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Midwest Journey - 2011

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The first stop on day one of our journey, McDonalds, for breakfast
Monday, January 31, 2011: We've got big travel plans for 2011. Most of the traveling is with our friends, Janet and Ralph. We began this morning from Yuma, Arizona heading east to Phoenix. We didn't get very far before Ralph and Dale decided they were too hungry to continue. We never eat at McDonalds but this morning we were in a hurry because we didn't want leaving the Escapees KOFA park in Yuma at 7am to go to waste with a stop at a real restaurant. So, we had breakfast at McDonalds. While traveling, we are able to communicate with each other using CB radios. The first transmission was instructions to exit at Fortuna #13 and turn left for McDonalds.
Hobby Lobby in Phoenix, a must
Janet had a return to make in Phoenix at Hobby Lobby. Knowing this, Gwen printed 40% discount coupons and took me with her shopping. I used one coupon for a box full of colored pens because she plans to use them to make a photo journal of our adventures.
Janet discovered a terrible mess inside her trailer while Gwen was shopping at Hobby Lobby. One of her pantry drawer came out of the cabinet and spilled the contents all over the trailer. It would not have been bad except a jar of green salsa broke so salsa and broken glass were spread with the mess. Unfortunately, this was the jar of salsa we had given them for Christmas so most of this mess was our fault. A green salsa mess all over Ralph and Janet's trailer
Lunch at Costco, love those Polish Dogs Hobby Lobby is only ONE block from Costco so Gwen and I headed to Costco while Ralph and Janet cleaned the inside of their trailer. We had a few things like dog food, trail mix and printer ink to get. It did not take us long and by the time we were checking out Ralph and Janet joined us. By this time it was lunch time so we ordered four Polish sausage hot dogs with a drink for lunch. It's hard to beat a Costco hot dog and drink for $1.50. I noticed low pressure in a rear truck tire but thought it was the folks who changed my oil forgetting to bring the tires back to the 80 lbs of pressure I requested. I quickly got out my air compressor and generator to power it and brought the tire up to pressure. As it turns out, that tire had a screw in it. By 1pm, we were on the road again toward our destination of Roosevelt Lake. We arrived at the lake exactly at 3 pm as Janet had predicted. This is when I inspected the tire again and found it loosing air. This time I used a can of tire sealant THEN added more air and drove around the parking lot to spread the sealant. I pulled the screw out and drove around again. The hole seems to be sealed but we'll check it again tomorrow. We actually got rained on while driving to the lake but expect clear skies for tomorrow.
Roosevelt Lake, northeast of Phoenix Arizona
Tuesday, February 1, 2011: We are in one of the 1,500 campsites on the shore of Roosevelt Lake. During the winter months, the site costs only $3 per day if you have a Senior Access Pass. For $3 you get water, garbage and a restroom nearby. The campground roads are paved but most sites are gravel. Each site has a covered picnic table with a fire pit. The lake is large, 22 miles long and a Cholla campground space 6S on the shore of Roosevelt Lake
shoreline of 128 miles. The temperature is actually nice during the winter if the sun is out and wind is calm. An approaching storm has made the area colder with a strong wind today. We have been able to park in a site facing east so we can raise our solar panels to the southern sky. The forest service does not enforce the 14 day limit during the winter months so we have found a few campers who spend several months here. I would say this is a pleasant place to camp but supplies are at least 40 miles away in Globe or Payson, Arizona. Be sure to click the photo to get a overview of the campground from the roof of our fifth wheel. We are told that the dump station is closed for repairs so I don't know where folks are dumping their holding tanks yet.

