Friday, March 27, 2009

06-09 Globe and Roosevelt Lake Arizona

Globe AZ
Roosevelt Lake

Campground: Apache Gold Casino. $20 a night, full hookups w/cable Tv. $310 monthly rate. Basically a parking lot with services. 2 nights.

Campground: Roosevelt Lake. $6.00 per vehicle (camper), no hookups. Good Verizon signal, no TV reception. 5 nights. Water and restrooms available on each loop.

Camper and Household tip: I recently had a huge swam of wasps try to make a home in my 5th wheel hitch and front side of my camper near the furnace vent. A fellow camper had a can of wasp spray, which I pretty near used up the entire can. When I went to get another can, the small local convenience store had none for sale, but the clerk recommended Dawn dish soap. She didn’t have any for sale, but ran next door to the restaurant. She came back with a big jug of Dawn and poured some out into a small container for me to try it out. Now aren’t folks just too kind. They’re like that out here in the country you know. Put some in a spray bottle and mix with water. Spray the wasps with the soap mixture… they can’t breath and die. Cheaper than buying the commercial wasp spray too.

Yipee! I’m on the road again. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be back on the road, traveling the highways and byways. After saying goodbye to my many new friends at Desert Trails Rv Park, I hooked up the 5th wheel and pulled out of my site. I had been at Desert Trails for four months and I can honestly say it felt like just a couple of weeks. The time flew by.

As I slowly drove around the park before exiting out onto Bopp Road and Ajo hwy, I had a lump in my throat, thinking about all those wonderful Winter residences I had met.
A final wave goodbye and I was out on the road. Weaving my way through the construction barriers that line the main highway through Tucson, hwy 10, I got off on the north end of town at Ina Road and headed for the secondary hwy 77 heading for Globe AZ.

Just the act of having the 5th wheel hitched up and towing it down the highway gives me a wonderful feeling of adventure. After passing through the gazillion stop lights on the north side of Tucson, I was finally out in the country. The desert changed from flat rolling landscape to mountainous scrapple covered with iron wood, mesquite and creosote trees. In the higher elevations ancient growth saguaro cactus dotted the landscape. Many with 8 and 10 arms. Huge, massive, stately cactus, untouched by pollution and mans tampering.

There was road construction from a rock slide along hwy 77 where the road narrowed to a single lane as it wound around the steep edge of a mountainous canyon. Boulders and rocks lined the dirt road before switching back to rough pavement. A muddy river ran below through the canyon, something I never saw in Tucson, as all the rivers through town were dry as a bone. Dried up years ago from too much pumping of underground wells. Passing through dusty little towns, Mammoth, Dudleyville, Winkelman and Pinal Pass, some no more than a place to slow down due to the speed limit signs, before picking up speed again.

121 miles and I’ve reached my first destination along my Big Adventure to Alaska. Hoping all will go well as I start this huge undertaking. I’m in Globe Az. This is Apache country and I’m staying at the Apache Gold Casino. The apache reservation seems to cover much of the east side of AZ. I see many Apache in the area. They have a distinctive dark skin, round flat faces. They talk very softly to each other and the men rarely speak at all.

Not much to report in Globe, it’s an active copper mining town. The mountains have all been chewed up and spit out surrounding the town. A new mine is getting ready to be built and will go down over 5,000 feet. But first they have to build a million dollar pumping station to take all the water out of the previous mine that went down over 2,000 feet. The water will be used for irrigation in the area.

I’ve been told Globe has the best Mexican restaurants in AZ, but my short stay did not give me a chance to check any out. I did find a great antique store selling lots of south west items. Had fun just looking around.

Two days later and I’ve driven 30 miles north to Roosevelt Lake. I had tried to camp here last fall, but the temps were still in the 100 degree range. It’s late March and I’ve hit it at the perfect time. Temps in the mid 40’s at night and highs during the day reach 65 to 70. Sunny as well. I found a perfect campsite on one of the many ridges jutting out into Roosevelt Lake. I’m on a loop with only three campsites.
My view is spectacular overlooking the lake. I even have my own trail leading to the end of the ridge with 360 degree views of the lake and mountains.

