Imperial Dam

Jan 8-11, 2018

We left Organ Pipe NM and headed off towards Yuma on Jan 8. The sites and access lanes at Organ Pipe are quite tight when hauling a 40′ fifth wheel. The sites are well spaced and very nice though. I ended up having to back out of the site even though it is a pull through as there wasn’t enough room at the front of the site to make the turn onto the laneway between site rows.

Not far north of OP we came across another Border Patrol check station. Looked like the agents were having a good time when we pulled through. They did do a full walk around of the trailer and looked into the truck. When we told them where we were coming from the agents comment was “You’re brave staying there. That’s one of our big hot spots for border activity”. Well thanks, glad Jane didn’t know that going in.

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We drove up through Ajo, AZ. A nice looking little town with lots of interesting buildings. We didn’t stop anywhere and just snapped some pictures as we drove through.

With a fuel stop at the Love’s Truck Stop in Gila Bend we headed off west on I8 towards Yuma. Here’s a picture of the Edge CTS2 I use to monitor the engine while we are hauling. Lets me watch EGT’s and more and show when it enters a DPF burn which kills the fuel mileage while it’s happening.

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After leaving I8 we found our way onto Hwy 95 and followed another RV into the Imperial Dam area. The entrance off Hwy 95 is pretty clearly marked by a couple of very large guns. There is also a display of military hardware just off the highway but the parking area was being paved so we couldn’t stop there. Will have to get some pictures of it all when they are done with the paving. Did see a helicopter mounted on a post at the main Army base gate. Looks to be a Huey Cobra.

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The Imperial Dam LTVA entrance was staffed with a Canadian couple originally from England. We took on some fresh water and headed out to find a site. Found a nice location with a view of the water (if we look carefully in the right direction). Someone has created a guitar with stones on the ground here.

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After setting up we took a drive around the North Shore of Senator Wash. Friends had stayed there last year down by the water. There was no way I’d be taking our trailer down that route but if you have a smaller and lighter RV it would be a nice area to spend time. It’s a different fee area for camping in.

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I got my drone out to take some aerial pictures of the area and our site.

On the 9th it got windy and the dust was kicking up. Then it rained some but barely enough to dampen the ground. There was a nice double rainbow that followed when the sun came back out late in the day. Need to go over to that fifth wheel (they are from Ontario, near Toronto) and look for the pot of gold. πŸ™‚

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We took a trip into Yuma to get some supplies and stopped down in the historic district on Main St. A craft brewery called our names and we stopped in for a couple of beers and a snack.

Planning to take a drive over past El Centro on Saturday. Seems there is a clothing optional resort out that way though so I’ll have to make sure we don’t maake any wrong turns. πŸ™‚

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Organ Pipe National Monument

Jan 6, 2018

We left Benson AZ on Saturday morning and headed towards Tuscon where we would exit and pick up AZ 86. It was nice to be off the interstates after driving them all the way from Ontario. Hardly any vehicles on the highway and we probably could have stopped in the road and had lunch before someone came along. There were a ton of what looked like memorials along the highway and when we got to AZ 85 we pulled over to go back and look at one. I’ll have to translate the Spanish when I get a chance as “Yo no hablo espaΓ±ol”.

 

 

 

 

We booked into a site for two nights here. Still have our annual National Park pass from last year so just the 16$/night for dry camping.

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Once we were setup we went across the road for the Ajo Mountain Scenic drive which was a 21mi loop along a mostly gravel road. We stopped and walked out to get some pictures of the Organ Pipe cactus (cacti?) and the mountains at various pull offs along the route. There are a couple of arches in the surrounding mountains too.

This Organ Pipe cactus has a deformity growing in it.

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After the trip it was back to the trailer for blackened salmon with chinoa and beans (I’m not so much a chinoa type πŸ™‚ )

Jan 7, 2018

Figured it was another good day to test the off road capabilities of the new truck and we headed off on the North Puerto Blanco Drive which then connected with the South Peurto Blanco Drive. Was a lot better than the dually I had which would have gotten fender scratches in lots of places. The route was 51mi by the time we got back to the campsite. The first part of the road was reasonably smooth and then it changed to an “unimproved” dirt road which means they graded it at one time, just not in recent memory.

We stopped at one point to hike out to Dripping Springs which was about 1mi round trip. Jane waited at the bottom while I hiked up the hillside to the actual spring. Only way I found it was listening for the occasional drip sound and it was hidden behind some bushes.

And this is the actual spring. Little bit of lunch bag let down. πŸ™‚

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We passed a few Border Patrol guys staring out at the cacti. I’m sure they were looking for something but it wasn’t us. We passed a couple of towers that had a big red button you could push if you were in need of water. It’s to the right of the truck in the picture. I didn’t test it.

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We also came across blocked off mine shafts at this location.

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We had taken a lunch with us and stopped at Bonita Well. It looked like at one time the windmill pumped water into the concrete trough and the pens were used for roundups. I got the drone out for a couple of pics too.

We continued on the road. At some points it was pretty nice and you could run 30mph, at other points it was more like 2mph. Near the end of the road we were winding our way down a sandy wash. We stopped at Quiobaquito Spring for a walk. A few waterfowl taking advantage of the pond and a Border Patrol buy eating his lunch. He waved. We waved. We must have looked okay to him.

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When we got back to the truck at the spring parking area the BP truck was gone so Jane took advantage of the fact that nobody was round. One foot in Mexico, one foot in Arizona.

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Doesn’t look like much of a wall. Maybe they haven’t started construction yet. This one looks Β it wouldn’t stop anyone. That’s Mexico Hwy 2 in the background.

Was another 15mi of winding desert road and we were back on AZ 85 and headed north to the park. We did take a short detour south to check out the Lukeville border crossing first but decided we’d just stay in the USA.

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Benson, AZ

Jan 1, 2018

I had done this post the other day but I have no idea where it went after it published so I’ll try again.

We went for a drive down to Bisbee, AZ from the SKP Saguaro park we are in for a week. We were down there a couple of years ago but it’s a great place to visit whenever we are in the area.

Passed a Volkswagen Beetle that looks like it won’t be on the road anytime soon. Can’t tell if it is trying to escape the hole or sinking into one.

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We parked at the bottom end of Bisbee and walked up the hill through town. Lots of art galleries and vintage stores to wander through. Probably something for everyone here no matter what kind of bric-a-brac you like to collect. Jane found herself a pair of glittery silver shoes for 4$. Seems she is attracted to the clothing from the 80’s and makes a beeline for those racks in each store.

A small parade was winding it’s way through town with an odd assortment of musical instruments, many looked like they were home made. There was even a bicycle converted to a musical cart of sorts.

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A trip to Bisbee isn’t complete without a stop at the Old Bisbee Brewing Company. Jane had the Copper Ale with a bratwurst and I had the Double Hopped IPA with a bowl of chili. Both great beers.

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From Bisbee we looped west to Sierra Vista which is quite a large city with all the big box stores and a mall. I stopped in at the Harbor Freight to see what was on sale. If I had the space I could load up on a number of tools I’d like for the shop back home. Before the end of the winter I’m planning to pick up one of their TiG welders. Maybe it’ll go on sale before the end of April.

After leaving Sierra Vista we drove east on Hwy 82 and stopped at the old town site of Fairbank. Looks like it was quite the going concern back in the day when the railroad was coming through town and the silver mining was active. Pretty quiet there today as it was New years Day.

From Fairbank we continued east to Hwy 80 where we stopped at our first Border Patrol of the winter. The first time we lined up for one outside of El Paso they closed up shop before we got to the head of the line and everyone was just directed past it. This time the officer looked at our passports and commented about the weather back home in Ontario being much colder than here in Arizona. We agreed with him and were on our way back to Benson.

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For Kelly of The Bayfield Bunch this is Jane’s 4$ shoe purchase. πŸ™‚

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Winter 2018

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We moved the truck and trailer out onto the road on Boxing Day afternoon so that we were ready to go on Wednesday.

Rolled out Wednesday morning at 7:05AM. Roads were a mixed of center bare and packed snow for the first hour and a half. Headed for Windsor to cross the border. Had considered going under the lake but Erie PA got a snow dump. Going through Sarnia meant risking lake effect snow off Huron so Windsor it was. Border was packed with cars but RV’s go through the truck lanes which was reasonably quick. The border agent spent quite a while typing on his computer while we waited. He might have been messaging his wife. Can’t see him spending that much time researching us.

First night was a FlyingJ south of Dayton OH. It was pretty cold so we were bundled up in the trailer to sleep. We had planned on making Nashville but stopped early.

Early start the next day, think it was 5:00AM. Headed further south and then west and stopped for the night in Texarkana AR. Another FlyingJ night and a horrible Denny’s dinner.

Friday morning we aimed for Dallas and beyond. The truck nav argued but we persevered and took the southern bypass route. Traffic wasn’t too bad and temperatures were getting better. We spent the night at another FlyingJ in Sparks TX, just short of El Paso.

Next morning we were off just before daylight and planning to use the bypass route detailed on RV Dreams and also on The Bayfield Bunch and with those instructions we easily skipped the I10 route through El Paso. Easy peasy.

We aimed for Benson and about noon rolled into SKP Saguaro park where we are staying for a week. Current plans after here is Yuma area.

Rolling for Wasaga

After leaving Holbrook we had planned to go up to Canyon de Chelly for a few days on our route home. As we headed across I40 towards Chambers where we planned to turn north we drove into a snow storm. After a short discussion we decided to just stay on I40 and head for home as it would be colder up at Chinle.

Our destination the first night was Tucumcari, NM and from there we planned to get off the interstate and head north. We spent the night at the Flying J in Tucumcari after fueling. I prefer to fuel at the truck stops and use the highway truck islands as there is no issue then with space to turn.

