Tuesday, May 25, 2010

change of plans, creek coffee and wine,
codgerspace, and sirius

Sometimes I don’t stop and think. I eventually realized that I could not take the route I had planned north this spring, at least the first 150 miles of it. I was planning to take 5 or 6 weeks to hike the area and the route didn’t take me near any decent grocery stores. For one thing, I would need a cooler to supplement my fridge. I don’t presently have the room for one. There would have also been the additional bulk and pounds of dry supplies. And then there’s water. A week’s supply weighs 112 lbs (2gal/day at 8lbs/gal – water’s a pound a pint). My rig is already overloaded. The Cherokee already gets into the edge of the red zone on mountain grades—not a good thing. Weekly water runs with the Jeep wouldn’t have been a problem and I can get a month out of two 5 gal propane tanks so I wouldn’t be looking for propane. Looks like I might break down next winter and look for used 8 cylinder for more power and a design with more carrying capacity so I can stay off the grid for longer periods. I don’t want to be restricted again next year.

Came back down to Silver City for supplies after a couple weeks and took another route out of town. Rt152 was pretty twisty with many posted 10 and 15 mph curves. The canyon becomes very narrow and there are no forest roads suitable for disperse camping. The 4 campgrounds up there are close to the road. I stopped at the third one just past mile marker 27 at an elevation of 7100’. At least Railroad cg is behind a large hill that cuts off road noise. Early one morning I ran up the road to check out Iron Creek campground. Not any better but a lot of Ponderosa pines (yellow pine). Not campgrounds one would want to spend time at unless you were going to hike the trails in the spring or fall. Railroad cg has a trailhead to Gallinas Canyon #129 (pictured), Railroad Canyon #128, Holden Prong Saddle, East Railroad Canyon, Hillsboro Peak, and Black Range Crest. A NICE week’s worth of hiking. A lot of water though. Just from the trailhead to the Gallinas Canyon trail junction at 1½ miles, you’ll cross the creek 22 times. A lot of stone stepping and log walking this time of year. Quite a few pools to sit down in and soak, sure wish it was warm enough for it. Iron Creek cg also has a trailhead. The 4 campgrounds are free. You have to bring your drinking water with you (the Gila forest service office in Silver City has a spigot just to the right of the front door). There are posted quiet hours in the campgrounds but no campground hosts to enforce them. Wouldn’t want to stop here in the summer or on weekends.

It’s not often that we camp by a creek so it can be a treat. I placed my fire pan, chair, and stool down by the creek. Stellar spot for morning coffee and evening wine. This lifestyle is SO tough. Watched a hummingbird hover over the creek drinking water one day. Way cool.

Whenever Meadow and Onyx went out, they crossed the creek and explored the hillside. M/O both frequently hung out on the rocks in the creek. Sure hope Onyx does not pick up giardia again. Guess I’ll have to start watching his poop. That’s always fun. What better incentive could one possibly have for bounding out of bed in the morning and spreading one’s arms wide to the world and give thanks for the pure joy of it all!?

Two campers pulled in the day before I headed out. Gael and Cherie were in a popup camper. Gael lives in NM and Cherie was out on a visit from PA. I enjoyed talking with them, good people. They were spending a week camping and hiking in the Gila’s.
I’ve heard of long commutes to work but driving to Texas and flying to SE Arizona is a bit much. At least working 3 days and having 4 off each week is good. This lady must definitely be good at what she does.

I finally got around to hooking up a Sirius radio in the casita. Only took me 4 months, I kept procrastinating about getting an antenna for my CD/radio unit (never used the radio). I purchased a Starmate 5 back in January. It was the only model that offered the basic $7/month plan. Figured I should start out with this since I had no idea if I was going to like it. It sure is nice to listen to at times. Every once in a while I catch an episode of The Shadow on the Classic Radio Shows channel. For a good deal of the year I don’t have much in the way of radio reception and if there is any, it’s country western or Spanish. Satellite is good.

Ever read any books by Daniel Pinkwater when you were a young teen? He’s very strange. I recently read ‘Codgerspace⁏ by the New York Times Bestselling author Alan Dean Foster. Set WAY in the future, these five retired people stumble into an alien spaceship that had been buried for a million years under the area next to their retirement community. It’s a big ship—200 kilometers (yes, kilometers) long. It caused quite a stir when it broke out of the ground, lifted off and hovered in the area. The authorities soon learned that it was crewed by a handful of old people who had recently been playing checkers and gardening. The book’s a hoot and all along I’m thinkin’ Daniel Pinkwater must have written this.

