Sunday, May 24, 2015

Outfitter Trip to Mystic River

Well, I have now been officially diagnosed with anal glaucoma so I decided to take a camping trip. It's a dual trip actually, couple nights backpacking and a couple nights tc camping. Anal glaucoma?? Oh that. Well it's fairly serious and something that all of us have most of the time. I believe the official definition is "the inability to see ones a$$ going to work." And yes, it's contagious.

So off we go, Bear and I for another mano e mano camping trip to Mystic River. I say Mystic because I've been sworn to secrecy by an Apache Indian Shaman who first told me about this place. Something about my head shrinking if I tell the secret location of the best trout fishing in the west.

I will say that I'll be about 90 miles by road from the nearest town, a long walk if you had to. And if it rains the road gets slicker than a greased pig. Oh yeah, and it's on the Indian Reservation. Oh heck, my head is definitely feeling smaller as we speak.

This year was very beautiful with all the rain in the mountains. Like driving thru a park.

And I am always lucky to see wildlife. They must know I'm not a hunter.

The road has degraded a lot in the last 15 years, despite the look of it, and it takes me an hour and a half to do the last 7 miles.

The first night is spent in the camper, I could pack down at night and have before, but now I have this really neat camper see, and it's a different story. But in the morning I hit the river early.

Fishing is always great.

With a bonus of catching a ton of small mouth bass.

And yes, there will be beer.

Bear himself is quite the fisher dog, letting me know where to cast.

Bear looks for a spot for me to cross.

He also loves to chase squirrels, and watches for them to come down.

While fishing I see and catch the smallest snake ever. And as I use the camera on macro for a close-up it hisses and strikes viciously. Even at Bear as he takes a sniff.

A bit later while standing in the river I hear Bear in the bushes. Thinking he's coming to me I look up in time to see him catch a black and white squirrel, by the rear end. I yell about the time Bear gets it in the mouth. And as he drops the "squirrel" he continues to get sprayed. He froths at the mouth, gags and I could swear actually tries to spit. I pull him in the river and try to wash as much off as possible. At least wash his mouth out. Man does he reek. It was all very emotional for him and took it's toll physically, causing him to pass out.

Just a short time later, out of a clear blue sky and forecast, it comes up a storm. Just like last year.

And because it rains so incredibly hard I have to bring the tent. Needless to say the tent has been tossed, smelling as it does, like "squirrel."

With no end to the rain in sight we decide to pack out. Like I say, I have this really neat camper just waiting. And yeah, Bear has his own pack. I mean, how do you think I get beer down there?

Making it back to the camper was like coming home. Shower, heater, tv, toilet, well you know, you have one too.

Not wanting to have a really bad smelling dog in the camper I have but 1 choice, bummer!

At least the drive out was another gorgeous day in the Arizona Mountains.

I keep thing of Doris Day in "Don't Eat The Daisies." Are those daisies?

This is what ManTruck looked like last year on the same trip after 35 miles of mud, sideways. I do truly believe the weight of the camper saves me in the mud. It looks good here as I've been on pavement for 10 miles throwing mud off the wheels. When I stopped on the muddy road to see a man about a dog, you couldn't even see the wheels. And the steps are useless too. I now have mud flaps...on all 4 wheels.

Mrs. Whazoo has been complaining about the cost of meat lately, so I told her I'd bring home the bacon. I mean the roast, having tons of room in the cavernous Outfitter.

As we drive along the Indian Res pavement, Bear finally has his voice back. He says "Dad, what kind of animal was that back there that I picked up?" I said "Bear, that was no squirrel, but a skunk. And a democrat I believe, because that was it's version of a stinky bail-out plan. And that other animal was a snake. A republican because they believe in keeping things on a small scale (?) and yet venomously attack all others. And while being different animals they are both politicians." After thinking about this for a minute Bear asks "So Dad, are all politicians skunks and snakes?" "No Bear, actually they aren't all skunks and snakes, some are big ol hairy spiders," as I pull over to help a member of the Independent Party across the road.

