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Published on May 14, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
LED's from Walmart

LED’s from Walmart

Only two for now

Only two for now

For three days I have been camping in the Coconino National Forest, about 5 miles north of Strawberry, AZ. Without a current MVUM and no experience with dispersed camping sites along Rt 260, it was just luck that I turned on Forest Road 144 and found many beautiful campsites within a mile of the main road. I love camping in the high forests with their tall trees and cool temperatures. The thick forest along with plenty of space between campsites provides the camper lots of isolation and privacy. The only drawback to many national forests is that I seldom have a cell signal and this place was no exception.

I did the usual activities while camped among the Ponderosa. One day I hiked to the top of a hill above my camp to see if I could get a signal. I didn’t get one but it was a fun walk anyway. On another day I rode my motorcycle a few miles on back roads exploring the area. There were dozens of campsites and many side roads branching off in all directions, making me a little nervous that I would get lost in my return trip, or even worse, have another flat tire and be stranded miles from home.

It rained quite hard last night and I awoke with fear my bed would be wet. I was relieved to find that nothing or no one had wet the bed, so the caulk I put around the front window seems to have done the trick. Above 7000’ the afternoons have been pleasantly mild but the nights drop into the low 40’s. I sometimes delay getting up until the sun shines through Minnies windows and radiates warmth to the interior. I sleep in a light Walmart sleeping bag and sometimes it is not enough. Today, I bought another summer bag to throw on top for a little added warmth on cold nights. I have thought about using sheets and blankets and quilts on the bed but it would be too hard to crawl up there and make the bed in the morning. Sleeping bags are so much easier to smooth out. I always sleep in pajamas or sweats to keep the bags clean as long as possible and plan to use a light blanket if it ever gets warm at night.

Today, I moved to another boondocking spot about 10 miles east of Payson, AZ on Rt. 260. I found the spot on the Days End publication that I pirated from Richard a few years ago. It is on a forest road above the trailhead named Hells Gate. I have good cell signal and the lower elevation should make the nights a little warmer. There is also a water source ¼ mile from my camp that I could use for bathing and flushing. I will probably be here through the weekend and then decide whether to go back into Phoenix or up on the Rim for a few days.

 
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Published on May 10, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
Verde River near my camp

Verde River near my camp

Happy Mothers Day to all you moms out there.

I decided to do laundry today, and as it turned out it was a good decision. The attendant said that the Laundromat on Sunday mornings is usually packed with almost every washer in use. There were only a couple other people there because everyone was out to breakfast with mom.

I will have been here 3 weeks tomorrow. Except for water all my tanks have held out well. I’m debating running back into the Valley for a few days to buy and install a propane “T” that will let me use a portable tank I can have filled without moving Minnie to the station. The other thing I need is a pump to transfer water from my portable can to my tank. It is no fun to lift a seven-gallon can up high enough to drain it into the fill hole.

Water Transfer

Water Transfer

The plan is to leave tomorrow. There is no plan for where I will go. I will probably head towards Payson, AZ and spend a few nights in the Coconino or Sitgreaves National Forest up on the Mogollon Rim. The weather is starting to turn warmer and the itch to travel is upon me.

 
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Published on May 5, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
Raincoat

Raincoat

There are still a few RV’s parked here at the camping area near Cottonwood. The weekends bring a few overnighters, and once every few days, new people will arrive or leave. I’m parked beside a guy in a fifth-wheel that got here the same day I did. We had both planned to leave for new surroundings on Monday but a change in the weather has forced us to endure a few more tranquil hours of monotony. Even though it is tempting to get back in the travel mode, I have all that I need here and have no desire to drive in the rain and set up camp in the cold and wind of locations to the north.

I manage to average a motorcycle trip into town every day. There is a place to get water at the Giant gas station and I have filled my 7-gallon jug twice in the last week. There is a sign saying the water is non-potable so just to be safe I dose it with bleach and use it only for bathing and flushing. I buy drinking and cooking water from a store that sells RO water at 30 cents a gallon.

My waste tanks are still doing well. The lights that act as indicators for the state of contents of the tanks are pretty goofy. They seem to have a mind of there own and give me false indications on random days. I guess this will be a good test for the duration of my supplies and liquid assets.

My refrigerator is working great. I still use the probe on the thermometer I bought to keep track of the temperature inside the fridge. Maybe some day I will use the thermometer in the way it is intended, but I still have some trust issues related to a history of refrigerator infidelity. My propane is down about 30 percent and that is one store that I cannot let run out. I could probably use my inverter or generator to run the fridge for a day but it would not be very economical. One of the modifications I would like to make is a quick connect for an external propane tank that I could carry for a backup.

I did laundry yesterday. For being a tourist town the Laundromat was quite reasonable. Double load washers were only $2 and dryers cost me 75 cents. On the way back to camp it rained a little but not enough to wet my newly laundered clothes. Weather is one of the drawbacks in relying on a motorcycle for transportation to town, and it is also discouraging that I am limited in what I can carry. Even though I get 75 MPG, I have to make separate trips for groceries or water or laundry. I keep thinking there should be a way to strap more storage to my bike but so far I haven’t resolved the problem. I have seen pictures of motorcycles in Vietnam where it is not uncommon to see a man, his wife, three kids, a bundle of clothes, and a crate of chickens, all balanced precariously on a bike no bigger than mine. Now that’s efficiency.

 
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Published on May 1, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.
My tarp doesn't cover much of Minnie

My tarp doesn’t cover much of Minnie

Should I go or should I stay? The question weighs heavily on my mind. I’m not liking the temperatures my fellow campers and I have endured here in Cottonwood for the last couple of days, but a check of the weather app says much cooler temps on the way for next week. I was thinking of going up on the Mogollon Rim next week but may have to rethink. Some places are forecast to be in the low 60’s with nighttime temps below freezing.

My 14-day stay limit will be up on Monday. I don’t think anyone is checking or cares for that matter. The only problem will be my tanks. My holding tanks are fine, and if I had to I could dump a little wash water out here in the desert and no one would even know, but fresh water is becoming a problem. I have checked all over in Cottonwood for potable water to replenish my supply but so far struck out. There is a place 15 miles east of here that has dump and water, and if I have to drive there and refill, I probably will keep going to some other place.

Yesterday I walked down the road that runs by this campground all the way to the Verde River. It was probably only a couple miles there, but the road was steep and I got a good workout coming back up. I have met several other campers while wandering around the campground. There are three ladies about my age that are living and traveling in vans. They are all tied loosely to the vandweller group known as Rubber Tramps and led by their guru Bob Wells. I like some of the things Bob says but told them he sometimes goes off the deep end with his antiestablishment philosophy and rhetoric. They agreed with me wholeheartedly and said they often tell him to tone it down.

That’s about it. Everything is working OK. I have more electricity than I know what to do with. Food is cold. Generator and toaster makes me waffles most mornings. Saving my money. Lots of sentence fragments for the grammar police.

 
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Published on April 26, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

It is hard to believe my youngest son is 30. Karen says wait until her kids start having babies and then I will be a great grandpa. That’s even more unsettling to get my head around. I wish someone would discover a formula to reverse this aging process.

I called Dave yesterday for his birthday. We had a good talk. Karen and Jenny traveled to Rochester for a surprise party for him, but I’m pretty sure he knew all about it before hand. I would like to have been there to see David on his birthday and meet my newest granddaughter Harper, but a trip back east will have to wait for a while.

We are into our third day of rainy weather. The sun has poked through the clouds a few times today but it still remains cold and windy. Before long, I will need to get to town for supplies. My shopping list is growing each day. Most of the items on the list are not important except for one – silicon caulk. During the night I noticed that Minnie has a leak around the front window. At first I couldn’t tell where it was coming from and thought it was maybe condensation, but as it rained harder I saw the unmistakable drip from the glass to my bed. I knew that the previous owner had replaced the window and apparently the repair was not done well.

The weather tomorrow is forecast to be better. I have to admit I’m beginning to come down with the first stages of cabin fever. There are quite a lot of van campers here, and although I sometimes miss the freedom and simplicity my van gave me, When the weather is nasty, It’s nice to have room to move around and stand up like a modern ape.

 
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Published on April 24, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

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How is it possible to accumulate this much garbage in only a few short days? It seems like every time I prepare and eat a meal, there are left over wrappers and empty containers scattered high and low on every reachable surface. I don’t think I’ve been eating an inordinate amount of prepackaged snacks and junk food, but I am forever tying up shopping bags filled with trash and stuffing them into an unused corner. Until today, that unused corner has been the forgotten realm of my shower.

I thought about all this when I wanted to take a shower this morning and had to remove all the debris from the stall. To be fair, a lot of the garbage stems from using paper products for eating and cleaning. Water seems to be the most precious commodity when boondocking here in the desert and conservation is the key to making it last.

Along with really quick showers and rapid flushes, I have some tricks that may help other new, desert boondockers conserve water: It is not absolutely necessary to wash your hands even if they become sticky or discolored. When washing dishes the term “good enough” is an expression to keep in mind. And you would be surprised how clean a spoon can be just from licking it. I learned most of these tricks from the Appalachian Trail.

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Tonight seems like a good night to burn a lot of the trash. Today was cold and rainy and the winds mostly light so I won’t have to worry about sparks getting out into the desert. It has been too wet, cool and windy to go anyplace, so I have stayed home and occupied my time with more domestic pursuits. There is always some little project that I think up to make things better, even rearranging storage, adding some little do-dad that I thought up, or just cleaning can pass the time with a satisfied mind.

 
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Published on April 22, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

Except for the wind, which continues to blow every day since I pulled in here, the weather has been beautiful. I like temps in the 80’s. It is great for motorcycle riding and exploring the shady side of my camper. The nights get a little chilly but a sweatshirt in the morning for a couple hours is all you need. I talked with two other RV’ers here and they said a lot of people left last week for higher territory because it was getting too warm.

I had some visitors this morning. The cows we share this land with a very tame. I could swear they wanted to say hello as two of them walked near my rig and took up a curious pose.

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Today I rode to Jerome, a little town on a hillside above Cottonwood, all but abandoned years ago when the copper mine ran dry. Now, a few hundred people live there, most making a living from tourism or some type of related activity. I didn’t walk through the shops in town but went to the Jerome State Historic Park and toured the Douglas Museum. This was the second time there for me. When Karen and Noah were out last year we went there too. I have to say it was more fun when I went with them but I still enjoyed learning more history.

Eating lunch in Jerome

Eating lunch in Jerome

On the ride back I got something in my eye. I don’t know how it got by the helmet visor and my sunglasses but it did. Maybe a piece of copper got in my eye. Tonight it feels better. It might be scratched and just need some rest. I’m sure it will be better in the morning. Last night I had tacos for dinner and tonight I’m thinking of making some fish sticks.

 
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Published on April 20, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

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Not really. It was a totally uneventful drive a few miles north from Tempe to Cottonwood, AZ where I found several rigs camped in an obscure piece of desert. Richard gave me the coordinates to this place, otherwise I would never have found it. I have never been here but I have heard several bloggers talk about it. It is a little higher than Phoenix and maybe 10 degrees cooler, making it a prime destination for us mobile wanderers to get out of the valley heat and stay just south of the cold that still visits the area around Flagstaff. It only took me 3 hours to get here and that included a brief stop in Black Canyon to fix myself a sandwich. The weather has been windy with a few puffy clouds.

There are quite a few paces to visit around here. I went to most of them while I stayed with Karen and Noah on their vacation in Sedona. But who says I can’t go again? Check back in tomorrow to see if I do anything interesting.

 
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Published on April 3, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

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I took a ride around four of the campgrounds here at Windy Hills Recreation Site and there are only a handful of sites left. This weekend is going to bring a mob of people to this lake. Quite a few campers have boats. They usually pull out early in the morning, drive to the boat ramps, and spend a few hours out there playing in the water. I’m not sure how good the fishing is but more than a few fishermen must be throwing their fish guts in the dumpsters – I’m camped by one that really reeks!

Hold your nose!

Hold your nose!

I haven’t been doing a whole lot since I arrived here. I sort of hurt my back when I tried to lift my motorcycle last week after I had a flat tire. The only time it feels good is when I lay flat on my back, so I’ve been doing a lot of that. Today it feels much better, thanks. I did make a tripod of sorts for my satellite dish. It is still in the experimental stage and I have some more modifications to make on it. That’s why you see rocks doing most of the work of holding it up.

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I also decided to load my motorcycle without dropping it into the slots for the tires. The whole purpose of the slots is to secure the tires so nothing will move, but getting the bike raised up and out of the slots has become too much work. I figure I can use more tie-downs to hold it on. I hope it works – the last thing I want to see is my motorcycle sliding down the shoulder of the road as I glance in my rear-view mirror.

 
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Published on April 1, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

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This picture has nothing to do with this post. I just felt like showing you a photo of Karen and Kenz(Noahs girlfriend).

One of the nice things about being mobile is the ability to move on if you feel uncomfortable with any location or circumstance. Sometimes you will meet someone that doesn’t share the same outlook you have. That’s what happened when I found a campsite at Oak Flats. It’s not that I didn’t feel safe or was threatened in any way, but I felt a little uncomfortable when my neighbor stopped to chat.

He started by telling me he was a disabled veteran on total disability and spends a lot of time helping other vets get money by claiming disability. There is nothing wrong with vets that need help getting it, but I had the feeling he likes to work the system. He told one friend that had a terminal illness to get a lot of credit cards and run up a bunch of debt. I guess I’m being kind of judgmental. I don’t know what his disability is. He may have a mental illness from the war, but it made me suspicious when he said he was on his way to California to do some surfing. He’s also hoping to hook up with two Mexican girls later on this week for threesome sex. He asked me if I wanted to travel with him and sell his headlight cleaning solution he invented.

When I was at the Salt River I met a guy that I had a lot in common with. I really enjoyed the two evenings we spent talking in the shade of my camper, discussing travel plans and talking about the philosophy of traveling alone. He had lost his wife to cancer four years ago and I think he may be on a healing journey. One thing that keeps this life interesting is the people you meet.

I’m not going to avoid meeting people but I pretty much stayed out of sight the rest of the afternoon. I’ll slip out of here by myself tomorrow. No Fooling!

 
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Published on March 30, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

A short drive from Mesa to just east of Superior, rewarded me with 15 degree cooler temperatures. It is 97 in Mesa as I write this and a relatively moderate 82 degrees here at Oak Flats Campground. What a difference a couple thousand feet make. The campground is quite full, comprising many sites of cobbled together tarps and tents and ropes, giving the appearance that some of the occupants have been here for quite some time. I chose a site on a side spur that had a couple of tenters nearby but seperated by some trees. As I was setting up one of my neighbors began chanting and singing in what I assumed was native Indian song but sounded more like someone confined to a mental institution against their will.

I will stay here for a couple days and then go over to Roosevelt Lake. One of the drawbacks to this place is that the cell signal is slim to none, but I can make do for a little while.

 
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Published on March 29, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

With temperatures climbing into the 90s it is time to think about migrating north. Most of the RV crowd out here in the recreation area has left for cooler climate or moved into parks where they can run air conditioners.

Can you see Minnie?

Can you see Minnie?

Unfortunately, paperwork that is scheduled to arrive at Daryl’s in the near future is keeping me in the Phoenix area. I suppose I could move into a paid parking place with hookups but that goes against my self-sufficient policy.

I now finally have a functioning refrigerator. Richard and I agonized for weeks over what could be causing it to refuse its cooling process and finally discovered a blockage in the gas delivery system. Once we got the proper flame to the unit, it started cooling the way it’s supposed to. I have been storing some ice cream bars in the freezer that sure hit the spot when it is 95 degrees in the shade.

I’m planning on moving tomorrow. It’s still up for debate where I will go and I plan to update you with that information once one of the voices in my head wins the argument.

 
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Published on March 11, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

It was very hot today down here in Yuma. My thermometer said 90 this afternoon. I had good intentions of doing laundry and picking up some gates for my fridge, but none of that happened when this morning I noticed that my fridge was acting up and not cooling like it should. After that, my whole attention got sidetracked and I spent the day trying different things to get it to cool down. I think it may just be dirty fins and a burner tube, but to clean it involves taking the whole unit out of the coach. Ouch!

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There was a beautiful sunrise this morning but I didn’t take a picture. You’ve seen lots of pictures of sunrises, right? It is so calm and peaceful out here in the desert that it makes you kind of lazy. And there is nothing wrong with that, right?

I ate two TV dinners for lunch. I told myself that I needed to eat them up before they thawed and went bad. Do you think that was a good excuse? I may have to get my old fridge out of my van for a while for a backup. I remember the days when I had no refrigerator at all and I don’t want to go back there.

 
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Published on March 10, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

The drive to Yuma was ordinary. I dumped waste tanks in Mesa, topped off with propane in Yuma, and filled my water tank at a rest area just over the border in CA. I wish I had a good story to tell about a misadventure of splatter comedy at the dump tank but everything came out fine. I was a little worried that something would leak and a hose break apart but it all held with just a little drippage at the tank.

Minnie only held 3.5 gallons of propane – a miniscule amount considering all the appliances using it – and I got a great price on the fill to boot. I have been conserving propane by turning the hot water tank off and not using much heat in the morning, but I may use more now that I know it doesn’t cost much.

I’m boondocking on Ogilby Road just outside Yuma, AZ. I will be here for a couple days and then head over to EL Central for the air show. I have already found a few problems I will have to deal with in the near future. After I dumped my tanks and hit the road south of Phoenix, I could smell a strong odor of sewer gas. It could be that I have a broken vent pipe or something. I don’t think I got any on my shoe. I also had a problem unloading my motorcycle. The spare tire is right in the way and I almost lost control while tipping the bike out from behind the tire.

No pictures today but tomorrow I may drive my motorcycle into town to do laundry. Nothing says photo opp like freshly laundered clothes!

 
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Published on March 9, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

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First it’s a toaster, then I will have to have a coffee maker, and of course I need the coffee grinder to go with that, and don’t forget how nice it would be to have a blender / slicer. Wouldn’t a waffle maker be a good idea? There is no end to it! I thought I was trying to live the simple life, not the mainstream, gluttonous, consumer lifestyle. I am like the woman in the apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead who wants a bread maker! I have to stop!

I have always felt pride in my ability to adapt to any inconvenience of modern living but this motorhome has spoiled me. With just a few instances of conservation, I can now do almost anything I could in a house. It is a good feeling but it scares me a little bit too. I sometimes think I’ve bit off more than I can chew and I will wake up one morning and find I’m in over my head.

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Every day there are groups of people that arrive here at the recreation area to adventure down the Salt River in inflatable rafts. It looks like fun, but I imagine it costs more than I want to spend.

Yesterday, as I was riding back from town , I came upon a large rattlesnake crossing the road only about 1/4 mile from where we are camped. I swung my motorcycle around to get a better look, and when I got close he became very agitated and coiled up in a protective stance. They deserve a lot of respect out here. I wish I would have taken a pic.

I’m planning on leaving tomorrow for a short trip. Mom has not been feeling well and I hesitate to go, but I will only be a day away. This will be the real test of the rig. I will not have the city for parts and supplies nor my brother to fix anything that breaks.

 
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Published on March 7, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

The nice thing about being retired and working on improvements for my Minnie is that I can always pretend the boss isn’t looking and go sit down. I like to have just enough projects to keep from getting bored but not enough that it seems like a job. With Richards help, I think I’m almost there.

Yesterday I noticed that my refrigerator was only cooling down to about 50 degrees. RV refrigerators are notorious for messing up after about 12 years of service and that’s where Minnie is now. Richard noticed that the flame at the burner looked like it was plugged – a common problem with this type unit – so we took it apart for inspection. The jet was not only plugged but damaged by someone in the past.

Richard called around to several RV parts dealers and found a new nozzle in Apache Junction. After we replaced the defective part the fridge began to cool like it should. I’m hoping I don’t have any more trouble with it.

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Today we installed a solar panel on Minnie’s roof. Everything went smoothly and within a couple hours we had it mounted and wired into the system. I have lots of other small projects to do but nothing that can’t wait until after my nap.

 
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Published on March 5, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

So far so good. Just a short drive from Mesa, AZ, near the scenic Salt River, is a recreation area where several retired people park their RVs and soak up the winter sunshine. It is close enough to town that supplies and parts are a quick motorcycle ride away, and most importantly, it is the place where expert RV mechanic and technician, Richard Lafferty is parked.

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I left Donna’s home mid morning, stopped at Walmart to stock my fridge with groceries, filled the Minnie with gas before it went up again, and arrived at Phon D Sutton just before noon. It is different driving this motorhome. I have to plan ahead in parking areas and watch for low hanging tree branches. It is kind of fun to drive, though.

Soon after I parked and set up camp, Richard started wiring my batteries and solar charging system. I had purchased two switches that would let us configure several scenarios for charging and using different batteries. I wanted to add my agm batteries to the batteries already in the coach but mixing different batteries can be tricky. Richard had drawn a schematic detailing the wiring and proceeded with the install.

20150305_163210Just thinking about the complexity of the project gave me a brain cramp so I’m sure glad he was there to make it happen.

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I now have a charging system that allows me to charge either set of batteries or both, and switches to use different combinations of my batteries.

Last night was my first night sleeping in the Minnie. The bed was comfortable and I kept warm. This morning I tried out the stove by making a ham and egg omelet. Yum! Tonight I am going to try the shower. How exciting!

 
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Published on February 28, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

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This is my new home. It is a 2002 Minnie Winnebago. Compared to my van it is a mansion. I now have the ability to sleep in a full size bed, take hot showers, bake a batch of cookies, and best of all, stand up inside and walk around. It has a generator to power an air conditioner and microwave, and a nifty little hot water tank for all those cleaning chores.

I learned to be quite comfortable while living in my van and It served me well as I traveled around the country. For a single person in constant motion, exploring and living for adventure, finding new places every day, It probably is one of the best modes of travel. With good gas mileage and the ability to reach back country places in forests and hidden roads, you can’t beat a van. But it was time to move to a bigger home.

While the ability to live the vagabond life is still important to me, I realize that a lot of my time will be spent parked in one place. A van dweller usually lives outside more than inside and this system works great as long as the weather is nice. The problem lies in the fact that there are places around this country where it may rain for several days in a row. That is when the interior of a van can get a little confining.

I hope to tell more of my new lifestyle in short and fascinating posts here. The travel will be slow and the traveler’s mind has always been a little slow, but I want to chronicle even the silly and ordinary so I will never forget.

 
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Published on February 23, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

Sometimes when I’m in my camper I wonder how the outside is doing. When I’m outside I sometimes wonder how my camper’s inside is doing. Often when I wake in the morning I wonder how cold it got in the night. Now, a lot of that mystery is taken care of with my new little weather station. I was going to call it a thermometer but that seems too simple for all the tasks it performs.

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I’m heading back to Mesa today for some overdue family time. I also need to do a few minor repairs on my adventure vehicle. This trip has been a test of my new solar system and continuing boondocking skills. Everything is working great but I still have an idea in the back of my head that I should look for a new adventure vehicle. Maybe I will get to check out a couple bigger RVs when I get to the city.

 
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Published on February 23, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

Wow! What a difference a day makes. Yesterday it was almost 90 degrees. All I felt like doing was sitting in the shade, sipping on a grape drink, wishing for a little breeze to come through. In the night the wind picked up until I was forced from my bed to roll up the awning before it flew away. Today has been windy and chilly, a good day to stay inside and read. I stayed in my pajamas until 11 am.

Last night a BLM ranger stopped by to tell me they were enforcing the 14 day stay limit and I had better not be here when she came back in two weeks. I agree that you need some rules out here to keep homesteading folks under control. I asked her why I see some people camped out here for most of the winter? She said it is because they don’t have enough Rangers to enforce the law. I’m heading back to Mesa tomorrow.

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Published on February 22, 2015, by admin in Uncategorized.

I was thinking today that I have become like the ancient cliff dwellers of the west who disappeared without a trace hundreds of years ago. They knew how to write in a fashion. We have found many pictographs of symbols and art they left on rocks and caves, but nothing that really tell us why they just picked up and left. If someone stumbles on my blog in the future, they may think I left, too.

Home

Home

Today I bought a new thermometer. It is one of the fancy kind that has a wireless sensor you hang outside and get a digital readout on a little monitor inside. I could have just hung a basic thermometer outside the window, but where’s the fun in that? The thermometer tells me what I knew all along – it is hot here in the desert near Yuma, AZ. Tomorrow should be cooler but windy.

 
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Published on December 4, 2014, by admin in Uncategorized.

I rode my Time Machine into the past today. Even though it was just a little bit, I do feel younger. The trouble was when I had planned to stop at 4, and then realized it was only 3, my head was all messed up.

I drove more miles today than I normally like. It was rainy and spitting snow across Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois so I made a detour before I got to St. Louis and headed south towards I40. I think I am far enough south now to avoid any snow or freezing rain.

Last night I stayed at a state park near Dayton. It was way below freezing this morning but I stayed warm snuggled in my sleeping bags. When I wake up I kick on my heater and within minutes it is warm in my van. The park was basically closed but not closed. All the roads were open and I had my pick of many sites.
Tonight I am at a Walmart about 100 miles north of Memphis. It is still raining but way warmer than yesterday. Now that I am out of the worst weather I will slow down and take it easy for a few days.

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Published on September 18, 2014, by admin in Uncategorized.

Up until today there has been little excitement to write about. That all changed this morning as I rode my motorcycle into Alfred, NY, hoping to gas up and buy a few supplies.

For the last few weeks, I have been playing hopscotch in state forests in western New York, picking spots that are open enough for my media and secluded enough that I remain somewhat stealthy. No matter where I end up there always seems to be a few individuals that think the forest roads and campsites are their personal baja trails. A lot of the sites are torn up from 4×4’s doing doughnuts and many are littered with beer cans. It is no wonder many of our forests are being closed to the public.

There usually are a few trails near where I camp. Last week I camped in the McCarthy SF and used the Finger Lakes Trail for two nice day hikes. One day I rode to Little Rock City, a wonderland of giant rocks that form caves, mazes, and crevices. It is rather spooky to step across an 18 inch crack between rocks that is 50 feet deep.

In NY state forests there is a short time limit of four days that you are allowed to camp. I’m been pushing that limit a couple of times since I’ve been here but no one seems to mind. There has even been the occasional ranger pass by with only a wave. One thing I pride myself on is leaving the campsite cleaner than I found it. I will even pick up some of the trash left by others. Sometimes I think I should ask if it will be okay to stay longer but revisit the saying “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.”
Yesterday I drove to Palmers Pond, a nice camping area in the Phillips Creek SF, about 5 miles from Alfred, NY. There were several gorgeous sites along the lake but I chose one up a dirt road that was more open. This morning I explored more forest roads on my motorcycle and then headed into town for gas. The ride to town was uneventful and I rode beyond the gas station looking for a grocery store. Just as I turned around to head back to camp, I felt the unmistakable rumble of my back tire going flat.

With no tools to fix anything and no one close enough for help, I was more than perplexed, if you know what I mean? There was a Dollar General about 1/2 mile from me so I walked there and purchased a can of fix – a flat to see if that would get me back to the van. The tire held a little air so I started up the road. I got about a mile when the tire lost all air and almost caused me to lose control. I pushed the bike to a wide spot in the road, convinced I had a long walk home. I kept thinking about Jennifer when she was attending Alfred University several years ago and got a flat tire on the same stretch of road. Back then there were no cell phones and unlucky for her, caught here late at night when there was no one to help. She and a friend ended up walking 10 miles through the night to get back to her dorm. I figured if she could walk it then so could I. It would even be good for me.

On a whim I stood by the crippled bike and stuck out my thumb to a passing truck. It must be leftover karma from the AT because he pulled over and gave me a ride all the way back to my van. I tried to give him gas money but all he wanted was for me to do something good for someone else. Thank you my friend.

I picked up my motorcycle and drove to Arkport, where there is a large motorcycle dealer. He had to order another tire which I will get in about a week. So all my exploring for the next few days will be on foot.

I browsed around the showroom and talked to the salesman for a few minutes and he showed me a used, Honda 250, that looks like new and only has 2000 miles on it, and is less than I paid for my motorcycle new. I now wish I would have bought something with a little more power. There are times when I want to go someplace and decide it is too far on my bike. And it would be nice to get parts everywhere.

 
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Published on July 23, 2014, by admin in Uncategorized.

I have been camping in the Allegheny National Forest for the last few days. I found a road that goes to an oil well where I have occasional cell service and a clear view of the southern sky to point my satellite dish. There are a few trees that block the sun for part of the day and the sky has been filled with puffy clouds all week, so leaves and weather have been quite a challenge for my solar panel.

I’m really not sure if I’m allowed to park on this road. I’m pretty sure it belongs to the oil company that pays a lease to the government for the mineral rights. But they may not care. I have been gone every day and expect to see a note on my van if they want me to move. There are a lot of nice sites I found along a forest road near here but they are deep in the trees where I would lose cell, solar, and tv.
One time when I was parked in a state forest a few weeks ago, a man pulled up in front of my campsite and shouted, “Is that a Direct TV dish? That’s not camping!!!” It is futile to try to explain to someone that I live in a van part of the year, so I just smiled.

Most of you will remember a few years ago when Karen and I hiked the North Country Trail through the Allegheny National Forest. I rode my motorcycle back to the campground where we spent our last night on the trail and thought about the great times we had together. There was still a short 3 mile section from the parking area where we ended our hike to the border of the National Forest, so just to make our hike of crossing the whole thing official, I set out this morning to finish the last piece.

I rode my motorcycle to the parking area and found the trail near a shelter in the woods. The weather was typical for this time of year – hot and humid! The rocks on the path were wet with humidity, almost like it had just rained, and the mosquitos and biting flies were out in force. The trail followed the Salmon River for about a half mile and then turned up a steep hill with switchbacks. Once on top of the hill the trail was fairly leval, broken only by a couple of streams and two forest roads. Towards the end of the trail it became very marshy and I hopped about the mossy humps trying to keep my feet dry. The weeds had overtaken much of the path through the swamp, also.

Soon I came to the boundary marker and turned around. The sky grew dark and threatened rain but held off until I made it back out. It was so muggy that I wished it would rain. I was completely soaked anyway.

 
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Published on July 2, 2014, by admin in Uncategorized.

I recently bought a new phone. I had been eligible for an upgrade for quite some time, but due to travel and the fact thar my Galaxy 2 was still working fine, I put the purchase on the back burner. For my lifestyle Verizon is the carrier of choice and I debated about switching to a prepaid plan that would let me use their towers. The options for phones and data packages were too limited however, so I stayed with AT&T where I am grandfathered into unlimited data.

I rarely use my phone as a phone. I probably make fewer than one call a week, preferring to text or email most of my communication. What I do use it for is: reading, writing, surfing, movies, video, maps, camera, and miscellaneous other apps. I realized that my phone is used more like a tablet than anything else, so armed with that knowledge I bought a Samsung Galaxy Mega.
So far I like the phone a lot. It is a inch wider and almost 2 inches taller, allowing me the advantage of a much larger viewing screen for these tired, old eyes, and still the convience of slipping it into my pocket when I go someplace. I thought that with such a large screen and quick processor the battery would run down fast. But I have to say that the battery last much longer than any of my previous phones.

It usually takes me quite a while to figure out all the things my phone can do, and to be honest, I never find them all. But one feature I particularly like is the ability to split the screen and run two processes at once. There is also a feature that allows you to move controls to one side for easier one – handed operation. I’ll update my opinion after more experience but so far so good.

 
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Published on June 8, 2014, by admin in Uncategorized.

