Friday, January 31, 2014

An Owly Sunset tonight

Time to call evening quits. I wrote 3 blogposts tonight. We are in Whitewater Draw in SE Arizona near Bisbee.  Thousands of sandhill cranes. I have photos which will process and post later.  We arrived last night in the parking lot where we are camped for 2 night.s Storm coming through.  No rain but lots of wind. Strong winds.  No issue with being inside but tiring to be outside in it.  However, Good internet, so I can post all of this stuff.

Different from a 3 dog night
The sunset tonight was spectacular. As we gazed at the spectacular sunset tonight through our front window Sraddha noticed the Great Horned Owl we saw earlier in day fly out of his roost and up onto a post.  I had my big lens already set up with camera for the cranes so I grabbed it, went outside, walked up fairly close and got this shot of his silouhette against the sunset.  Only photo so far processed from big camera.

Great Horned Owl admiring the sunset
More to come when we get to Tucson this weekend.

-Blessings from the road

Indian Country and water rights!

When I say Indian country, I don't mean on the continent of asia, nor do I mean Afghanistan when our troops venture out into the backwoods, (or sometimes down the road).  I mean real indian country, where the Apache Indians roamed.  More on this later.

Situated in Eastern- Southeastern, Arizona, to distinguish this from South-Southeastern Arizona which is Bisbee and Whitewater Draw (next post), and all those fun places we love to visit. It is not northeastern Arizona where Winslow and the Navaho Nation is.  More south central eastern because it is near the New Mexico border north of I-10.

The Route
We departed McDowell Regional Park (see previous post) heading east through the copper mining region of Globe Arizona then onto the San Carlos Apache Indian reservation.  Just drove through en route to Safford, Arizona where we camped in Roper Lake State Park.  I wish I was better at photos like RVSue or Nina over at Wheelingit blogosphere. But, then this blog is mainly for friends and family.

Actually I don't like the google blogger sphere and am thinking about switching to wordpress but it seems converting is really a lot of work so I might just start over and reference this site.
Enuf of a riff here.  Let's get back to the story.  Actually not much of a story.

Well there is a little bit of a story.
Ya see, our water pump gave stopped working at Lost Dutchman a while back.  Ouch. This is used when we are en route or when dry camping. We didn't really need it at the time since we were hooked up to city water and same for McDowell.  However it loomed over us because we wanted to boondock later on in deep SE Arizona at Whitewater Draw (next post). How to fix?  I am pretty handy so I called Tiffin, spoke with a tech who advised I check the voltage of the wires to the pump.  Hmm. I used to do this sorta thing with my model railroad and have voltmeter.  yep  no power to pump.  Now what to do?  I tried to find a repair place but none very close by so ruled that idea out.  Maybe a mobile repairman?  I found one, called the answering service and they never called back.  Darn.  If not repaired then we are limited to staying in parks or RV resorts with water and, while driving down the road, had to pour water down the toilet to rinse.. (probably more than you wanted to know right?).

Bright Idea
As we drove through Apache reservation down highway 70 through from Globe to Safford, I had the bright idea that maybe, just maybe, there was an RV repair shop in Safford?  Sraddha googled this and found Trek RV repair and sales  (no website tho). We drove there and stopped in.  Talked with the nieest people and discussed our problem.  Geez, I need to get more photos here.  Alas.  We made appointment for next morning to bring Charli (our RV) in for a look see. Off to Roper Lake State Park nearby.   We arrived early enough in the day to score a nice view spot.  Walked around a bit.  A small park but internet worked well.  I was worn out from driving so didn't do much. Sraddha walked all around the lake seeing many species of birds.

Finally, here is my one photo for this post.

Our morning view at Roper Lake State Park.  Mt Graham in distance at 10,000 fot elevation
Our Water Rights Restored
Next morning we got up early for our power walk then headed into town for our repair appointment.  they got us right in, told us a good breakfast place and to expect a call within an hour.  We went for a mexican breakfast of tamales and enchiladas.  And sure enough, got a call within an hour.  A new water pump was needed.  Worthwhile investment of time and money.  Actually not too expensve.  Yes, I could have fumbled around and installed one myself but it woulf have taken at least 3 trips to hardware store for parts like last fall in Lone Pine when I installed the inverter myself.  This was quick, easy, fun, nice people and we were on our way south to the next destination...Whitewater draw where  the rest of the Sandhill Cranes, not in Bosque del Apache, hang out in the winter.

-Blessings from the road

McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Phoenix

We moved from Lost Dutchman State Park in the far eastern side of the valley of the sun, to the NE quadrant just east of Scottsdale in McDowell Mountain Regional Park, part of the Maricopa County park system.  Last winter we had stayed in Cave Creek Regional park north of Scottsdale when we spent Christmas with family and we liked it so thought to try this one.  We were not disappointed.  

