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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Nevada to Arizona

As usual, it was a very enjoyable stay at Stewart’s Point on Lake Mead.  Didn’t get to see the navy seals (?) parachuting into the lake day and night like some visits in the past, but was able to get out on the lake a bit in my new inflatable kayak!  Like always, after a week or two, I start to get itchy feet to move on, and Hailey has run out of willing mice and lizards to play with.

So, once again we packed up, and was pleased that my repair on the slide motor worked flawlessly.  We were just pulling out onto the Northshore Road, and saw a Park Ranger there (the first one I have ever seen that close to Stewarts Point).  While stopped just down the road at a picnic site talking to a couple of full-timers from Cochrane, Alberta, the Ranger went by with full lights and siren – on his way to a ‘CPR in progress’ call down at Las Vegas Bay campground.  I’ve responded to a few of those when I was back up working the National Parks at home, and they often don’t turn out well.  But in this case the AED was recommending ‘shock’, and a helicopter came out from Henderson, so I hope it was a positive result.  I pulled in to that campground on my way through for a dump and fill, and some of the responding rangers were just departing the scene.

After a bite and some fuel in Henderson, we headed across the ‘new’ bridge at Hoover dam, then on down 93 through Kingman where we joined the I-40 eastbound.  We were headed to Sedona, where some friends are spending a few months, and another friend was just showing up to do some hiking in the area.  I was ready to stop and spend the night around Williams or Ash Fork, but that is pretty high elevation, and there was snow on the ground, so kept going on to Flagstaff.  Of course, part way down the highway, in the dark, I noticed that there were NO lights on the trailer, so had to find a quick place to pull off and correct the problem with a slight adjustment to the plug.  Knowing the Oak Creek canyon on 89A was not suitable for trailers or high profile vehicles, we had to continue down to the 179 turnoff, then jog our way back up towards Sedona.  Our usual location of forest road 525 was available (yay), so pulled and and just parked for the night and set up in the morning.

It is a common balloon landing area, so first thing in the morning, we were welcomed by the intermittent roar of the propane burner as a balloon floated otherwise silently over our camp.  Photos from the bedroom window.


It wasn’t long and we were hitting the numerous trails in the area with our (local) guides and their two dogs.


Like last year, the trails were occasionally steep, and they soon had me hanging on for dear life!!IMG_3992IMG_3989

It was so scary that Hailey didn’t want to look!


Some time was spent by the campfire in the evenings, while contemplating the –20 to –30C temperatures back at home.


But once the fire was out, the night visitors come out!


A number of our hikes involved cliff dwellings …



I think the photos say it all.

A couple of thanks are in order.  Thanks to Wandering Willy, who brought down a spare modem for my satellite internet system.  The replacement seems to be working and has me back on the air, without depending on my phone or the trucks wi-fi.  Of course it has cost me a few beer!  It was a bit of a roadtrip from Sedona down to Quartzsite and back where WW was camping, but good to see the country without towing for a change.  We didn’t even have time to stop and check up on Al and Kelly from the Bayfield Bunch as we passed right past Congress on the way.  We did see the nice new trailhead for the Yarnell Firefighters memorial on the way through.  Will have to budget time to hike it next time through.

While in Cottonwood one day, I decided it was time to get the tires rotated on my truck.  I stopped at the Discount Tire shop on the road towards Jerome, and they did the whole job including re-programming the pressure sensors.  For FREE!  Thanks guys.  Take your business there!

That’s about it for now!