Sunday, February 28, 2016

Walnut Canyon

Long before we knew what the weather might be, BJ made reservations at a beautiful place in Flagstaff. For the skiers, it wasn't good news since almost all the snow was gone, but for us, the weather was perfect!

Since we were staying on Old Walnut Canyon Road, it seemed appropriate to see if the road actually went to Walnut Canyon. It quickly turned to gravel and about a mile later turned to a badly rutted forest road. It would have been impassable to us if it was muddy or if the snow was too deep, but with the mud frozen, we could navigate the ruts and make progress towards our goal. We stopped where the Arizona Trail crossed the road
and checked out the neighborhood. It was quite clear that we weren't the only ones that had been by that morning! I'm pretty sure that track wasn't made by a house cat!

Just before we got to the Walnut Canyon Visitor Center, we intercepted the asphalt road that most people used to access the National Monument. (But we got four caches on our way, including one that required tree climbing...)

The Island Trail is the highlight of the monument, leading down into the canyon and then looping around an "island" with ruins on all sides.

The "trail" wasn't slippery since it was dry. The sign said there were 240 steps down.

If you looked close, you could pick out ruins on the opposite wall of the canyon

as well as ruins right next to the asphalt path. I wasn't too excited about the stairs and asphalt path, but given the number of visitors every year, I can understand they had to do something to control erosion.

I think I enjoyed the old juniper trees as much as I did the restored structures.

BJ and I agreed that the stairs seemed more work than if we're been climbing an incline, but it didn't take long to top out at the Visitor Center. I'm glad we went, and it certainly provides an easily accessed introduction to 1000 year old history, but it doesn't hold a candle in any manner to wandering around the Cedar Mesa area in SE Utah.

Up on the rim were widely scattered juniper and pinion pine. There is no camping in the Monument, but there is free forest boondocking just outside the fence. Easily accessible, and reasonably close to town. This area goes to the top of my short list of places to stay in the Flagstaff area.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Spring is Here!

After we got back from Quartzsite, BJ and I ended up spending a couple mornings in the Hawes Trail area. We both commented about how green the desert was - partly because its much more lush than the desert along Arizona's western border, and we thought that the unseasonably warm weather might have an influence as well.

Some of the area could pass for developed desert gardens given the variety of species. Saguaro, ocotillo, brittle bush, creosote, chollo, jojoba, palo verde, and the list goes on.

There were little spots of color if you kept an eye out. Blues

and yellows predominate

but there's some reds and oranges as well.

Creosote was blooming and our noses noted it as we sniffled.

Even the unusually twisted saguaro guarding a cache seemed to be enjoying the weather. I doubt the heat will last this time, but it won't be long and the heat will be back for good.

Monday, February 22, 2016

9th Annual Quartzsite Fiberglass Gathering

With the Quartzsite Gathering expanded to a whole week, it was fun watching it change. You never knew what was going to pull in next. I think that this Mini towing a Scamp 13 got the prize as the smallest egg combo, edged out only by the molded fiberglass teardrop that I had in my February 16th post.

Happy Camper was there for a couple days with both of their prototype / display trailers. He reported that they've delivered 17 trailers so far. This new design is 13 foot but includes a "toy hauler" door and an interior that is totally reconfigurable based on square plastic cube containers. Their second trailer featured a large opening side window for use as a food service location.

The solitary Vagabond from Manitoba was back this year.

There was a single Burro in attendance, sporting Arizona plates and a roof top air conditioner installation.
Dave and Paula were there with the only Lil Snoozy, complete with solar and LP.

For part of the week, the three Olivers were holding up the big end of the spectrum with several Escape 21s and a couple Big Foot 21s until a Big Foot 25 from Ontario pulled in and parked next to us. They were then trumped for the biggest trailer honors by a 28' Big Foot SilverCloud from British Columbia. The owner says they only built 13. I know I took pictures but I'm now in Flagstaff and they're on my "big" camera at home.

As the sun went down on the 9th Annual Gathering, the total fiberglass trailer count exceeded 180 which apparently makes this laid back gathering the largest molded fiberglass trailer gathering in the world.

Dates for next year have been set. Officially, the 10th Annual Quartzsite Gathering will start on Monday, February 6th through Sunday, February 12th although I suspect there will be people starting to gather as much as a week earlier.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Trailer Shopping - Permission or Forgiveness?