Whereas Lost Dutchman had striking views of the Superstition mountains close enough for easy day hikes, McDowell was on a flat plain with McDowell Mountain about 8 miles to the west.  Wouldn't ya know it that I didn't really take many photos.  Only one really.  Never got out the big camera.  just one iphone photo.  The days were clear and warm in the 70's all 10 days.  the nights were cool in the 40's but nothing icy or frigid (for southern Arizona that is since it is all relative).  

McDowell Mountain park is known for its trail biking.  in fact 65 miles of trails with all different skills and degree of difficulty just like ski slopes.  We stayed mainly on the beginner trails or "bunny" trails to use the ski analogy.  Not too steep, good trails without many rocks.  We went out every day for 9-11 mile rides around the area.  We got good cardio workouts and stay upright with no falls or injuries.  

Sraddha getting a water break at one of the outposts on the outer trails.
Here is a rant which I rarely do in this blog. The park is near Fountain Hills, AZ, known for its obscenely 562 foot tall water fountain.  IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT!  Grr.  Talk about an "in your face" type gesture.  I copied this photo from wikipedia to give you an idea.  We could see it from the park about 7 miles distant.  Gross.

Ever time we ventured out of the park to go somewhere we had to drive through Fountain Hills near this beast.

Oh well, enough of my ranting.

The park had water and electric hookups and 360 view of the mountains in the distance.  Yes, I know, where are the photos?  Hmm. Beautiful place to visit tho and very quiet.   Internet was not great. Verizon worked slowly most of the time and AT&T cell was sporadic. which is why I haven't posted for a while.

We visited Taliesin West, built by Frank Lloyd Wright,  back in 30's and 40's.  A remarkable design.  I had seen photos of his homes, etc but this was amazing.  Not my type of architecture, but the sense of comfortable living space was definitely present when we toured inside his actual living room and home. Again, no photos really.

We also visited Phoenix Botanical Gardens where a special exhibit of Chihuly  glass sculptures was scattered throughout the gardens.
one of the Chihuly sculptures in Desert Botanical Garden
We had visited briefly the gardens with family last winter but was a quick walkthrough. This time we had lunch, walked slowly all around taking photos (link here to my picasa album) then, after nightfall, walked again around to see the sculptures. I enjoyed every exhibit during the daytime and a few of them at night.  Then had dessert.  OMG, talk about pig out.  Well the dessert was our dinner.

Most of the time we stayed close to home (our RV of course) and biked and walked.  Sraddha now on a kick to lose some weight and get in shape so that was fun and tiring in a good sort of way.

All in all, I would recommend this park (4 out of 5).  While on the expensive side ($30 per night), it offers wonderful place to be quiet yet still access all the fun places in Phoenix area.

I have a couple more blog posts to do to catch up here.  then will fill in some more posts with some special activities we did which will be out of order of our travels.

The Pebble Creek Model Railroad

Got a chance to operate recently on this amazing club layout, the Great Lakes Western RR at the Pebble Creek Model Railroad  I visited my long time model railroad friend, Bruce Petrarca, who lives in Goodyear, Arizona, just west of Phoenix in a planned gated community.  The club rents out space in the community center building and membership is exclusive to residents.  They can invite guests so I dropped by on the week day of operations.

Panorama of layout room.  

An HO scale layout built for operations, it began 6 years ago and now it is 90% complete.  Pretty neat.  Can handle about 8 operators.  The Great Lakes Western is a fictional HO railroad depicting railroading around the Chicago area in 1960s.  It uses real city names and the mix of rail-served customers and industries has been carefully designed to support realistic operations.  The idea is to provide a midwestern setting where both East Coast and West Coast interchange trains would be appropriate.

The Main Yard in Hammond, Indiana south of Chicago
They gave the new guy an easy, yet fun local then he got to run a couple trains clear around the layout.  Fun morning.
Operating the local
I counted 6 yards on the railroad.  My kinda layout.
My friend Bruce running one of the cool yards, South Bend

There is also a garden railroad which I saw outside when I first entered.  Not running tho.

Afterwards we went to a local Mexican restaurant for Taco Tuesdays.  I had the $2 cheese enchilada.  Welcome to retirement.  Hehe.