‘When everyone turns right, sometimes it’s good to turn left.
Then one has the road all to themselves and the view is better...
and one gets to make their own decisions.
Like life, every road trip is an adventure;
one never knows what the day (or next turn) will bring.’
Linus Mundy

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

trippin’ and fallin’, solitude, sacaton, sailplane,
and expenses

The first trailhead I camped near was off rt180 on FR196. Had to camp nearly a mile and a half away, however. Really did not need all that warm-up and cool-down hiking between the camping spot and trailhead. It didn’t get any better. I lost track of how many times the trail crossed the stream. Nowhere could I just jump across it since the water was high from the runoff. I had to step from rock to rock and managed to slip only once, thanks to my trusty PVC staff. Years ago, they used to mine up this canyon so whenever I saw an old mine up in the rocks, I climbed up to take a look. Even being careful while off the trail, I fell three times. I used to be able to feel myself falling and make an effort to catch myself. That seems to be a thing of the past. Two of these falls had me down on the ground before I realized I tripped. Not good—ended up with free-flowing leg and thumb cuts. I swear I’m going to die on a hike. Maybe I should start sticking just to the trails. All-in-all a nice hike, though—guess my standards are changing. This trail followed the creek for much of it and was cool and shaded but I was pretty maxed by the time I got back to camp the first time—lunch and a nap.

One day I had to wash my hair and the weather was overcast with intermittent rain and occasional flurries. I REALLY did not want to out and use the sun shower bag. The water was so cold my head actually hurt. Had to stop once and give myself a break. Then in Outside magazine, I read about Lynne Cox and how she swam for 20 minutes in the waters off Antarctica, covering 1.2 miles. And yes, I maybe, might have, possibly felt, for a few very short seconds, somewhat like a wuss. Sure felt good when it was all over though.

Most mornings I heard a wild turkey not all that far away. Two turkey hunters came by one day and asked if I had seen or heard any birds. Nope. Just what I want, people shooting shotguns near my camp and felines.

I’ve a feeling we’re not in the desert anymore, Todo.

Meadow and Onyx relaxing.

One of our camping spots. Not great but a good base for exploring the area with my mountain bike. Some nights were down in the 30’s and it actually felt good.

I need my social fixes and I really enjoy spending time with my friends but I also need solitude. It’s not only being out by myself but also the fullness of realizing that no one knows where I am. It’s an awesome feeling, like a deep meditation where you don’t really want to come back up. It’s SO recharging. I’m sure it contributes a good deal to why I appreciate simple things. And it’s not like I make being out of touch an issue, it’s just how it is being off the grid with no cell phone coverage. I frequently don’t even know myself what dirt road I’ll be off on at the end of a day moving to a new camping area. Or which spur I’ll be down. And if there are no hiking trails, I don’t know where I’ll end up when I go off on a cross-country trek. It’s true solitude. Even if my life changes in the next couple years, I’ll still need to go off and do this from time to time.

Went mountain biking one day over to Sacaton mesa. There’s a whole network of dirt roads up there on the flats. I can see myself spending 3 or 4 weeks there next spring. Not looking forward to pulling the casita up there, though. I’m sure the Cherokee will be over heating. It’s a 500’ elevation gain in a mile. No problem with an 8 but with a 6 pulling all the stuff of a vagabond, it will be tough. Been there, done that, know it for sure. Once I get up there, it looks like I might be able to cut over to the Dry Creek Trail for hiking if I go back in far enough and there’s a lot of ground for mountain biking and running.
When I was up there, I saw a white remote control plane flying around but I didn’t hear any sound. I got off my bike and watched for a while, saw the pilot and occasionally heard an electric motor start up on the plane but most of the time it was quiet—something like watching a hawk playing in the wind. I rode over and met James from Rodeo, NM. He was flying an electric sailplane. I have seen gas powered remote control planes in the past but they make a lot of noise and they didn’t do anything for me. I was not the least bit interested in trying it. BUT this sailplane was way cool. An electric motor is used for launch and climbing. Then you turn the motor off and fly the plane, searching for a thermal or updraft. One can turn the motor back on at any time with the remote to get the plane higher or to try out another spot. The signal goes out a mile but at that distance you can’t really see the plane so you can lose it. You can send signals but you can’t see how the plane is responding. You might have the plane flying away from you. An alternative is to have a buddy following the flight with binoculars. But then, if he lost sight of the plane you would have to shoot him. One can also get the sailplane in a good thermal and it would keep rising until it was out of sight. You have to constantly keep track of it and turn out of the thermal before you lose it. James has a number of sailplanes back in Rodeo with one having a 12’ wingspan. He suggested I look into the Radian RTF sailplane (ready to fly). The whole package, plane and remote is only $250 and has a 4’ wingspan. The wings come off for transport. Definitely will be checking this out on the web. Don’t know how I will learn how to fly it if I get one though. It’s easy to launch. You throw it with one hand while holding the remote in the other. But for a few short seconds I can see this becoming very intense. James also mentioned that replacement parts are cheap. This is good.
As you know, I generally always have a camera in my pocket. But this was all so unexpected and interesting that I never thought of the camera. James was having a buddy come up in a couple days who happened to have a Radian so I made plans to bike over to check it out and take notes on flying a sailplane with every intention of taking some photos. Yep, forgot to take out the camera. Guano. Anyway, I think I leaned enough to try it on my own. We’ll see.

