On to Cottonwood
By the time I left the Mingus Mountain Recreation Area, daytime temps were lucky to hit 60, and except for one motorhome, the place had cleared out. Having run low on water and edibles after a little over a week’s stay, I packed up and made my way toward Cottonwood on the mountain highway of State Route 89A. Wow. Up, down and all around, 89A is packed with turns that are appropriate for 20 MPH, and one at 15. I was thankful for the Furd’s Tow/Haul transmission mode, which let me pretty much avoid the brakes.
The little burg of Jerome is onroute, and it is astonishing in its own way. Much like an Italian village perched on a hillside, Jerome consists of homes and businesses packed right up to the edges of a narrowed 89A as it serpentines through town. I would have loved to snap a few pics, but the few too-short parking spaces here and there were already clogged with tourist cars, with visitors wandering hither and thither on narrow sidewalks that were perilously close to the road. I felt like I was weaving a bus through town, threading the eye of a needle at every tight turn. Worth a visit though? I’d say yes.
Cottonwood is a few miles further on, and is a real town with everything needed. I arrived at noon, and used the GPS mightily. After a $5 shower at their impressive Recreation Center, I topped up propane at an Ace Hardware after the U-Haul recommended online was a dud, located a real barber shop (named “Barber Shop”) where we traded tales about raising kids, de-filthed clothing at an inexpensive laundromat called A New Spin, and shopped for food at the adjacent Safeway. Water was the only runaround. It now being nearly sunset, the Verde Valley Fairgrounds, reputed to have water, was boarded up, and none of the few campers there had knowledge of any spigot. So, it was off to a certain Giant gas station that had a dump station. A sign at their water spigot warned that the water was not drinkable, but asking at the counter revealed that it was piped-in city water. It seems that the spigot being so close to the dump tank prompted a release from liability just in case something underground leaked, so it was actually okay. The only problem was that the threads on the faucet were crossed up enough to prevent a tight connection, and since I’m still at a loss to explain what happened to my Water Buddy, an all-purpose rubber connector, filling the Intrepid’s 20-gallon water tank was a mighty leaky affair. But the tank eventually filled.
Headlights now on, I made my way south the few miles it took to reach Thousand Trails Road and a BLM spur that is popular for boondocking. I dislike driving in the dark, most especially trying to locate a workable camping spot off-road in same. There’s little choice but to grab what you can get, and look as happy as you can. At one point, I had to stop and idle while a small herd of free-range cattle crossed the road in front of me. But, I found a spot, and by the time I raised the Intrepid’s roof, set out the greywater tank and arranged the interior, it was 9 o’clock. This is not my favorite kind of campground, it consisting of an intermingled web of cleared paths where campers are clustered fairly closely. But, it’s good enough for now. A heat wave is supposed to hit in a couple of days, which will likely drive me back up to Mingus Mountain to escape it. As of last night, there were no dogs barking and no generators running, so it’s quite tolerable. Instead of waking up to the call of wild turkeys, I now have the lowing of cattle.
Another Four Wheel Camper owner came over this morning to jam on that brand. He has a shorter version perched on a shortbed full-size Chevy and wanted to take a gander at the next size up. I think he’s going to start saving his pennies. He’s able to withstand lower cabin temps than I can, and only breaks the chill in the morning with his furnace because he is more of a real camper and has no solar onboard anyway. “I don’t need it,” he told me, but also added that he has no choice because the furnace runs down his sole battery too fast. That leaves him with driving as the sole means of recharging. He asked about the 12V Dometic fridge and the effectiveness of so-called Arctic Pack sidewall insulator for both hot and cold weather. I found it odd that he wanted a Four Wheel pop-up, since he avoids rough trails like the plague, but to each his own. The number of trade-offs that a lightweight pop-up presents to ease and convenience in order to boost off-road capability are many, so it may be that weight was the lure. He bought it used, so maybe it was also too good a deal to pass up.
On a side note, alas, my trusty 2009 Pentax K-7 DSLR camera has apparently packed it in. Turning it on intemittently cycles it through neverending LCD and lamp flashing, and whne that happens, it don’t actually work no more. Just to make sure it wasn’t related to peripherals, I cleaned up the lens electrical contacts, swapped out the lens and memory card without any change in behavior. The shutter, rated for 100,000 shots, has reached only 22,000 or so, but when something in the main board goes, that’s all she wrote. That’s painful, because it cost me about $1.200 when new. Such repairs cost $300, for starters. On the almost-good side, the current obsolescent low-level K-70 model is far, far superior across the board and costs “only” $600, so let the agonizing begin. Yeah, I can substitute the camera in my iPhone 4s, but I’m not happy without a viewfinder, the ability to swap lenses, and the ability to control focus and depth of field.
If I didn’t need the quick turnaround demanded by blogging every few days, I’d say to hell with it and go back to my 1983 Pentax Super Program film camera. I have two – yes, two of them – which I used to use for my vintage automotive prints and the Vintage Car Gazette shots of yore. I carry them with me simply to keep them out of Yuma’s heat, which would make short work of them. They were heavily-used, too, but they still work great. So I blame you guys if I have to shell out for a replacement camera body. 🙂 Until I reach Illinois and stop moving for a few weeks, it’s the iPhone from here on out. Oh, the humanity!
On a lighter note, a nice couple just rolled in to car camp along with their huge white mutt, which just happens to be a barker. Could be worse: they set up their tent much closer to the other Four Wheel owner than to me. Perhaps he’s a dog lover. Should be interesting in the morning, when the guy next door once again takes out his Rottweiler for a walk off-leash, particularly since it doesn’t pay much attention to him. Who said camping isn’t Adventure?
89A brings back some white knuckle memories. I remember passing one sign that said “steep and winding roads ahead.” That made me nervous as I was towing a 15,000# fifth wheel in a truck rated for 14,400# total. But I went on with trepidation. Then there was a sign that said no trucks over 40′. I told my wife I was going to find someplace to turn around. She told me I was being a puss, as usual, and I would do just fine, as usual. The rest of the trip is burned into my mind as what not to do in an RV. I thought I’d finally made it to the end, scared out of my wits, then we hit Jerome, packed for an Easter weekend. Simply delightful winding my way through that throng on those narrow winding roads in Jerome in a 43′ long rig. What a run. It was bad enough in the truck without the RV.
Now that’s entertainment, James – the story, that is. I don’t care to imagine the fun of those turns, keeping off the centerline while watching the trailer in the side mirror trying to drape itself over the shoulder/sidewalk to wipe off pedestrians. You must have shortened your life by a year on that one!