Monday, November 30, 2020

Boondocking again in Area B of the Barry Goldwater AF Gunnery Range

 Spent the last few days with my FIL in Phoenix, AZ....parking the URRV in his complex's parking lot.  There was another RV parked a few slots over after one day; and they even deployed their slideouts!

Thanksgiving was at a very small gathering in Fountain Hills, AZ.  Friends of the family comprised four of the six members of the gathering, yours truly and my FIL completing the sixpack.

Friday through Sunday of the week were spent hanging out at my FIL's place, me perusing online sources for possible replacements for the Sony A5000 camera and telephoto lens.  I did find a likely candidate on Ebay but I waited too long and it was snapped up by someone else.  Oh well.

Monday, I filled the fresh water tank, and after receiving Fiona's title from the mail carrier, headed out towards Gila Bend.  Martha had sent me the title once I had been told of the necessity by the insurance agent; I guess I should have asked for it earlier but there you go.

Fiona is due to be examined by someone working for the insurance company late this week, so we'll see how things go.

I got to the Gila Bend AF Auxiliary Field's RV Dump station and emptied the black/gray tanks before exiting the field and turning further south on US85.

About 16 miles later, I was turning onto the right gate into Area B which I've stayed in before and which is open to the public with the right permit from range control.

Looks like I have the immediate area, all the way to Trail 609, to myself.  

My usual spot was available and soon I was set up for boondocking.  The weather was a bit breezy but warm enough with temperatures in the low 70s.

Sunset was OK

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

T-Dubing about the Lake Pleasant Regional Park

 BLUF: The park is "meh" in terms of scenery, am sure it's much better when you're on a boat but that's the impression I got today.

First though,  pictures of the old iPhone 6 and Sony A5000 camera as they looked when I picked them out of the ashes the day after the fire.

Rode there a bit past mid-morning after a family zoom call to catch up on things back in Colorado.

Temperatures were in the low to mid 60s but felt colder due to the wind chill factor while riding to/from the park.

Several of the roads within the park were closed to traffic, reasons unstated but I did manage to ride most of the roads near the southern end of the lake.

I must remember next time, that this particular destination isn't worth the $7 daily use fee if just going there for pictures.

Of riding interest, there were several very rocky small peninsulas jutting out onto the lake.  Traction was iffy on some of them but some I managed to get Yagi out onto:

One of a pair of Burros I saw nibbling at grass near some RV parking spots.  I'm thinking this Burro was tired of the "damn tourists" stopping and taking his picture as he (after I'd taken several pics) turned to present his butt to me and proceeded to defecate.....effectively saying: "Enough Pictures!"  :)

It was almost 1PM at this point so I exited the park and retraced my route back to the New River State Trust area where I'm boondocking.

The area isn't bad, but there's enough other RVs to make it seem crowded to my anti-social sensibilities.  Luckily, the other campers know to keep a reasonable if not more distance from the other RVs!

Headed back to Sun City tomorrow, having Thanksgiving Dinner with my FIL and Martha's cousin Angela at the home of friends of the family in Fountain Hills, a suburb within the Phoenix Metro Area.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Boondocking near New River, AZ

 Spent three days at my FIL's place in Sun City, working on the paperwork related to Fiona's insurance claim, the camera insurance claim and just trying to get my mind straight on this event.

Spent some time as well trying to clean up the tools I managed to recover from among the ashes in Fiona's trunk where I carried the tool cases.  Most likely will end up buying new versions of most of them I think.

As if to memorialize Fiona, the sunsets for visible from Sun City were pretty good:

Saturday, November 21's sunset, while I was standing by my FIL's gate entrance with the TCL 540 burner phone:

It proved to be quite the hassle to get a replacement phone as my account with Verizon had 2FA or Two Factor Authentication turned on and of course the burned up phone was the primary destination for verification codes.  The secondary option to use email worked for a while but then quit.

Lots of time spent on the line with Verizon Tech Support using the burner phone.  What a PITA.  All this so I could put in an order online for a phone which I'd been told would save some money.

Finally, all the security problems defeated their Tier 2 tech support puke and he said I needed to go to a "Corporate" store to have them fix my access.  Not just any Verizon store, but a "corporate" store.  Luckily there was one a few miles away.

