Monday, February 11, 2013

A Favorite of Ours--Chiricahua National Monument

As we drove  east from Tucson, we had originally planned to stop in Benson, but with colder weather moving in later in the week, we decided to go to Chiricahua National Monument so we could get in some hiking before the weather turned cold. For those of you who haven't heard of Chiricahua National Monument, it is on the eastern border of Arizona. The closest town is Willcox--40 miles away! We made sure we had everything we would need for a few days in the wilderness--propane, food, water, etc.--and then we made our way to the park. The only bad thing about Chiricahua is that the campground only accepts vehicles up to 29 feet--we are 33.
Once inside the park, we stopped at the parking area for Faraway Ranch and unhooked the car so we could drive to the visitor center. We wanted to find out about camping in the National Forest outside the park. The person we talked to in the visitor center told us the National Forest campgrounds were very muddy and probably not a good choice for us. This person went on to tell us that the triangle of land outside the park entrance has been used frequently by big rigs and no one seems to care that they park there. Hmmm...that would be much more convenient than a muddy campground 5 miles from the entrance so that is where we parked. It turned out to be a great site!

After getting set up we wanted to go for a short hike to get acclimated to the elevation. Once again we were over 5000 feet. We drove back into the park and took the Lower Rhyolite Trail to the intersection of several other trails. It was a nice hike, going up for the first half, then descending to the visitor center again.

The views were great. We enjoyed hiking--for the 5th day in a row!
 It was nice to be in forests again. As we hiked I could smell the scent of the trees! Much better than the dust of the desert.
 Thursday we drove about 12 miles back toward Willcox and took the dirt road to Ft. Bowie National Historic Site.  We passed this when we visited 5 years ago and this time we decided we had to make the drive and hike to see the site.
 After an 8 mile drive on a relatively good dirt road we came to the parking area. From the parking area it is a 1.5 mile hike to the fort. Along the way are several historical ruins to see. This is a view of some of the ruins of the fort that we could see from Apache Springs.
Being from Florida, we expect springs to have boils and be large areas of running water---not in Arizona. This is Apache Springs! Enlarge the picture and you may be able to see the water trickle down from the rocks!
 Not far from the springs was an Apache encampment. Battles were fought over the water in the spring. Like most Apache camps, the buildings were built by the women. The men hunted and the women did all of the other chores.
 As we approached the fort, we noticed that there wasn't much left of the buildings.  The foundations were intact, but the wooden walls were taken or rotted years ago. What is left has been covered in a thin layer of protective cement.
 It makes the ruins look strange.
 While we were touring the fort, a group arrived on horseback to tour the ruins.

When we left, we took the overlook trail back to the parking area. This was one of the overlooks. The building on the left is the visitor center.
  From this overlook you had the vantage point of the Apaches as they fought members of the California Column who were approaching the springs.
Even though the hike to and from the site is 3 miles, we ended up hiking almost 5 miles when we added in the actual site and several short trails that go off the main trail.

Friday it was time to hike Echo Canyon Loop trail. We hiked this trail when we visited the park in 2008. This time when we hiked the trail, there was no snow or ice!

 From this trail you get a good view of the rocks! No wonder this park is called 'Wonderland of Rocks.'

 The rocks (rhyolite) were formed from a volcanic eruption 27 million years ago. Over the years the rocks have been eroded by weather and ice.
Today, lichen is growing on many of the rocks and that, too, will cause the rocks to weaken.
 There are many nooks and crannies to explore along the trail.
 Trees take root where ever they find a small amount of soil.
 This creek doesn't have nearly the volume of water it did 5 years ago. Then we got our feet wet trying to cross, but this time we walked right across without going near the water!
 Echo Canyon Loop Trail consists of several trails linked together. The final trail on the loop is Ed Riggs Trail. It takes you from the canyon up to the parking lot at the trailhead.

 After hiking this trail we returned to the RV for lunch. Later in the afternoon we decided to go for a drive and pick up a few geocaches. There weren't many in the area, so it was quite a drive! Our first stop was Cochise Stronghold in Coronado National Forest off AZ highway 191.

There were several geocaches along Cochise Trail, but because we were running out of daylight, we weren't able to grab those caches. They are hidden somewhere in these rocks!
As we drove home through Willcox, we were treated to an awesome sunset!
 The next day, Saturday, we were leaving Chiricahua to get away from the cold front moving our way. Unfortunately, we didn''t get an early start due to strong winds. By the time we were ready to leave, this is what it looked like from the passenger window in the RV.
 A little later on, the wind died down, the snow stopped and we made our way to Interstate 10 at Willcox and continued our journey to the east.
 Bob drove all the way to Deming, New Mexico, where we stopped at the Escapee park--Dreamcatcher RV Park just off the interstate. We got a dry camping site for the night and hunkered down with the heat on high.

The next morning after dumping tanks, we were on the road once again. Our next stop was a rest area west of Caprock, New Mexico along US Highway 380.
 We decided that there wasn't much we wanted to see in New Mexico. There is a portion of Texas we would like to explore (weather permitting) along the Texas/Oklahoma border. After a restful night at the rest area, we headed into Texas.

 As we drove along the US Highway 380, we were able to pick up a few geocaches. One was at the New Mexico/Texas state line.

We finally stopped at Crosbyton, Texas. It is on US Highway 82 west of Lubbock. We stopped in a city park that has full hook-ups at no charge.
 After we got set up we went to mail Valentine cards to Chris and DeAnna, then we explored the area. We found a few geocaches. One was at this great rest area just east of Crosbyton.

