Sunday, January 28, 2018

Fiberglas Friends

We're blessed to live close to the Superstitions. Not only does it make it easy to go out to play, but it's also a place that many of our molded Fiberglas trailer friends like to visit. We hit the jackpot recently when two couples ended up there at the same time. Jerry, of Egg Rollings, had to get a picture.

We grabbed the dutch oven and headed out to fix dinner for them. Pot Roast, low and slow, gave us lots of time to play with fire and to catch up with travel plans and aspirations.

There's three pounds of pot roast buried under all the veggies.

The breeze was a bit chilly (at least for Arizona weather wimps) but it was nice and warm in their Clam with a little fire going. A big thanks to Lynne and David of Winter in the Desert who were the first to spill the beans that they were all going to be at Lost Dutchman.

As always, the sunset plays beautifully on the mountain although I wasn't patient enough for a good picture - too busy eating.

The crowning glory, food wise, was Jerry's blueberry cobbler. If I'd been smarter, we would have brought some Tillamook ice cream to add yet another layer of gastronomic decadence!

We'll see them all again in Quartzsite soon.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Sunshine on the River

After my business was done in Algodones on Thursday morning, I headed north on the California side of the river to Senator Wash to do a little paddling and geocaching. In addition to the Imperial Dam Long Term Visitors Area, there's a BLM 'campground' at Squaw Lake, but it looks more like a parking lot. I elected to camp on the North Shore which is also a BLM campground with fees but without designated campsites.

The long gravel drive with a couple reasonably steep sections does a good job of dissuading too many people from coming this direction. There were several good waterfront sites on Senator Wash Reservoir available when I was there. $15 per night with a 50% discount for the senior pass. The sunrise was pretty special, too.

Friday morning I started back around to Fisher's Landing on the Arizona side of the river.

This is the 11th year that Helen has done her Friends of Helen trip over MLK weekend (and the 9th time I've done the trip.) We've always used Fishers Landing as our takeout point, but this year their ramp was closed for construction. We still used their parking area for organizing our shuttle.

The shuttle to Walter's Camp is right at 100 miles long - not a fast shuttle!

Sunrise at Walter's Camp. I elected to take the kayak this year because it's hung in the garage for two years without getting wet.

Much of this section of the Colorado river is surrounded by wildlife refuges that do not allow camping. Walter's Camp is on a BLM lease across the river from Cibola National Wildlife Refuge. Downstream, Imperial NWR is the predominate land manager until you get to Picacho State Recreation Area (PSRA) on the California side of the river.

I didn't take many pictures on the river since my only camera was my phone. As is normal for me on this trip, I launch early and enjoy the solitude on the river. The first day is a bit over 15 miles to the PSRA 4-S boat-in camp.

For the tenth year, trash can turkey was featured for dinner our first night. This year there was a fair amount of breeze so we leveraged the fire pits as wind breaks. Two 14 pound turkeys were done in less than an hour and 45 minutes.

As the sun sets at 4-S, the light turns golden on the bluff across the river, but I was too busy with the turkeys to get a picture at the optimal time.

Instead, I settled for sunrise. Typically, I don't carry a cell phone on this trip, but this year, the cell phone was my sole source of decent photos. I was really surprised to see that I got enough signal here to post a picture to Instagram.

The second day on the water is the short day, with less than seven miles from 4-S to the group boat-in site at PSRA. We had breeze most days, but typically it was a tailwind.

I ducked into the entrance to Taylor Lake. I would have gone further but I didn't bring my GPS on this trip. There are two or three geocaches in the Taylor Lake area that I may find one of these days. The coots love the reeds. They eat them off at the water level and then hide in/under the reeds.

I was going to fix dinner, but friends were making chicken enchiladas in their dutch oven and I got to share. Most excellent!

Sunset over the group site at Picacho. In addition to the group site, the other advantage of this location is that the campground has solar heated showers. Bliss!