And don't worry about that ol Shaman's Curse, I don't believe in it...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

All Roads Lead To Roam Part II, Roam Sweet Roam

Honestly, I know. I have to get this off my mind though, before the heat of Phoenix burns away at the memory of a trip that transcended the alphabet, or any combination of letters
into words that could possibly describe the sights I had been seeing. I've been a hog at the trough of bandwidth and generous replies, I'm hoping you'll let me slide one more time.

I had the chance to be homeless for close to three weeks, my first time without a schedule of any kind. What a liberating feeling that took several days to set it and when it did I passed it on to my truck, which gladly ate every bit of asphalt I put in front of it and asked for more. Starting out in the Kanab Utah area I had swung east to Escalante before catching the Burr Trail to Capitol Reef. From there driving south on the Notom-Bullfrog Road. I wanted to make the ferry to Halls Crossing, on my way to meet Durango friends on yes...Cedar Mesa. The scenery was slowing me down a bit and I had to laugh. I'd stop for a picture, get in the truck and drive a short distance and repeat. I just need a periscope camera on top of the camper. Evening was coming on strong, and I liked it.

It is so very nice, how even with a pop-up we can pull in to a spot, that perfect spot, and set up camp in short order. 

Morning shadows are good for pictures like evening shadows, as I took a picture to shake the shadows from my brain after a great nights sleep in the camper.

I'm not sure why I took this picture, I think there's a joke there somewhere. About a cow crossing the road to get to the udder side? Or was it because I was desperate to take a picture of wildlife, and this was all I got? 

Spring was in full bloom here, there must have been enough rain to make the flowers jump for joy and show their colors to a passing stranger.

Well heck, getting to the entrance station to Glen Canyon and Bullfrog Marina I was told by the Ranger that the ferry was out of operation because it had been wrecked on the rocks by an inexperienced crew while on a test run. I guessed they had just gotten experience, from the school of hard rocks.

That meant driving north to hit Highway 95 along the east side of the beautiful Henry Mountains.

I didn't mind a bit, but my camera shuttered a little when it heard the news.

Skies were a little bleak when I set up camp on the Mesa. 

Breakfast was murder the following morning, and it eggstracted feelings of despair from those I was about to eat. I tried to eggsplain that I had run out of storage and would have to store my stomach.

What a breakfast it was, with a good book. And what a perfect place to read about the finding of Anasazi dwellings in southern Utah by early ranchers. That and the fact that the Anasazi built so many of their cliff dwellings on top of a much earlier people named the Basket Makers by Richard Wetherill, whose family had a ranch in the Four Corners area in the late 1800's.

A storm was coming in, making for a wonderful day to hike.

Once again I was, yes, looking for ruins. Oh good gosh, this has got to be my last trip report with ruins. Or they will have to be very special to post pictures again.

I had spotted these ruins a couple of years ago but with rain and still being alone I didn't want to hike to the bottom of the canyon to try to come up nor climb down those daunting cliffs. They were a very hardy people, those Anasazi, and fearless of heights. This picture was taken from the far side of the canyon.

I wanted to get closer, somehow look down on them. To do that I had to channel my inner Anasazi, and hang on to that rock like there was no tomorrow.

Of course a little slip, a sneeze maybe, and there would be no tomorrow. The view down.

If only I could fly. The roof on one section was still intact which made me want to see them up close even more. 

I was however, going back to some ruins I've seen before. I have found over the years that taking someone to a place, or a thing that you have done before gives you the chance to see it again like new. I hope you feel the same. And yes, it was still raining off and on as Mother Nature goofed with my picture taking. The ruins are there, just across the way under the caprock.

You have to cross the land-bridge to get there. It's a very unique place standing alone in the middle of a canyon.

Friends Roger and Joanne from Durango.

We made a quick hike back and broke camp to hike to another set of ruins. Here I set my sights on another canyon, ok the camera.

These ruins are named for an icon on these interior walls.

These rooms are behind an exterior wall, giving the feeling of being in a hallway.

Leaving the ruins and driving east down Snowflat Road was a grind. I need new leaf springs, my originals and the adjustable add-a-leafs are both shot. Something about 4wheeling the last seven years with a camper has worn them out.