You know how you might be taking a break and checking out the view after hiking up to a ridge, you’re sitting down, relaxing, and you catch sight of a hawk soaring the ridge updraft or rising in a thermal? If you are feeling pretty mellow as you watch the bird soar, you can kind of feel an exhilarating sense of freedom. Once I even felt a rush and lightness, like in an elevator, as a hawk dropped and swooped into a turn. An absolutely stellar experience.
I wonder what kind of experience it is for those who go up in sailplanes. They only have the sound of the wind up there. Don’t know if I would feel comfortable up a couple thousand feet in a plane without an engine though. Don’t even like going up on a 6’ ladder.

There were two steep sections of forest roads in the first few weeks of my meander north this year that had me urging the Cherokee along—steep, loose, and curvy with drop-offs. There was no way I was going to stop on the steep parts to take a photo. I don’t know, maybe a large class A rig, interstates, and starting on the sights-to-see is the way to go—do the old butt-voyeur thing. Nowadays I don’t really want much in the way of thrills and risk, but to have absolutely none would seem kind of lifeless.

Tallied my expenses from the first of the year and my spending has averaged $665 a month for the first 4 months. Should be less for the next few months since I’ll generally be farther out but, then again, I have some things I want to order while I’m up in Chama.

I read my April copy of National Geographic—their special issue on Water-Our Thirsty World. Jeez, sure glad I’m not going to be around in a hundred years.

Two things to learn from dogs:
Run, romp, and play daily.
Delight in the simple joys of a long walk.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

Saturday, May 1, 2010

5 felines, snow, banshee, desperation, and feet

I worked with Donna in Kanab three summers ago. She stopped at C of R on her way back to St. David, AZ from a line-dance jamboree in Artesia, NM. Donna and her 3 felines have been full-timing for a number of years. Her rig is a bit bigger than mine, I don’t know, maybe a 19 or 20 footer. At the site, we had 5 felines cruising around. Way cool. The site was off in the back with no one else around so the little ones didn’t cause any problem and they all were caught up and brought in each night.

I went back to Bisbee for a week towards the end of April. Hit some restaurants and most mornings climbed my 1200 stairs. Took Lynn’s dog, Chica (pit bull/boxer mix), with me 2 mornings. That was a treat.
When I lived in Bisbee and had friends visit, I provided them with clear blue skies and warm, sunny weather. One morning towards the end of the week, I took these shots to document the weather Lynn was providing for me. Ya think maybe, she was like telling me to leave town?

If you are in the area and like good pizza, check out a new restaurant and bar, the ‘Screaming Banshee’ (I call it ‘Redundency’). It is near the Iron Man up Tombstone Canyon. REAL good with fabulous seating out back and stellar bathrooms.

My feet were having some problems if I was out hiking for more than a few hours, especially my toes. I know feet swell as we pound them so I went online and looked into measuring foot size. Our feet also get longer and wider as we get older. I used the method described on this site.

I found out I needed to go up another half size (already had gone up a half size) and go to EE wide. In my 20s I was a size 10 D and now I’m an 11 EE with a half size larger for my hiking boots and running shoes. Good stuff to know if you do hours of walking or hiking.

I finally got to see a DVD of Stephen King’s ‘Desperation’. It was filmed in Bisbee when I was living here and a number of the locals were in the old mine footage. Most of the town footage was filmed on Erie St. in the Lowell section of Bisbee. Erie St. is only one block long but they made the street seem quite a bit longer. I thought that was pretty cool the way they managed that. They also used the buildings on the old Phelps Dodge mine property only a quarter mile away for some scenes and some filming was done down at the bottom of Lavender pit, maybe a half mile farther. Now I have some insight to how low budget films are made. Not bad.

They were holding the 32nd run of the La Vuelta De Bisbee Bicycle Stage Race on the weekend I was in town. On the day of the first time trials, Lynn and I happened to be having dinner at the Roka Café and sitting at the window table. A rider came flying by every 30 seconds. WAY COOL. Jeez were they fast. Makes me want to sell my bike.

Back in NM. Spent a couple days in the Burro Mtns and got in a run on the Continental Divide trail one morning and a good hike on another. Stopped here in the Silver City library for web access. Will take a couple weeks camping/hiking off rt180 and rt12 then maybe angle over towards Taos. Going to be in Chama by the middle of June for a month of house sitting. With daily web access!!!!!!!!

Now if Lynn had brought THIS weather to Bisbee, that REALLY would be making a statement.

May Night Sky—Check out this site for a daily astronomy photo.

Fear less, hope more, eat less, chew more,
whine less, breathe more, talk less, say more,
hate less, love more,
and all good things will be yours.
Swedish Proverb

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’