The hills and mountain ranges are covered in a soft green carpet as everything is beginning to bud and bloom. Tonto Monument (Indian cliff dwellings) are visible to my left as I exit my camper. They are high up on the mountain. Two separate cliff dwellings tucked under solid rock overhangs. To my right is Roosevelt Lake and more mountain ranges beyond.

I’ll be here for 5 days, running off of my solar panels and testing my systems to ensure everything is set for the big adventure. Besides, I had purchased the camping tickets last fall and need to use them up. $30 bucks is $30 bucks and you know I have to get my moneys worth…

I’d decided to go to Tortilla Flats today, but after turning onto route 88, past the Roosevelt dam, I discovered that it is was an unpaved road for 22 miles. Instead, I took pictures of the dam, lower and upper shots. The day is perfect, sunny and cool. Wild yellow daisies cover the hillsides. At the top of the dam, I meet an older gentleman, traveling the area with his daughter.
He tells me of how he got to this area after being discharged from the Navy. He was down to 118 pounds and the doctor suggested he find a place in Colorado or Arizona to live. He headed for Globe Az where an uncle lived. Traveling back in the 50’s by car, no air-conditioning, he said he wasn’t sure he was going to make it down those hot dusty dirt roads. Before cars came to the area his uncle used to take the stage coach from Globe to Phoenix, along that route 88 I mentioned. It took 4 days each way to get there. Today it would take a couple hours, a portion of the road still being dirt.

Roosevelt dam was originally made out of carved stone chiseled right from the sides of the mountains surrounding the dam. It was the largest stone structured dam ever built. In the late 1980’s it was upgraded with concrete and rebar and an additional 77 feet was added on top. Today, the lake has reached its high water mark, with room to spare. I’ve been told all the lakes in the area are at full capacity for the first time in years. It’s good to see the lakes full up.

The old guy pointed out the old road below, that once went across the top of the old dam. Much of that old road is now submerged. His daughter said in a couple more weeks the mountains will be covered with desert poppies and the prickly pear will all be in bloom.
I drove over to Butcher Hook on the north end of the lake for some home style cooking (not my Mom’s, she was not the best cook). Had a 4 piece fried chicken dinner, fries, Texas toast and coleslaw for $7.95. Used to be $6.95 but they had to raise the price this past year. Filled up my truck with diesel and the attendant gave me an 8 cent discount on the fuel which brought it down to $1.88 a gallon. I think they usually only give the discount to locals. What a deal. Best price I’ve paid so far. Nice to have someone size you up and decide you’re a good guy.

A note on the solar power. The batteries are charging up great. Because I don’t have TV reception, I watch TV shows on my computer since I have great Verizon reception. Been catching up on some Late night TV shows and HGTV. Check out I’m able to listen to my radio, do computer stuff, have plenty of light and the furnace (fan) hardly uses any power to run at night, so the batteries are staying well charged. I even made coffee in my elect coffee maker today with plenty of power to spare. Of course the fridge, furnace and water heater are running off of propane.

To read a fascinating story about Tonto Monument go to:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

5-09 Fences. A Bonus Report from Tucson Arizona

This is the last story I presented at the Writers Club at Desert Trails. I've only been on a farm or ranch a couple times in my life, so this is my perspective of an urban ranch.


Hay Mr. Horse. I see you through the tall hedges of oleander bushes along the roadway opposite my campsite. You rarely make any noise or neigh for attention. I wonder what your life must be like, out here in the desert in Arizona. Your owners have about an acre of desert land and you’d think that would be enough for you to roam around in during the day, but that’s not all for you is it?

Your owners have at least half of that for their home, yard and driveway, but they have carved out maybe a quarter of what remains for you. A simple metal fence surrounds your part of the property. I saw your owner, a Spanish man and his two children, a boy and girl one weekend. The father was rebuilding the roof on your lean-two shelter. It took him a couple weekends to finish the job, finally nailing on the new shingles on the gentle slope of the roof. The kids even climbed up on the roof while their Dad nailed on the new shingles. He left his hammer and few loose shingles sitting on the roof, so maybe he’s not done yet.

