Thursday, February 26, 2015

Off Trail Exploration

BJ and I had talked about going hiking Tuesday, but her knee was bothering her so I headed out to the Meridian trailhead to do the Pass Mountain Loop trail. This trailhead is at the north end of Meridian, on Tonto National Forest Land. There is no fee at this location. Looks like someone figured it was a good boondocking location.

The view to the southwest included the rain clouds that had passed through less than an hour before. The hope was that it would be clear and cool - and it turned out that way.

It did my heart good to be hiking through a saguaro forest. A few days ago a Canadian blogger was verbally snickering about the Tonto National Forest not having any trees. It took years, but we've figured out you don't need trees to have a forest.

I was surprised to see a cairn along the very good trail. Perhaps I shouldn't have laughed quite so quickly.

The trail condition went downhill as I continued up the hill to the saddle.

At the saddle there was a beautiful view towards the Salt River with lots of blue sky to offset the cool breeze.

This trail is very well known with dozens of people hiking it every day. I was very surprised to see the narrow trail heading north per the map, but it had seen some horse traffic (including road apples) in the last couple days.

My trail north from the saddle was clearly marked with cairns. I was surprised that the trail was not showing the signs of heavy travel that I expected, but the cairns and occasional fresh horse sign continued to mark my route.

The route continued to get sketchier, but it continued to hold my interest, and while I was clearly off trail, I wasn't lost, I was just finding my way.

The views off the east were beautiful. While I was eyeballing the eastern view, I spotted a herd of at least thirteen wild horses. They were too far away to get a good picture.

Eventually, the cairns and the trail disappeared entirely. While I was picking cactus thorns out of my boot, I spotted a group of people on a trail (shown by the white line.) That was clearly where I was supposed to be...

Once I finally got up to the real trail, I was able to take advantage of a section that looked a bit like a freeway. It didn't hold out, however, as the trail condition went downhill

as I entered Usery Mountain Regional Park at the northwest corner. The firing ranges were all busy from the sound of it. This was the first sign I'd seen except for one where they were doing some revegetation.

I bailed out on the hike when I got back to the Wind Cave trailhead instead of finishing the 2.4 miles around the south side of Pass Mountain back to the Meridian trailhead. I'd done a good portion of that mileage in off trail exploration already. BJ picked me up and shuttled me back to the truck where I was the only Arizona license plate in the parking lot.

I wanted to save some miles for our visit to the Good Sam Phoenix Rally where they'll have bunches and bunches of RV's to tour.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Minature Fiberglass Gathering

Lynne & David contacted us to let us know that they were back in the area for a few days and invited us out to Lost Dutchman to share their bonfire. We saw it as a wonderful excuse to get rid of some more of our bumper crop of citrus - and a great chance to spend an evening with friends!

We managed to get there about the time the sun was starting to set, which made for some nice pictures of the Superstitions. Turns out, Lynne and David were hosting a miniature fiberglass trailer rally. An Escape from Washington, a Scamp from Arizona, and Casitas from Tennessee and Kansas were represented.

There's been lots of blog discussion lately about the "hike" to Flatiron. Let's just say the second half of the "hike" is more vertical than horizontal!

As the sun got lower on the horizon, the mountain turned to gold - but not the Lost Dutchman's gold.

David got the fire started (with just one match and no cheater fluid)

just in time for us to ooh and aha about the colors of the sunset.

They were located in the "overflow" (aka serendipity) loop. Rumor has it that this loop will go into the reservation system in the future. Too bad, became some of the best views are currently from the serendipity sites.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Slippery Slope

A couple months ago, I painted a door casing at the house. In the process, I started looking closer and realized that our home was starting to show it's age, and nearly all the rooms needed to be freshly painted.

We decided to start with the ceilings in the kitchen / dining / great room. With BJ clearing off the shelves and removing the drapes, I started gathering materials.

The ceiling will be the same color as the original 15 year old flat paint, but this time we're using an eggshell sheen.

I started by cutting in the edges - which took much longer than I expected. I discovered there is a real disadvantage to 10' ceilings!

The inspector wasn't sure what to think as we kept shuffling furniture around. He did manage to stay far enough away that he didn't get any Swiss Coffee camouflage.

I was really surprised by how much paint it took to cover the original. We were less than half done (and with one trip back to the store for more paint) when we decided that we'd done enough for one day. We finished the day with another trip to the store now that we had a better idea of how much more paint it would take.

By the end of the second day, we had everything but the entry and the hallway finished and stuff was going back in place. All told, it took us 2 1/2 short days to get the ceiling done the way we wanted it. Next step will be the walls, but I'm planning a camping trip, a river trip, and some other stuff before we do the walls.

Now we're looking at the bedroom carpets - thinking we may decide to install bamboo flooring in the bedrooms, and that got us thinking about tile in the master bathroom,

which led to a huge warehouse of tile and walls of examples of tile, metal, and/or glass mosaics. I didn't get a picture in the showroom, but they had enough stuff to get us thinking about a someday kitchen remodel.

