Monday, December 29, 2014


 Jeff Clyde did a great job leading his first Jeepers Creepers trail on a beautiful Arizona December day. There were 12 folks (including two ladies) in seven vehicles: 5 jeeps, a Toyota FJ and a Suzuki. WELCOME new members Chuck Pfeil and Covert Bailey.



We paused for the coffee break in the wash at the beginning of FR 172. It seemed that every time we stopped  lot of socializing began. Perhaps that proves that we are a happy group!

The above and two below pictures show all of the vehicles on the run.









Recent rains filled the water tank at the right, and there also were a few puddles along the road. Our road wanders from  left to right as it climbs to about 5000 ft.



We are still higher on the eastern part of the Superstition Mountains. There were several closed gates on this run, and we duly opened and closed them after we passed.




Here we are at the lunch break, with a fire, at the large stopping area just before making the descent over 17 switchbacks to reach the bottom of the next canyon.



We took a short detour to check out the stone cabin at the bottom of the hill. There is a fairly new windmill there to provide water for cattle.


Four members began this trip which Jo and I led. We had led a run there  around 2007 in our stock Suzuki Vitara 4 door without problems with the road. But 7 years, and a recent fire in the area and heavy rains changed conditions considerably.  Members attending were Jeff Clyde, Mike and Bill Carter, the Robertsons and Strongs with guests Lindsey and Rosa Ashby from Colorado. Pictures are by my cell phone 10 mp camera.



Here Mike is going through a very rocky area. The red cast in the cliff is due to cinnabar mineral from which mercury is extracted.


And here is the most challenging part of the road. By the time we reached this one the Robertsons had decided that rock crawling was not on their agenda for the day and had turned back. Our Grand Cherokee was high-centered off the picture to the left and Jeff pulled us off. Both other Jeeps made it through without help. Lindsey commented that AZ did have some challenging 4 wd roads after all.



About noon we arrived at the millsite for the National Mine which produced mercury for many years. The books on Arizona 4 wheeling call this the Sunflower Mine, so I have used that in the title of this blog.

Left to right, Lindsey and Rosa Ashby, Jeff Clyde, Jo, and Bill and Mike Carter.



Lindsey took this so I could get in one!


There are a few mine entrances on this hill accessed by the zig zag road. Mike told us that road had so deteriorated that it was impassible for Jeeps.   He also said that the road north (FR 25A) was wiped out by a landslide.



When I was here several years ago, a two story wooden mill stood over this big piece of machinery. The fire a couple  of years ago destroyed the building and a lot of the surviving iron was removed, including an old dump truck which had rested on its top nearby. This long tube was used to extract the mercury from the cinnabar ore by heating the ore as the tube rotated (I hope that is right!).


The long tube is turned through these gears, reminiscent of the gears on a Shay locomotive.



Looking the opposite direction along the tube, with a little fall color thrown in.



Jeff climbed down to inspect what appears to be a conveyor. Waste from the mill is found a few hundred yards down the canyon from here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


The members attending were the Williams, Holz, Stones and Strongs with Jeff Clyde. Fusts could not make it due to an electrical problem with their motor home. The campout began on Thursday and extended to Monday due to high winds on Sunday with high profile vehicle warnings. We were parked at the highest level at the Riverside Casino RV park, so we did not have the protection from the wind enjoyed by the RVs parked at a lower level. The pictures are taken in my cell phone camera.


Mike Williams is setting up his DirecTV antenna under supervision from Tom Holz and Jeff Clyde.


Our  rigs were parked together near one of the restrooms on the top level.


This 5th wheel at left is pulled by an old but restored semi tractor.  The owners are full-timers, and, not surprisingly, he was a truck driver.


Here is the level of the park next to the top level.  The spaces are quite large and nicely equipped with the full hookups.


One day we took a short cruise on the Colorado River. Shown are Barb Williams, Jeff Clyde, the Holz’s daughter Barbara, and Jo.



This and the next two shots are of some of the casinos of Laughlin. The one  shown above was built by Don Laughlin and the first one built. Mr. Laughlin also built the  main bridge across the Colorado River so employees who lived in Bullhead City on the Arizona side and the visitors easily could get to his casino. He donated the bridge to the states of Nevada and Arizona.






On the Arizona side of the river are nice waterfront homes.



