Thursday, January 23, 2020

Hanging out in Phoenix, AZ

Drove to Phoenix from the Gila Bend AFAF on Monday of this week, unloaded stuff from the URRV and did laundry at my Father-in-Law's place in Sun City, AZ

My FIL Richard continues to do well and has fully recovered from his open heart surgery from almost two years ago.

Weather was overcast and light rain.

I installed a set of cheap driving lights that I had delivered to my FIL's home that afternoon and we'll see how those do in actual usage.  I also unloaded Yagi, the Yamaha TW200 dualsport from the front mounted rack and parked her in a golf cart slot under covered parking.

Tuesday, January 21, I drove Uma, the URRV along with Fiona on the trailer down to Goodyear, AZ....a suburb of the Phoenix Metro Area and put her into open storage for the next month or so while I am back home in Centennial to attend to duties, appointments and chores as mentioned before.

Wednesday, January 22

My FIL Richard and I had breakfast at a hole in the wall "comfort food" diner a couple of miles from his home, called Brenda's.  Nice place, good food and service.

The main event of the day was my visit to the Musical Instrument Museum or MIM where my FIL volunteers time as a docent.  His status got me in free and I wandered about the exhibits again (I've been here once before, but apparently didn't blog about it.) but this time concentrated on mostly the European exhibits and photographing only instruments which "caught my eye", most had an animal of some sort involved.

A "fully involved" animal was the basis of this particular bagpipe

French Slide Trombone

Circa 1800.  Bass Horn
"The Serpent" was used to accompany choirs as
early as the sixteenth century

Mongol Shava
Shava (the deer) heralds new life and
brings fertility to people's herds

Yueqin (plucked lute)
The "moon" lute is popular in folk and opera ensembles
The bat represents good fortune

Dramnyen, another plucked lute

Pyeongyeong (litophone)
Blocks of Nephrite Jade are carved to produce
a certain tone/pitch upon being struck

Here's Richard, my FIL, manning his station near the front lobby by the guitar exhibits

No, it's not a hearing aid of days past....this one was designed to amplify the music for recordings.  It became popular with outdoor folk musicians.


In the street festival section, some of the costumes really caught my eye.  I wonder if these gave little kids nightmares even though they're supposed to scare away evil spirits instead.

Manuthone Costume, Sardinia, Italy
Worn in carnival parades, bells are used to
scare away evil spirits

Kukeri costume, Bulgaria
male dancers go from house to house 
to bring good luck and health to their neighbors.

Richard's shift ended and we drove back to his home in rush hour traffic but it wasn't too bad as we could use the HOV lane.  Like everywhere else, we in the HOV lane were the minority of the cager flood that is Phoenix rush hour.

Thursday, January 23

Not a very busy day, mostly errands done in company of Richard.

We did check out a "used tools" store that I'd spotted yesterday after we left the diner.  Got myself a wire stripper tool and three forceps for $6!  Forceps you ask?  They're great for accessing hard to reach places to grab some dropped item or to hold item in an ackward spot until you can secure it.

I packed most of my riding gear onto a borrowed suitcase and will be flying home to the cesspool that is the Metro Denver area.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Last Day of T-Dubing in the Barry Goldwater Air Force Range

Today was my last day of camping for January, headed for Phoenix tomorrow to put the URRV into storage for about a month while I fly home to get some chores done, report for jury duty and get my hearing aids from the VA.

I thought I would check out the Hazard Area (in pink) shown in the range map below, as I had confirmed there were no active ranges in operation today with Range Security.

The plan was to take Trail 601 to 602 from Gate 5 and then see how close I could get to the Hazard Area's eastern border with the East Tactical Range.

Today's riding was pretty much the same as the other two days, rocky trails with frequent crossing of rock filled gullies and washes.  The gullies got steeper and rockier the closer I got to the ridges that formed the eastern border with the Tactical Area, forcing me to negotiate them very slowly and carefully.

By the time I got to the border ridges area, I could see another steep trail heading to a pass over the bordering ridge.  This time I knew better and stopped way before the steep stuff began.  I shed my riding gear and hiked the short distance to the top.

Trying to show you how steep and rock-strewn it was is difficult with a camera.  But here goes:

 The last bit before the top

 About two thirds of the way up

 The half way point where I surely would have dropped Yagi

Standing Yagi back up on this side sloping rock strewn steep portion
of the "trail" would have sucked.

