Monday, February 20, 2012

Home and getting ready to go again.

Location, at Home, CA

I had a terrible night Saturday. It felt like something was stuck in my stomach or intestines. The pain was terrible. I walked the floor and tried every remedy I could think of but all to no avail until after 3 AM. I slept fitfully until 7 AM and then got up. I wasn’t hungery but did eat a yogurt.
We got the RV ready for travel, dumped the tanks, and hit the road about 8:30 AM. The weather report called for winds all day until 9 PM but they only were light when we started out. By the time we got to Palm Springs it was a struggle to maintain 50 MPH. With the head winds I used ¼ tank of fuel in 60 miles.

The winds died after we went over the pass into Cabazon and we had no further winds all the way home. The remainder of the trip used just over ¼ tank of fuel. A big difference.

We stopped in Fillmore for a late lunch and were home by 2:20 Pm.

Now we need to get our things together in preparation for our trip to Hawaii on Friday. This morning I took the car in for new tires. The old ones are the originals which had 36,000 miles on them and are over 5 years old.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A hundred thousand and counting.

Location, Indio, CA
The odometer on the truck turned over 100,000 miles on our way back from Anza Borrego State Park today while driving north on Hwy 86S just north of Salton City. It had 32,000 miles on it when we bought it in 2005.

I need to recap the last few days.

On Wednesday the jeep club at the RV Park in Benson does a 4-wheel drive trip. It was the one reason we stayed longer than planned so I could do the trip.

The group left at 9:30 AM with 7 jeeps and 13 people. The goal was to go to Chimney Rock, where ever that was. We drove west on I-10 to east Tucson then north on Houghton road to Taque Verde Road. Taque Verde climbs to the east which afforded great views of Tucson.

About mile marker 10 we turned off the road onto a rocky ledge which climbed then descended into a wash. For the next several hours we climbed ridges, dropped down into washes, road over boulders, crossed small steams, passed large water holes, and in general bounced around. At times there was snow on the ground in protected places from Tuesday’s storm. Around noon we stopped in a wash for lunch. Everyone pulled out a chair and sat in a circle while we ate and talked.

After lunch, the trip continued until my driver slid a front passenger wheel off the road which put us in a very precarious position. The jeep was sitting with 3 wheels on rocks which moved and was very close to sliding off the road into the canyon.

You can tell by the slant of our bodies how steep the slope is.

Notice the sign on the bumper. It says " What could possibly go wrong".

It pays to add some weight to the uphill side to prevent the Jeep from sliding down hill.

The jeep following had a winch so the cables was passed through a pulley to the jeep ahead and than back to our front bumper. The winch pulled us back on the road easily. Just another Jeep adventure.

We continued on to Chimney Rock which is a rock monolith sticking up from the surrounding ground. There also are lots of rocks in the area which are great for climbing with the jeeps. I wish I had taken a video of the action.

Shortly after leaving Chimney Rock we again got on the original road at mile marker 12. Our entire off road driving only gained us 2 miles along the original road.

The drive home was on a fairly good dirt road so we maintained a good speed. We got back to the RV Park about 5:30.

On Thursday we left Benson and drove to the Elks Club at Casa Grande where we have stayed for the last several years. For $5 a night, no hookups, it is a bargain. In the afternoon we drove west to Stanfield which is all very large dairy farms then north to Maricopa before returning to Casa Grande.

We visited Clyda’s cousin Rodney and wife Claralyn for a while before going to dinner at Chili’s. After dinner we returned to the RV for a piece of Claralyn’s Red Velvet Cake. While we talked, a thunderstorm moved through the area but was more sound than fury. We only had a few sprinkles.

Friday we drove to Indio, CA and pulled into the Elks Club where we have stayed before. At first glance, it looked like the camp sites were all full with large motor homes but they said there were sites available so we paid for 2 days.

The annual Date Festival is this weekend so the town is full of vehicles and pedestrians. The weather is very nice.

Today we drove south to Anza Borrego State Park. We have never been there so decided to check it out. It is about a 130 mile round trip. We drove down Hwy 86S to Salton City before turning west to the park. Along the road to the park is filled with off roaders camped for the long weekend with all there “toys”.

