Follow The Weather?

It can be harder than you might think!  We are extending our stay here at Meteor Crater RV Park a little longer, because the area I’ll be heading towards has had a lot of ‘winter mix’ forecast and that doesn’t sound like something I want to tow WS in.  Here we’ve had a lot of big winds, some rain…and some of the rain was really ice.

Theres no rush though!  That’s one of the joys of this life….and we have this view:

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These are the snow covered SanFrancisco Peaks at Flagstaff, about 40 miles northwest of us.  These mountains are sacred to all the nearby Native American Tribes….and well they should be….to anyone who gazes on them or wanders in them.

Here they are a bit closer, as I drive towards them to visit Sunset Crater and Wupatki Ruins.

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Yes, I visited these places early in my adventures, but I’m happy to see them again.

From the info given at the visitor center:

“Erupting sometime between 1040 and 1100 Sunset Crater is the most recent in a six million year history of volcanic activity in the Flagstaff area.”  There are more than 600 hills and mountains  in this volcanic field.  Sunset Crater is the largest.

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And here it is.

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This is how much of the nearby landscape looks, covered with cinders.

Farther on we come to some of the most impressive ‘ancient ruins’ I’ve seen yet.

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This is called the Wukoki Pueblo.  All alone out here in the desert, this place blows me away.  People built this and lived here about 800 years ago.  I just stand in awe thinking about what it was like, and about the strength, ingenuity, determination and the belief system of people who would make a life here, and after making their homes from the rock, then making their bowls from the mud and their baskets and shoes from the plants.  Then they farmed this, and grew their corn, beans and squash.

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Not a little bit of work.

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Through a window.

Then behind one of the visitor centers is Wupatki ruins.

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This was a community center that had about 100 rooms they say, and a ball court too.  I don’t suppose they had that nice hand rail in the foreground though.

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Closer.

There are more remains of homes of the Old Ones to see, and then the loop you have been driving on leads back to Hwy 89.  If you turn right you go to Cameron and the Cameron Trading Post there on the Navajo Reservation.  I turn left however, and drive the 60-65 miles back to my little home.  Even though it’s small with wheels, it has running water, light bulbs, heat and air conditioning.  Food and clothing and blankets, bowls and baskets and shoes are so easy for me to come by…life for me is so different than it was for these people who lived in these very homes…people who laughed and cried, loved, had worries and pains, wants and needs.  It’s a reminder not to take for granted the ease with which I live.

[~] [~] [~] [~]

Seems like a couple of nice days coming up, and so I’m planning another adventure to a place I haven’t been to in 25+ years!  I’m excited!

More about that next time!

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This his little guy (girl?) was in the Sunset Crater Visitor Center parking lot.  Dig those ears!  It’s called Abert’s squirrel.

PS    Sorry about the blurry zoom!

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Deja vu

Sunday, March 19

We leave the ranch and head towards I-10, bypassing Tucson on the west.  From I-10 we merge into I-8 to Gila Bend.  All along the way, various yellow flowers line the roads.  It’s a beautiful drive.

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Flowers by the roadside.  Had to pull over and take pictures!

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The windows have been up and the AC has been on for the whole trip, and when we reach the Gila Bend KOA where I’ve stayed frequently, and will stay tonight, it’s 98 degrees.  (This park used to be called ‘Augies Quail Trail’ until KOA took it over.  So far the price hasn’t been raised, I think because they are doing construction.  Some of the same people still work here too.)

Due to the heat, I plug in WS and turn on the AC and that’s where we hang out for the most part.  We take an early morning walk to the dog run, where low and behold, there is grass.  Joy and Shiloh roll around till their hearts content.

Monday March 20

Next I do a super-duper cleaning of my Gray and black tanks, because we are on our way to Little House Customs, AZ, and Konrad is going to be working on them.  Actually the black tank cleanse began when we left CLR and stopped at the store in Three Points for a 10 pound bag of ice.  I put the ice down the toilet along with some Dawn dishwashing liquid and drove on.  The ice and soap sloshed around in the tank and helped clean it.  I’ll be using RV park bathrooms until after the work is done.

We leave Gila Bend and drive on to Camp Verde.  I use this route to avoid towing through Phoenix.  The closest we come to it is the 303 which is a 30 mile route around the west edge of the city and traffic is minimal, around 10am-ish.  303 meets Hwy 17 and it’s a pretty drive on to Camp Verde and the Zane Gray RV Park. We’ve stayed here before and liked it ( these repeats are why I called this post deja vu).

The temperature is in the 80’s, and Joy, Shiloh and I walk through the park down to Clear Creek where the kids have their first swim of the season.

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Walking to the creek.

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Refreshing!

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Tuesday, March 21

In the morning I do a final cleaning of the tanks (even the black tank water is running crystal clear at this point.  I did good!). We head over to Little House Customs, about a mile away.  ‘Casita’ means ‘little house’, thus the name of the business.  Larry Gamble started working on Casitas in Texas, not too far from the Casita factory…I don’t know…20 or 30 years ago.  His was the first and is the only other LHC.  He and Konrad specialize in all kinds of modifications which Larry has been perfecting over the years.  Konrad started his LHC with Larry’s help only a few years ago.

Konrad works from his home and he and Lynn have a nice fenced yard so Joy and Shiloh get to run free while WS is being worked on.  Mostly though they just hang out and doze or watch the goings on.  I’m getting what’s called the ‘fast gray mod’,  and a new valve for the black tank and it’s two jobs that work together nicely.  The pipe from the gray tank has come loose from the bottom of WS so I’m very glad I chose now to have this done.  Casita’s are notorious for having the gray tank empty very slowly, and then, not completely.  This mod lets it empty quickly and completely.

I have a number of other things to be looked at including battery cables, locks on the outside cubbies, the fridge door, and the support that holds the tv needs to be repaired.

Konrad finishes up, I pay the bill, we say our good-byes and we head off to Bashas for a quick run to the grocery store with WS in tow.  Miraculously I find a tree to park under, I leave the windows open and hurry in.  The weather is getting more tolerable, I’m happy to say.  Then it’s back to Zane Gray and we head for the creek where Joy and Shiloh have another swim.

Wednesday, March 22

Our drive today is only about 110 miles, and where we land is….Meteor Crater RV Park! (More deja vu).  I really like this place and I take the site right next to the one I was in last year (because it’s bigger and has more trees) in the water and electric only section.  The full hook ups section is fairly full and no one is in this section, which is why I choose it.  It’s a comfortable temp but very windy…rain is on the way tonight and tomorrow.  We walk around the park and spend some time at the dog run, but the rest of the afternoon I spend looking over my tax stuff.  UGH.  I need to go somewhere tomorrow to use a copy machine before I go any farther with them, but at least looking was a start.

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Our site at Meteor Crater RV Park.

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Another view.  Look at those clouds!

We are between Flagstaff and Winslow, with lots of interesting sites nearby to see.  We’ll stay a week!

 

 

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Last Walk At CLR In Pictures

For this season, at least….

IMG_2923We are already out walking before the sun rises…here it comes, peaking over the mountains.

FullSizeRenderWe pass by the propane tank where we can leave our small tanks as needed.  John fills them at some point and we can pay at the office later.

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Little purple flowers in bloom.

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And yellow ones.

FullSizeRenderView as we approach the back of the ‘Bunk House’ (aka the Cliff House, named after the man who ran the place for years and was well loved.  He is responsible for much of the stone work here, I’m told). Notice the pink stripes on the roof?  They are not there!  Trick of the camera or the light I guess…but nice effect!  This building houses a big multipurpose room, and a 3 room library. In the front there is a nice patio and some gardens.

IMG_2928Up a hill we go!

FullSizeRenderLots of cactus around, and those pink fuzzy flower things.

The next 2 pictures were not taken on the walk, but as we were leaving, driving very slowly, bumpity bump, down the long dirt road.

FullSizeRenderFullSizeRenderBye Caballo Loco Ranch…We will miss you.  See you in the fall…..

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Decision Made

Sunday I’m outta here!

IMG_1866The CLR sign backwards because, well, that’s the way it looks when you leave!

I’m sad to go, but on the other hand I’m ready to go.  It’s time to continue my journey.  My Wandering Spirit is doing some inner pacing…feeling anxious to be on the move.

I actually made the decision within an hour of posting the last blog, and while sitting in the Walmart parking lot I confirmed with Konrad at Little House Customs, AZ, for an appointment on Tuesday.

Now I’m involved with preparations for leaving….packing, final shopping, final laundry, final propane fill, etc.  And, final party.  😀 Jean and Mike had everyone over last evening since they just moved from “downtown” (the full hookups area), to the boondocks.  They have been coming here for years, staying in the full hookups, but recently they bought a really nice set up out in back, just about move in ready, in what I think of as more of a neighborhood area, as opposed to my spot which is a bit more off to itself.

Even though this is the boonies, most everyone lives here with all the comforts supplied by multiple solar panels and batteries and small generators, JIC.  They have satellite tv, freezers and even cooling systems.  There are only a few of us who live more on the simple side, like me with one battery, one small solar panel, and my little generator ( which I’ve only used since I’ve been out here to run the blender or the hair dryer.

In the summer the big generator here is only run once a week, so even the “downtown” area is basically a boondocking area.  It gets HOT, there are monsoons and there are snakes, so at this point if you are thinking of checking out CLR I’d suggest coming by next fall.  The first Rattler has yet to be seen.  When it happens that info is written on the board in front of the clubhouse so everyone will be alert and aware.

IMG_2897So sweet.

There is an interesting and diverse mixture of folks here at CLR, to say the least.  I’m looking forward to returning in the late fall not only for the beauty, peace and solitude I feel here, but continue to get to know the people and be enriched in doing so.

Thats kinda what this lifestyle is all about isn’t it?  Seeing this magnificent world and meeting the interesting and diverse folks along the way….

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Last evening.

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Stars And Plans

I’ve been wanting to go to Kitt Peak National Observatory and I finally pick Thursday, March 9, to go.  As the crow flies, it’s maybe 20-25 miles from me.

IMG_1824Kitty Peak as viewed from Hwy 286 and Britten Ranch Rd.

Since I’m not a crow, driving there is around 45-50 miles.  The last 12 miles are up the mountain which is close to 7000 feet elevation.  There are…I believe I read….20 observatories there.

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In the visitor center if you look at the pictures and displays and read the info, get ready to have your mind blown and boggled completely.  You need to expand your imagination and comprehension beyond capacity when you really try to think of the distances and time involved in the boundless universe that our galaxy and solar system are just a tiny part of.

There is just no grasping it!  When I try, insanity beckons.

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The public can enter three of the observatories on their own, or with one of the tours that are given daily.

  1.  McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope.  This is the worlds largest solar telescope.

IMG_2852This is the solar telescope.  The shaft you see is 500 feet long, 300 of them are underground.

2.   2.1 meter telescope, one of the first telescopes built here in 1964, and still in high demand every night.

3.   Mayall 4 meter telescope, built in 1973 and the largest optical telescope on Kitt Peak.

IMG_2877There is a nightly program open to the public as well.

This time I took no tour but I did go inside the solar telescope and listened to a part of a tour some school kids were having.

Eventually I would like to take each tour and attend the night program.  Dogs are allowed to walk all over the grounds but not to attend tours or go in buildings so I’ll need to work something out.

An employee helped me find a shady place to park ( which wasn’t actually a parking space but was ok to park in he said), and I left Joy and Shiloh in JR with the windows open while I went to the visitor center and the solar telescope.  Then I returned and we had a picnic lunch in a picnic area near the parking lot. (yes, I brought their lunches too!). After lunch I took them walking around the grounds, so a good time was had by all.

 

IMG_2865Here Joy and Shiloh are admiring the Flamingo. (Huh?) 😂

If you come this way, I HIGHLY recommend visiting Kitt Peak.  Look it up on line for tour times and such.

So…future plans.

It’s starting to get what I consider hot, here.  It’s been in the 80’s daily, with threats of 90’s.  To be honest, it’s been fine in the shade with the nice breeze we’ve been getting.  Nights are still in the 50’s so that’s been ok.  But the higher temperatures are putting me in mind of moving on.

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Thought I’d show you some spring desert blooms.  I don’t know the names of any of them.

I thought by this time I would know exactly where I want to go and what I want to do, but in reality, I just have some generalized ideas so far.

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My thought is to head mostly north for awhile.  I was thinking of Mesa Verde, Cortez and Durango for starters, until I realized it’s a bit early in the season to be heading into the Rocky Mountains while towing a trailer.  I may very well want to stop in Camp Verde, at Little House Customs, AZ and see if Konrad can help out with a couple of possible developing problems on WS,  which I’ll get into another time.

Eventually I’d like to get up into South Dakota, then North Dakota, and there Colleen and Fred, who stay here winters, have invited us to visit them at their home.  They have clued me in to some interesting places to visit while I have a ‘base station’ near their home.

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From there I have thoughts of traveling across Minnesota, into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, take my time going through there, cross the Mackinaw Bridge and travel through the Lower Peninsula visiting some friends on the way.  (Michigan was home for me from age 5 until I was almost 38).

These are very soft jello plans and I’m not sure where I would go from there.  By then it will be summer and I’ll be in hot muggy territory.  Being hot and muggy makes me especially crabby, and more importantly Joy doesn’t tolerate it well, and it can increase her respitory problems.

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I swear, this little cactus at the bottom of my hill has a face.  He watches us when we walk by.

So we’ll see how it works out.  Usually I make reservations up the kazoo (?) and as of now I’ve made none.

As I   type this I’m waiting for JR who is getting her oil changed, along with all the trimmings.

We’ll be moving on soon, I’m just not sure exactly when yet.

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The full moon setting this morning.

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The Wind, She Blows!

And blows and blows!  For about a week, the wind seems be be strong most of the time.  The good thing about that is that it keeps the temperature down, which we like. Always need to look on the positive side.

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Another view of WS, taken from the only spot on the ranch where I can get an AT&T signal, and it’s a good climb!

One of the really nice things about living on this hill is that I’ve been able to leave Joy and Shiloh off their tie-outs.  ( The exception is if they go outside without me after dark).  They enjoy the freedom and independence and have only strayed once, when I didn’t take them on their afternoon walk so they decided to take one one their own.  I missed them in a few minutes and found them at the bottom of the hill.  We all came back up the hill and I put them on their tie-outs for the rest of the day.  The next day we started with freedom again and they seemed to ‘get it’ and have not strayed again.  So far.

So a Qi Gong class has started on Wednesday mornings in the clubhouse.  We’ve met twice, the first time we watched a DVD to learn a bit of the history of Qi Gong.  I learned that it is the ancient grandparent of the Martial Arts and things like T’ai Chi.  It’s a holistic system of movements and meditation….a very gentle exercise.  It was developed in China over 5000 years ago.  Known to some as Chinese Medicare. 😊

Only 4 of us have attended class so far, a man who has been practicing Qi Gong for many years, a couple who have some experience with it, and then there is me, new at this.  Hopefully others will become interested as time goes on.  Many folks will be leaving CLR in the next month or so, but we plan to start the class again next fall.

Some other activities I’ve attended here…a wine tasting, which featured Arizona or southwestern wines….

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Everyone who attended brought a bottle.

Also we had quite a Fat Tuesday celebration.  My Margarita recipe seems to be quite a hit.

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Along with any other Margarita we could lay hands on.

Joy and Shiloh were guests, since the party was held in Fred and Colleen’s new shed….more like a garage. (Fred’s Shed)

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Ruth, who was here for the whole winter along with her horse Major, has gone home now…but they will be back!  She is leasing a boondocking site too!  Her sister Joyce will be joining her.

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Here’s Major

The travel bug is beginning to bite me too….I’m starting to make plans.  Will share soon!

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Meanwhile, here is last nights sunset from my yard.

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Be Respectful Of The Cactus Garden!

Up on the hill where I live, there are two RV sites, uneven in size ( I took he larger one but the other one is not small).  I’d say it’s been many a year since the other one has been used at all, but hey, if anyone wants to pay me a visit and doesn’t mind boondocking, c’mon out.  It would be $15 a night or $70 per week.

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My site from a different viewpoint.

Anyway, the two sites are separated by a garden of sorts…a cactus/rock garden.  More accurately it seems to have been a garden at some point in time, and it looks about as pitiful as a garden could look , but that just means more fun for me.  Well, except I’ve never worked (played), in a cactus garden before and I find I must be v-e-r-y careful.  When I’m not, I  tend to holler “ouch!”, and cuss some.  One doesn’t want to lean on anything, or steady oneself, against anything, or stand up after digging around under an occatillo branch!

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That’s part of the garden to the left of the dogs, boardered with rocks. And the tall skinny branches on the far left are ocotillo.  Can you see all the sharp little thorns on them?

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And here is an ocotillo when it gets leaves…one on each little thorn.  They look like they are neon in the sunlight.

There is lots to do in this garden.  I’ve been planting things and moving rocks around and pulling weeds.  Neighbor Vivian gave me a Century Plant and told me they grow quite huge, so I actually started a second garden.

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Colleen and Fred gave me this cute little barrel cactus with yellow spines.

These are some more baby cactus that I planted in the garden.

There is a Mesquite tree in the garden that I hope is alive.  I should know soon.  At any rate I’ve been hanging various bird feeders in and around it.  ( I think I posted a picture of it in the last blog?) Some of the birds that have been feasting there are House Finches, Gold Finches, Cardinals, Pyrrhuloxia (similar to a Cardinal, but brown and red), Guilded flickers and Gila Woodpeckers….these last two have quite a display of spots and stripes, yellow underwings and red areas near their heads.  In the evening some Mourning Doves make the scene.

Working in the garden  and watching the birds, I feel peaceful and content.

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These are not in the garden, but growing on the side of the hill.

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Another sunset!

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