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Travel Insurance

I had to purchase another travel insurance plan today.  I don’t need all the fancy bells & whistles like Trip Cancellation or Interruption coverage; I just need a bare-bones policy that’ll cover my deductible & co-pay for medical costs, the stuff that Medicare won’t cover. I always purchase my travel insurance through Squaremouth.com, they seem to have the best rates & the most options. I got a policy good for 90 days with $100k secondary medical coverage and $250k medical evacuation coverage for $29! Not $29 a month; $29 for 90 days! InsureAndGo USA is the provider. It’s comforting to know that at least while I’m traveling, a major health problem would not be life-altering for my pocketbook.

I’m so impressed with myself….aside from last weekend’s state park stay for the A-Frame rally, which I had paid for back in November, in the past two months I only spent $15 on campsites!  And that $15 was for SIX nights of camping, too.  So that averages out to $.25 a day, not bad!  I stuck to my budget this month and was even able to save a little bit.  Yayy!

Yesterday I got up early (for me) and saw the hot air balloons traveling really low. Can balloons go under power lines?! I swear these two did, though they were beyond the hill so I couldn’t see the baskets. Boy, if they did, imagine the poor people in the baskets…..that must have been a little stressful!

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It’s been dipping down into the 30’s the past two nights, so I’ve kept the little Coleman SportCat 15o0 btu catalytic heater going. It keeps the camper at 62 degrees, which seems very luxurious! Here’s the heater setup with the little u-shaped barrier I made so Roxie won’t accidentally swish her tail onto the heater and burst into a ball of fire. The little green battery fan circulates the warm air and runs on rechargeable batteries, which have to be recharged daily. I’ve stuck a piece of foil over the front of the fridge so it doesn’t get too warm. This is a great little heater, it just sips propane….it will run for more than 24 hours on one bottle! I’m not sure why Coleman quit making them, unless it’s because they don’t have oxygen sensors or automatic shut-off switches if it turns over. I also have the Coleman ProCat model that’s 3000 btu but it’s too much heat for this tiny camper unless the outside temps are less than 25 degrees. DSCN2201

Finally I dragged myself out of bed early this morning to see the sunrise. Maybe I was a bit late, as it wasn’t that exciting. But here’s a photo just to prove I did it.

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Honanki Heritage Site

Yesterday we drove out to the Palatki and Honanki ruins, which are both on our campsite road. I was pleased to find a drinking water spigot at Palatki, so I was able to fill up 4 gallon jugs.  I didn’t go into Palatki; I thought I’d save that for when Jeanne joins me but it’s a 1/2 mile walk which I think I can do. I did go into Honanki to see the cliff dwellings; it was also 1/2 mile walk rd. trip and my bad knee is NOT thanking me today, but it was pretty interesting. There are 15 rooms left more or less intact. It’s hard to comprehend that these mud & rock walls are almost 1000 years old!  It looks like each family had a little tiny room walled off from each other. I meant to ask the docent what they used as a water source but Roxie saw me coming and started barking and people were looking around for the duck and I forgot. Yes, my dog sounds like a duck; the result of being 1/2 debarked. It’s weird but MUCH more pleasant than the brain-piercing shrieky bark she had when I first got her.

On the walk I saw this really cool burl on a tree stump. I love all the texture it’s showing.

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I also loved the textures of this rock; I thought it looked like wood grain! Erosion can sure make some amazing sculptures.

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On the way there the scenery was just gorgeous. It’s so frustrating to me that I can’t capture the brilliance and color with my little point-and-shoot camera. When I got back I looked up digital SLR cameras again but I was right the first time; I can’t afford one, let alone the filters & lenses I’d also want!

I have woken up early the past three mornings and have really TRIED to at least get up and look out to see if the sunrise was worth photographing, but I couldn’t make myself do it.  It’s cold in the camper (around 50) and I just don’t want to have to get out of bed before Roxie makes me.  I did drag out at 7:30 this morning and take her out though, and was rewarded with a wildlife sighting!  The whole time I’ve been in Arizona, I think the only wildlife I’ve seen is a couple of bunnies in the state park campground. But today I saw a couple mule deer!  They were a ways off and on the move, but it was gratifying anyway. I really thought I’d see more animals camping out here in the desert but it just hasn’t happened…..there aren’t even many birds here! I also got to see the hot air balloons lifting off over Sedona, which I think happens every morning.

