Friday, April 26, 2013



Following the good advice that one should not four wheel in a remote area without at least one other vehicle, we made this exploratory trek with two Jeeps. The front one is our 2004 Grand Cherokee slightly modified to improve performance off-road. Jo’s son Jeff rode with me. The second is a new stock 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited driven by neighbor Keith Stone and accompanied by his friend. The purpose of the outing was to find the route into Coke Ovens so we could lead the Jeepers Creepers on a group trip.

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This is the first important intersection (right turn) to reach the Coke Ovens. There were no road signs in the area to tell us which road to take at intersections. On this trip we had a better map than on an earlier exploratory trip.

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The scenery is great, but the driver must pay the most attention to the road.

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The road  meanders for 21 miles through beautiful high desert mountains and canyons.

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We paused a bit here wondering how bad the rocks in the road might become. One just had to take it slowly.


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More great scenery


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This looks worse than it is. The right track is quite good to get through this place.


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Here is our first view of the five Coke Ovens. The major obstacles began here where the road dropped off a ledge. The second one follows.

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Here we have progressed to within 25 years of the Gila River and had to cross this big washout. Both of us made it through just fine, with Jeff’s directions on wheel placement.


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The Coke Ovens were built to heat mesquite wood cut from the Gila River bottom to convert it to charcoal for use in a small copper smelter a few miles north around Martinez Canyon. The Gila flows from left to right in the middle of  this shot.


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Shortly after we arrived at the Coke Ovens another Jeep Wrangler arrived and we chatted while having lunch.

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The rough masonry has stood well in the century since being built.

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The inside is about 20 ft. in diameter. Some were a little cluttered with debris, but overall not bad.

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I preferred not to return the way we had come – 21 miles in 3 hours. But I was very hesitant in fording the Gila River.  The driver of the Jeep which joined us convinced us that the Gila was running shallow then, so we followed him to a fording spot.

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Here our guide is just beginning to cross the river. Once I saw that the water just came up part way on his wheels, I also crossed it just fine. It was about 2 feet deep there.

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Here is an old railroad bridge near the crossing spot. It still is in use by a railroad, perhaps the Union Pacific.

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After crossing, the road out entered a wide wash and the going was easy to a county road to the ghost town of Cochrane. WE took the county road the other way and returned to civilization  in Florence AZ

Thursday, April 25, 2013



Rarely do we see snow on the Superstiton Mountains, so when the sight does appear one has to be prompt is getting pictures of the event.

Our most significant winter storm in 2012 – 2013 was in February. Right after the storm the clouds were so low that we could not see the Supersitions just east of Mesa. I knew I could not wait too long for the clouds to go away as the snow would melt by then. So on the first partly cloudy day after the clouds had begun to rise, I got in the car and looked for vantage points from which to get some pictures of snow in the superstitions. These were taken from three locations in Apache Junction.

These are the better pictures of the 17 I took.



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A golf course is in the foreground.

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I prefer this one looking north by northeast. A saguaro cactus is in the left foreground and a palo verde tree is in the right foreground.

2013-02-20 23.52.04This is from the same spot as above but looking easterly.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Seventeen members and guests made the trek to Kitt Peak National Observatory west of Tucson, following our usual format of a coffee break, pit stops and potluck lunch. No hotdogs though, as fires were not permitted at the site. It probably was too windy for a fire anyway.

Members and guests attending were the leaders, Austin and Mary Ellen Hulcher, Tom and Elsie Holz, Bruce and Ellen Kolb, Dick and Karen Weiger, Sandy Smith, Bob Lush, Sam Schartz, BrianTaylor,  Jerry and Nancy Grout with Jerry’s   sister, Janet Schuett, and Bill and Jo Strong.IMG_4707

Coffee break at the rest stop on I 10 north of Casa GrandeIMG_4708





When we arrived at the top of the mountain, almost 7000 ft. el., we were greeted by this sign showing the universities and federal agencies whose efforts resulted in  building and operating this site, with 28 telescopes, two of which are radio telescopes. The construction began around 1958.

The last time I was there I arrived in my 1955 Packard!

IMG_4715 This is a more fitting picture of the sign, with one of the 28  observatories in the background. The site was selected because of its clear night skies for 250 days of the year.