They put you in your makeshift barn each evening around sunset and close the metal gate. I hear you lean against it each time, as if to say, I’m not ready to be put in for the night. But it doesn’t matter does it. Your owner makes that decision each day for you.

I noticed they built an even smaller fenced in area within your metal corral and now they leave you in that small space each day, while the family goes off to work and school. The family dogs come out and bark and run around occasionally, but you stand their silent, looking off towards the desert mountains and cactus that reach for the sky.

Do you ever want to run and be free? Do you ever remember running and were you ever free once? Probably not, but you must feel it somewhere within. Do you ever sniff the air and want to search out the smells beyond the barriers that hold you in.

When the coyotes howl at night, are you afraid or are they calling to you to come out and run with the wild ones. Are you able to see the stars at night and watch the moon rise up over the mountain range.

In the morning with the sun peaking up over the horizon, the rooster crowing to beat the band, your owner comes to take you out and put you back in your small pen. Feeding you before he goes off to work, does he take the time to stroke your mane and talk to you? I know the dogs come out with your master each morning and they bark and dance around your feet…. That’s usually my signal to get up as well.

I’d like to see you run some day as fast as the wind and rise up on your hind legs with excitement, neighing at the wind. I’d like to see you free, but not in a desert. Maybe up in the Colorado mountain ranges where the grasses grow high and the fields are filled with wildflowers in spring. Where you could hide in the shade of tall spruce trees during the heat of the day and drink from the wild springs and snow fed rivers.

I’d like to see you free.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

04-09 The Experiment, a Bonus Report

I was able to acquire one more story from the Desert Trails Writers Club. Mary Scholz has written a great story for all you Rv'ers or want to be Rv'ers. The story will bring you into the whole new world of living in an Rv. Enjoy.

The Experiment March 14, 09

In 2004 we took the plunge and leapt into the world of RVing, and a strange new world it was too. For years we had talked about our long range plans for retirement. We knew we wanted to RV! We considered (as I’m sure all of you did) things like ‘a motor home and a tow vehicle’, ‘a travel trailer’ or ‘a 5th wheel and truck’. And so, after years of discussing the pros and cons we decided on a 5th wheel. But then came the ‘gas’ or ‘diesel’ decision. This was before the price of diesel suddenly appeared to equal that of gold bullion. But diesel it was.
You all know there are dozens of other choices that had to be made, length, type of walls, interior lay out, the choices go on and on.

After picking our 5th wheel we were then invited by the sales person to look in their RV store. Their what? An RV store?

As soon as you put the letters ‘RV’ in front of any system in your rig, everything changes. You are now into ‘specialty’ products. Take the plumbing system (sometimes you’d like someone to do just that). Not only do you have to put chemicals in the toilet for ‘that stuff’; you also need to add a chemical to help dissolve paper. On top of that, no ordinary paper will do, we have to purchase ‘special’ toilet paper at $1 a roll or more! What is a person to do?

Well, like many questioning individuals, we found it hard to just take the word of the suppliers and retailers. One of our conversations went a bit like this.

Us “What do you mean we can’t use regular toilet paper?”

Them “It is too thick and can clog your system.”

Us “Why do we have to add this chemical for the paper?”

Them “It helps to break the paper down more and decreases the risk of clogging your system.”

Us “Let me see if I’ve got this right. We have to buy special paper so that the system won’t clog and we have to buy paper dissolving chemical so that the system does not clog.”

Them “That’s right!”

Not wanting to “clog our system” but finding it hard to believe all this sales talk (especially for my husband, a plumber) we reluctantly bought the recommended products but just knew this was not the end of the discussion.

And so, on our first trip with our brand new Rockwood 5th wheel we decided to experiment.
Picture this scene. Taking 4 matching wine glasses we measured equal amounts of water into each of them and then we separated them into 2 pairs. Into the 2 glasses on our left we measured ½ teaspoon full of paper dissolving chemical. The other 2 glasses on our right had none.

Using good scientific methods, we then took 2 sheets of the cheapest Dollar Store toilet paper and added them to one of the glasses on the left and another 2 sheets into one of the glasses on the right. We repeated this with the ‘special’ paper, 2 sheets in the chemically changed and 2 in the non-chemically changed water.

