Usery Mountain

When you have power hookups, why not light it up?

We so rarely have hook-ups that we kinda lose track of what we do with them. Oh we have plenty of power, great, lets flaunt it? We wanted to stop in to one of our nearby campgrounds because we haven’t even fired up the air conditioner in so long we wanted to cycle it to make sure it was still working right. There is a park very close by to our house, and a short easy drive. Usery Mountain Park is just a short hop from our home. well about 30 minutes, which is less distance than many of our trips to get things we see on Craigslist.

After setting everything up, we were all ready and relaxing before 7 pm. I made several attempts to get the fire going but unfortunately all the wood in the bed of my truck had been wet and as far as I know water is pretty difficult to light on fire. I grudgingly relented on the fire since it refused to light. I decided that it’s probably best to save any charcoal fluid for the next day when I am actually lighting charcoal. The previous day, before we left, I had murdered a couple steaks, so this time we went with a nice scallop meal. That I ruined.

That night it was rather windy, but not too bad, so I stuck the awning clips on just to be safe.It’s been a while since we pulled in at night and had to wait until morning to find out if the site was worth it. Fortunately the park’s website has a pretty good set of pictures of each site when you are picking. It also listed the amperage available, and whether there was shade. Rest assured, if you are traveling from another state, and the pictures looked good for the spot you wanted, it’ll look good. Though I would recommend you look at the placement of cacti if you have pets. Some spots look lovely, but might be rather… pointy.

Oh, this will end well

Because I’m horribly out of shape, we decided it would be good to hike up the mountain. Usery Park is on the border of National Forest land. And there is a great trail that leads up to the wind cave near the campground. We parked and headed up the trail, and see a rather foreboding sign warning that out of shape folks should stay their happy buts down here. Not to worry, I am out of shape, but prepared. With the backpack full of water, I feel I’m pretty well good until the rescue team comes and drags me down the mountain again.

The trail starts out easy enough. It’s a slow gradual rise leading to the mountain. Aside from the trail itself being really rocky, there’s not too much of a challenge here. As we get closer to the mountain, the trail gets steeper. You really start to feel that breakfast. What’s that? Sure, let me have another slice of bacon. is repeated through my brain for each step. Honestly for the most part it’s easier than many of the mountain trails in Phoenix.

Here’s another one for Miss Theresa’s collection

Aside from having to watch where you put your feet, most people wouldn’t find it much of a challenge. It’s much more difficult for my sweetheart than for me, because she’s fun sized. Her legs don’t reach quite as far as mine. When we reach the top, we stop for a bit of a snack, and as we do, my sweetie sees a squirrel. And of course she can’t stop herself from feeding it. Yes, I know it’s not good for them in many ways, but you aren’t going to be able to retroactively stop her from it. Besides, the way they reacted to food dropping, I doubt this was their first rodeo. There were actually two squirrels. One was just a bit more aggressive than the other, and chased it off. after lunch we headed back down the mountain, and back towards the truck.

We head back to the camp site, and it starts to cloud up. Great time, too, I mean I would hate to have clouds covering the sun as I’m hiking up a mountain in the desert. I decide that now would be a good time to cook dinner. Seeing as how the wind was picking up, I wanted to get the steaks cooked before the rain came. I managed to get my sweetheart’s steak cooked properly, however mine was a little too far on the rare side. As I cut into my steak and heard it moo, I took that chunk of meat and dropped it on the grill. I was able to finish the steak though it involved a bit more rain than I would have liked. So I had two steaks that were ruined in a week. Later, we had a smoothie to make up for my steak. We wanted to have pina coladas, but that is a campfire kind of thing. And the rain was simply not letting that happen.

That night while we were sleeping the wind and rain got to blowing hard. I was hearing the awning snap with the wind, and figured I really didn’t want to have to replace that thing, or repair the fabric in the rain. I quickly removed the lights, and rolled up the awning. Water dumped from the thing, and surprised me a bit. I managed to not get soaked by quick reflexes alone. My girl slept peacefully through the whole ordeal. Or as peacefully as can be expected. I was pretty pleased that we had all of that rain, as it proved to me that the leaks I had fixed were really fixed.

