Rain but no mud!

Yay!  It rained here for close to 24 hours (off and on) but there’s no mud here! SO glad I moved to Flowing Springs, though there’s not a level spot in the whole area and there’s a lot more traffic. There was a family with small children tenting near me last night but they left around noon with their very large, very wet tent. I didn’t envy them trying to keep three kids dry and happy through all of this!  It is 38 degrees right now, supposedly going down to 37….yeah, right. I’m thinking it’ll be close to freezing tonight but my heater works great so I know we’ll be nice and cozy.

I wanted to share something that my friend Pat Ronning did…he’s quite the hiker and often does 7-10 miles before breakfast! He hiked up Picketpost Mountain the other day. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:

“The mountain is located in the southern desert region of Tonto National Forest and is popular with hikers. The mountain is also well known for an oddly placed mailbox at the top of the mountain, which contains the log books for the Picketpost Mountain Trail. The mountain’s unusual name stems from an early military camp established at the base of the mountain by General George Stoneman in 1870. The soldiers nicknamed the mountain “Picket Post” due to its usage as a sentinel point to guard their camp from attacks. This military camp eventually grew into the present day town of Superior.”

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It’s only 4.5 miles but a very strenuous hike. Pat said part of the hike was more like bouldering! But he made it up, and the mailbox at the top he found something really cool inside, along with the logbooks for hikers; free dog tags! What a really cool idea someone had!

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(Thank you Pat for letting me use your photos!)

I could not find anywhere to legally drop my garbage so I finally broke down and took it to the county landfill. I paid $5 to drop off 5 measly little grocery plastic bags. Drove back home and shortly afterward, Donna arrived. She said “You know you have a flat tire, right?” NO, I didn’t know that! Suddenly that garbage got a lot more expensive…now I had to pay for tire repair! I called Good Sam road service and the guy came in less than 1/2 hour to change the tire.  I took it to Big O Tire for repair and was told it was not repairable! Whatever I’d driven over had made a big gash that went right through the steel belt and everything. Oh. So now it looks like the 5 bags of garbage are going to cost me over $100!  I’m never going to a landfill again!!  He quoted $134 for a new tire but I decided not to do anything today. My gashed tire only had 7000 miles on it and I wanted to check and see if it had a road hazard warranty. It doesn’t…sigh…so I guess tomorrow I’ll check around and see if I can find a cheaper tire. The Wal-Mart here doesn’t have an auto department. I thought they all did!

Our campsite here is pretty, even if it’s not level!

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The East Verde River is at the base of this cliff.

 

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Leaving Pine

On the weekend we had several new neighbors; horse people! They brought an assortment of campers, tents and camper/horse trailers, even portable corrals!  They were nice and quiet too. I have really been enjoying my solitude and Doing Nothing for days on end.  The weather has been perfect….75 daytime and 45 at night, and always nice and sunny. I have seen no (live) animals at all, except for a pair of cute bluebirds that come to visit every day.

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This poor creature is lying near the side of the road. I wonder what happened? And I wonder if it’s an elk, or a cow. Hard to tell since his head is missing! I think from the size of the ribcage, it’s a cow.

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I guess I’ll be leaving here tomorrow or the next day. Rain is in the forecast, and I met my camping neighbor today who said if it rains here, it becomes one big quagmire. I don’t think I can stand going through THAT again.  Plus my friend Donna from Cottonwood is coming to visit this weekend, and it’d be nice if she could  actually get her camper in.  I found a site at Flowing Well, several miles closer to Payson, where I camped for a while last year. It’s a big gravel parking lot with trails going down to the E. Verde River (which actually flows all year long!) There’s also a nice vault toilet there, and with the gravel, there shouldn’t be any mud.

I thought about going to the Clints Well Campground but instead of rain, they are supposed to get 1-3″ of snow on Thursday! And lows in the high 20’s. So maybe I’ll look at that again in a week or so.  I was surprised that all the little forest roads that lead to the beautiful free campsites were gated shut. I guess they still have a lot of snow up there at 8500′.

I went out today to pick up an Amazon package that was sent to General Delivery at the Happy Jack post office. I wasn’t sure where it was so followed my GPS directions…..sigh….which took  me 20 miles too far, and ended in the middle of nothing in the national forest! Isn’t it funny that when the GPS says “You have reached your destination”, you can’t believe there’s nothing there. I drove up an additional 1/2 mile before I decided she was wrong. So that 40 miles of wasted gas cost added another $5 to the cost of my vitamins.  I called the post office and the lady was very nice; gave me directions and said she closed at 1:00 but she’d wait for me. I got my packages and admired her bunch of shih-tzus including two adorable puppies and 4 or 5 adults. I told her I had a cousin; a Havanese and she said “Same thing, only from Cuba”.  Well, not really, LOL! Havs don’t have those smashed faces; they have real actual noses. But I didn’t disagree with her.

She told me that the Happy Jack Post Office is the smallest in the whole United States! I believe it…it’s in about a 10×16 metal storage building!

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Turn Back Around

This morning I thought of the Lucy Schwartz song “Turn Back Around”….the lyrics go:            I Turn, turn, turn, I turn back around,                                                                                                    And I’m eastern bound.