- Blessings from the Road

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Birthday Hike in the Superstitions

Today is my birthday.  Woo Hoo.  Not being a big celebrator but knowing that sometimes one has to allow others to celebrate your birthday (wise advice from Hunter Black years ago), I consented to a birthday hike up in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix but conveniently located just above our campsite at Lost Dutchman Mine State Park.

looking up at Superstitions and flatiron from our campsite

We had hike most of the other trails in the area over past week, none of which were particularly hard but they got us in shape.  Today we elected to head up the Siphon Draw trail which ultimately takes you up to the top of Flatiron peak. 2400 ft elevation.

the first section of hike was 2 miles with 1000 ft elevation gain to the basin.  then another mile straight up 1800 more feet.  whew.  We trudged up the draw mid morning passing some early birds who were already coming down while allowing many others to pass us as we were the old farts on the trail.  Didn't really see anyone older than we are. (almost medicare eligible).

at the bottom of the draw.  you can see Flatiron in far distance

The upper reaches of draw opens up into a basin of slick rock, our original destination.  We rested a while and drank water.  We had our hiking poles but did not bring lunch so we had not planned to try the final mile to the Flatiron.  

Still in Basin here

looking out from where we stopped for water

However we did decide to try going a little farther so we headed up the basin slick rock to find a chute of scree.  Hmm.  not very fun here.  Young kids scrambled up and down it.  Some fast some cautiously.  I looked to my left and saw a trail which i followed. OK, this looks possible.  Keep camera in pocket as you need to keep your balance here.

Turns out it circumvents most of the chute so I called back to Sraddha who followed me up a couple hundred feet more. total of perhaps 350 elevation beyond our original goal  Pretty soon we were up at the top of the chute looking out into the valley and campground below.  

THis is far enough.  We went past our original goal but not too far to feel overdoing it.  Bodies take longer to recover.  The path down was treacherous, however we had our hiking poles which saved us several times from slipping and falling.  We did it.  Feeling more confident in our conditioning and abilities we continued down to bottom satisfied of our day.

We stopped here.  good hike for old farts.  We were the oldest on the trail

Pano of where we stopped

Celebrated with some Buttermilk Pie.  (actually the day before but who is counting?)

buttermilk pie

Location:E Mining Camp St,Apache Junction,United States

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Lost Dutchman Mine State Park

After spending the holidays in the Tucson area, we decided to move north a couple hours to the Valley of the Sun aka Phoenix area.  I thought Tucson was spread out.  It is a small city where the spread is at least comprehensible.  Phoenix is a BIG city and the spread is vast.  Several county regional parks encompass the valley of the sun and one state park lies east of Phoenix and Apache Junction.

our campsite looking up into Superstition mountains

At the base of the Superstition Mountains, created from a volcanic uplift many eons ago.  A mine was built near the base by a dutchman named Jacob Wolfe who got lost one day and found gold, hence the name "Lost Dutchman" as the legend tells it.

Hiking up to the base of the superstions

Many hiking trails begin at the campground and we are enjoying them.  2,3-5 miles or more.  We even tried a mountain bike trail yesterday with our bikes, but had to walk the steep parts out of a sense of self preservtion. ;)

Geez, he has white legs.  must get out more in the sun?
After arriving here, I immediately flew back to California for 4 days to turnover my old position as IT Director for Ananda Village to a good friend, Joseph Selbie who will take this to the next steps.  Woo Hoo.  I am officially retired.  Of course, at Ananda, you are never really retired, just in between opportunities to serve.  Heh Heh.  Actually I have only one responsibility now the online library, and am enjoying it.  More later

Below you can see the campground in the distance and Phoenix is beyond the far mountains

It must have rained recently because some of the Brittle bush is blooming

Interesting algae on some of the rocks.  Never seen blue Algae before.  Lots of green and reds but first time some blue

Looking up into the high Superstitions. you can see the results of volcanic upthrust from a caldera which then has eroded over past 25 million years.  Gold and Amethyst have been found in the area. We are standing at about 2100 ft.  the top of the peaks is about 4100 ft.

Another view of our campsite tucked amidst the cactus and trees.  there seems to be plenty of room and views everywhere.  It is QUIET HERE.

Ah, one of the wonderful Arizona sunsets the other night.

Same sunset, now reflected off the side of our home

Temps range from low 40's to 70 but mainly daytime in 60's this time of year.  Quite pleasant.
We will remain here 2 weeks until Jan 20 then move to one of the regional parks for a week or so before returning to Tucson area.

- Blessings from the Road

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hiking amidst the Cactus

We found ourselves the past week north of Tucson at one of our all time favroite campsites in Catalina State Park in middle of Sonoran desert.
We both came down with some sort of virus but managed to go out for daily walks in the area.  Here are a few photos to wet your appetite.  The mountains in the background are the Catalina Mountains rising to heights above 9,000 ft.  the elevation we were at is around 2,700 ft.

We have been busy with life and I haven't posted much. Big news is that i have officially retired and am currently in California to turnover my position as IT Director to someone who is very capable as well as a good friend.  Now can move on to other callings.  At moment to travel.

- Blessings from the Road