I dug out my brand new cast iron enameled dutch oven that I bought back in May and never used, and I made meatloaf!  I cut and folded the edges of a small foil bbq drip pan and lined it with heavy duty foil to make higher sides, plopped my meatloaf mixture in and started it cooking on the stove. With the dutch oven it’s impossible to tell what temperature you’re cooking at, but in about 20 minutes it smelled dreadful and I realized all the grease was leaking onto the bottom of the pan and I was going to have a horrible mess to clean up, and me with no running water! Why didn’t I think to line the whole bottom of the pan with foil?!  I let it bake for almost an hour and then checked it, and it was beautiful!  And it tasted just exactly right; a miracle since I didn’t use a recipe or measure anything.   It really hit the spot, and the cleanup wasn’t as bad as I thought. I scraped off the worst of the goo with a nylon scraper, then heated some water on the stove & put several tbsp. of baking soda in, swirled it around and let it sit awhile, then later everything came off easily and the pan looks like new again!  Yum.  My next project is to try and figure out how to bake my sourdough bread in it. I just need to find a pan that will fit, and I’m thinking those small disposable loaf pans might work!  Next time I go to town I’ll stop at Dollar Tree and see what they’ve got.

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A Little More of Sedona

My Ben & Jerry’s did not stay solid but it was the BEST chocolate soup I’ve ever had.

Well my tire was flat again this morning; I expected that. I am very impressed with Good Sam road service! I called them at 9:29 and the guy showed up 18 minutes later!! He was all done and out of here by 10 a.m. He put the spare tire on and it might be the original spare which would make it 9-10 years old.  It has plenty of tread and is in good shape, so I left it on. Who knows how old the other tire is, it’s the used one I bought and it could be just as old. So we’ll try this. I’m glad I got to see how to access the spare tire (it’s tucked up underneath the car) and what tools to use. Not that I’d ever change a tire willingly, but you never know; I could have a flat and be out of cellphone range. There was a big ol’ nail in the tire but I took it in to Sedona and got it fixed for $15.

I saw this raven strutting around downtown….I love ravens!

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While we were waiting for the fix we drove around a bit. What a gorgeous place….around every turn is a different stunning view!

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And I thought it was interesting, how this tree has grown all twisted.

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Still Thinking About The Rally

The warm fuzzy feelings from the rally are still with me! It really was one of the best I’ve attended.

I forgot to mention yesterday that we also had a very talented professional photographer in our group, Lisa Langell. She put on a quickie seminar with tips on how to get good photographs. Unfortunately I missed it, but I heard it was great.  She put some business cards on the table and they were all different photographs, with her info on the back so it didn’t interfere with the photo at all.  It’s just a good thing I’m an honest person because I really wanted to take them ALL!  I took one of a beautiful sunset with a saguaro cactus in the foreground, to remind me of Arizona.  Check out her website; you’ll be amazed, and maybe you can even pick out the one I got; it’s there!   http://www.langellphotography.com

And back on the subject of camping with men, I came away from the weekend still convinced that my favorite theory holds true for me: “Men and cats are fun to pet, but I wouldn’t want to own one”.

I found a stock photo of an ALiner ALite, like the cute one that was at the rally. You can see how much smaller they are than mine…..glad I’m not trying to live in one of those!  They weigh around 600# so nearly any car can tow one.

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Donna gave Princess Roxie a very special treat; some original chicken fingers! She finds them very interesting but doesn’t seem to want to actually eat them. I think she ate one finger of the first one, but that’s all.

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Some of the rally attendees posted some wonderful photos from the weekend on Facebook and now I feel even worse that I didn’t get my camera out at all. My apologies!

Here’s my rig set up off Red Canyon Road (FR525) halfway between Cottonwood and Sedona.

 

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There are mountain views on all sides!  I tried to park closer to the morning shade, which comes from some quite spindly little bushes, but the site was too far out of level.

 

 

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Cottonwood A-Frame Rally

Well the A-frame rally at Dead Horse Ranch State Park is over. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t take a single photo the whole 3 days!  There were 17 or 18 A-frames there, of all makes, models and sizes, from 6.5′ long (box size) to the (seemingly) gigantic Chalet 1935 which has a 15′ box size! And lots in between. The “standard” box size is 12′ and is 15′ overall.

