Jodi's mom called from PHX to warn of the coming dust storm and Ham operators on the radio said visibility was 1-4 miles in blowing dust and winds up to 40mph. We had enough time to get most things put away or tied down before the wall of dust came from the east and swept across Eldo in the early evening.
This morning is the cleaning up after... No damage but a lot of mess.
The strangest thing so far is all the plastic trash bags. All over the
place, a dozen at least, widely scattered. I don't know where they came
big transformer went through town one day in here somewhen. Quite a parade.
The transformer was carried in a cantilever trailer riding on at least
128 tyres. One tractor pulled the trailer and two more pushed. The parade
included several RV's, power and telephone wire-lifter crews in their trucks,
a geedunk on wheels, and a flatbed trailer carrying two porta-potties.
And of course no parade can be complete without the police closing roads
and the people lining the way. Most interesting perhaps was that the cantilever
trailer could change its wheelbase as it went along. The axels could change
length to accomodate the width of the road. Each end of the trailer was
steered independently by a helmsman who could move his steering wheel from
one side of the trailer to the other. Probly the whole parade was nearly
a half a mile long.
The road from the west end of Gillespie Dam bridge south to the petroglyph site has been widened, graded, and extended. Big turnaround. In the dusk of early evening the petroglyph cliff looks very much diminished by the width of the new road.
The glycol leak is in the heater loop where it passes forward above the propane tanks. I can see a place where a brass elbow has been rubbing on the frame. Bad-Bad Me... Although I don't remember it being that way the last time I worked on it. The glycol is pissing out of the elbow right where it is touching the frame. I think I might ignore it for this trip. I can isolate this section of the coolant circuit and it would be better to work on it at "home".
Everything else mechanical seems to be Ok so far. The a/c in the rear window protrudes a little more than I would like it to, blocks my rear vision. But then it also blocks high beams from following cars.
At bed time I found a stowaway. One of those new breed of tail-less lizards found at El Dorado. Quite a lively little bugger. I'm thinking now I should have adopted it instead of putting it out to fend for itself. Could have been useful as a flycatcher but I fear La Gata would have been jealous and it would have been soon missing more than its tail.
Sara(h) La Gata is not a little miffed at the strange sounds and smells
outside her door and elected not to make her usual morning rounds. She
sticks her head through the cat door flap, looks from side to side several
times, and then pulls her head in and sits there. Perhaps it will all change
back to normal if I wait right here she thinks.
My early and cool start from the east end of Gila Bend was gobbled up by a fine little museum at the Visitor's Center near the west end where postcards are still six for a dollar. Tax included. Visiting the Visitor's Center was the object of another geocache search. Whilst reading all the displays and placards I saw a 25-35 lever action Octagun. I used to have one of those, manufactured in the late 1800's. And on the wall above, a framed paper telling about all the folks who perished crossing the 40 mile desert between Gila Bend and Yuma when the Octagun was a popular tool. Granted, that was before any Yumans lived there but it gave me pause to reflect and so decided I'd best fix my glycol leak in Gila Bend as there were no services along the way.
Over the past 12,000 years a lot of diverse peoples have lived and travelled in this area. The Hohokum were among the earliest, the Yumans are the latest. Basket weavers to dream weavers, they have one thing in common: A finely tuned ability to manage water and irrigate the land. At Painted Rock BLM Historic Site (north from i8x102 on Painted Rock Road) old blocks of basalt covered with a patina of "desert varnish" are a canvas for glyphs old and new that people use to tell their storeys. How is it that what the old people left behind we call art, of historical significance, and work to protect and revere it; but what the new people do now we call graffiti, vandalism, and proscribe it.
There went the morning. Lunch later I headed west to find another geocache. This one is in the ruin of a little house on a little hill. Perhaps once was a thriving little business before the interstate bypassed all the traffic on the little road. Hard to say. There's nobody there to ask and the walls aren't talking. The roof is open to the sky and the windows frame the desert. It was a good place for a skinnywalk.
Now, it is nearly sunset and I am parked under an irrigated tree in the SunDance RV Park. With both a/c's operating the electric meter is spining around at a furious rate. Outside the temperature has begun to decline, down to 102f now, from a high of 110f. I just couldn't take it any more. How did those people survive here without air conditioning? Granted, 12,000 years ago the climate was cooler and clothing, as we know it today, was not de rigueur, but in the last few hundred years? The wagons the Mormon Division had were not air conditioned when they blazed the trail that later became interstate 8.
On a lighter note there is the bad-news good-news pair. I forgot my
30a extension cord so that makes for some creative parking arrangements
to get short cord close enough to the power tower in this campground. Good
thing it is their off season and the place is not so crowded that I cannot
park catty-cornered. The new speedometer is working just dandy! Counts
miles without clicking and sticking, improved readability too--I got the
large type version with with an inner dial for km/h and a built-in hi-beam
Today started early at Yuma, oh-dark-thirty, after a quick breky, I was on the trail to the summit of Telegraph Hill. Great day for a skinnywalk on a sort of paved road steeper than I remember any part of the Mount Washington Carriage Road. Even the Service Road thereof. Wicked! From 200 feet MSL at the bottom to 1500 feet at the top where the Telegraph Pass Cache is located under a pile of rock next to a "buckthorn". About five miles round trip, two and half hours. Not bad for an old man.
Then things slowed down. Back to last night's campground for a shower and some chit-chat--the camp host, Ellen, is from Connecticut--and a turn at email. Then lunch before finally getting on the road in the heat of the day. I stopped to look at three more caches along the way to Chula Vista but Summer late afternoons are not the best time to out tramping around in this neck of the desert. The heat was oppressive.
