Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Still chilling out in Palm Springs/ Desert Hot Springs area as it was only 78F today! Still fighting the urge to turn the A/C on - especially when I hear about avalanches blocking the Trans Canada Highway back at work. Yikes.
Drove down and around Palm Springs today - trying to organize my Mexican Insurance, via phone, e-mail, and fax.
Didn't find the maps and campground guides I was looking for, but topped up the propane and stocked up on groceries. Harley reminds me that I have to buy cat food too, when he is not posing on signs or stealing my seat. Maybe he wants to drive.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

No appealing camp spots along the way, so carried on west into Desert Hot Springs, CA. Tracked down a buddy who is staying here for the winter, and parked the camper right under a car port. Had to leave the back sticking out just a bit so the satellite could see the sky. No Leafs hockey on the local cable TV! Harley has been out quite a bit, trying to talk the neighbour dog into a 'chat', and making friends with everyone who goes by. Leafs lost again, but got a point at least, but eased the pain by swimming in the pool and sitting in the hot tub under the palm trees and stars.

Planning a run into Vegas on Monday to pick up a car, and trying to get my Mexican insurance organized for my run down there. Otherwise, just hanging out and enjoying the 70 degree weather. As soon as you come down out of the high country from the Joshua Tree area you can see the thick ugly murk of LA smog snaking it's way east and pouring into the Palm Springs area. Pretty scary looking, and absolutely no desire to go there or breathe the stuff. Give me a forest fire any day.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Pulled in to the Crystal Hill area of the Kofa (King of Arizona) National Wildlife Refuge north of Yuma on Wednesday. Stopped early (as if I am on a schedule, ha ha), because the scenery was great - and I felt like it. Had a little campfire in the evening. It is very dry and the wood burns so easily. Not sure if it has rained here in the last year.
Spent Thursday just soaking up the hot sun, looking for desert bighorns on the mountains (for which the refuge was formed), and hiked up the mountain for some superb views of the surrounding area. Could have stayed for hours with my binoculars - well, actually I did!
Went over and checked out a windmill powered watering trough for the wildlife - which might partially explain why all the birds here are so happy, especially in the morning. Saw a nice little green hummingbird this AM.

Turned on the Calgary news this morning to find that the 'Ralph cheques' had started to arrive!

Cruised through Quartzsite today, but it was a total zoo, with no readily available internet, so kept crusing west into California. It is almost February and I have to get into Mexico again sometime!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I've been laying low in Yuma for a few days, so no new pics to show. Now back on the road to further adventures and to see how a new Canadian government works out?
Stay tuned for updates.
Planning to head north a bit and check out the possibilities in the KOFA National Wildlife Refuge, and then take in some of the action and RV shows, etc around Quartzsite, AZ.

More Quartzsite info here.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hello from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Hard to type while blindfolded and hooded, but at least it is warm. Last night I accidentally strayed across the state line into California. How was I to know it was a military installation? Before I knew it, there were Apache helicopters swarming around, and the tanks came out. And the rest is blog history.

Also have some ocean-front Arizona property for sale if you are interested!
Or maybe that was a dream and I am actually in Yuma?

I'll have to check the camera. At least pictures don't lie.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Now, if this is Saturday, it must be 4 days from payday and 2 days from a new government! Good riddance to the old.
When last updated, we were in Tombstone. Since then, we have done some re-stocking in Benson, got a new fridge roof vent cover in Tucson to replace one that had fought with some low tree branches somewhere along the line. Surprisingly cheap and easy to replace. Then we headed west through even more desert - that's about all they have down here - to a little place called Why, AZ, where I have camped before on the BLM land. Like last year, the host couple are from a northern state called Alberta. Visited a ranger friend in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument - right on the Mexican border, and learned what some of their challenges are - some pretty wild stuff. More when I get home.
I knew from past experience that cycling in this area could be hazardous to bike tires, but that didn't stop me from riding 7km out into the desert, then carrying my bike all the way back. This was done at dusk, and I was able to spot a number of smuggler trails and crossings to make life more interesting.
Back in camp I met a couple from Banff, and found out that an ex-neighbor from Lake Louise had been there over Christmas! Big country, small world.
Sitting in downtown Ajo, just up the road from Why, headed for Gila Bend and then will try to locate some cousins in Yuma. And buy some new tubes for the bike!
Hope you aren't all freezing in the dark, but there is green grass around the palm trees here!
Some 'old' pics of Harley checking out the historic court house in Tombstone, and a shot of the street. Others of a hardship camping spot near Why

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Been out in the sticks for a few days, and still am, frankly! Just outside Tombstone, AZ this morning, and the pic of me sitting in the truck is right now, and I am on the internet and publishing this from this exact spot! N31.73630 W110.07861
Pic of Harley looking out the window is the apparent source of wi-fi yestereday as I checked the e-mail. Go figger!


