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Arizona Uncategorized

Wandering Around Eastern AZ

 I have been camping in way too much heat lately, and I’m very grumpy. I seem to choose the places that don’t have shade, and once the camper is set up on the inside, which takes about 20 min., I’m not about to move it! It’s hard to tell where the sun’s path will be when you arrive in the morning, or at noon. I’ve really been moving around a lot lately. I just came from 3 days at Concho where it was around 85 every day, then 2 days at Payson where it was in the low 80’s but one day I had a bunch of errands to run and when I got back, it was 101 degrees inside the camper! And me with no electricity so no real way to cool it down. UGH. I just don’t tolerate heat.

I moved to a little higher elevation in Pine, then a few days in Strawberry. MUCH nicer! 

Here’s the campfire ring at my Pine campsite. I thought it was very elaborate…much higher than the usual single ring of rocks.

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And here’s the view from my Pine campsite. It’s really just on the edge of a fairly ugly dirt clearing but there’s nice shade and a great wifi signal, and only a mile to town. (It is ½ mile S. of the Pine Trailhead, on the west side of Hwy. 260/87. GPS 34.36650 -1211.44060)  There are also a few small pullout sites and a vault toilet at the trailhead, and that’s probably where I would go next time.

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I am again on the hunt for a nice cheapie piece of property to call HOME. I’ve now been wandering for more than 2 ½ years. I looked at several places in eastern Apache County but nothing really appealed at all. So tomorrow I’m heading back to a different area to try again. I visited some lovely folks (Candace & Frank) who are friends of a friend of a friend (good ol’ Facebook)! And fell in love with their place and the general area. On my way back out from their house I saw a real estate sign on a parcel that’s heavily treed (pinon and cedar trees, only 20-25’ tall but nice and bushy).  That one is a little more than I am able to spend but I’m sure there are other parcels for sale around there. I am working with a realtor, Mike from Landmark Realty…he’s great! He has spent a good bit of time looking up the restrictive covenants for all the areas I’m interested in, to make sure RV’s are allowed!

The way Apache County works this is that you can’t really live full-time in an RV unless you are in an RV park or are holding a building permit for a home; then you can legally live in an RV on your property for up to a year, and you must have a septic system. But you can live in your RV for 6 months without a septic system, leave for two weeks and then come back for another 6 months, on and on ad infinitum. They consider that “camping”. You just have to go somewhere and dump your tanks. Since I don’t have any black or graywater tanks, for me it’s a matter of dumping my porta potty in a vault toilet somewhere. I probably will switch to a dry toilet/composting system. 

My friend Donna from Cottonwood came with her greyhound “Queenie” to camp for a few days., so I moved to a higher elevation campsite and one that’s more scenic. Queenie is the sweetest thing! (Well so is Donna) She’s a racetrack rescue who just recently had a front leg amputated due to cancer. She gets around pretty good! Donna has a Chalet model XL1930 A-frame camper that’s massive….it’s 6’ longer than mine, 6” wider and way taller, with a wet bath, double sinks, bigger fridge with freezer and high sidewalls so the kitchen counter height is really comfortable for cooking. And a queen-sized bed! Look at the difference between our two campers…we’re like Mutt and Jeff!

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We had a visitor yesterday morning…..a scruffy-looking young guy came to Donna’s camper and said he needed a jump-start for his car. She told him that her car was new and had a bunch of electronics that she didn’t want to chance messing up. (good answer, I thought!) She asked me if I’d do it and I said the same thing. We were both just leery of this guy, and for no good reason; he seemed like a perfectly nice guy. But….don’t they all?!  We both felt really bad about not being helpful but heck, we’re two unarmed old ladies!! When Donna went back to tell him I wouldn’t do it either, I put my shoes on, got out my trusty hatchet and had the phone on and dialed 9-1, all ready to punch in that last number and then run over and whack his head off. Or should I whack his head off first?? Of course he went away quietly and everything was fine, but you just can’t be too careful these days.  A little while later a car went by with a young couple in it and I stopped them and told them the situation and they said they’d help the guy. So now we don’t feel quite as guilty.

The ground here is very rocky!

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And here’s another pretty interesting fire ring, with wind deflectors.

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Wow! Maybe best pizza ever…we went to the Old County Inn in Pine yesterday for lunch. It was a long wait but their wood-fired pizza was amazing.

I am having a run of bad luck with hamburger. I buy grass-fed hamburger in a shrink-wrap package, costs between $6-7 a lb. but it keeps much better than the fresh-ground stuff in the grocery store, plus it doesn’t have that Pink Slime in it that most of the grocery stores add. I bought a package when I was in Flagstaff and a few days later I noticed the package was all blown up. Damn, rotten hamburger? It still had 6 days til the Sell By date!  I reluctantly threw it out, and a couple days later I mentioned it to Pat and he said it was probably perfectly good; sealed packages like that blow up like balloons from the elevation there!!   Well CRAP!  So I bought another pound, on sale for $5.99. I have no idea how this happened but several days later I found that package laying on the floor next to my bed!!  Obviously another throw-away. Sheesh!  Maybe it rolled out of the grocery bag? Roxie had not touched it. She rarely will pick up anything off the floor, no matter how yummy it might be. Princesses do not eat floor food!

Categories
Arizona

New Camp at Clints Well

Today we moved up the mountain to Clints Well Campground. The elevation here is about 1500′ higher than Payson, so it’s correspondingly colder….like lows in the mid-20’s! I decided I could handle it; I really love it here and didn’t want to miss staying here. I was even resigned to having to drive about 30 miles to get cell and wifi signals! But I was very pleasantly surprised to have a good wifi signal here!! Verizon must have added a new tower since last April. Thank you, Verizon!!  Even the phone has a decent signal here, so it’s way better than Payson.

The Happy Jack post office is in Clints Well for some reason, and it’s the smallest post office in the U.S. It’s housed in a little metal storage building, about 10 x 16′.  I stopped to mail a card and they don’t even have a drop box for mail! I guess you have to go when they are open.

I was also very surprised to find the campground nearly full. There are only 7 or 8 sites here but I was here for two weeks in late April last year and never saw it this crowded. I got a good site with full sun in the afternoon, though I’m parked very close and parallel to the road. When someone leaves I might change sites.

I really love camping in the towering Ponderosa pines. We’re likely to have elk and deer visitors too.

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Our campsite at Clints Well Campground

If you are following other blogs by people who are in Arizona, have you noticed that they all are boasting pretty photos of desert flowers in bloom?  I haven’t had a site with pretty flowers yet!!  Back in Pine I went looking and only found two dandelion plants in bloom, and I don’t think they count. Sigh.

I’m very excited that after a lot of planning and scheming, I’m going to be able to meet up with my friend Jeanne later this month! She’ll be headed to AZ and I’ll be headed back to NC so we’re going to meet in New Mexico for 5 or 6 days and explore Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque together. I’ll have to break my rule and camp in a PAY campsite, but it’s just $10 a night and includes electric hookups, and is between Santa Fe and Taos. There are some nice free sites up near Taos but due to the elevation, they don’t open up until May and we are meeting up on April 20-26.  I started researching good restaurants and where to get the best ice cream, etc……the important stuff! It looks like almost all the restaurants are Southwest or Mexican food. Hmm. I’m not a fan but I may have to learn to like it. To make up for it, there’s a “Chocolate Trail” in Santa Fe that looks very very interesting! ALso Bandelier National Monument and a place called Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. It’s filled with fantastic wind and water-sculpted rocks. I won’t say what *I* think they look like but they’re supposed to look like tents.

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Categories
Arizona

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..

Categories
Arizona

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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Categories
Arizona

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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