Monday, March 30, 2015

Westward Ho!!

Westward Ho!!

Just a reminder to click on the blog title to view the pictures and text on the web.  They show up much better than in the email version.

After another long and cold winter in my beloved Texas I have come to the conclusion, after 40 years of living on the West coast, that I am a real mountain man. Not that I am a big brute in buckskins.....I just love the mountains and I have missed them.  So, I am heading back west where I feel most comfortable. After driving west in the rain for two days from the San Antonio area I finally hit sunshine and dry and warm weather. It does feel good.

For now I am working my way through Arizona slowly towards Hurricane, Utah to visit with my brother Mac and his wife, Susan.  Along the way I am enjoying the desert spring weather.  I have about six weeks to just meander and enjoy being warm before I have to be in Kalispell, Montana to pick up Cathryn and Annie. You may recall I introduced Cathryn in my last post.  Annie is her 80 pound Golden Retreiver.  I will save telling more about that portion of the trip for when it happens but to let you know a little bit of what is to come, we are going to Portland to attend my son's (Josh) graduation from the University of Portland with a degree in nursing. He has worked very hard to get this degree and start a new career and I am very proud of him for staying the course under some very difficult circumstances.

Apache Gold Casino

I am a spontaneous (maybe a bit wishy-washy) type person that seldom makes plans beyond a direction of travel.  As I was heading west on I-10 approaching Tucson I realized how much I hate driving on a freeway and going into big cities.  I saw a sign that pointed NW towards a town called Safford that I had never been to before so I took a quick exit and followed Hwy 70 to check it out.

After continuing north on Hwy 70 past Safford I noticed a big Indian casino with an RV park.  I decided to take a break and spend a few days so I could get a decent meal, wash my truck and the 5th wheel (very dirty!) and do some other chores that must be done, including giving Dexter a bath and a trim since we are in a warmer area.

Theodore Roosevelt Lake - Arizona

Cholla Cactus.....very dangerous!

I left the casino after a three day R & R and continued north looking for a Forest Service campground called Cholla on Theodore Roosevelt Lake.  I found it and it was very clean with no hook ups but very decent camping spots with shaded tables and only $3 a night with my senior America The Beautiful pass.  I decided to hang out for a week and explore the area. 

The main attraction in the area, other than trophy fishing, if one had a boat, was a Native American cliff dwelling with no real name other than The Lower Cliff Dwelling.  I hiked up to the dwelling and it, as always with these amazing 700 plus year old homes, was well worth the effort to get there.

Nice clean camp sites at Cholla Campground on Theodore Roosevelt Lake

This is the trail leading up to the ruins I visited.

Cholla Cactus.....very dangerous!  

Approaching the ruins.

Standing in the ruins.


After some serious mountain roads I came into the Verde Valley and found my homestead on a plateau overlooking Cottonwood, Arizona.  A large area of Forest Service land is available for “dispersed camping” for free for a maximum of 14 days.  I found a really beautiful spot with a great view and parked myself for the maximum fourteen days or whenever I ran out of water or could not keep my batteries charged with the generator.  I am going to install solar panel soon so I can enjoy this type of camping more.

I had plans to take some hikes in the beautiful red rock canyons of Sedona but that didn’t happen because it was Spring break and everyone in the world seemed to come to the area for the same reason.  I had a very hard time finding a parking place at trail heads just to get some photos of the Sedona area, the most scenic.
The following pictures are of the Sedona area.

This is more a work of art than a chapel but a very spiritual place

Cottonwood and Camp Verde

I did visit some other amazing Native American ruins called Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle, home to the Southern Sinagua culture.  These ancient people were mainly farmers.  We (Dexter and me) took some great drives and saw the area enough to appreciate it.  We had some really quiet and peaceful nights out on our hilltop so I can’t complain too much that there was a fatal shoot out a few miles down the road between some bad guys and the police at the local Walmart.  Fortunately the fatality was one of the bad guys but an officer did get wounded in the leg but will recover.  

Montezuma Castle

Notice the homes built into the side of the cliff

Tuzigoot ruins inside.

Tuzigoot ruins.  Homes built above ground.

Here are some pictures of the camping area we just left this morning.

Free camping on Forest Service land.....nice!

My every morning visitors.

Another visitor looking out my back window.

My guard dog!

Unfortunately just today, March 22nd, my water pump told me I was very low on water.  My idiot lights are very unreliable but once the water pump starts "knocking" I know I am running real low on water.  I can’t be out there without water so I hooked up and drove a short distance to Prescott Valley, where I presently am staying for three days before heading north to Williams for five days.  Prescott is an interesting city with a rich western history.  I will share more about it in my next posting.  

I am now settled at Williams.  I really like this little mountain town.  It is at located about fifty miles west of Flagstaff off I-40 and is at over 7000 feet elevation so the air is thin and cool but the sun is hot.  It reminds me of the Pacific Northwest with all the pine trees and mountains. It is on Route 66 and small but quaint and really plays up the 50's theme when Route 66 was the big deal.  I will probably gain back a few pounds because I intend to eat in a few of those "joints". It was the last town by-passed by Interstate 40 and is only about fifty miles from the south rim of the Grand Canyon.  I may drive up for a day trip.  

I will tell you more about this town and what happens after I leave here in my next posting. 
That's it for now.  

Happy Trails........