Sunday, November 26, 2023

Home Again and a Book Review

Martha and I are home from our 49 day trip, 37 of which were camping days.

We left the Enchanted Trails Campground west of Albuquerque, NM at 6:15 AM and were pulling into our home cul-de-sac at 3:15 PM.  9 hours on the road was a long but incident-free day.

We motored with purpose and didn't stop for pictures, just for gas.

We're back in Colorado till the end of the year I expect.  Not sure when I will go camping next, but most likely not till the new year.

As we drove the last two days, we listened to an audio book titled "A Grateful American" by Gary Sinise of Forrest Gump (he played Lieutenant Dan) and CSI:NY where he played Detective Mac Taylor.

This is an outstanding book about his life leading up to his present mission of service to American servicemen and veterans.  From a wayward youth to his entry and development of an acting career; his work supporting, helping, and ensuring that injured veterans are not forgotten, this book fleshes out and highlights his great life journey.

His role as Lieutenant Dan from the Forrest Gump film, leads to his connection and empathy with veterans ranging from the Vietnam War to the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars on Terror.  

The work he does initially just as morale boosting USO tours, grows and expands to multiple tours with the USO, the creation and performance of his "Lieutenant Dan Band", the Snowball Project that provides the kids of fallen veterans a venue to deal in part with their loss and eventually multiple initiatives and projects.

He supports, participates and donates time and treasure to causes such as homes for severely injured veterans, school supplies for Iraqi Children, family support organizations such as TAPS, and many others eventually lead to a formal organization called the Gary Sinise Foundation.

I urge you to read/listen to this book, Gary Sinise is truly a great man, supporter of Veterans everywhere and a great American.

Friday, November 24, 2023

A Museum, A Drive and Thanksgiving in Fountain Hills, AZ

Wednesday, November 22

We drove the Honda CR-V to the Superstitions Mountain Museum located of course near the Superstitions Mountains.

The main emphasis of the museum seemed to be the tale of the Lost Dutchman's Mine.  Note: The Dutchman himself, wasn't lost nor was he Dutch.  He was in fact German!

Martha called it a nicely curated museum, mostly about the legend of the Lost Dutchman's mine and of the many people who searched for it after his death.

The rest of the museum's offerings are outdoors, a lot of old and sometimes massive mining equipment from the area's heyday of mining for gold and such.

There's a kid's area where you can take pictures with assorted displays:

Both the Elvis Chapel and the barn that used to be located in "Apacheland" are onsite.  Both structures were part of a large movie set from the 60s-70s during the heyday of "westerns".  Lots of movies shot there before most of it burned down and the owners decided not to rebuild.

At the Elvis Chapel, the "King" was ready for pictures:

Why "Elvis Chapel"?  The chapel appeared in a movie that featured Elvis.  The only movie where he appears and doesn't sing.  Also the only movie where he sports a beard apparently.

It was closed when we were there but apparently
you can check out an outside model railroad complex.

The Superstitions Mountains from the museum's amphitheater

"Stampede" sculpture

We also drove part of the Apache Trail, going from the museum to Tortilla Flats.

Canyon Lake

Thursday, November 23

Martha went by herself to check out the Fountain Hills Thanksgiving Day Parade, a small hometown affair.  I wasn't feeling it so I stayed indoors.  She also checked out the town's "World Famous Fountain".  I will say it's a pretty large fountain of water, just not sure about the world famous bit.

In the afternoon, we went with Martha's cousin Angela, her partner Vince, Auntie Carol and her friend Loretta to the Fire Rock Country Club for Thanksgiving Dinner.  We would be joined there by Angela's friend Kendra and John, along with their two kids: Roman and Lydia.

There was a large buffet spread and wine for everyone except the kids of course, they were happy with their Shirley Temples.  We all ate too much of course.