On Saturday, Dan from the local RV service place came and did a question and answer session with us and I think we all learned something! I learned that it’s OK if my camper levels are different on the tongue and inside the camper, and that I should level it to the inside floor.  (I’ve been kind of splitting the difference).  After that we all traipsed around to see everyone’s campers and what cool modifications they’ve done.  My favorite was Deborah Capodices’s adorable tiny ALiner A-Lite which is the smallest model. It comes with just some benches with cushions which all go together to make a bed that fills the space. But she’s made a single sofabed with colorful cheery fabric and has a little tiny sink & stove on the other side. And maybe a fridge, but I can’t remember. This is one that I really really meant to get photos of, but fell down on the job.  I’m sorry!   I heard someone say about mine, “Well she sure knows how to fill the space”!! LOL

Party Central was at Donna Morey’s site, and she’s a fantastic hostess! She had fresh coffee going early every morning and snacks, cold water, etc. all the time.  We had a terrific potluck dinner on Saturday night and there were always people sitting around chatting all day and half the night.

What a GOOD TIME!  I met so many super-nice people! It was odd at first to have men in the group….I usually camp by myself, with the Women A-Frame Campers group, or with women friends. I don’t know how long it’s been since I socialized with men!  Just have to remember not to talk about your Lady Parts.

I SO want to come back next year but probably will be spending next winter in NC/SC.   But if you are an A-frame camper and can make it next year, it’s going to be held on President’s Day weekend, Feb. 16-20. Mark your calendars because this event is not to be missed! Dead Horse Ranch starts taking reservations 12 months in advance. If you reserve early and it turns out you can’t go, you get a full refund minus only a $5 reservation fee. There’s tons of interesting things to see & do around here too…inside the state park and in the surrounding area.

So now I’m back at my former boondocking site halfway between Cottonwood and Sedona, on FR 525 (Red Canyon Road). I had scoped out a couple nicer sites that had trees for shade, but of course they were already taken.  The weather looks pretty good to stay here for the next 10 days or so.

 

 

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Thursday

What a surprise, it’s yet another beautiful sunny day in Sedona! The temp went down to 35 last night but is supposed to go to 80 today! Huge temperature swings here.

It’s my brother’s birthday today; he would have been 71. As you know, some of his ashes in a little brass apple are traveling with me, so as a treat I let him come out and see the hot air balloons this morning. He’s not getting any cake though!

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There were 3 balloons but 2 were too far away to photograph. I wonder if I could see hot air balloons every morning here if I just got up a little earlier?

Yesterday we went to Cottonwood and did laundry and got some groceries, then came back and drove on up this road to see what all the activity is about!  Turns out this is the road to the Palatki Ruins Heritage Site. I didn’t go all the way to the ruins, they are 7 miles up and you have to have a reservation to see them. But when I got back, I read in my notes that the views are great from there, so I think we’ll go back today. I did find some more good boondocking sites along the road too, and I might come back here after this weekend’s ALiner Rally at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, if the weather is going to be good.  I am such a planner; it bugs me no end to not know where I’m going next! But I have to wait and get weather reports and then figure out where is not too hot or too cold.

There’s tons of cool stuff to see in this area but I haven’t been exploring it much, as I’ll be back for another 6 days in early May, with Jeanne and maybe her sister Joanne. Exploring is always more fun with company!

These cacti are all over the place here. I don’t know what their official name is but I call them “Mickey Mouse Ears”

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Last night there was another brilliant sunset. Arizona is so GOOD at that!

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Thank you, everyone, for buying your Amazon purchases through my Associates link (above right)!  I am SO grateful, especially since you have to remember to take the time to do that extra step.  I love you guys; you’re the best!!

 

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Sedona Red Rock Country!

Well I’m very disappointed. I’ve been hoping to see a live armadillo, and just read that they don’t live in Arizona! I guess I’ll have to cross that one off my wish list.

Here is the recipe for the wonderful chicken ranch roll-ups that Kathy brought the other day. https://tinyurl.com/hrlrky4

This morning we packed up and hooked up, not without some frustration. I have an iBall hitch camera that I LOVE but it’s been behaving badly. There’s a camera part that you stick on the back of the car and a little video screen that plugs into a cig. lighter outlet. It works perfectly if I plug it into my DC outlet in the camper but when I plug it into the car, all I get is a screen full of static. ??? It used to work, and I can’t figure out what’s causing the static. I tried unplugging the GPS and that didn’t make a difference. So anyway, I’m back to trying to hitch up the old way, and it takes 14 or 15 tries to get it just right, getting in and out of the car each time, and then I’m all hot and bothered and my face is it’s usual summer hue of beet red.