This is a concrete mockup of the of the mirror in the 4 meter telescope, the largest at the site. The mockup was built to test the weight carrying capacity of the framework  to hold and manipulate the mirror. The mockup has been decorated with a mural showing the life of the Tohono O’Odham tribe which entered a perpetual lease of its land for the site.

IMG_4714  Upon our arrival, what else would we do but have lunch?





We bought out tickets for the1:30 PM tour of the 4 meter telescope building shown below.   The tour began in the Visitor Center with a half hour orientation. Two members  transported 12 of our group up the rather steep hill in their cars and the more able walked.



When this telescope was designed,  it was hoped to have it house the largest telescope mirror in the world, But the impossibility of bringing such a large mirror up the mountain required a smaller one. When built, the 4 meter mirror telescope was the second largest in the world. So many larger ones have since been built that it now is classified as a small telescope.

The telescope has a somewhat unique feature in that it has a wider angle of view than many, so it is very desirable for some projects. It now is being prepared to study black energy in the universe, we were told.


More observatories, taken from the parking lot of the 4 meter telescope.


Here is a view of several of the telescopes built on the mountain top. The one at the far left is a solar observatory, the only one like it in the world.

Friday, April 19, 2013



This was one of the larger outings of the Roadrunners in the last few years with 5 rigs and 4 visiting for the day. It was held at Pleasant Harbor RV park adjacent to  the east  marina on the lake.


Here is our motor home and next is the 5th wheel of Mike and Barb Williams. Others attending were the Fusts, Tom and Elsie Holz, and Keith and Maxine Stone. Guests for the day were Nancy and Crissy Audet and Nancy’s sister and brother in law.


IMG_4693Herb Fust, Mike Williams, Jo Strong and Mary Fust enjoying the shade of our cabana. In the foreground is our Fire In A Can in which we had a fire both nights. IMG_4690

From left, Mike, Nancy Audet, Maxine and Keith Stone, Tom Holz and Herb Fust


   We were treated to a pretty sundown.


Long walkway to marina on the west side of the lake, complete with boat storage and large restaurant.


  The walkway above for the west marina begins on a low bluff, and one may take a small funicular to the walkway to avoid the steps.

IMG_4700This view of the dam is from the Visitors Center on the west side of the lake. The horizontal structure is for Central Arizona Project water to be pumped in and out oft he lake.for storage.



View from the Visitors Center looking northeast. A sailboat regatta was under way this day in the upper part of the lake.


This is the walkway to the marina on the east side of the lake.


Covered boat storage



And more uncovered boat storage



Keith Stone in the restaurant in the east marina. There sure have been a lot of changes around the lake from the years we regularly waterskiied on the lake before the new dam  was built.



Blanco is the nickname of the first timeshare built by Pueblo Bonito in Cabo San Lucas. I bought a timeshare week there in our first visit to Cabo in 1991.The timeshare term was for 25 years, so it will be expiring in the next few years. It has been nicely maintained for the most part. When returning there I fondly think of past good times there.


This is the view from the balcony of junior suite 323. The palm tree in front has grown over the years gradually to impinge on the view of the beach and ocean.


View from the bedroom area to the sitting area, quite comfortable for reading. A table out of the picture to the right is fine for a laptop computer  and for two to have a meal.IMG_4660Here is the bedroom area with the kitchenette in the back. We had breakfast and most lunches in the room. The bathroom is behind the large painting.


That is me behind the bouganvillas on our balcony. 



This is a typical view on the beach in front of Blanco, trolling girls against a backdrop featuring a cruise ship.



Beach vendors constantly patrol looking for sales. Guests in chairs are behind the yellow rope, off limits to the vendors.  Medano Beach continues for several miles. It is safe to swim there, but the water was a bit cool for me.


Smart loungers on the beach will sit in  the shade  under the the and behind .yellow rope.



. Here is another view of the marina, an easy walk from Blanco.



Sorry that this one is a bit fuzzy, but I wanted to show the yacht in the background. I was told that it was built for Steve Jobs and was being delivered to his widow in southern California. It is huge – over 250 feet! More info may be on a website.