A nightcap was enjoyed at Angela's home:

Vince preps dinner for the cats

Friday, November 24

We loaded up the VRRV and left shortly after 8AM, we crossed into New Mexico shortly after Noon and by 4PM were setting up at the Enchanted Trails RV Campground located west of Albuquerque, NM.  Not too bad of a drive, long but we are heading home.

The campground has some vintage RV trailers and cars on display:

Tonight's sunset

We're going to probably rest here tomorrow, and then head towards Raton Pass, NM on Sunday.  More to follow.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

A Few Days on The Range

 Recapping the days since the last post.

A little bit of riding the dirt/sand/rocky trails within Area B of the Barry M. Goldwater US Air Force Range:

Top Hat Mountain

Martha helped me change out the blower motor on the VRRV, no issues encountered and all seems well with the airflow now.

For a fleeting while, I thought I'd found valuable mineral bits:

Turns out, it was just quartz deposits called Druzzy.

Other than that, there was much relaxing, reading and resting by both of us.  We enjoyed the solitude and silence.

Of course, our camping in an Air Force gunnery range did provide for opportunities to watch A-10 Warthogs and F-16 Falcons shoot up targets in the "live" range across the highway from us.  Cool Stuff.

We're now in Fountain Hills, AZ.  We're visiting friends and family of Martha's and will be staying with them over the Thanksgiving holidays. 

Red Mountain
Located within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa
Indian Community

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above
Don't fence me in
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love
Don't fence me in
Let me be by myself in the evenin' breeze
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever but I ask you please
Don't fence me in
Just turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle
Underneath the western skies
On my Cayuse, let me wander over yonder
Till I see the mountains rise
I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences
And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
And I can't look at hovels and I can't stand fences
Don't fence me in

Friday, November 17, 2023

A Visit to Ajo, a Missile Launcher and a Sunset

 We woke to foggy conditions early this morning after a rainy night.

The fog would burn off by 9AM:

Martha and I drove the CR-V south to the town of Ajo for a quick tour by car, and to pick up some groceries.

The Immaculate Conception Catholic Church always draws my eye:

The arches at the Town Plaza:

Martha found an old picture of the old train depot.  Here's what it looks like today:

photo by martha

After lunch back at camp, I took Yagi, my TW200 out for a ride to the missile launcher site.  I think it's used as some kind of training aid by the USAF.  There's some kind of radar/guidance rig nearby to simulate being "painted" by enemy SAM sites perhaps.

The launcher and missiles are fake of course

Martha did some more cross-stitching while I read an eBook the rest of the afternoon.

Here's tonight's sunset.  Pretty good.

pano by Martha

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Now Boondocking in the Barry M. Goldwater AF Gunnery Range

 Wednesday, November 15

We drove over to the border town of Algodones, Mexico to see what there was to see.

Crossing over was no big deal.  Once across and away from the border zone, we were basically continually accosted by men and women trying to get us in their offers for dental or eye glass work, buy leather or metal crafts, decorative pottery, etc!

photo by Martha

photo by Martha

photo by Martha

Both Martha and I felt unsettled, not unsafe, but unsettled by this environment and elected to flee back across the border, back to our car.  Total time from parking the car, entering Mexico and returning to car?  30 minutes.

We'd basically decided, as we drove back to camp, to displace to the Gila Bend, AZ area one day early.  After all, things were getting crowded at our spot as you can see below:

I know, we're only halfway kidding as to the crowding.

So we packed up and left California once again, making it to the campsite 20 miles south of Gila Bend, AZ by 1:00 PM or so.  The weather was overcast but warm.

Thursday, November 16

An overcast day with a high of only 75°F (23.8°C) but warm enough mostly.  There were even brief periods where one could see and feel the sun through the clouds.

It was a planned "relax" day so Martha did her cross-stitching and I went for a few miles of dirt riding with Yagi, my TW200.

Our campsite

Top Hat Mountain

Hopefully, the weather forecast for tomorrow is correct and we'll have just partly cloudy skies and warmer temperatures.