Catching Up

Hello Friends! With the COVID-19 lurking around and people being asked to self isolate I thought this would be a good time to get  caught up on 2DogsTravel.
Since finding this bugger Snake in my little home this past fall and having it removed by a couple of our wonderful fire department personnel (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!) things pretty much went down hill.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were uneventfull except for the morning lows in the mid-20s for a week between Christmas and New Years. Another reason to be thankful that I have a warm(er) place to hunker down in the Arizona Winter.
Welcoming in 2020 we were delighted with this fabulous sunset

                                                       Gotta love Arizona sunsets.
Late January brought news that my SIL, Karen, had been hospitalized diagnosed with myeloma. That on top of diabetes and Parkinson’s. To her credit she had agreed to the bone marrow testing; she is not one who can handle much pain so this really surprised me. She had lived with her sister in Oregon for the past two years since my brother passed, and Sharon was her primary care giver. I  will be eternally grateful for this.

To make a long agonizing story shorter, she was finally sent home. Weak, discouraged, and with the knowledge that she would be taking chemo for the rest of whatever her life span would be, Karen decided that the treatments, constant doctor’s appointments, and continual tests were too much. She decided to let nature take its course and requested that all her meds to be withheld including her diabetes medications.  That, of course, put her into a diabetic coma and in less than two days she was released from her torment and went home to be with her Lord.
Ten days later I got a call from my niece that it was time to come say goodbye to my sister. Edie had been in rehab, again, to try and get her up and walking after yet another hospitalization in December. She came down with pneumonia on top of her CHF, years with COPD, and several bouts with sepsis. She continued to decline in hospital and come to the point of not being able to swallow amongst other various ailments. The doctors said she would never make it out of hospital and she didn’t.
I made the fastest trip ever to California (Hey, I could still be a truck driver if I wanted to . . . at least for a couple of days!).

One of us was with her 24/7 until she took her last breath at 9:30 a.m. February 27th. I stayed for a couple more days to help as I could and to visit with my sons before making a mad dash for Arizona before an incoming storm arrived.

The Chiweenie Brothers and I didn’t quite make it ahead of the storm and it was a snowy drive higher up on Hwy 44 near Lassen Park, but we came out the other side just fine and didn’t hit snow again until near Mammoth Lakes on Hwy 395 where the worst of this section of the highway was starting, but it wasn’t too bad.

Some shots taken with my phone on the trip back.
Mono Lake March 2020     MONO LAKE
The halfway point in our trip is right about Lone Pine, CA Where we spent a very brutal, cold night in the Alabama Hills. The wind coming off Mt. Whitney and surrounding Sierra Nevada made it feel like my hands were going to fall off and permanent grimace left on my face when we got parked for the night and The Boys needed their evening potty walk. I was so glad to have dug through a couple of my storage bins while in Redding and had brought my sleeping bag back with me.

A cold-but-windless morning presented a beautiful dawn creeping over the horizon.

Alabama Hills March 2020 Dawn is Breaking

Sunrise Alabama Hills March 2020
And this interesting little dinosaur, eh?
Alabama Hills Dinosaur Graffiti
A stop at McD’s for coffee and The Chiweenie Brothers and I head for the barn. I was  feeling a bit off, but was determined to get back to our little desert hideaway.

Back in Arizona The Boys relax after racing around their tiny back yard trying to get some of that pent up energy burned off. DSC_0024

I am totally exhausted and don’t even bother with unpacking the car.

Thank you for stopping by 2DogsTravel. Hugs, Shawna

We Made it to Cuba

Last night’s temps in Farmington NM made it all the way down to 70.  A hot and sticky night.  We’re outta here!

Still heading east we get very close to the beautiful little town of Aztec again. If I had known at this point that my photos of  the Aztec Ruins were gone forever I would have gone back and taken the tour again. But I didn’t know, and we continue on oblivious to what we are letting go.

At Bloomfield we catch Hwy 550 heading south.  It’s a long, hot drive. I don’t  run the air conditioner in the van.  Sounds stupid, I know, but it seems to make the oppressive heat even worse when we stop so I keep it off.

There isn’t much out along this piece of New Mexico, but there are gas stations and a few tiny towns.  The Chaco Canyon and more ruins are along this stretch of highway, BUT, as much as I would like to take that in I am not wanting to bump along 20 miles of washboard dirt road to get there in this heat. Another time—in the dead of winter—would be good time to see it.

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550 goes from blah flat desert with nothing but greasewood to these interesting sandstone bluffs and rock formations.  What starts out as a boring, hot drive, turns into an interesting hot drive.  It actually goes back and forth between the two landscapes.

We eventually make it to Cuba.  Not THAT Cuba. Cuba, New Mexico, a tiny little town with all the basics: Family Dollar, gas stations, a grocer, laundromat, AND a small library. I get the chores done.

A search on freecampsites.net yields a review of Hwy 126 to Fenton Lake State Park, the place we are looking for.  It’s a shortcut that takes 70 miles off the trip to the park. The reviewer says the last six miles are rugged.  Slow and steady would make six miles okay, but I also ask the tattooed, earring wearing clerk at Family Dollar about this Hwy 126.  Is it good road? “Sure is, as far I know.  Good road all the way, but it climbs and is a twisty turny mountain road,” he says. We can deal with that!!