It took a couple of hours to go the twelve miles to my next camp. Argh, it was maddening to rock and roll so much.

An evening view of Comb Ridge.

I didn't realize it until it came up and my friend Roger mentioned it, the Blood Moon. In my mind I heard Credence Clearwater singing, "I see a bad moon arising."

Driving Comb Wash Road the next morning I came across a picture out of the old west. 

Comb Wash is just to the west of...Comb Ridge. I thought that worked out pretty nicely.

I have seen more and more huge piles of tumbleweeds in the last few years. They are a perfect invasive species, they throw their seeds while being blown across the desert after dying. How do you kill a species that propagates after death? Kill it before it dies I reckon.

Did I just come to a fork in the road? Or was someone telling me to fork it over? I don't remember, I'm very forkgetful in my old age. I must have driven around it though, or I would have gotten a forking flat.

A problem of a different sort, the spring flock of bugs. And of course that area of the camper is hardest to get to without a ladder, meaning that when you get home it looks like you're driving a bug and not a truck camper.

Just off Comb Wash Road I found a wild steed trapped in a corral.

I couldn't use a Lariat on a GMC, it wouldn't be strong enough to hold the animal, so I pulled out my ol riata.

Finally, I got him to the pole...

only to find it was I that was roped, by my truck/camper And aren't we all?

From Cedar Mesa I had planned to go back to Capitol Reef for more hiking. Mrs. Whazoo left me a message though, that we were to close escrow on our house early. Like my tires on a sandy road, I was a little deflated as I aired up and drove towards home. Getting to Phoenix we were then told by the mortgage broker that no, the underwriters needed more info on obscure and irrelevant circumstances. Like the sale of our home in Oregon twenty-five years ago. We had to actually write a letter about that sale, among other petty things like where my weekly allowance came from. It was obvious, it came from Mrs. Whazoo.

Once again I cleaned the tc, re-loaded and left to roam. This time going southeast to Mt. Graham in Arizona. 

I had never been up Mt. Graham, though seeing it many times as it points straight up off the desert floor as a "sky island." 

Driving up was a slow wind. It took twenty miles of road to do ten miles as the crow flies. If curves make you sick, don't go, and it was ridiculously narrow and raining. How do you spell "slow?" 

Finally leveling off a bit at the top of the mountain I turned to follow a mysterious sign.

The road was a bit spooky in the drizzle and I had the feeling something was in the trees, waiting for me.

Surely I was on the wrong roam. But something else in the trees caught my was the Gobbler King being attended to by his Council of Small Feathers.

And what a magnificent creature he was, dressed up for Easter the next day with his ostentatious display. Was it Easter, or Thanksgiving? I had expected a rabbit, colored eggs and peeps.

While looking for a place to camp I had to ask myself, can turkeys read?

I stopped and got out of the truck to talk to the King. It was something special I have to say. I would make my best turkey gobble gobble noise, and he would stick out his head on his long blue neck to reply. I don't know what we talked about though, it was gobbledeegook to me.

The whole evening was like being in a Lord of the Rings movie. Orcs in the woods and the Gobbler King with his council all around me. The mist settled in to complete the fantasy. I was the only hobbit around.

And as I lay there trying to go to sleep in the dark, the King kept barking very loudly at regular intervals. Were they orders to his flock as they settled in the trees to roost, or just a constant checking to make sure all were safe? I didn't know, never having slept with a bunch of turkeys before. But it became quite the disturbance in the quiet of the night and it didn't seem to be letting up. I did, I swear, yell very loudly, TURKEY BURGERS. And everything went quiet. True story...

In the morning he was there, the King, to let me know I was no longer welcome after my outburst. 

So I gobbled my breakfast and said farewell to the Gobbler King.

This picture shows the pitch of the mountain all the way to the top.

And my first try at HDR. I can't say I like it, my first try.

I was driving the WHAZN8R south to another mountain range, the Chiricahuas. I must have dozed at the wheel, what the? We're not in Arizona anymore Toto.

