Category Archives: Arizona

Trees – the smell of pine

Wow, I am traveling again. I had been “home bound” for most of the week. I caught some kind of a bug in Tucson and stayed in bed for almost two days. Fortunately, I stayed at the house (backyard) of a friend of a friend of mine in Dragoon, ten points if you find it on the map. My good fortune didn’t end there. The friend was a retired WW II Navy nurse. So I had someone to look at my leg (it is slowly healing, but still oozing in some spots) and make sure that I had enough Echinacea tea to get me well. It was just nice not to be sick and alone. Never mind the great stories I got to listen to. Eva had traveled this country quite extensively, on her own!, by car and later in a Chinook, the precursor of the truck camper. Thank you Eva for taking care of me and for sharing your stories.

Historic Clifton, AZ

As you by now know, I don’t like to travel via the interstates. Sometimes they are hard to avoid and you just have to take a detour to get away from them. That’s exactly what I did. Instead of continuing east on I-10 into New Mexico, I headed north on hwy 191 toward Clifton, AZ.

Historic Clifton, AZ

The desert is a funny place, it never looks the same. On the drive east of Tucson it looked dull, no real colors, but once I hit 191 colors returned. Not the greens of Nevada, but the yellows / gold of California. Yellow grasses and yucca plants dominated the scenery, beautiful in its own way. I spent the night in Clifton, an old mining town of yesteryears. There is still some mining going on, but seemingly in a different capacity.
I had a pretty late start today and I knew I had a long drive through the mountains ahead of me. One hundred twenty miles don’t sound like much, but up mountains, plus a couple of photo stops, it took me five hours. It was so worth it. I took hwy 78 east, a narrow, winding one lane road through the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. I hadn’t seen trees in almost four months, except for the occasional palm tree or Joshua trees; the smell of pine was just wonderful. I love the unobstructed views you get out West, but there is something to be said for camping in the middle of the woods. Hopefully, the trees are tall enough to keep away the lights of any nearby city.
Once I left the mountains and forest behind I was greeted by endlessly rolling hills covered by yellow grasses and sprinkled with juniper trees, I just couldn’t stop starring, so beautiful. Sorry, but I can go gaga over the beauty and diversity of nature.

Rolling hills - Mule Creek

I didn’t get to Truth or Concequences as I had hoped, but I knew I shouldn’t push it. To my luck, only about thirty miles east of Silver City in the Gila (Hee-lah) Forest there was a sign for a campground right there in the woods. I found myself a nice spot and settled in. Hoping for a starry night, the moon is

Gila Nat'l Forest

almost full. I am going to treat myself tonight to a nice dinner, linguine with shrimp (frozen 🙁 ) in a tomato/zucchini sauce made from scratch, yummy. Who says camping has to be all about hot dogs? Actually, what I am doing should really not be considered camping.

Well, the night was very nice and quiet. I didn’t see many stars, but I could have read a book outside since the moon was so bright. Illuminated my site like a safety light.

Pain sucks

OK, it has been eleven days now since I cut my leg and I am sick and tired of being in pain. I pulled the staples out on Saturday. It wasn’t bad until I got to the last staple. If I had had any hard liquor in my fridge I would have had a drink or two (I don’t drink). Instead, I drove to the ER. You have to understand that my insurance will only cover ER visits or visits to doctors who are in their network. Since I am in Arizona there are no in-network doctors here. What is really stupid is that even if there are no hospitals around for 60 miles or more the insurance still won’t pay for an emergency visit to an out-of-network doctor.
Anyway, at the ER they took an x-ray of my leg and it turns out that some “foreign body”, sand, or the like got stuck inside the wound. This is probably what keeps the wound from healing and that’s why I was feeling so much pain when I pulled the last staple out. For now I am suppose to treat the wound only with antibiotic ointment. Let’s hope that that will do.
I am in Tucson and there are lots of great hiking places around here, and I can’t go. It is really frustrating to see all those great mountains and all I can do is look and keep on driving.
Sorry, that this is a bitching post, but I had to get it of my chest. This is the first time on this trip that I wish I wouldn’t be traveling on my own…

Driving east

Well, it had to happen sooner than later, I am driving east.
I left Palm Springs on Sunday (4/3) after spending Saturday at a pool party which was not anywhere as much fun as I had hoped. Hobbling around a pool party is never fun. Even the dinner at a nice restaurant was only half good. Why can’t restaurants prepare tuna correctly? If you order medium rare there should be red or at least pink in the middle of the piece and not brown. Never mind that it should not taste fishy. At least the restaurant didn’t charge me for the dinner.

Palm Springs street "camping"

I had been in the Palm Springs area around Thanksgiving and lots of places looked familiar, except the gas prices. Regular had gone up $1.04 per gallon in just over four months. California is just too expensive; $4.15 for regular was not even the highest. Glad I filled up for a mere $3.95.
Since I had been here before I chose to drive along the western instead the eastern side of the Salton Sea. Unfortunately, the sea and communities along its shores don’t look much better on this side either.

Salton City - dead palm trees

If you read my previous post about the Salton Sea you might remember all the dead fish on the beach. I didn’t see any dead fish this time, but lots of destroyed communities right at the edge of the sea. A little further inland you could find homes with nice front yards, but the whole area felt very depressing. Even the desert to the west of hwy 86 seemed not as alive as in other places.

Salton Sea Beach - remains of a home

As so many times before, things can change very quickly. Just a bit south around Westmorland, the desert was replaced by huge fields of green; wheat, lettuce and other produce. Along the northern parts of Alt-86 orange trees were full with oranges ready to be picked.
I stayed at the Wiest Lake campground. The smallest lake I have ever seen, but people still rode their big motorboats in tiny circles. What I hadn’t expected were the feeding lodges across the street. Between the aroma of cow manure and the flies, this was not the best camp spot, but it was quiet. It was a state park, there was no ranger, no pay box and no rates posted. Got to love these places. Office closed for the weekend. I hoped to see someone in the morning, no such luck. I left a note and money; I had only used water, no electric.

ATV at the Imperial Sand Dunes

In the morning I headed east on hwy 78. Passing the great Imperial Sand Dunes and than thru the desert, where some of the cacti have started to bloom, to the oh so wonderful interstate to Yuma, Arizona. I didn’t spent much time in Yuma, just gassing up and getting some groceries.
Since my leg is hurting too much when I walk, I can’t explore any of the places I pass through, which really stinks.

Blooming ocotillo and saguaro cacti

I dry camped near the town of Wellton between some fields. They are a little strict about parking campers on the street around Southern Arizona. There are too many snowbirds in the winter time and the place is just overrun with RVs.
I always try to avoid the interstates as much as possible and sometimes that leads me to some interesting dirt roads. Driving along cultivated fields, followed by desert, followed by areas covered in volcanic rock (my favorite 🙁 ) sprinkled with great saguaro cacti. You just never know what you might see.

I just found out that my tenant will stay until August, which means I’ll be on the road for an additional two months, yeah!

Thank you! – Congrats – Dealing with adversity

A big, huge thank you to Dan and Mosie from Ohio. My campground neighbors at the Grand Canyon. They were kind enough to let me borrow their power inverter. That little thing you plug into your car cigarette lighter to charge your cell phone, batteries or laptop. My inverter broke just as I arrived at the Grand Canyon North Rim campground. And of course my camera batteries were on the brink, never mind a dead computer. Thank you!

Congrats to Christie, Mike and Jim-Bob for hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim. That’s 46 miles with roughly 6,000’ in elevation change. Way to go!

