Friday, December 31, 2010

Things you don’t want to see–in Arizona!

It was cool in the morning at 3C on the Castle Hot Springs road near Wickenburg.  But the sun was warm as we headed across on the north side of Phoenix.  I wanted to check out the area north and east of the city near Cave Creek and Carefree.


I had already checked out the available camping options online, and it did not look that good as most of the listings said ‘no trailers’ or had a restricted length.  So I stopped in at the Cave Creek Ranger station to get the details.CIMG3122As luck would have it, about the only place that I could fit the 5th wheel into, was also the only place that was free!  That was a deal I could not turn down.  I planned to park there for a few days while checking out the other locations on day trips.CIMG3141CIMG3140

Bronco trailhead even had corrals for horse users.

These ones decided to forego the twisting, narrow, washboard road to the trailhead and unloaded where it was still paved.


It was a fairly bleak parking lot, but the day was nice and there was scenery all around – and the price was right.CIMG3126

That night, the rain started, and I thought I had imagined a few snow flakes in the downpour.

And even though we were a lot closer to Phoenix than the previous night, it was pretty remote with no cell service, and no off-air television channels.

The ‘weather’ continued the next day, but I got caught up on paperwork and mail, and captured about 15 gallons of fresh rainwater to add to my tank.  I stowed the awning at dusk, which was a good thing, as the winds that night did their best to blow us away, and added in thunder, lightning, and SNOW for good measure!  This was the view in the morning.  Not exactly what you want to see, when you are only here to avoid the same thing in Alberta!


But between the snow squalls, we made the best of it and made a day trip further up-valley to see what was there.

CIMG3142CIMG3143CIMG3144There were lots of flowing water crossings, a radar dome watching over all, and a unique flood proof fence across the river.

CIMG3145CIMG3147CIMG3148CIMG3130CIMG3131Back in camp, we shared the comic section in front of the warm heater, and planned our next move (escape).

Monday, December 27, 2010

Detour to Quartzsite

When we were breaking camp at Bouse, the ‘previously reluctant’ slide refused to retract on it’s own.

Hailey likes the new chair – even if it is laying on the bed!


Out came the manual crank – which worked with relative ease, notwithstanding the awkward position need to crank it.

So instead of heading for unknown territory, we headed back to Quartzsite and spent the night off Dome Rock road, conveniently near the RV Lifestyles repair place.  They were able to take a look at it right away in the morning, and confirmed that the drive actuator (motor) was u/s as I suspected, but did not have one in stock, and said it might take a week or more to arrive when ordered. Since the CIMG3082supplier was closed for the holidays, it might have taken even longer.  At least knowing what the problem was will be a help, and I can perhaps find one in stock elsewhere, or order it somewhere that I plan to stay for a while.  It isn’t really hard to crank manually, but not really worth it for an overnight stop.

After being tempted by a few of the ever-expanding selection of vendors setting out their goods in Quartzsite, and topping off the fuel, we headed east on the Interstate 10.

The co-pilot assumes the travel position.


But not for long, as the road to Wickenburg was quieter and more appealing.  It would have been rush hour in Phoenix if we kept going, so after re-stocking the cupboards at Safeway we turned off on a quiet little road to Castle Hot Springs as an alternative.  I knew from last year that there were a few camp spots roadside, once past the end of the pavement and a few ranches and farms.

But she was up and keen to see what wildlife the new camp location had to offer.

CIMG3086CIMG3087CIMG3088CIMG3092CIMG3093This is a much greener area than where we were at Bouse and Quartzsite, with lots of saguaro cactus and palo verde trees.  And once the sun plunged behind the mountain range to the west, there has been no traffic at all on the little gravel road, a pleasant change from last night where we knowingly camped way to close to the interstate, which maintains a constant roar all night.  But it is close enough to Phoenix to pick up around 40 channels with the tv antenna, many of them in Spanish.CIMG3094CIMG3095With luck, and the Tom Tom navigator doing it’s best, we should be able to sneak through Phoenix around lunch time and miss the worst of the traffic.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Plomosa mountains

There must have been a mother lode nearby, judging by all the excavations and mine shafts dug in the Plomosa mountains.  After the days of cloud and rain it was nice to get out and explore some more.  After the great day around the ghost town of Swansea, I finally got a chance to check out some old mining activity closer to ‘home’.

The Plomosa range divides the country between Bouse and Quartzsite, and I could see from a distance the evidence of mining exploration.

Most of the access road is good, but the crossing of one wash required a bit of 4X4 maneuvering.CIMG3042CIMG3060CIMG3061The most developed mine shaft I found was this vertical one, with wooden cribbing – now mostly caved in.


Many other excavations were horizontally cut into the slope of the mountain.


And some, looked like classic ATV traps – a vertical shaft on flat ground, just large enough to fit a quad!CIMG3048CIMG3050CIMG3052CIMG3053CIMG3054

In some places, it seemed there was some kind of excavation every few feet.  There might have been at least 10 holes in an area the size of a football field.  CIMG3055CIMG3057CIMG3058CIMG3059

On the return, we had to cross the same wash.CIMG3062CIMG3063

Back in camp, it was time for a tree climbing sortie by the resident mouser and entertainer.  I picked the tree however so she did not climb to the top and get marooned.CIMG3064CIMG3066CIMG3069

And she even posed for the official Christmas portrait!CIMG3072Next, another beautiful desert sunset – and cue for the coyotes to warm up their singing voices.


Today is moving day – but not before overcoming the problem when one slide refused to budge.  Luckily, it comes equipped with a manual crank, till the problem can be corrected.  Where are we off to?  No one knows.  Headed towards Phoenix is the only plan …