity and water.”

I told him I didn’t need all that so he let me dry camp for $5.

Afterwards, I was wishing I had paid for the electricity and given my batteries a good charge. I still haven’t figured out why my alternator won’t charge, but I put a jumper wire from the solenoid in the battery compartment of the coach, and now get a charge.

Today, I stopped at Lewis and Clark National Park at the mouth of the Columbia river. Most of the park was dedicated to the history of the winter they spent at the coast and interactions with the Indians that lived there. A replica of Fort Clatsop is built on the site.

I drove down the coast a ways but there was nothing to see or do. I could have paid $40 to stay at one of the state parks along the ocean, and then walked out to look for shells or whales, but I wasn’t in the mood so I headed inland. I passed over the coastal mountains and stopped at a rest area in the Clatsop State Forest, about 50 miles west of Portland OR. I will stay here tonight and decide if I want to continue down the coast or explore inland.

 
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Published on September 25, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
I baked a ham.

I baked a ham.

Washington State is the location where the books and movies of the Twilight saga are based. The pacific northwest, because of its cloudy and rainy weather, is supposed to be the best place for vampires to live. We all know how vampires hate the sun and I’m getting to understand why they like it here so much.

Even if there was any sun I would not hardly know it. I’m camped in a national forest campground surrounded by towering mountains and tall cedars that blot out every section of sky. This far north and this late in the year means the sun is already low in the southern sky, and if it ever penetrates the clouds, it has to fight through an impenetrable forest canopy to ever reach my solar panels.

North Cascade National Park is very pretty. The Glacier carved valleys are filled with cascading waterfalls and greenery hanging from shear cliff faces.A lot of the park can only be explored on foot. You get a glimpse of the beauty as you drive Route 20 through the park but no roads take you into the wilderness. I learned there are over 300 glaciers in North Cascade compared with 9 in Glacier NP.

Where Vampires live!

Where Vampires live!

The Pacific Crest Trail winds up through the park. I stopped and talked with a couple of thru hikers who told me you have to hike 8 miles into Canada before you come to a back road where someone can pick you up. Hikers that arrive late to the Cascades are faced with the dangers of winter storms and ice.

The PCT

The PCT

A lot of the campgrounds are closed because of fires. The campground near the visitors center was in no danger anymore from fire that had passed through, but trees were still burning and the air was filled with the noxious odor of smoke. It is hard to comprehend that the Northwest with all its stigma about rainy weather could be in such dry condition. Washington has had a bad time with fire this summer. My hats off to the firefighters who battle these fires, but when you look at the perpendicular slopes of these mountains, you wonder how they can do anything on the ground to stop the blaze from spreading.

I enjoyed my drive through the park but there is one thing that put me off. A lot of the markers along the road are not information plaques at all; they tell of some poet that stood there and wrote this inspirational poem while gazing across at a mountain. I’ll get my own inspiration, thanks. I don’t want to stop my rig on a winding mountain road to read a poem. Maybe I’m wrong to feel that way.

I’m in Arlington, WA for the night. It continues to rain. Wispy fog banks swirl around the surrounding mountains and the temperature stays in the low 60s. I was thinking of driving around Puget Sound and visiting Olympic National Park but I will probably save that and head down highway 101 into Oregon. It is time to start the southern migration.

 
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Published on September 22, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
I thought I was in Georgia.

I thought I was in Georgia.

State Route 20 is a very scenic drive across northern Washington State. The highway snakes it way over passes and through meadows, meandering only a few miles south of British Columbia. I drove by pristine lakes, wide rivers, and dense forests that stretch for miles and miles on end.

I would have liked to have spent more time in the forests of Washington, but unfortunately, a lot of those forests are on fire. Washington has had its share of wildfires this summer and is only now starting to get most of them under control. Someone told me today that three firefighters from this town had died this summer while fighting the fires.