I slept the remainder of the night through rather peacefully. In the morning the I made breakfast, and we hung around the RV for a while. Thankfully, we had no damage, and it appeared that we didn’t even get too waterlogged. Well, aside from the ton of already wet mesquite in my truck bed. That’s gonna make it soooo much easier to light next time.

Around noon we decided to hit the nearby ghost town. Goldfield is an old mining town that had mined gold(figure the odds). It started with the finding of a gold vein, and five years after it started, it was gone. Unlike Jerome, Goldfield is only a ghost town and tourist trap. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice tourist trap, and they have some awesome fudge. Including prickly pear fudge. I loved that stuff. There’s a saloon, and steakhouse there as well. We stuck around for the gunfight, and wandered around the shops. For a touristy place, the shop prices were extremely reasonable. In fact one of the shops is marketed as the cheapest souvenir shop in Arizona. And I can believe it. Their prices even on things that were more than I wanted to pay, were still very good for what they were. We picked up a chain snake for the RV, and about two pounds of fudge. All right, the tourist trap got me. But it was well worth it, and not expensive at all.

I almost forgot about the cool sight of the wolf someone brought in. It was neat to see them with a wolf hybrid that was obviously still a puppy(though still pretty big). How cool is it to see such a lovely animal.

After we left the ghost town we decided to stop by the Mining Camp steak house. across the way. I wanted a non-ruined steak for dinner. So I ordered a good juicy steak and got it. Thank heavens, nothing was wrong. We headed back to the RV, and got everything all packed up to bring home. We packed some stuff up already because of the rain, but what was left needed to dry out. We made the trip home in about 45 minutes.

More pictures from the trip here

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Empire Ranch

South of Tucson is a wildlife refuge that is also a working cattle ranch. There are a ton of camping spots, but you kinda have to know where they are. Initially we started looking around, and couldn’t find any decent spots. I had to practice turning around on single lane dirt paths as we ran out of road. This was not ideal. So we found a small campground and dropped the trailer there so we could check out spots and come grab the trailer if we found a better one. I thought we had already found the best spot. I was wrong.

Under the old Oak tree

A little ways north of the Empire Ranch historical site is a little offshoot to the left. This dirt road winds back to a couple camp sites, and then there is a cross road. We turned right, and there was a massive oak tree. We knew this was the spot. My sweetie hopped out to save the spot from any would be spot snaggers. I hauled tail back to the spot I unloaded the trailer, and jerked it back to the new spot. There are a couple spots where the trailer touched the bed of the truck, but I made it in, and the spot was worth it.

After getting the trailer all set up, we set out to explore the rest of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. It really is a working ranch with real cattle wandering about. It’s free range and they simply wander about all day munching on the vegetation. We traveled down the road and came across even more campsites that would be phenomenal to set up in. There are several places where you could easily pull off and camp, though some spots seemed to be a little tough to stuff the RV in.

The views though, were spectacular. You could really get a sense for why people would move out west and risk everything. You can see for miles. The rolling hills unfold in front of you and go on forever. After checking out a few more sites, we headed off to see the other camp sites we saw on the map. Unfortunately the sun started setting and we wouldn’t be able to see the spots we were going to look at. Though with a sunset as gorgeous as we witnessed, it’s hard to call it too much of a shame. We turned around and headed back to the RV, and made dinner.

The next morning we awoke to a bit of rain… leaking onto the bed. Apparently when I replaced the vent the prior week I didn’t seal it up properly. And it let me know by dripping water on us. I didn’t want to sleep too late anyway. While I made breakfast, Aida tried to capture a picture of a pretty bird that had found our camp site. She really couldn’t get a great picture of him, but at least she caught him. resting on a branch. It’s a Vermilion Flycatcher. Apparently people from all around come to see this bird. We’ve seen several on our trips(or maybe it’s one that follows us around everywhere). He was there with a female, so it’s possible they had a nest nearby.

