Monday, July 10, 2017

Lake Mary Rd and Willard Springs, near Flagstaff

Lake Mary Road

After leaving Bluewater Lake State Park in New Mexico, Katie and I traveled to the Coconino National Forest south of Flagstaff, AZ to meet up with Mike for week.  He was camping with Chris, who I met in Sedona, and so it was nice to see them both.

They told me there are a lot of antelope and elk that pass by every day, but they are both early risers, and by the time Katie and I are up and outside, the wildlife are long gone.  But one evening, I did notice movement in front of The Palms over by the treeline and grabbed my camera.  I saw three Pronghorn Antelope Elk grazing.  It was dusk, so these are kind of dark, but so far they are the only photos I have of these animals.  These are the best, clearest ones.  I couldn't get a good shot of all three, one was always behind a bush!  NOTE:  After posting this, I received some comments saying these are not Antelope, but Elk.  Thanks to you all - I had info on Pronghorn Antelope on this post, but deleted it, since it's no longer relevant.  I don't know why, but it's even cooler to have seen Elk.  😊



Aren't they beautiful?

Our campsite in the Coconino Forest.


It looks like I'm alone, but you can see Chris' motor home next to me and Mike's van a little further away in the photo above.  We had some nice chats while we camped together.  Then Chris left because of the 14 day rule, and Mike and I stayed on. 

On one of my walks I noticed something weird hanging in a tree - right about eye level.  I walked over to see what it was, and this is what I saw:

Usually cocoons are not see-through, like the one I found on the rock in my last post.  This one looks like it's encased in a spider web.  I can't imagine what kind of insect is inside, or what it's becoming.  But spiders lay eggs, right?  So this isn't any kind of spider.
 
 It doesn't look like anything I've seen before!  What do you think?  Have you seen one of these?  Do you know what it is? 

And then a miracle happened!  Coming from high 90 temperatures in New Mexico, I was hoping I had made the right decision, and that our weather south of Flag would be cooler.  And I started to hear pop, Pop, pop, POP, POP!  I looked out the window and it was HAILING!  Hail pounding on the roof - I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT.   Then hail and rain, then just rain. I don't know how many degrees we dropped in about five minutes, but it was dramatic.  I was hot, then I was reaching for a sweatshirt.  Sweet, holy hail, Batman!

Here's the hail - kind of like manna from heaven to starving people.  Hail from heaven to roasting people.  (Apologies for any offense to religious people.   Of which I am actually one.  You had to be there to appreciate how great this was.)  
 
Look at this beautiful crescent moon:

Crescent and full moons are my favorites.  I love the crescent moons because they are beautiful, and the full moons because they give us so much night light wherever I'm camping. 

Willard Springs

Right before the 4th of July weekend, I moved over to Willard Springs to join Jeanne and John.  I expected it to be crowded in that area, it has been before when I've been there over a holiday weekend, but this time it was almost empty.  Maybe because there were no fires allowed due to the high fire danger.  And no fireworks allowed, either.  So we pretty much had the place to ourselves, other than a few other rigs, and could park where we wanted.

But there's sometimes a downside.  It was painfully obvious that recently there had been a TON of ATVers in the area, because all the roads had dust galore on them.  An inch or more of fine dust.  Any time someone drove by, clouds of dust were raised, and if there was even the slightest breeze, it came over and hung in the air.  You could see it, you could taste it, and you knew it was filling your lungs with dust.

These were taken when there was no wind.  When it was breezy, it just floated over overthing.


On the upside, there are a lot of good birds in the area, and we were there when the Acorn Woodpeckers were out working the trees.  They are so pretty:


And these cute squirrels were running around.


One evening I went outside and glued the rear view mirror back on the side mirror housing - it was a permanent glue that I got at Napa Auto in Flagstaff, and they said it would work.  So, I glued it on, held it until it was tacky enough to tape, and taped the heck out of it.


It only needed a few hours to cure, so in the morning, I removed the tape and it looked and felt like it was, indeed, a permanent fix.  Fingers crossed!


It was nice to get that taken care of.

It started heating up again, so Katie and I moved to another camping area at Willard Springs, where we were the very first time we camped here.  It has more trees, and I wanted shade - a big shade tree to park under to keep us cooler.  Even though there was only one other camper down a ways from us, and it's beautiful, I didn't like this area any more either.  We stayed only one or two nights.  Late one afternoon I walked the whole area, down the road to where I was parked early in 2016, and all around.  I couldn't find were I was parked before.  The whole area looked totally different to me.

There were roads criss-crossing the entire area made by ATVers - all dusty and dirty. There wasn't a large enough area to park an RV that would get you away from the noise and dust if they were racing back and forth on the roads.  Which - when the ATVers are there - is what they do.  And the weekend was coming.

I don't know if things are really changing or if I'm just being a complainer.  But I've been here before and loved it.  😟 

I did see this neat tree on my walk, though.  I wondered what was inside the hole, but didn't get close enough to look.



