We had a lot of fun at the Jeep rally. They had several trails of varying degrees of difficulty, and we decided to sign up for 3 out of the 5 rated easy. The first one was the Hillbilly run as described in my previous post. Our next run was named “4 Peaks”. It was as advertised, fairly easy, with but one real tricky spot where it was a test to see if we could remain on all 4 wheels. Our last run was on the “Tomahawk” trail. This trail had a couple of “extra credit” side tracks (short, challenging deviations off the main trail); one a steep grade, the other very rough, rocky terrain which our trail leader said he believed to be a step or two above the “easy” trail rating. Jeanne handled all very well, with only some minor reconfiguring of her muffler system (aka: big ol‘ dents!). Plus, we got a glimpse of the “Gunsight Notch” rock formation which is along this trail.
One of our down days we made an excursion to the Desert Bar. This was a bar set up in the middle of nowhere in the desert outside of Parker. It is only open on weekends and New Year’s Eve and it was pretty well packed when we went. They have several food stands and all lines were insufferably long. At least they had live music to stand in line to, Kevin Jaxon and the Midnight Sun. To my dismay, the only beer I saw being consumed was Bud, Miller and Coors, most of which was of the lite variety (yuuuucckkkk, gag me with a spoon!).
We used another day to take a short hike up and around Crystal Hill next to the KofA Mountains, a popular area for rockhounds. Alas, we found no valuable gemstones or minerals, but hey, the time spent together was priceless!
The FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) Jeep clubbers are, if nothing else, rabid Jeep enthusiasts, and during the off-trail times we took in a lot of helpful hints and information. Everyone was in agreement, that being in a Jeep club is a costly proposition. All of the recommendations as to equipment upgrades and replacements had our heads spinning and ears ringing, “ka-ching, ka-ching!” As it stands, we did survive this rally in a stock Jeep Wrangler Sport, however we are now debating how much and where to throw all our money. Lift the Wrangler and add bigger, trail tires to start? Down the road, bumpers and winch, lockers on both axles, upgraded axles (Rubicon), sway bars, and much much more? Or take the short cut and trade in for the Rubicon which has much of this already on it? Quite the conundrum…Hey, it’s only money and you can’t take it with you…
After the week of boondocking for the rally, we headed back into Mesa for a couple of nights of hookups for laundry, dumping, and refill of water. Then we relocated to the Casino Arizona, one of the local Indian resorts. They have an affiliated sister casino near them called the Talking Stick Casino & Resort, both allow RV overnighting, but Casino Arizona has a much more spacious area in the back for oversized units and as far as we know, they have no stay limit and no charge for dry camping there (no hookups available). We stayed here for a couple of days so I could treat Jeanne to a day spa treatment for her 34th anniversary present. We actually did the couples massage and she got a facial as well at New Serenity Day Spa in Scottsdale. The folks there were friendly and provided a relaxing experience. With Spring Training fast approaching, we decided to take Max (our grandson) and his mother to a couple of games at Scottsdale Stadium (Spring training home for the SF Giants). Jenn (our daughter) arranged air transport for them and we got tickets for a Rangers game and a Dodgers game, so we will be returning in a month’s time for some baseball.
Our last day in Scottsdale Jeanne, Woody, and I took a road trip to Tortilla Flat up past the Superstition Mountains. On the way we stopped and checked out Goldfield, one of many Arizona ghost towns. It is now a tourist attraction with some modern improvements to some of the structures, not a truly left-as-is ghost town like Bodie, CA. And a stop in Tortilla Flat (basically a wide spot in the road) necessitated lunch at the Superstition Saloon. It was a unique place, thousands of $1 bills affixed to the walls of the place. And this place was jam-packed with folks! The food was OK, nothing to oooooh and ahhhhh over.
Scottsdale in our rearview mirror, we headed to a place called Hot Well Dunes off Hackel Rd. between Safford & Bowie, AZ. This is a BLM chunk of desert and hills where they have camping sites ($3 per night or $1.50 with the Nat’l Parks Access Pass) and a massive OHV recreation area, with 2 natural spring hot tubs (they came and drilled for oil, got hot water instead!). Lots of low-growth desert brush gave the dry camping sites plenty of privacy and the sites were pretty large. The sites were mostly unimproved, other than having a picnic table and fire ring in the general area, garbage cans and pit toilets here and there. It was VERY nice getting out of the big city, we were getting fed up with the traffic and non-skilled moronic drivers that seem to make up a majority of the Arizona motoring public.
And before I sign off, a quick status report on our new solar power system. It is ABSITIVELY OUTSTANDING! Our 8 panels keep the batteries to 100% capacity usually by around 1400 hrs. on clear, sunny days and I have not even set them at a tilt yet, they have been flat on the roof since we got them. And that is with our residential fridge running non-stop, we have been leaving the satellite antenna and receiver on 24 hours a day, watching TV mornings and evenings, and using all the lights and gas heat that we want at will. The only time we fire up the generator is when Jeanne wants to cook with the convection oven/microwave. Without the solar, we used to have to run the generator 4 hours a day to keep the batteries above 11.8V and we were power misers, turning everything but the fridge off when not in use. Living in the dark sucked! But thankfully those days are gone. Until next post…happy trails to all!