We all know that results don’t just happen while you watch so we left the experiments to ‘work’ for a day like they would in the real situation. Every now and then we would hold a glass up to the light to see if we could see a difference but we refrained from sniffing for bouquet!

Fortunately no one came to visit us during this time so we did not have to explain toilet paper in wineglasses sitting on the tiny kitchen counter.

Not having read any scientific method on how to interpret the results of such an experiment, we had to guess. After waiting for about 12 hours we took out 4 clean dinner knives and gently stirred the contents of each glass 3 times then raised the knife straight up. We discussed and recorded the clarity/cloudiness of the water with dissolved paper and the amount clinging to the knife, for each glass. Then we waited another 12 hours and repeated the process. How many molecules NOW stick to each knife?

By now someone out there must be thinking “Don’t those guys have anything better to do than stir toilet paper in wine glasses with dinner knives? Heck, if you are going to stir something in a glass it better be drinkable and done with a swizzle stick!”

After 24 hours of science, the results were in.

In our opinion cheap paper is not only fine, it’s better. But you don’t have to take our word for it, you can check for yourselves. Firstly, take 4 matching wineglasses . . .

Mary Scholz (

Saturday, March 14, 2009

03-2009 Tombstone, Bisbee Arizona and Geocaching

Tombstone AZ
Bisbee AZ

My remaining time in the Tucson area has picked up some steam as I’ve done a bit of touring and joined a Geocaching group. Along with the usual prep work required in getting the camper ready for its travels this summer.

I headed out with my neighbors Chris and Tom to Tombstone about an hour and a half drive from Tucson, The town too Tough to Die. It was a wild and dangerous town back in 1878 when it was founded. By 1881 when Wyatt Earp had his big shoot out with the Clanton gang at the OK Coral, an entire grave yard up on Boot Hill was filled with young and old who were shot dead.

This mining town founded on huge vein of silver and gold grew up overnight. The boom lasted until water started to fill the mines and they were finally abandoned. Now just think of it, a few good water pumps and you could be mining all that sliver and gold that remains in Tombstone, buried like the lawless criminals that once ruled the area. Who knows, the water may be more valuable than the gold and silver.

Searching out the history of the town though the tourist shops and privately owned “museum” one can still get a sense of what the area was once like.

The State of AZ runs a good museum in the old court house where a platform still stands out in the courtyard with two hanging nooses.

After a not so noteworthy lunch, we headed on down the road another 25 miles to the old copper mining town of Bisbee. Quite a change from the flat desert surrounds of Tombstone, Bisbee in nestled in the Mule Mountains. The main street winds its way up through mountains. Beautifully maintained Victorian houses line the sides of the mountain ranges and look down on the town below. Bisbee has become an artist “free-spirit” haven and has a really nice feel to it. Unlike so many towns close to the Mexican boarder, this one does not feel like a boarder town.

Later in the week, I finally joined the Geocaching group from Desert Trails. There were over 30 people going out in search of these hidden treasures. We were divided up into groups of 5 or 6 and given coordinates for each geocach.

If your not familiar with Geocaching, it’s a game where people all over the world have hidden little treasures in small boxes or containers some the size of a plastic film container or even smaller. The GPS coordinates are recorded on a web site with a brief description, many times with a devious clue to help you find the geocach item.

Our lead had their handheld GPS with the coordinates loaded in for a half dozen sites to find. We drove all around Tucson, getting out and searching for each geocach. We were unlucky and did not find the first one, later finding out that it was no longer there. Our group had more success finding the second one under a rock and the third one had a clue indicating that we should be careful and not “get wet”. The micro geocach was discovered in the head of a fake sprinkler head.

Friends of mine, Cloyd and Jean, who had visited me earlier in the month (we had originally met a couple years ago on one of my first trips out west) are into Geocaching. As they travel around in their camper, they go online and find geocaches in the area they are staying. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors and have a bit of fun finding hidden treasures.

