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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Parker right there

20150103_131515On Friday I had the truck ready to go by the time my better half was able to leave work. Our original plan was to find some place in Quartzite, AZ to boondock, but our water pump was starting to fail, so it was off to a state campground for us. Plus we hadn’t really gone around the area to see where we would be best to camp.

We passed through Quartzite and headed north to Parker, AZ. Our first attempt was at La Paz County Park. But we just couldn’t see squeezing in there with as full as it was. The next place we pulled in was Buckskin Mountain State Park. And we pulled in none too soon, as it was getting close to the ten o clock gate time. I don’t know if they closed the gates, but having been locked out one time because we left a bit too late, I wasn’t taking the chance.

20150103_131417-1We drove around in the dark a couple times, and didn’t see any spots we liked. Then we drove around again and found a spot that looked pretty good. So we pulled in and got all set up. Once again, in the dark. The next morning we were informed that the site we chose was not going to be open the next evening, so we would have to move. Rats. But since everyone was leaving that left quite a lot of spots open for us. We settled in to the new spot. Chosen because there were a ton of coots wandering about. The better half looked around while I finished up leveling and adjusting the RV. Buckskin is a very lovely campground. Too bad our stay was only one more night.

20150104_171218-1We wanted to head down to Quartzite to see the other camping areas we passed up on. I was rather pleased with the boondocking options available there. Our next trip out there we will be better informed and likely be able to find a good spot. We checked out a few of the shops that were open. And we gathered a couple rather nice rocks that would polish up nice for her. We also picked up a few LED lights to replace the fluorescent lights in the RV. After driving around a bit looking at several of the other sites, the sun shrank behind the mountains and we couldn’t see the other sites. It didn’t stop us from trying, but it simply got too dark to tell what we were looking at.

We returned to the RV had dinner and enjoyed the night together. The next morning we wanted to head back to Quartzite to check out a few more shops. I quickly offloaded the trailer and didn’t even bother leveling it. I figured we’re going to be loading it up for the return trip anyway, may as well have it ready. We checked out the gem and mineral show that we were looking for the previous day. We got to see some very creative wrapping of stones. And my love did pick up a few little interesting items there.

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We really didn’t get a whole lot of pictures on the New Years weekend trip. But what we did get is here

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Ringing in the New Year

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20150101_135955New Years eve we spent at home. We wanted to see our friend perform, but we were silly and didn’t get tickets ahead of time. Though I don’t feel cheated, because we got to meet Miss Theresa face to face without the crowds. This New Year’s Day brought a very rare sight to the Phoenix area. Snow! That’s right, the Phoenix Valley got snow on New Years eve and it was still around on New Years Day. Anyone living in the colder parts of the country are likely saying, “Pfff! That’s not snow. That’s just a dusting. I clear more than that off my car just to go to work each day.” And you’re right. But this is the Arizona desert. This was a big deal to us. And it would only be around for the day. So we took a drive out to the Superstition Mountains out by the Lost Dutchman state park.

20150101_132651Unlike other posts, we weren’t camping at this time. We simply drove over to the mountains We had to pay to get in, and I was fine with it. I mean how often would I get the opportunity to see the desert covered in snow. After parking and starting our hike, we moved quickly up the mountain as if the snow would disappear before we got close enough to touch it. It’s not too far off the mark, as the temperature was well above freezing. The ground was damp with the water from the snow that had already melted.

20150101_135218The hike up the mountain is actually pretty easy. Even my out of shape butt managed to make it up. I suppose it being rather chilly out also helped. Funny how that works out. You get cold, and you want to move a bit more. Of course being out of shape, by the time I got to the top of the trail I was thoroughly warmed up.By the next day, nearly every bit of this snow would be gone with exception to any large snowballs that were conspicuously placed near the trail with sticks and stones… No, I wasn’t the artist. But I wish I had been. There wasn’t a lot of snow left, but there was enough to make a couple of good snowballs if you carefully avoided accidentally grabbing a jumping cholla cactus. My sweetie got a couple good ones, and she began making plans to fill my pants with snow. And I would have deserved it.

20150101_140029Because this is such a rare event, we decided to drive to see more of Arizona covered in snow. I mean how often do you get to see a saguaro with snow on it. And since Aida had to work on Friday, we couldn’t actually stay out for the whole weekend. It would have been nice, but hey, she has so many vacation days she could go a large chunk of the year without working if she wished. She just had to work the day after new years this year because the last time she had it off. With us not doing anything exciting on New Years Eve like… you know… the rest of the world, and staying in to play Risk all night, we had to at least enjoy New Years day on the road.

