Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the tag “campsites”

Bonneville’s Jinx?

The new Rancho Begley. Note that the Aurora, loaded with dirty laundry, looks more at home out here than it does in a suburban area.

The new Rancho Begley. Note that the Aurora e-bike, loaded with dirty laundry, looks more at home out here than it does in a suburban area.

With the Southern California Timing Association’s Speed Week event scheduled to run August 9-15 this year, recent sprinkles had bumped the planned start by just a day, with first actual runs to start on Monday instead of Sunday. Not bad. When I arrived Friday afternoon, everything was looking promising. The short drive from I-80 to the “Y” intersection of the access road to the salt and Leppy Pass Road to the camping areas at the foot of the Silver Island Mountains was jammed with traffic and vehicles parked on the shoulder. Several BLM Rangers were directing the stream of traffic, asking each driver what they hoped to do, and then directing them as needed.

This guy is hoping to run his Cummins diesel-powered rod for a record.

This guy is hoping to run his Cummins diesel-powered rod for a record.

I made my way up toward last year’s campsite, found a workable area, and parked just long enough to yank the Evelo Aurora off the front end of the Ford. Racers are nothing if not celebratory partygoers, and although I found a Read more…

Wild Horse Canyon Road

The long climb up from Green River, Wyoming tends to get one's heart and spirit a'thumping.

The long climb up from Green River, Wyoming tends to get one’s heart and spirit a’thumping.

I had partially forgotten the sensation of driving up Wild Horse Canyon Road’s 1,300′ climb above Green River, Wyoming’s 6,100′ elevation. That’s enough to drop temperatures several degrees, and enough to make life very comfortable for heat-generating persons such as myself. The main climb is gravel over dirt, and four thoughts kept churning in my mind during the ascent. The first was that Wild Horse Canyon Road is almost exhilarating to drive up, since the views presented during the unrelenting climb are impressive. The second thought was of course wondering if I’d once again see any wild horses. Were the two I saw last year a fluke? Third, the road itself prompts a mental note to take the descent seriously when I leave. The Ford’s brake module failure has decreased the amount of braking that the trailer alone can contribute. That alone is unlikely to pose a problem, but a wet descent could. Fourth, the slow climb, rough in many places, was such a crawl as to prevent locking up the torque converter. “I hope it’s okay with this long a period of stress”, I thought to myself. The trans temp itself stayed unmoved from normal. You don’t need to know anything about torque converters to appreciate this concern, because all you need to know is that they are expensive to be replaced. Near the top, it occurred to me to put ‘er in 4WD Low, to ease the strain, and that worked out great. Fortunately, the first two thoughts dominated the others, and near the top of the initial climb, I was rewarded with the distant sight of a small herd of horses grazing upon a hilltop.

I guess they don't call it Wild Horse Canyon Road for nothin'!

I guess they don’t call it Wild Horse Canyon Road for nothin’!

Once again, I'm caught with my telephoto down! Each horse had a different level of concern about my approach, but I was so far away that all stayed put.

Once again, I’m caught with my telephoto down! Each horse had a different level of concern about my approach, but I was so far away that all stayed put.

Thus rewarded, I pressed on. One campsite commentator promised, “Numerous boondock pullouts along the entire 30-mile stretch”, so I decided to go past Read more…

Vedauwoo Recreational Area

The Defiant, in her secret lair.

The Defiant, in her secret lair.

Another double-length drive through Nebraska got me to the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming, at sunset. To boondock there, you go past the entrance for the Vedauwoo Recreational Area, which is a very nice paved campground and picnic area, with walking paths right up to some of the finest climbing cliffs I’ve ever seen. The day use area costs $5/day, and camping (without any hookups) is $10/night. I’m not dead sure any of the spaces will fit the Defiant, but there is some accommodation for larger rigs.

After a tour down several miles of the worst washboard gravel road I’ve seen to date, I managed to find a spot to turn around, and wound up pulling into the same area I stayed at last year, but in a position that would limit exposure to mud if the weather turned bad, as had been forecast. It was dark by that time, and quite late, so the evening celebrations were curtailed a bit.

This is hardpack, and with a stiffly-suspended vehicle, it's time to rock and roll. A normal one can skate over this at 30 MPH or so, but the result of doing that with the F-250 and trailer is not so good, at least at tire pressures that will handle the weight.

This is hardpack, and with a stiffly-suspended vehicle, it’s time to rock and roll. A normal car/truck can skate over this at 30 MPH or so, but the result of doing that with the F-250 and trailer is not so good, at least at tire pressures that will handle the weight. A few miles of this at 1/2 MPH makes the paved fee campsite pretty appealing.

Breaking out the solar panels the next morning on a whim, I hoped to stay 3 nights before moving on – a choice that requires solar power unless I want to live Spartan. I popped the Evelo Aurora off its rack after Read more…

Enter the Wagon

Yesterday evening I pulled into Stromsburg, Nebraska after 7-1/2 hours of driving, twice my self-alotted amount. That’s because after a hot, moist evening at the Iowa I-80 “World’s Largest” Truck Stop, I knew it’d be the same deal at a highway rest stop near Casey, Iowa the next night. On the face of it, I-80 Truck Stop is fab. They’ve got roomy pull-throughs to get automotive diesel, a decent sit-down restaurant and a fast food place, all the truck-related geegaws you could ever hope to see, convenience store, clothing counter, electronics counter…heck, they’ve even got a selection of raccoon hats just like Disney’s Dan’l Boone wore in the 1950s TV series! And the separate pull-through RV area away from the trucks is fairly rare to find at a truck stop.

But as an RV overnight spot, it’s still an all-night-noise truck stop. The RV slots are so narrow that 8-1/2 foot wide rigs like mine just skin through, an especially difficult task because the curved approach is often choked with overflow vehicles. Many RV drivers can’t cope with it, and wind up cutting down the limited number of spaces. At best, it’s a bad idea to leave folding doorsteps down or incautiously open doors.

I knew it would again be a hot day, and began early in the next day’s drive to think about Read more…

Tusayan, Arizona Campin’

A turn onto NF 302 yielded a view with quite a contrast to my earlier campsites. Look! Actual trees!

A turn onto NF 302 yielded a view with quite a contrast to my earlier campsites. Look! Actual trees!

The town of Tusayan, Arizona borders the southern entrance to the Grand Canyon. Oh boy, the Grand Canyon! Well, not this trip, odd as it sounds. My goal was simply to see what the area is like for travel trailer campers like myself. To get a feel for the place. I have, and if you restrict the discussion to dispersed camping, it’s a mix that is the natural result of heavy commercialization.

The initial drive in with trailer in tow netted a view of three elk about to cross the road at the bend ahead!

The initial drive in with trailer in tow netted a view of three elk about to cross the road at the bend ahead!

On the way up here on 64, I noticed plenty of inviting National Forest roads branching off this way and that. Looking at a Motor Vehicle Usage Map , the Tusayan area is loaded with roads open to dispersed camping. I’m very curious to explore some of them in order to see what camping situations they offer, but I quickly found three impediments to doing that.

I stopped, the Ford's diesel quietly rattling away, and they decided it was better to get across now, before the big red box with the even bigger white box got any closer.

I stopped, the Ford’s diesel quietly rattling away, and they decided it was better to get across now, before the big red box with the even bigger white box got any closer.

Those impediments are first, that the tangled nest of available roads cover miles and miles of range instead of being a tight pack with numerous branches.

Second, the easiest way to explore those roads is Read more…

A Room With a View

I prefer not to camp where I need to pull the window shades for privacy. The moonlight is usually nice, too.

I prefer not to camp where I need to pull the window shades for privacy. The moonlight is usually nice, too.

Once I moved to avoid the recent rodent issues, I found a new campsite just half a mile further north on 9711F/Old 89. A pull-through loop adaptable to big rigs, it was atop a low ridge and offered a view of miles in nearly any direction. I knew I was in the right place when I woke up the next morning and saw a coyote in the distance trotting in a line from bush to bush, looking to scare up some breakfast. I’m going to let this post be kind of a photo essay, because there’s more to see than to tell.

This is the kind of place with admirable views, enough to climb out every now and then just to take it all in. This is looking NE from the new campsite.

This is the kind of place with admirable views, enough to climb out every now and then just to take it all in. This is looking NE from the new campsite.

This is looking north near sunset. If you're the kind of person who tends to be anxious, this is the Rx.

This is looking north near sunset. If you’re the kind of person who tends to be anxious, this is the Rx.

Read more…

The Greener Grass Turns Brown

In the exploration for a closer campsite, this was what I expected. I got precious little of it.

In the exploration for a closer campsite, this was what I expected. I got precious little of it.

With every run to Safeway and other stores in Chino Valley, AZ being at least 14 miles each way, I decided to check out two other camping trail possibilities that practically glowed on the Forest Service’s Prescott National Forest Motor Vehicle Usage Map (MVUM), the only valid guide as to what’s legal to camp on and what will get you a citation.

Heading east out of the upper end of Chino Valley is Perkinsville Road, a paved 35 MPH road that quickly turns to somewhat washboarded dirt. It stays paved for awhile because the town’s baseball diamond is located a couple of miles out. After that, it’s meat processing centers, ranches, and a cattle auction place.

My interest was in finding a reasonably workable campsite that would cut some of the fuel cost of getting to town for supplies. Off of Perkinsville Road, NF (National Forest) 638 was indicated as cutting Read more…

Wheezing in Wickenburg

South of Wickenburg. I'm noticing that my campsite photos look too similar. Boots on the ground though, they are remarkably individual. Something for me to work on...

South of Wickenburg. I’m noticing that my campsite photos look too similar. Boots on the ground though, they are remarkably individual. Something for me to work on…

The Yuma area was getting a bit toasty already, and although a cooler front was predicted to move in after a uncomfortably hot week, duty called – I’m hoping to intercept a good friend who doesn’t RV, but who travels out west more than I do! Time to head for Wickenburg Arizona, one of my all-time favorite towns.

At an elevation of 2,100′, it drops Yuma’s 90-degree sweatymans existence to nicer levels. Quartzsite would have been acceptable these days, but once I overnighted there yet again on the way here, I realized that the magnificent Imperial Dam LTVA had ruined me for anything else. In comparison, Quartzsite is simply a baked-out stopover for other places having considerably more charm.

My closest neighbor is too close, but directly to the rear. That's okay, since they can't peep me practicing ballet at night.

My closest neighbor is too close, but directly to the rear. That’s okay, since they can’t peep me practicing ballet at night.

Wickenburg is one of those places. Named as one of the top True West towns in the country, Wickenburg pumps its past pretty hard. It has to, because it depends quite a bit on tourism – which is a bit of a thin soup these days. But, it’s still a fact that the area is still peppered with Read more…

The Boondocker’s Best-Kept Secret

Would you prefer sun or shade for your beach camping, Miss? Or perhaps a little of both?

Would you prefer sun or shade for your beach camping, Miss? Or perhaps a little of both?

There’s a whole lot more to the Senator Wash Recreation Area than I first supposed. I initially tied nearby Squaw Lake and the south shore of Senator Wash Reservoir together as a couple of two-week-per-month options when using a $75 annual Recreational Fee Area Pass. But wait – there’s more!

Life can be cruel. Or sometimes, not so much. Idyllic camping, in my worldview.

Life can be cruel. Or sometimes, not so much. Idyllic camping, in my worldview.

The north shore of Senator Wash Reservoir is also a Recreation Fee Area that’s included in the same pass. As far as I can see, this little group of dispersed lakeside campsites is the best-kept boondocking secret on the Web. A quick tour through it in February yielded a ton of toes-in-the-water campsites, very few of which were occupied. Policy-wise, this is a van dweller’s paradise, since the area is also liberally peppered with Read more…

Squaw Lake Recreation Area

This shot is a bit distant, but it's the only way to get much of this lake in the frame!

This shot is a bit distant, but it’s the only way to get much of this lake in the frame!

Squaw Lake is adjacent to Senator Wash Reservoir at the Imperial Dam LTVA (Long Term Visitors Area). The facility and access to it are 100% paved. Squaw Lake is a Recreation Fee Area, which means that there is a day use fee of $10 and overnight camping at $15. The camping duration limit is 14 days in any 28-day span, and then if you wish to return after your 14, you have to either pay for a two-week pass at the Imperial Dam LTVA, or go at least 25 miles away for two weeks before returning. Unaffordable for the common mortal? You bet. But there are pleasing alternatives.

At center, the main parking lot offers access to fun if you have a boat, and superb surroundings if you don't.

At center, the main parking lot offers access to fun if you have a boat, and superb surroundings if you don’t.

Squaw Lake has a lot going for it. Besides the usual picnic tables and restrooms, it offers hot showers. A swimming area is there, and a paved boat ramp offers access to the Colorado River. The views are magnificent for 340 of the 360 degrees around, and the only drawback – a significant one for me – is that Read more…

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