After finding the treasure, you write your name on a log that is in with the treasure. You can remove one of the small prizes, but are usually expected to replace it with something else. Wouldn’t this be a fun exercise to get kids interested in the outdoors and away from their play stations and TV’s?

Well, I have to go, I’m joining some neighbors and we’re going out to breakfast this morning at Ryan Field (a small local airport).

For more info on Geocaching go to:

Monday, March 9, 2009

My Life as a Saguaro by Kim Hirschman

The following article was presented at the Desert Trails Rv Parks Writers Group. I was so impressed by the story, I asked Kim if I could have a copy to share with my readers. The story embodies the life of a Saguaro cactus, I hope you will enjoy this unique story

MY LIFE AS A SAGUARO by Kim Hirschman

I was born in the great Sonoran Desert 209 years ago, the year was 1800. If I could only tell you what I have witnessed, the changes that have occurred, and about the people that have passed my way, what a story I could weave.

If I could only show you the place of my beginning. From a tiny seed, germination began, thanks to the shelter of a palo verde, my “nurse” tree. She provided shade from the unbearably hot sun and moisture from the dry, parched air. I grew slowly, about an inch a year, to my present height of 25 feet. While I am not the tallest saguaro nor have the most arms, I have lived longer then most any other plant or cacti in this area.

If I could only explain my magnificent home, I would tell you the Tucson Mountains are to my north. In the early evenings, the hills turn a beautiful shade of red. Northwest are the Santa Rosa Mountains and to the south are the Sierritas. My views are quite awesome in any direction. From the quiet sunrise to the colorful sunset, life in the desert continues on its daily quest for survival.

If I could only tell you about the wildlife here at my home. Mornings begin with the chatter of the Curved Bill Thrasher and the cooing of the White Winged Doves. Many of the Gila Woodpeckers and Gilded Flickers are already at work; several have bored their homes into my trunk through the years.
Cottontail and jackrabbits are out scrambling for nourishment, while hawks fly overhead in search of their next meal. As the day progresses and warms, the lizards, rats and snakes make their appearance, each with their own agenda. The circle of life continues with the need to feast. As another day draws to an end, the javelina re-group to satisfy their hunger, perhaps on a nearby prickly pear. The coyote partake in a family reunion, their songs of joy filling the evening air. Great horned owls are heard, and their search begins. Everyday is the same.
Everyday is different.

If I could only describe my appearance, I would tell you my skin is green and smooth, with almost a waxy feel to it. Two-inch spines grow along my ribs. In the spring, large white flowers with yellow centers adorn my arms. The three B’s pollinate- birds, bees and bats. I am old and weathered now, my trunk is turning brown and my arms grow weary. Pictures of my youth would indicate how robust and healthy I was. At the age of 85, my first arm developed. While the flora about me changed from palo verde to cacti, I flourished. A second arm began at the age of 110 and yet another when I was 130. Summer monsoons bring the necessary waters to me in the arroyo beside me. I am grateful for the water, I can absorb up to 200 gallons at a time, and I expand and prosper.

People pass by me daily, some glancing my way as they read the sign on front of me, indicating I am over 200 years old. If I could only tell you about the people I have seen.

Four different peoples have made their home with me. Long ago, when I was young, Native Americans made their way thru this desert land. If I could only tell you how much I miss their simple life, their respect of land and nature. They traveled in small packs, or large, some by foot, some by horseback. The bands of the Tohono O’odham and even some Apache.

Later, the Spanish arrived. Some dressed as soldiers with iron helmets, others in long robes with large crosses about their neck.

Following the Spanish, this land became part of Mexico. Many raids took place. People shifted, borders shifted, flags changed yet again.

Then the Anglo-Americans arrived, and still another flag was raised. Finally, the state of Arizona was recognized. All was peaceful for a time. Everything changes. Everything remains the same.

The miners passed our way, heading to the hills with high hopes. Cowboys wandered here and some did not make it through the desert. Some died at our feet with their ribs bleached white, resembling a fallen saguaro.

If I could only tell you how lucky I was to survive-out of 4,000 seeds from a single fruit, I have witnessed over 200 years of history.