Now I'm understanding why BJ wanted to "stay closer to home" this summer...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Inflatable Fun

We have some good friends who live in a depressed area, at least as far as international household retailers are concerned. We told them that they were always welcome to stay with us when they needed a shopping fix. They made their initial stop on the way into town and then showed up at our house.

The next morning, they needed to pick up a package of inflatable fun at Rocky Mountain Rafts' warehouse. The warehouse was just that - a warehouse. They did have one 12 foot raft inflated

as well as one of their new solo inflatable kayaks. They're now building a tandem IK as well, but it's not on their website yet.

It didn't take too long to find our target. There were quite a few boats neatly packaged in the warehouse and RMR was expecting another large shipment "any day now" which could have made the hunt of this package a bit more challenging.

Since their rig was already partially loaded with shopping spoils from the day before, we took BJ's car. It came within 1/2 inch of being a mistake.

As a token of our esteem for these friends, I took them to our favorite breakfast place on the way home. We don't tell everyone about this place -- the waiting line is long enough as it is!

With a bit of shuffling of the results of the first phase of their shopping, we were able to load the big box of fun on top to hold everything down. Now they know exactly how much room they have left for their final pass through Swedish aisles before they head home.

With a big blue store scheduled to open in Las Vegas in 2016, we're going to have to work on another excuse to get them to visit. Maybe our secret breakfast place will be enough draw. Or maybe we'll see them on a river.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Still Looking for Gold

When I was staying at the Road Runner area, a couple weeks ago, I noticed a community in the desert almost southeast of Dome Rock. While we were in Q for the Fiberglass Gathering, we went looking.

The first thing we found was this relatively large mining operation. We wondered where they got their processing water.

Across the road from the large operation was this much older headframe. Based on the newest trailer parked on the hill behind the mine, and a variety of small diggings, I assume someone is still trying to find gold.

Around the corner a ways was another claim with a few structures. We followed the road to the end of the county portion and decided the private property signs at that point likely referred to looky-loos like us.

At least one of the mine names seemed to make it pretty clear what they were hoping to find.

Other names, maybe not so much. On the other hand, perhaps it really was a honey business at the end of the trail.

We finally found (it really wasn't difficult) Rainbow Acres. A community that seems to actually honor RVs. Some lots had a small dwelling, others just a shed and hookups for winter visitors. Based on the number of For Sale signs and the length of time on the market, I don't suppose there's a lot of gold to be found here.

Getting closer, but the Piper Cub was yellow rather than gold. There's a few roads scratched in the desert on the north side of the community that get used for a couple light planes. This one gets towed down the street to a house/hangar.

This is as close as we got to finding gold on this exploration. Willy's wagons are getting pretty rare, but I don't think this one qualifies as gold. It was fun looking, anyway.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Looking for Gold

For the past ten years, I've regularly paddled sections of the lower Colorado River, initially passing through the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, and in more recent years, launching from Walter's Camp, across the river from Cibola Lake. During all that time, I'd never visited Cibola on land. With a week scheduled in Quartzsite for the Fiberglass Gathering, it was time to do some exploring!

The Visitor Center for the Wildlife Refuge is located in Arizona, but accessed from Highway 78 south of Blythe, California. There's a nice drive around some of the area in the refuge,

and the drive is aptly named. There were LOTS of geese there when we visited and lots of other things that birders would recognize.

Continuing south from the Visitor Center to the stop sign at the end of the asphalt, we turned up the hill on Hart Mine road, entering BLM land. About 2 miles in, we found a boondockng spot with views that went forever. You can read more about the location on Campendium.
Back at the Cibola Lake Road, we headed further south to visit Cibola Lake. On the way, we ran across the remains of a cabin built by Carl Bishop in 1910.

There's a fair bit of sagging going on now. Makes me wonder how much longer the cottonwood logs are going to hold together!

From the corner of the cabin, you can spot the trailers at Walter's Camp. Between here and there is Cibola Lake and two channels of the Colorado River.

We didn't find any lost cities of gold, but we found the next best thing - rust! The Buick convertible was just the body - no engine, transmission, or axles.

Unlike most rust collections near old mines, this one didn't have any trucks, except for this right side fenders and running board assembly.

I wasn't able to identify this car. It was just down the hill from the Buick, and was also missing engine, transmission, and axles.

The view from the other end. I'm wondering if it's a Hudson, but if anyone can identify it, I'd sure like to hear from you.

Fair warning. The road to Cibola Lake from the intersection with Hart Mine road is dirt. It was fine when we were there, but obviously could have been a real mess during the rains the week before.

Next time we'll take the canoes or kayaks to drift around the edges of Cibola Lake where there should be lots of wildlife.

Cibola has been a popular blog subject recently. Just yesterday, Al & Kelley from The Bayfield Bunch posted about their stay at Cibola, apparently down the hill from the spot I like.