On another day we visited nearby Oatman AZ, an old mining town something like Jerome AZ. A big difference is that wild burros have learned that if they mingle with the tourists they will get handouts of pelletized hay,so several can be found there every day. Left to right, Tom and Elsie Holz, Maxine Stone, Jo, Keith Stone and Mike Williams.



Here Jo pets one of the burros on its nose.


Jeff is wearing a red shirt and Barbara Williams in a white top is next to him.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


From Cortez CO we drove to an RV park at Tusayan, just south of the Grand Canyon National Park on October 3. We entered the park from Cameron and made our first stop at Desert View observation point where there was ample parking for large RVs. This was Arla’s first visit to Grand Canyon, and we were fortunate to have a clear day.



Desert View is one of the few places from which visitors on the rim can see the Colorado River. The Little Colorado River flows into the Colorado through the large side canyon at the upper right. It has been 4 years since I rode a commercial raft down this very stretch of the Colorado River.

(Sorry if this comes through overexposed. It was correct at one time but some unknown thing changed it.)


On Friday night Laura and Jeff joined us at Tusayan, so there were 7 of us to tour the western part of the tourist facilities at the west end, beginning at the El Tovar Hotel. Above is the view from the sidewalk near El Tovar.




From left to right – Mike and Barbara Williams, Jo, Arla, Laura (Barbara’s daughter) and Jeff, Jo’s son.


El Tovar Hotel from the next observation area. Other hotels are located in the same area.



The Bright Angel trail down which mules take tourists to view the river is shown here on the far side of the canyon.



Jo waiting for a shuttle bus to take us to the western part of the park west of the El Tovar complex. In most months of the year the only way to reach the several overlooks there is to take the shuttle bus, and it does very well in carrying the passengers on a reasonable schedule.



The entrance to the Orphan Mine is in this canyon. Copper was mined beginning in about 1906. Uranium was discovered and  mined from 1953 to 1969 from adits 1400 ft down into the side of the canyon until the National Park Service bought the patented mining claims. Mining buildings and an inn for tourists were located in the bare area.





  The afternoon sun creates great shadows to give a better feeling of depth.



Well-equipped mountain climbers gather in the fall to pick up debris that careless tourists have thrown into the canyon in the El Tovar area.


Here is one of the climbers picking up debris. The pipe to left of center carried water from a spring in the canyon to the South Rim.


We had to introduce Arla (right) to the ambience of the El  Tovar Hotel lounge.


Reception area of the El Tovar. It is operated by Xanterra, the corporation tracing its roots to Fred Harvey of Harvey Girls fame. Xanterra’s future operation of the hotels there is in jeopardy as the Forest Service has asked for bids from other operators, but many are having trouble meeting the Forest Service’s terms.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Leaving Ridgway,we circled the San Juan Mountains on the west and went over two mild passes – Dallas Divide and Lizard Head – on our way to the Sleeping Ute RV park south of Cortez. There we met Mike and Barbara Williams and Arla Olson, Jo’s sisters. None of the three had visited Mesa Verde before, and my only other visit was almost 50 years ago in our then new 1966 VW camper. Our visit was on Oct. 1. Photos in the Canon A1100 IS.



On the way, dropping down Dallas Divide we found more nice fall color with the changing aspen. I grabbed this shot through the motor home windshield.


At Mesa Verde parts were closed for the season, but we could see plenty to get a good flavor of the park. Above is our first view of the Spruce Tree House cliff dwelling. Jo and I took the walk down to see it closely.


Here are the tourist facilities at the mesa top where our companions waited patiently for us.


  This is the hiker’s first view of the cliff dwelling. About 80% of the walls are unrestored.



Here is the central courtyard with entrances to three kivas. Visitors were permitted to climb down a ladder to enter another kiva.

The poles sticking out of the wall served as the framework for the ceiling of one level land the floor of the higher level



Here the cliff dwelling was three series high.


An open kiva. The natives did a lot of practical engineering to bring air down to the underground room and let it vent through the entrance hole.



This is the far right side of the dwelling. The masonry workmanship is not as good in this part as in others.




Here is the evidence that I made it.





From the top of the mesa more dwellings were visible on the other side of the canyon. The top of this mesa was burned a few years ago,


This dwelling could be visited only on a ranger-led tour. The visitors are at the right.

We spent half a day at Mesa Verde. One who liked to hike and see all of the cliff dwellings and visit all of the museums could easily spend several days.