We stopped at the park visitor center and watched a movie and picked up a map. I decided to drive to Yaqui Wells before we had lunch. Yaqui Wells is a road junction with a campground for tenters. We ate in the truck.

After lunch we drove back on Hwy 78 to Ocotillo Wells and then back to Indio via Hwy 86S.

Before going back to the Elks Club we went to Shields Date farm for a date shake. They are very large for $3.75 but way too sweet for our tastes. I like the ones at China Ranch outside of Tecopa, NV better.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

Location, Benson, AZ

For the past several days I have been waffling about doing a trip from Benson, around a mountain, and ending up in Tucson. The hesitation on my part had to do with the approximately 60 miles of off road driving. Our truck is just too big and heavy to do this kind of trip. Also, the weather didn’t look like it was going to cooperate with the possibilities of rain and snow.

So, this morning we decided to go to Willcox and visit the Marty Robbins and Rex Allen museums which are near to each other but separated by a wine tasting room.

The Marty Robbins museum charges $1 per person to view the highlights of his life. It takes about a half hour to view everything.

The Rex Allen museum however charges $3 per couple and it takes much longer to see everything. Rex had a long life of music and movies and was friends with all the stars of the 50’s and 60’s. This is well documented in the museum.

There is a life sized bronze statue of him across the street. His horse KoKo is buried at the foot of the statue and Rex’s ashes are scattered near the statue.

The weather had turned cold and windy but we decided to drive south to Chiricahua National Monument while in the neighborhood. It is about a 35 to 40 mile drive from Willcox.

Along the way we passed through brief rain showers, the town of Dos Cabesas (two heads in Spanish) before entering the canyon within the Monument.

We stopped at the headquarters to pick up a map and register our Golden Age pass. Because it was so cold and windy we ate a quick lunch in the truck.

Driving up the canyon reminded us of Bryce Canyon National Park. The rock columns are impressive. As we climbed in altitude it started to snow, more like ice pellets than snow. There was a fire in the monument last summer which burned 220,000 acres. One effect of the fire is that the rock formations are more visible.

We reached the end of the road at Massai point. There are lots of hiking trails but the wind was so strong and still spitting ice pellets that we didn’t spend much time outside the truck.

As we drove down the canyon we stopped at several lookouts and drove through the one campground within the monument. No sites big enough for a rig of our size that’s for sure.

We did stop at the last point of interest which is Faraway Ranch which was a guest ranch from 1917 to 1973. The walk was only a few hundred yards but the wind made it really – really cold. We didn’t stay long. One picture had to suffice.

We came back via a different route through the town of Sunsites to Dragoon Road and I-10. The sky to the west was black on top and brown down low. The brown was dust blowing from farmer’s fields while the black was rain.

We arrived back at the RV after a trip of 175 miles and found a small snow bank on the west side of the RV. Not sure how much it snowed but it is 41 degrees at 6 PM.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A very busy weekend (photo's added).

Location, Benson, AZ

After a very busy weekend, we took a little down time today.On Friday morning we arrived at Kartchner Cavern for our morning tour of the Big Room. There was not near the amount of people waiting for tours as might be expected with all the winter visitors in the area. There were 17 people in our tour.

The tours are conducted by State of Arizona Park Rangers and volunteers. One person gives the tour talk while the other brings up the rear and watches so no one touches anything. They have gone out of their way to minimize introducing any foreign material into the cave. Kartchner is considered a “living cave” as water is still penetrating through the roof of the Cavern. The interior temperature is maintained between 68 and 72 degrees while the humidity is 99%. This is all done by a double set of sealed doors acting as an airlock. Also, everyone walks through a section of tunnel with misters in the ceiling which gently sprays everyone to trap lint, hair and any other materiel on your cloths.

Each night after the tours end, the cave walkway is washed to remove anything brought in by the tours. The water is contained within high curbs which line the entire walkway. The water drains down through grates in the walkway and pumped out of the tunnel.

Any area touched by someone is marked by pink tape and cleaned each night.

Once a year, the entire chamber is cleaned. It is also closed completely during the bat maternity season. Bats enter by a small hole which is too small for humans to enter.

