Monday, March 30, 2015

Bermuda Flats

After the war was concluded at Picacho Peak, we headed for Lake Roosevelt to meet up with friends that we've known for years. They were in a dispersed camping area at the north end of Lake Roosevelt.

The entrance to the area is clearly labeled Bermuda Flat, but...

The entrance makes it clear that a Tonto Pass is required. If you buy the half price ($3) scratch & sniff Tonto Pass, it is supposed to be displayed along with your National Lands pass, BUT

to make things more confusing, once you pass the entrance sign you'll see another sign pointing to the left to North Horse Pasture. According to the Tonto NF website, an Annual Pass is acceptable at Horse Pasture for camping.

We headed left to meet up with our friends. With the right camera angle, it looks like we had the whole place to ourselves. We did, depending on how you define "whole place."

There were tight groups of rigs parked all along the shoreline to our south.

The Tonto website says the area is limited to trailers under 32' but there wasn't any physical reason for that limitation. We spotted quite a few rigs that were longer.

There weren't many kayaks or canoes on the water. We didn't bring our boats, but wish we had.

There were quite a few power boats, either out fishing, or nosed in to shore at various camps. I suspect that a few weeks later in the year, the lake would be noisy with water skiers, but at least a week ago, boat traffic was just fishing.

Turk enjoyed a chance to cool off,

and we enjoyed the chance to dig out the dutch oven and play with fire.

Much of the time there was some breeze which was appreciated since it kept the mosquitoes at bay. Daytime temps were in the mid 80's with overnight temps dropping to the mid 40's - apparently ideal temps for mosquitoes.

The pot roast turned out wonderful

and we had a chance to enjoy a fire and watch the stars.

Although it is only 75 miles from home, this is the first time we've camped at Lake Roosevelt. It's certainly not a solitary experience this time of year, but it was very enjoyable and we'll definitely be back.

Friday, March 27, 2015

I Thought I Was Going To Watch a War But Ended Up At a Band Concert

Every year, the Pinal County Sheriff's Office Search & Rescue provides support during the Civil War reenactment at Picacho Peak State Park. I go along as a camp follower while my wife and daughter point people in the right direction.

The Confederates had quite a few heavy artillery. I counted at least seven wheeled guns for the Confederates while the Union only had two.

It took quite a while to get all the guns into the right positions and discuss the order of battle,

while other motley gun crews continued the process of moving their guns from camp to the battlefield.

Eventually, the Union Cavalry showed up and shortly thereafter the "fight" was on.

Lots of noise & gun smoke. The Union seemed to have somewhat more consistency in uniforms, but they were significantly under staffed. Maybe it was because there was a large group of re-enactors from Texas representing the Confederate forces.

Most of the Confederate line follows the order to charge...

with all of this taking place within sight of the campground.

It was nice that the Confederates had so many cannon because all of the gun owners wanted to make noise and were very successful at it! It was amazingly difficult, between the crowds and the shrubbery, to get good pictures of the gun crews in action.

All of this was viewed by large crowds on the hillside

and quite a few people in period dress.

While I was at the park Friday, I was corresponding with a good friend about an upcoming river trip. When she found out where we were, she said we should check out the band concert.

Turns out, her father (now deceased,) was the founder of the re-creation of the 4th U.S. Cavalry Regimental Band who play each year at the Civil War in the Southwest event.

Once again, some of the women were done up in period dress.

The band played music appropriate to the time period. Amazing how many melodies I recognized. I didn't realize I was that old...

The narrator / announcer started off the program giving a bit of background, including mention of their much loved founder and his wife.

The wool uniforms were admittedly very warm for the 80 degree plus weather we experienced.

The current director did occasional double-duty playing the piccolo.

I was so glad to experience such a small world! A river friend (at least that's where we see them most often) living in the northwest, recommends a band concert that I might well have walked by, had I not known the connection.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Picacho Peak State Park

Picacho Peak State Park is located at mile 219 on Interstate 10, about midway between Phoenix and Tucson. It is only open seasonally between mid-September and mid-May. It's well known for a 4 mile hike to the top of Picacho Peak, and can be busy during the winter months. The park entrance is within 1/4 mile of the freeway.
There are three loops in the camp area with a total of 85 individual camp sites. Each site has power (up to 50 amp) but no water or sewer at the individual sites. There is a dump site near the entrance to the campground loops. All of the sites have a paved driveway. Most have a picnic table and a tent pad. Because of the location there is some train and freeway noise that reaches the campsites.

Picacho Peak is the location of the western-most battle of the Civil War. The park hosts a reenactment every year, usually the 3rd weekend in March. This draws re-enactors from all around the southwest.

Also on the south side of the freeway interchange is the Arizona Nut House. It was closed, perhaps because the state legislature is in session. Maybe after the session some of those nuts could return to the Nut House.

The sign suggested the Nickerson Farms Restaurant might be a place for breakfast, but all that is left is the sign.

There were two other businesses on the south side of the freeway, a former gas station selling very tired looking used cars, and an Adult Boutique in a hot pink building without any customers.

On the north side of the freeway, Dairy Queen offers Unleaded and Mid-Unleaded Breakfasts until 11 a.m. every day.

In spite of the tired neighborhood, the park offers big views, great campsites, free hot showers, strong AT&T & Verizon cell signals, and an excellent pay-for-use WiFi system. Not a bad spot to spend some time if you're in the neighborhood before the temperatures hit triple digits.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Touch of Color

Last month we got the ceilings and the kitchen island painted. Now, with a river trip and a quick Alaska trip stored in the memory bank, it was time to quit avoiding the next step.

I started cutting in around the windows, ceiling, and baseboard. At least this time the Almond Biscuit color was enough change to easily see where I'd been.

Using the roller for the larger areas almost wasn't worth the effort to clean the gear when I was done, but it did make the work go faster. On day one, I got the open walls done in the entry, kitchen, and dining area. The next day all the "stuff" came out of the kitchen so I could do the pantry and the area above the cabinets.

By the end of the second day, we had the place mostly back together again. I've still got the living area and the majority of the entry & hall to do, but just like last time, we've got some important camping to do.

Gotta spread this job out. Besides, I'm not looking forward to moving the bookcases.

Meanwhile, Ms. Crafty has made progress on her latest quilt.

She started this in January while I was working on the solar installation,

and got the cover all put together last week. I suspect if I'd put the paint brushes away, she'd have this one done in short order.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Going to the Dogs

When we were in Alaska 10 days ago, as we headed to the first hockey game of the day, we spotted this team truck, driving through the rain to the ceremonial Iditarod start in Anchorage. They hauled in massive amounts of snow to surface the Anchorage section of the race.

I decided to hold this post until the race was finished, but decided with the winner known, it was time to let it go.

Since Spencer's first Saturday game wasn't over until after the Iditarod started, we decided to stop at BLM's Campbell Airstrip which was the end of the 11 mile ceremonial run. Teams are presented in the order they arrived.

Thomas Waerner from Norway (bib #8) was arriving just as we got there. Thomas is a Iditarod rookie, but a highly experienced musher.

The team of #10, Cindy Abbott, was running barefoot. Cindy is from Irvine, California. She's climbed Mt. Everest, and she's started the Iditarod twice but had to scratch both times and is therefore considered a rookie.

Bib numbers (and therefore start sequence) are done by luck of the draw.

#11 Kristy Berington is now from Kasilof, AK and is competing in her 5th Iditarod race. Her twin sister, Anna, is also in the race.

#9 Kelly Maixner, is from Big Lake, Alaska. He is competing in his 4th Iditarod. He's a pediatric dentist and was once a semi-pro football player.
#13 Jim Lanier is a 74 year old retired doctor from Chuglak in his 17th Iditarod.

The ceremonial leg includes a second sled and two riders for each team. The rider wrapped up in the front sled is an "Iditarider" who was a high bidder in a fund raiser. Iditariders paid an average of about $2000 for the privilege this year. The second individual is a volunteer. It wasn't clear how they were selected for the honor.

#12 Nicolas Petit is from Girdwood, AK in his 4th Iditarod start.

#14 Gwenn Bogart is now from Wasilla, AK although she spent much of her life in Vermont. She's had professional careers in horsemanship and fly fishing. This is her first Iditarod start.

It was fun watching these teams as they came to the airstrip at the end of their first leg.

By the time we left on Monday morning, the weather had cooled to single digits bringing the clear cold that we've come to associate with winter in Anchorage. We spent time in the airport while the Iditarod restarted in Fairbanks for the actual race.

Ten days later, we have a winner! Dallas Seavey, age 27, arrived in Nome over 4 hours ahead of his father, Mitch, (who also won the Iditarod, twice) who placed second. Dallas won the Iditarod in 2012 and 2014 as well. Dallas and his team covered the 979 miles at an average speed of 4.6 mph.

Here's the status of the seven mushers shown above as of 9:24 a.m. Alaska Daylight Time

  • #8, Thomas Waerner, is in 20th place, having passed through Elim. He should be arriving at White Mountain soon.
  • #9, Kelly Maixner, is in 14th place, currently in White Mountain, 902 miles into the race. There is a mandatory 8 hour rest in White Mountain.
  • #10, Cindy Abbott, is in 69th place, the last team of those still running. She's passed Nulato, 586 miles into the race, and should be arriving in Kaltag in the next hour or so.
  • #11, Kristy Berington, is in 29th place, having passed through Koyuk, 808 miles into the race. Her sister departed Koyuk one minute ahead of her
  • #12, Nicolas Petit, is in 10th place, currently in White Mountain, 902 miles into the race. He's 5 hours into his mandatory 8 hour rest in White Mountain.
  • #13, Jim Lanier, is in 55th place, currently in Unalakleet, 718 miles into the race. He's been in Unalakleet for 11 hours at this point.
  • #14, Gwenn Bogart, scratched after Tanana, 227 miles into the race.