I’d been a little sad because things just weren’t working out for me to find cheap property in AZ, CO or NM. Oh, I could find cheap property, that wasn’t the problem, it was that all the cheap places also seem to come with sky-high crime rates! I was even offered some free property in Socorro County, NM but I checked all the towns in that county (they couldn’t remember what it was near) and both the violent and theft crime rates were in the 90’s out of 100! Apparently it’s a very poor county, with high unemployment rates. Well I’m just too old to deal with that kind of crap!

I have just been given a great opportunity to be a sort of minimal caretaker for some property back in Asheville, NC! My friends Cheryle & Jenni are moving to Washington state at the end of April and I am going to be camping under their huge carport to deter theft, and monitoring the pond levels, cleaning the pond filter, monitoring the chemicals in the swim spa, letting the yard guy know when to come, stuff like that. And also eating their strawberries, asparagus and blueberries!  I’ve posted photos from there several times; its kind of my “go to” place when I’m in NC.  If it doesn’t sell right away, the average high in July is 83 and with the roof overhead and electricity to run the A/C, I should be fine.

So I sort of feel like I’m starting over from scratch, going back to Asheville, where I started out! I lived in that area for 35 years before moving to Ecuador. If the house sells quickly I’ll head back up to northern Michigan for the summer and re-think the whole plan. Maybe I could grow to like Florida for winter??? It woudn’t be too bad a drive to bounce between Michigan and Florida twice a year.

On the home front, I’m still loving this campsite in Pine, AZ! I haven’t left the campsite since I got here on Friday afternoon but will need to go out and get a few groceries in a few more days. There’s a good bit of daytime traffic from people on ATV’s here but it’s very quiet at night, and the weather has been a perfect 74-75 degrees every day.  I probably won’t be heading back to NC until early April so I’ll need to make at least one more move before I go, maybe only 20 miles to Clints Well. I sure do love this area of the state, and wish I could live here, but the property costs are sky high..

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Pine, AZ

Yesterday morning we had another hot air balloon landing nearby; I took this photo out the door of the camper. I’m going to miss seeing those balloons every morning.

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Yesterday afternoon I took the camper back to A-1 RV Service in Camp Verde because I didn’t think the brakes were working. They said they were operational, but they weren’t working very well. So Dan adjusted something underneath and didn’t charge me a thing! He said one brake drum was scored but didn’t have the correct parts to fix it right then. Now the brakes seem to work fine, so I’m not too worried about getting that drum replaced right now. I’ve already spent $700 on car and camper repairs this month and that’s more than enough!

It was time to leave Sedona/Cottonwood; we’d been there for 14 days already. Just in time too, as the weather was really heating up. It had been in the low 80’s for 3 days! I rigged up shade cloth but still could not keep the camper cool. So we drove up and over the mountains, through some pretty snowy areas, to Pine which is a tiny town about 15 miles from Payson, which has all the “big box” stores. Pine does have a small grocery store, laundromat, some gift shops and a few eateries. I was going to head to Clints Well, 23 miles farther north, but Pat (my boondocking friend from Superior; yes, the Ax Murderer) told me about a great camping place here. I’m so glad I took his advice!  I found a nice site at the edge of a big clearing that has plenty of shade from pine trees all around, and still has good sun for my solar panel. I’m only about 1/2 mile from town and just a few hundred feet off the main highway, so I’m getting great wifi and cell signals.   The elevation is about 5400′ here, compared to 7,000′ in Clints Well and even higher up in the Tonto National Forest where the really pretty campsites are. So it’s warmer here. Today’s forecast is for 73/47 here, and only 62/31 in Clints Well!  The forecast for here stays about the same for the next ten days…perfect!

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I think this is going to become one of my very favorite spots. Today was just perfect…73 outside, and with the nice dappled shade, the inside of the camper stayed at 75,  very comfortable.  Behind us is a whole forest of pines and it smells wonderfully fresh and piney! Roxie and I sat outside for a long time this afternoon.

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The forest behind us

It seems like an elk-y, deer-y, bear-y kind of place so we’ll be careful. For you Worriers, we do have a few neighbors; a truck camper back in the woods and a couple tent campers across the clearing, and there have been several ATV’s going past on the forest roads.  Here’s my view out the camper door. Just beyond that line of trees is the highway but I seldom hear any noise from it. The tent campers are just out of sight in this photo, on the left.

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Goodbye Sedona; Hello Clints Well!

It’s getting hot here in Sedona/Cottonwood….81 today and tomorrow, ugh! Funny how it kind of skipped the 70’s and went directly from the high 60’s to low 80’s. Tomorrow I’m getting the camper brakes repaired (again?) and heading to Clints Well, which is just about 45 min. away but much higher elevation. There it’ll be back to the high 60’s. If i can, I might move around but stay in that general area for a while.

I got the new alternator yesterday at Phillips Auto Service in Cottonwood. Good guys. This one comes with a 36 month, 36000 mile nationwide warranty. If it fails, I can get a new one from any Napa Auto Parts. But of course my stuff never fails while under warranty, LOL.