There's probably something living in there.

When I took Katie out for her potty walks, she came back into The Palms with her paws coated in dust, and I had to wash her feet.

So...  back to the weather apps to see what was going on at Bluewater Lake.  Had the temps come down there at all yet?  Yes! Thank goodness for wheels under our house! I packed up and the next morning, we headed back to Bluewater.  That's where we're parked now - for two weeks.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon, not hoping for a non-reservation electric site to be available, just hoping for cooler temps.  And guess what?  We were able to get an electric site.  The last one...  I immediately snagged it, not even looking for anything else.  Paid for two weeks - at $4 per night with the annual pass, how could I not?  And we're golden.  Yup.  And happy as clams.

The weather has been GREAT!  Warm, some rain on and off, then sun comes out again.  I guess we're in the beginning of Monsoon Season?  Yesterday I bleached some white tee-shirts I wore at Willard springs that were so filthy with dust they needed bleaching.  Between the dust in the air, and Katie sitting up close to me and rubbing dust off her and onto my shirts...  And I also soaked and hand-washed two pair of running shoes.  They were filthy inside and out, as were all the socks I wore with them.  They also got bleached with the shirts.  And Katie got a good wipe-down, too.  She was filthy!

I'm still cleaning up all the fine dust that came in through the screen door and window screens at Willard Springs.  It was so warm, you had to have the windows open when there was a breeze, and the breeze was, of course, full of ... right.  Dust. 

I don't know if I'll ever go back there again.  It's a gorgeous forest, a beautiful camping spot, and huge, so you always find a good campsite.  But the ATVers have changed it.  It's legal to ride motorbikes and ATVs there, so I can't fault the people who are doing it.  They are having a blast - this is their kind of fun.  But unfortunately you always know when they've been there. 

So, we are back at Bluewater Lake State Park in New Mexico.  Funny how the temps keep changing this year, but I think we're good for a while.  Between the warm days and cool mornings and evenings, and the rain that comes through almost every day, it's been so nice. 

From me and Katie, have a great day, everyone!  😊 😎 πŸ™ƒ

Bluewater Lake - The Beauty and The Blues

FIRST THE BEAUTY:

Katie and I came to Bluewater Lake State Park in NM because it seemed to be one of the coolest areas I could find.  The first week here was wonderful, and I got one of my favorite sites, overlooking Bluewater Lake:


View of the lake out the couch window:

I set up my little clothes line - this is what I do if there aren't any good trees nearby.  I can hang socks, towels, and/or tee-shirts on hangers.  We had good trees, but they were dripping pine sap, so:

Although the sunsets here are spectacular, sunset in the western sky is often pretty, too:

THEN THE BLUES:

And then the heat rose.  I wasn't expecting it - when I've been here in the past, the weather was always nice.  Wow, it was something!  We had a dry-camping site, no electricity, and of course with the heat, there were no electric sites available.  So, what to do?   Drive all the way back to the Flagstaff area, where it seemed to be a bit cooler?  Or stay here and sweat it out?

My air conditioner, which has always worked just fine, suddenly wouldn't stay on for more than 10 minutes, then it would shut down.  The generator was still on and no breakers were tripped, but I had to wait a while before I could turn it on again - for another ten minutes!  Meanwhile it got up to 97 degrees inside The Palms.  (Note:  I've since learned a few things about the A/C units, and our altitude might have been the culprit.  I'll see when I'm lower.  I thought it was protecting itself and shutting down due to the high temps, but obviously that's when you need the cooling power, so it kind of didn't make sense.  Any thoughts?)

Then we had to leave the park after our 14 days - the 6 days out rule - before we could return.  So we drove down to the little town of Grants, 20 or so miles south, like we always have in the past.  I was still having issues with the A/C and it was SO HOT.  The first night we spent at the Grant's Wal-Mart, and in the morning, the generator wouldn't start.  At all.  It tried, but couldn't seem to catch.

Knowing how hot it was going to be, I made some phone calls and got a reservation at one of the local RV parks for that day - Wednesday.  Then I called a generator repair place in Albuquerque and made an appointment for Friday morning.  They said to come down on Thursday and I could park in their lot with their electrical hook-ups and be there in the morning in case they were ready for me earlier than scheduled. 

I needed to do laundry and couldn't leave Katie in the rig in that kind of heat while I was inside doing laundry in town.  So when we checked into our very nice RV park I found out they had washers and dryers.  Yes!  I didn't need the water or sewer hook-up in our site, but the electricity was SURE NICE, and I got all my laundry done while Katie was cooling her heels in The Palms with the A/C running.  AND they had a beautiful, spotless bathroom with a large shower.  I was in HEAVEN.

Completely πŸ˜€ and totally 😊 in heaven πŸ˜‡ !


The next morning we drove down to Albuquerque, checked in at the office and got hooked up to their electricity.

