Saturday September 30th 2017
The Verde River is the prominent feature along the southern boundry of Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Today they were celebrating the rivers contribution to the area with the Verde River Day. Admission to the park was free. Area non-profit groups, government organizations and others gathered in the day use area near the man made lagoons for a festival.
Forrest Service booth
Smokey the Bear picture taking.
The “real ?” Smokey the Bear.
I hiked over from my campsite to check out the festivities. I found lots of people enjoying the events. People were fishing in the ponds, listening to the musical acts and generally checking out the booths. Some of the bigger attractions were the Forest Service which brought Smokey the Bear to get your picture taken with. There was a long line of kids and adults waiting. The kids were having fun on the blow-up kids playground equipment and a climbing wall. One of the booths was giving out duck calls to the kids. There was a cacophony of noise from these things.
Climbing wall with a young girl in a princess dress climbing.
Cottonwood Fire Department display.
Canoes in the lake.
In the bigger pond there were canoe rides. It was interesting to watch the skill level of the people in the canoes. It was clear that steering was a difficult task. Others seemed to be afraid to dip the paddle in deep enough to move the canoe forward. Somehow they all seemed to make it around the center island and back to the dock without testing their floatation devices.
I hung around for an hour or so listening to the music and people watching before I started back to my campsite. It was a warm day in the high 80s with a good breeze. Back at camp I started getting to travel tomorrow. I’m heading for Lake Pleasant Regional Park on the northern edge of the Phoenix Metro area. It’s between 90 and 100 miles of travel depending on which GPS you believe.
Friday September 29th 2017
Today I returned to tourist mode and took a ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad. This is an excursion train along the Verde River and through the Verde Canyon. The train travels eighteen miles north and west from the town of Clarksdale AZ. It starts in the open high desert type territory near the old smelt works for the mines in Jerome AZ. The route proceeds down into the canyons and along the steep cliff like walls. At Perkinsville the train reverses direction and returns to Clarksdale.
The route of the Verde Canyon Railroad
The train before departure.
Wild burros feeding in what little shade they can find along the tracks.
Once again I went crazy with the camera. I took over 350 pictures. Some of the better more descriptive photos are included in this blog entry. I spent most of my time on the open air car behind the coach passenger car containing my official seat. The weather was perfect for an outside ride. The sky contained scattered clouds and the temperature was in the low 80s. The train traveled between fifteen and twenty miles an hour. It took a little over an hour to get to Perkinsville. After about a half an hour for the engines to be moved one end to the other the train returned to Clarksdale. The journey lasted a little over three hours total.
Front of the train around the side of the canyon
There were about 24 cars in the train.
Canyon sides were often very close to the train. In the 680 foot curving tunnel they were supposed to be closer, but it was too dark to know for sure.
Pair of engines passing down the side of train on a side track to hook onto the caboose for the trip back.
Thursday September 28th 2017
Things are back to normal today. I got up at the normal time and I didn’t get engrossed in a book. The temperature has returned to seasonal averages. The high today was in the low 80s. It will be back in the 90s by the weekend. I didn’t do much blog worthy, but what follows is a synopses of some of the day.
Breakfast was a leisurely affair. I spent a good two hours drinking my coffee with a couple of English muffins while reading news and blogs on the Internet. This was followed by a few chores such as washing the dirty dishes in the sink before I was ready to leave camp for adventure. The only problem was I didn’t have any planned adventure.
I ended up checking out my departure route for Sunday. I will be relocating sixty to seventy miles south toward Phoenix. Most of the trip will be on Interstate 17, but that’s not an easy thing. As soon as I get on the highway the road starts up to the top of a mesa. It’s a good nine miles of maximum interstate grade to the top. The US Interstate highway system “never” exceeds a six percent grade. Let’s just say it’s enough that the trucks were down below fifty by the top of the climb. It was also an uninteresting trip. I turned around after about thirty miles.
On the way back I stopped at Walmart to stock up on groceries for the weekend. I don’t think this is the best run Walmart in the country. I’ve been there three times. Two out of three times the only available carts were in the parking lot. Today I brought one in from the parking lot and found there were some available by the door. The shelves are very poorly stocked. Each of the three times some of the items I wanted were not on the shelves. The price labels were there so I knew it was supposed to be available, but it was never on the shelves. My guess is that they haven’t stocked those areas in the week and a half I’ve been here. Today clerks weren’t stocking shelves but rather dragging product from the back of the shelves and lining it up along the front edge. At least I didn’t have to spend 20 minutes in the checkout line like last week.
One of the State Park’s man made ponds. One of the Verde River Days events will be open fishing for freshly stocked fish.
Here at the campground the park is filling up for the weekend. There is a special Verde River Days celebration in the park on Saturday. It looks like the campground will be full. I can’t decide if this event is a good thing for me or something to run away from. I’ll probably check it out Saturday.