We had a really pretty sunset last night. They’ve been not so good because the skies were cloudless.

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I had trouble getting to sleep last night; I was awake til around 2 a.m. Then at 6 a.m. Princess Roxie woke me and insisted I get up and take her out for Her Royal Pee. Then again at 7:15 for Her Royal Poop. Ugh!  Sometimes it’s tough being owned by a princess. I bet I’ll sleep tonight.

I was kind of glad I got up at 7:15 though, because I got to see a couple more hot air balloons pretty close. I got this great shot of one coming down behind the camper

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Here’s Roxie’s favorite spot, under the shady tree. Mine too! I got a nice new lawn chair that doesn’t require kung fu training to fold up.  My old Coleman chair is very comfy but very hard to fold…the best way is to throw it on it’s back to get it started! It’s starting to fall apart though, it’s about 5 years old and used a lot.

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It’s a balloon kind of morning!

WOW! This morning when I took Roxie out, I saw 4 hot air balloons; always a really cool sight, and it happens almost daily here. A little while later I heard that distinctive sound of the propane burner and I looked out…..there was a balloon landing about 50′ from the camper! How cool is that! The sun of course was coming from the wrong direction but I snapped a bunch of photos out the door of the camper. I have never seen a hot air balloon up that close…..they are massive!! I wondered if it would collapse onto the camper but there’s a rope hanging down so someone can direct where it falls.  About five minutes later, another balloon landed right next to the first! WOW!

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Wow, compare the size of the people to the size of the balloon! That thing is humungous! 

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He’s walking the rope out to guide where the balloon falls.

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TWO balloons!

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Yesterday I had a not-so-nice experience so today’s balloons were extra uplifting. The little red battery icon was lit up on my car’s dashboard, so I took the car to a repair place that my friend Donna recommended (she lives here in Cottonwood). They said it’s the alternator. You may remember that just last May I broke down in Gallup, NM and had to get an alternator and battery……yeah. The guy at this place said that they don’t use that brand of rebuilt alternator because they don’t hold up well. He’s quoted $427 to put in a new alternator. That’s bad news but what makes me feel worse is that obviously Pep Boys in Gallup ripped me off…I paid around $800 for a rebuilt alternator and battery that only lasted nine months!!  Grrrrr.  I am stuck here at camp until my Wednesday afternoon appointment. I checked the battery this morning and it’s pretty dead; so glad I have the solar panel to charge it up!

Ahhh…breathe in, breathe out, shake it off…..here’s the sunrise from a couple days ago.

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The sunsets have not been really great because there haven’t been many clouds in the evenings. It’s been very pleasant, near 70 degrees during the day, but with enough of a breeze that it’s not quite warm enough to sit outside for very long.   Last night the low here was 35 and Thursday and Friday’s highs are supposed to be 80. What a huge difference a few days make! I’m going to be miserable in 80 degrees, but I have to hang around here until Friday when I take the camper back to get the brakes checked again.Something is still wrong; they’re still not working. Boy this month is sure a big money pit! $250 for the camper repairs already, plus $427 for the alternator, and who knows how much more to get the brakes fixed! Ouch. I seem destined to not ever have any savings.

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Rain Rain Go Away!

On Friday we moved from Concho back to the national forest land between Cottonwood and Sedona. We got a GREAT site with a shade tree, and way far back from the dusty road with all it’s traffic.  Deb got a lot of things fixed on her camper (to the tune of nearly  $900) by A-1 RV Service in Camp Verde; really good guys who do great work. Those are the same guys who fixed my fridge and brakes. Now her old battery is working great, and she even has a new battery monitor inside the camper so she can easily see how it’s doing. It was a shorted-out awning motor that was causing her batteries to go dead all the time. (The new motor cost $300!)

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All was well….enjoying the campsite….then it started to rain. Uck! After an all-day rain yesterday, continuing on into today, our campsite is a muddy mess! And it’s the kind that builds up on your shoes until you’re lifting 10# of mud with each step. I’m so glad I have my imitation Crocs with me! Regular shoes would be ruined. Princess Roxie kept bugging me to take her out this morning but I didn’t want to get all muddy again so I put the leash on her and forced her out the door while I stood safely in the doorway. She landed in the mud and very gracefully somehow twisted around and leaped back into the camper without taking another step! Here’s her footprints…..the ONLY doggy footprints!  I don’t know how she managed that trick. Roxie HATES getting her feet wet!

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The next time she asked to go out I knew she REALLY must have to go, but I couldn’t even drag her out the door. It’s amazing how strong a 10# dog can be. So I put on my yucky shoes and carried  her over to a grassy area so she could do her business, then carried her back to the camper. I found a tent state and scraped 1/2″ of goo off my shoes before I went back inside. Here are my footprints:

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I think it’ll be a few days before either of us will be able to drive out of here! Now I’m not so glad we got this campsite wayyyy back from the road!  I have Things To Do, too…I’m selling my half of the 40 acres in Alaska back to the other co-owner and I needed to go print the Quitclaim Deed and get it notarized. Sigh. Maybe tomorrow?

