Archive for April, 2015

Within 100 miles of Phoenix!

After the tranny got put into BigBlue I traveled around to various places within a 100 mile radius of my brother’s house to take her for a test drive.

First I headed to Surprise, AZ since I got a late start heading out from Phoenix. I met Robert Harmon in the camp area, in his VW with his kitty Bugger (her wee pink nose has a “bugger” looking black mark right at the tip of it!) and he took me to the Rangers Spring Training field and we shagged homerun balls. Prince Fielder was hitting them out one after another. While I nearly broke my ankle chasing after one, Robert was able to wrangle one out of a cactus plant and gave it to me for my valient efforts on the first one! I learned alot from that part-time van dweller and full-time Rockies fan!

robert-cat-deb

Robert, Bugger and me in Surprise, AZ at the Texas Rangers practice field’s parking lot. Got me a Prince Fielder home run practice ball! (Notice Bugger’s butterfly forehead?! Cutie)

Next, I headed up to Wickenburg and Congress where I met Bob, a retired Air Force fellow. I was buying some gas and went in to use the restroom. On my way out there was this guy buying a heated pizza from the convenience store. I warned him he should be careful lest he get mugged. We ended up having pizza together in the parking lot outside of my van. What a story each person has. A very friendly sort, but one who has endured much hardship, and still sweet after it all.

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BigBlue near Congress, AZ posing with a green-toad-rock out in the middle of nowhere on one of my favorite highways, 89.

After that I moseyed on over to Camp Verde through Prescott National Forest for the night (that city has the world’s largest Kokopelli…right next to Starbucks and Taco Bell!). I then headed up to up to that town that has the only Green Arched McDonalds in all the world via the Red Rock Scenic Drive…that’s right…Sedona!!

I know! Talking about one of the most gorgeous places in Arizona...Sedona...and I post a picture of a McDonalds! But truthfully, a green-arched-mcdonalds is more rare than beautiful scenery in Arizona!

I know! Talking about one of the most gorgeous places in Arizona…Sedona…and I post a picture of a McDonalds! But truthfully, a green-arched-mcdonalds is more rare than beautiful scenery in Arizona!

The drive was oh so very scenic with all the beautiful rock formations. The drive ended right at Chapel of the Holy Cross nestled right in the middle of the heights of the Red Rocks….beautiful view from the cathedral. Upon the Rock!

BigBlue down below the incredibly positioned Chapel of the Holy Cross, the view from which is breathtaking as it overlooks the Red Rocks of Sedona!

BigBlue down below the incredibly positioned Chapel of the Holy Cross, the view from which is breathtaking as it overlooks the Red Rocks of Sedona!

I then headed up to Tuzigoot National Monument is a 110 room, 2- to 3-story pueblo built somewhere between 1100-1400ad. A lot of reconstruction has occurred, but it gives a very good idea of what it was like as well as the view from that limestone and standstone mountain ridge between Clarksdale and Jerome.

BigBlue looking up to the hill where the millennium-old 110-room, 3-story pueblo of Tuzigoot National Monument is positioned

BigBlue looking up to the hill where the millennium-old 110-room, 3-story pueblo of Tuzigoot National Monument is positioned

Though nothing “national” is up in Jerome (well, it is considered a national Historic Landmark!), it seemed like a good idea to give my rebuilt tranny a test by heading up the steep incline to get to the mile-high artsy town of Jerome that overlooks the Verde Valley.

BigBlue testing her transmission out by driving up to the National Historic Landmark (for its mine) of artsy Jerome that has an old mining shaft that is twice as deep as the Eiffel Tower is tall and 3 times as tall as the Gateway Arch

BigBlue testing her transmission out by driving up to the National Historic Landmark (for its mine) of artsy Jerome that has an old mining shaft that is twice as deep as the Eiffel Tower is tall and 3 times as tall as the Gateway Arch

Where in Arizona can you stand on a glass platform and peer into an abyss hundreds of feet deep with water flowing through the bottom? Yes, the Grand Canyon Skywalk ($75) but also at the Audrey Headframe Park (free). I was able to stand over the 1900′ Audrey Shaft used for miniing in the early 1900’s. The mine was named for the adopted daughter of the mine’s superintendent.

BigBlue with the "largest kokopelli in the USA" at sunset in Camp Verde

BigBlue with the “largest kokopelli in the world” at sunset in Camp Verde

After descending down the winding narrow roads, I stayed in Cottonwood learning the ropes from the “homeless” van dwellers. They took me out to dine at the Old Town Mission and showed me where the Catholic Charities help with doing laundry and other needs. Stan and Charlie were a delight to hang with a couple of days. We both ended up needing the services of Lee at Metric Tech who lifted my van and showed me how to work on the outer tie rods of my van as my wheels were wobbling horribly.

charlie-and-stan

Charlie (the owner of the decked out silver van) and Stan (owner of the tiny house on the back of his pickup), two very friendly men who invited me to dine with them at the Old Town Mission, while Charlie’s van got the incredibly generous mechanic, Lee’s, attention after an axle broke.

charlies-van

Charlie’s van had the driver front support snap totally apart on him. He was having a hard time coping with what this could mean for him as far as home-wise as he doesn’t have much money. Lee to the rescue. Great guys! (ps, I went back to Cottonwood about 2 weeks later, and he was up and running!)

stans-truck-house

This was very captivating. I took this pic while leaving Walmart’s parking lot not knowing that later that day I would meet the owner, Stan, at the library. He gave me a tour…niiiiiicccee!! He’s been in it for 3 years hanging out in this part of Arizona. Quite a community of folks trying to make ends meet by living in a vehicle down here.