They looked at me like I was crazy when I described what their own Tech Support had told me.  Once I got in to see a sales rep, I was being handed a replacement phone within 15 minutes!  The cost vs doing the ordering online?  $20 more, big whoop.  I should have just gone to the store first thing and avoided all the stress of dealing with tech support calls.

Got a Pixel 4a, a mid-range phone using Android OS.  It's supposed to be pretty fast (so far it is), seems to have a great camera (second sunset pic below taken with it) and there is a bit of a learning curve to overcome learning the Android interface vs the iOS interface but it's going well.

By Sunday, I'd recovered or ported over manually most of my data from my old phone which I'd backed up to the cloud.  I've now gone whole hog into the world of Google in terms of contacts, calendar, notes, music (via YouTube Music owned by google).  All hail our benign overlords at Google!  ;)

Sunday's sunset was "mo better"

Monday, November 23

Spent the morning cleaning tools and throwing away spare parts, bits and bobs which I either couldn't trust after cleaning or just weren't worth the time.  Packed up the URRV and after an early lunch departed my FIL's place for a few day's of boondocking near Lake Pleasant on the north side of the Phoenix Metro area.

I picked a spot on Arizona State Trust land near New River, AZ.  Pretty flat ground with some vegetation but no big trees to speak off, located near some low-lying hills.

As I was working on pics for this post, which are taken with the Pixel 4a, I realized I lacked a cable to do bulk transfers of pictures from the phone to the laptop.  Sure, I could have emailed them to myself but wanted the capability to both do charging and storage via cable to my laptop.

The nearby town of Anthem had a big shopping complex which included a Walmart and there I found a USB to USB-C cable.  The Pixel 4a uses the USB-C, something new to me as my electronics either used the Apple Lightning connector or the burned up camera used a Mini-DIN connector.

Traffic problems on the highway resulted in me taking the long way back, so an almost 32 miles loop instead of a 16 mile loop on Yagi.  Oh well.

Sunset was "OK", I realized that using a camera phone exclusively will probably not work for me as it lacks the ability to change the F-Stop to create lighting effects such as star burst patterns and different filtering themes while shooting.

One of these nights, perhaps tonight, I'll try the night shot capability of the Pixel 4a's phone, something their marketing department touted quite strongly in their advertising.  Apparently, you can get a picture of the Milky Way if the skies are clear, no light pollution and of course the camera is held steady enough by a tripod.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Fiona is Gone

 Thursday, November 19

So, Fiona is toast.  Literally.

I was riding back from taking pictures of a beautiful sunset, after a near perfect day of riding on Yagi, and about a mile away from the campsite, I heard a "pop", looked down and the left carburetor's fuel line was on fire!

I immediately stopped and killed the engine, and attempted to put out the fire using dirt from the road.  Before I even the second scoop of dirt on the fire, I heard a "whomp" and the whole rig was on fire!

I couldn't even get near the tug to get at my tank bag which had my phone and camera...all I could do was watch it all burn.

Once I was sure that nearby vegetation wasn't going to catch on fire, I jogged/walked back to the campsite to retrieve Yagi, the TW200 and the URRV's fire extinguisher.  

The rig's front and rear tires, snowmen shock absorber rubber housings, and the spare tire were all still burning when I returned to the rig.  The fire extinguisher didn't last very long but did put out some of the fire in the trunk and sidecar.  The tires continued to burn, and eventually I got enough dirt on them that the fires went out completely.


Still, I wasn't far from the campsite and I wasn't injured except for a couple of small burns that I got while trying to put out the fire.

I got back on Yagi, rode the 3 miles to the Shell Gas Station near the I-8 exit and borrowed the clerk's phone to call 911 to report a vehicle fire and to let Martha know what had happened.

Once the Sheriff's Deputy and the Volunteer Fire Department showed up, I led them to poor Fiona in the dark.  The deputy filled out a report, and the crew from the volunteer fire station helped me push the rig off the dirt road and onto the side so it wouldn't be a traffic hazard.

The firefighters and the deputy sheriff were quite amazed at the damage, I'm sure Fiona provided quite the entertainment factor for them that night.  We all tried and make light of the situation with humor, which helped.

No pics of course, since my camera and phone were burned up.