 

I’ve been trying to make some summer plans. You know me; I love making plans, even if they don’t work out in the end. I’ve just about given up on finding cheap land in a place that’s cool in summer, where it’s also legal to live in a camper. All those places have terrible crime ratings! I guess cheap land attracts that sort of people?? Anyway, we were thinking of spending the summer around Flagstaff where it’s nice and cool, but they have that Southwest monsoon thing going on….heavy rains every afternoon all summer. And after this experience, I’m not interested in having rain every day. So now I’m thinking to maybe go on up to southeastern Wyoming; the Medicine Bow National Forest is one of my very favorite places and the mountains are beautiful and cool, plus it’s north of the monsoon territory.  Anyone have any other good suggestions of where to spend the summer where it’s cool and fairly dry? (with lots of free camping too, of course)

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Concho

Wednesday I had an appointment at A-1 RV Service Center in Camp  Verde. I dropped the camper off and then went to PetSmart in Sedona to get some food for Roxie, and some other small errands. I had to pick up my lawn chair from Donna, as I’d left it at the rally site. They had my camper all done by 1:00 and everything now works! They said the fridge propane orifice was filled with bits of rust. That makes me soooo mad, as I paid a highly recommended RV guy in Asheville $75 to clean the propane fridge system just 3 months ago. If he’d done the job right, there would not be a buildup of rusty junk now! At any rate, the fridge works just fine now.  They also fixed the camper brakes; the wires to the magnet on one side were completely torn in half! I have NO idea how that could happen. They checked the frame welds, rotated the tires and checked out the Fantastic Vent, which had suddenly started running slow and was obviously hitting on something. Guess what….there was a dead bumblebee and a beetle in there, and the blades were hitting on them! Crazy.

So $250 later I headed to Holbrook and met up with Deb again at Petrified Forest National Park. There’s no camping inside the park but at the south end there’s free camping at Crystal Forest Gift Shop, which provides covered picnic tables and use of their dumpster, plus the restroom while the shop is open. Across the road is Petrified Forest Museum, where you can get a campsite with picnic table and electricity (no water) for $11 a night. Deb stayed on the electric side and I was at the free side. The winds were around 25 mph with gusts up to 40 so I was careful to park heading into the wind and stayed hooked up to the car for more stability, and there was surprisingly not much buffeting. Apparently the winds seldom calm down around there! The gift shop guy said they get a few good days. We decided to skip going through the park, as we’d both done it before. We went into Holbrook and had breakfast at Joe & Aggie’s Cafe on Rt. 66. It’s been in existence since 1943 and is a little run-down but the breakfast was really good!

Then we headed to Concho to check out my new property & see if I could get my camper onto it. I was embarrassed that we had to go right back past where we’d camped….a 40 mile round trip for breakfast! And we didn’t really have to haul the campers to town and back, either. Oops. We are camped at Concho Lake Park which is a pretty nice boondocking site with a porta-john and garbage cans, with sites all over in the pinon trees. Still very windy here too so the trees help block the breeze. I guess it’s Open Range here as we have to watch out for giant cow flops. I rearranged my passenger seat and moved some of the bigger rocks so Deb could fit in, and we drove out to the property.

Along the way we met up with some of the “neighbors” from about 3 miles away I think. They were on our tail the whole way so I pulled over to let them by, but they didn’t want to get past, they wanted to know what we were doing out there. They had just had their 8×8 wooden storage building stolen a few days ago!! So we got an earful about the area, and none of it sounded good. Lots of theft unless you stay on your property 24/7 to guard everything, the nearest neighbor is a drunk who steals things, the police don’t come out there. And the guy in that car had wild-looking eyes; Deb thought he was high on something, either meth or cocaine!  Apparently the wind blows pretty constantly there too. They said there was about two months in summer when the winds die down. Once we got to the property and walked around, it looked like there was really nowhere quite level to put the camper and it would require some bulldozing to make a level pad for the camper and for my future larger camper.  And it was very very windy, just like the first time I was there.

I decided perhaps this was not the place for me. I was not happy to hear it was an area where people would steal something as large as a storage shed, and I don’t think I could live with that constant wind.  So I’m not buying it after all. The seller was very gracious about it and of course I forfeited the two $77 payments I already had made but that’s OK, I think I dodged a bullet. Gee, I never knew there were places that had constant high winds like that!

So I’m “homeless” again. And very sad about it. I wanted to have a garden, and a home for my rocks. I probably picked up an additional 50# of rocks when I was in Superior, thinking I’d be dumping them off on the property! And I love them and don’t want to jettison them.  I was so looking forward to eventually getting a larger camper to live in. Oh well. I will continue to try and save money in case another promising homesite comes along. The problem is that Apache County is one of the few in AZ that allows you to live in a camper. And I think all of Apache County is also a huge wind tunnel! There are also not that many places in AZ that don’t have those really high sumertime temps. Flagstaff is great in summer but has a really harsh winter…..Prescott has perfect weather but property is quite pricey.  Somewhere out there is a home for us, I just know it!