During the summer months, the cave's Big Room serves as a nursery roost for over 1,000 female cave myotis bats. The pregnant females return to Kartchner Caverns around the end of April, where they give birth to a single pup in late June. The babies remain in the roost each evening while their mothers forage for insects in the surrounding countryside. During the summer the colony consumes about half a ton of insects, consisting of moths, flying ants, beetles, mosquitoes and termites. Mothers and their offspring will leave mid-September, to begin their migration for their winter hibernation roost. These bats provide the only link between the ecosystem of the cave and the surface.

For more information check out the State of Arizona website:

This was a really great tour and we want to return again and do the Throne Room next time. There are no photos as camera are not allowed on the tour.

On Saturday, our friends Mike and Candi took us along with a few other people to see the old site of Camp Rucker. Lots of buildings are still maintained by the BLM and much work has been done lately on new roofs.

Adobe wall of the ranch house.
Barn with new roof.
After the Army abandoned the camp it was used as a ranch site. Hence, the barn and ranch house.

Officers quarters.
Ceiling detail in officiers quarters.
We had a picnic lunch at a nearby campground and also explored a campground up the canyon.

On Sunday we began the day with breakfast at a local golf course along with several other people. After breakfast Mike, Clyda, and I drove to Gammons Gulch north of Benson to visit a western movie town. We were given a tour by Jay Gammons the owner who played the little drummer boy in John Wayne’s movie Rio Bravo. Jay is a font of knowledge about the movie industry, movie stars, old cars, and other old west memorabilia.
Jay playing the banjo in the saloon.

The saloon built for a video production.

Prisionor's view from jail cell.

Old wiskey bottles with original whiskey inside.

For more info go to:

After going back to the RV for lunch, Mike and Candi picked us up and we drove to Tombstone so the ladies could attend the Tombstone Quilt Show. Mike and I wandered the streets while Mike imparted to me his vast store of Western knowledge. Mike is a western shooter and shoots in competitions. He knows where every western character lived, died, and is buried.

When the ladies were done with the quilt show, we went to Big Nose Kats Saloon for a sarsaparilla or something harder for some of the group.

Stained glass window at Big Nose Kate's saloon.

It was a great weekend. Thanks, Mike and Candi.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Moving on to Benson, AZ

Location, Benson, AZ

We have moved on to Benson, AZ for a few days. Last year we had reservations for Karchner Cavern when I got sick. Instead of a refund, they gave us one year to use the reservations. Tomorrow is the day.

To back up – we watched the Super Bowl last Sunday while munching on appetizers. Most of us supported the Giants so it was a great win.

On Monday, four of us loaded the ATV’s on a trailer and drove towards Swansea from Bouse to Midway. We unloaded there and road towards the Bill Williams River. I had never been beyond Swansea so it was all new territory for me.

Ready to roll!
Remains of a cabin at a mine site.

Copper ore vein.

An old can dump. These are all over the desert.

We explored several mining areas along the way. Crossing the river was anticlimactic. The river is a series of potholes which you cross slowly pulling your feet up so they don’t get wet. Later, we tried to re-cross the river but the water was too deep so we gave that up. Great trip!

We drove to Benson yesterday with some headwinds through Tucson and into Benson. It sure cut into our fuel mileage.

Beautiful day today but windy this afternoon.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Truck repair complete.

Location, Bouse, AZ

I picked the truck up on Thursday morning from the Ford Garage in Parker. They had worked on it all day Wednesday and called me mid-morning that the wires in the steering column were chaffed and they had to pull the steering wheel to fix them. That is a 4 hour job according to the flat rate book. They did complete the job by late Wednesday without finding any thing else wrong. The bill wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Friday we went to the Arts and Craft show at Tyson Wells. Not a large amount of venders. Most had already left for the season. We found a few things on Clyda’s list and I found a few things of no consequence.

Today Connie next door, made her famous cinnamon rolls for all the neighbors. It is the one time that Clyda and I get to see all our old friends from here and Desert Gold RV Park where we used to stay all those many years ago. All the work by Connie is much appreciated as is the fabulous cinnamon rolls.

The group here has Cocktail Time at 4:30 every afternoon. The location gets rotated among the group each day. After cocktails, we have dinner then usually site around a fire in Jack’s wood stove (a barrel set on end) until it gets too cold. All this depends on how bad the wind is blowing. If it blows, no cocktails and no fire.