Wheres Ray/Wendy yr 2

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Kartchern Caverns State Park

Hi all,
We are camped for three days in Kartchner Caverns State Park. It is a pretty park with 62 electric and water hookup sites interspersed in mesquite trees. They have a couple nice hiking trails to give you something to do besides the cave tours.

 We did the Foothills Loop Trail that circles the hill holding Kartchner Cave. It was a nice trail that also had a spur for a nice view of a big valley and distant mountain ranges. It was a little over three miles with a little strenuous climbing we were bushed at the end.
 After a short rest we took a drive to Sierra Vista. Wendy was so happy to finally see stores other than Walmart. She first directed me to the Goodwill Store then a Hobby Lobby, thankfully she didn't go to crazy.
  On to the caves. The story of Kartchner Caves is a neat one. Discovered in 1974 by Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts a couple cave explorers from Tucson. They realized they had found something special and kept it a secret for 14 years. The cave had had no human presence before the discovery. A small vent hole had to be enlarged for entering.
 At first thought it was BLM land they found it private and belonged to the Kartchner family. They wanted to find someone who would take the caves, protect them and also allow public viewing. The state of Arizona was the only one with interest.
 The work done to allow the public viewing and to protect the cave is amazing. They also have made it handicap accessible.
 Protecting the cave was top priority as the cave is still a living breathing cave. It is also home to 1000 small bats during the summer season. Steps taken are numerous thickly sealed doors, you also go through a misting area to dampen you and your clothing. They have the walkway slanted to allow nightly hosing and removal of said water. The lighting system is also set up to come on and go off when groups are pass through.
 To protect the bats they close off one of the tours during the bat occupied months.
 Sadly one other protection in place is no cameras or video of any kind. We later learned it was more for safety than anything.
 They offer two cave tours, one is the Rotunda/Throne Rooms and the second is the Big Room.
They have thousands of cave features including cave bacon, soda straws, stalactites, stalagmites, and one they called fried eggs. They also feature flow stone and one of the largest columns almost five stories high named Kublai Khan.
Pictures copied from web
 Overall really neat tours that we were glad we took in.
Gila monster Ray saw at Roper Lake

Monday, February 24, 2014

On the road again

Hi all,
 Hard to believe but we are on the road again. After over 3-1/2 months were free!
 The group of volunteers and rangers got together for cake and ice cream to say goodbyes to us and Milton and Glenna who leave out on Thursday.

 We really enjoyed our stay, we met some great people, and the park was way more than we expected. How many places can offer a pretty lake with palm trees on an island and a 10,000 ft. mountain view from your camper. Oh and don't forget the natural fed hot tub- gonna miss that.

 A special thank you to everyone at Roper for having us and allowing us to paint everything in sight. (hahaha this is Ray joking and for Rose my hands are not in my pockets. )
Kris, Milton, Glenna, Ray, Pat, Rose, Rubin, Lauren, Addie, Roger
Kay, Bob and Michelle
 So now that we are on the road and have a bunch of Arizona to explore, we should have more to blog about.
 We made a short 80 mile drive southwest to Kartchner Caverns State Park. We will be here for three days and do two cave tours. I will write more on Kartchner after we do the caves, it should be fun.
Our new backyard
 Just as we were about to leave we got a call from Custer State Park  reconfirming our summer plans. Everything sounds good there with our plans. Wendy will be a paid attendant and I will be camp host. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Salt River Canyon

Hi again,
 Well we're almost done here, so we had one more adventure to take. A scenic drive through the Salt River Canyon was the destination.
 We were happy to have co hosts Bob and Rose join us for the drive. Bob and Rose have hosted here 4+ years and host in their Illinois home state in the summer.
 This area is along highway 60 between Globe and Show Low. We have made the 70 mile drive to Globe four times now, so we should have this down.
 From Globe you drive northeast on 60 through some very hilly countryside. As we move along the elevation rises and the temps begin to cool. The scenery begins to change from cactus and mesquite to Ponderosa Pines.

 As you get to the canyon the road begins to switchback with numerous pullouts for spectacular views. The roads while in good shape could be quite challenging for big rig driving. Long 6% grades had some trucks crawling along. There were also a couple places where you could see a wrecked vehicle that went off.

   The Canyon while not the Grand Canyon is no slouch, the views are breathtaking.

 We drove through the canyon and turned around for the return back. The complete drive from Globe to Show Low is 83 miles so we didn't think we had time for the full drive.
 We returned to Globe and enjoyed a nice lunch. Beyond Globe is the small town of Miami, AZ and we drove there looking for a used bookstore. Although the store was closed we spied many cool looking antique shops that will have to wait for another day.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Getting tired here

Hi all,
Well we are officially short timers here, only 7 days left. This will go by in a blink.
On Monday we had a gathering to celebrate Milton's 82nd birthday.  Today we had a cookout with a campfire following.

 On Sunday they are having a get together to say goodbyes to us and Glenna and Milton who leave the following week.  We also have a drive planned with Rose and Bob on Friday.
 This will definitely be a fun week. I tell Wendy they are trying to get us to stay.
 So life as a fulltimer is really no different as those in the stix n brix housing. The other day I noticed a very bad spot on a front truck tire. So no waiting til fall like we thought.  The old its always something.
 I will condense the tire story as much as I can. The place pulled tires and started to dismount then found out they did not have the right tires in stock. New tires ordered would now be $35 more each. They also broke tabs off hubcap and a stem on tire sensor. Ended up putting old tires back on and lost hubcap on way home.
 Looked up cost of new hubcap at eye popping $249.  Quickly called the manager right away letting him know what happened, he assured they would make things right.
 Well they ended up buying me a new hubcap which they said cost them $300. They also gave me the tires at originally quoted price. Now still out the $50 sensor but I guess it could have been worse.
 Side note I did end up finding the damaged cap and Wendy saw one on Ebay with broke tabs and scratched for $49- maybe I can sell mine?


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Road Trip

Hi again,
Our time in Roper Lake State Park is really getting short. Leaving here on Feb. 24 only leaves about six more work days. Whew! we finally get a vacation ,)
 The park is really starting to get busy with many new arrivals daily. Valentines weekend which coincides with Presidents day will probably be full. We will spend Monday at Dankworth Pond day use area, because of the holiday.
 Though some AZ state parks close during the summer heat this one remains open, having a lake and beach brings out many day users.
 This week co host Glenna and Milton joined us for an adventure to Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park.  Glenna and Milton have been hosting at Roper 11 years. They are great couple and we have enjoyed visiting with them. Listening to Milton tell stories from his day are a blast.

 Boyce Thompson is Arizona's oldest and largest botanical gardens. It has three miles of trails that criss-cross 100 acres of plants from desert ecosystems across the planet.

 They offer tours but we just decided to walk through at our pace. Oh and the good part as it is a state park we used our volunteer card for entrance.
 The gardens featured 3200 different desert plants from the US, Africa, South America, Asia, and the Mediterranean. With volcanic rhyolite cliffs as a backdrop it is a photographers dream. We only wished we could be here a month from now when things start to bloom.
Glenna & Milton

 As we had gotten a early start to the day we took a different route home along the Copper Corridor Scenic Road. Just out of Superior AZ along 177 to 77 this scenic drive passes through high desert mountains past the huge Ray Copper Mine. On 77 we headed north along the Gila River then through El Capitan Pass, finally back to Hwy 70 our initial road to Globe.
 What a neat drive this was with saguaro and other cactus all about in beautiful but rough looking mountains.

The huge copper mine surprised us, astounding in size they had a visitor vista where we could actually watch the digging and loading of the 240 ton dump trucks. Course they looked like the grandkids micro minis from the distance. They also had a nice informational board of the operation and a tire and bucket from a digger. (fun fact- one tire = $20,000.00)

 While I'm sure there is a negative impact on the land it is still quite a site to see.
 Overall it was a great day and glad we could spend it with good friends.
Happy Valentines Day

Saturday, February 8, 2014

CCC Camp

Hi all,
Our weather seems to be trending up, forecast for the next five days is in the 70s. It will be nice to put some shorts on again.
 We have been doing some planning on our trek from here. We thought we would just make reservations for when we wanted to be at the Grand Canyon and then fill in the blanks. We have booked March 31- April 5 there. Hopefully that will give it time to warm up. It will give us about four weeks after we leave here to explore more  Arizona. It will also leave about four weeks to get to Custer State Park which should allow some exploration of Utah.
 This week our drive took us just north of Safford to a old CCC camp. They warn you the gravel road isn't maintained so driver be wary! Seems Wendy always finds these great drives after I wash the truck???  It was a slow 3-1/2 miles but not to bad.

 This camp was used in 1935-1936 by 200 men from Texas and AZ. They worked with the Soil Conservation Service on the Gila Watershed Project to counter erosion problems plaguing the area. It was the second largest watershed project at the time.
 Remains of the camp are stone and cement structures minus roofs and most wood fixtures. They have some signs telling what the structures left were. The condition was surprisingly good, we think because of the remote location no vandalism was evident.

 We even seen where they dumped the garbage, with deteriorating steel cans and broken glass about.
  Also on the day we logged a geocache find there. Later we looked for a cache up a different dirt road. The road looked rough and was only to be a little over 1/2 mile so we decided to walk. This one ended up a bust with the GPS pointing to private land. Nothing like a nice walk in the desert.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Happy Birthday Wendy!!!

Hi all We had planned to make another drive up Mt. Graham on Friday but woke to cloudy skies. The upper mountain was pretty much hidden. Oh well temp was warm and a good day to get some cleaning up of the RV. I washed the sides down then seen the roof with a good coat of AZ dust so up I went cleaning that. One thing leads to another so some wax on the front and then wiping the decals down with 303. While I was busy on the outside Wendy was doing some deep cleaning inside. Just the same as a house ya got to keep maintaining one thing or another.
 Saturday Feb. 1st is Wendy's' birthday, so we picked up a cake and gathered the other camphost and rangers to celebrate. Later in the day we went out for a Mexican dinner. We have tried a few of the many Mexican restaurants and pretty much been disappointed. One I ordered fish tacos and received battered fish sticks like Mrs. Pauls? The place Saturday we ordered a margarita and all they had was canned Bud Mikearitas??? How close do we have to get to Mexico to get some real authentic? This area is also part of the Salsa Trail. The salsa has not impressed us either, usually in a squirt bottle, very runny.
Rose & Bob

 We joined Bob, Rose, and Michelle to watch the Superbowl- commercials. None of us cared who won or lost but would have liked to seen a more competitive game.