 

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A-Frame Rally in Cottonwood, AZ

This past weekend was the A-Frame Campers rally at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, AZ. There were 24 camper units and 35 people present! Boy the organizers (Donna, Wanda and Kathy) really know how to put on a great rally! It was obvious they put a lot of work and thought into it, and it’s not easy planning out four days of fun and food.  Not just morning coffee and doughnuts, full breakfasts every morning! Pancakes, eggs, french toast….!  Every morning there was a demo or discussion topic (not that I made it over there much in the mornings; I’m SO not a morning person!) One morning I did have to get up early because the demo was happening to my camper; Tom Warfield installed new wheel bearings! Nevada Nick donated one set of bearings so I only had to purchase one set costing $24.  And Tom was also the reason I was camped at the state park; he reserved and paid for a site for me! Wow.  I must say it was a treat to have electricity for those 4 days. I dug out my toaster and even got a chance to roast some fresh coffee beans.

There were also mid-day activities like touring Montezuma’s Castle and Well, the copper museum, and Tuzigoot ruins. Evening campfires didn’t happen because it rained all weekend, but the area was a sea of canopies and screen tents so we were able to keep dry while scarfing down more food at the potluck dinners.

There was a Swap Meet where people brought unwanted goodies to sell, and I got a Wilson signal booster for my new wifi hotspot for only $50! All I need to buy is a long piece of galvanized  pipe to mount it on.

Today we moved to the “1000 Trails” boondocking site about 5 miles from Cottonwood, just off Hwy. 260.  It’s nice here with much much less traffic than my other site off FR525. But after all that rain, it sure was gooey. The car was slithering all over the place! And it’s the kind of mud that builds up on your shoes until you’re dragging around 5# of it per foot!  It dries out pretty fast here though. This is Open Range land and as soon as we got set up here, one of the neighbors came to call….Ms Moo!

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Our campsite off Thousand Trails Road between Cottonwood and Camp Verde

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See the mud??!!

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Red Rock Country

We’re back in Red Rock country, camped on BLM land between Sedona and Cottonwood. I really liked my site in Superior but the crazy old drunk guy (Jimmy the Desert Rat)  was driving me nuts, so I left early.  Pat kindly scrounged around in the wash and brought me some great Barnes Conglomerate rocks before I left…some of them pretty big!  They filled up the floor on the front passenger side of the car. Now if you open any door of the car, you see rocks. So glad I’ll be able to get them out of my poor car soon. But aren’t they great?! I get a little giddy just looking at them. Funny, I never was much interested in rocks until I started traveling around. Deb is going to be soooo jealous….maybe I’ll let her have one or two. One. A small one.  She’s headed this way and we are meeting at Petrified Forest at the end of the month, then we’ll head over to my property.

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I’ve got a nice small circular site just off the pavement here. I can hear the highway noise from 89-A but it dies down at night so I don’t care.

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I must say, people are strange here. Last night just as it was getting dark, a big yellow school bus covered with graffiti pulled in and parked less than 20′ from my camper, and didn’t leave until 11:00 this morning! The “sign” on the back door said something like “We need clean water too”. ??

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And now a young couple in a car just pulled up and set up a tiny tent about 6′ from the back of my camper. This kind of stuff makes me crazy!! Why would people think it’s OK to park and camp so close to someone, especially out here? That’s even closer than sites in a campground. I’ll bet they’ll learn their lesson though; I’m quite sure they are close enough to hear me snoring all night.  I didn’t realize what a popular spot this would be….I just want to be alone!

We got a big ol’ rainstorm yesterday afternoon right after I got here. Roxie was quaking down at the foot of my bed, covered with a fleece throw. She hates thunder. And even when she’s scared to death, she still doesn’t want to cuddle with me!  We had more rain today, and the forecast is for rain 3 of the days of the rally next weekend. Ugh.

I went to a couple thrift shops today, got propane and went to WalMart for a few groceries. I didn’t find anything good at the thrift shops; I was looking for tools like shovels, rakes, maybe a pickax or mattock. I guess people don’t give tools away.  At WalMart some Haagen Dazs chocolate peanut butter ice cream was calling to me, anxious to be my friend, but I resisted. $4.48 for a pint of ice cream that I HAVE to eat right away because I don’t have a freezer…..no.

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The Natives Are Restless

I had an eventful day yesterday! The night before, the natives were restless…I had visits from some of the resident cows, and heard coyotes howling very close; it sounded like they were right outside my door! I was worried about them attacking the baby bovine but it was fine this morning. It’s either too big for coyotes to mess with, or else Mama protected it. I got up early and took this photo of mom & baby before it was really very light outside.

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Here’s a giant Barnes Conglomerate rock I found; it’s a beauty and I want it in the worst way. But it’s at least 2 1/2 ft. long and a foot wide. Pat (Mr. Ax Murderer, who’s really quite a nice guy) and I have been excavating around it to try and see how deep it goes into the ground.

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This afternoon Pat led me to the old Pinal City Cemetary near here. I never could have found it on my own.

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Its claim to fame is that Wyatt Earp’s ex-prostitute second wife  is buried here. (There is no record of an official marriage, however) She died of a laudanum/alcohol overdose at age 38.

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Most of the grave markers are gone but a few are still there.