Friday, November 20

Woke early and headed into town to search for an eventually find a place to buy a prepaid "burner" phone in order to have commo, coordinate Fiona's removal from the military reservation, and call the respective insurance companies.

Got back to Fiona to see what tools I could recover and for pics in daylight using the prepaid phone's camera.

Got hold of the insurance company, they arranged for a local shop to come out ( I met them at the highway and guided them in ) and they took Fiona's remains to be eventually taken elsewhere and I'm sure disposed of, I highly doubt they'll try to repair.

Lots of mixed feelings about this incident.  I'm going to miss the power of Fiona's BMW engine.  I won't miss her klunky Russian gearbox which was slowly going south.  Her wiring was a bit of a puzzle due to the PO having completely replaced the stock wire harness with his own wires, all the same color so kind of hard to troubleshoot.

No idea what the insurance company will pay out, I imagine it won't be much.

I also have to file a claim with USAA for the camera and telephoto lens which burned up in the tank bag.

The iPhone 6 I'd been using the last few years is of course a melted slag as well, so I'll probably be ordering a Pixel phone and switching over to Android.  Sigh.

On the bright side, I only got slightly singed eyebrows from trying to reach the tank bag, and a couple of burn blisters while trying to put the fire out.

And no, I'll not be buying another Ural to have as a "spare" to Scarlett, my 2014 rig.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Light repairs, maintenance, Ospreys and fake missiles

 Still boondocking in the Block C section of the Barry Goldwater Gunnery Range and having a pretty good time with the isolation and quiet solitude.  

Still lots of traffic by Border Patrol vehicles but they've become background noise to me by now.

Tuesday, November 17

Rode Yagi, my TW200, to the town of Roll, AZ....Just north of the nearest town to my campsite: Tacna.  I was picking up a replacement 35 white lamp for the sidecar light on Fiona which had taken a rock and then broken at the beginning of the trip.

Got the bulb just fine, and then I decided to ride west on Old US 80 to explore for possible campsites in the Block B section of the Barry Goldwater Gunnery Range.

We used the 35 E. exit and ended up in the Camino Del Diablo (devils road ) which was very sandy but still doable by the URRV. I went south about 5 miles and found a spot by the roadside which would work but wasn’t as good as the one on the block C section of the Gunnery Range.

I wandered around for a bit but didn’t really like the area too much Boondocking. I then headed back north using a road created to put in a power line.   It was sandier than I liked and caused me to go really slow on Yagi.

Made it back to the town of Wellton, AZ just fine and used Old US 80 again to return to 40 E. Then went south back to the campsite after gassing up at the gas station next to I-80.

I had noticed some flat spots while accelerating on the highway on Yagi and decided to check the spark plug in the air filter. The spark plug was fine but the air filter was filthy!

I cleaned the air filter using some dishwashing detergent and put it back in l, once it was dry thinking that it would be OK to not oil it up since I did not have air filter oil with me. This would reveal itself to be a mistake during the test ride later on!

An observation vehicle I spotted set up on a nearby hill, I went
closer to it for pics

Those sure look like cameras to me, the rectangular object was 
slowly spinning around so I figured some type of radar.

Not sure who owned the above piece of surveillance equipment, the military or the border patrol but regardless, they soon left for somewhere else.

I spent part of the afternoon taking pictures of a couple of Osprey Tilt Rotor aircraft that were zooming about.  They're much faster than the Super Stallions I saw before when in airplane mode of course but can still carry troops and land like helicopters.....pretty cool aircraft.

I didn't see them do any landings or takeoffs though and rarely did they come close enough for my telephoto lens to capture them.

By the time I did the test ride, Yagi wasn't performing well, lots of hesitation on acceleration.

Turns out there was now too much air flowing through the clean air filter and causing the bike to run lean according to RichardM.  He’s always the first one I turn to when experiencing new mechanical symptoms.

It was night by this time and so it would wait till the morning when I would get some oil from the auto parts store in Wellton.

Wednesday, November 18

I rode Fiona after breakfast to the town of Wellton and got the K&N oil kit for air filters at the NAPA store.

Upon my return to the campsite I spent some time cleaning everything up really good and oiling up the air filter according to the directions.