After breakfast, we went off for a drive to check out the other sites. While many were pretty good, the best sites were down the road we were on. We ran across a ranger who was kind enough to give us a map which helped us realize I passed one of the areas with camping the prior day. Don’t get me wrong though they are all gorgeous sites. I just think the ones known as the oak camp sites are that much better. On our way back we checked out the group site, and a pronghorn antelope was standing in the field. So I didn’t feel the drive was wasted.

We stopped by the old Empire Ranch headquarters. It’s a self guided tour and there’s actually a whole lot to see. What amazes me is something my wonderful woman pointed out. Despite there being nobody watching, and no cameras(that I saw), and nothing to prevent you from taking things, everything is still on shelves and counters. It’s pretty nice to see that once in a while. Wandering through the house we got to see the bits that got added over the years. and how the ranch house evolved into what it was.

While there I learned an important lesson. Cottonwood trees are not a good choice for shade trees. Apparently they are “self pruning” and will drop their branches during heavy wind. These branches can weigh up to and above a thousand pounds. Consequently there is no camping by the creek here. Well there’s no camping anywhere on the Empire Ranch Headquarters land, but now that I know I will make sure to avoid parking my RV under a cottonwood tree. She’s tough, but a thousand pounds dropping on the roof could do some serious damage.

We left the Empire Ranch HQ and headed down the road to the final camp site, and learned that the roads were pretty slick. The back end of the truck started to kick around a bit, and I was feelin her trying to come around on me. The rain had turned the dirt road into a muddy mess. Of course, there was that little kid in me that really enjoyed it. It’s that little kid that loved to play in the mud and didn’t care that he messed up his school clothes… Bigger kid, with a bigger toy to play in the mud with now. Locked it in 4 high and ran with it. I ain’t gonna lie, I was havin fun.

Las Cienegas means marshes, and while it seems odd for a desert, this area is spring fed marsh. We drove along the road and never could find the campground, but did see where the wetland was. It’s always fun to see a contrast of the desert with a marsh.

We returned to the RV to grab some food, and we finally got a good picture of the vermilion flycatcher that had been at the camp site the entire time. It was about time too. We stayed around the camp site until it was time to pack up. After getting everything ready, I decided to make smoothies for the ride home rather than go with some heavy meal. It’s much better than being loaded down the whole way back.

We have lots more pictures here

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On a mountain with a view

Last trip we were searching for the spot with a view. We spent hours driving around searching for it until we gave up in frustration. But we had known how gorgeous it was before we headed up there and were determined to find the site again. Our last trip and the massive drive around the mountain was essentially to re-find this spot. Our confusion was understandable, because last time we took several back roads out. This time we stuck to the main roads. Out of Prescott, we found the Old Senator Highway, and from there the camp sites were a no brainer to find. We were fortunate in that the one we really wanted was not taken. It rests at the top of the road with a view of the canyon below.

For the first time in forever(hah! now you’re singin it) we decided to bring two of our pups. Poor Scarlett never gets to come out with us. But we brought her and our little Chevy. She gets the short end of the stick for camping trips because she has no problems with hanging out at home with both of the other dogs. She is also the most adventurous one of the three in that she used to be a free roaming dog. She learned to survive in the wild, and we got her from the pound. Which means she can also be a bit un-nerved on long trips though.

Our first day we got all settled in and relaxed. The dogs ran around on their tethers and chased after the lizards that were just out of reach. I swear the things knew exactly where the tie out would let the dogs go. The poor dogs would try to get the lizard, and get hung up on their tether. It was amusing to watch. Chevy has an absolute hatred of tiny moving things. Grasshoppers and lizards top his list of things he wants to utterly destroy. Scarlett, on the other hand is only interested in them if she sees Chevy interested in them, and proceeds to egg him on. I think this is what goes on in their brains, but then again, maybe she is the instigator, and Chevy is an unwitting pawn toiling endlessly to please his… Sorry, that’s probably a little too much of a peek behind the scenes of what my mind comes up with… And we watched as the sun drifted behind the mountains and set the sky on fire.