 

There a lots of really nice cacti inside the cemetary….does anyone know what this one is? It reminds me of the “burro’s tail” cactus that’s often a house plant, but on steroids…it’s huge, and has really big thorns.

This was my favorite grave, if there is such a thing. I guess this family lost three children at the same time; Charlie, Nellie and Reuben. How heartbreaking that must have been! They ranged in age from less than a year to 14 years. The letters are punched with a nail into the tin.

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As you can see, people have dropped coins, little stones and toys in remembrance. I wished I had something to contribute besides a rock.

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On the way back home from the cemetery, I had a flat tire! Out there in the Middle of Nowhere! I haven’t changed a tire in at least 40 years, and I honestly don’t think I could even get the spare tire down from under the car. I didn’t have Pat’s phone number and I couldn’t get Facebook to come up on my phone, so I texted a friend (thanks Tam!) and asked her to find Pat on Facebook and send him a Private Message to come rescue me. And he did; it worked! About 5 minutes later he showed up, changed my tire and brought it back to camp for me, since there’s certainly no room for a tire inside my car right now.  Wow, I don’t know what I’d have done on my own. I hate being helpless, but I think that’s a one of the few perks of being an Old Lady…you’re allowed to admit you can’t do everything you used to do. Thank you Pat!!!!!

Shortly after I got back home, I got a visit from Jimmy the Desert Rat (as he calls himself). He’s a tiny little 74 year old man, brown as a berry and sprightly as all get-out,  who lives in his pickup truck and is camped right around here somewhere. He sleeps in the cab of the truck and has a lawn chair and ice chest and not much else, and doesn’t have heat or a way to cook. He lives on mostly beer and cigarettes, I think! He sure has plenty of stories to tell.

Had a really pretty sunset last night.

 

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Exciting News

I forgot to say that on the way in here initially, I kept hearing something that sounded like metal bouncing or scraping. So I stopped and yep, it was both! The wire holder on one of my propane tanks had lost it’s wingnut and the wire had fallen down and was dragging. I lost the whole wire holder off the other side last winter and it’s just held on with thick string, so that poor tank was bouncing all over the place, and had inched along until it was almost falling off! It’s the one that’s serving  the camper right now; that would have been a nice mess.

We went in to town yesterday morning and got ice, water and a few things at the grocery store (but not what I went in there for). The town of Superior looks a little unloved.

I took Roxie for a walk and saw the biggest cow-patty ever, right behind camp…it was more than a foot in diameter!  I guess this is open range country.  I don’t want to meet whatever made THAT mess! I think it’s a Wooly Mammoth.

I found a really cool rock! It’s a Barnes Conglomerate. Looks like a lot of little stones got caught up in some volcano lava.

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So the Exciting News is, I’m buying  a little over an acre of property  in Apache County, AZ and it has ELECTRICITY!!  (Thank goodness for the Zero Interest, EZ Time Payment Plan) Wow, can you imagine having electricity just any old time you want it?!  And it’s legal to live in a camper there too. The lady at the zoning dept. said I don’t even have to get a septic tank either, they just ask that you don’t dump your raw sewage out on the ground.  ???  Yuck! I’ll probably switch to a composting toilet.  It is 14 miles to a grocery store, but there are a few convenience stores nearby, a gas station, propane fill place and even a nice library!

The kinda bad part is, it’s pretty barren land; elevation around 6335′. It has a few small bushes, but no trees. It has real dirt though, not desert sand. But the big brown electric pole kinda makes up for the lack of greenery.

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Here’s the Very Best Thing

It’s quite rare to find cheap land around there that’s not completely off-grid. This is right off a county road, and not too far from a paved road. I’d love to have more acreage than that, but there aren’t any neighbors close by so it’s fine. The property taxes are less than $10 a year! It’s on a slight slope but has a level bench towards the back.

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I’m working on a plan for maybe building a carport or something but for right now I’ll probably buy one of those heavy duty 10×20 portable shelters and camp.. I’m pretty sure I can get the camper under the shelter; that’ll help as it gets warmer.  At that elevation, there’s definitely 4 seasons, and the summers are not as hot as most other places in AZ. They do get a bit of snow, but on average only 10″. I guess it snows a bit, then goes away a few days later. In fact, there’s a little patch of snow there right now. Not on MY property, but across the road. Pretty nice view, huh?

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This line of electric poles & easement runs along my property line on the east side, and there’s a sort of track all along it which I think I can use as a driveway!  Those piles of rocks are way towards the back & won’t be in my way. Might be nice to have free rocks! Though I guess I won’t be  messing around the rock pile when the snakes are active.

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The road and easement have a lot of these rocks….they look like cinders, what they used to use alongside the railroad tracks! It’s very light.

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I have to check this out…it runs along that easement, the whole length of the property. I wonder if I can get city water??? I need to call and find out. I knew it was nearby, but didn’t think it came out this far, so maybe it’s just running along and I can’t tap into it.

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It’s still a bit chilly at night there right now but I’ll probably be heading there towards the end of the month. I’m very excited about having my very own place to squat!

Here’s a view in another direction. More mountains, nut its’ hard to see them.

