Tinder Fire

May 1st, 2018
Smoke from Tinder Fire

Smoke from Tinder Fire

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mesa Del Caballo

April 12th, 2018
My camp near Payson.

My camp near Payson.

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

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

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

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

Cow ponds are way low.

Cow ponds are way low.

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

Canyon waterfall.

Canyon waterfall.

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

Doctor Appointments

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

This is where our 100th cache was hidden.

I'm not good at taking selfies!

I’m not good at taking selfies!

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

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

Some nice sunsets.

Some nice sunsets.

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

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

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


March 21st, 2018
Ready to whack!

Ready to whack!



Yesterday, Richard and I played golf at a nearby par-3 course. I tried to get Dianna to play also but she wouldn’t have any part in that and opted instead to be our caddy. We actually came out with pretty close scores. I attributed Richards play to beginner’s luck and my bad shots to being rusty from not hitting a golf ball for several years.

It was a fun time that I had been thinking about every since I discovered the golf course in the little community of Hidden Shores, only a few miles from where we are camped. My golf clubs are still at my son’s house back in New York so I have been on the lookout for a few inexpensive, used irons. Par-3 golf courses are easy to play with a minimal amount of clubs. The longest hole was 122 yards, easy to reach with a well hit 7-iron.

One day when we were in Yuma I suggested we stop at Goodwill and see if they had any used golf clubs. I picked up a pitching wedge for $2. We couldn’t find a putter so went across the street to another Thrift store. The clubs were 3 for $2 and there was a half-price sale going on. I purchased 3 golf clubs for 33 cents a piece!

When I was in Why, AZ last month I found several golf balls while walking along a wash one day. Now, we had everything we would need for a fun round of golf. We found out that the course charges $10 greens fees and you can play around the nine-hole course as long as you want. We went around twice until fatigue started to set in and the day became too warm to continue.

We didn’t have a putter so had to use a driver’s flat face to putt. Dianna carried our extra clubs and golf balls and kept score. I feel bad because we forgot to tip her for a job well done! I’m not sure if we will play again before we leave but it was a good time for an enjoyable morning.

Winter 2018

March 17th, 2018


There is a lot that has happened over the last few week, but as usually happens during the winter, I have become lapse in recording it. I mainly write so that family can track me as I travel during the summer. Winters in Arizona are repeatedly consumed by parking in the desert, or spent with family doing a lot of things they know about, so I fall into a routine of quiet documentation.

After I arrived in Why, AZ, I received several invites to return to Phoenix for niece Michelle’s graduation from Devry University. It turned out to be a nice trip back to town. Along with getting to attend Michelle’s graduation, I had a wonderful time visiting with family for a few days. I also found a new Doctor and established with him through my Cigna Advantage Plan.

I parked at Daryl’s house for a few days while I saw my new doctor and then camped at Bulldog Canyon for a week for the graduation and many meals with family. My Canyon camp was only five miles from the RV park where Richard and Dianna were staying so I would ride my motorcycle to their home and travel with them to all the activities. In the evening Richard, Dianna and I would walk over to the hot tub after dinner and relax in the hot water. It was a nice time spent with all.

After the side trip to Phoenix, I went back out to the LTVA near Yuma. Within a few days, Richard and Dianna joined me at my site here in the desert. We positioned our rigs so that we are isolated on a little hill, forming a courtyard of sorts, and optimizing our direction for the most sunshine on our solar panels.

We have been quite busy the last two weeks. It seems like most days we go somewhere. We have done lots of geocaching, finding over 20 hides in the area. It is a good way to get some exercise without realizing it. Twice we have been to Los Algodones for dental work. The first trip I had a tooth pulled and Richard had a root canal. Neither of us felt much like eating afterwords so we stood in the long line to get back across the border. The second appointment was not as destructive to our teeth, so instead of waiting in the long line to cross the border, we had a nice meal of Mexican food at the local open-air plaza. By the time we were done eating the lines to cross back into the US were minimal.

Yesterday, we drove to Picacho State Park, situated along the Colorado River about 25 miles from anything familiar to civilization. The road was dusty, sandy, narrow, and rough, but R&D’s Subaru took the terrain like a champ. It was actually a nice campground with over 50 sites scattered in the foothills along the Colorado. There was a self-pay stand asking for $10 per car when we drove in. All Richard and I had were $20’s so we became outlaws and skipped the entrance fee.

The place was pretty deserted with only three or four campers hiding from us as we drove around. We drove down to the boat launch area and read about paddle wheelers coming up the river many years ago. Picachos population reached 2500 residents back in the 1860’s as gold was mined along the drainage hills by the river. We hiked a trail back to the remains of an old stamp mill and read signs about the old, rusting metal and eroding structures along the way. It was a fun day of hiking and learning about early life along the Colorado River.

We have two more weeks planned to be here at the LTVA and then we will return to Phoenix. Richard and Dianna have some work planned on their rig before they go up on the Rim to work for the forest service this summer. I have a follow-up Dr appointment and then will move with the weather. We have had lots of nice cool temperature days here in Yuma but it is way too early to move far north just yet.