Sizzling in The Southwest

I am totally aware of the fact that I have handed out a hundred cards to new readers and have not updated you on our happenings since we left the Expo, nearly 3 months ago.  So I’ll give you a rundown, in sections ’cause, well, you know I can’t commit to writing the events of the last 3 months in one post!

Arizona – 18 days

When we left Expo, we went straight to a Motel 6 where we did a thorough cleaning of everything; bodies, clothes, rugs, bedding, shoes, rags, and towels.  It felt so good to lay on the bed in the A/C, clean and watch TV/surf the web.  Feeling refreshed and reenergized we found ourselves a cheap campground in Flagstaff (Woody Mountain Campground) and booked 3 nights.  That evening after setting up we drove out to Sedona to watch the sunset.  We googled the best spots and decided on Schneably Rd for it’s 4WD challenge, it sure lived up to its reputation!  It was so awesome to drive up that mountain, over those huge rocks and wide gaps and know, with confidence, that Gwen could make it without any problems.  (Taking the advanced driving courses at the Expo was well worth the price of admission alone!)  The road was so fun to drive and the views were spectacular.  We parked and hiked up to the overlook, I don’t know which vortex we were looking upon, but it was amazing.  We climbed around the rocks and took a bunch of pictures while the sun set then we headed back down the road (it took almost an hour to go 7 miles) stopping for photo opps as the sun and the moon created different lighting on the canyons every 5 minutes (so it actually took 2 hours to go 7 miles LOL).

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Finding our line

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Vortex

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Dusk

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Evening

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Nighttime

The next day we hung out and reorganized the truck, getting a pile of stuff together for Goodwill.  I made a kick-ass pasta sauce (thanks to Living Overland for their demo at Expo!) from some tricolor cherry tomatoes and a jar of artichoke hearts I’ve had kicking around in my pantry for about a year, glad to have finally found a great recipe to use them in!  We researched RTTs and caught up with our families.

My first go at thinning the gear

My first go at thinning the gear

The next day we went back into Sedona to take check out the sunset at Airport Mesa.  We were spoiled from all the privacy and incredible view from the last time that we climbed down before the sun set and strolled around town.  We stopped by a happy hour for some fish tacos and margaritas then went back to camp, full and happy.

On our way out of Flagstaff we stopped at a few local shops to talk about our power system and ended up buying a new starter battery.  Then we headed North to Kaibab to set up camp for the next 2 nights (Kaibab Campground).  Tom removed the 20 amp hour battery we were running the inverter off of, installed the new starter battery in it’s place (under the hood), hooked the inverter up to the Blue Top that we were running the truck off of, and hooked the truck up to the starter battery.  Once that was done we drove out to watch the sunset at the Grand Canyon.  I was less than impressed with the Grand Canyon, I didn’t think it held a candle to Sedona.

The next day we drove up to Zion.  We hiked up to the Upper Emerald Pool, which was totally awesome!  By the time we got back down and back on the Tram, we stopped at the trailhead for the Narrows but after our 6 hour hike and with the sun setting, we decided to head back to the truck.  The full moon was so breathtaking out there in the mountains, I tried for the perfect photo oop and ended up with nothing 😦  However, sleeping the entire night with the battery running the electric blanket made up for any sadness I had – good job, Tom!  (Yes, we now know an electric blanket is a huge power draw and that was our main problem – but the new battery system is much more efficient for our needs even now that we’ve shed the blanket.)

WATER!!!

WATER!!!

Upper Emerald Pool

Upper Emerald Pool

So pretty... LOVED Zion!

So pretty… LOVED Zion!

Too late to go up to the Narrows - next time!!

Too late to go up to the Narrows – next time!!

Just couldn't get that shot!

Just couldn’t get that shot!

We still hadn’t touched base with Paul May so we decided to head back to Flagstaff for a couple more days.  It felt good to come back to a place we were so familiar with, the camp was nice and we could find anything we needed in town.  I made some fish tacos and we juiced each morning (yes, we have a masticating juicer with us!).

We got ahold of Paul and made an appointment with him 2 days out so we decided to head closer to Prescott.  We camped at Dead Horse Ranch in Cottonwood, it was the first time we’d opened the Eureka since Expo (we’d been using the Coleman ever since) – holy dust!  We had to get rid of the 16 cu. ft. Thule in order to get the RTT so we spent some time rearranging and trying to make everything fit (leaving another pile of stuff for Goodwill).  On Memorial Day we drove into Phoenix to visit Tom’s friend from high school.  It’s amazing how that morning we were sleeping with an electric blanket and ended the day in temps near 100°, the desert is a crazy place!  We had a great time with our hosts, it felt good to have some friendly faces to spend the holiday with.

I'm really going to miss this tent

I’m really going to miss this tent

Another pile for Goodwill - a whole bin full, AND the bin even!

Another pile for Goodwill – a whole bin full, AND the bin even!