Roosevelt Dam
Wednesday, February 2, 2011: This is the Theodore Roosevelt Dam holding back Roosevelt Lake. It is the largest masonry block dam in the world built in 1904. We drove a single lane, paved road to get to this photo location. Today has been the coldest day we've ever experienced in Arizona. Check my weather report. The wind chill this morning at 6:39 was -0.7 degrees. I'm glad I was still in my warm bed at that time.
Payson Ace Hardware, where our day began Thursday, February 3, 2011: We drove to Payson, Arizona. What a nice town. It's at 5,000 feet, 3000 feet above our camping location so it was about 10 degrees cooler. The low this morning at our campsite was 22°, Ralph had a pipe freeze so we started at Ace Hardware for a solution to the freezing problem. We also visited Safeway for fuel and Wal-Mart for groceries.
Buffalo Bar and Grill for lunch We had done a Yelp search before our visit to Payson so we knew we wanted to visit the Buffalo Bar and Grill for lunch. Their lunch special was only $4.99 and there were several choices. Gwen and I chose the cheese burger. I did a review of the restaurant which will show up on Goggle maps. Click the photo of Ralph and I to see another view of the Buffalo Bar and Grill inside.
$4.99 lunch
We also drove down Main Street looking for "historic" Payson. We didn't see much and time was getting late so we drove to a second Yelp recommended location, Scoops. There, I met the owner who introduced me to new ideas (at least to me) of social media Example QR codemarketing using smartphones and marks called QR codes. Since I'm teaching an "Internet Marketing" course next quarter for Rogue Community College, I plan to introduce the students to their use. QR codes are new to the USA but widely used in other countries. Here's an example of a QR code:
In front of the Roosevelt Lake Visitor Center Hiking along the lake trail
Friday, February 4, 2011: While exploring the area, we started at the Roosevelt Lake Visitor Center where there is a gift shop, free literature and a nature center. We also took a hike along the shore to get a better view of the lake. Be sure to click the photos for additional views. All the trails are well maintained so it's easy hiking. Morgan loves the hikes and still likes to swim even in this cold water.
Dale shows Ralph how to use a GPS to find a Geocache Saturday, February 5, 2011: Our day began with a Geocache hunt. Gwen and I found the directions to four caches within walking distance of our campsite. Those who are into Geocaching have visited this area and planted many caches along the shores of the lake. First I had to show Ralph how to use a hand held GPS. Then after finding the first cache only about 100 yards from our campsite, Ralph set the GPS to find the second. He followed the GPS to within 5 feet of the hidden location and so found it under a bush. We took out a prize to transfer to the next cache and left a prize of our own in this one. Gwen and Ralph pose with Ralph's first Geocache find
In the afternoon we joined a National Park hike to an area where ancient inhabitants grew and stored crops. We heard stories of what is thought about who lived here and how they lived. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to see. The area has been excavated and studied but has also been "backfilled" meaning the excavation was re-buried. This has prepared us, however, for next weeks hike with a ranger to the "upper cliff dwellings" in the Jan, the park ranger, tells us of history of this area
area. It is thought, this area was occupied before the cliff dwellings. The crops grown included corn and beans then these crops were stored in huge clay pots which were kept in a common, secure area in what would look like a pueblo. One suggestion is that these people slowly migrated to Chaco Canyon in New Mexico where we explored last year.
0206 Sunday, February 6, 2011: What a great day for the Superbowl. What a great Superbowl party fixed by Gwen and Janet. We began the party after turning on the Fox channel to watch the game. In only five minutes the DirecTV DVR began acting strange and soon rebooted itself and we saw the "blue screen" below. Janet saw the screen and repeated, "30 MINUTES!" We don't know why the DVR rebooted, it's never done it before but of course it would pick 10 minutes to kickoff to be the first time. Fortunately, it only took five minutes to get our picture back and we didn't miss the kickoff. Congratulations to Green Bay for a great game and to Gwen and Janet for such really good treats.
What we saw just before the kickoff The Green Bay Packers are World Champions
Janet leads the way to her first Geocache

Monday, February 7, 2011: The day begins with Janet's first Geocache hunt. Ralph started Geocaching with us last week, now Janet wants to learn what it's all about. Her first cache was a good one with lots of treasures. She even found a pin she likes and exchanged for a prize of her own. Ralph has his own Geocache ID now so he's recording his find in the log book. We went on this day to other caches and found three more before the end of the day.

Before finding the last cache, we stopped at the Tonto National Monument to hike to the "Lower Cliff Dwellings".

Ralph and Janet find the cache
Ralph and Gwen are hiking to the lower level cliff dwelling We are approaching the dwelling after a relatively short hike
We especially wanted to do this today because we wanted to reserve our space for the Friday, ranger led hike to the "Upper Cliff Dwellings". The public is not allowed to the Upper Cliff Dwellings without a ranger. We learned the Friday hike was full and the soonest we could get onto a hike was a couple of weeks. We don't plan to be in this area that long so decided we needed to postpone our guided turn until next year. The Upper dwelling are larger and a further distance from the visitor center than these lower dwellings. It is interesting to imagine the Salado people growing their crops below near the river then hiking home to their cool cave homes during a hot summer day. All the dwellings face the east so are in the shade during the hot afternoon sun. The signs suggested 60 - 70 persons inhabited these cave dwellings. These are the people who are thought moved to Chaco Canyon in New Mexico which we explored last year. Gwen and Ralph found some tiny cactus growing from the conglomerate rock on the trail down the hill so they had to take photos of what they found. You can see Gwen's photos at her site. Be sure to click these photos for different views. Taking pictures of tiny cactus in the conglomerate rock on the trail down the mountain
"Wading through the river for a Geocache" Renting local videos

Wednesday, February 9, 2011: This was to be a relaxing day but the "girls" decided they wanted to explore for a couple more Geocaches. Ralph drove right into the river across the road with Janet yelling, "go... go... go" ... we had to get to that Geocache. We found the two we were looking for then stopped at the "Punkin Center" Market on the way home for a few groceries. While there we learned that WEDNESDAY is 99¢ day for ALL videos including new releases. Gwen wanted to see "Red" with Bruce Willis and I wanted to see "Amelia" with Richard Gere and Hilary Swank. First we had to fill out the form to become a "member" of the local Punkin Center Market Video rental club. I filled out the form in Gwen's name because I didn't have my ID with me. As it turned out, I must have had an honest face because the manager said, "You don't look like someone who will steal our DVDs." So Gwen got her membership card and we rented two "new releases" for only $1.98. As it turns out, both movies were very good. Now, when we return next year, we'll already have a Punkin Center Market Video Membership card.