No sunrise pictures on the last day since the camp is hidden from the horizon, but coming out from the side channel to the river, it looked like another beautiful day.

I was surprise by a bobcat trying to catch a coot (who surprised me when it jumped in the water right beside me) as I drifted on down the river towards our takeout.

Since the boat ramp at Fisher Landing was undergoing heavy maintenance, we took out at Martinez Lake for the first time, and then walked over to Fisher's Landing to pick up the truck.

Yet another wonderful trip and a chance to meet some new friends.

Best of all, I got one more sunset in the rear view mirror just before I got home.

The boat's been washed and hung up, the gear is washed and put away, and now it's time to start thinking about Quartzsite friends.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Bit Cloudy

I was wandering north from Yuma towards Senator Wash when I passed a museum I'd noticed once before. This time, I committed to stop on my way back and check it out.

It was my kind of place! A wide variety of rust with a good representation of trucks and equipment in addition to the car collection. Most of the collection dated to the 20's and 30's.

There was a reasonable collection visible from outside the walls.

Once through the gates and with my $5 entrance fee deposited in the iron ranger, I was presented with rows of rust. A couple rows of trucks parked cheek to jowl - so close it was impossible to get pictures of just one vehicle at a time.

In addition to the trucks, there were rows of cars that I pretty much ignored since I didn't have enough time to investigate everything.

There was at least two buildings filled with cars that were cleaned up and painted.

One of the highlights for me was this Ford Class C motorhome. I couldn't decide if it was a homebuilt conversion or purpose built. The current body was clearly purpose built as an RV.

The back had a pair of bunk beds set crosswise with a ceramic sink to one side of aisle and a five gallon bucket with a toilet seat just past the mirrored door. Cabinet work was classic 1930's residential construction.

A once upholstered chair and a swiveling driver's seat made up the seating arrangement. With a restoration, this one would be a real star at vintage trailer rallies.

For me, the most intriguing vehicle was this Dodge bus parked off by itself between a couple buildings.

It featured a Wayne schoolie body

that was in reasonable shape for its age and experience. I think it would be a wonderful candidate for an RV conversion! It would definitely qualify as unique!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Desert Wandering

On January 1st, we had the same idea as a bunch of other people. I'll admit, about 20 of those people were geocachers, but I didn't expect the parking lot to be as full as it was. By the time we returned, the lot was double parked, and there were cars all along the road obstructing access to the No Parking signs.

This particular trail was all new to Spencer and me, and over half of it was new to BJ.

Like nearly any other trail around these parts, there were interesting view of the desert and the mountains.

There was one point where Spencer knew where he was... This trip was about a five mile loop with enough heat to wear out the Alaska kid.

Another day I headed out alone to enjoy the sunrise in Bulldog canyon.

This year there were quite a few folks boondocking along the Bulldog Canyon road. The road was in better shape, but since I didn't have a current permit, I parked at the highway and walked.

I like the beauty and the hiking available in this area, but cell connectivity would be iffy.

I figured that I'd time the walk (1.5 miles each way) so that there would be enough daylight by the time I got to my initial destination.

Timed it just right and got there first! :-) This cache was especially nice with an outer container of a new ammo can and two containers inside - one for the logbook and the other for swag.

As I headed back to the highway, the sun was started to peek over the ridge, casting light on the eastern face of the hills. A beautiful way to start another winter day in Arizona!

Monday, January 8, 2018


It's so easy to make plans. Tougher to keep them! Hard to say how many of these will actually come to fruition but it's nice to have some goals. Somewhere in the mix of the next six weeks will be a visit to my Mexican dentist.