For nearly 30 years now there has been a camp set up near by. These people reside here throughout the winter months. Many faces have become familiar as they take their daily strolls through the desert, many with walking sticks or cameras about their neck. Some familiar faces have not returned, but there are many new ones to replace them. The aging process continues in them, as well as me.

Next time you wander by, stop awhile and just imagine. I have so much to tell you, if you will only listen.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

02-09 Tucson Arizona Adventures

Tucson Adventures.

From 14 mile bike rides, eating in old downtown Tucson, picnics at Desert Trails, exploring the desert surroundings, my time in Tucson is nearing it’s end.

I’ll be back on the road again in 4 weeks, but before heading out I’m continuing to enjoy the Tucson area. My neighbors, Chris and Tom and I went up to Biosphere II the other day for one of their tours. I’ve written about Biosphere II before, but just had to go see it again. If you enjoy architecture, earth sciences, learning about our planet, this is the place to come too. It’s been turned over to the University of Arizona who’s using it for experiments on affects of green house gasses on our planet as well as many other experiments that can be done using the controlled environments of 5 different eco systems. Many other universities and scientists from around the world are now using it as well for their experiments.

The location of the Biosphere is at the base of Mount Lemon, which is on the outskirts of Tucson. Mt Lemon is the southern most location for skiing in the U.S. and yes, we were able to see the snow high up on the mountain range. Haven’t gotten up on the Mt yet, but would be tons of fun to see snow again and go skiing.

Last night I went to a concert in the club house of accordion players. They did a most eclectic mix of Easter songs, cowboy western and show tunes. You haven’t lived to you’ve heard songs from Porgy and Bess done on an accordion. I felt like I’d been transported to the beaches of Fla and the Keys at sunset with songs like Moon River and other 50’s classics. When the Geography Professor did a solo number of Rhapsody in Blues, I was transported to Moe mart in Paris and to Italy. And of course when the musicians did The Hills Are Alive from the Sound of Music I was racing across the hills of Bavaria. It was most unusual. Perhaps it was the slower rhythm of the accordion playing that permitted the mind to wonder to these places.

Then, half way through the presentation, a good friend, Grace, said she was going outside to see a comet. Before I knew it, I joined in on the search. We drove with a few other folks up into the Saguaro National Park to get away from the city lights. The mountain range shielded us from the city lights and the lights down in the valley as we climbed up to the higher elevations. We finally stopped off of the pitch black road onto one of the pull-outs that are all along the twisting and winding roadway. Except for the occasional car going by it was pitch black, the silhouette of the saguaro cactus and the black outline of the mountain range was all that could be seen. Until we looked up and saw an explosion of stars, the big dipper and little dipper, the north star and Pleiades were all seen against the blackness of space and the blanket of stars, the sliver of a crescent moon with Venus off to its side, now dimmer due to thin patches of cloud cover moving in. Standing there in small groups, talking quietly about life and the expanse of the universe, each connecting in their own way to this most unusual night. The stillness of the cool air, the quiet only interrupted by a car going by, it’s blinding lights going by, then fading off into the distance as it dipped around one last curve in the road. Silence once again. I never was able to see the orange blob that was the comet through the binoculars, but it didn’t matter. I’d experienced being in the darkest part of the desert, stars above, what more could I ask for.

The following day I drove over to the Tohono O’odham Swap Meet. A great Indian flea market with tons of cheap stuff. I found a whole slew of Tony Hillerman novels which I’ve been reading lately and ended up purchasing about 10 more books. His characters are Navaho Indians living in the 4 corners region and through his writing one is able to learn so much about the Native American Indians life. If you enjoy western novels, Tony Hillerman is a great writer and worth checking out.

I’m beginning my preparations for leaving the Tucson area and it appears I will be heading up to Globe AZ and Roosevelt Lake before heading to Cottonwood where I’ll have another eye exam to insure my eye drops are working correctly for my Glaucoma.
We’re almost “on the road again”…..

For more info on Biosphere 2:

Book: Life Under Glass by Ailling, Nelson and Silverstone
Book: Eating In by Sally Silverstone
Book: The Human Experiment by Jane Poynter (recommended)