It was the week before Easter, and we had been told of a tasty treat of roasting Peeps. Hmmm, Marshmallow Peeps with a candied outer layer? Twist my arm. Let me just say, to whomever it was that my sweetheart heard this from, I want to hug you. Not in a weird way, just a friendly hug, you know the kind, that awkward “Hey I like you, but we really don’t know each other” kind of hug. But they were delicious when roasted. The candy outer bits become a hardened shell that holds the squishy soft marshmallowy goodness inside.

In the morning we woke up and for some silly reason we expected the dogs to behave. Normally, with either Chevy or Storm, they will sit patiently at the door for us to hook on their tether before they bound out the door. Apparently I left my brain somewhere in the closet at home and forgot that Scarlett and Chevy are used to going for a nice run around the back yard together when they wake up. The door opens for the dogs and they are off to the races. In our back yard this wouldn’t be a problem because there’s this whole concrete block wall thing that manages to somewhat effectively contain their explosion of energy. In a camp site with no fences this becomes a rather major issue, as neither I nor my sweet woman have the kind of speed necessary to keep pace with two high energy dogs running at top speed down a dirt road.

I grabbed my keys and we hopped in the truck to chase them down. Thankfully they decided to stay on the road, because there was a lot of woods for them to get lost in. We start down the road and about a quarter mile down they come running back towards us, a cloud of dust billowing behind them. They are pretty easy to corral, I simply open the door and both of them hop in, as if there was nothing weird about them bounding down a strange road. Both dogs sit in the back seat tongues hanging out and what appear to be smiles on their faces. Meanwhile my sweet and I are just thankful we don’t have to continue hunting them down.

After briefly contemplating using duct tape to secure the dogs, we figured we could head down to Watson Lake to go kayaking. We load the truck with the kayaks, life vests and some drinks to take with us. We park the dogs in the RV and take off down to the lake. We get there, and pay to get in. It’s only around $2 to get in, so it’s not likely to break the bank. We roll on down to the lake and I suddenly remember that… I left the paddles in the RV. Soooo we turn around and head back to the RV. With the adventures of chasing down the two knuckleheads and the drive to Watson Lake, by the time we got back to the RV it was pretty much time to have lunch. We threw together a quick snack and grabbed the Pringles to take with us.

Watson Lake is one of the top places to kayak, or so I’m told. I will say it’s nice to be on a lake where the whole thing is a “No Wake” zone. It’s far easier to be on the lake in a kayak without power boats zipping by you creating waves that could capsize you. That isn’t to say there’s not any challenge at all. There’s a significant amount of wind out there that made the paddling a bit rough. I wouldn’t let that stop you though. It’s not too terribly bad, and at least it wasn’t like paddling eight miles UP the Colorado River(just sayin).

When you go south you can get to the wooded area that simply put is astonishing. The birds that called this place home while we were there were like something out of a nature documentary. Great Blue Heron, mallards, red winged blackbirds, geese, and a few I have no idea what they were. I truly enjoyed paddling through the trees and under the canopy. It was like entering another world. There were trees that had fallen over that were still growing. There were passages that you could paddle through and get from one side to the other. And of course, there was the water way that had trees reaching over as if to form a natural archway that you passed under.

Squirrel!

To me this made the rest of the lake seem boring by comparison. That isn’t to say the rest of the lake was blah, but more to say how great this little area was. While paddling through the area, we happened upon a squirrel, and it made me think of our new friend Miss Theresa, who has posted a few times on her Facebook page about the cuteness of squirrels. Soooo for her, I give you… our squirrel pic.

We managed to take in the whole lower river area, and decided to head back. I really enjoyed the whole trip, and was a little sad to have to leave that night. But work demands it, and while I enjoy my weekends, I enjoy my job as well.