I spent last night in Coleville, WA and tonight I am at a place called Omak. I looked for a forest road to camp on as I drove through the Coleville National Forest today,but most of them were closed.

The Walmarts up here seem to be pretty welcoming. I don’t set my dish or solar panels out, but there is usually good cell signal and a few over-the-air stations. I have to admit I feel a little nervous about sleeping in the forest with fire in the area. I’m sure they would come and tell me to pack up if the fire came my way…. if they could find me.

I should reach Cascade National Park tomorrow. There is fire there, too. I don’t know what there is to see and it may be too cold to explore much on Honda, so it might be a quick visit.

 
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Published on September 20, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
Ingredients

Ingredients

For a while now I have been wishing for a cup of hot chocolate on these chilly evenings. Every time I get groceries I mean to pick up some of those packets of powdered, instant hot chocolate, but I either forget or rule it out as a snack food that’s unhealthy for me. Then the other night I realized I had all the ingredients to make it myself. It turns out that my recipe made the best hot chocolate I have ever had. Here is my recipe in case you want to make some yourself:

Combine in a large mug:
One cup Half & Half
One cup Hershey Syrup

Nuke for one minute, add 3 large marshmallows. Enjoy.

I didn’t really use a whole cup of chocolate syrup but I added enough to complement any Christmas chocolate pie.

I guess I will head out tomorrow and see if I can make it to a couple more National Parks before the government shutdown. That happened to me once before.

 
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Published on September 18, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
Morning heat.

Morning heat.

On the second day of my stay near Troy, MT, a game warden stopped and informed me I was not allowed to camp there. I said I thought I was on national forest land. He said it was but a lumber company held the lease and didn’t allow camping. I like to think of it more as parking than camping, but he was nice and told me of other places where I could camp, so I packed up and left. I told him to put up a sign and he said he would.

It is not the first time I have been told to move and it won’t be the last. Such are the trails of this wayfaring stranger. Most of the time people are nice when they have to evict you, especially when they talk to me and find out I’m a nice guy.

The places he told me about were deep in tall trees, perfect if you want secluded, shady isolation, but not at all ideal for cell, solar and satellite. I continued on into Idaho and found a road up into the Kaniksu National Forest where I spent the night.

One of these times I will get in trouble driving down unfamiliar forest roads. Several times the road has ended with a gate or rutted surface, but I have always been able to turn around before the end, avoiding the hassle of backing out some great distance with only my mirrors for guidance.

There have been a couple of occasions when I sensed a road was a bad bet, and I am glad to say I got out and walked for a way where inevitably I would find a locked gate. I guess the lesson is never drive further than you would be comfortable backing out.

The Idaho panhandle is only about 50 miles across as the crow flies. The trouble lies with a big, north-south mountain range that’s right in the way and makes the roads dip in a great loop to get around it. I drove the big loop and ended up near Priest Lake in the same national forest.

where I will spend a few days.

Where I’m camped tonight I have no cell. While exploring on Honda this afternoon I found another area where there is signal and I will move there tomorrow. There is a dump and water at the Visitors Center only 2 miles from here so I will have all I need for a few days.

 
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Published on September 15, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

Satellite is low on the horizon.

Satellite is low on the horizon.

It has been raining a lot. I guess that is good as I head west into Washington where fires still burn. Northern California is still in bad shape and most who live there hope they get some rain soon. Mother Nature surly influences my journey while I try to evade the devastation she is causing with fire and flood in places I’ve passed through.

I have fallen into a creeper mode the last couple of days. Yesterday I drove only 50 miles and today even less. I probably spent more time exploring some forest roads than I did on the highway. Every time I would find a possible camp I would lose cell signal. I finally found a spot two miles from Troy, MT, with cell and sun.

I may not move for a couple days. The border of Idaho is only 10 miles west and Washington state not a great distance further. My plan is to head towards Cascades National Park. I was thinking of exploring up into Canada but that opens up a whole new set of issues. Banff National Park will have to wait.

