Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015 - A Look Back: Part II -- Dec 23, 2015

Hi again!

I bet at least some of you are scurrying around doing last minute Christmas shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking....but if you're ready for a 10 minute break,  please join me in looking back at these travel photos of my journey through the second half of 2015.

We ended the first half of the year at the Zuni Reservation in New Mexico which was highlighted in the previous post.  The reservation was a side trip while we were at El Malpais for our free, two week stay.  The El Malpais campground was nice, but it didn't offer any particular views of interest..... however, down the road, it was rather scenic....

This is a nearby, huge, natural arch that  was pretty cool ...

There was also this nearby overlook area called the Sandstone Bluffs...

Upon leaving the El Malpais area, Nikko and I made our way to northern New Mexico, near the Colorado border.  I knew there was "free camping" at a spot called Angel Peak, but I sure wasn't expecting this spectacular setting!  This was one of my favorite stops!  We stayed the full [free] two weeks and would have stayed longer if it had been allowed.  Angel Peak was like a smaller version of the Grand Canyon.  I can say, I almost liked it better than the Grand Canyon.  Our campsite was directly in line with, and at the same elevation as, the actual peak....we were just steps from the edge of the canyon.


And....we caught a lucky rainbow!

We left Angel Peak and headed across the border into Colorado.  Drastically different terrain, of and trees!  I wanted to explore a lot of Colorado, but there was no getting around the mountainous areas from our starting point.  This old RV doesn't take mountains so well.  So, we ended up in the beautiful San Juan National Forest in southern Colorado, near Mancos.  I nabbed the ideal, secluded campsite for another free, two week stay!  And we had the whole area to ourselves. We did a lot of great hiking here.


Since we couldn't explore Colorado too much, I decided to go back into the higher elevations of Arizona.  Through my research, I came upon Aker Lake in the Apache National Forest several miles south of the far east end of Hwy 260 which runs along the Mogollon Rim.  I said Angel Peak was a favorite stop, but so was Aker Lake!  Totally secluded and, again, we had the whole area to ourselves aside from a few local fishermen that came by here and there.  No internet or cell service, but this was an ideal spot!

One of my favorite wildlife captures of the year....the resident heron!

We're now into the second week of July and headed north back to Hwy 260 along the Mogollon Rim which runs about 200 miles east-west in northern Arizona.  On the way, we encountered THE best wildlife capture of the year.  A huge elk herd crossing right in front of us!  Really glad my windshield was pretty clean!

We landed in another part of the Apache National Forest and were lucky, again, to encounter a 
beautiful double rainbow...

We found a nice, quiet forest spot and settled in.
But....this is where our luck changed.  It's the monsoon season!
Rain, rain, rain....mud, mud, mud.  So much we packed up and left after about a week.
Too bad because it was a great area!

There are tons of camping areas along the Rim, but rain was in the forecast day in and day out.  So, we ended up in Payson, AZ for about 7 weeks camping out in the driveway of a friend's vacant house. That was cool, tho', as we could run electricity into the RV.  A SUPER luxury of civilization!  And it was within easy walking distance to many shops and the large grocery.  During our stay in Payson, I focused on my zen art kachinas and cooking/baking in the Go Sun solar oven!

From Payson, we headed down to Scottsdale to help out this same friend with moving his parents into his place.  This took about three weeks.   

The red moon solar eclipse from the city view....

Upon exiting Scottsdale, it was still too hot down in Yuma to go to our winter spot, so we drove a bit northwest to the BLM land in Wickenburg, AZ.  This is a really nice area and we had a great camp spot.  The only negative was when I got the RV stuck in deep sand and had to have a big rig tow truck from Phoenix pull us out!  Stuff happens!  Lots of good hiking and pretty views here!


We stayed two weeks in Wickenburg then FINALLY, as the weather was getting a little cooler, we headed south to make a full circle, to our current spot...where we started back in March.....the Imperial Dam BLM area 25 miles north of Yuma, AZ.  It's October 25th already!

So, we're back at the same spot we had last year....overlooking the Senator Wash Reservoir.  Perfect!

We had a nice Thanksgiving potluck with a lot of people we met here last year and I've been enjoying golf most every day, solar cooking, hiking, a couple of trips into Mexico and creating more zen art pieces.
Courtesy of my golfing buddy, Daniel...

There will be a full moon on Christmas!  
Hoping to get some good shots like this one taken at Thanksgiving...

So, that wraps up our RV adventure review for 2015.....  
it was fun and we are looking forward to more adventures in 2016!  
Thank  you for joining us!
Stay tuned!  

From Nikko and I, everyone have a very Merry Christmas
and a very Happy, and safe, New Year!
We will see you on the flip side!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2015 - A Look Back: Part 1 -- Dec 16, 2015

Hi everyone!  Happy Holidays!

Well, it's that time of year when a lot of us recall what the past 12 months had in store for us.  Some events were planned....others, well, not so much!  So, I thought I would take this opportunity to share the first half of 2015 with you in [mostly] photographs of my travels.  Some of you may recall a few of these stop overs, but others may have just joined me and haven't gone back into the blog archives. I've condensed the entire year into about 60 photographs....too many for one sitting -- unless you have a lot of popcorn!  I'll divide it into two posts. Of course, you can go into the blog archives to see more photos and the accompanying narrative about each spot!

Let's travel back in time!

2015 began where it has Senator Wash Reservoir, 25 miles north of Yuma, AZ.  We were graced with this beautiful hot air balloon - one of my favorite surprises to start off 2015!

Before leaving Senator Wash for the season, I took a couple of side trips -- all less than one hour away. One excursion was to Castle Dome City, a very authentically restored mining town, just north of Senator Wash.

There's the Castle Dome rock formation in the background....

On another side trip, I stayed a few days in Palm Canyon that is within KOFA - the area's wildlife preserve....timed it for the full moon!  This was a quiet [free] desert spot to enjoy nature.  I was the only one out there!

I moved out of Senator Wash on March 27th and made my way northeast a bit to Tonapah, AZ to Saddle Mountain - another free camping area...and again, uninhabited.  One morning, out of nowhere, appeared a beautiful hot air balloon!

Saddle Mountain is where my refrigerator went on the blink, but I met up with two nice fellows in town that repaired it for free!  :-)  Because of that mishap, I only stayed at Saddle Mountain for about two days....the plan was for two weeks!  Gotta be flexible in this lifestyle!  A lot of plants were blooming at this time.  So nice to see in the desert!

The journey from Saddle Mountain took me north to the Prescott National Forest...more free camping!  It was quite a change from the desert...greenery and pine trees.  This was a nice spot for a week!  The walk from my site took me up to this wonderful overlook which was directly west for some great sunsets!

From Prescott National Forest to just outside Camp Verde, AZ....more free land!  The views were great here, too.  This was a two-week stay!

The great find here were the mysterious hoodoos.  
There was a very large area of these strange rock formations.  Really interesting!

By April 20th, I've moved from Camp Verde to Sacred Mountain in the Coconino National Forest...another two week stay!  This area is very rich in Native American culture!  They inhabited the top of Sacred Mountain.  A few ruins remain, if you look real hard...

 A view from the top....spectacular!  Once again, I had the entire area to myself! 

Within walking distance was Beaver Creek....a wonderful, tranquil spot.  Nice to see a water area!

Also within walking distance of my camp spot was an area with hundreds of preserved petroglyphs.  Sooooooo cool!

I hated to leave this spot after two weeks, but it was time to move on.  The idea was to keep moving to cool's now the first week of May and I find myself in Walnut Canyon near Flagstaff, AZ. And cool it was!  This was May 9th ---- I wasn't expecting snow!  But it was fun.  It melted quickly and warmed up.  This was the night my INDOOR thermometer registered 39*!  A little too cool! LOL!  This was a free spot, too, with no other campers!  :-)

I wasn't complaining, tho, when the snow gave way to this beautiful view the next morning!

There were lots of days in Walnut Canyon with wonderful photo opportunities!

Mid May:  I stood on the corner in Winslow, AZ, then made my way out to the town lake -- McHood Lake.  This was another really great free spot!  Can't get closer to the water than this!
I stayed here for the full, allowable, two weeks!

Across the road from the lake are areas of big red rocks....old Native American settlements...

I was lucky to find these Native American "scrapers"...

At the end of May, I finally drive across the Arizona border into New Mexico.
First stop:  El Morro National Monument.  They have a free campground there!
This area is of great historical significance.  

I hiked to the top to see these well preserved  Native American ruins....
It amazes me that they built these communities so high up on these rock plateaus.

The sunset view from my campsite....

One day I took a side trip over to the Zuni Reservation.  There are a lot of street vendors's a very poor environment.  I saw, and purchased, some very pretty handmade jewelry.  I opted for an inexpensive private tour so I would know where I could take photographs.  Most of the "old town" is sacred and photos are not allowed.  This is the Zuni Mission.  I went inside (no photos allowed).  It was really a neat place with beautiful hand painted murals.

The Zunis still use these clay beehive ovens daily to make their own breads, and bread to sell.

Interestingly, I was told by the guide that the most severe crime there was "alcoholism".  Not what alcoholism causes, but alcoholism itself.  I really liked this one allowable photo tells its own story....

Last but not least, all my travels would not have been complete 
without my trusty companion, Nikko, a Belgian Malinois.
I rescued Nikko on January 23rd and he has been the best RV and guard dog ever!  

That wraps it up for this segment of "looking back".  I hope you have enjoyed the memories as much as I have!  So much to see here in the USA!  I will finish up the Year in Pictures in my next post!

I can see by the Amazon orders, via my blog links, that many of you are doing holiday shopping! I noticed one reader (I never know who buys what) purchased an Instant Pot Pressure Cooker.  Good for you! I love mine!  Best pressure cooker out there!  There's still plenty of time for ordering, especially if you are a Prime member!  But, if you do find yourself running out of time - or you just simply don't know what someone would like, Amazon Gift Cards to the rescue! Everyone loves them!  They even have "Instant Delivery" gift cards!

I truly appreciate your orders via my blog link(s).  Thank you for supporting my efforts to bring travel into your homes --- wherever they may be!  But, let us not forget the true meaning of the's certainly not all about shopping!

Stay tuned for"2015 - A Look Back: Part 2!