Sunday, October 30, 2016

Javelinas | And Trashy Campsites!

Just this past summer I was saying that I had never seen a javalina in the wild.  Be careful what you wish for!  I had pulled into a Casino parking lot - one that is very RV friendly in Sahuarita, Arizona.  I mumbled as I picked up a few plastic bags that were blown around the area, as well as a few other items of trash. 

That evening, as I was sitting outside my fifth wheel, 5 of these critters wandered into the area, probably about 10 feet away from me.  I had heard that they can be aggressive and that they stink.  I went inside and watched them.  I didn't smell anything that evening, but after another couple evenings, the slight breeze was blowing toward me and that time I smelled them before I saw them.

These few photos were not taken in the casino area, but at a national forest during one of my many visits to the forests.  It's just an example of things I have found in certain camping areas.

Every campsite I go to, especially boondocking areas, have trash in the area.  I usually clean up after I set up my camp.  Then I have the problem of where to take the bags of trash that I've accumulated.

I don't think these campers are RVers, at least I hope not.  At least not the ones I know.  I encourage all campers to pick up after themselves.  As a reminder, most of us know that food cans do not burn.  For some reason, they are often found in firepits - charred, but intact!

If we don't take care of our boondocking areas, whether it's forest, BLM or other - we will lose our privilege of using these lands.  I know many RVers and other campers who love to boondock in these areas - help keep them clean!   Thanks to those who leave the campsites cleaner than when they arrived!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Boondocking | Check it out first!

Free camping!
Most of us like free camping.  Sometimes it's National Forest land or BLM (Bureau of Land Management) where there is usually a 14 day stay limit.  The limit is not a problem for us, we enjoy it while it lasts.  What may become a problem is finding good roads into these areas you never really know until you get into it.
Recently, the internet was full of photos of a triple-axle toy-hauler fifth wheel that looked at least 40 feet.  It was stuck on some boulders in an area that looked way too rocky to be driving anything into!  There have been multiple photos posted of this person's problems and it was quoted that it cost $3500 for multiple tow vehicles to get the trailer to safety. 
I have always checked out boondocking areas before going into them with my rig.  I have seen some roads where I wouldn't think of towing my fifth wheel.  In some areas, there  is no room to turn a truck around, let alone a truck and any type of trailer.  Sometimes, as shown below, there has been a tree that has fallen on the road.  You might be able to turn around in this area, but if it happened in a forest that was more dense than this, you might be in trouble.
Sometimes, especially during rainy season you'll find muddy pools that you might be able to go around, but sometimes not.  Going through some of these muddy pools will create other issues - they may be too deep and you'll bog down or you may create ruts that will ruin the road for others trying to use the area.

It's not always easy to check out boondocking areas, it requires time and extra fuel cost.  I love to find a great road to get into a spot - not one that requires miles of rutted or washboarded dirt roads.  I am possibly a little too cautious where I want to take my truck and fifth wheel - but it is my home! 

So, RV friends, be careful trying to find the perfect boondocking spot - sometimes it's not easy!  Try not to recreate that scene from Robin Williams' movie "RV"!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Colossal Cave | Arizona

The other day I went to the Colossal Cave outside Tucson.  I've made it a point to see any caves or caverns in my travels.  There are dry caves and wet caves.  This was a dry cave, meaning there is no water filtering down from the surface.  If there is water flowing into the caves, that means formations are still being formed - stalactites, stalagmites and quite a few others.

The scenery from the top of the hill was typical Arizona desert, complete with Saguaro cacti, one of my favorites. 

Tours are given multiple times daily, and luckily, I was able to join a small group.  Our guide gave some history of the area and the caves.  It was discovered long ago by Indian tribes.   In the late 1800s, it was also used by cowboys who needed a hideout.  It's a great place to visit on a hot day - it's always 70 degrees in the cave, no matter how hot or cold it is outside.


The following photos show some of the items discovered when the land owner decided to open the cave for tourists. 

And then there are items used by the more recent explorers, as well as the CCC group that built paths through the cave to provide safe areas for tours.

And more rock formations.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Tucson, Arizona | Snyder Hill

I have been camping at a patch of BLM land in South Tucson (corner of San Joaquin and Route 86) with a friend who has just left for San Carlos, Mexico.  We have been getting ready to go, and she wanted to leave sooner than I was able to.  I'm still waiting for the renewal of my truck registration. 

This is the San Xavier Mission just south of where we're camped.  It's very impressive, but still being restored. 


Most of our sunsets consist of a beautiful glow in the western sky.  One night we got some storm clouds to make things interesting.  The first is actually opposite of the sunset, but we still get color there.
This is a shot the day before full moon.  We have a very interesting backdrop of rocks with some nests that we think are hawks, but we never saw them close enough and when we had the binoculars out, they were shy.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument | New Mexico

This National Monument is reached by a narrow winding road from Silver City that sometimes feels like a one-lane road, since there is no center line.  There is another road that can be used, just a few miles west. When I arrived, I got an overview of the trail from a volunteer and then set out on my hike.

This is my first glimpse of the dwellings from the trail.

Then I got inside the caves.  The dwellings were built inside natural caves and alcoves, which made construction easier.  There were multiple areas where people lived back in the 1200s.  The Mogollon people left in the early 1300s.  It seem that most of these cliff dwellers in other areas moved on about that time also. 

This is the view of the area from inside.  The dwellings are almost 200 feet above the valley floor.

This is the view from the trail below the cliff dwellings.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Fort Bayard | Santa Clara | New Mexico

I went to visit Fort Bayard located near Santa Clara, New Mexico. This is not what I expected to find.  Seems that not much is left from the fort itself.  The grounds and some history placques are left.  The area was rebuilt in the early 1900s as a tuberculosis hospital and recovery area.  It was under the Veterans Administration at that point. 

I love abandoned buildings, so I explored the area.  All houses and other buildings have no trespassing signs.  Someone else who was exploring told me that the buildings all have asbestos in them and that's why they were abandoned.  I don't know if it's true, but there was quite a bit of asbestos used in buildings years ago.

During World War II, there were German prisoners of war held here.  They were put to work as they were guarded by soldiers.

It seems that only one street has been maintained, as I was driving around, this street actually had water sprinklers on the lawns.   This area still needs work, but the nicest one is the museum, which is open with limited hours.

By the 1950s new drugs had been developed to control tuberculosis, so the hospital was closed in the mid 1960s.  The State of New Mexico is now responsible for administration of the area.

Near these buildings, the cemetery is well kept and has been named a National Cemetery.