  • Friends of Helen Lower Colorado River paddling trip over the extended MLK weekend - This will be the 11th Annual Friends of Helen trip.
  • 46th Wedding Anniversary
  • Jeff in town to use his RV. I think it's scheduled for a few hours in the shop for a steering stabilizer and then Quartzsite for a few days for the beginning of the Big Tent show.
  • Mother-in-law in town to enjoy some sunshine.
  • Hosting a geocaching gathering in Quartzsite that was scheduled prior to MIL's visit.
  • Escapees Geocaching Birds of a Feather gathering in Quartzsite.
  • Early birds for the Fiberglass Gathering at Dome Rock in Quartzsite.
  • Fiberglas Gathering at Dome Rock in Quartzsite.
  • SWAG Geocaching Mega Event in Yuma and related events that conflict with the Fiberglas Gathering.
  • Valentine's Day
  • House building project in Mexico

Looks like we're going to be really busy through mid February with some of the things on the list. Meanwhile, we have other friends and relatives traveling through the area that we're hoping to catch up with as well.

After mid February, we'll have a month or so to take a deep breath, deal with Doctor appointments, and the last mods to Jeff's RV before cruising off to islands, beaches, etc.

In April I'm expecting to be busy making the rounds of all my caches to insure they're ready for summer, truck maintenance, new tires on the trailer and prepping for summer travel.

With as much specificity as there was in the January-February list, the only thing we know about summer travel is that we're hoping to cross paths with the Alaska contingent in late May, possibly in Jasper.

We're wishing each of our friends a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Storing Some Juice, II

Our original plan had been to replace the original 12 volt batteries with a pair of Interstate GC2 6 volt golf cart batteries that were easily available from our local Costco, but BJ and I were wandering the Mesa Market Place one day and ran across a couple outfits with excellent prices on Trojan batteries. I turned Jeff loose to do some research. 

He talked with both vendors and ended up getting four US Battery 232 amp hour batteries for $110 each (plus tax.) These were fresh batteries - the construction date stamped on their posts was October 2017. With that sort of pricing, it was an easy decision to upgrade from the 205 amp/hr batteries at Costco.

The original battery tie-down bolts were 9 1/2 inch long carriage bolts. With the new, taller batteries, we needed 11 inch bolts, but my favorite hardware store only stocked them to 10 inch long, so we used Nyloc self locking nuts and fender washer on 12" long piece of all thread. On the top, we were able to reuse the tie plates and nuts. With two batteries in place we were already up about 50% on available amp hours.

The base for the battery box drawer was attached with four bolts through the bottom of the storage bay, retained by fender washers and nyloc nuts on the bottom.

Battery boxes for a pair of GC2 sized batteries are not terribly common. We got this one from All Battery Sales & Service in Everett, Washington because I'd been so happy with the one I've used on our Scamp for the past six years.

I wanted to vent the box overboard so I added a PVC conduit body to the cover, attaching the body with two screws and sealing it with trusty 3M5200.

I'd hoped to be able to vent directly out, but the battery box height was such that the vent would hit the aluminum angle that forms part of the storage bay. I drilled a 2" hole through the back of the bay as well as 7/8" holes for the battery cables.

A couple of elbows and some 1 1/2" PVC pipe created the offset solution for the vent.
The vent pipe slides over the sleeve on the conduit body. The other hole in the conduit body is unnecessary and closed with a plug.

The battery box is retained in the drawer in case the driver wants to try some aerobatics. I elected to us a 4' loop strap from NRS.
The NRS loop strap is built for use on white water rafts, but the cam buckle works excellent and I've had a long history of success with these, so it became my logical choice for a simple tie-down system.
We used 1/0 battery cables from Windy Nation on Amazon for the 18" ones that we needed with the batteries in the original location. Unfortunately, they apparently don't do custom lengths, nor 6' long lengths. I didn't want to deal with the extra length or the wait, so we had cables custom built by a local auto stereo shop for the connections to the batteries in the drawer. They are retained by Adel clamps screwed to some aluminum angle that is riveted in place.
For this system, we're now very battery heavy. The batteries could easily support two or three more panels, but it gives Jeff the capacity to enjoy a week of rainy, overcast fishing without needing to fire up the noise maker.