The remaining pictures can be found here

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Bloody long drive

So this week we headed out to Alamo Lake um… Prescott Bloody Basin. We spent so much of the day driving around looking for where we were going to camp. Our original plan was to head out to Alamo Lake and boondock out there, but we saw the temperatures, and decided against it. Then we were going to head up to Prescott, but we couldn’t find the camp site we were looking for. We turned around and headed back to town.

“There’s camping here.,” she says and we follow down a path past filled camp site after filled camp site. We get to the bottom and have to turn around. A somewhat less appealing choice with a trailer on the back. I hear the metal popping as the trailer hits the side of my truck. I’m becoming less pleased, and I let myself snap at her while she’s trying to help. I’m not proud of that. I try to keep my cool, but the tight turnaround combined with being unable to know that there would be no open camp sites has left me a bit frayed.

Six hours of driving through back roads and dirt roads have pushed my nerves near the breaking point. People cutting in so close that they nearly take off my front bumper, and me having to slam on the brakes to keep from hitting them has finally driven me to a place I really don’t like to go. And the military voice comes out as I bark at the woman I love. She goes quiet, and initially I’m happy. Then I immediately start to feel bad. It wasn’t her fault. Not really. The drive had just finally caught up with me, and I hadn’t eaten anything before we left. The kind of hard driving we had done drained me mentally, and I hadn’t even charged up by having food before we left.

Even the dog was sick of the drive

We stop trying to find the camp sites in the area, and thankfully my sweetheart suggests we head to Bloody Basin. Kind of an odd choice given our level of anxiety, but oddly it was the best decision. About four miles into the road, we came across a small town. If you can call it that… It’s about 4 buildings put together at the intersection. We turn left and about another two miles we spot the site.

They were everywhere

The wind was strong and steady. This would have been a great time to fly the kite. But we had to get the RV set up. All around there were caterpillars. And even the wind didn’t deter the butterflies. I rolled out the chairs, and the tables, and set them up while my sweetheart made sure to get a few pictures of the area around the camp site. And of course the caterpillars.

Food cooking by the setting sun

I finished doing my part for setting up the RV, and decided to cook some kind of food. Ribs on the grill and corn on the cob on the stove(it’s a small grill, and the ribs were big). And so, as the sun set on this really long day of driving, we finally sat down to eat the first meal of the day. And I enjoyed it. I can’t imagine why I might have been grumpy all day.

We sat around the fire for the rest of the evening. The next morning my sweetheart would check out the rest of the camp-site. She grabbed a few pictures, and then we went for a drive. It seems odd that we would enjoy a drive after the prior day, but this was a more enjoyable drive that wasn’t going to tear up the RV. We headed toward Crown King. The road to Crown King is fine. It gets bumpy, but for the most part it’s a fairly easy drive. But after Crown King the road became somewhat less friendly.

Road isn’t too bad. Only bottomed out three times

The roads were washed out and rutted. Rocks looked like they were ready to tear the tires right off the truck. But, I’m a guy, and I refuse to let a little thing like sanity prevail over being macho. So rather than turn around, I say, “Meh, I’ll just go forward. How bad can it be?” Most people know never to tempt fate like that, but I still had no plans on turning around no matter what… The Jeeps made it, I can make it. You know, in a vehicle with a longer wheelbase and wider, with no winch. I’ll press on. We come to a point in the road where the road looks suspiciously like the road went away and was replaced instead by huge hunks of rock piled ahead of me. I stop.

At this point there is a voice that says, we need to separate the men from the boys… Unfortunately the little boy in me won, and we played on the big rocks. I dropped it in 4 LOW and shoved it in first gear. I crept along those rocks until I heard metal slam on stone. The rear differential is now sitting on the boulder I was creeping over. Fortunately my front wheels have enough traction to back me up. I back it up a little bit line up my front tires again and start creeping across the rocks again and BAM! The rear tires slipped off the boulder again, and I’m sitting on the pumpkin. I back it up much further this time to the point where I can really align my rear tires better. I creep over the boulders, The tire slips again, and I feel it hit again, but this time I still have enough traction on my left rear to drag us over the boulder. And we bounce to freedom. Take that grown-up responsible me! We pass a few more people going the opposite direction, and someone asks if the road I came down was a bit rough to take a pickup through… I try not to laugh, but I say, “If they have a truck like mine they should be fine. I made it.”

The road starts to get a little better by the time we get to Senator Road. but before that we had to cross a few water crossings, and places where Jeeps looked at me funny for bringing a full size truck into an obvious Jeep trail over the Bradshaw Mountain Range. There’s a small piece of me that takes pride in making the big ole F350 work where even a Jeep might question going. Maybe it’s because I have the attitude that if you worry about getting a scratch on your truck, you don’t need a truck. Maybe it’s because I enjoy making things work that don’t. But we made the trip over the mountains, and found those camp sites we were looking for in the first place. We learned that the maps we were looking at gave us wrong directions. And we made note of where they were for a future trip.

And more photos from this trip here

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Buckeye

Not so remote remoteness.

Interestingly the next place we went wasn’t much farther than our shakedown cruise. But they were completely different types of camp sites. I really hadn’t thought of Buckeye as any kind of destination. I normally think of it as “Cool, I can top off my tank while I figure out how we’re gonna get there.” But after this trip, I can’t help but think of it as one of the nicer destinations we’ve had boondocking. The site was pretty level. And it had an awesome view. It didn’t hurt that the desert was in bloom.

Plenty of Quartz here.

It was a short easy trip that started by hitting I10 going West. I started thinking, Man, I should get a soda. and we were already at the exit. We headed south on the road and came across the entrance to the Buckeye Regional Park. When heading here, you’ll know you are on the right path when you see the shooting range. On the dirt road there were several people camped out at the many picnic tables. We kept looking. And there were a couple pathways where people had pulled off. But we wanted to look at the rest of the roads. Everything was too close to a road, or too close to another RVer.

We pulled down a side offshoot, and I found a spot that worked. My sweetheart quickly informed me that there was a much better spot a little further along. And it was. Though there were a couple tight turns that challenged me to squeeze through, the site was worth a couple plants brushing the sides of the 5th wheel. Though it was odd hearing the random fire from the range, there isn’t any danger.

A peaceful sunset.

I have to admit, when nothing goes wrong, it’s much harder for me to write the blog. Our first night it rained a good bit, no leaks. The wind whipped around, but nothing took off. I added in the new antenna, so I could finally strap in the new radio. We enjoyed the fire for a while, and had a relatively uneventful evening. It was nice. It seems that after all the time and effort put into getting Betty in shape, she was finally usable without something breaking. Instead of whining about something that broke I could just enjoy the scenery. And that is why we got the RV in the first place.

Cactus flowers just opening

We were fortunate that the desert was in bloom this time of year. The flowers were freshly opening up. The hummingbirds were scooting around. One came up to my sweetheart who was still trying to get her phone set up, and she almost missed it. Though it was too quick for her to get her camera on it. Seeing the desert in bloom is truly awe inspiring. The contrast of wasteland and the colors of life bring to mind the hopefulness of a world renewed. Life proving that even in the harshest of places it will press on. It will endure. And better still, it will thrive. Here, where the rain is so infrequent that we don’t even think about it in our roadway planning, life flourishes and dares the world to do it’s worst. And it laughs at the attempt.

Since I was not frustrated by needing to repair something that broke this trip, We decided(“we” meaning my lovely woman) to replace the trim on the RV. It took only about an hour or so, but it was fairly easy to do. But we came up slightly short in only being able to get all but one side of the RV trim replaced. So she ordered more to finish the job. Someday, later.

With nothing to frustrate me this trip we decided to bring out the kite. There was a nice steady breeze, and… where did it go… What the… IT WAS JUST BLOWING. There it is. There was a nice steady… Oh COME ON! Never mind, let me just put the kite away… Breeze… nope. I’m done. Finally the wind kicked up and we were able to fly the kite for the first time since we bought it.

One of the great things about boondocking is that we get most of the day we’re leaving as opposed to having to pack up by noon. This afforded us the opportunity to have dinner at the camp site. While I cooked, my sweetheart picked up the trash from around the camp site. We try to leave a site without anything man made aside from our tire tracks. And maybe the ashes from the fire.

You can see more pictures from the trip here

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Shakedown Cruise

In the Navy, after major repairs have been completed, the vessel is taken on a short cruise and put through it’s paces. The last thing you want to do is find out that some repair you thought was done right was actually fouled up something fierce. We decided that for our first trip after getting Betty back we should go someplace close. Bartlett Lake is one of the closer destinations to hit for us. And since it’s still winter, we could do it without needing a generator.

Things that were done were done out of necessity. The axles needed to be flipped, but we didn’t do it before, because it would have been too much work. Then we lost the wheel on the front axle… AGAIN! That’s just not right. This time though, it would have been simply too much to keep replacing with Dexter wheels, as the drums are harder to find, and the wheels are just too darned expensive. There’s a reason RV manufacturers went away from them, and I think I know why. We lost 3 wheels from 3 different positions. TWO from the front axle… So we went with the six lug pattern. Pretty easy to get them. FAR easier than the old 4 lug bolt pattern.

We also replaced the water pump, but after the axles, that seemed more like an afterthought. The worst part of having to replace the axles was that the wheel left us while we were on our way to get the water pump. I gotta admit, I was a tad unhappy. What was going to be a $150 repair, turned into a $2000 adventure. I do feel safer on the road now though. The rear axle was obviously supporting the whole trailer’s weight, as evidenced by the wear on the inside of the tire. It would have been a costly repair eventually, and better to happen on the way to the RV repair shop than on the way down a mountain pass I suppose. Why yes, the glass is half full.

We pulled into the site, and realized that the long weekend was probably not the ideal time to test the RV. We had few choices of where to stuff the RV. Fortunately one spot by the water was open. The Yellow Cliffs area would have been completely impossible to do if the lake level was higher. Where we were parked would have been about ten feet under the surface, if the lake were at it’s normal level. I am not going to complain about how low the lake is for now. Maybe if I had a larger boat, I might, but with our little baby Brooklyn(the boat on the back of the RV), the lake is the right size. Besides, I’m not going to complain about having a waterfront spot to park.

Yellow Cliffs is kind of an odd name for the place, I can’t imagine why they would call it that. It’s a really nice place to camp, and if you have the annual pass for the Tonto National Forrest, it’s free. It’s only an additional $15 on top of the annual America the Beautiful pass. Considering the individual day pass is seven bucks, two days, and it just about pays for itself. The view is just wonderful and when there isn’t a national holiday, it can be pretty relaxing. Of course since we were there on President’s Day weekend, partiers were out in force. The people to the right of us were the hard and heavy drink til someone gets arrested kind of crowd. The people to the left were actually pretty cool, and I got a chance to talk with the father of the group.

Having solar, I think I tend to be a bit of a snob about noise. It’s my failing, I know this. I try not to be rude to folks, and gladly show them how they too can be on solar for less than they think. The folks to the left of us, were respectful with their generator as well. I appreciated that. They tried not to run it as much as possible. I tried to help him figure out why his rig wasn’t charging. My guess was that his converter was bad, as it was only getting slightly over 12 volts at the battery. Sadly for me, the people to the right were not respectful with their generator. They ran that thing long and loud. So much so that I actually cheered a little bit when it sounded like they were having issues with it. Again, I know it’s my failing. I’ll work on that sometime in the future.

Oddly Sunday, many people cleared out. Thankfully, the rude family was among them, and the respectful family wasn’t. This afforded us the opportunity to drive along the beach to scout out other spots. While some were very attractive, the ability of the 5th wheel making it was questionable. That wouldn’t stop me from trying if we were headed out there. But it might mean taking a steady run at it to make sure I didn’t get stuck. Obviously not all of it was horrible rocks and loose sand, If we ever start hitting some of these sites more than once We might have to give one of them a try.