Dealing with adversity is never easy, but sometimes confronting it head on works best. I had said that I don’t want to spend any time in freezing cold weather. Sometimes things just happen and I ended up at the Grand Canyon North Rim, it wasn’t planned, but who can just drive past the exit. Night temperatures were in the mid to upper 20s F. That wouldn’t be so bad if you had heat. Well, I had been dry camping for four nights before I arrived at the North Rim and my camper batteries did not charge as well as they used to in the summer time, I am using a solar panel.
Only until you have little battery power do you realize how much runs off it. The water pump uses power, so no matter how much water you have in the tank, you can’t get to it. The fridge runs off propane, but the control panel needs electricity, same with the heater, needs propane, but electricity to blow the air around. What to do with limited amps? For starters you put on three warm layers and a wool hat, turn off the fridge overnight, don’t take a shower (good thing I travel on my own) and have only one little light on. Waking up to 42 F is not a whole lot of fun, but it is not 32 F. I have to say sleeping with a hot water bottle and a wool hat can really make a difference. Trust me; I don’t like to live in a cold room. In NYC I was on the phone with the super when the temperatures dropped below 68 F.
Last but not least, the motor for my camper legs also run off the battery. Guess what I had to use to put the camper back on the truck; the good old hand crank. I could have just stood there and be mad and kick the tire, but I chose to just deal with what was put in front of me. It took me three times longer to put the camper back on than it usually does, but it got done.
The great thing about visiting the North Rim around this time of year is that nobody is there. The Lodge closed a week ago and the campground was officially closed as well. No flushing toilets or running water, except at the backcountry office. There were only five campers at the campground which has 80 sites. The Grand Canyon is spectacular, but more about that in another post.
I am now parked at a campground with electric and water hook-up. Taking a nice hot shower was bliss and only wearing a sweat shirt is wonderful. My little electric space heater is humming away. The only draw back, I am 200 yards from I-15, a busy interstate to California. But you know what, I don’t even care, having electricity is worth it.
So many exciting and exhilarating things happened in October. I hope that I will have time, when I am not hiking, to write about them.
Have to go now, lost an hour driving from Arizona to Utah. Arizona does not have day light saving time.

Please don’t forget, God’s Love’s Race to Deliver is in just a couple of weeks and I am falling way behind in my fundraising efforts. Please go to my personal webpage to make a donation online or send a check payable to God’s Love We Deliver to:
God’s Love We Deliver
166 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10013
Attn.: Jicky

Thank you!


There is so much to digest.  I drove through a lot of different terrain since last Friday that I sometimes can’t even remember where I was last or what it looked like.  I don’t like to drive, stay one night and continue.  I drove 900 miles in the last four and a half days, that’s too much when you are hauling a camper.  The good thing is that I will make it to Gilroy in time for the garlic festival.  A campground is secured and the ticket for the festival is purchased.  Only 400 miles to go.

I have to tell you about yesterday’s drive from Kingman, Arizona to Barstow, California.  It was amazing, fascinating and cool.  I had a late and slow start leaving the motel in Kingman.  I was very happy having spent the night with a little air conditioning.  It was strange not to sleep in my camper which was parked right outside my door.  I even plugged in the power cord from the camper through the window into the room.  The fridge always seems to run better on electric versus gas.  Never mind that it does not work that great in 100 degree temperatures, who does.

Historic Route 66 - Classic car

As I mentioned in my last blog I stayed at a motel just off the historic Route 66 which runs right through Kingman

Historic Route 66 - Mr D's Diner

and continues through the Sitgreaves Pass, also referred to as Oatman highway.  This is a drive up a narrow two lane mountain road with lots of curves and hairpin turns, never mind the steep slopes along the outer lane, my lane.  This road was not build with big trucks in mind and the speed limit in many areas is 20 to 35 mph.  Not that I could have gone much faster anyway.  The early part of the road leads through the desert.  Once on the mountain section the mountains change from what seems like big dirt piles to more rugged mountains with great rock formations.

Historic Route 66 / Oatman Highway

I had to think of the early drivers along this road with no air-condition (I didn’t turn mine on) and no means to keep drinking water cold.  And I had to think of illeagals who walk through the desert for days to find a better home.  The desert is not very forgiving and at 120F the air alone burns your skin.  It feels like when you open the oven door and that hot blast of air hits your face.

Historic Route 66 / Oatman Highway Stilgreaves Pass

I was very happy that I opted for this winding road and didn’t continue on the interstate.  This way I could pull over, take pictures and truly enjoy my surroundings.  I ran into a biker, actually he was a motorcyclist wearing all the protective gear one should wear when one rides a bike.  He had been riding for the last ten days from Florida.  We exchanged road stories, we had driven along the same routes.  I continued running into him along the way since we both stopped and took photos.

After 30 miles and two hours later, OK I did stop frequently to take pictures, I landed in Oatman and that is where I ran into a handful of jackasses, the four legged kind. 

Oatman - jackasses

They are supposedly wild burros.  Ancestors of the burros used during the mining days.  They roam the street (there is only one) and stick their heads into stores.  Oatman is considered a ghost town by many, however there are plenty of souvenir stores and restaurants to make you think differently.

I continued my drive south of town towards Needles, California.  More hot, hot desert.  I think this might have been the more interesting stretch of Route 66, nothing better than an adventures desert drive, where you never know what lies behind the next turn.  I had run into Route 66 in New Mexico, in Tucumcari and Santa Rosa.  Both towns had more closed down businesses and gas stations than any small town I have come across so far.  Most of the old motels were only a shadow of their old selves.  It is sad to see so much deterioration.  Everybody marvelous about Route 66 and there are still plenty of places that make money of it, but there doesn’t seem to be enough money to restore or simply to tear down the remains.

Back to yesterday’s drive.  By the time I reached Needles I was hot.  I know I could turn on the AC, but a) I don’t like it and b) I am stubborn.  So 100 F is no big deal until I come to a stop and really feel the heat.  When I crossed the Colorado River I saw some people swimming.  Should I pull over and go for a swim?  Nah, let’s keep on moving.  After the next turn I see a family in swim wear walking down the street.  OK, let’s ask them if I can just jump in anywhere along the river.  Yes, anywhere is just fine.  They pointed me in the direction of a parking area and all I had to do was put on my swimsuit.  I just love when I have everything handy.  Wow, the river was freezing cold, but it felt sooooooooooo good. 

Colorado River

I talked a little with the grandmother of the group and the kids showed me their swim trick.  Thirty minutes later off I went again.  All cooled down.  Given the current temperature I was not interested in sleeping in my camper.  I made reservations at the Barstow Motel 6.  I still had a three hour drive ahead of me.  And what a drive it was.

Interstate 40 was not as bad traffic wise as I had feared and it went through beautiful mountain ranges and the Mojave Desert Preserve.  Coming from Texas and New Mexico I had seen different kind of mountains.  Texas’ mountains look more like big hills with rounded tops, further north in Texas the hills have flat tops when they run along a canyon.  In New Mexico the mountains have pointy tops.  These mountains had great jagged edges.  The mountain ranges ran perpendicular to the highway and in one area the big ranges were preceded by a handful of little mountains.  The bases of these mountains were engulfed by this blue late afternoon light / mist which made it look as if these mountains were floating in midair, almost mystical. 

Floating mountains

Look for it the next time you drive west on I-40 just about 20 miles west of Needles.  And then there was the great big freight train.  I just love them, 100 container cars at a time.  And yes, I had to wait at a crossing and let them all pass.  I have also slept right next to tracks and cursed the drivers when they enjoy pulling the whistle late at night to make sure that everybody knows that they are working and I still love them.

Freight train against the Sacramento Mountains

The drive took longer than I had hoped.  There were many long inclines where I could only get my speed up to 35 mph and then there were the head winds.  Good thing this was a two lane highway otherwise some people might have gotten a little impatient.  Did I mention the road condition, potholes all along the right lane, bad I really had to focus on the road, no left and right sightseeing.

The night at the motel was too cold, despite the fact that I had turned off the AC.  It was time to sleep in my bed again.  I drove to a nearby campground in Boron, I know you all have heard of this town (wink, wink) the camper temperatures have dropped to comfortable sleeping conditions, 85 F.  I am very happy to be “back home”.

One last thing.  California is expensive, gas is at $3.29 per gallon.  I even saw $3.59 and many stations charge an extra ten to twenty cents for credit card use.  My high end price elsewhere had been $2.79.  Also campground fees are twice as high as what I have been paying; $40 per night is common.  Arizona’s camping fees were just as bad.

Thanks for reading this far.  I know I have some very regular readers and I know most of them.  However, there is someone in the Pasadena area who has been following my blog almost from the start and I don’t know who that person is.  Would you mind leaving a comment?  Thanks!

Caving in

OK, the heat finally has gotten to me. Last night was too hot (91F) and I didn’t sleep well. That combined with three days of driving, I was too tired to make it all the way to the Mojave Desert. I quit at 3 PM and pulled into a Motel 6 in Kingman, Arizona.  Just off the old highway 66.  My home is parked outside my door. Kind of strange, but when it is 102 F outside, an air conditioned room sure beats the comforts of my home.
Had hoped to be at the coast on the 19th. Wanted to treat myself for my birthday and rent a fast car to drive up the coast. Fifty five miles per hour are fine, however after a while I get a little jealous when I get past by all those cars.
Today’s drive was not as pleasant as I had hoped. The scenery was nice, but there was too much traffic on hwy 93. Drove through Joshua tree “forests”, pretty cool. Same old story, no pull outs or if there was one it wasn’t marked ahead of time. You try to quickly pull over with a camper on your back. Had some climbing to do as well at 40 mph I could at least enjoy the scenery.
New Mexico and Arizona have so far been the only two states where I was forced to take the interstate due to the lack of secondary roads running near by. I do not enjoy that one bit. I have the feeling it won’t get better when I get into California.

Good night.

Beating the Arizona heat or not

This morning I woke up to cool temperatures, only 66 F (19C) and I will be going to bed with temps in the high 90s (39C).  As I am writing this at 9:30 PM it is still 102 F.  You wonder where I am or where I was.  Well, I slept in Show Low, Arizona.  That is in the in the north eastern section of the state at an elevation of about 6,400 feet, and I am going to bed 50 miles northwest of Phoenix at Lake Pleasant at an elevation of a measly 2,000 feet.  It is pleasant, but only in the water.  I can’t even take a cold shower.  The water from the cold water faucet is as hot as regular hot water.  I shouldn’t complain.  This morning I thought I was in Colorado.  The stretch from Show Low to Payson along hwy 260 was all pine forest, great smell.  Unfortunately, big sections of the forest to the sides of the highway were burned.  Not sure when those fires took place.

Driving through the mountain passes was fun, mostly because I was going downhill, for the most part.  There were some sections where the forest opened up and I was looking over great mountain ranges.  I wish the highway department would take into consideration that people might want to stop and take a closer look and build turn outs when they redo highways.  No photos.

The scenery changed drastically when I headed south from Payson on highway 87. 

Saguaro cacti

Forgot to mention, I got up really early, 5:30 AM local time.  That was 6:30 AM my body time.  For some reason, Arizona does not have daylight savings time.  Figured I get an early start to avoid some of the heat.  In any case, I had a second breakfast at the Small Café in Payson.  Nice family run place.

Just a mile or two out of town the Arizona desert opened up in front of me.  Huge Saguaro cacti to the left and right in the mountain valleys.  No more pine trees.

Lake Pleasant - from my camp spot

Once at the campground, I did go for a dip in the lake.  Nice and refreshing.

How I got from Texas to Arizona is a story for the next blog or two.

Stay cool New York!