Wednesday September 27th 2017
Today was a real do nothing kind of day and it’s all because of my current binge reading trend. I finished the book I was reading in the middle of the night or should I say today’s early morning hours. It was after ten this morning before I got the day started in slow motion. I’m not complaining. I enjoyed the book and I enjoyed today’s do nothing day.
Motorhome as evening arrives.
I used to be an avid reader. Before surfing the Internet became a thing I’d pick up a novel after supper and read until bedtime. The TV was always on and sometimes it would steal my attention, but the book was always nearby. I probably read one new and a couple of old books per week. Once the Internet stole my attention, I became a binge reader. Whenever I start reading a book I seem to dedicate more than all the available time to reading it until I’m finished. When the book is several hundred pages long, like the one I got into the last few days, that can eat up a lot of time. Once I’m near the end of the book, sleep is optional.
It is interesting to me that I haven’t really gotten into binge TV watching. I think that’s because TV has always been a secondary activity for me. The TV is always on, but it only keeps my attention for short periods of time. I have to be doing something else. On the other hand, when I’m fully into a book the TV background noise isn’t necessary. Last night the TV timed out and shut off after four hours without any changes to the controls. I knew it happened, but I didn’t stop reading.
All of this boils down to I didn’t do anything today. I was dragging for the first part of my waking day. After I woke up from an impromptu nap, I had more energy, but the usable part of the day was just about over. The next few days should be more active. I have a few things that I want to see before I leave here on Sunday. This should be the last blog entry about reading books for awhile.
Tuesday September 26th 2017
It was a rare cloudy day in Arizona today. The temperature topped out in the 80s. The gloomy nature of the day and my continued fascination with the book I started yesterday kept me at home until early afternoon. I finally broke away from the book to do some more touring of the area.
I drove twenty miles or so north to the village of Sedona Arizona. This is a destination area known for its upscale shops, boutiques and art galleries. Visiting these types of places are not on my must see list. What I wanted to see was the surrounding country side. The town is set in an area of red rocks and cliffs. The red coloring is a much deeper red than many of the areas I’ve already visited to the north in Utah. The approach on route 89A from the southwest is probably the least spectacular of the three approaches, but a broad red strip in the cliffs above the town is clearly visible.
Approaching town from the southwest.
Area to the south of town.
I found conditions less than ideal for viewing the scenery. The time of day and the nature of the town made finding parking very difficult. The roads are designed to keep speed down. There are many roundabouts and shops seem to be clustered and set back from the road with small parking lots. The parking at the trail heads and scenic viewing areas were all full. The cloudy day was an added negative to enjoying the views. I will probably try to get back to Sedona at a better time of a better day while I’m in the area.
On the way back to camp, I stopped in Cottonwood for breakfast supplies. I had to resort to cooking muffins to go with my coffee this morning. Cooking them isn’t the problem, it’s eating all six for breakfast that’s the problem. My excuse is they don’t keep well.
Monday September 25th 2017
This was one of those days that makes creating a blog entry difficult. The day started in the middle of the night. I woke up cold and had to add a blanket to stay warm. The inside temperature was around 50. I went back to sleep quickly enough after adding the blanket, but woke up this morning congested with a slight head ache. I’m feeling fine now, but it wasn’t a great start to the day.
I ended up reading a novel that I had on my tablet most of the day. I’ve read the book before, but it was an effort to put it down long enough to prepare and eat dinner or do much of anything else. Writing this blog entry was another interrupt to my reading addiction of the day.
Around the campground there has been a lot of turn over. Many of the sites that emptied out yesterday at the end of the weekend filled up tonight. The site next to me is now occupied by an older couple from California. A much quieter alternative to the extended family with three kids and two dogs that occupied the site over the weekend.
Sunset over the desert
I finally got out for a walk around the campground after dinner this evening. The sun was setting after another beautiful day with only a little wind and a high temperature in the low 80s. It is forecast to get warmer as the week goes by.
Sunday September 24th 2017
When I got up this morning it was 55 degrees in the motorhome. It was afternoon before the temperature got above 70. The high for the day was only around 75 degrees, and there wasn’t much wind at all. Overall, it was a great weather day.
I stumbled on the Patriots vs. Texans football game on TV this morning at 10am. For a guy that lived the first sixty years of life in the Eastern Time Zone, spending so much time on the west coast is confusing sometimes. As a child of the television age I am used to having it on all the time and to a certain extent depending on it for knowing the time of day. Here on the west coast live events occurring when they do continue to surprise me.
This is the first Patriots game I’ve been able to see this year. I was without access to an NBC affiliate for the season kickoff game and last week the local Arizona Cardinals got the focus. The Texans and their rookie Quarterback, Deshaun Watson, was more than the Patriots were prepared to handle for much of the game. In the end Tom Brady completed one of his patented LMD (Last Minute Drives). Go Pats!
This seemed to be the day for late game heroics. After the Patriots game I switched to the Giants vs. Eagles game. That one ended with a 61 yard field goal by the Eagles as time expired to win the game. The next game I caught was the Cincinnati vs. Green Bay game. It ended in overtime with a Green Bay field goal after Arron Rodgers got them to overtime with his own LMD.
I really enjoyed a day of watching football. In between games I got out for another short hike. I went to another area of Verde River access. This area contained a side channel of the main river that is blocked at this time of year forming a murky pond. The trail descends the cliffs along the river bank to an area along the side of the water. Signs warn that the area is susceptible to flash floods and may be flooded at high water times of the year.
Murky water in this captured part of the Verde River
Steep cliffs line the shore.
Saturday September 23rd 2017
I guess Fall weather is here. The temperature only got into the 70s today and some of the higher elevations around here have a freeze warning for tonight. I thought it was a very comfortable day.
I started reading during breakfast and didn’t come up for air so to speak until afternoon. The sun got around to the west side of my RV home and started to warm things up. I moved outside and continued reading. It wasn’t a reading a great novel, just random articles on the internet. It was just a lazy day.
While I was outside, I had a visitor entertain me. A Roadrunner came across the road into my site. It was feeding on the many grasshoppers in the area. The bird was aware of me, but wasn’t real worried about me. If I moved quickly it would run a few feet away and resume its lunch. The bird hung around for almost half an hour until a truck came down the road. The Roadrunner then ran down the road away from the truck.
Looking down my campground road.
The campground is just about full this weekend. You can tell that these are campers not travelers by the amount of “stuff” they get out and setup. Tomorrow they’ll pack it all up and head home. In all the years that I was a weekend camper I never got into the setup and spread out approach. Just the stuff necessary for a short duration stay went with me. The kitchen sink stayed home.
Friday September 22nd 2017
As predicted, today was a cooler and windy day. The temperature only made it up to about 80 degrees. My leisurely stay at home approach to my visit in this area continued. I took advantage of the cooler weather to take a longer hike in the open desert area. I took plenty of water and a few provisions in my pack. When I feel like I’m prepared I can get ambitious. Today was no exception.
Cactus on the side of the trail.
Trail heading up the hill.
View of the Verde valley behind the yellowing desert bush.
I left my RV home and headed north up the hill. I continued on the trail past the boundary of the state park into the Coconino National Forest and kept climbing. At the top of the hill it leveled out at a cattle gate. I decided to turn back. If I continued on I’d either have to go down the far side and continue on for about three miles before intersecting with a 5 plus mile long trail back. It was too late in the day for that long a trek.
I was almost back to the trail head when that ambition associated with being prepared kicked in. I decided to take a branch trail to a different trail head. I only had a vague idea where that trail head was located. I knew I could always reverse direction. The new trail seemed to keep turning the wrong way. It went down through a dry wash and climbed out well to the west of the campground. I finally found a path back in the direction of the campground. When I finally returned to my RV home I approached it from the south. The last part of the hike was a big loop to the west and south.
Tuzigoot National Monument; an ancient hilltop pueblo.
Looking back up the trail that has been eroded by weather and dirt bicycles.
All of the trails I was on are used by hikers and bicycles. Some of the trails in the park are also used by horses. Watching out for droppings on the trails shared with the horses is a necessity. I didn’t see any horses, but did see one pair of hikers on the trail. The campground has filled up for the weekend so I suspect the trails will be much busier tomorrow.
Thursday September 21st 2017
I’m really enjoying the slower pace here at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. I don’t have a National Park drawing my curiosity all the time like I had through most of August and early September. It was another gorgeous day with a little more wind than the last few. I stayed home all day.
Part of the Verde River
One of the retention ponds in the park.
This morning I worked on travel planning. Since I decided not to spend time in Texas this winter, I’ve been struggling to figure out plan B. The Texas plan had me working my way east out of Arizona during the first half of October. Instead I’ll be staying in Arizona or Nevada for the first half of the winter. I know I can find a place to stay in the Phoenix area south to the Tuscon area, but I’d prefer to stay in another area. While I figure that out, I’ve made reservations in central Arizona through the middle of October. Finishing up with a weekend at the RV park in Grand Canyon National Park.
Bird (kind?) standing in the water.
Another view of a holding pond.
The other major activity of the day was a hike down near the Verde River in the state park. The area is so different from the desert land that surrounds my campsite, but it’s less than half a mile away. The area has many trees, birds and lots of grasshoppers. I walked from my site to the river area then along the river to the retention ponds the state park has constructed. At other times of the year the path would have been under water. The ponds are the real star of this park. They have been stocked with fish and are an oasis in the desert.
Ducks in the retention pond.
Desert north of the ponds.
When I got back to my site I had new neighbors. The park is starting to fill up for the weekend. It has been about half full during the week. My neighbors are camping in a horse trailer without the horses and a tent. It looks like the grandparents have the trailer and the three grand kids and their parents get the tent. The part of the trailer intended for horses got emptied of a sporting goods store full of paraphernalia. Everything from folding tables to the kids bikes came out. The tent is practically under my window.