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Picketpost Mountain

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WOW, isn’t that impressive?!  That was the sunrise on my last day in Buckeye. Normally I don’t like being awake that early, but this was sure worth it.  Fire in the sky!

Yesterday we moved to Picketpost Mountain, near Superior. I had planned to go to Oak Flat Campground but heard it was closed, so the other alternative was a place called Picketpost, in the Tonto National Forest. Strangely enough, just the other day a guy on one of my Facebook groups posted that he was at Picketpost and told me where he was. Well Hwy. 60 is under construction and I couldn’t find the right road, so I continued on to town and PM’d him about it. He said he’d meet me at Circle K and lead me in. Great! Then after we’d gone a mile or so back up this tiny dirt road into Nowhere, I started thinking perhaps I’d done a bad thing….I’M FOLLOWING SOME GUY I MET ON THE INTERNET INTO THE WILDERNESS!!!  He could be an ax murderer!!  Not to worry, he’s perfectly nice. (Aren’t they all?)  It’s no different from some stranger walking by and coming up to the campsite to chat. I’m not camped anywhere near him; he way farther up the road. And I’ve sent his name, link to his Facebook page and my exact GPS position to my “watchdog” Patricia, LOL. Really, I’m not a bit worried. He’s got a black lab, and I don’t think ax murderers ever have dogs. Pretty sure.

It’s NICE here! Trees and bushes!! And a few cactus. This saquaro cactus looks like it’s a child hugging it’s mommy, doesn’t it?

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It’s only about 5 miles from Superior here, and I’m getting excellent Verizon and ATT signals. There definitely are coyotes around though; I’ve heard them singing a couple times already, and they didn’t sound that far away. I’ll have to keep a close eye on Princess Roxie.

So here’s my campsite. I even have a nice palo verde shade tree! I hope I’ve positioned the camper right, so I’ll get the shade when I need it.

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I wonder if that is Picketpost Mountain in the background?

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The other day I needed to get something from the food bin under my bed, and needed to move Roxie. So I tossed her up on the bed, and she immediately laid down and was perfectly comfortable. And I remembered that she always does that. So I can only conclude that she doesn’t like being on the bed with ME. Hmmmph.

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Sunny Days in Buckeye

We’ve been having amazing weather, and according to the forecast, it’ll be about the same for the next 10 days!  Mid-70’s during the day and cool nights. It’s been so warm, I’ve had to rig up my shade cloth over the big side window.

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It’s just clipped to the edges of the roof at the top, and then bungied in three places to an adjustable painter’s pole at the bottom. The pole is stuck through the legs of my stepstool and zip-tied in place. The stepstool keeps the cloth from laying right against the glass, and lets some breeze through. It also comes down far enough to shade the fridge vents, not that the fridge is working right now, but someday.

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Yesterday I finally did the laundry! I’ve been putting it off for a couple weeks! HATE doing laundry in a laundromat. The dryers there were awful; I kept putting more and more quarters in and they never really got very hot. I finally gave up and brought home my warm, wet clothes. I couldn’t find my little rope so I had to use an electrical extension cord. I zip-tied it to the supports for the picnic table shelters. (What would this world be like without zip-ties???)  Not all of it would fit so I also draped things over the sides of Roxie’s exercise pen, all over the inside of the car and all over the inside of the camper. Thank goodness for the Arizona-quick-dry sunshine!  I guess we looked like a yard sale was going on.

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As I was getting out of the car at the laundromat, a man in the truck next to me said “Do you have a dog?” I said yes, and he said he’d bought some rawhide treats that his dog didn’t like, and if mine didn’t like them either, to just throw them away. Well I took them just to be polite, but rawhide certainly doesn’t pass Princess Roxie’s lips!  I don’t know why; I asked him what kind of dog he had and he said “English Cocker”. What??!!  I said “I used to breed and show them!”  So he got her out; sweet little blue roan with an undocked tail wagging madly. She was a field-bred from breeders in Vancouver, BC.  How crazy is that; there are not that many English Cockers out there!  Behind me in the car, Roxie was barking like crazy and he asked me what kind I had. I said “Havanese” and he shook his head. “Little barky kind”, I said, and he nodded and smiled.

I made really good beef vegetable soup for dinner but now I’m worrying about finding something big enough to put the leftovers in, and then finding space in the fridge. It’s really hard to make a small batch of soup.

OH! I almost forgot….I’ve been WALKING!  Roxie and I go out 3 or 4 times a day and walk 1/8 mile up the road and back. So most of the time we do a mile a day! Wow, not so very long ago that would have been impossible. My knee doesn’t even hurt! Sometimes my hips complain about the time we get back to camp though. (It’s always something, right?!)

The sunsets haven’t been that great lately; I think because there are so few clouds in the cky, there’s nothing there to reflect the colors.  I was actually awake at sunrise this morning and was all set to take a photo but it wasn’t very colorful either. Here’s tonight’s sunset anyway. I’ve been enjoying the coyote concerts almost every night.

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Musings on a Sunny Day

It’s a beautiful sunny day in Buckeye, Arizona! And the weather forecast says there are 9 more sunny days to come!! That’s reason to celebrate right there….Life Is Good. It’s been a very different winter so far; much more rain and overcast skies than last year. When they say “rain” though, it usually means about 20 drops at a time but the other day it was a real gully-washer all day off and on, and the washes were running strong. Boy the desert plants are getting green quickly!

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I’ve still been getting plenty of light on the solar panel to serve my meager needs, in fact I’ve got it bungied to the spare tire on the back of the camper and I don’t move it, so it’s only getting sun about 4 hours a day. It’s still enough. It’s gotten a bit cold at night (33 degrees last night) but the Wave 3 heater has been doing a great job of keeping us warm and cozy.

Neighbors have been coming and going, most staying only a night or two. If you are old enough to remember the sitcom “Bewitched”, remember the cranky neighbor lady who was constantly spying through her curtains at Samantha?  That’s who I’ve become, to my shame. Yep, I’m a nosy old witch. I find myself watching everyone that goes by. I’ve resisted getting out the binoculars but…..I want to!  I really prefer being all by myself back here, and then I don’t have to worry about Roxie barking too much, or getting fully dressed to take her for a little walk.  On the other hand, if I happen to have a heart attack or something, it’d be nice to have a neighbor within screeching distance.

I love hearing the coyotes yipping and howling at night! And it reminds me to be vigilant with Roxie so she doesn’t end up being a coyote snack.  My little packrat that lives under the picnic slab has been feathering his/her nest with bits of a throw rug that blew into Roxie’s exercise pen. In hindsight, I should have picked it up right away and not left it there for 3 days. Oh and I don’t have any critters in the car; false alarm. I kept a mousetrap in the car for 3 nights and didn’t catch anything, and then when i cleaned off the floor with a whisk broom, I noticed that what I thought were critter poops were actually some kind of empty husk or hull. I have no idea how they got under the floor mat, but I’m glad! I’ve gotten out my solar string lights and put them on the ground under the car’s engine to discourage pack rats, which love to chew wiring. They don’t stay lit all night but I’m hoping the critters don’t “work” all night either.

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Buckeye Hills Regional Park

I got away from Ehrenberg with only one rock! OK two, but one is really small. I had collected five rocks, and at the last minute I narrowed it down to just the two. It wouldn’t be so bad except I have to carry all these rocks around with me everywhere I go! Sometimes I get them all out and see if there are any I can bear to get rid of, but it usually doesn’t work.

We’ve moved to Buckeye Hills Regional Park, about 35 miles west of Phoenix. This is the 3rd time we’ve been here, and we like it a lot. There are not very many campsites here and most of them are spread very far apart (like 1/2 mile!) Nearly all the sites were occupied but I got one at the dead end. Later I got a neighbor; a massive Class A whose occupants can’t live without their generator. It’s fairly quiet though, and they don’t run it late at night.

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I got a site with a covered picnic table, so I can use my bbq grill. I went out and bought some boneless pork ribs and a small steak to grill and was very excited about it. But first I had to put a new propane burner on the grill. All the info on the web said it was easy as pie.  Well….only if you can get the old one off! I struggled with the bolt for a long time and finally gave up.

Then yesterday I had a short visit from Donna Morey, who was en route back home from a Sisters on the Fly gathering at Quartzsite. She had a little socket set, yay! And then that ol’ bolt came right off, and so did the burner, and it WAS easy! It’s all a matter of having the right tools. I carry a small socket driver set but it wasn’t big enough for this particular bolt. I cooked those ribs, mmmmm they were good!

I think it’s funny that someone has made all kinds of paths (that go nowhere) with little rocks. But the fire ring has no rocks!

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We’ve been having very overcast weather; what happened to my nice bright Arizona sun?? This morning there was heavy fog! I didn’t know Arizona had enough moisture in the air to make fog.  The sun finally broke through around 11:00 and it’s beautiful now.

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The only bad thing about these sites are the trash barrels; they always seem to be overflowing! I think I remember that they come around every week and empty them, but they fill up quickly. I think people come and dump their household garbage.  It’s very nice to have any kind of garbage pickup though. There are a couple vault toilets here also and they are very very low…..maybe only a foot high?  It’d be good for little kids but really tough for us old folks with bad knees!

Buckeye seems to have everything anyone would need…Wal-Mart, PetSmart, Lowes, big grocery stores, and even a do-it-yourself dog wash that we’ll be visiting one day soon!  All that stuff is about 13 miles from here, but there’s a small IGA grocery store, Walgreens and a few smaller stores in Buckeye itself which is about 8 miles away.

There’s a little critter that has a hole right next to the concrete slab for the picnic table. I don’t know what it is, but he’s been working on his hole, as he’s thrown up some sand onto Roxie’s exercise pen mat! Maybe I’ll catch a glimpse of him soon.

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I also see evidence of some little critter in my car again…..something bigger than a mouse but smaller than a rat, judging by what he left behind. I set a trap last night but didn’t catch anything, nor was the bait (a pistachio!) disturbed so maybe whatever it is has already moved out. Or maybe it just doesn’t know what a pistachio is.  I wonder if it’s the same little guy who owns the hole? I’m going to look today for my solar string lights and put them on the ground under the engine; I’ve heard that’ll keep rodents away.

 

 

 

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