Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Beautiful Day in the Verde Valley

This particular area of Arizona is known as the Verde Valley and for thousands of years it has drawn people here because of its climate, game and the Verde River.  
We noticed this structure on the horizon the first day we were at Dead Horse Ranch State Park.  Today we decided to investigate.  Turns out it is another unique ruin.  This one was built on a large hill in the middle of the valley.  Rooms were built on top of rooms.  Archeologists estimate that as many as 400 people may have lived in the stone structures.  Ofcouse, after about 700 years only the walls remain.

I've talked about these same Sinagua Indians before, so today I'll just show a few more interesting photos.

From the top of the ruin.

Here is a re-creation of the original roof.  Willow branches and/or reeds were laid on top of Cedar or Sycamore logs and then covered with enough leafy branches to keep water out.

Most of us have seen logs or firewood without the bark and have noticed the patterns worms make under the bark.  This "random" pattern is really interesting.  If you look closely you can see the outline of what looks like a primitive drawing of a bird.  I wonder what significance a Sinaguan Indian would have given to this pattern.

 A modern-day fisherman on the Verde River.

An inviting trail near the river.

Spring flowers along side of a camp road.

Earlier this morning we said goodbye to Mike and Bev as they headed north to the Grand Canyon.  Sandy made their departure more enjoyable for them with some fresh-baked blueberry scones.  We plan to catch up with them in October at the huge Albuquerque, NM Balloon Festival.

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 26, 2010

We are having fun

We’re having fun. We’ve taken some neat hikes here at Dead Horse Ranch and back in Sedona. Thursday night we had dinner with new friends Mike and Bev Heine and two of their friends, Paul and Ada Kitchen. We first met Mike and Bev and Bottomless Lakes State Park in New Mexico.

We never know ahead of time how these spur-of-the-moment get-togethers will work out, but we had a great time. Lots of conversation and lots of laughs as we all talked about our full-time lives on the road. The internet and our blogs will help us stay in touch and hopefully meet up again down the road.

Today it was really windy so we decided to take in some of the local history here in Cottonwood, AZ. We went to the Clemenceau Museum in town.  On the grounds of the musuem is the town's first bank.
I found it interesting that the bank advertised their"surplus" which, no doubt, was in cash.  Nothing like advertising what was in the safe.   Note the late hours on Pay Day.

What made this museum so interesting were the local residents who volunteer at the museum.
to work on projects.  This model railroad captures vignettes of Cottonwodd and surrounding towns.  Everything is hand-made and often assembled under magnifying glasses.  Al Barr, Chuck, Lanphere and Bruce Deland were busy kidding each other when we stopped to talk with them. 

In this scene an actual segment of downtown Cottonwood is depicted.  The building were painstakingly made from the sides of cereal boxes.

What is a western town without a saloon?

Sandy spent some time talking with ladies working on quilts and one of the women proudly showed us this sampler she made in 1997.

Then when we left the musuem this piece of tumbling tumbleweed served as a visual reminder that we are indeed in the Old West.

Our personal guide at the museum told us about an old abandoned gold mine in the nearby town of Jerome up in the mountains.

After lunch we drove up the winding and twisting steep  mountain highway filled with switchbacks to a charming old town of 5,000 people who enjoy the many tourists that visit everyday.

Just outside of town we found the Gold King Mine. The miners who started the mine in the early 1900s planned to pull copper out of the mountainside. And while they did just that, they also ran into GOLD. What rotten luck.

Because the mine is closed and dangerous, visitors are not allowed inside, but here is a look into the tunnel from which small ore cars brought out copper and gold.

And here is a mine car filled with copper ore.

The grounds around the gold mine are filled with tons and tons of old stuff, from vintage cars to worn out tools and mining equipment. There is even a working saw mill on the grounds.

For my RV friends who love the Cummins diesel engines in their motorhomes here is an early predecessor built the same year I was born.  Today these great engines slurp our diesel fuel and propel us wherever we wish to go.

This Studebaker electric car was made in
South Bend, Indiana in the early 1900s.  Looks like an old idea is new again.

Also on the grounds are some buildings that were transported from nearby communities and some that served food and drink or provided services to the miners.

Below are two such buildings.