Glad I decided to hike it instead.  The view from the other side was "OK" but nothing to reward one for the efforts of braving the climb in the first place on a motorcycle.

I believe I got as far as where the red arrow is pointing on the map below:

A pic before I turned Yagi around:

I retraced my route, "enjoying" the narrow/steep/rock-strewn gullies yet again, and made it back onto 601 safely with no real issues.

No name for that craggy peak in front of Yagi, according to PeakFinder

Along the way, you see a water tank area labeled 578 on the map above, I believe this was it:

The area is fenced off I think to keep cattle out, not sure why its covered though unless they uncover it in the Spring?  The sign said: "Game Water" so I think it's to provide drinking water to the local wildlife.  You're not allowed to camp within 1/4 mile of such locations per AZ law.

Back on AZ Hwy 85 north, I went into Gila Bend to look for sugar cubes to replace my stock.  No luck in the two food stores I tried, just 5lb bags available and I didn't need that much sugar in the URRV!

So, feeling hungry as it was almost 2:30PM, I stopped at the McDonald's and got a meal while also helping myself two four sugar packets for tomorrow's breakfast coffee.

I'm sure I'll find sugar cubes in Phoenix!

I liked this campground a lot, cheap with full hookups, not exactly crowded but lots of room between sites to keep things friendly.  Apparently, you can stay here for six months if you wish, but you have to pay in advance and no discount.

Last camping sunset for this month

Saturday, January 18, 2020

More T-Dubing exploration of Area B of the Barry Goldwater AF Range

Sunny and cool when I headed out shortly before 10AM southbound again on AZ Hwy 85 for 18.4 miles to Gate #9 of the Area B portion of the Air Force Gunnery Range.

Portion of the map for reference for yesterday and today's riding:

Instead of repeating yesterday's riding, I instead headed south on Trail 605 until I got to its junction with Trail #611 to check out what looked like a Yagi Antenna carved out of the ground for airborne usage.  It's the landmark in blue in the map above.

I wonder what its purpose is?

Anyways, moving on.  From the 611 junction, I rode the diagonal (it wasn't as straight as shown on the map!) trail to its junction with 621 where I turned north to get to Trail 620.  Trail 620 proved to be laid on what was a dry river bed, very fine gravel and sand and very slow progress on my part.

I saw where it seemed to emerge onto a packed dirt portion so I took it and ended up somehow missing Trail 619 and ending up on Trail 617 which was what I wanted to eventually get to anyways.

This would be my first brush with the border of the Range Area in pink in the above map.  You have to call into the Range Control office to see if there were any active ranges going on but since I had no cell coverage, no way to call.

So I got on 617 and headed towards yesterday's pass which I had ended up hiking to the top of.

 Enroute to the top of the pass, a shot of what I called Pyramid Hill

It was a gentler grade up to the pass, with a couple of dips filled with big rocks that were a bit technical but not too bad.  Yagi motored me up to the top of the pass with no issues;

Coming down, I was vindicated in having chickened out yesterday when headed up  this side of the pass.  It was steep, sloping, lots of slick rock, ruts and boulders.  Yikes.  managed to throttle up unintentionally and ended up hitting brakes and stalling Yagi, then promptly dropping her on her left side.

No injuries or damages but I forgot to take a picture before righting her and after calming down my breathing, slowly making my way back down to the point where I had parked her before during yesterday's riding:

That particular ordeal over with, I rode to the junction with trail 609 and then took the main trail towards its juntion with Trail 608.

It was a deadend trail, which led out onto the flatter areas of the valley.  No pics.

Retracing my route back to the main trail, I then headed for the junction with trail 607 which proved to be a loop around a small set of hills where a water holding "tank" had been constructed.

I also rode by a camper van, VW type, alongside this trail.

 Near the water tank where the trail loops

 Water holding structure, no water inside, just green scum/moss

Finished out the loop on trail 607 exiting onto the main trail and turning right to ride down to the junction with Trail 606.

 From a distance it looked like a cave but it turned out to be an alcove

Trail 606 dead ends before a big ditch, didn't find a water tank here though.  Still, it's a nice camp area if you can get your vehicle into it.  There were a couple of ditches that mandated high clearances!