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Just a bit of a tight turn

We headed North on SR88(N Apache Trail) all the way out to Roosevelt lake. If you’re sitting there thinking “would this be a good way to go in my RV?” the answer is a flat out “No.” This road curves and twists to the point that just driving it in a pickup truck can be a bit hairy at times. Granted my truck has the turn radius of the Spruce Goose, but still there are spots that I had to pull off the road to let someone pass the other way. I would hate to have to try that with an RV or even with our 5th wheel on the back.

Amazingly along the way we saw that Canyon Lake was apparently full. It was good to see it like that. While we’ve had a lot of rain lately, not always does that translate to filling our lakes. Interestingly enough Apache Lake was low. And Roosevelt was really low. Roosevelt was so low they created a new free camping area where there used to be a boat dock. After a few more pictures we headed back home by way of the 87.
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See the rest of the photos here

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Pointy Christmas

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20141228_115626Christmas this year we spent at my better half’s stepfather’s brother’s house. And Christmas turned into Christmas with the Addams Family. It seemed everyone got at least one pointy gift. Some form of weapon that would likely injure or maim someone. All the men got axes and machetes and the women got knives for the kitchen(honestly since I enjoy cooking, I do like a good knife set too). The family enjoyed the time together and after a fun day we figured we’d get everything ready to go for the day after. We headed out to Alamo Lake that Friday.

20141227_123310We grabbed one of our dogs and headed out on Friday. Alamo Lake State Park is a nice destination for a weekend. There are burros in the area that come out at night, so drive carefully when you enter at night. There are several camping spots and there are some tenter only spots if you don’t want to bring an RV. My sweetie and I have been here before. But this was the first time I blogged about it. Last time we went down to the shore and fished… and caught exactly the same thing we caught this time. We didn’t fish this time. That isn’t to say that the fishing is bad here. No, I’m just that bad at it. To be honest, I’m more of a saltwater fisherman. I just can’t seem to catch much while fishing freshwater.

20141227_150052We opted for the state park, but there are some BLM areas nearby. Some of them are really neat. We found one that had the slab and what looked like the remains of a fireplace. That area seemed like it would be a great place to have a get together with a few RVing buddies and hang out. There are many areas over in that area that are free for up to 14 days. It probably wouldn’t be a great idea to be there during the summer months, as this is desert camping, but it is pretty well perfect right now. Maybe a little heater to keep you warm, or, you could grab a dog to curl up on you. Either way, it’s great to camp there because the ambiance is the Arizona desert you may or may not know.

20141228_114630On the first night we heard the burros braying, and coyotes were yipping away. Our little Chevy was pretty well ready to break down the door to get to them. Which is an important thing to remember if you happen to camp a lot with dogs. Coyotes are pretty crafty. When I had a farm we had to watch our dogs, as the coyotes would have puppies playing near the edge of the woods. Your dog would go to play with the puppies, and the pack would come out of the woods and kill your dog. After understanding coyotes a little better, I stopped feeling sorry for Wile E Coyote and sided more with the Roadrunner(Yes, I felt sorry for Wile E).

20141227_123148While we were there we noticed someone flying a glider. I was pretty impressed with how long he was able to keep the thing in the air. Until he landed it and I realized it had a propeller. Then I felt kinda silly. For some reason we didn’t take advantage of the lake, nor did we really take a lot of pictures while we were there. Oddly enough this was the park my lovely woman placed near the top of her favorite parks lists… For me it’s pretty far down the list. Not saying it’s bad, not by a long ways. It’s just the little differences we share. She likes how this park is more desert like. It makes sense. But I’ll let you decide from the pictures.

20141228_141038The beauty of a place so close to home is that even with all the driving around we did, I was still able to make it out there, drive around, and still make it most of the way back without having to fill up. And even with fuel prices falling, diesel was still pretty high up there.

The rest of the pictures here

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Red Rocks of Sedona

20141206_160308Ask anyone in Arizona and you’ll usually at some point be told that a place you should see is Sedona. Last time I was there was when I was working, and only visited long enough to drop things in place, then bug out. I was behind schedule, and had too much to do to look around. There was some real joy when I heard about some very lovely free camping out by Sedona. We pulled in and set up camp pretty easily. I stumbled and fumbled with pulling in and somehow snagged a brake wire. No biggie, very easy fix.

20141206_173021This was the first time I really got to see Sedona. And I was not in the least disappointed. Our camp site overlooked the mountains of Sedona. The colors are simply amazing. It’s like something you would expect in a movie. Part of me kept waiting to hear “Cut” and see the set fall away. There was something that seemed too unreal to exist in real life. And yet there it was in full view. This was why people would always say to camp near Sedona. We could see Boynton mountain from our spot.
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We enjoyed our night there, and then the next day we drove around to check out the other free camping spots in the area. But during the night the coyotes were close enough that I would seriously not recommend you leave your dog unattended at night. Even while attached to a tether. There’s always a risk. Of course if you have a small dog, you would probably want to make sure you are with them at all times anyway, because there are other animals that might try to run off with them.

At any rate, we did check out a few more locations around the area which while they had lovely views, simply didn’t touch our view. That isn’t to say they weren’t lovely. Quite the opposite. That was to say how lovely our site was. Unfortunately we were only able to stay a couple nights. Darn that whole needing to pay bills thing…

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More pics of the Sedona trip here

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The Long Drive and Gila Cliffs.

20141128_143452As we drove around and nearly hit a few mule deer, we actually had a plan. First up was to get some supplies from the store in Silver City. Funny how no matter how much you think you’re prepared, you run out of something invariably. We ran out of eggs and… it shames me to admit… coffee… How could I let us run out of coffee? Well, we still had a day’s worth. We made the run into Silver city along New Mexico 15. It was an extremely long drive and involved me having a few choice words at a couple people who didn’t realize that crossing the line on a blind corner is a bad thing to do. Of course they couldn’t exactly hear me through our windows, but darn it I was saying the words anyway.

20141128_143410-1Heading out there took most of the early afternoon. That way had a couple more intersections with mule deer, and by the time we got to the store, I was well and truly done driving for a bit. The small break we got wandering through the store really helped me. Then we went the other way back to camp. We stopped along the way to update my better half’s mother on the fact that we were alive, and that unfortunately at the campground there is no cell phone reception at all. If you need cell service for work, don’t camp at Gila Hot Springs. Because there isn’t any. I quickly paid a few bills while I had internet connection, and then we drove back to camp.

By the time we made it back to camp it was already dark. It was amazingly dark by 6PM. So we made dinner, and relaxed in the RV. I shut off the water, and disconnected the hose so it wouldn’t freeze, and we relaxed for a bit. We tried to get into the hot tub we paid for that night, and found that the lock combination had changed from the morning. I was a tad miffed about it, but figured it was because they limited the use at night. I wasn’t too terribly upset thought, because hey, it was kinda cold. So, after realizing the hot tub was locked, we went back to the RV and played Monopoly all night. I lost…

20141129_102636The next morning was the trip to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Park. If you go during the winter(like we did) I recommend going in the afternoon instead of early morning(like we ALSO did). The hike up in the early morning was cold(We’re out of Phoenix, AZ. 50 is cold, 90 isn’t terribly hot). The ground was frozen, and we didn’t bring heavy jackets(admittedly not that bright of us). As we hiked up the beautiful trail, we rejoiced as we crossed into the sun lit areas, and clutched out light clothes as we crossed back into the shaded areas. And there were many shaded areas. The sun played a game with us as we climbed the mountain. It would peek out from the canyon ridge and we would feel it’s warmth, and then we’d walk a few more steps and be shivering cold again.

20141129_102839The sights were spectacular though. I would highly recommend it when it is warm enough though. It wasn’t too strenuous, and even my out of shape self was able to make it up with relative ease. Though admittedly seeing the sun on the other side was a pretty good motivator when it was cold. When we got up to the top there were a few volunteers up there that offered information and pointed out some cave art. Unlike the petroglyphs at other places we saw, these were painted on using pigment. The ones at Lyman Lake were better preserved, but did not use red pigment. It was interesting to note that this Gila Cliffs is along the Gila Rive20141129_103127r. The water from here flows all the way to Phoenix and joins with the Salt River and becomes the other part of the Gila River. This section just happens to be along the Mongollon Rim, which is also found at the favorite places for us to camp in Arizona. It’s kind of nice to be in a place with an attachment to our home.

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And there’s a crap-ton more pictures of Gila Cliffs here.

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Looks much better from afar.

After coming down the mountain, my better half wanted to check out the other site we were going to stay at, but decided against, The City of Rocks. It was a pretty hefty drive, and along the way we decided to check out Lake Roberts. Apparently it’s being worked on, so it really wasn’t much of a lake at the time. But it satisfied our curiosity about it.

20141129_140933City of Rocks was a state park that seemed to be trying to find itself. The hiking trails were so poorly marked, we ended up following a quail path because it was more well defined. Who knows where we would have ended up if my sweetheart didn’t need to use the tinkle-torium. We headed back so she could use the facilities. Then we made a few more attempts at following a few more paths, which all seemed to fizzle out in to completely random non-trails that were not really marked.

20141129_141236That isn’t to say that the park wouldn’t be a nice place to stay. It is actually quite lovely. Though their RV space was about as attractive as a Walmart parking lot with electric and water. I don’t think I’d want to stay on the electric sites, simply because it just looks like a parking lot. Really folks, can’t they at least make the sites far enough apart that you don’t have to know what color undies your neighbor put on in the morning? The non-electric sites were very lovely though. And spaced far enough apart that you could easily camp there and enjoy the scenery.

More pictures of it here

We left City of Rocks, and returned to the camp site. I figured we had enough time to make it back to camp and still have some daylight. And I was wrong. We did see quite a few more animals on our way back though. And here they are. More mule deer, and a couple shots of javelinas.
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That night we finally headed down to the hot springs. Being rather unfamiliar with the territory, we opted for the clothing option. It really didn’t bother me, My parents were nudists. I would have been fine with it, and My sweetie would have been fine as well. We just failed to communicate that to each other, and soooo we sat there with our clothes on while everyone else was naked. No, no pics of that. We had a rather nice conversation with a couple that was there, and a few others that joined.

And the next morning we headed home… While driving I discovered one of my tires was experiencing tread separation. This can be pretty dangerous, and even when it isn’t it makes for a less than comfortable ride. I swapped the spare on and the ride went much better.

And we were back in Arizona… With all the bug splatter we could legally drive with on the window.

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Gila Hot Springs

20141128_083719We left the camp site and headed out to Gila Hot Springs Ranch which was our original destination before we added the Bosque del Apache visit.  Again, we arrived in the dark, but fortunately the spaces are all pull through so it’s pretty easy to do. Pull in , unhitch, level, Done… until the next day when you have to pay up. When we did pay, we got access to the hot tub at the camp site. It was really odd when we pulled in, there was a dog just wandering about, and there were horses strolling through the camp ground. This was not really late at night(a tad past sundown… so like noon), so it was kind of odd to see horses just plodding around munching. Keep that in mind if you ever visit and it gets late. The horses can easily be in the road. The drive in is actually quite beautiful. So it can easily be a distraction.

20141128_125057We woke up the next morning to pay for our spot, and unfortunately the store was closed. It was rather chilly, and apparently cold enough to freeze the water hose I had attached. Though not cold enough to freeze the water lines in the trailer. Of course I made sure of such by running the heater, and this kept the inside lines from freezing. 20141128_125739If only I had water in the tank I could have actually showered that morning. But I didn’t. So I pulled the hose and tossed it in the sun so it would thaw. Welp… lesson learned. Don’t leave the water on and the hose attached. The whole town is owned by one family, so we found out, and once we could pay, we decided to walk around a bit. We took a small hike down to the creek. We passed the corral where they kept the horses, while on our way. Supposedly they have horse tours and such, so if you want to ride a horse, that’s your opportunity.

20141128_130439Past the creek is the campground that does not have power. It’s closest to the hot springs, and has what I think is a really nice setting. During the summer months this place is likely packed to the gills. I’d suggest making reservations. Be advised, if you intend to bring kids, the third hot spring pool is clothing optional after dark. And actually during the off season, it seemed to be clothing optional at all times. So if you’re squeamish about nekkid folks, you just might want to stay on the other side. There’s plenty of campground. I would love to see it when the trees have leaves on them. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t look spectacular even with no leaves. I’m just saying I’d love to see it when there are leaves.

20141130_091653It’s rather an interesting thing about the store. It opens up at about ten AM and everyone from the area stops in and has breakfast and coffee. Afterwards, everyone disperses, and it’s a ghost town again. It was a kind of fun thing to see. When we got back to the Gila Hot Springs Ranch (the RV park), we decided to check out the hot tub and bathroom. The floors are heated which is great. Take your shower, get out and have your feet stay warm. That is just awesome in wintertime. On the floor of the bathroom a gecko was enjoying the heated floors. Can’t say I blamed him. I sure was.

After our morning showers, we had to take a drive to take care of a few things, and decided that Silver City was the place we were going to take care of them in. I wanted to see the road my GPS wanted me to take that they recommended I didn’t. I’m not going to say it was treacherous, but boy am I glad I didn’t trust technology. The road is very narrow, and the turns are really tight along the NM 15. It’s not all bad though. The sights along the way were beautiful

More of Gila Hot Springs

More of the drive

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