Apache Lake near our campground
Friday, February 11, 2011: We thought we would go for a nice easy drive to Tortilla Flat, have lunch, search for some geocaches, take Morgan for a hike and visit with friends. But our easy drive turned into an unexpected driving adventure into some rugged Arizona mountains on Arizona State Hwy 88. It's an unpaved mostly single lane dirt, sand and gravel road between the Theodore Roosevelt Dam and Apache Junction near Phoenix. I took 180 photos of our adventure but I've boiled them down to the best 33 photos. Click here to see the WHOLE story along with the photos.
Keeping the bass alive Saturday, February 12, 2011: This is bass tournament Saturday. I've never seen a bass tournament so on the way back from a 32 mile road ride I stopped at the bass tournament while the bass were being weighed. Wow, what an experience. There were probably over 100 entered into the tournament. After fishing all day for FIVE live fish the fisherman returns, loads his boat onto the trailer. His partner (or wife) pulls the boat with the fisherman still in the boat to a line of other boats waiting to get to the weighing area. Once the boat arrives (behind the tow vehicle) the fisherman climbs out of the boat with a bag of water holding the five live fish. They are weighed, the weight is announced to the crowd and if the weight is high enough (more than the other fisherman) it's also announce what place they are in for the A trophy bass
File live fish are dumped into the bin

tournament. The five fish are then dumped into a mobile fish tank with the other live fish. This bin is pumped full of air to keep enough oxygen in the water. Unfortunately, the fish bladder fills with air, the fish go "belly up" but the helper in the red shirt above uses a syringe looking tool to release the air and keep the fish alive. If individual fish are large enough, a photograph is taken of the fisherman holding the fish (above right). At the end of the day, the mobile fish tank is taken down to the lake and the fish are returned to the lake.

The photo below shows the bass boats lined up before the weigh station. I was amazed at the fine boats and the amount each fisherman must invest to be a part of the tournament. Of course, most of these fisherman would probably find it difficult to understand my need to ride long distances on a fine road bicycle in the same way I don't understand their investment in catching bass.

Lined up to drop off the catch
Sunday, February 13, 2011: We've chosen another adventure driving trip. This time our friend Kathy suggested Alice's Restaurant in the tiny town of Young, Arizona. It's not too far from our camping location, about 60 miles on State Route 288 but after our adventure on State Route 88 we did not know what we might find. This time Ralph is driving in his Chevy pickup so we KNOW we won't have any problems. Be sure to click each photo for an additional photo of this adventure. Of course, we plan to get some Geocaches along the route. The Salt River just before entering the Roosevelt Lake

State Route 288 to Young, AZ

Most of this route is paved compared to Route 88 although about 20 miles is unpaved. We start to see the scenery north toward Young and into the mountains.

Our second cache of the day is a big one in a large ammo can. Ralph learned that GPS receivers struggle in the trees for a satellite signal but he finally spots the cache.

Ralph finds the Geocache right after Gwen finds it.
We find Young, AZ and Alice's Restaurant

Our friends, Jim and Kathy went ahead of us (because we delayed the trip while finding Geocaches along the way) and found Alice's Restaurant before us. Young is spread across the valley with no real center of town. Ralph called them and got directions to the restaurant which turned out to be up a dirt/sand road to a residence on the hill overlooking the valley.

Jim and Kathy met us at Alice's Restaurant

A final cache before heading home, just a short 200 foot climb straight up.

Our last cache of the day, on the way home, was called Squaw Mesa Peak and described the cache as "being at the very TOP of the peak". It also suggested the climb was about 160 feet straight up without a path. Actually Ralph and I found what seemed to be a cow path to the top. The coordinates were off by about 20 feet but the description that it was on TOP of the peak helped. There was a large rock we had to climb to really be on TOP and there it was in the crack of the rock.

Ralph finds the cache "at the top", note the petroglyphs on the enlargement.
Route 288 on the way home

As Ralph spotted the cache he pointed to some petroglyphs only two feet from the cache. My attention was so focused on the cache, I doubt that I would have seen them had Ralph not mentioned them. You can see them in the enlarged photo when you click the scene of Ralph with the cache above.

The scene to the left is on the way home showing an unpaved portion of Route 288. Oh, yes, we DID see snow as you saw above. We arrived back home about 5pm so our 60 mile ride took us all day. But what great country and scenery.

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