Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the category “Campsites”

Home, Sweet Home

Usually, I’m fighting for full sun. With hookups and seasonally high temperatures, that quest has reversed.

The day went like clockwork despite uncomfortably high temperatures and humidity. After an hour of unbridled joy at the dentist’s office, I got to see my son and his bride as well as a grandson and new-to-me granddaughter who smiles incessantly, at least until it’s naptime. Absconding with way too much mail and packages of stuff I’ve ordered for repair and replacement, I took off to load up on groceries and pick up an inline water filter.

Then it was off to Lehman’s Lakeside RV Resort in greater metropolitan Marengo. Since the Fourth of July weekend is coming up, finding a spot to stay for a month straight was Read more…

The Reluctant Prepper

I took this with a telephoto backed off all the way in order to show what this view looks like to me instead of a camera lens that pushes it far away.

“Prepper” as in getting ready to leave Pike National Forest. I haven’t been able to get out much due to weird sinus issues, so it feels kinda early to do errands back in Frisco and Dillon tomorrow. Then I’ll overnight in Dillon again, hopefully where I did before. Friday morning, I head for North Platte, Nebraska to begin “the commute”. That normally involves driving 3-4 hours each day, starting late and ending mid-afternoon, where I can do as I like wherever I’m parked. This trip, it will be with a twist. If the mid-nineties forecasts hold true, those afternoons will Read more…

A Change of Heart

This is a long post, but it’s an account of the exploits of one 24-hour period.

All it took was one full day of 98-degree temperatures at Valley of the Gods, followed by a 10 PM reading of 93 to convince me that this tourist business ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. By 5 AM, it was 69 degrees. The rest of the week was forecast to imitate that. That’s the time when you do a little soul-searching. About 30 seconds’ worth is plenty, I’d say. Oh, I was careful to get a quasi-group thing going. After all, it wasn’t just for my comfort – such heat makes bread get moldy quickly, and badly shortens the overall service life of batteries like mine. And the fridge was not holding temps very well.

A planned overnight north of Moab followed by a half-week a Grand Junction, Colorado was to be the last of the sightseeing. After that was to begin the eastward “commute” to Illinois. Unfortunately, those two stops would be no cooler at all. A solution was needed, and fast. A look at the next stop after Grand Junction, an overnight in Evergreen CO, involved driving through Dillon, a high elevation area I’d had to resort to on my way out west last year, due to a prolonged heat wave then. I’d be trading away heat for Read more…

Valley of the Gods

Due to a misunderstanding with my GPS, I entered the west end and saw this. Okay, but not that exciting.

[This post contains 22 small photos. The larger versions are available when you choose to click on them.}

My plan had been to enter the east end of Valley of the Gods, Utah, a gravel road that spans two highways. This was because there were cautions online about having to charge through sand in order to begin the trek at the east end, and I wanted to see just how intimidating it was, given my sporadic difficulties with thick dust at Monument Valley. It was supposed to give the willies to larger and heavier towed rig owners. Instead, my GPS, set for the “fastest route” to get to the east entrance, felt that beginning at the west end would be the quickest way to get there, and I, not realizing the subterfuge, blindly obeyed. The west end is a short jaunt from Goosenecks State Park, so I feel that my GPS was either deluded about the nature of that roadway versus the highway, or perhaps didn’t even care. We’re working through this issue together now. Its conversational ability is somewhat limited, but then, I”m not in a position to point fingers.

But eventually, you see things like this.

I can’t claim that the west half is no great shakes, mainly because of aggressive washboard. Too many vehicles going too fast. Five miles in to what is purported to be Read more…

Monument Valley & Goosenecks

There be plenty of places to pull off and park.

[Caution: This post offers some 48 photos, so if you are on a restrictive cellular plan or simply have an aversion to looking at bad photos, go somewhere else now. The photos are small, but they add up.]

This action-packed day was also packed with goodness, the itinerary being a tour of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park’s 17-mile road before camping at Goosenecks State Park. The one-hour jaunt from Sunset View Campground was pretty and uneventful, and I broke out the twenty bucks it took to breach Monument Valley’s entrance gate.

I’m not giving out the names of these for identification, since to me there’s no benefit in doing that. If you need to read a sign to figure out what some demented English-speaking soul thought each one looked like, there’s no gain here. One is named “elephant”, which doesn’t do much for its historical authenticity in ancient tribal land.

A quick stop and wander through The View Hotel netted a sandwich, lots of gewgaws for sale, and some impressive historical photographs and artwork on the walls. The place was crawling with shiny tour buses packed with Chinese tourists, whose economic powerhouse has enabled them to see the world. From what I could tell, they liked it. From the hotel, they then tended to descend on the plethora of tour guide vehicles, waving and smiling at passersby. At least the ones without surgical masks were smiling – they were sensibly protecting themselves against the dust clouds that were created by their vehicles and all those who passed them coming the other way. Those tour vehicles were all flatbed pickups equipped with rows of bench seats facing the sides. On the rougher sections of trail, they didn’t bounce nearly as much as the Mighty Furd did, so maybe they were half-tons loaded to the gunnels. The Furdster would have lifted them clear of their seats, guaranteed. Remember school buses?

Ah, the road! There’s always the question of, “Can I take my car on that road?” It started out as a mix of dirt and gravel, descending sharply through hairpin turns. RVs and similar large, heavy vehicles are prohibited from using the Monument Valley Road, and that’s a good idea. Fortunately for me, the Intrepid is Read more…

Sandal Trail

Dinosaur tracks, which mean I’m not the first being to walk around in this area.

Yesterday was a bit of an off-day physically, so it was just as well I had decided to stay put an extra day. Didn’t stop me from walking the mile-long Sandal Trail to view the Anasazi ruins in the Betatakin Canyon. Three trails begin behind the Visitor Center, and Sandal Trail is the only one that’s paved and offers such a view.

This is a Navajo hogan. It has a hole at the top to allow a small fire inside when needed. I would think the insulative properties work year-’round.

I rode the e-bike there from camp and, neglecting to bring a lock, decided to walk it beside me. That turned out to be a fortuitous decision, because the trail descends several hundred feet as it wanders along. That posed no problem on the stroll to the viewpoint, but the bike proved invaluable on the return lurch back. After some distance, I lowered the seat and let it carry me along, and the degree of uphill slope in a couple of places was all it could handle in its lowest gear! I still got my exercise aplenty, since I dismounted and walked it each time I encountered others on the trail. That wasn’t only from courtesy, but was for the sake of self-preservation. It’s a narrow trail to ride, with steep drop-offs, and that astonishing sense of balance that I once had on a bike has long since gone the way of all things. Especially when crawling along in low gear. In a situation like this, it’s a bad idea to impose upon anyone, or there might one day be a new sign added in the future about bikes being prohibited. By nature, it’s a walking track, not a cycling trail. By the time I reached the visitor center again, I’d had a pretty good workout.

A sign labeled this a sweat house, and it’s tiny. The people carried in heated rocks, and you can figure out the rest. According to a sign, they used it as an alternative to bathing when water was scarce, which it usually was. Here, a small child visiting from China has taken up residence. Don’t let your kids/grandkids see this photo, or they may develop plans for the backyard. “That? Oh, that’s just a Navajo sweatlodge the kids made themselves, but they just use it to camp in and stay cool.”

I then mounted up and headed for Canyon View Campground, the other free camping area here. That road descends a bit too, but it is smoothly paved as well. Once in camp, it changes to Read more…

Bad Start, Great Finish

A viewpoint along the road to Sunset View and Canyon View Campgrounds.

Bad start? I was going to drop off the old batteries and get the heck out of Dodge (Flagstaff), but while I was preparing to pack up, my Samlex inverter, a “special” model tolerant of high charge voltages, gave out an audible alarm. Looking at the digital voltage readout showed that system voltage was at 16.7 and climbing. it shouldn’t normally be exceeding 14.4V at full bluster. Not good. I immediately turned off the power to devices, popped the main camper harness switch to protect the fridge and such, and pulled the solar panel fuses to stop charging power. The battery meter slowly dropped to normal.

That was odd. Both solar charge controllers had thrown a red LED to indicate they weren’t happy. Since the ground panels were deployed, I began troubleshooting by Read more…

Miracle of Miracles

Lots of sun, not much wind, and quiet solitude.

Pulling into NF-535 well south of Flagstaff did not look promising as far as finding a full-sun campsite goes. Heck, finding any campsite still available looked impossible. Every niche in the woods and every open-air site was packed with rigs or groups of rigs, as well as all the tents and canopies you could hope to see in a lifetime. That’s Memorial Day weekend, I figure. Still, I pressed onward and upward, literally.

By the time I reached what I like to call the upper plateau where the sites thin out, impressively large clusters of the Hispanic community were encamped, and youngsters on ATVs were roaming the trail to relieve the boredom of a long camping weekend with parents. Camps were set up Read more…

Cinder Hill OHV Area

Yep, them is hills made of – or at least coated with – lots of cinders. Lots.

Cinder Hill OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) Area is an interesting place. I innately read that as Overhead Valve, but that’s my problem. About 12 miles north of Flagstaff, it consists of some 13,500 acres of flats and hills coated with several inches of small cinders. The entrance from US-89 is well-marked but has no turning lane, so it’s prudent to use an early turn signal and keep an eye on your rig’s tail as you slow down. No camping is allowed on the first mile or so of the NF-776 access road, but signage as to where you can and where you can’t camp is obvious. The first area is adjoining a very large, flat span of deep cinders among many ponderosa pines. It is sizable, and decent privacy can easily be found.

Half a mile away from camp presents a view that isn’t available when you’re nearer the trees.

On the weekdays, you might find just half a dozen camping rigs parked among the trees, while weekends will produce some more toyhaulers and trailers loaded with ATVs and motorcycles. I hadn’t noticed that my arrival on Read more…

Prepping for Departure

Some places, I’m ready to go when the time comes. Some places, not quite. The 4-minute video below sums it up, kinda.

Solar power constraints at the Expo’s camping location should allow a decent evaluation of overall battery pack condition, since I will have to do the four days sans refrigerator. I strongly suspect that at least one of the batteries is failing, which would magnify any problems that the fridge might be creating. Could be I’ll be hanging around Flagstaff after the show, which isn’t all bad!

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