Friday, January 16, 2015

Suzukis Rule

Odometer   44491
Trip meter 0

Ajo, AZ

Thursday Jan 15th, 2015

Four miles of bad road.

The other day, my friend Mark and I decided to take a hike, and he made the mistake of asking me where I'd like to go.  I told him I'd wanted to see where the road beyond the shooting range goes. According to the map it was only 4 miles from the shooting range north to the Barry M. Goldwater Gunnery Range (BMGR) but this road seems to wind through a canyon that interested me and continues up into the Airforce bombing range.  The road started out innocently enough, but deteriorated fairly quickly to a boulder strewn wash.  I am constantly amazed at the capability of these small Suzukis.  This one is a bone-stock '88 model Samurai with about a 2" lift.  It handled the boulders ruts and washes with very little drama at all.  

Every time we come to a place where the road is cut by a wash, I keep thinking we'll nose down into the dry streambed and land on the front bumper, and time after time, the suzuki will gently roll through and head up the other side.

It took us about an hour to traverse the 4 miles from the gun club, through the canyon, and out to the flats on the other side.  This is one of those roads that now I've seen it- don't ever need to do it again.

We called into Luke Air Force Base and were allowed into the BMGR (not even a fence out here- just a small metal sign).

Once on the Range the roads improved to the normal awful jeep trails we are used to and we took a left turn and headed back towards route 85 the Ajo- Gila Bend highway.

Just before we got to the gate that would lead to the highway, Mark spotted what looked like an old concrete foundation off to the east of us.

We parked and hiked a short distance off the road to investigate.  I am a little puzzled by this foundation- because it was, for its time, quite labor intensive with 4' tall poured concrete walls.  In addition it was crossed by two interior concrete walls of equal height.  And the whole foundation was poured on the slope- no attempt to level it.  There were large pieces of  broken concrete slab all around, and inside the foundation.  Almost none of the wooden part of the structure still exists (if there was any)  so I have no idea if it had been a house, or a cellar of some kind.  Love a mystery.

Mark also has an '86 Samauri- this one is a "tin top" with a full metal top on it.  This Sami, Mark wants to take back to Port Orford.  Before he takes it to the rain, however there is some work he wants to do on it.  First priority is to get the windows to roll all the way up again and to get weatherstripping in the openings.

Yesterday he called to see if I'd like to assist with the upgrades as all the parts he ordered had been delivered.  We took the passenger door apart, cleaned all the interior and re-opened the drain channels in the bottom of the door.  Removed the window regulator (raising mechanism) and undercoated the inside of the door.  Installed a new regulator, new door lock body, new glass channel and door weather stripping.  We also peeled the dark film off the glass and cleaned the window up before re-installing it.

It looks and works GREAT!

Next project will be to do the interior- remove seats, carpet and interior upholstered panels, and hose out the whole car.  Then back to doors, and complete the driver's door clean-up and weatherstripping, clean and lube the seat tracks and re-install the seat.  What fun!  The best part is that there is no hurry, he has another one to drive and all winter to finish this one.

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Quartzsite and Tucson

Odometer 44090
Trip Meter 230 miles

Las Vegas to Quartzsite, AZ

Friday  Jan 9th, 2015

Las Vegas in our rear view mirror this morning, and the open road in front of us.  
As we head south out of Vegas on State Route 93 we are staring out at what looks like a lake in the middle distance.  

A quick search on the iPad informs us that Nevada Solar One has a 64 megawatt solar generating facility out here.  It is one of only two solar thermal plants built in the US in the last 16 years and the largest STE plant built in the world since 1991.

Joan and I were looking forward to a few days of dry-camping in the desert outside of Quartzsite, so we signed into the Plomosa Road BLM site.  The only tough part of this was the fact that we still do not have our new propane tank, so to keep the refrigerator cold we have to keep our work-a-round system going with 1 pound screw-on propane bottles.  This also means no heat at night unless we want to start the generator and use the heat pump- which we don't.  Luckily tonight is only going to get down to the low 40s.  The BLM area is free for 14 days and you are free to park anywhere you want to drive your RV off road.  We found this very nice level site that we could get our 26,000 lb  monster in to.

The phenomenon of Quartzsite started around a rock and mineral show in this sleepy little desert town, and has morphed into quite the bazzar.  A person can find just about anything they could dream of here.  There are booths selling tools, kitchen supplies, clothing, hats, RV supplies, scooters, rocks, and jewelry, groceries, food, and more..

 Including an old Army half-track or a zany transporter with a Lear Jet perched on top- anybody need a Beechcraft fuselage?  This guy seems to have a couple of extras sitting in his lot.
Quartzsite to Tucson
Trip 243 miles

Sunday Jan 11th

All too soon we had to leave Quartzsite, and continue on to Tucson to keep our appointment with LaMesa to get our new propane tank installed.