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We are now camped off Red Rock Road (FR 525) not far from Hwy. 89A, the main drag between Cottonwood and Sedona. It’s not a great campsite but it’s got good cell signal, there aren’t any cholla cactus here and I was tired of driving. It’ll be fine for the next 4 days. The road seems very busy and people go fast so there’s going to be a lot of dust in our future.  I’ve read that all the Pink Jeep tours go down this road so I guess I’ll have to take the car and wander farther in to see what’s what.  I’ve got a nice but distant view of the red rocks here but I can’t wait to see them up close.

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Oh and I found out why there were a billion people in Wal-Mart on Saturday…stocking up with junk food for Super Bowl Sunday! You can tell I’m a big sports fan, hmm?

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Buckeye Hills Regional Park

Last night I cooked a little pork tenderloin on the Weber Q grill. Isn’t it pretty? Tasted really good too, and I have leftovers!

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Now we’re at Buckeye Hills Regional Park just outside of Buckeye (duh!) and 30 miles west of Phoenix. Deb, one of my blog followers, mentioned she’s got a solar panel she’s not using that I could have!  So I thought I’d get closer to Tucson in case that works out.

The place is pretty full but everyone is scattered way out, so I only have one neighbor, about 100′ in front of me.  It is free camping for 14 days, though our neighbor said they’d been here since October, so apparently it’s not enforced. If we can stay here for 20 days that’ll be great; then I can just zoom up to Sedona for the Valentine’s weekend A-Liner rally at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Good thing that’s already paid for, or I wouldn’t be able to go.

There’s a bathroom, picnic tables, and trash barrels here!!  For FREE!  OK the bathroom is pretty awful but I just need a place to dump the porta-potty, so I don’t care.  Some of the picnic tables have shade thingies over them. The trash barrels are already overflowing, but it’s the thought that counts, right?  Still amazing amenities for a free campsite! And I’m getting a good wifi signal too.

Here’s the view of the mountains from the door side.

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And a corner of the restroom & some of the picnic tables hiding among the saguaro cactus.

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On the way here I took a tiny detour to go through Hope, AZ.  I felt like I needed some Hope.  Imagine my dismay at seeing this sign on my way out of town!! Sigh. I was afraid of that.

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The Desert Bar

We drove out to the Shea Road BLM area and I think we’ll move there tomorrow. It’s right off a paved road about 5 miles from Parker, and the ATT signal there was better than here.

Then we went to The Desert Bar.  The directions on their website are not very good but after a couple false starts I discovered that Google Maps knew where it was.  Boy you really have to want to go there!  It is 4 miles down a really REALLY bad dirt road!  Lots of twists and turns, going mostly uphill, with big rocks sticking up. I thought a low-slung car would never make it but a minute later, a SmartCar came around the bend, so I guess any car can do it.  It took 30 minutes to go the 4 miles.  It must be good for business; once you finally get there, you’re ready for a stiff drink or two!

The Desert Bar is out in the middle of the desert, a big open-air place run by solar energy.  It’s only open in the winter on weekends, since it’d be way too hot in summertime.  I am so mad that my camera ran out of battery while I was there!!  The battery lasts a really long time so I tend to forget about it.

Since the bar is open-air, dogs are welcome!  I didn’t know about that so poor Roxie stayed in the car.  There was a live band playing today, and they sounded pretty good.

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Maybe the coolest thing about the Desert Bar is the ladies’ restroom….it’s open air, too! The stalls are backed up to the rock wall, with very heavy rusty iron sides & doors.

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And here’s the view while you are washing your hands:

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I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I’ve taken photos in a bathroom! For more pics and the history of The Desert Bar you can go to their website at http://www.thedesertbar.com

I really wanted to get some of their beer-battered fries and a brew and sit for awhile but my p0cketbook screamed, “Are you NUTS??!”  But I did stop on the way home at the do-it-yourself car wash and spent $3.25 to wash the car. Boy that’s something you won’t hear me say very often…..that’s the first time the car has been washed since I bought it in April!  But the Yuma mud had really left it a mess. I was so proud of my nice shiny car when I got back here….only to find that I did a bad job!  It’s still got some dirt streaks.  Sigh.  And now it’s apparent that the damage from the jacknife incident is worse than I thought.

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