That night we had our dinner, and relaxed with the lack of rowdy partiers. It felt like I could do that a little easier without the folks causing mushroom clouds right next to us. I wouldn’t have minded but I really didn’t feel like getting exploded. The next morning we found that even our good neighbors were leaving. We would soon have the beach to ourselves. Which meant we wouldn’t be spending more time on the beach. Instead we took the little boat on the water to take more pictures.

We hopped into the little dingy, and went for a short ride around the lake. Interestingly enough, we got cell phone service on the lake, but not in the RV… Cell phone coverage is weird. It’s truly a mystery to me how my cell phone will work in the middle of a lake, but not on shore… It did give us the opportunity to call my woman’s mom to let her know we were alive. Sure, we could have simply continued on, but there was gossip to be had dangit. We tooled around the water taking in the birds. The scenery was beautiful, and my sweetheart was taking pictures all around. It was really fortunate that she brought her DSLR camera as well as her cell phone. Unfortunately I was an idiot and lost the photos off her old phone when she got her new phone. The good news is that because she took most of these pics with her DSLR, we didn’t end up losing the trip.

More Pictures here

Of course if we had lost all the pictures, we would have had to go out to the lake again. And that would have been just terrible, right?

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Why we don’t have flying cars

Sorry folks, this is just for the heck of it. We haven’t been out camping for a while, so I wanted to post something… I’m going with randomness. I really want to get back out camping so I have something to post about.

Flying Cars:
Every year that goes by someone invariably mentions “We should have flying cars by now. Why don’t we have flying cars?” I’m a huge sci fi fan, and would love to have had my flying cars. The reality is I will probably never see them. But years ago, I lambasted an engineer for us not having them.

“It’s 2005,” I said, “You engineers were supposed to have given us cities on the moon, flying cars, a martian colony, interstellar travel, and a whole bunch of other stuff. What happened?”

Without missing a beat he replied, “Some knucklehead computer guy invented the internet. We’ve been distracted by cat pictures and stupid videos ever since.”

Touche’ engineer.

Sadly it’s probably less due to distracted engineers, and more regulations and liability issues… Still, he got me…

Another visit from a really good friend:
Miss Theresa was back in town, fresh from her trip to Vegas. It was great catching up with her again. She made us her No-Bake cookies, which will make her quite welcome to stop by anytime she wants. She was in town to see some friends of hers perform, and also to see about some other prospects. I hope she gets them, and we get more no-bake cookies hehe. Kidding aside, It’s awesome to see her really getting out there and traveling. We checked out her rig, and found several water leaks as we tried to make sure she could have hot water. My guess is that the people she bought her rig from did not properly winterize it at least one time. I’ll be wishing her good fortune and safe travels. A part of me envies her being able to get out on the road and live free. The other part of me is happy to have a steady paycheck. Should that part of me ever be beaten to a pulp by the part that wants to live on the road, I’ll be sure to let you guys know. For now, my bills are happy that I have a steady job.

Why the heck aren’t you camping?
As we’re waiting on our RV which is in the shop, we are kind of stuck. We can’t go anywhere, because Betty is out of commission. We had hoped to get her back, but unfortunately, no luck. When we get her back though, we’ll have new axles, brakes, and instead of the nearly impossible to find dexter wheels we’ll have easier to get 6 lug wheels. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly expecting to have to replace the wheel again, though I never really do expect to need to replace the wheel, next time it should be easier to find. Maybe next time we’ll be able to replace the tire rather than the whole wheel. We seem to not get flat tires, and instead lose wheels… The last time one of the wheels ate the spindle… again. Well on the plus side, now all the wheels and hubs are fresh, and properly lubed. When we do get out again(which is hopefully soon) we’ll also have flipped axles so the rear isn’t squatting so bad. I was very nervous about the rear dragging.

Well here’s to hoping we get back to camping soon so I can bore you guys with babbling about our adventures instead of our non-adventures…

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