Yeaa!  Propane for the first time since Thanksgiving we have a full compliment of 25 some odd gallons of propane.  LaMesa did what looks to be a fine job of installing our replacement tank, and they even gave us a full tank of propane!  Total cost to us was $0.

In Tucson we missed connecting with out friends Bob and Beverly, mostly because of heavy rains where they were, plus they said they'd be seeing us soon in Ajo.  That didn't keep me from trading texted barbs with Bob over the Duck/Buckeyes football game.  They were watching from somewhere near Huachuca City and we were watching from the comfort of our living room.  It was a sad day for Duck fans everywhere.

Tucson to Ajo
Trip 136 miles

Tuesday Jan 13th
We have stocked up on food items that are unavailable in the outback, and are now anxious to return to our favorite RV park, Shadow Ridge RV Resort in Ajo, AZ.  Since going vegan last spring, Joan and I are always on the lookout for things like Vegenaise, a mayonaise alternative and So-Delicious ice cream made with coconut milk and cheese alternatives, like mozzarella, or jalepeno jack,  made with almond milk and rice flour.  

On our way back across Arizona 86 from Tucson to Ajo, we always are captivated by this  cafe in Three Points which is about half way from Tucson to Kitt Peak.  Cindy Lou's Cafe has a race car, a motorcycle an ATV and a helicopter on the roof of her cafe.  Yelp gives her 4.5 out of 5 Stars- so I'm guessing the food is good too!

Wherever you go in southern Arizona, you will pass through numerous Border Patrol check points.  The agents are almost always friendly and love to chat with RVers as their dog sniffs around the perimeter of your coach.  Some sites have impressive arrays of antennae and cameras, they probably see all the way through the vehicles, down to counting the change in your pockets.  I think I'd rather not know...

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Back to Work

Odometer 43,585 to 43,860
Trip Meter  275 mi.

Ajo to Vegas
Jan 3- 8, 2015

Saturday Jan 3rd

I recently ran across this historic pair of photos of the Phelps-Dodge mine "before and after" and decided to share them with you to give you an idea of the changes that have happened since the closing of the New Cornelia Mine here in Ajo.  The first photo is the ore processing part of the operation in 1995, well after the shut down a decade earlier, but before any tear-down.

This next photo is the "after" image

The dates read 1995 and 1996, which means that P-D wasted no time in dismantling the processing buildings.  The reason the buildings were removed was the tax savings realized when the buildings were taken off the tax roles and it reverted back to taxes on the bare land.

Late last year I (Jeff) took a Safety Trainer position with D2000 Safety headquartered in Eugene, OR
The work is part time, once or twice a month for a day or two.  I got the call for my first training session in Halsey, Oregon on the 6th and 7th of January. I gave them two options and D2000 elected to fly me out of Las Vegas, rather than Phoenix.  Joan and I were originally going to meet friends in Bullhead City in mid-January- so this was great.

We slipped anchor and pointed the motorhome north towards Vegas.  No way we were going to do the whole distance in one day.  We drove up the Arizona side of the Colorado River to an old favorite of ours- Moon River RV Resort.  We stayed here for a week or more in 2012 while we explored Bullhead, Laughlin, and Oatman.  

Sunday Jan 4th
Odometer  43860

We left the Mohave Valley the next morning for an easy two hours into Vegas, and the Las Vegas RV Resort- Joan's new home for three days while I fly out to Eugene, Oregon.  

Joan dropped me at McCarran International on Monday morning at a little after 9 AM and I caught a United flight to San Francisco, where I was to have boarded a connecting flight straight into Eugene by 3:30 Pacific Time

But Wait!  That's not what happened.  The aircraft that was to continue on to Eugene with me on board did not arrive- It was grounded with mechanical problems before it took off from its last destination.
United has a program where you can sign up to be texted if there are any changes and before each boarding- and they spent the next 6 hours using text messages, moving me from gate-to-gate, and pushing back the departure time.

Finally at 5 PM we are boarded and on our way!

 6:40 PM I'm in Eugene selecting a rental car.  I get a set of choices that includes a Fiat 500L and I jump at the chance to test drive one.  Joan and I are un-abashed mini-car affectionados, and we have been smiling at the TV everytime there is an advertisment for the Fiat 500.  The car turns out to be very cool.  The first thing I notice is that there is an incredible amount of room-including headroom!  This is a four-door and has a backup cam, 6 speed automatic floor shifter, a slightly anemic gas 1.4 liter 101 hp engine, and headlights that are way out of alignment- pointing at the pavement in 10 feet in front of the front bumper.  Not great for this dark foggy night.
I took a chance on a room at the Quality Inn in the Gateway area of Eugene.  Joan did a lot of research on the internet, finding me a place that was on the north edge of Eugene so I could slip onto the freeway and head north to Halsey at 5 AM.  The room was on our price-point at $70/ night and had a mini-fridge and microwave.  Dashing out at 5 AM meant breakfast in the room at 4:30, so I drove over to Target for some Amond milk, cereal, and fresh raspberries, to stock the refer.

The training sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday went well, and by 5:30 PM on Tuesday I was back at the Eugene's Mahlon Sweet Airport nervously looking out the terminal windows at fog down to the window sills.  I asked an off duty TSA inspector nearby if planes had been flying in and out this afternoon.  His answer was that if I was flying Alaska Airlines I was in luck- they'll be on schedule.  And they were!

After a short dog leg north 281 miles to Seattle and back, I flew on to Las Vegas.  I wasn't happy about the side trip to Seattle, but that's what you get when you want to fly out of a small airport, late in the afternoon.  By midnight Pacific time, I was winging over the Las Vegas Strip, and thanks to my sweet wife, home and in bed by 1:30 AM.

We'll spend the day in Vegas and leave on Friday for a short stay in the desert near Quartzsite, so Jeff can get his bargain hunting fix at the fleamarkets and vendor booths there.

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Friday, January 9, 2015

Corvairs and Cacti

Odometer 43585
Trip meter 0

January 2, 2015
Ajo, AZ

I have been very busy getting ready for a training session that I will be presenting in early January, and the blog has suffered for that.  I am really excited to be part of the training cadre for D2000 Safety based in Eugene, Oregon.  D2000 offers training on a range of topics including scaffolding, confined space safety, excavation safety, fall protection, high and low angle rescue, to mention a few.

We have been noticing that whenever there is even a slight rain we get a few trickles of water on the inside of our windshield- nothing major, but I have had this on my list since before we left Port Orford, and today is my day to look into it.  The first thing anyone with a motorhome considers when a leak appears up front- is the clearance lights.
Out came the ladder and the screwdriver.

Two years ago when we were ready to launch across country- I really debated whether hauling a good versitile ladder with us was a good weight/ space decision.  At that time I opted for a very cheap- lightweight 6 foot stepladder.  Big mistake!  I know ladder safety, and I was always in a position of needing to be higher on the ladder than was safe (including the very top).  I vowed that when we got back to my stored equipment in Oregon, that the Little Giant ladder was going to go in the basement storage bin and the cheapo ladder was going into a dumpster.  It's heavy and it takes up space, but when I need a good sturdy 8 foot stepladder or a 17' extension ladder- I've got it.  No regrets.

The lenses pop off to expose two screws which hold the light base to the fiberglass.  The bulbs are a wedge base and simply pull out from the front, so there is no reason that the base can't be caulked to the fiberglass- but as you can see- it never happened.  My on-board supply of caulking had dried to a clay-like consistency, so a quick trip to the grocery/hardware store netted me some fresh caulking, and after a little cleaning of the two surfaces the job took about 15 minutes.  Next rain we get we can tell if the lights were the only leak, or if the windshield is leaking also.

On our latest walk-about town, I decided to take some photos to share with my readers, to give you a sense of the ecclectic nature of this small town.  REB Supply next door to the RV park has this brace of 60's Corvairs parked out front, and yes they are for sale.  REB is a store that would be best described as an outdoors store, with some camping gear, guns, ammunition, but a lot of interesting and non-related stuff too- new and used.  Fun place to shop.

Walking through Ajo's downtown plaza the other day we spotted what looked like a Subaru that had been pulled too fast down the freeway and lost it's exterior skin somewhere down the road.  Someone has turned this into a desert explorer that they tow behind their motorhome- looks like fun!

We also found a saddle tree in the heart of town.  I have to admit I never knew where saddles came from.

Our next door neighbor, Twila, keeps forgetting to feed her dog, poor thing used to be skin and bones.  Good little retriever though.

Down on second and Palm streets there is a house with an Organ Pipe cactus in the front yard that has a crest in it.  These cristate cacti are very rare and are thought to develop laterally at the apex when there is a zinc deficiency in the soil.  We have several pictures of cristate Saguaro cacti but a cristate Organ Pipe is very rare- and right here in town!

Ah! speaking of cristate saguaros, here is one Mark found  years ago.  It's about 13 miles out Pipeline road.  He showed it to Joan and me right before Christmas.

Joan and I have been volunteering at a local thrift store that is located in the Ajo Plaza in old downtown.  This store's proceeds go towards the maintenance and up-keep on the plaza, which was built by the mine in 1917.  So far the plaza still looks amazing, so we think this is worthwhile.  We are there mostly to clean, organize and restock the shelves with "new" merchandise.  This is a "before" picture- I'll take an after picture in the next few weeks.

This is the sidewalk outside the thrift store, during the "2nd Saturday" craft fair and grower's market.

Your Traveling Friends

Joan and Jeff