Once finished I went for a test ride and all is well once again with Yagi’s performance. Later on I will go out on the highway to get her above 50 miles an hour and see how she does.

I also checked the air filter on Fiona; and while there was some light dust on top of the air filter which I was able to knock out it, it seemed OK otherwise.

The rest of the day was spent hanging out at the URRV, cleaning off the engine on Fiona and just reading my e-book in the shade during the hot part of the day.

As Sunset approached, I rode Yagi to the top of the telcom hilltop and spotted something I'd missed completely the last couple of days.  It was a fake missile complex, probably used in the past to train pilots in their engagement perhaps or just identification?  Not sure.

I then rode over to the missile site to get a closer view:

There were six fake missile emplacements similar to the one above, surrounding a set of six round barrel like structures in the middle, perhaps simulating missile silos?

Anyways, was a bit chagrined I'd not spotted this site before, it laying very close to the row of old armored vehicles.  I guess I focused on the armored vehicles and just rode past without spotting the missiles!

Sunrise of the distant mountains from atop the telcom hill:

Perhaps 40 minutes after the sun had set, I was sitting outside the URRV, enjoying the evening's cool breeze and relief from the hot temperatures of the day.

That's Jupiter slightly above and to the left of the moon above.

Monday, November 16, 2020

T-Dub'ing to the Betty Lee Mine and Shooting Super Stallions

 I woke near Sunrise and caught the sun as it crested the horizon:

The plan today was to go nearer the Copper Mountains that are roughly 8 miles to the south and check out the Betty Lee Mine therein.

The mountains themselves were OK, not much in terms of majestic scenery or such, pretty much a larger/longer version of Baker Peaks next to the campsite:

From the signpost labeled F7, one takes one of the sub-trails towards the southwest and following the sign for the mine, arrives after roughly 2.5 to 3 miles.  The trail wasn't too bad, quite rocky in some spots but nothing Yagi couldn't handle in spite of her rider.

Soon enough we arrived at what I called the "parking lot".  There would be about .5 miles of hiking with an accompanying climb of about 5 floors according to the health app on my iPhone.

The direction you head into from the "parking lot"

The trail wasn't as well marked as I would like, in fact I lost it a few times and ended up going up and down boulders strewn about the dry creek that formed this gulch.  The .5 miles or so took me about 30 minutes each way in the mid-morning sun, a light sweat was developed by yours truly due to the warm weather.

Maybe halfway there, a view of the gulch/draw one needs to negotiate to get to the mine entrances:

A view back towards where I left Yagi....

As I neared the mine entrances, I could spot discarded/rusty metal objects and pipes that used to be part of the mine's infrastructure.

Finally, I got to the first mine entrance.  It was pretty easy to spot since it had remnants of a small railway which they must have used to cart the ore and dirt out of the mine:

Around the bend above, you come onto the entrance to the mine.  Surprisingly, it's not closed off to the public with bars or some similar obstacle.  

Old mines usually being death traps, I did not go in.

Across a very small ravine, there laid another mine entrance nearby:

I returned the way I hiked in, found the real trail on the way out, not much better but smaller boulders anyways to negotiate.

On the ride back to camp, I took the wrong road back and ended up correcting myself by going cross-country for a bit.  This led to the below discovery of old bombs which actually were located pretty close to where the old armored vehicles are!

Pretty sure, I hope, the Air Force rendered these inert

I got back around Noon and spent the next 3-4 hours resting in the URRV's shade and shooting pics of a couple of Marine Corps Super Stallion CH-53E (I think) Helicopters doing some training which centered mainly on landings and takeoffs under dusty/blind conditions.

My puny 200mm telephoto lens didn't get too many good shots but sometimes the choppers came close enough:

Around 4PM, the choppers had left so I got on Fiona and headed out to the border of Block C area for a picture of the border sign:

Then I headed back the 2 miles or so back to the campsite and headed up the hill where the telcom antennas are for pictures:

While I was up there, the choppers came back and I got some shots of them doing their sandy conditions landing training.  Must be quite "exciting" landing such a machine while not being able to see a damn thing due to the dust!

Another picture of Uma from the hill top

As sunset approached, I left the hilltop and rode the short distance to where I'd found a good spot with hills to pose Fiona: