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Published on June 9, 2015, by admin in Adventure.
Dam

Dam

At a place called Navaho National Monument, sometimes referred to as the gateway to Monument Valley, is a marvelous park and campground. What makes it so good is the fact that it is free. There are actually two campgrounds, one with water, flush toilets, and paved parking, and the other high on a ridge with great views into the surrounding canyons. I chose the one on the ridge, even though it was more primitive, and spent four days there.

There was some heavy rain that came through on Saturday so I didn’t do much the first day. I found out on Sunday that they have a guided tour to the cliff dwellings every morning so I signed up on the Monday list. Back at camp I met a nice couple traveling in a VW campervan. They had also signed up for the tour and we had a nice visit that continued into a nice friendship for the next two days.

The tour to Betatakin cliff dwellings was quite a hike. It is only 3 miles round trip but you descend over 700 feet into the canyon on I don’t know how many 100’s of steps to the bottom, until the trail delivers you to the front of the ruins. No one is allowed in the ruins but they do take you close to the site. The guide was very good and interesting. Betatakin is the second largest cliff dwelling in AZ., the largest being Keet Seal, which most people hike to from the campground as an overnight backpacking trip.

Today I stopped at Glenn Canyon Dam to take the tour. The elevator was broke so all they had was a walking tour of the top of the dam. It was really quite interesting to hear the history of the construction and mind boggling numbers of tons of concrete, miles of shoreline, volumes, watts of power, and politics of water distribution to the various states. The whole area around Lake Powell and the recreation area was swarming with tourists so I decided to go on over to the west to find a campsite. Just outside of Page AZ, I found a Walmart with several RVs already parked for the night. So I joined them.

It is amazing how many people are traveling in rental Class C’s. A lot of the travelers are from overseas. They fly into LA, pick up their rental motorhome, tour the southwest and return the rig to someplace on the West Coast a few weeks later. I’m sure they could rent a car and stay in motels a lot cheaper, but I guess they want the experience of roughing it American style.

 
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Published on June 3, 2015, by admin in The Great Outdoors.
Selfie

Selfie

Just outside Petrified Forest NP there were two Navajo gift shops with picnic tables and areas where you can park an RV overnight. It is free to park unless you want electric. I’m sure the idea is that you will go in and spend lots of money in the gift shop while they graciously let you park. Jewelry, rugs, and blankets are not my bag, so they didn’t get any money from me. This morning I drove the road through the park and stopped at a few points of interest along the way. I like to look at petroglyphs left by the ancient ones and one that interested me a lot was of a sliver of light shining through the rocks on a figure that represented the summer solstice. It was early in the morning and close enough to the solstice that the light was almost perfectly aligned with the symbol.

I drove north in the afternoon to Canyon de Chelly NM. When I was here before the campground was free, but as with most things, they charge a hefty $14 a night to stay there now. It has been a long time since I’ve paid for a campsite so I decided to splurge and shell out the cash. And it was a good thing I had cash because they don’t take any other payment. I will tourist the park tomorrow and then head over to the North Rim. There are a couple of places I may stop at on the way.

I could have used Gisele’s help today. I was walking around the campground after I set up and a couple hurried out to the road to talk to me. There was no one at the entrance when they came in and they were confused how to fill out the self-registration papers. The problem was that they only spoke French! We finally communicated enough so that they figured out the procedure. It makes you feel so helpless when words are useless.

A short while ago I saw a brand new 27’ Winnie Minnie drive by and park a few sites away. I walked over to ask if I could take a picture of their rig to send to my sister. They told me sure, but I found out that they were from Holland and just renting it for a few weeks on vacation. We talked for a bit and they even showed me inside the coach. I didn’t like the layout inside and I’m sure Donna wouldn’t either. The bed was all the way across the back pushing the bathroom and kitchen forward so there was no room for a couch or chair. The only place to sit was at the table – very uncomfortable.

The campground is starting to fill up now with everything from tents to Class As. My plan to stay here for a couple of days puts me traveling on the weekend. I’m not to thrilled about that.

 
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Published on June 1, 2015, by admin in Pieces of my Mind.
Waffles hold more syrup!

Waffles hold more syrup!

Sometimes you have to make compromises. I love maple syrup and buy it whenever I can get one of my relatives to take me to Cosco. That didn’t happen the last time I was in town so I had to resort to imitation syrup. Even at Cosco the pure stuff is still expensive but way more reasonable than most supermarkets. I have been carrying this syrup for a couple months now and opened it just this morning. I feel good that I’m using it because I hate to carry around anything I don’t use.

I’m leaving tomorrow for a trip to Northern AZ. I may spend a night or two in Petrified Forest NP and Canyon de Chelly NM, and then probably mosey over to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. My apologies to everyone that I wont be at the party this weekend; it is just too hot in the Valley of the Sun for Minnie and me. It has even hit 80 here the last two days

 
 
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Published on May 29, 2015, by admin in Adventure.
Nice!

Nice!

The campground is full again tonight. I walked the road earlier and talked with a couple that persuaded the camp host to open a site that has been too muddy until this weekend. Several vehicles have driven through looking for a campsite. It surprised me that so many people would be out camping after the big holiday last weekend, but with temperatures in Phoenix crawling into triple digits, I don’t blame people for driving up here. It has been perfect weather with highs in the low 70’s.

Yesterday I hiked a trail that loops back into the woods and joins part of the General Crook Trail for a couple miles. It was a nice hike through tall pines and isolated meadows. The camp host told me that several people have spotted a large black bear back in that area, and she cautioned me to be aware and make noise. I have done a lot of hiking in bear country so I didn’t think much of it until tonight. As I was sitting outside Minnie, a couple walked by and told me they just saw a large black bear on the same trail just behind the campground. I doubt if he will come into the camp tonight looking for food – it seems everyone has a couple big dogs.

It’s nice that I can hear some kids playing nearby. I remember the fun I had when I was young and we would go camping, exploring the woods and playing out our imagination. Every kid should have the chance to live with nature for a few days.

I made a couple of improvements to Minnie while I was parked at Daryl’s last week. The tailpipe had been crushed by the previous owner and I was hoping my engine light was the result of the blocked exhaust. Daryl helped me cut and replace the damaged section and we reset the code hoping it would stay off. Sadly, it came back on. But the engine seems to have a little more power so the fix was not completely in vain.

I also installed a “T” in my propane line that allows me to use a propane tank for extended capacity. I hooked it up today to test it out. I thought maybe I would get air in the lines when I switched over but I never noticed a sputter.

2015-05-29 15.23.13

The last day I stayed at Daryls I walked down a side street and noticed a child bicycle trailer that someone was throwing away. I wish I would have taken a picture to show you what it looked like, but I think you have all seen those enclosed tent-like trailers people pull there small children around in. I am always thinking of ways that I can carry more stuff for short distance with my motorcycle, so I pulled it home and dismantled everything except the bottom frame. It is made so that the tongue folds flat and the wheels come off, turning the whole trailer into a compact unit. I can carry it on my roof easily.

 
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Published on May 20, 2015, by admin in The Great Outdoors.

After doing laundry, stocking some groceries, dumping tanks, and filling with water, I drove Rt. 260 up to the top of the Mogollon Rim. There is a free campground along the Rim Road I wanted to visit again and make sure nothing had changed. It is always a good feeling when you go back to a campsite that you’ve enjoyed before. When I look for a new camp there is usually a little anxiety of finding the right place to call home for a few days, whereas going back to an explored area takes some of the pressure off.

It seemed like it took longer to get here than it did last year. The winter has done a lot of damage to the road and the few miles I drove along the dirt road were at a crawl. Everything seems to be the same as it was last year. Because it has been so cold – it was 39 degrees this morning – few people are here, so I had my pick of many nice sites. I took a walk along the road this morning, and of the 30 or so sites designated for camping, only about 7 or 8 were occupied.

Back in the trees.

Back in the trees.

Where?

Where?

I chose a camp away from the exposed cliffs, nestled back in the trees away from the fiercest wind. It has a nice tree-lined driveway and a secluded area that makes a pretty little campsite. The only problem with camping in the trees is trying to find holes for my solar and dish to see the sky.

As I was writing this, the camp host pulled in behind my rig. I went out to talk to her and catch up on any news about the area. She told me that the forest service is thinking about making this a pay campground because it is so popular. She said that it often fills up on weekends. She asked if I was interested in being a host here because the previous helpers wouldn’t be back this year. I asked her what she got for all the work she does. She said she gets to stay here all summer instead of the 14-day stay limit for campers. Even though there is dump and water for free, they still have to drive 5 miles to get it. Sure doesn’t seem like a good deal to me. I’m not quite ready to settle down yet.

 
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Published on May 16, 2015, by admin in Adventure.

2015-05-16 06.48.40

It rained almost all night long. Most of the time it was just a gentle tapping on Minnie’s roof, but occasionally a loud, fearful drumming would wake me from a sound sleep and put me in a worrisome state. Even though my ceiling is better insulated than my van was, it is still by no means soundproof, and the raindrops seemed to rouse me from deep slumber into semi-consciousness several times throughout the night. It probably doesn’t help my rest on a rainy night because I sleep just two feet from the ceiling where all the sound is amplified. But I think what bothers my sleep the most is the dreams I have of gremlins poking holes in the fiberglass above me and I wake to find water dripping on my bed.

When I rose this morning there were no leaks that I could find but it was definitely cold. I peered outside to see the landscape was white from a blanket of snow. I was glad that I chose to stay at a lower altitude this weekend and find a camp close to Payson. What would it be like two thousand feet higher up on the Mogollon Rim?

Yesterday, I explored a forest road north of town that follows along the base of the Mogollon Rim. It’s all part of the Tonto National Forest and traverses some nice areas of forest, hills and canyons. There were many day use areas for fishing along the Verde River, exploring ancient ruins, or walking to an old waterwheel, but I didn’t stop because it was raining off and on. There were also many dispersed campsites along the 25 miles of dirt road, but I didn’t stop to stay at any of them as I was on more of an exploration trip than looking for a camp. The road eventually came out on Rt. 260 just two miles above my first and present camp. I will definitely go back and see more of this area when the weather gets better.

While doing some shopping in town I bought a new propane tank. I’m planning on using it as a backup to my built in tank and as supplementary heating with my catalytic heater. The furnace in the coach works great but not nearly as efficient as the catalytic heater. It has been nice to have a little heat today.

 
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Published on May 14, 2015, by admin in Adventure.
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 Adventure.
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 The Great Outdoors.
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 Adventure.
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 Adventure.

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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2015-04-24 15.53.23

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.

2015-04-24 15.53.14

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 Adventure.

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.

2015-04-21 06.14.35

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 The Great Outdoors.

2015-04-20 16.55.58

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 Adventure.

2015-04-03 12.22.50

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.

2015-04-03 12.39.51

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 Pieces of my Mind.

2014-06-08 16.03.00
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 Adventure.

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 Adventure.

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 The Great Outdoors.

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 Adventure.

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 Adventure.

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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 Adventure.

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 Adventure.

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 Adventure.

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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 Adventure.

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 Adventure.

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 Adventure.

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.

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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 Adventure.

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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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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