 
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Published on September 13, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
Logan Pass

Logan Pass

They figure that by 2030 all the glaciers in Glacier National Park will be gone. I guess it’s a good thing I decided not to wait until I’m 85 to see this park again.

The campgrounds are expensive but also the best place to set up a base to see the park. I came in on a Thursday and was lucky enough to find a spot in one of the campgrounds. Some of the campgrounds are already closed and more will be after Monday. I have to say that this park is really nice and I’m enjoying my stay here.

On the first day I arrived I drove to check out another campground near the entrance of the park and was surprised to find a good cell signal there. It was too late for me as I had already put my money in the pipe at the other camp. Then I stopped at the Visitors Center and read some of the signs about the park before heading back for the night.

The next morning I walked a nature trail and hiked a couple miles up a trail to Avalanche Lake. I didn’t make it all the way to the lake because I didn’t have any water and was afraid I would become thirsty if I kept going. In the afternoon I jumped on Honda and headed up “Going To The Sun” highway.

Narrow Road

Narrow Road

Going To The Sun highway tops out at 6600 feet at Logan Pass, not very high compared to a lot of the passes in other parts of the country, but I have to say it is one spectacular, awesome drive to the top. The road is closed for several months in the winter and I read that they sometimes have 50′ to 70′ drifts to plow in the spring to open the highway.

Vehicles over 21 feet long and 8 feet wide are prohibited up the road. Even driving a small car or motorcycle you need to pay attention and not be distracted by the views. I was glad to be on a motorcycle.

Jackson Glacier

Jackson Glacier

I discovered that Minnie is not charging the house batteries while I drive. Not sure what is wrong but I arrived with low batteries and there are too many trees here to get sun on my panels. I have run my generator a little but it is so quiet in this little campground I hate to break the silence. I’m hoping the charge problem is just a fuse and can be fixed easily.

 
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Published on September 10, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
Sign in laundry

Sign in laundry

Great Falls, Montana turned out to be an expensive visit. As I entered town I saw a McDonald’s ahead, and being that i have not eaten a burger in several weeks, turned down the side road to park. I thought I would turn around and park heading out to make my departure easier. While making a uturn I got too close to the curb and cut one of my back tires.

It is nice in a way that there are duals on Minnie because it allowed me to drive to a tire store about 5 miles away. The tires on the back were old anyway so I replaced all four. New tires, groceries, gas, propane, laundry, and a movie, all helped to drain my bank account. I will have to save for a while now.

 
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Published on September 7, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
Road

Road

I hope I can get out of here in the next couple days. With all the rain over the last week, and pickup trucks driving back and forth across this muddy spot in the road, I’m a little concerned about making it out. When it is dry you can sometimes straddle the ruts, but if it is slippery, you will just slide right down into them.

I never expected this much traffic over the holiday weekend. I talked with a couple guys on ATV’S and they said it is bow hunting season and these trucks are probably hunters. He said a lot of them are too lazy to walk so they hunt from their pickups. I saw one pickup filled with guys in camouflage clothing go by my camper at least 20 times yesterday.

With all the cloudy weather over the last few days, it has been a struggle getting a good charge on my batteries. My generator just doesn’t put much juice into the batteries like my solar does.

And to make matters worse, it has been cold. Every night drops into the 30’s. Two nights ago we even had a layer of snow and hail. This means that my heater runs a few times in the night, using up what precious juice I have stored during the day. Once, when I awoke in the night to check things out, I ended up starting my generator at 3 am so as not to kill my batteries. During the day I use my catalytic heater, which uses no electric, but I don’t trust it overnight.

I’m not sure where I will go now. I would like to run up to Glacier NP for a day or two but it will depend on various things. This is the time of year to see National Parks because the crowds are gone. I wanted to jump over to the Pacific Coast and slowly move south but a more direct route back to AZ may be wiser. It is certain I will have to move soon because the tanks are full and the cupboard is bare.

 

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