The next day we headed up Hwy 54 through the corner of Texas, across the Oklahoma panhandle, across Kansas (no tornados, no Dorothy) and through the north-west corner of Missouri and into Iowa. We stopped at the Pilot just north of Osceola for the final fuel stop. We had planned to overnight here but then saw the casino just up the road. We moved there and parked for the night in their parking lot. They also have an RV park which is 10$/night with full hookups.

We went into the casino for dinner. The food was great at the bar and the price was even better. πŸ™‚ Β We decided to risk a whole 5$ on the slot machines after eating. The first machine ended up paying me $34.50 for my $0.50 bet. I had no idea how that happened as I just pushed all the buttons and waited. Thought it had gone into some demo mode. In the end we won nothing else and left the casino up 10$ with dinner and slot machines paid by the casino winnings!

The next day was Sunday and we planned to get through Chicago and into Canada. After being on 54 we were spoiled by the roads. The two-lane highways are much better thn the multi-lane ones. Pretty sure I lost some fillings out of my teeth heading around Chicago. It’s getting hard to find roads I don’t mind driving on. We took this route to avoid the turnpike in OK that bounces the trailer in the air and I75 south of Detroit that just beats the whole rig to death.

At some parts I just drove in the left lane which was smoother and left it to those behind me to figure out how to get past me.

The border crossing at Sarnia was easy and fast. We had been worried about the extra booze we had on board but all they were concerned about was firearms.

Once we crossed into Ontario we were on one of the smoothest roads of the whole winter! I figured I’d drive as far as I was comfortable doing. That ended up all the way home where we arrived at about 11:30pm after leaving Osceola at 7:00am.

Another winter away in the southwest is in the books. Bring on summer and fun on the water!

Holbrook, AZ

We left Cottonwood and headed to Holbrook via Hwy 260 & 87. This entailed climbing up to a much higher elevation where there was snow on the roadside. No cell coverage up in this area so you don’t want to be having issues. All of the campgrounds through this route were closed for the winter as were all the forest roads.

After arriving in Holbrook we booked into OK RV for two nights with the GoodSam discount. Dinner that night at Romo’s for Mexican was great. Good prices and lots on the plates.

We went the next day to Petrified Forest National Park. We drove to the southern entrance with the plan to drive through and out the north gate. There is a ton of petrified wood in the area as you drive to the park along 180. All the places want to sell you some but we don’t need more stuff in the house.

The park is very interesting and the short hikes through the petrified wood locations give you a close up look at it all.

As we moved towards the north end of the park the Painted Desert colors became more noticable. We spotted some Pronghorn antelope.

There are also petroglyphs that can be seen as well as the remains of a Puebloan settlement.

 

 

Cottonwood, AZ

After leaving Congress we made our way to Cottonwood, AZ so that we could explore the Verde Valley and area including Sedona, Jerome & Prescott. We chose the boondocking location on E Thousand Trails Road. It was quite busy when we arrived but we found a spot in the upper section.

That’s our trailer in the red circle.

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This location is open cattle range so most mornings we had cattle moving through the area eating away. There was also a hot air balloon that came over most mornings doing sunrise balloon tours.

We made a visit to Jerome which was at one point a copper boom town. It then went into a period of decline before being reborn as an artist and tourist town. The buildings look to be in the process of rebuilding and reconstruction. Some are completed and well done, quite a few still need work. We took the time to watch a glass blowing demonstration at one artists studio. Very interesting and the artist was great at describing his art and what he was doing as he created the piece.

We made a trip to Prescott one day and took the route down I17 and in 169 on the way there. The old downtown section was nice to walk around with a lot of art galleries and native craft stores. We looked but didn’t buy anything. We did have wings and beer at Prescott Brewing Co though. Have to make sure we support the local beer economy. πŸ™‚ On the way back we (probably more me than Jane) decided to take the direct route to Jerome which took us up over the mountains. We managed to run into a blizzard during the trip.

Historic downtown Cottonwood is a nice area to walk around and like pretty much all the towns in the area it is aimed at the tourists with art galleries and other stores. We met up with my brother Peter and his wife Patricia in town. After walking around we ended up at the Tavern Grille for craft beers and appetizers (seems like the standard thing to do after walking about πŸ™‚ ).

We made a number of trips into Sedona to go hiking. The actual town area was too much of a tourist trap for us to spend much time there at all, although we did walk around just to see what was there. Quite a few places with healing crystals, vortex info and various healing mumbo jumbo stuff.

The hikes we did were Soldiers Pass/Brins Mesa, Fays Canyon, Airport Mesa/Airport Loop, Midgley Bridge/Huckaby & Wilson Canyon. The pictures are from all of the hikes in no particular order.

 

We made the trip out to the Montezuma Castle NM with Peter & Patricia. A well preserved native housing structure built into the side of a cliff.