Unfortunately, with THEIR electrical hookup, the A/C again wouldn't stay on for more than 10 minutes.  It was awful.

Finally it cooled down a bit as the sun set.  Katie and I were exhausted and went to bed early.  At 2:30 in the morning I woke up to gunshots out in the street.  I counted eight shots, got up and peeked out the windows, but didn't see anything.  I heard a yell and then a car slowly passing by, and that was all.  No police sirens...  apparently this isn't unusual in the area.

In the morning I talked to another RV owner who was parked next to me and asked him if he heard the shots.  He said, yes, he got up and got out his gun and slept with it next to his pillow.  He said he talked to another customer who was parked there, and that guy said he was ready with his gun power, too, just in case: a hand gun and a long gun.  Luckily there were no more disturbances.  (But when offered the opportunity to stay another night because my work started late in the day and ended around rush hour, I declined.  I'll take commuter traffic over gunshots any time!)

Katie and I started the trip back to Grants with our repaired generator (a new starter motor).  As I was driving up one of the long hills in that intense heat something in my peripheral vision caught my attention.  I looked in the driver door rear mirror and it looked like the side of the The Palms was coming unlaminated (is that a word?)  The whole side of the motor home was shaking like crazy!!!

Good Grief!  Then I realized it was the mirror itself, shaking like crazy.  I immediately checked both mirrors, slowed down, and pulled over on the side of the road.  As I was pulling over, I lowered the window and reached out to the mirror to steady it, and it came off in my hand.  WOW, I almost lost the mirror.  Another few seconds and it would have been on the freeway in a million pieces. 

I put the mirror in a safe place, got back in the driver's seat and looked left - as I always do - for oncoming traffic.  But of course, there was no mirror, and with the RV cabin coming out further than the truck cab, I had no vision of oncoming traffic.  There was no way I could pull out.

I went back and got the mirror and a roll of duct tape and went around to the driver's door, as big rigs and cars were pulling into the inside lane, thank goodness, and duct taped the mirror back into place.


Kind of "Beverly Hillbilly'ish," but what're ya gonna do?  😳

Back on the road, I realized it was slipping down under the tape, and pulled off again and duct taped the hell out if it in every direction, then got back on the road.  Luckily, it held until I was able to get something to glue it back on.

I'll tell you, being a full-time RVer takes a lot of duct tape and ingenuity.  Roll with the punches, solve the problems, and keep moving on.  LOL

I had plans to meet up again with JB, my canyon hike friend, and we were going to camp together for a while back at Bluewater, but honestly, I was so worn out from the heat, which was expected to continue for another couple of weeks, and all the issues I was having.  I checked all my weather apps and decided to leave the next morning to head back to Flagstaff.  It seemed to be the coolest place.  So unfortunately I cancelled our camping plans and in the morning, Katie and I drove back to Flagstaff.

I had some friends who were dry-camping near Flag in the Coconino National Forest, Mike and Chris were both at Lake Mary Road, and Jeanne and John were at Bellemont, moving to Willard Springs in a couple of days.  Mike texted that it was nice where he was and Jeanne texted it was nice where she was, so Katie and I first camped at Lake Mary Road for a week, and then moved to Willard Springs.  It was good to see everyone, and good to have temps a bit lower.  Still HOT, but not as bad as it was in New Mexico.

AND MORE BEAUTY:

Of course, the canyon hike I took with my friend, JB, would definitely be under the Beauty category.  I've already posted photos of that day, and here are some of the cool things and critters I got photos of while at Bluewater:

I saw this cocoon, below, on a rock sitting in the sun on one of my walks and decided to bring it back to my campsite to see if anything would hatch.  Unfortunately, nothing happened, so I left it when I went to Grants.

Each evening when it started to cool down, swarms of bugs came out.  They got into The Palms twice!  I couldn't believe I let it happen twice!  I had to get out my step stool and use my adhesive lint roller to get them all off the ceiling.  Took forever to get them all.  When I was done, the ceiling was full of smashed black bugs and I had used half my lint roller's tape.  The next morning, I cleaned the ceiling of all the bug debris.  What a mess that was!  AND IT HAPPENED TWICE.  All I had to do was open the door at the wrong time and in they came. 

Pretty flowers above our site:



Lots of squirrels in the park - they are always so cute:



And of course, lizards.  First, I saw lots of the these guys:

And then I noticed this guy - there were two, this bigger one and a smaller one.  They had beautiful fluorescent blue undersides:

And finally, the sunsets!  I think Bluewater Lake State Park has the most beautiful sunsets I've seen while full-timing.  Here are some of them from this trip, with a full moon thrown in. 








And that's it for Bluewater Lake - for now.  We headed to Flagstaff for cooler temps, planning to be back soon.

From me and Katie, have a great day, everyone!  😎☹πŸ€”πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ™„πŸ”«πŸ˜²πŸ˜