So after 73 days of no hook-ups, we once again have electric, water, and sewer! Since we have done so much traveling the last 3 days, our budget is up to  $55.94 a day. It takes a lot of gas when you are driving against the wind!

And by the way, we didn't out run the cold front. It is right here with us!

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Bob was still not up to par, but he drove all the way to Tucson when we left Boomerville. We pulled into Davis Monthan Air Force Base FamCamp not long after the office closed. Not to bother, we wanted an overflow site anyway. Bob wants to see how long we can go without electric hook-ups.  It had been a few years since we visited Tucson. The FamCamp has changed--what used to be the overflow lot is now full hook-up sites and the overflow is back behind the main campground. We found a site to our liking, but before parking we emptied our tanks and filled with fresh water.
 There are a lot of things to see and do in the Tucson area. This trip we decided to visit Sabino Canyon. For some reason we never visited this section of
Coronado National Forest on our previous visits.Even though it was Saturday, we decided to brave the crowds and go for a short hike. We chose Esperero Trail. It was a pretty level trail that took us to the first tram stop.

We enjoyed seeing the saguaro cacti. They come in all shapes and sizes and they are everywhere in the lower canyon area.

From the tram stop we walked down the paved road back to the parking area. It was amazing how many people were just walking on the road and not on the trails.

We took a trail to get off the road and saw this roadrunner chasing a lizard. He sure blends in with the branches.

Super Bowl Sunday we decided to add to our geocache totals. We started with a series of park and grabs along a frontage road east of Tucson. From there we drove into the desert to find a few 'turtle' caches. The caches were placed in the shape of a turtle. According to geocache rules, each cache has to one tenth of a mile from any other cache. We found all the caches in the turtle's head.
On our way home we stopped at Pizza Hut and got a pizza to go. You have to have pizza to watch the Super Bowl. I have to say that we were disappointed in this year's commercials.

Monday we headed to the eastern park of Saguaro National Park. We enjoyed walking through the desert seeing all the different cacti. This is a barrel cactus.
This is an up close view of the yellow buds.
This is what a saguaro skeleton looks like.
One of our hikes at Saguaro National Park took us to the lime kilns where it took 20 cords of wood to make one batch of lime.
This saguaro is getting nubbins for its soon to be arms. It is being protected by a palo verde tree.
In addition to saguaros, there are many different cholla cacti. This red one had rope like segments.
This cholla had stalks as thin as pencils with red buds on the ends.
 Tuesday we went back to Sabino Canyon and hiked to the dam, then took the Phone Trail Connector to Phone Trail and back down to the visitor center. This trail was much steeper than the one we took on Saturday.
 At one point we had to cross a creek. We crossed at a much narrower part than this!
 We enjoyed our hikes at Sabino Canyon. We didn't do them all, so when we return to Tucson we still have some trails to hike.
Back at the RV we had a hummingbird that hovered around one of the trees most of the day. It stayed so still that we were able to get a picture of it before we left.
We enjoyed our time at Tucson, but according to weather reports a COLD front was moving in for the next weekend. After doing laundry and stocking up at the commissary we left Tucson on Wednesday. When we left we had been without hook-ups 68 nights. For those budget minded readers, we are  $54.96 a day.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Boomerville Update

 Bob and I left Yuma on January 15 and arrived in Quartzsite about an hour and a half later. We found our way to Scadden Wash where Boomerville was located. We parked our rig in an empty spot and scouted around to see who had arrived prior to us. When we signed in at the tent, we were rig #41. We saved a spot for our friends Connie and Larry. They arrived a few hours after us. It had been 3 years since we saw them.  Notice both rigs are parked to take advantage of the southern sun. All solar panels raised and collecting those rays!

 Boomerville is located at the southernmost area of Scadden Wash which is maintained by BLM (Bureau of Land Management). You are allowed to camp free of charge for 14 days before moving at least 25 miles to another BLM area if you want to stay on BLM land. We stayed the full time.

On Saturday there was a Boomer excursion to Nellie E's Desert Bar. Bob and I waited for Larry and Connie to get off work in the Big Tent downtown so we could go together. Bob caught Connie and I exiting the unique women's room. The bar is run completely by solar power.
 Here are Larry, Connie and I  on the upper deck.
  This is a side view of the church facade. Nellie E's is an interesting place to visit, but we can wait another few years before visiting again.

There was a daily schedule of events at Boomerville which included a daily walk at 9 a.m., seminars on boondocking, geocaching, beading, and lots of other things throughout the day as people showed a need. Happy Hour was always at 4 p.m. at the fire pit. Someone somewhere had a fire going at night. If not sitting by the fireside, then it was time for games with Pegs and Jokers being the most popular.

On the last Friday at Boomerville, there was an auction for CARE (an organization within Escapees to help those in need after surgery or needing to hang up their keys in Livingston, TX). Boomers raised over $3000 to donate to CARE.
Our last Saturday at Boomerville, we took Sherrie and Jack geocaching. We found quite a few caches and had a good time.
As it neared time to leave, Bob, Connie, and Larry all got sick. I don't know what they had--bad colds with coughs or the flu, I'm just glad I didn't get sick. Instead of going to the Escapee geocache rally on the other side of Q for 3 days, we stayed at Boomerville. Most of the rigs were gone by the time we packed up to leave. In fact during the 2 weeks of Boomerville over 130 rigs registered. As we drove away, there were only 3 rigs left!

This is the lone saguaro that was near our site. There is a dead saguaro lying on the ground--it looks like a big log.
As we begin the long trek home we hope to see some of our new Boomer friends along the road. We also hope Larry and Connie make it to the east coast  next winter!