I stopped alongside the road to thistle, it was a long thistle. And I thistled because that was last years grass as far as I could see. There had been no moisture this year, not even enough to prompt a few new grasses to come up. It will be another bad year for fires.

Rounding a corner on a side dirt road I almost ran him over, he blended so well with the dirt. 

He was a beauty with all new colors. An early spring had brought him out and he'd already shed his old skin giving his scales a new polished look.

I used a stick to get him to move off the warm dirt road he had been laying on. As I got in my truck to leave two guys on dirt bikes came roaring around that corner and would have run over Mr. Black-tailed Rattlesnake and possibly wrapped him up in their tires. I felt good about stopping. He never did strike at me and barely rattled before moving, he must have known I was a friend.

Driving up into the Chiricahuas it was depressing. The whole range of mountains had trees standing like burnt matchsticks. Talking with a Ranger I was told a campfire two years earlier had done the deed. I tried to take most of my pictures without showing them. 

The East has Hilton Head, the West has Cochise Head. This rock formation has a striking resemblance to the Apache warrior Cochise. Rocks with faces, I was in Heaven.

I started my hike the next morning the way I'll be living, again, wearing short pants. I had bought all the long johns that Walmart in Durango had in stock, I'll have to donate them now. This hike is called The Big Loop and is about nine and a half miles through a circus of rocks. I was dizzy at the thought and hoped that I would fair well.

I started with a tribute to Abraham Lincoln. And yes, the tear was already there, compliments of nature.

Then went on to the balancing act.

Followed by the Old Maid. Hey, I'm not making this up. Well maybe Mr. Lincoln. But these rocks have been named by someone else, can you believe it?

Then the Camel show. 

Somewhere back in time, about fifteen years or so, we were here with the family having lunch at this same rock. Always wanting to make my girls laugh I was doing my best impersonation of a camel. The sound was horrific but the girls laughed. Mere seconds later a human face peered around a rock, afraid to come out. Another family of hikers heard my dying camel sound and thought there was a real animal and were scared. I've never made camel noises since.

Now I'm pretty good at reading lizard body language, but I had no idea she was going to blow a bubble that big.

Next up, Punch and Judy. No, I'm not making this up. Isn't it fantastic?!

This rock was called Thor's Hammer, yet my eyes saw a baby's arm holding an apple.

There were rocks kissing...

And a rock eating a duck, sort of. Oh it was a fun hike don't you know. By the way, the duck, is real. A real rock I mean, in case you were wondering.

As I walked by, everyone was standing, expressionless. What? You thought I was going to say "stone-faced" didn't you.

Cochise from a distance.

My hike through the Wonderland Of Rocks was over. It was nice to see someone else putting a name to some rocks. I still had some time in the day left to run the truck over to New Mexico to eventually wrap around through the White Mountains of Arizona on my way back to Phoenix. Evening was creeping up softly as I drove into this beautiful magical valley in New Mexico. The few people I passed waved as if I belonged there. 

Somewhere in my head a song played, "Roam, roam on the range..."

If I were a cowboy, how would I rope a headless cow? These were the first I had ever seen. No wonder the grass was so tall, they can't eat.

No smoking please, or playing with matches.

The rain was a tease. I could tell it evaporated before hitting the ground, like so many of my thoughts evaporate before I know it. 

Sunset over the Gila Mountains.

Ok, so I was basically through with any pretense of cooking or heating. Dinner was cold and just fine by me. Good food is so over-rated, at least I had my mega-stuffed golden Oreos. Buzz, I'm throwing in the towell, you win man.

Driving through the White Mountains I saw this sign and wished Mrs. Whazoo was there. It's been many years since we last went snipe hunting.

Oh good gosh, I hope this doesn't back up traffic. Whazoo crossing the next five miles?

What a beautiful sight to finish off what had been a special trip for me with so many incredible things seen, now in my memory and in my camera.

Thanks so so much for reading. I'll take a break for a while and give you one too. Who knows, maybe we'll see you on the roam.

Moving back to Phoenix isn't all that bad, our grand baby girls are super.