Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Toasty warm to Freezing cold, and back again!

Seems like it was about Boxing day when I last sat down to update the old blog!  So I guess it’s about time to do so again.

After leaving John & Brenda’s with a full load of Christmas turkey leftovers we wandered down southward from Maricopa, Gila Bend, and then down to Ajo and Why to see if we could track down Wandering Willy or anyone else we knew down there.  I suspected he might be in at Gunsight Wash.  I don’t really like towing a rig in there blind, as there are a lot of ugly little washes and dead-end trails that can sneak up on you.  So, I unhooked out at the highway and drove the truck in for a surveillance mission.  Just about the time I spotted the elusive Wanderer and his companions Frank and Alison, was when I heard an awful scraping sound as an unseen branch left it’s mark on the paint job!  After scouting a good spot and a safe route in, I found a great spot along the wash and pulled in to set up.

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I set up Hailey’s ‘entertainment centre’, and soon had flocks of feathered ‘entertainers’ willing to perform for a few seeds or some sweetened water.

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One day there was a strange sound from the direction of the wash, and Hailey decided that it would be a good idea to go indoors and watch from a window.  Sure enough, as I watched, there was a group of individuals dressed in black hiding behind the trees as they moved along, trying to stay out of sight.  There are signs in the area warning of illegal immigration and smuggling, and I was immediately certain that none of those in the bushes possessed a valid passport.  I spoke to them briefly, but none of them seemed to understand English …

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While enjoying a couple of late happy hours with Bill and Frank, we noticed some strange blue flashing lights way out in the desert to the south, that would flash every 9 or 10 seconds …  The next day, I went for a drive to the south to see if I could find the source, but found nothing.  It was when reading the newspaper and googling that I discovered that these are in fact Border Patrol emergency rescue beacons.  There have been a lot of illegal migrants perishing out in these remote desert areas due to lack of water, illness or extreme heat and cold.  So, the BP has established a number of these ‘panic poles’ in remote locations.  They are solar powered and by pressing a button on the pole, the border patrol will be alerted and will provide rescue services.  They have been credited with saving numerous lives in the region.

About the time that Bill and Frank decided to move on, I received word of the passing of my 98 year old aunt in Saskatchewan Sad smile.  Initially, I thought there was no way I could make it back, but after some consideration and John & Brenda’s kind offer to look after Hailey and let me park in their spacious yard again, I was able to make arrangements.

Of course, I don’t have much for cold weather clothing down here in the winter, and I would not be going anywhere close to my northern house, but managed to piece together my warmest T-shirts and sandals, and was soon on the way north.

Or more accurately west, as the first leg of my flight was to LA.  But I got an window seat and was able to have a good view of some previous camping areas around Bouse, and all the way up to Lake Havasu, before rainy weather a clouds in LA obscured the view.

Spotted this guy perhaps headed for San Diego (?) as we flew above him.

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It was poor visibility coming in over the coast to land in LA – then I almost lost sight of the wing!  Due to delays in LA, the flight from Phoenix was late starting, then we had to sit on the taxiway in LA till a gate came open.  Many people with connecting flights had already missed their connections.  So I was feeling pretty smug with my 3.5 hour turnaround!

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It was quite a shock for my system to walk out of the airport in Saskatoon into temps around –20, but I managed to survive somehow Winking smile

It was great to see a whole lot of family, some for the first time, even if it was for a sad occasion.

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It was –30 in Prince Albert when I got up, but the little rental car started without being plugged in.  And it got me safely back to the airport in Saskatoon – where I was shocked to discover the free wi-fi was running at 70Mbs!

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Got a window seat on the Dash 8 (?) flight back to Calgary, and was amazed that my iPhone photo managed to freeze the motion of the prop in flight.

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Of course it was still about –15 in Calgary so we had to splash some nice green de-icing fluid on the wings.

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It was a relief to get back to the warmth of Phoenix, and if the purring was any indication, Hailey was glad to see me back again too!  Brenda said she’d been greeted with hisses when dishing out the food during my absence!

A quick look at the map, and we were off on the road again, but only as far as the Painted Rocks Petroglyphs site north of the I-8, west of Gila Bend.

From here, it looks like we will be spending some time in the Yuma area, until it is time to head on up to Quartzsite to take in some of the huge RV show, and maybe some Bluegrass over in Blythe?

Nice to see the Bayfield Bunch back on the road again – guess we missed them by a week or so as they are spending some time down in the Ajo area watching out for the A-10 Warthogs and Border Patrol.   I saw some unidentified lights hovering in the sky over Ajo when I was there, so I hope Al is keeping an eye out for them as well!  Suspect we might see them at the Bloggerfest later this month!  Other RV friends from BC and Saskatchewan are now on their way south, so looking forward to spending some time around the campfires with them as well.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Downhill from Sedona

The hiking and scenery and hospitality was excellent in Sedona, especially given the time of year.  With some excellent guides and companions, we had hiked a great variety of trails, and seen lots of cliff dwellings and petroglyphs not well known by most people.

But the weather was about to change for the wetter and colder, and after two weeks it was time to move along anyway.  We squeezed in a good hike on the last day before the rain, and I had things in camp pretty much packed up and ready to roll by evening.  But the rain began in the night, bringing concerns that the red dirt road would turn into muck and slime!  I couple of times I had considered leaving in the dark, but then the rain would quit, and I would go back to sleep!  In the morning, no time was wasted, and we were headed out by 0830, about 10 hours too late evidently!  Some of the road has a good gravel and rock base, but parts are just red dirt, which turns to wet sticky muck when wet.  At first, I thought the trailer wheels might just plug up with mud and bring the whole thing to a halt, but with an aggressive addition of ample velocity, there was soon mud flying everywhere, and forward movement was often more of a sideways progression with the trailer following drunkenly behind.  Eventually we made it to good gravel, and then the pavement where we left a red trail for many miles.

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I found some replacement LED tail light bulbs in Cottonwood on the way through.  While not as bright as some of the modern tail lights with multiple led lights, these are an improvement of the original equipment.  Doesn’t hurt that I dumped out the years of dust and dirt that had accumulated inside the lens either.

We were headed and south and to lower elevations, which meant that we had to coast down the long hills on I-17 leading towards Phoenix.  But as soon as possible we exited to the west on New River road, then caught Loop 303 around the north west part of the city, eventually joining up with I-10 west to Tonopah.  Our latest ‘usual’ spot under Saddle Mountain was empty, so by mid-afternoon we had all the necessities in place, and had a nice sunny 23C temperature to enjoy.  Hailey knew there were coyotes in the area as usual, so she spent a lot of her time on top of the truck keeping a good watch all around.

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Though the bird feeders were out, and there were a good selection of lbb’s around, (little brown birds) none were seen taking advantage of the provided seeds.IMG_4028

Made a run into Buckeye one day and gave the truck a bath (rig still needs one), did laundry, and checked out the wifi at the downtown library. Found the wifi just as good at the Lowes parking lot, so did a bit of updating there while I browsed inside.

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The next couple of days it more or less rained, so hunkering and reading were the main activities.  On the 23rd, we made our way into Glendale to watch the Leafs outscore the home team Coyotes, though home town boy hero Mathews didn’t bother to score on his old home team.

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In the morning, in the rain (anyone see a pattern here?) we were on the move again, but this time at least there were no concerns with mud, given the rock and gravel terrain of the area.  We were on our way to Dogpound south, where John & Brenda needed some help to deal with a looming oversupply of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, well you get the idea!  It might have been shorter to go through the city of Phoenix, but it was an easy decision to opt instead for the road down to Gila Bend on the I-8.  Even then, we did not take the 85, instead choosing the Old Highway 80 option.  It proved a good choice and we only met a couple vehicles all the way south.  After a minor dump and fill at the Shell in Gila Bend, we headed eastbound on the interstate till the 84 shortcut towards Maricopa from the south.  A drive through of the Jim Kortzman County park near the junction showed how much work has been done there since my last visit quite a few years ago.  There are a lot of sites, well spaced, each with a roofed shelter, and fireplace, drive-through accessible, for $10 a night.  That’s almost within MY price range!  Too bad the whole thing is well within the roar from the interstate.

A short time later, we pulled into Dogpound south and were soon sampling some of Brenda’s Christmas baking, while John and I sorted out some of the pressing issues of the day.  On Christmas, John saddled up Blue II and we rode quite a few miles out in the nearby desert and washes

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He took me to visit some petroglyphs, lots of washes, and sadly some places where abandoned tires seem to be multiplying on their own ;-(

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After that it was back to enjoy the great turkey and feast that Brenda had been working on at home.  It was a belt-loosening affair for sure, and the best that I have had in years.  Thanks Brenda and John.

The weather was warm and sunny on Boxing day, so I thought I would break from tradition and pull up stakes while it was NOT raining!  With a huge care package of turkey and trimmings in hand, we were soon on the road further south.

We planned to see if there was any truth to the rumours that Wandering Willy was lurking in the cactus, somewhere along the Mexican border.  Why, you ask?  Close enough!