A couple weeks ago, after BJ & Jeff left, I continued some low key trailer shopping. We'd already looked at new stuff and didn't find anything we liked. When I spotted this one, I had to stop and chat with the caretaker for a bit. At first, I thought it might be an 1940's Westwood, but the more I look, the less I'm sure.

The repaint is long faded. The trailer had been on this property for decades, used as a desert cabin.

It has air conditioning. I think that's what they call the broken windows. The door is a suicide style which is appropriate to the vintage.

It comes complete with a 'retro style' tongue jack that will look really cool if it can be resuscitated.

I was especially enamored with the 15 inch split rims, retained by a few bolts, but not as many as the manufacturer intended. The tires are very low miles and still have good tread, or at least that's what the Craig's List ad would say...

There was still some interior in place and that's where I started questioning my Westwood theory. These cabinets appeared to be built from fir plywood rather than birch.

It does have a cool looking, free standing, heater by the door. Not sure how long it's been since this unit was used, but the wind deflectors for the vent pipes are still with the trailer.

It's a bit of a fixer-upper. Needs some tender, loving care. Not only is the ceiling vent gone, but it's leaked enough that the ceiling is gone and I suspect the framing is as well.

Near the door you could see daylight at the bottom of the wall, and see where the wall framing was cracked in a few places. It think this project could best be called a "frame-up" restoration.

One of the reasons I don't think it's a Westwood is that they were all built with aluminum. This is clearly not aluminum...

And did I mention that it's a toy-hauler? At some point after they quit using it as a cabin, they removed the rear panel to provide a larger access area,

But the panel and window frame are still there, complete with an old California plate and the single brake/tail light.

This could prove I'm certifiable, but it sure looks like fun! No title and an unknown brand, but it could be configured however we want it. I think I'll go back to see if they'll pay me to haul it away. Or maybe I should get in line to put a deposit on an Escape TA...

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Quartzsite Property

The Quartzsite Gathering has typically been Friday, Saturday, and Sunday following Super Bowl. I've been settled in on Dome Rock Road since the Thursday before Superbowl Sunday. While trailers were starting to gather, I went looking for project property.

I found some view property with great character and potential. Two stone buildings.

The smaller building was built primarily of 6" concrete block (I'd never seen 6" block before) with 6 to 8 inches of rock masonry veneer.

The rock was nicely finished on the outside, and the builder had carefully used white quartz to frame around the windows and door openings as well as the corners of the walls. The inside walls of this building were finished with smooth plaster.

The other building had rock walls with a relatively smooth outer face. The walls were single stacked

and the inside surface was left very rough! Most rock cabins I've seen have used a double stack wall so that both inside and out are relatively smooth, with the center core filled with mortared rubble, making a stronger wall.

The bigger building had a large window facing southeast. Not sure if the builder used no header, or if the header failed, but it was obvious that the window had redefined itself and was now going to feature an arch.

Perhaps the best feature of this building was the expansive view to the northwest seen through the building. The northwestern wall had totally failed.

Like I say, project property. Since it apparently sits on BLM land, I'm sure no one will be tackling this restoration any time soon!

Meanwhile, back at Dome Rock, the trailers are gathering quickly. On Thursday the 4th there were about a dozen. By mid-day on the 8th there's likely more than 50. I've seen lots of Casitas, 7 or 8 Escapes, several Scamps, 3 Olivers, a Play-Mor, a Trillium,

and this fiberglass teardrop that seems to be holding its own for claim to the smallest trailer here.

The Escape 21s and the Olivers are currently holding the large end of the spectrum unless a BigFoot 25 shows up to trump them.

The best part of the day was when this Escape TA showed up. Be still my heart... There is a BigFoot single axle 5th wheel on site, but unless someone has a tandem axle BigFoot 5th wheel with the winter package (very, very rare and now 30 years old) the Escape TA is the nicest little 5th wheel around.
While I'm drooling, the eye in the sky is keeping an eye on everyone as they work against a quartering headwind on their way to LA.

If you haven't figured it out, the blog posts are running around 10 days or more behind. There will be a couple more from Q, but you'll just have to wait for them.