The speed limit on major highways in most of the western states is 75. The police will usually give you 5 to 8 mph over before they ticket you. I would think 83 is fast enough, but apparently not. Oklahoma had many State Troopers working the roads, giving out lots of tickets. It never affected me as I travel well below the limit, but I had another reason to be glad when I crossed into Missouri – the end of Oklahoma turnpike toll roads.

I found a little RV park outside St Louis. There was a shower that was welcome after two days of scorching heat, and I thought I could set up my satellite dish to watch TV. All the sites they had available were under trees, so no TV. It was a cool night anyway and I slept well.

The next morning I crossed the Mississippi and immediately regretted not filling up with gas in Missouri. Illinois charges $.50 more per gallon.

My grandson, Nate, attends Antioch College in the little town of Yellow Springs just a few miles south of Dayton, OH. As long as I was going by so close I texted him to see if he was free to meet with me. He was!

I stayed at a state park only 3 miles from his school and we got together Friday evening to walk around the “hippy” town of Yellow Springs and eat at a local restaurant. The next morning Nate gave me a tour of his campus and then we went for a short hike into a scenic glen. It was a good time. I’m glad I stopped to see him.

I will be at Karen’s for a few days. She is going on vacation for a week and needs me to stay with Noah and take care of a few chores while she is gone. Then I will head to New York to see Jenny and family, Dave, Lisa, and a new Granddaughter.

 
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Published on June 6, 2014, by admin in Uncategorized.

June 3, 2014

When I pulled out of town at 7 am it was already in the 80’s. My van was not running well so I left the A/C off hoping to spare the engine any additional work. I usually don’t mind the heat as long as I can feel a breeze and let my sweat work as a natural evapoative cooler, but 100 degrees got to be a bit much. It wasn’t long, however, before the altitude of the Mogollon Rim gave me some relief.

Once on the Rim it was a straight shot to I40 and then an uneventful drive into New Mexico. I stopped for the night at a Walmart just outside Albuquerque, partly because I didn’t want to tackle the rush-hour traffic, but mostly because I was tired of driving.

It is not a recommended activity to sleep in a vehicle when temperatures are flirting with triple-digit numbers, but I like a challenge. My plan was to hang out in the store until the sun went down and then eat a slow hamburger at McDonalds until the air reached a more tropical degree. I can say that I slept well, but all the windows were open for the better part of the night, inviting any serial killers in the area full access to my home. There was a nice breeze in the night that helped too.

The next day I drove almost to Oklahoma City. I used my A/C part of the time. There was a strong wind blowing from the west, giving me exceptional gas mileage and actually helping the van run better. A good tail wind is the only wind I want with my top heavy rig.

As I drove Interstate 40 I noticed a strange phenomenon with my A/C. When I went up a hill the engine would start to miss and at the same time the climate control would change from blowing out the dash vent to blowing out the floor ducts. For the longest time I thought it was a coincidence but then deduced it was related. The vent uses vacuum to change and hold the selector so I may have a vacuum leak that is causing the engine to run rough when there is a load such as going up a hill.

I parked at another Walmart for the night. I checked out a State park but it was too expensive. It had a nice pool and various hiking trails but all I wanted was a place to park. I didn’t sleep as well the second night and awoke with a headache in the morning. It would be the last night I would have to bare such heat as Missouri finally gave me nice weather.

….to be continued

 
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Published on May 13, 2014, by admin in Uncategorized.

Last week I drove north into the Coconino National Forest to visit Richard and Dianna where they are volunteering at the Blue Ridge Ranger Station. Dianna has been in Texas helping Dayna start a new business so I won’t get to see her until next week.

It was good to get out of the heat of Mesa but I didn’t expect it to be quite so cold only two hours from the Valley. Once I climbed the Mogollon Rim and gained a few thousand feet in elevation, the temperature dropped from the 90’s into the 70’s. That would have been fine except that twice last week a cold front came through, bringing cold winds, morning and evening temperatures in the 30’s, and even snow on the ground one morning. Even though there have been some cool days, it is nice to get back into the forest. I can only take so much desert.

Richard and I had fun riding our two-wheel toys around the area. The first night we rode ten miles to Long Valley where Richard treated me to an AYCE fish dinner at the local diner. It was really good! I was afraid we would be eating things like canned food and TV dinners while Dianna was away but we put our heads together, shared our food, and made some good meals. And we even cooked and ate vegetables, Dianna!

While Richard was at work and the weather was warm enough, I would hike and explore on my motorcycle. I found some beautiful camping spots on some of the back roads. It would be nice to come back and boondock out in the forest the next time I’m out this way, but the major drawback is that there is no ATT cell service anywhere near here. I have been in lots of areas where I can’t get a signal but it is one of the plusses I look for for extended camping spots.

On one day we hiked a few miles on the Arizona Trail. We found a parking lot on a back road about five miles from the ranger station and placed one vehicle there. Then we hiked back to our home base where I hopped on my bike and retrieved the van. It was a pretty hike through nice forest with good trail.

Richard should write a blog about his work up here. It is really quite interesting to those of us who have little knowledge of how the forest service works. I was surprised at the complexity and work it takes to administer and care for our national forests. I won’t go into detail about the projects he has been involved in in hopes he will tell you himself.

Yesterday I left the ranger station volunteer parking area and drove to the Apache- Sitgreaves NF. I have been parked by R&Ds trailer with an extension cord running to their pole, enjoying my electric heater and water from the tap, but I wanted to check out some camping places east of Payson on the Mogollon Rim. We both drove down to Payson, got our fast-food fix at McDonalds, did some grocery shopping, said “see you in a week”, and drove seperate ways.

There is a road that cuts along the top of the Mogollon Rim – not surprisingly called the Rim Road – with several developed, free campsites. Right now it seems I am camped on top of the world. Only 25 feet from the edge of a thousand foot ledge it is truly a room with a view. I have good cell and the view is amazing but the wind today has been cold so I have been inside a lot. Sometimes it is good to stay inside and write something.

 
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Published on March 19, 2014, by admin in Uncategorized.

3/16/14 – 301 miles

Tired Hiker

Tired Hiker


I was up early and on the trail by first light, confident that I could reach the end of my section hike and fall back into the real world of beds and greasy food. It wasn’t so much that I was tired of hiking, although I had developed a couple of blisters, but that my body was ready for a rest. It had been six days on the trail with very little water to spare and food supplies running low, and the longest stretch of my hiking career without seeing a soul. I vowed to enjoy the day and not waste the beauty of this section by focusing only on getting done. But when your foot hurts, the pack seems way heavier than it ever did before, you smell somewhat worse than a billy goat, and you are partially dehydrated from not drinking enough liquid, it’s hard not to think only of the end.

The section above the Gila River really was beautiful. The trail winds up into high canyon cliffs with views for miles in several directions. There were awesome formations of jutting rocks and buttes that gave the area an almost other-worldly appearance. The canyon is so remote and isolated that few people ever get to see it. It was quite a taxing climb up and out of the section, and I have to admit I was a little discouraged that what appeared to be the top only wound around more formations and dropped me down through another ravine and back up again, but the sights made it bearable. I finally was able to get a cell signal and give Richard the heads up that I would arrive at the end that afternoon. From that point on I was down behind mountains and would not have another chance to update my eta.

It was a lot easier walking when I entered the last section and I made good time to a place called Trough Springs. I was really thirsty by that time and needed water badly. Trough Springs is a place I have been to before. When Daryl, Donna, and I did a short backpack trip a few years ago we chose a route that let us camp near the spring on the night of our trip. When we camped there a few years ago the spring was full with good water, but when I arrived this time the trough had about one inch of disgusting slime in the bottom. This was bad news. I had another 8 miles to hike and I was not looking forward to going that distance without water.

After some investigation I found a 24 inch round pipe sticking out of the ground above the cattle trough and went to check it out. When I removed the cover and peered down into the well I could see water about 8 feet down. At first I thought there was no way I would ever be able to get to the water, but with a little ingenuity I fashioned a bottle tied to a long stick and was able to dip water from the well. I left the stick and twine I used to tie on the bottle in hopes that the next hiker would be able to “fish” the same way I did.

When I arrived ad Picket Post Trailhead, I finally got a text to go through to Richard and Dianna and they were there shortly to pick me up. Someone had left several gallons of water beside the trail and I used some for washing up a bit. I know it was for drinking but every thruhiker will go into town when they get there and not be as affected by their water supply.

Most of the AZT was marked well and easy to follow. There were a couple of places where the markers were missing and the trail somewhat unclear where it went, but most of the way was easy to follow. I will probably send out a note to the Trail Conference telling them where I was confused and on one instance lost for a few miles. I used only the guide book for navigation and I would suggest getting the route on GPS along with detailed maps showing all distances and water sources. Each item you use for navigation and information cost more money – which I was reluctant to spend – but probably would be worth it in the long run. I’m glad I took a water filter because a lot of the water sources are stagnate ponds. Even though you can make water safe to drink with chemicals it is nice to run it through a filter to remove all the gunk floating around in it.

It was a good hike:
– On the AT I never had to worry much about water.
– On the AZT I never had to worry much about rain.

– On the AT the trail was almost always in the shade.
– On the AZT I could almost always get a good charge on my solar panel.

– On the AT someone was always around in case you were hurt or sick or just wanted company.
– On the AZT you could be alone and enjoy the solitude of being one with nature.

– On the AT it is easier to hitch into town from the trail.
– On the AZT I had two wonderful trail angels following me all the way.

 
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Published on March 16, 2014, by admin in Uncategorized.

3/15/14 – 284 miles.

Gila Monster

Gila Monster


In some sections of the trail industrious builders have created giant, stone cairns to mark the path. Some of them were waist high and one was almost to my shoulders. Every time I would pass one a little lizard would run to the top of the cairn, taking up a post like a guard in the watchtower, then diving to the safety of the rocks as I came close. I have seen hundreds of these little guys, but I was not expecting to see the big guy I came across this morning.

I spent most of the day walking beside the Gila River. The trail would climb up to the high ridge above the valley and give splended views, then descend into the flat land of mesquite forests with camping available everywhere. It was on one of the ridges when I rounded a switchback and came face to face with a Gila Monster. He was not friendly at all. He would open his mouth and hiss at me, as if to say: Get off my trail! I got off the trail and went around.

So I can add one more critter to my list. He did let me take a couple of pictures from a distance. I guess it is only logical to see a Gila Monster beside the Gila River. My book says there are mountain lions and bighorn sheep in this area. I would love to see a bighorn.

The trail left the river and wound up through a canyon. I stopped after a few miles of climbing and made camp in a wash. I should make it to Picket Post tomorrow. I hope I can get a signal and secure a ride.

 

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