I should have been keeping track. I’m pretty sure I’ve gone over at least 800 cattle guards on the roads down here. This is because I am usually on remote national forest roads. Many of them are single lane, switchback mountain roads in the middle of nowhere. Curiously, there are warning signs for single lane bridges and cattle guards – on single lane roads!
Spent so long surfing the web and making phone calls on my software phone that I killed the battery in the truck in Lordsburg, NM. Tried turning the key on ignition for a while to use the three camper batteries to assist, but it was too slow. Remembered that I had the 2000W generator behind the seat. Honda to the rescue. 3 minutes of charging and I was ready to go! Googled up the local swimming facility with thoughts of a shower and a hot tub in Lordsburg, NM, and found it using Google Earth, but what I failed to consider was that it was an outdoor, summer-only pool! Who needs a shower today anyway!
Have seen some birds. One roadrunner, one blue bird, and some lbb’s!
Not that I’m into politics, but the election coverage has been interesting. They are all trying to decide whether it will be a Conservative minority or majority! I can’t figure out why all those do-gooders in Ontario don’t vote for some more deceit, corruption, gun control, kickbacks, theft, mismanagement, theft, waste? But I digress.
Managed to set a new trip record for gas price today ($2.50/gal), in the interest of not running out in the middle of nowhere. But since I fill up when I don’t need to, the damage is not as bad as if the tank were empty.

Spent the nite of 16th in the Coronado National Forest at N31.94821 W109.30676 @ 6000’ Absolutely beautiful little c/g called Sunny Flat. I passed on as it was still early in the day, but this place was immaculate! Expensive tables, expensive fireplaces, rockwork in almost every site, food storage lockers in each site, beautifully paved, lines painted, and all for only $10.US. Makes Banff campgrounds look like the wastelands they have become. Sad.
Spent most of the yesterday in Chiricahua National Monument; hiked to the summit of Cottonwood peak and the fire lookout. This is the area where Cochise the Apache chief hid out in the 1800’s while battling settlers in the area.
Finally a few tourists in the area.
Found some wi-fi in the strangest area – out in the middle of nowhere, a mobile home on blocks; thanks to NetStumbler I got to check my e-mail – while stopped in the driving lane. No traffic.
Spent the nite of the 17th at N31.87657 W109.94195 in the Dragoon Mountains near Cochise stronghold, and just a bit north of Tombstone. Took about 15 seconds to tune in the Calgary news on satellite. Getting the procedure down pat.
Harley making friends with the gate attendant, and everyone who sees him in parking lots, gas stations. ‘What beautiful eyes’ they say. ‘Sure is Big’.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Gila Hot Springs and cliff dwelling.
From the flat, fairly bleak interstate south of Albuquerque, we went west into the high elevation pine forests. Very gorgeous country with very narrow, winding roads to contrast the four-lane speedways. Quaint little towns where everyone on the road waves at you (or was something hanging off the camper!). Lots of really nice, free, forest service campgrounds, especially around Gila Hotsprings. Waterfront campsites, stunning cliffs, nobody around. Checked out the cliff dwellings at the National Monument, and took lots of pictures. Harley even found a sign or two to pose on! Followed another very winding road out to Silver City. Would have stayed up in the high country, but the beer supply had run out. Watched a lousy hockey game last nite where the Leafs blew their 3 - nothing first period lead and lost the game 4-3 :-(
Sounds like lots of snow back home (where it belongs), and now some colder temps.
Harley was keeping a very close eye on the water level when we forded the river!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