We visited the cute little town of Jerome and the AZ Botanical Gardens.  Then we finally went into Prescott to get our RTT (Eezi-Awn Xklusiv 1600) installed.  Paul May dropped us off downtown and worked on the installation for 5 hours then came back and picked us up.  Great guy, great company, we highly recommend them!!  We spent one last night in the Eureka then packed to up and shipped it off for storage at Tom’s parents’ (along with the tarp, awning poles, rugs, and air mattresses!).  We went back to camp and set up our new tent for the first time.  Of course we had an audience, we never took that into consideration when buying it but we haven’t gone a day without at least one person coming over to talk about the tent.  Being brand new, we put up the walls and all – being 1 of 2 times we’ve done it so far, HA!  (I won’t go into the specifics of the RTT, I am planning a full post on that soon!)  Now that we had all our gear figured out, we got an alignment and our tires rotated.

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Jerome, AZ

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Ride’em Cowboy!

Our new home!

Our new home!

The Eureka, air mattresses, poles, and rugs being shipped for storage - someday when we stop, this will be our house :P

The Eureka, air mattresses, poles, and rugs being shipped for storage – someday when we stop, this will be our house 😛

On our way out, we drove through the Seguaro National Forest but I was more impressed with the Seguaros on the side of the highway going into Phoenix and luckily Tom is the most patient and supportive guy in the world so I was able to get some really great shots (considering where we were!).  Tom also found us a campground with a pool – A POOL!!!!  (Adventure Bound Campground, Tucson) I’m from the Ocean State, I knew there were people who lived without the ocean, but I never really understood the whole dry desert thing until I now.  It’d been 22 days in the desert, we’ve watched the temps go from low 80’s in Flasgstaff to 113° in Tucson, so when Tom said this place had a pool, I nearly choked him out with a hug!  Being our second go at the RTT we timed ourselves, after the 6 minutes it took, we made ourselves rum drinks and we were off to the pool, the most wonderfulest site my eyes had seen for weeks!  I floated in that cool water for an hour, the sun had set and the moon was high in the sky, when I finally had enough I jumped in the hot tub, then back in the pool 🙂  Water… oh, how I love water!  I slept like a baby that night!

Much better shots from the highway than in the NP

Much better shots from the highway than in the NP

YAY!!

YAY!!

Pool, AND palms!

Pool, AND palms!

UGH!

UGH!

Nature's Fisheye

Nature’s Fisheye

The next day we hung out in Tombstone for a bit before asking a bartender where we could boondock – now that we had our power system all squared up and the RTT, we were ready to get away from the campgrounds.  He pointed us to the Coranado National Forrest; go 12 miles down a dirt road, take a right (Middle March Rd), camp.  We took the right and ended up taking another right up a 70°, rocky-as-hell, incline.  Once we reached the summit, we could see for miles as the sun was starting to make its decent into the hills.  I jumped out of the truck and at once recognized the rocks all around us to be petrified wood.  Now, I wasn’t too impressed with the petrified forest but when I saw all that ‘wild’ petrified wood, I was super psyched!  This place was awesome, and we would have never been able to camp there with a ground tent, it was one of those moments like when you move and the time comes when you feel at home in the new place; I felt bonded with my new tent.  This was our first official boondock, completely self-sufficient, it was awesome.  The peacefulness, the view, the complete isolation from the world – of course, now I would get the need to do my daily doo!  :/  After taking a million pictures of the sun setting, I figured I had to pop my woods-pooping cherry someday, so it might as well’ve been then.  (It seems to be the most-asked question, “how do you go to the bathroom on the road?”, so you’re welcome for answering such a personal question! :P)  In the morning we took our time having breakfast and packing up, enjoying the seclusion from everything 😉  Once we hit the road it was serious drive time, out of AZ!

Gotta love boondocking!

Gotta love boondocking!

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New Mexico (Round 2) – 2 days

We made it to City of Rocks in Bayard, NM where we camped in a nice private spot with tons of rocks around us.  We hung out for the day catching some rays,and catching up on journaling and personal care.  We left early in the morning and drove out to Carlsbad to see the caverns, I was totally psyched… until we reached the entrance to the cave… The birds, and poop, and the cold, damp air… I didn’t even want to go in!  But we did, we walked the entire thing; sure, it was beautiful, but now I know it’s not my cup of tea.  Caves; check!  I was happy to get out of there and to our camp (Carlsbad RV Park) even if it was an RV park and the site sucked, they had a pool and the best shower I’ve had yet!  I was feeling so good I decided to go through my clothes for the first time, something I knew needed to be done but was dragging my feet to get rid of more stuff after the piles in AZ.  I was able to shed a nice pile, after all it was officially summer so I didn’t need most of the heavier stuff I brought to get through the spring.  After that I needed a drink to get back to my previous euphoric state so we headed out for some, I also needed to forget that we were looking at another long day in the car tomorrow.

Carlsbad Cavern, loving it

Carlsbad Cavern, loving it

It waaaas pretty, I guess

It waaaas pretty, I guess

My 1st clothing cleanse - HARD!!!

My 1st clothing cleanse – HARD!!!

Stay tuned for the next post:
The South/Gulf Coast: Things start getting fun!

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