Again back on the main trail and just before the junction with Trail 605, I found what could be a nice wide and flat camping area for the next time I'm in the vicinity:

Taking Trail 605 north, riding alongside the railroad line of the Tucson-Cornelia and Gila Bend route, I stopped at each gate  on trails 603 (Gate 8) and 601 (Gate 6A) and finally trail 600 (Gate 5) where I confirmed that each gate's padlock was set to the same combination!  I'd gotten the impression from the safety briefing that one had to use Gate 9, not so.

I ended up  riding up trail 601 to its border with the Ranges border and got this picture of Lookout Mountain:

Just a pic to show what Range Control apparently uses to monitor traffic passing through the gates, looks like a Trail/Game Camera.  I didn't confirm whether there was something inside or not.

Now riding again on Trail 605 north, paralleling the rail line and the fence line, I stopped for one more pic of Lookout Mountain:

I left Area B at Gate 5:

Riding Trail 605 saved me about six miles of highway riding so it was less time on pavement being wary of clueless cagers in a frantic hurry to be somewhere.

Got back to camp by 3:30 PM with no issue, refilled Yagi's tank for tomorrow and in general just relaxed in the URRV the rest of the afternoon.

A good day of riding!  I really like Area B of the Barry Goldwater Air Force Range.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Blue Peaks and T-Dubing on an Air Force Range

I rode Fiona, my '99 Ural Patrol Sidecar Rig over to the town of Gila Bend to see what was there and a couple of small errands.

First though, a picture of the town's welcome sign which is reputed to be amusing:

I wandered with Fiona around the immediate area north of town but found nothing of interest or couldn't get to stuff that might have been due to fences and gates.

Returning to the Gila Bend AF Auxiliary Field, I posed Fiona with a display aircraft that had Major General Barry Goldwater's name stenciled on the fuselage where the pilot's name went.....I guess he flew it before becoming a politician?

I wandered closer to part of the runway where I'd seen aircraft doing touch and go training earlier, and spied some far off peaks made nicely blue by the haze:

Rode Fiona a bit further down, parallel to the runway, closer to the control tower for these shots:

Returning to the campsite for lunch, I took some pictures of more fighter jets, F-35?, doing touch and go landings:

After lunch it was time to load up Yagi, my Yamaha TW200 and ride down AZ Hwy 85 about 16 miles or just south of mile marker 20 where Gate #9 for the B Area of the Barry Goldwater AF Range is located.

This is the area open to member of the public who've secured the permit one is issued by watching a safety video online and registering with  It's a website used by the Luke Air Force Base to educate/control/monitor the people who wish access to area B to either hike, camp or whatever other outdoor recreation activity.

Once you've registered, you're given a permit via email and the combination code for the lock at Gate #9.  You also have to "check in" when you arrive to let them know when you did so and how long you're planning on staying.  All done via one's phone and the isportsman website.  You have to do it before you go in too deep as there's no cell coverage within the range itself.

The big caution is the possibility of unexploded munitions from previous use by the Air Force of the land as a bombing range.  I only saw one piece of tubing but didn't get close to it.

The area is quite scenic with many rock formations forming small canyon walls and several rocky dirt trails leading to said rock formations.  Today I stayed on the main trail in, until it got to trail #609 which I took to its end.  Here's some of the scenery along the way:

 Hat Mountain is quite eye-catching and drew me ever closer

Soon I was close to the base of Hat Mountain and detoured onto trail #609 to follow it to the end at the base of a walled off set of hills.

Returning back to the main trail, I got on trail #617 which kept going past Hat Mountain to a nearby set of low ridges.  I spotted a trail going up the side of one of the ridges and pointed Yagi at it.

It got steep and really rocky, really fast so being alone riding I chickened out at about a third of the way up.

I shed my riding gear and hiked up the rest of the way to the top of the small pass and this is what you can see if you ride to the other side of the ridge:

This is what you see looking back while standing at the top of the pass:

 South side of Hat Mountain

Took a couple of pics showing the trail's conditions after I had stopped to hike.

Once back with Yagi, I put my riding gear back on and turned her around and slowly made my way back down the really rocky trail.

Retracing my way back towards the junction with trail #609 and the main trail, I took one last show of the neat hills and rock formations.

I bypassed several other trails today that led to smaller rock formations, those will be explored tomorrow!

I rode back to the campsite with no issues besides the usual idiot cagers.

Sunset looked promising so I drove Fiona over to the main road leading from the main gate and posed her next to some palm trees which line this main road: