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Flagstaff

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I spent a week near Flagstaff, on a free campsite in the Coconino National Forest off A-1 Mountain Road. It was great…only one mile from I-40 and about 5 miles to town. My site happened to have a lot of junk that had been jettisoned by some homeless guy.  If you remember my “ax-murderer” friend Pat from this spring? He was camped there and said that he could get the trash hauled away if I’d bag it up. It was pretty crazy; two bales of hay under a torn tent. There were all kinds of empty cans and bottles inside the tent, outside the tent, and seemingly “hidden caches” of them in the hay! And under the tent, also hidden in the hay, were three bulging pillowcases full of clothing.  So I spent part of a day getting that all cleaned up, and Pat’s rancher friend came and hauled it away. The hay was still there, but it looked so much better without the tent and all those cans & bottles. Oh, and about 100 cigarette butts and two whiskey bottles.  Here’s the pile after I finished:

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While I was there I had two really memorable meals with Pat….he cooked a delicious slab of pork ribs on his campfire, and a couple days later we had a turkey breast cooked over the fire that came out perfect…moist and juicy; oh so good! He’s a really good guy and not an ax-murderer type at all.  (I followed him way back into the woods to a campsite this spring when he was a total stranger, and thought to myself that for all I knew, I could be following an ax-murderer!! After all, I did meet him on a Facebook group!)

Pat told me about the Goodwill Outlet in town, so I stopped there this morning. Score! They bring all the stuff  that doesn’t sell from the regular Goodwill stores here. Everything is $1.29 a pound, and it’s all jumbled-up in huge bins. You have to paw throught it to see what’s there. I got 4 good rubber-backed bath rugs, a cushy fleece throw for Roxie, and a nice down-alterrnative pillow, all for $10.17! Those little rugs fit the space in front of my bed perfectly, and since I don’t want to spend money to wash a  $2 dirty rug in a separate washer, and I sure don’t want to wash dirty rugs with my clothes,I just toss them when they get really dirty.

I really loved the site but it was not good for Roxie. The ground was super-fine silt and all her white bits turned gray; plus there were little weeds and stickers that were gumming up her coat. So yesterday I took her to the self-serve dog wash in Flagstaff and bathed her for $15 (yikes!), and we left this morning for cleaner parts.

We only went a few miles; 9 miles down Lake Mary Road to the Marshall Lake road, then 1.2 miles back. (near the Lowell Observatory). We are in another part of the Coconino National Forest. Got a nice campsite (free, of course) well back from the road, with a few pine trees for shade. I looked out a little while ago and we were surrounded by cattle! Once it got dark they started making the most godawful noises…..I wondered if one was having a baby or was mad about something!  Once they quieted down, the coyotes started up!  And the next morning the camper started shaking violently!! I knew what it was…..I looked out and sure enough, a cow was scraching her butt on the corner of my camper! Go away, Cow!  When I opened the door and yelled at her, she hightailed it out of there. I guess that’s where the word “hightailed” came from, as it really was straight up in the air! Then I felt bad for scaring her so badly.

 

 

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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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More Beautiful Campsites

I swear I’ve never seen so many gorgeous free campsites as there are around here!  Today I went to check out Rock Crossing Campground in Coconino N.F., on the recommendation of Aida Schenck who I think knows more than anyone about boondocking in AZ.  What a great place! It’s got water, toilets and even dumpsters! (Finding places to drop your garbage is one of the hardest jobs of boondocking, so finding a dumpster is like finding gold!) The water was not turned on quite yet. It costs $8 a night (1/2 price with Geezer Pass) though some are double sites so they cost…..double! There are several pull-thru sites but the best ones are back-in sites perched right on the edge of the Mogollon Rim. How would you like this as the view from your campsite?!DSCN2474

I really liked the bbq grills they provided at the campground…have never seen any like this before, they have hoods! That would allow you to be a lot more creative with your cooking!          DSCN2475

Someone suggested I give more complete directions to these campsites, so I’ll try to remember that.  To find Rock Crossing CG, go 4.4 miles from the intersection of Hwy 87 and Lake Mary Rd. in Clints Well. Turn right onto FR 751 and drive 2.3 miles to the campground.  N34.34082, W111.13258   Elev. 7222′

To get to Blue Ridge Reservoir, go an additional 2.1 miles past Rock Xing CG. There’s a boat launch and up the hill, a vault toilet and dumpster!!  I believe it you go farther up the road past there, there are some free dispersed campsites (Aida said there’s a road that goes off just before the “No Camping” sign). I went a little ways up the road; it’s very rocky but you don’t need a high clearance vehicle, just go slow. I turned back because I had to pee……boy that reservoir looked like a great place to kayak!   Here are a few pics, including some brave hardy flowers that seemed to grow right out of the rocks!  N34.5558 W111.19927  Elev. 6783′

There were also some pretty dispersed campsites between Hwy. 87 and Rock Crossing CG.

I haven’t been able to get a photo of them yet, but the squirrels here have about 1″ long pointy ears that stick straight up!!  I think all the squirrels I’ve ever seen have tiny ears close to the head so you don’t even notice them.

It’s supposed to get quite windy today, 15-25 mph sustained with gusts up to 40 mph. I hope these tall Ponderosa pines have good roots!  And I’m glad they took that huge dead tree down yesterday.

Yesterday I drove out to check out Kehl Spring CG, deep in the forest. It’s 7 miles from Hwy. 87 on a little one-lane dirt road (FR 300).  There are 5 campsites there with picnic tables, fire rings and a vault toilet.  I didn’t get the GPS coordinates for it, but you turn off of Hwy. 87 near Mile Marker 281 onto Forest Road 300. The sign out on 87 says “Rim Road and Knoll Lake”. Go just 500′ and then turn left and go 7 miles to the campground. At about the 6 mile point there’s a gorgeous overlook for the Mogollon Rim, and I got really great wifi and phone signals there! (no Verizon or ATT signals at all at the CG)  I think it’s at about 7700′.

The camp host here, Rudy, said that there were several elk feeding with behind my campsite at 6 a.m. a few mornings ago!  So I’ve been getting up around then and looking out the windows, with no reward. Yet.

 

 

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Clints Well

 

I’ve moved to a beautiful little campground in the Coconino National Forest (free, too!), Clints Well CG.  It is just 1/2 mile outside of Clints Well on Lake Mary Rd (Hwy. 3), though it’s not much of a town….gas station, mini-mart, post office and little restaurant. The post office is housed in an 8×10 metal storage building!!!  That’s a first.

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There are 7 sites in the campground, in the Ponderosa pines. There’s a camp host there in summertime and he keeps the vault toilets well stocked and immaculately clean. They even have fly strips and good-smelly thingies inside! I think all the sites have a mix of sun & shade, so it’s good for solar energy, though I do move my panel around a bit from morning to afternoon sun. Here’s a couple views. The first two are of the gigantic tree the forest service guys felled this morning!

Nancy Brooks, another A-frame camper, joined me on Sunday until today. We had a nice time yakking and one day we went to Payson via the very long way around!  I saw a sign that said “Mogollon Rim” so we took that little dirt road to see what was up there. Well it turns out, it was 20+ miles on that little one-lane dirt road before we got to the Rim, but it was stunning!

And as a matter of fact, I’m parked at that same overlook right now, it’s the closest place I can get a wifi signal for my ATT mobile hotspot! It’s another 8 miles further to get back to the paved Hwy. 87, and when we got out to there we saw a sign that said “Payson 28 miles”.  We’d gone almost 30 miles on a teeny dirt road that would have been only 5 miles via Hwy. 87!  Oh well, it was a gorgeous drive through the Coconino National Forest, beautiful Ponderosa pines with lots of beautiful dispersed campsites all along that road (FR141) And as I always say when I get lost, “It’s a nice day for a drive”.  We saw one wild turkey (don’t they usually go in groups?!) and a coyote along the way.

I’d be tempted to move to one of the dispersed sites except I like having a picnic table for a change! And I’m getting a good Verizon signal there. (no ATT signal at all in Clints Well)  Here are a couple of the dispersed sites on FR 141, less than 1/2 mile from Hwy. 87:

I am staying at Clints Well until the 25th or 26th, when I meet up with my best camping buddy from NC, Jeanne Lloyd.  We meet back up with Deb & Bernii around May 1, back in Kingman.