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Showing posts from 2014

Dec 28 - Vulture Peak hike

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GENERAL INFORMATION: (from BLM website) Vulture Peak Trail, seven miles south of Wickenburg, Arizona, is a short but steep trail that takes hikers from the base of Vulture Peak (2,480 feet) to a saddle (3,420 feet) just below the summit in only two miles. From this point, experienced hikers can scramble up an extremely steep and narrow chute to the summit of Vulture Peak itself (3,660 feet). The final ascent is not maintained and should be attempted only by experienced and well-conditioned hikers. Vulture Peak Trail meanders through classic Sonoran Desert landscapes, including dense stands of saguaro, ocotillo, cholla, and other cactus varieties; crosses wide desert washes; and offers dramatic scenic vistas of rugged desert mountain ranges and valleys in all directions.
Congress, AZ
Sun rises in these parts at this time of year about 7:30am. I wanted to be rolling by 10am. A little math here reveals the habits of a slow-starting couple who have grown to really savor mornings with no…

Dec 26 - Experiencing Life at Sun City West

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Sun City West, AZ
Can't say I've ever experienced life in a real retirement community until now. My attitude about communities of this type was probably like many other "youngin's":  why would I want to live with so many old people? And there's the fear that if you live with them... you'll rapidly become one of them. No sir, just didn't have any interest in that kind of lifestyle at all.

But a weird thing happened this past week. I'm either softening or actually becoming one of them without realizing it. I'm finding life in a "Sun City" is actually not that bad. I'm finding there are a lot more active (even athletic) folks here than I'd ever have thought. And there are so many recreational opportunities and clubs, groups of people with wide ranging interests (literally, almost anything you can imagine), that if you're so inclined you'd never be bored.

Golf may be a dying sport, in part due to the big and increasing co…

Dec 18 - Rain and White Legs

Congress AZ
Not sure when this weather pattern will change, or if it’ll change at all this winter, but I’m sitting in the bushouse again today and watching what might be described as a “midwest gully washer”. And today is starting as a replay of yesterday… same thing. This is our 9th day in Arizona and we’ve had some measurable rain on 4 or 5 of those days. The desert needs rain once a year… that’s what the big annual monsoon is supposed to take care of. But the monsoon is over in September... what we're experiencing is not unprecedented, but it's not normal either. In any case, this is shaping up to be an unusually wet December.

Weather patterns often stick around for a while… or an entire season. Whatever it is we’ll deal with it. But it sure would be nice to get a little sun on these lily-white legs one of these days.

A Seasonal Love Affair

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As a Midwest boy, born and bred, I never anticipated this later-in-life attraction for the desert. It’s axiomatic that a person tends to prefer the surroundings that were imprinted on him during childhood, just as your parents religion tends to be yours, and your preferences for food are often right out of your mother’s cookbook. Like it or not, we’re indoctrinated during childhood and neither reason nor reality have much to do with most of our attitudes, preferences, and prejudices.

But my indoctrination to Midwest lush green summers and white frozen winters has faded away in the last few years. Driven by the invention of the wheel and the innovation of putting several of them under your house, adding a motor, and being able to move from one place to another at will, a nomad with a calendar can seek out an optimal environment for living. Perfect all-the-time places only exist in fiction, so to maximize enjoyment one must move once in a while.

Not yet strong or tough enough to sample…

Dec 9 - Big Tree Weeds and Burgers

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This is the post I intended to write last night.

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Don't think I mentioned yesterday that we had to stay in "boondocking" at the Escapee Co Op Park in Pahrump. They were full-up. That was OK by us as we're experienced boondockers, it wasn't going to get below freezing, and it netted us another free night. During this four day trip from Sutherlin we stayed in a pay-to-park RV park only once.

Woke to a sunny sky and, after spending more petrodollars on dino juice, we were on the road before 10am. Topping Mountain Springs Summit southeast of Pahrump we dropped down to the Vegas Metroplex and swung onto I-15 intending to exit immediately onto I-215. But nothing doing... they've changed things around this interchange since our last trip and there is now a separate turn for I-215... which I missed. Shit! Now heading north into the area of "the strip", I took an exit with the hope of being able to do a 180 and get back to I-215. I think it was Trop…

Dec 9 - Arrived in Congress

Just a quick note...  we arrived at the Escapees Park in Congress today.  We're "home" for the winter.  I'm beat... and I'll write more tomorrow.  Time for an IPA, a burger, and a long winter's nap.

Tnom

Dec 8 - Sunny Skies and Buzz Strips

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Looking back, and then ahead, at the weather situation, it appears the weather gods have smiled on us again. Last weeks news was the large rain/snow/wind event that hit almost all of California before spreading eastward. About everyone knows how much those poor souls in that forsaken state need rain, but when they get it, the hills which were laid bare by the massive fires of this past summer, start sliding away. My god... drought, fire, rain, slides... what have they done to deserve all this?

Well anyway, once that storm passed we took off from Sutherlin. And the "going" has been pretty good. But now we're hearing about the second big storm setting it's sites on the Golden State... one that's supposed to hit them Thursday or Friday. We waddled our way through between storms... almost perfectly timed. By accident, let me assure you.

Tonight we're at the Escapees Coop Park in Pahrump NV after a very agreeable drive from Hawthorne, a distance of about 280 mil…

Dec 7 - A Mellow Nevada Day

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Good nights sleep last night, in the Susanville Walmart parking lot. Between truckers and RVers there were only three rigs, and everyone was well behaved. It got a tad cool (high 20s) but had enough battery left this morning to heat the place up without arousing Ginny the Genny.

On the road a little after 9am again, and this being Sunday traffic was on the light side. At Reno we got on I-80. Clearly, regulars on I-80 are NOT church-going people or there'd be a lot less of 'em on a Sunday morning.

At Fernley, a brief stop to top off the wing-tanks of the bushouse. Then US-50 to Fallon where we found US-95 aiming south-southeast. Some might say it's a boring drive but we, both of us, just love those vast expanses of space with minimal interference from homo-sapiens. Here, it's possible to top a "rise" and look down and ahead for 20 miles or more... the thin ribbon of a highway fades to a thread... and... and, once in a while, there's not a car or truck o…

Dec 6 - Began Trip South for Winter

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While many RVers have already been at their southwest snow-bird destinations for weeks, maybe even months, we just can’t seem to get the hang of this “get there early” routine. I’m a born and dyed in the wool procrastinator… and a card carrying member of the International Institute of Not Doing Much (IINDM).  I try to always find the upside of not doing something. And in this case, not leaving in September or October like those many others, netted us some true high quality time with family and friends one side or the other of the 45th parallel.

But this morning’s predawn bright moon motivated me to kick my last few preparation tasks into high gear, and get ‘em done. Even a balky motorhome stabilizer couldn’t alter the momentum; we were on our way by 9am. This trip is planned to be a quick one… the primary goal is to get the bushouse relocated to Arizona for the winter months. For the first time, we’re taking two rigs with us: the bushouse to “live” in and the truck/camper to explo…

Nov 16 - Pre-Holiday Jottings

Two weeks since my last update to the Journal. On the Verizon/Millenicom issue, our internet service seems to be the same as it was under Millenicom and we've had no interruptions or glitches. Other than the few additional dollars we'll be parting with each month and our preference for dealing with a smaller business than the V-giant, we've come to grips with the situation. Since our usage is usually in the 12 to 15 GB range each month, I don't think we could have done better for the same level of coverage. Internet connectivity for nomads and wanderers is one of those areas where we pay more for less than those living in a fixed location. Could probably get unlimited blazingly-fast internet for half the price if we were chained to a house.

In early November we spent a weekend with our son/family near Seattle and then a week keeping an eye on the grandkids in the Portland area during a week they had early release from school. Somehow during that time we picked up a bu…

Oct 30 - Millenicom Verizon Dilemma

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Perhaps "dilemma" isn't the right word, as I don't feel as if we really have any option here. A week or so ago we found out that our internet service provider, Millenicom, was effectively "out of business"... accounts taken over by Verizon. For those that don't know, Millenicom was a bulk re-seller of Verizon broadband, and offered considerably more bang for the buck. When with Verizon we paid $60/month for 5GB of data. Millenicom offered 20GB for the same $60 (which recently jumped to $90). And as i-connected devices have multiplied in our lives, we're using an increasingly larger chunk of that 20GB.