I guess you could describe the services represented in the above two photos as falling into two categories: needs and wants.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


We arrived at Dead Horse Ranch State Park early Monday morning after a pleasant and uneventful drive to Cottonwood, AZ.  This campground does not take reservations, so it is first-come, first served.  When Sandy talked to them on the phone they suggested arriving early and so we did.  We got lucky.  We found a great pull-through spot just as the previous occupant was packing up and getting ready to leave.  By the time we unhooked the Honda the space was wide open.

This is the view we have from the back of our site at sunset.

We are getting into more beautiful country and with spring just around the corner the scenery is going to be even more spectacular. The weather is certainly cooperating out here in the West.

Tuesday we drove to a place called Montezuma Castle, which is a National Mounment maintained by the U.S. Department of the Interior.   It is a truly lovely location. It is located alongside of Beaver Creek, and the sound of the nearby spring flow of fresh mountain water layers the area with a soft background sound that adds to the beauty of the grounds.

Archeologists estimate that the Sinauga Indians migrated into the valley around 1150 AD.  No one knows whey they abondoned these pueblos by the early 1400s.  Possible explanations include over-population, disease, tribal conflicts or even changes in weather patterns.  The dwellings seen in the photo are pretty much they way they were found.  However, the masonary dwellings were closed to tourist traffic in 1950 to prevent any further deterioration.
On the monument grounds are many old Arizona Sycamore trees with beautiful bark.  The smaller photo above captures this mottled back that reminds me of a paint by numbers project.

About 75 yards from the base of the clift homes is Beaver Creek which provided a source of fresh water for drinking, cooking as well as for growing crops. 

On the way out of the National Monument we spied a small road side vendor selling native American Indian flat bread.  We split a single order.  We topped the bread with cinnamon and honey. It was delicious.  Sandy kidded the vendor about pulling the dough from a plastic bag, and he quipped back that he just tosses it into a microwave.  We had heard of this native Indian dish from one of Sandy's older sisters, Sharon,  who spends about six months of the year in a fifth wheel RV. The flat bread was a special treat.

Next we drove north to Sedona. The plan was to have lunch and then visit a small local museum.  The scenery went from beautiful to spectacular.  The mountain grades were impressive.  There is a preponderance of red rock in Sedona as you will see from these photos.

When we were in Bottomless State Park in New Mexico we met Mike and Beth Heine and their sweet Labrador Retriever, Lexie.  They have been following our blog and e-mailed us that they were coming to Dead Horse Park.  We met up with them last night and plan to have dinner with them soon and hopefully enjoy an evening camp fire afterwards.

Life is good on the road.

NOTE:  if the pictures are small when you view my blog, just click on them and they will open wider.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hello Mr. Santo

With my spending the better part of three days at Mayo, we have not been able to do and see very much  in Phoenix, but we have enjoyed being here nonetheless.

We decided to go see the Chicago Cubs play a baseball game at Hohokam Park in Mesa on Saturday.  Sandy found seats on-line and from the price you would have thought we were in Terrace Seats at Wrigley Field.  But, what the heck, it is only money and major league baseball needs the money.  Right?

On our way to the entrance we happened to see Ron Santo signing autographs.  For you non-Chicagoans, Ron is a former Cubs third baseman and now does color commentray on WGN radio for Cubs games.  I stopped to say hello and thank him for doing such a good job.  What a nice guy he is.
The park is not overwhelming in size and the crowd was a lot better mannered than at Wrigley Field.  We saw a victory for the Cubs as they beat the Kansas City Royals 4 - 0.

Tomorrow we had to Dead Horse Ranch State Park near Cottonwood, AZ.  I borrowed this photo from their website.

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hold the Mayo. It Was Bound to Happen. Fire Protection

The main hospital rises 5 floors above the surrounding desert.

The good news from Mayo is that I am very hip. Plenty of hip to last for a long time. I seems as though the pain in my left hip was truly a pain in the butt. After an X-ray, an MRI, an exam by an orthopedic surgeon and an exam by a neurologist specializing in physical medicine and rehabitation, the worst they could find is that I need some physical therapy. I am a very lucky guy. I will have four sessions with a therapist starting March 31 and then re-evaluate.

Yesterday Sandy and I got up early to beat rush hour traffic so that I could go to the Scottsdale Campus of Mayo for the MRI. Not only did we beat the rush hour traffic, we were the first ones at the clinic. Now, I need to digress. We are retired. The exact time is no longer critical to us. We no longer know when it is, for example, 5:30 because the evening news is on from New York because we can choose to watch the evening news from either the East or West Coast feeds

So, when the Check-In desk opened at Mayo, the nice young man behind the counter said we were way too early. Turns out we didn’t get the memo explaining that Arizona does not have Daylight Savings Time. We had 90 minutes to kill. Fortunately, I brought along my latest book: “Mint Condition”, authored by Dave Jamieson and edited by Jamison Stoltz. Jamison is my youngest son, who was just promoted to editor at Grove /Atlantic in New York City. The book is much more interesting than I anticipated in that it describes the history of baseball cards going back to the Civil War. The characters who propelled card collecting to what it was in its heyday are fascinating.

Now I need to transition from card collecting to Fire Safety – Part 2

Photos was taken from foot of bed looking out the rear access door of the engine compartment.

On the average, there are not many fires in motorhomes caused by the diesel engine. But when there is one, the occupants generally have about 30 or 40 seconds to get out alive. Sandy and I don’t want to deal with a 40-second panic escape so we bought and installed a Fire Suppression System in the engine compartment. It was not a slam dunk and required two trips to Ace Hardware, but with Sandy's good help we got it done. 

We removed the mattress from the bed. We determined the correct place to install the device. I drilled 4 holes and then we bolted the Suppression System in the space under the bed. The space under the bed IS in the engine compartment. So the extinguisher is actually hanging from the ceiling of the engine compartment about 10 inches above the engine.

This extinguisher is a foam cold fire engine compartment suppressor. It is activated at 286 degrees Fahrenheit and has no moving parts. The foam will extinguish both electrical and fuel-fed fires.

While there are not many fires in diesel engine compartments there are lot of fires caused by the type of refrigerator used in RVs.  RV refrigerators are built to run off of propane and electric. The two companies that have built probably 95 percent of all RV refrigerators have recalled hundreds of thousands of this dual energy fridge. Recalls of this magnitude do not exactly engender confidence. So, with safety in mind, we also bought and installed a smaller fire suppression system for the refrigerator. All propane/electric refrigerators have an exterior access panel on the side of the RV or motorhome. This is where the extinguisher was mounted.

This is the access compartment for our refrigerator.  The extinguisher is about 12 inches long and is mounted in a horizontal position. Both extinguishers are Made in America.
All I had to do was remove the panel and apply two strips of industrial strength Velcro and then set the unit in place. Installation took five minutes.

We certainly have more peace of mind and feel safer whether driving down the road or being parked in campgrounds.

Stay tuned.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Loose Ends

I have always liked an Egg McMuffin, but years ago I stopped eating them because of all the fat and sodium. But recently I had a craving for one so I decided to make my own. I asked Sandy to keep her eyes open for the little stainless steel rings that can be used to fry and egg and keep it confined to the size of an English muffin. Sandy found the rings at a Bed, Bath & Beyond in Las Cruces, NM and I proceeded to make my own Stoltz McMuffin. They turned out quite well. Since I did not use any salt, I am assuming they are wholesome.

When we were at the Cocopah RV Resort in Yuma we spotted a bird we had not seen before. As best I can tell from looking in our National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America it is a Long-billed Curlew. Its bill is about 8 inches long and is used to forage for small bugs in the soil.

 Yesterday we drove 202 miles from Yuma to Phoenix, AZ on another beautiful travel day. Driving certainly is different on an Interstate Highway close to a major metropolitan area. We were impressed at just how clean the highways are here in Arizona there is hardly any trash and the roadside landscaping is nicely done with colored crush rocks and native plantings. Our home for at least the next week is Desert’s Edge RV Village, a charming RV park on the edge of Phoenix.

When I hooked up our waste disposal hose, I got to use another new gadget. This easy-to-use container holds about 1.5 gallons of water which puts about 8 pounds of weight on the sewer hose to help avoid an unpleasant experience. Prior to getting this little item I was alwyas looking for a loose rock or log to use.   For you non-RV readers, an unsecured sewer hose can spew nasty stuff everywhere it if comes loose from the sewer pipe opening.

Today we drove to nearby Avondale, AZ to get our PowerTank refilled. The PowerTank lets me fill our tires with a minimum of fuss. It will completely fill one of our truck tires in a few minutes. Not that has ever been necessary, but when it comes to filling a low tire it only takes seconds in the convenience of our own campground vs. in a dirty, busy filling station.

This morning while reading gthe Yahoo Foretravel Forum, I learned about how to check the air pressure in the tank that holds a reserve supply of water for the coach.  It was one of the easier tasks I had done and I was pleased to learn that our tank does not leak.  But I did discover the reason our water pump ran everytime we opened a faucet was because the air tank had lost its pressure.  I keep learning new stuff.

After getting that chore out of the way we took a drive over to the Mayo Clinic so that we know how to get there tomorrow when I meet with an orthopedic surgeon who will determine if I need hip(s) replacement surgery. We’ve heard nothing but good things about the Mayo Clinic which gives me a great deal of confidence.

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cocopah RV & Golf Resort in Yuma, AZ

This morning was our last day at the Gypsy Journal rally at the Yuma, AZ fairgrounds. For the fourth day in a row Sandy got up early to go over and help serve coffee and donuts. Actually her job description was “donut monitor”. Her role (no pun intended) was to make sure some of the RVers didn’t get piggy and take too many donuts at a time. Of course, they could come back for more – and some of them did and often. Oink!
Ever since we started learning about RVs and motorhomes we became aware of the issue of weight. Too much weight and not only are you illegal, but you are at risk for blowouts and loss of control. Because Foretravel builds their coaches for full-time living, they build in a large cargo carrying capacity. But just being aware that we can carry a lot of stuff is not good enough. We really wanted to know our weight.

The RV Safety Education Foundation was at the Yuma rally, holding seminars and setting up appointments for motorhome weighing on Friday. We took the 10:00 a.m. slot. It’s a pretty neat system. The scales are not unlike very large and long cookie sheets an inch thick with a digital readout at one end. They had us roll into position. They slid a scale in front of each wheel and then had me pull forward one foot to rest on the scales. With almost 200 gallons of diesel fuel and 110 gallons of water, plus all the stuff we need to live in the motor home we came in just over 1,000 pounds underweight. Most times when we travel we will be an additional 500 to 800 pounds lighter than that because we don’t usually travel with full tanks of water.

We are in Yuma for 3 more days but decided to stay at an upscale resort after “roughing it” at the fair grounds with 20 amps, no water supply and no sewer hook-up. From Sunday afternoon until Friday morning we got by with 110 gallons of water, yet were able to shower as needed and do dishes.

Cocopah RV & Golf Resort is picuresque with lots of green, palm trees, flowers and  clean, well-maintained grounds. 


We are about 8 miles outside of town in the middle of an agricultural area. Driving here we passed fields of cauliflower, spinach and other leafy plants we could not readily identify.

The resort is big… and fussy. They won’t admit an RV more than 10 years old. Some upscale parks have that requirement – so next year when at a snooty park and the age of our motorhome, we will say our coach is a 2001 model. With our paint job, they will never know the difference.

The resort has a mix of RVs and what are called “Park Models.” Park Models do not have wheels and are generally trucked in and become permanent. Think of a mini house. Some people choose to use them as a second home; others as their only home.

There are lots of open grassy areas, some trees and flowering shrubs and the grounds are clean and well maintained. Being located on a golf course also adds a certain amount of attractiveness. For those of you who live in the Midwest, you will probably enjoy seeing green grass and flowers.

When we walk through campgroaunds and RV parks we get to see a variety of dogs.  This Great Dane is named Hoover.  His owner said he thinks he is a lap dog.  When I petted him he leaned against me and then sat on my foot.

In front of the resort office is a fairly large pond which contains fish and captures the interest of the resident Egrets, always on the hunt for a meal. As I neared the pond a beautiful Great White Egret was looking for his last snack of the day, but he or she was also very wary of me. I managed to get a good photo and then noticed a Great Blue Heron lurking near a palm tree and staring intently into the pond.

Near the end of my early evening walk I came across this bit of advice. 

Stay tuned.