Friday, May 15, 2009

meandering north up NM rt.181with a little blue bird
too many mice, san francisco mountains,
rough roads, the starter, and the flower moon




We picked up a little bluebird down in New Mexico. I think she got stuck on a piece of 3M VHB tape. She keeps pretty quiet, unless you reach up and squeeze her. Doesn’t eat much. Seems to get by with licking the bugs off her face.

I was not able to receive NPR for the past month but finally got a chance to download the podcasts for ‘Wait, Wait…’. Great program. I always get a chuckle when I hear others share a story about ‘Wait, Wait…’. Ron, who I met during the summer I was working in Kanab, mentioned that he was listening to Wait, Wait one time while on a treadmill at the gym. He got to laughing so hard at something Paula Poundstone said that he fell/jumped off the treadmill. I can easily relate to that. Poundstone is priceless. Wish I was there—it ALWAYS feels good to see someone laugh so hard at something funny.



Had a nice drive up rt.180 for about 90 miles and pulled off onto Sheridan Corral Rd. The road was a bit steep for a mile or so but once past the cattle guard (maybe 3 miles) there were a number of places to dry-camp. Just don’t go past the large, green water tank on the left. If you get to the end of the road, at the trailhead, and there are hiker cars or a horse trailer, you probably won’t have room to turn around. I camped next to the Sheridan Study Plot near marker post 4077J at 5700’ elevation. Not bad. The only other person I saw during the days I was up there was a game warden. She had some good stories.

Took a ride on Wahoo (model name for my mountain bike) to check out the other marker-post roads up here. They all had flat places to disperse camp. I’ll definitely stop up here again if back this way.

Was actually able to listen to NPR and PRI up here. Wish I had stayed through a Saturday.


One thing I do not particularly care for is when I am reaching into a box for something—and notice a lot of motion in the bottom of the box. DAMN! When I went to register at the Holt-Apache trailhead, the box was full of MICE! Most of them ran out and one jumped on my shirt. This kind of freaked me out since I had just been reading the poster on animals being tested positive for rabies in the area. Guano. For some reason these last few stragglers stayed in the box. The joys of dealing with nature.

Another unexpected animal presence was a black widow spider on a tarp I was folding up. I’ve never, thankfully, been bitten although I’ve picked up a number of things over the years before noticing there was one of these beautiful little ladies on it. Close—but no contact. While I was in Bisbee, Lynn told me a friend of hers, a local carpenter, got bit and had a horrendous reaction to the bite. The black widow was in one of his work gloves when he went to put it on. OUCH!


One day I had a bear of a time finding a decent place to camp. Don’t know how many miles I spent driving up and down dirt roads. And this was AFTER stopping at a ranger station and asking for suggestions! Ended up county road CO13 (dirt), somewhat past mile-marker 26 on rt.180. Not bad. I pulled off a couple miles up the road past the first bridge for a few days at an elevation of 6475’. While setting up camp, I looked up—It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no—it’s… At first glimpse I thought it was a buzzard soaring overhead but then saw the lines were too straight. It was a silent, low flying fighter jet. Then, of course, came the sound—a BIG sound. Way cool. Since it occurred fairly regularly over the days, I guess these mountains are a location for low-level flying practice.

I spent a couple mornings biking farther up the road and going off on different rougher roads. Had an absolutely stellar time—beautiful forest and cool, crisp air. When one gets to the second bridge, there are a number of places to disperse camp. You can also continue on (once they fix the bridge) for twenty miles and the road loops back to rt.180 near the summit.

At the ranger station in Reserve, I mentioned that they needed to replace the posted map at one of the trailheads. Some cretin had cut out the section that covered the trail. Two rangers started telling stories about some of the grief they have to deal with from the lowlifes. There was the standard shooting of signs and one said sometimes the bozos even knock the signpost down with their pickups. Unreal. Hey, Bubba, grab me another Bud while I get out and carve me another notch in this here bumper.

Nice short day on the asphalt, less than an hour. Bit of a steep climb heading up rt.180 past the Reserve turnoff but not too bad. I took a dirt road off to the right near the top and then made my only mistake of the day. Went off on a narrower road off to the left, which started down into a valley with no place to turn around. The hillside went up steeply on the left and dropped off on the right. The road was way too steep, rocky, and curvy for me to backup. Uh oh. I finally got to a switchback with a cut that I could pull into and back down the hill a bit so I could turn around. Going back up was a little gnarly. Way narrow so I was real glad there was no vehicle coming down and in one spot the Jeep was slipping with all 4 tires in some loose stuff on a steep incline. Maybe I can jury-rig an auxiliary engine on the casita to help push in spots like this. Or maybe I just need to find a lady to travel with and I can have her get out and push from time to time. I’m sure that would work well. Unless she found where I kept my handgun.