The temperature going over the Crestwood and Laguna summits on i8 was
105f! It was slow climbing but with all the fans running and the water
spray on the radiator from time to time The Cat Drag'd her self up the
hill just fine. The best part was that the air temperature began to drop
just as the road went down the west side of the hill. Down to 85f here
in Chula Vista. Cool!
So Saturday was a big dinner day to say the least.
And it was a good day to sit around and visit and fix things and write
letters. Tomorrow will be another road day.
On to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion for the Sunday Concert in the Park; this one event was worth the trip. PHX does not have anything to match it. I also went looking for some Old Antarctic Explorers but they were not home. Drove around looking for a beach but by that time on a Sunday afternoon there was no parking available for a bus.
on i8 to Pine Valley, the Pine Creek Trailhead, and the Secret Canyon Geocache.
Finding the trailhead was easy enough but beyond that the going got tough.
One false start, one long detour, one bushwack back, and finally found
it right next to where I thought it should be. I took the bare bell--just
the thing for a skinwalker--and left one of my world famous hand crafted
zipper fobs. The hike out was a lot more straight forward, no trouble staying
on the trail.
Blythe for lunch, Quartzsite for fuel. The temperature was poking at
120f. I canna take much more of this. All I can think of is cool water.
Main Street is the Historic Route 66 and right in the middle of it is the "Museum On Main Street". Williams is the "Gateway to the Grand Canyon", a railway makes daily round trips to the South Rim.
I parked up the street in Sunset Crater National Monument at the Bonito Campground for the night and Laura came to visit. The Perseid Meteor Shower scheduled for display that evening was pretty much a wash due to thunderstorms. While there wasn't hardly enough precip to measure, the lingering clouds transformed our skywatching into a Scrabble game. Later, much later, we did see a few meteors whilst making bread pudding for breky. Then I slept most of the day and Laura went home to work.
The campground below Sunset Crater is around 7,000 feet MSL, 6,000 feet
higher than the springs at El Dorado. According to the rule of the adiabatic
lapse rate there should be a difference of 18 degrees F. between here and
there and that is about what we have.
Charlie lives in a 1969 Chevy van--over 200,000 miles on the original engine--is retired and wanders around, from wide spot to forest camp. Once in a while he stops at his son's for a shower. Joe has a pickup and a small, weather beaten trailer with newish tail lights glued on over the broken old ones. He says he's going to get rid of the trailer and put a camper in the back of his truck; the trailer is rotting out from under him. We chatted for a hour or so as the sun set about how difficult it is these days to find a place to park overnight.
Two other men park pickup campers side by side and have dinner together. Another van, newer than Charlies, at least from the 80's, has a 250cc Honda strapped on the back, a bicycle strapped on the front, and can't shift into first. It has to be started in gear. An old Class-A RV with the roof so loaded with stuff and things that the rear springs are sagging is near the far end of the line-up.
Some of these folks talk to one another as might neighbors from an old community, or men sitting in straight chairs leaning back against the front of the general store. They meet here from time to time and compare notes about where else to camp, where else they may park and not get run off before the night is over. The police run them off because their communities have designated them as undesirables, the Mexicans run them off by their shear numbers, sadistic youth run them off by their crude ways and violent means.
Not too many places left, Charlie says, Most everywhere you turn now there's signs, --no overnight parking, --no camping. Even in the forest now you can't stay more'n 14 days and then the rangers run you off. Where's a body to live these days?
What ever happened to "This land is your land, / This land is my land...
/ This land was made for you and me." (--Woodie
Guthrie)? Has it all been sold to the developers? No, not all. Just most.
Good thing I was a Rockhopper Penguin in a previous life. The path into the west side of the dam was fairly straight forward; I decided I'd pick up the trash that marked the route later since I'd be covering this ground on the way out. From the dam the way got interesting to say the least. You can almost find the cache just by following the downtrodden grass except that there is a clever diversion that repeatedly takes one off in the wrong direction. Only after several back and forths did I find the well hidden bridge.
Meadow, eh? But what a find! I found the cache and the guard-ants found me. I can see why it would be a good place for a picnic, the location is certainly well equipped.
On the way out I ascended the east side of the canyon wall to the dam. That part was pretty scary but well worth the effort for the workout and the different perspective afforded from the top of the dam. What a place. Carried out one bag of trash.
"According to _Arizona Place Names_ by Willis C. Barnes, the name [Skull Valley] dates back to 1864 and derives from the fact that soldiers ... found piles of bleached Indian skulls here while escorting Cales Bashford to Tucson in March, 1864." (Skull Valley postcard)
In 1894 the railroad came to Skull Valley and the first post office opened in 1869. Today, ten freight trains a day pass through but none stop to deliver mail. Today the community has several hundred citizens, some are ranchers, some are retired. There are still decendents of some of the original settlers living in Skull Valley.
On to The Ranch for a quiet evening of writing, and watching thunderstorms
in the distance walking by on stilts of lightning.
If you could have seen where I was climbing around a few days ago, and in what condition. Very foolish, especially to have been doing it alone. But fun! Oh Wow! For sure a place to revisit.
Well, now I am back to work such as it is here. Mostly a matter of sitting
around making sure things work and counting someone else's money. I have
discovered that for best results if I fix things in some halfassed manner,
with already used and nearly useless parts, I will always have something
breaking down to give me a crisis to manage, something to do outside. But
that halfassed manner thing goes against the grain of my upbringing and
proper parts are often too expensive an investment. Oh Well...
I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to
myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and
diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier
shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered
before me. --Sir Isaac Newton
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Copyright © 2004, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn , Center Conway NH 03813-0144.