Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Beta Test Days 2 & 3

Day 2 Morning showed a shift in the winds.  The valley was full of smoke and our perfect campsite stank of fire.  Time to move on.  As long and trying as the road in was the day prior, the road out was cake.  Within an hour we were back to Young. Mike stopped a Sheriff to inquire about a way out of town other than 188.  Apparently where the road closed sign was, was also the way out of town that the locals use. The Sheriff warned us of a dirt road with sharp turns.  We laughed. After what we drove the day prior, it was cake.  This road bordered a stream. Break time for the dogs.  They romped again and wore themselves out.  It's important to have sleeping dogs instead of antsy dogs inside the Jeep. The road eventually dumped us on 260.  We grabbed food and made our way to the Mogollon Rim.  It was packed.  We hate crowds. We hate campgrounds.  Most sites were full and avoided.  The whole point of the trailer is to off site camp where ever we decide, not to be stuck to campsites with noisy neighbors.  We found a turn off without a sign which is a good sign that it is not regular camping.  It turned out of be a another four low road. Great news for us because that means most people will be scared off from it. And they were. It was us and another couple.  We parked, ate lunch and relaxed for several hours. The Taj Mahal was erected and aired out.  The smokey smell permeated in the canvass. We turned in shortly after dinner and a shower. After we ran out of water.  We blew through 30 gallons in two days. No breakfast at camp tomorrow. Bummer.  But it was part of the process. Now we know what to avoid, how to conserve more, and how frequently we will need to restock. We slept. Under the stars, surrounded by the scent of pine trees, sheltered from the winds on the Rim. The dogs passed out on there camp beds and didn't stir until we did.  I could get used to this. Morning broke, I slept in while Mike walked the dogs.  We packed up and headed to civilization for breakfast. Camping might be over but we weren't ready to head back to the scorching temperatures of CAG. Instead we stopped at the Tonto Natural Bridge.  We weren't allowed on the dirt trails to the water. Apparently dogs can't go in areas where people can swim? So we rebelled and they drank and splashed in a mountain spring.  Onwards to Sedona.  Which was a mistake.  The more times I go to Sedona, the more I hate it.  When you drop into town, your breath is taken away by the views.  And then the people happen.  The citizens of Sedona tend to be snobby.  Vacationers in Sedona are rude, and uncivilized.  It was packed.  I was feeling claustrophobic.  We picnicked by a creek, Rommel played and I was done.  Sedona ruined my mood.  Casa Grande bound.  Rommel slept until we hit out exit off I-10. The trees and red rock gave way to sand and cactus.  The heat smothered us. The trailer was unpacked and hosed off.  The dogs were given a quick wash.  While our weekend is not quite over (we're boating tomorrow), our camping excursion is over. I understand the allure of extreme long term expeditions.   Exploration Without Limitation.

Beta Testing the Jeep Trailer Day 1

Day 1 Left Casa Grande by 0630 and the temperatures were already starting to rise. Grabbed a quick bagel in Chandler and headed northbound. We had no plan. No stopping point. Just north out of the heat. We hit the 60 and gassed up in Globe. Just outside of town is a small dam. The dogs had had enough driving and needed a break. Water is always a welcome activity for Rommel. He ran, romped, splashed and swam.  The plan was to test the trailer. Every aspect of it, including being liberal with our water usage so we decided to do a quick rinse on the dogs.  Both fuses blew leaving us powerless. Back to the Wally-World in Globe for bigger fuses.  After the quick repair, we were on our way on 188 up and over the mountain.  Surprisingly the temperatures did not drop like we anticipated. At 6300 feet, it was still 99 degrees. This would not be out camping spot.  We crested the mountain and landed in the small town of Young. Young's population tripled with the addition of the NFS firemen who are using it as an outpost for the fire they are fighting in the nearby mountains.  The citizens of Young placed signs throughout the town showing their support for the firemen.  We hoped to blaze up 288 towards The Mogollon Rim, but due to the fires, the road was closed.  We did something stupid and unheard of.  We trusted the in dash GPS. HUGE mistake. It routed us down NF-129 to NF-133. Basically a grated forest road to.....a wagon trail.  It was 10 miles in four low, bumpy climbs and descents.  The trailer was being tested.  Hell the Jeep was being tested.  And it performed magnificently. We, on the other hand, were frustrated, tired and beat.  We stopped to water the desert and realized we were on top of a ridge, it was 83 degrees, the sun was setting and the camping spot was perfect. Within 30 minutes, the tent was deployed, dinner was cooked and being enjoyed by sunset.  Perfect. It's true what they say; the journey is the reward.  We showered, a nice warm shower, reflected on the trials we put the Jeep and trailer through and turned in.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Overland Expo 2012

May 17, 2012
Four of us piled into the truck, dogs in back, trailer in tow. Phoenix was beyond its boiling point and we pointed the nose of the truck northbound towards cooler temperatures and higher elevations.
The campground was filling but everyone was cordial and thoughtful. Dogs abounded everywhere, not a poor temperament in site. The winds graciously waited for us to set up the trailer prior to unleashing their fury. I ignored the wind advisory hoping that they would miss Mormon Lake and give us a pleasant weekend.

Friday proved me wrong. Gale force winds pounded the campers and vendors maliciously, akin to a dry hurricane. We prevailed and meandered the stalls hoping for adventurous equipment. AEV brought out the four door Brute for me to lust over.

Rommel liked the shade the Brute provided for him.

All in all, the vendors were geared towards the extreme overlanders who have an abundance of money and time. The small vendors of two years past couldnt afford the fees and stayed put soaking up the Internet sales instead. I was disappointed. I was expecting much more. We made the best of it, looked for ideas and chatted with like minded individuals. We ended up with maps of Utah, a trasharoo, and a new supply of tshirts and hats.

Pretty Farkles!

Saturday was much of the same.

It was worth it to just get away, camp and escape the summer temperatures of home.
We traded towering pine trees and lush green mountains for saguaro cactus and peaks reminiscent of a Martian landscape. Traffic thickened as we left behind the twisting mountain roads and entered the bowels of Phoenix. The temperatures soared into the 100's prior to lunch and the dogs were longing for the cool breezes and small lakes left behind.

Real life beckoned: our adventures must be funded somehow.