Pulled into a stellar spot in the pines that I had passed earlier. Meadow and Onyx prefer a disperse camping spot that’s not so open, one with large rocks to climb on and tall grass, but hey, like who’s drivin’ here! Elevation 7700’ but it was warm enough to keep two or three windows open all the way each night. Beautiful spot to watch the full moon. Some turkey hunters drove by on the weekend but no one was around during the week. Open grazing so there were cows walking by from time to time. And all the tuft-eared squirrels keep the little ones entertained.
Nice to be back on public lands so I can shoot my longbow right in camp. Sure got a bit rusty over the winter.



Occasionally after coming back from giving-thanks and having breakfast, I’ll sit outside with coffee and watch Meadow and Onyx exploring and playing. They are so entertaining. What a treat. We’ve been going out on some nice half-hour walks in the early evenings. Don’t think the awning will last as long as it should. If it is extended, the twits prefer it to just sitting on the camper’s roof.

I might be turning into a dreaded butt-voyeur. My hiking boots have not been stirring up much dirt lately. I’ve been on my mountain bike every day racking up miles on the forest roads. Well, at least there is no engine pulling me along. So I guess, thank the gods, that I am not turning into a ‘true’ butt-voyeur. What do you think Lynn—maybe get a bike from Spooky Tooth the next time I pass through Bisbee?



One day I had a nice ride up a little used forest road and came across a good place to camp. I broke camp early the next morning, drove to the road, and parked. I pulled the front tree to the side and temporarily tied it off to another tree. The second tree I propped up with a branch and moved some rocks out of the way so I could get the camper through. There was only one other tree and some rocks to deal with up over the hill. Nice spot but I could not get the east-west exposure that I prefer this time of year. Have to get my fill of solitude before starting the campground manager position up in Utah in a couple weeks.

Most of the places we have been camping lately have a lot of powder-like dirt. In one month I went through a whole tub of baby wipes with 140 towels cleaning Meadow and Onyx. They go outside, roll around in it, and turn into little dirtballs. Guano. They come inside 2 or 3 times a day and it takes a few towels to wipe them off before wiping them down with a damp microfiber cloth. Unreal.


Spent a few days off the Jenkins Creek road and out past Trout Creek just outside of Luna. Plenty of spots for dry camping. Sure glad the gods gave us sun showers. Then continued on rt.180 into Arizona and camped a couple days around Alpine. Stopped in Springerville for a day for web access (found out about a problem with my summer job), water, and groceries. My tracfone year had expired while out in the woods so I had to find a card to get it back up and running. Sure like having it when on the road. I’m reading ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy. Quite a story.

It always seems to take me longer to work north than I anticipate. It took a month just to get from Silver City to Luna. There are just too many beautiful places to dry-camp and explore off the forest roads. Life is tough. I’ve made notes in my road notebook on forest roads and a trailhead that I came across while out biking. I’ll check them out for new places to camp and hike if I come through this way again.

From time to time, I think about moving up to a 19’ Airstream but after this trip, a rig like that might be too restrictive. I really like the narrow dirt roads and a trailer can take a beating. Every once in a while I go over the casita and check for broken rivets. So far there have only been four in three years. Not bad. And since I only paid $7,000 for the trailer when it was 5 years old, I don’t feel I have to baby it. It sure has been holding up well and I use a marine fiberglass wax on it twice a year and go over it square foot by square foot with polishing compound at the end of each summer. Sure glad I got rid of the fifth-wheel and that lifestyle. What a hindrance!

Realized I also have to go over the nuts and bolts on the Cherokee from time to time. I went to pull out from getting gas recently and the starter was not turning over. It was just hanging there. A bolt had fallen out. Joys of driving the dirt roads.

Only had time to spend a day with friends in Kanab. Had breakfast with Ron and he is almost ready for his 5-week trip with his Casita up to Alaska again. He’ll be taking all kinds of ferries up through the islands. Sounds like the way to go. He will be posting a blog for the trip at ronsalaska.blogspot.com
It felt good spending time with some of the people I worked with at Parry Lodge the summer I was a workamper there. Wish I had time to scoot down to the Kaibab Plateau for some disperse camping. Maybe next time through.

Worked my way up rt.89 to Gunnison and took rt.28 to Levan. Dry-camped up Pigeon Creek Canyon just east of town. Continued up 28 to rt.41 through Nephi and then the frontage road up to rt.6 and west through Eureka to rt.36 north and worked over to South Willow Canyon. Not one mile of interstate driving in Utah!

The May full moon is the Flower Moon. Flowers are abundant everywhere. It was also known as the Full Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon.

Life is life, with no special agenda.


RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’
FOR INDEX OF POSTINGS GO TO JULY 2006

1 comment:

Bisbee Lynn said...

A bike from Spooky Tooth? Oh... you must mean the ones with the gas engines attached! ;-)