Supplied up, things on ice, and plenty of gas in  MissAdventure  we head back to the beginning of Hwy 126.  That clerk wasn’t kidding.  The road begins to climb almost immediately and we are soon twisting and turning our way into heavy timber.  The air is getting cooler. Oh my, I love this!!

About 18 miles in, and this is just a guess, we come to the dirt part of the road. There is a sign that says ’26 miles of dirt road, not maintained’.  WHAT??? That reviewer on freecampsites must have made a typo, or was being a smart alec.  Six miles is one thing, 26 is another. Ain’t happening.

I get the van turned around just in time to get out of the way of a small white car barreling down the dirt road enveloped in a cloud of dust.  Some days I am just so happy with the decisions I make, and I pat myself on the back to just saying NO to this road.

We explore a few of the roads leading back into the National Forest where we could easily boondock, but nothing appeals to me.  I am tired from the drive in the heat along Hwy 550. I remember a Forest Service campground back a ways, and I decide to check into that.

DSC_0054Searching for a Camp Site in the Sante Fe National Forest Hwy 126 out of Cuba NM

The Rio De las Vacas campground in the Santa Fe National Forest is $5 per night with senior pass.  We pull into a spot that will give us afternoon shade and set up camp.  It’s a wonderful 78 degrees here, and here we will stay at least through the weekend.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hugs, Shawna

 

Riverview Camp Ground, Gila Box

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October 30th and 31st
It’s an easy, early trip from Bowie to Safford, AZ where we find a Wally and get supplies, and finally, finally find block ice! Walmart didn’t have it, but there is an “ice house” (that’s what the clerk calls it) next door and she assures me they have it.
Supplies bought and put away, the clean cube ice now in liquid form, is drained out of the water container that I cut the lid off of to hold the bagged ice is poured into a drinking water container. The block ice is put into the now empty ice container and we are off to the Riverview Camp Ground in the Gila Box Reparian Conservation Area.

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One small sign obviously wasn’t enough. They added another, bigger one!

It’s quite a drive, not in miles, but in pucker factor. The last few miles are still paved road, but it is winding, one lane, oh-my-gosh-it-looks-like-they-have-had-a-serious washout-can-I-make it, 15% grade in places, praying-no-one-comes-along-in-the-opposite-direction kind of road. We make it, but BOY HOWDY!!!

Expecting trees I am dismayed to find they are along the river, of course, that is down in the canyon where no camping is allowed. It’s a pretty view, though.
I choose a campsite and walk up to the iron ranger and pull out my checkbook, paying for two nights. $5 per night is the fee, but it’s half price with a senior pass.

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We may or may not stay additional time. The temps and internet availability will decide that for us. Although they have covered picnic tables, fire rings, BBQs, potable water, and very clean pit toilets, parking in the sun can make for very uncomfortable van temps that take forever to cool down even after dark.

Discovering there is no internet or cell service I get a lot done in the van over our two-day stay: inside blackout inserts removed and replaced with lace curtains, doubled for more privacy. I like this a lot better. I will keep the inserts to use to cover windows from the outside to keep the van cooler. I also shore up the drawer unit where the passenger seat used to be—the boys sit on the top while we are traveling—as it has shifted with all the rough road and steep grades we’ve driven on since driving in the desert southwest.

I also decide to keep the camp chair with its fold-down side table inside and open. A one-drawer plastic storage unit fits perfectly underneath and extra water jugs along the side between chair and bed. It’s easily lifted up to take outside when I want to do that, and the drawer underneath can be pulled out to take out to the table.

I put clear mailing tape on the rare earth magnets that I use to keep the outside window covers in place. They are strong enough to put blood blisters on one’s fingers if you lose your grip while trying to pull them apart, and the tape tabs seem to not only prevent that but also makes them much easier to pull away from the van when it’s time to remove the covers.

Having a place to sit and being able to see out when we are stuck inside due to the wind wreaking havoc with my sinuses or if a storm blows through will make those situations a whole lot nicer to deal with.

The campground is nicely maintained and there are lots of little rock-lined trails kept nice and tidy. I couldn’t find the camp host when I thought about asking who did all the rock work, but I would imagine it was a civic group or perhaps some inmates. In any case it’s looks very, very nice.

On our last evening in this camp we are rewarded with a very nice sunset. And perhaps a little Halloween treat —- can you see the dog in the sky? Or perhaps it’s a hound from the Baskervilles …


Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel. Hugs, Shawna

CAMP AMENITIES
Water: Yes Garbage: Yes
Bathrooms: Vault toilets Electricity: No
Tables: Yes, with shade covers Shower: No
Fire Pit: Yes BBQ: Yes
# of Sites: about 15 with lots of space between Fee: $5 per night, half that with senior pass
Other: Nice walking trails, nice view, very steep downhill grade to get to this camp. The camp host had a large trailer, but honestly I would be very cautious if it were me towing that big thing down this road