While there are a number of options for mobile internet service, there aren't many good options... at least as far as I'm concerned. Verizon, I'm told, has the most geographic coverage... the most built-out system... compared to competitors ATT, Sprint, T Mobile, et. al. As we travel around we've found that to be the case. Since we…

Oct 6 - Back at Home in Sutherlin

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We left Cabelas in Post Falls ID without dropping a dime in the store. I know... that doesn't show much gratitude for the free RV parking they offer, but over the years I've spent a lot of bucks with this good company. They probably didn't even notice.

The drive into the Portland area on Friday, the 3rd, was the best of the 5 drives this trip. The route was I-90 to US-395 to the Pasco - Kennewick (Tri-Cities) area where we caught US-12 as it bends around to the east side, across the Snake River and along the Columbia, and down through what's called the Wallula Gap. This narrow opening in the high surrounding rocky hills is what plugged up with ice during the last glacial retreat, creating a giant lake that spread across eastern Washington and into western Montana. When the ice dam let loose... as it did numerous times, the biblical flood of water was so great... of such a proportion... that it literally carved out what we now see as the Columbia River Gorge. Yes, the …

Oct 2 - Into Idaho with a stop at a tire shop

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Yesterday we left Red Shale CG about 8am with promising skies giving us some hope that it'd be a better day. And a better day it was. While we still had the incessant head wind, sun lifted spirits as we moved across Montana.

We stopped at Little Bighorn National Battlefield Monument for a brief refresher in the history of the "white man's" confiscation of the culture and way-of-life of the native American Indian. How can we not be ashamed of what we did to these people? I hope that'd I'd have had the guts to fight back like they did.

Little noteworthy after that as we moved west with our sights set on Bozeman.

One of my brothers lives in Bozeman and we wanted to stop by... spend a little time with him and see the new house he just bought and moved in to. Since it's all so new and he's had so little time to get things unpacked, etc., we stayed in our little camper on the street in front of his house. It all worked out great... this camper gives us gre…

Sept 30 - Another Month Fades... Falling Leaves and Cooler Air on our way West

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Motivated by a ticking deadline to get the rental trailer returned before additional charges are tacked on an already hefty bill for a 32 year old well-used trailer, we bid adieu to family in Beaver Dam and hit the road about 8am on Monday. With the exception of a few showers as we traversed Minnesota, we had reasonable weather for enjoyable travel.

My objective is 500 miles each day, give or take, so we could complete the journey to the PNW in 5 days... even allowing some time for a little factor-fudge (the no sugar added type).

Not a lot to report from Monday's drive... all Interstate all the time... and no stopping for anything other than the normal fluid-exchanges. We pulled into Cabelas in Mitchell SD about 5pm (and almost exactly 500 miles), found a little nearby joint for dinner, and settled down for the night. During the night strong east winds jostled the little camper, but we got a good night sleep.

This morning, Tuesday we woke to more wind, a little rain, and we hustl…

Finally...

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Now that we're almost ready to head back to our Pacific NW home, I've reached deep down and mustered up the motivation to finish my backlog of posts from our trip to Wisconsin in June and July. They're done.

The main effort this week is to get everything ready to head back west again early next week. This will be a quicker trip... we'll be moving with alacrity... whoever he is. Don't want to incur any overage charges on the U-Haul Trailer.

Itchin' to get back on the road.

Aug 11 - Notes from the North

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When we last heard from our Intrepid Explorers they were heading north to Door County in Wisconsin. It was just for a weekend... which turned out quite agreeable. We ate too much, picked a bucket-load of really ripe tart cherries (a local specialty), patronized a couple trendy local restaurants, and tried to work off all that food with a good hike along the lakeshore bluffs. Evening campfires were a must.

After a few days back in Beaver Dam to resupply we were again heading north. This time the destination was a small NFS campground at Colwell Lake in the Hiawatha National Forest. Dar's family has made camping here a tradition that's nearing a continuous 20 year run. The lake itself is small... about 80 or 100 acres... but large enough for fishing and water-skiing.  And water-ski they do, with several among them veteran bare-foot water-skiers. Here again, the nightly campfires are a highlight. And, of course, we ate too much, drank too much, and had a great time. I did have a…