January 14, 2006

Well, here I am again, resurfacing in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico- no kidding.
Haven't been below 5000 feet for almost a week now. Finally headed south again out of Albequerque, NM.
Found some really high country east of Cuba with several passes over 9400', but only a little snow in the shaded sections.
Saw the Valles Caldera National Preserve, then came down the hill into Los Alamos - home of the nuke.
Fairly impressive security! Knew from http://www.gasbuddy.com/ that I didn’t want to buy gas in Santa Fe at $2.55, so filled up early. Visited Bandelier National Park just outside of Los Alamos, met the Chief Park Ranger and saw some of the cave and cliff dwellings. Then down to Sante Fe to visit a couple guys I’d worked with in the past with some investigations. Saw the Basilica from the 1600’s St Francis of Assissi, and the very historic downtown district. Checked out a bar called Cowgirls, but they didn’t play either kind of music.
Surprised to see very few campers and tourists on the road. Only 80 miles from the Mexican line.
Check out the sign in the pic. This viewpoint is NOT to be confused with the one 516’ or 497’ ahead!
Headed over to Gila Hot Springs area today - stay tuned.
Distance - so far 4020 km.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Drove down toward Lake Powell from Capitol Reef, then out towards Blanding. Truck runs real well on gasoline fumes, I discovered, but did not have to hitch-hike or take any emergency measures! Next night we camped on a high hill near the 'four corners' (where four states meet). I was in Arizona, but could see lights of places in Colorado and New Mexico. Slow day yestereday, so topped up the fuel and propane and spent some time looking around Farmington NM. Headed towards Santa Fe, and found a nice quiet spot in the National Forest and did some work on the electrical system to make batteries charge better. Still too cold at night. Which way is south?
Chatting with you today from Cuba NM.

Monday, January 9, 2006

Harley and I did Capitol Reef National Park last nite! The main campground was open ($10), but empty. We decided to go down the east boundary and stay at Cedar Mesa c/g (free!). 5000 square miles of nothing but sagebrush and cows, but two other guys have to set up in the next site! There went our evening of fun and frivolity - which means we were planning to run the generator and watch TV as long as we wanted! So it was a quiet nite instead. Todays excitement was setting a new record for driving on gas fumes, as there were a few towns on the map - that weren't! Made it out to the real roads again, and found Bluff, UT where there are 3 horses (all awake) and of course good internet connections!
Harley says to post some pictures of him and lets get - back on the road again!

Sunday, January 8, 2006

What a stellar day! Was a little worried driving into Escalante this morning as it seemed the whole town was shut down and deserted (Sunday?), including the two gas stations. And I needed gas!
Tried one pump of a closed station and found it worked quite fine if paying by credit card!
Headed east on Hiway 12 - also deserted. Some spectacular country! Took some photos at a viewpoint (37.74660N 111.45396W). Wanted badly to stay at very scenic Calf Creek campground, but was short of some critical supplies, so noted it for next time. $7. for a very small, very well maintained National Forest site compares well to some in Yoho at more than double the price and get nothing. Town of Boulder has two horses - both asleep, but nevertheless provided strong wi-fi at the only stop sign in town. Determined that I now have to go through Capitol Reef National Monument, so pulled up all the camping info, maps, fees online to make the visit easy.
Had to then drive north over a 9400' pass where it was down to -3C (see pic). Now publishing this update courtesy of the Best Western in Torrey (38.31999N 111.38261W) before I head into the supposed isolation of the Park. You will be glad to know that I got parked last nite in time to tune in to the Leafs beating the Oilers on the old sat TV. Eventually, I will get south, but this scenery keeps slowing me down. The 9400' pass area will be great spring or fall, but just a bit too cool for my liking this time around. Better get goin' down the road.

Saturday, January 7, 2006

Well, I was headed for Page, Arizona, but got somewhat involved in the scenery in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in the SE corner or Utah. Went on a hike on the Toadstool trail, then checked out an old Clint Eastwood movie set near the old village of Pahrea (Paria). Pretty spectacular scenery to say the least. Had to camp in the most amazing canyon - straight out of the movies! Still cold here (-8) at night(I know, I know Banff was only -4), but it warms up so fast in the morning, and have been driving north through the monument all day with the windows down. Found some wi-fi in tiny Cannonville to see if civilization still exists, before heading back out into the desert somewhere in time to watch the Leafs game on the satellite dish. All the pics are great, but have narrowed it down to a few. Enjoy. I know I did!