I was then able to visit Montezuma Castle National monument and well in Camp Verde. The prehistoric high rise five-story, 29-room apartment complex was built about 90′ above the Beaver Creek in the face of a limestone cliff between 1100 and 1425 AD. However, the Aztec emperor had nothing to do with this Sinaquan dwelling as this Pueblo was abandoned more than 40 years before Montezuma was even born.

montezuma-castle

Visitors are unable to sojourn up there and look around, but what a great and brilliant feat this pueblo is, so strategically tucked away in the cleft of the rock above the often-flooding Beaver Creek. But no one seems to know for sure why these well-preserved pueblos were abandoned around the 1400s.

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A diorama of what the interior of the 5-story “castle” home looked like. (Montezuma Castle National Monument in Camp Verde, AZ)

Bye bye Red Rocks nation and hello White Mountains! Next came great BLM camping in the wooded Tonto National Forest by the banks of East Verde River. Lots of good free camping on the edge of the Colorado Plateu south of 40 and east of 17. And also had a good church service at Expedition Church in Payson, AZ.

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BigBlue here at Flowing Springs near the East Verde River in the Tonto National Forest. Just 3 miles down a dirt road and no one was around (except 3 fishermen came to check it out. They said the river would be getting stocked the following week, so they were scoping the scene as to where they were going to set up camp!)

big-blue-looking-out-to-river

A view from my bedroom out through the living room and dining room into the hills of Tonto National Forest. (Ahavati looks wiped out 🙂

Overview of Flowing Springs campsite

A view from above as to where I was camping at Flowing Springs at the banks of the East Verde River in Tonto National Forest.

Then on to another well-preserved Saladoan cliff dwellings from the 13th to 15th centuries. Visitors aren’t able to go up to Montezuma Castle but can only see it from a distance, but we were able to hike up to Tonto National Monument dwellings and admire the engineering behind it all. “The Salado were fine craftspeople, producing some of the most flamboyant polychrome pottery and intricately woven textiles to be found in the Southwest.”

Tonto National Monument

The lower Tonto National Ruins were available for tourists to visit after a wee hike up the hill. Here is a partial view of it from under the cleft of the rock.

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A hedgehog cactus blooming as I look out from the Tonto National Monument ruins towards Lake Roosevelt (created by the Salt River)

And talk about a view…they saw the Salt River but since the days of Theodore Roosevelt, we get to see the 10-mile lake named after him created by a dam he dedicated in March 1911.

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The lower southern end of the Tonto National Forest…getting closer into the Sonoran desert trees and away from the Colorado Plateau trees. BigBlue pictured by the gloriously golden-carpeted foothills!

Though I was tempted to take the Apache Trail road from Lake Roosevelt out to Apache Pass, my wheels were still vibrating so I thought it best to avoid such a long trek of dirt, windy, steep roads…but I hope to make that journey sometime in the future!

roosevelt-bridge-reflection

Roosevelt Lake bridge as viewed from the dam (looking eastward). Gorgeous reflection!

After Tonto National Monument I headed to Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, pueblos of the Hohokam people a millennium ago. The unique thing about this pueblo/town center from the previous three (Tuzigoot, Montezuma, Tonto) is that this was not up in the cliffs or on high country, but this was in the midst of a flat plain who seemed to have mastered the art of irrigation farming using the Gila River. And the structure still stands today despite it being over 1,000 years old!

casa-grande

Some of the Casa Grande ruins of a gathering place of the ancient Sonoran desert people of 1000-1400s but named by an Italian Padre, Eusebio Francisco Kino, in 1694. It is thought that it was more of a community center rather than someone’s Great House. The steel canopy was put over it in 1932.

I then returned to Phoenix via the Sonoran Desert National Monument to get the vibrating of my front wheels figured out while reclining at Ken’s house again! Litchfield Auto Repair was fantastic. Turns out I had a bubble in my driver front tire, and my inner tie rods needed replacing as well. They were so professional, thoroughly communicating and diagnosing things, and very friendly and understanding to boot. I worked all day in their clean waiting room and they even bought me lunch. I wish I could take all my auto needs their!

great-horned-owl

a great horned owl making his home in the metal canopy that covers the prehistoric casa grande remains. His wife is nesting inside the house away from my camera’s eye!

butterfly-eyes

A companion at the East Verde River. I was attempting to get a good shot of his eyes…but his wings are just too beautiful to ignore!

Hopefully in the next post I will finish out my Arizona travels and get us to at least the Californian border!

Books of the Bible Crossword Puzzle

Here is a crossword puzzle I’ve done up during the Lenten season. It has been described as “crazy hard!’ And I suspect it is, if you’re not the one picking the verses you want from each book to emphasize the character of Christ!

 

Crossword puzzle highlighting the characteristics of Christ in each of the 66 books of the Bible

Crossword puzzle highlighting the characteristics of Christ in each of the 66 books of the Bible

Books of the Bible Crossword Puzzle