Thursday, February 28, 2013

Blogs, Bloggers, & a Basset Birthday!

A few years ago is when I really started researching the full time RV lifestyle. One of the things I did was read the hundreds of RV blogs available online. Two of these blogs in particular have been a wealth of information about not only RV's but where to enjoy this thing we call retirement. Today Laurie and I were able to meet the authors of these two blogs in person....Al & Kelly are from Canada and winter in Congress AZ and Mike & Pat are from Custer SD and winter in North Ranch which is right down the road from Congress. It was fun to talk to them after reading their blogs for the past few years.
We heard from Al that the small town of Yarnell, AZ is worth the drive to go and see. As it turned out, the drive was the best part. Not that Yarnell is not a cool destination, but the scenery along the way is absolutely post card material. The population is about 600 or so and most of the economy is derived from ranching, mining, and tourism. I did my part and bought a diet Mt. Dew and some Doritos. I was going to buy Laurie some M&M's but she already has quite a stash in her purse. Something about "if we would ever get stranded in the desert she'd be prepared and wouldn't have to eat me if I died".
There are lots of shops and antique stores to browse but we had Lucy along so we didn't do much but look around. By the way, Lucy turned 6 years old today (Wed.)  We ascended 2500 feet in four miles from the valley floor up to Yarnell and at an altitude of about 4500 ft, there was a dusting of snow that was barely visible on the shade side of buildings. I found enough to make a small snowball and that was plenty of winter for me.
Another fun day exploring AZ.......where the heck did February go?
On a COMPLETELY different subject........ 
I thought about doing a blog on the different road kill we've seen on our travels down here in the SW part of the U.S. Back in MN we're all used to seeing deer, rabbits, skunks, & raccoon's. Here it's a little different story, in the past few days we've seen road kill coyotes, javelins (wild pigs), hawks, & lizards. I didn't want to cause an accident by stopping and snapping pictures, plus that'd be pretty gross and I'd look like a tourist from MN. I 'll give a "Road Kill" update when we see an unusual one laying there waiting to be turned into stew. Here's a few pics from our drive to Yarnell.

The temp here was about 62 degrees today

Heading towards the mountain

Some one did a nice job painting that rock to look like a frog!

Long way down

I found some of the "S" word

I guess if you like Blue.

Should be called the "Tiny" Two Dog Pottery.

Beautiful isn't she

Laurie said I was wearing same 2 or 3 shirts in all my I went and bought some new ones. Does this new shirt make me look fat?

Hard to believe this is AZ

I used to have a Suzuki Samuri like that


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gold Rush Arizona Style

I mentioned yesterday, while on our Jeep tour I asked Glenn a lot of questions about prospecting for gold in the desert. He even showed us a couple of nice sized nuggets he'd found over the years. He said "I have a friend I'd like you to meet, he's got a claim out here in the desert, I think you'll like him". A claim works this way, you pay the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) a small fee and you can keep all the minerals you get from the ground be it gold, silver, ect. The BLM takes the claim very serious and you have to prove your are actually working the claim and not just living or hanging out there or they will take it back and kick you off the land.
We drove through the desert a few more miles, a turn here and a turn there and came up to a large gate. The gate had signs hung on it like "No Trespassing", Keep Out", Private Property" and "Violators Will be Shot", Glenn said "he means business and prospectors take their claim serious". He also said "You two have something in common but I'll let him tell you".
The gate was open so we drove in and we were met by a huge dog that looked like he hadn't eaten yet today but was ready to. The miner walked over from where he was panning some dirt and said hi to Glenn. I had to do a double take when I saw Pete the prospector.....for those of you who watch the TV show "Gold Rush" on the Discovery channel, Pete could have been the twin brother of Jack Hoffman, the dad on the show!
When he found out we were from MN he got a little more talkative, and when he found out I was a retired cop he got a big smile on his face. Pete is from Anoka where he worked for and retired from the Anoka PD 30 years ago, and has been here ever since. He asked with a laugh "Was it the dirt bags you had to deal with or the cold winters that brought you here"? I said, "a little of both". He was very gracious answering all our questions and explaining a little about his operation. Pete had a smile of determination and pride on his face when he was telling us about his mining operation. I found out you can ask a prospector if he's found any gold today but...... you'd get the same answer you'd get if you asked any of my brother in-laws if the fish are biting and where...."pretty slow today"! No secrets revealed here:)
Another great adventure in the Arizona desert.

On the way to Pete's gold claim

Some his mining equipment
He calls this the "Grizzly" it separates the big rocks from the little ones.

The smaller rocks go into the trommel which turns round and round

The smaller material washes down the sluice box, the rocks fall out of the end and into a pile. Gold is 19 times heavier than  water and falls onto the mat on the bottom of the sluice box.

Pete pans the material from the sluice box mat by hand and a gold pan.

This is Pete..........

This is Jack Hoffman from the TV show!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

3 Hour Tour in a Little Red Jeep

We weighed the pros and cons of renting ATV's or taking a Jeep tour to see the surrounding desert of Wickenburg, AZ. Let's see, $400 for 2 ATV's and a map or $130 and sit in the back seat of a Jeep Wrangler with the top off.... and let someone else drive and be the tour off we went in the Jeep!
Glenn of BC Jeep Tours and his fiance Patricia, picked us up at 1:30 right outside our front door with the top off, a cooler of water bottles, and a big smile on their faces. I knew I'd like him right away when he started to give Laurie a bad time. Glenn is retired, lived here all his life and knows the desert like I know pizza. He prospects for gold in the desert and answered a ton of questions for me I had about that. Patricia is a retired school teacher and when I asked how they met, she smiled and said "don't laugh but we met on Seniors.Com 3 months ago!  I was very leery but we fell in love the night we met".
I told her, as I wiped a tear from my eye, "That's nothing to be ashamed of, Laurie met me on, I'm Desperate.Com".
We got in the Jeep and the 4 of us headed out to the desert ( I told Laurie that most horror movies start out this way) and wow did we get our money's worth. Glenn proved to be a great tour guide as well as a hell of a Jeep 4 wheelin driver. We went up steep hills and down into canyons where the desert was alive with plants beginning to bloom, Hawks, Quail, snakes, and lots of other wildlife. The thing that surprised us the most was how vibrant the desert is. When you think of a desert, dust, tumbleweeds, sun bleached bones and skulls come to mind but that couldn't be farther from what we experienced today. We did see some of that, but mostly it was life stirring around every bend on the trails. We ran into a couple people ATV'ing and horseback riding, other than that it was so peaceful. Glenn took the time to explain each plant, cactus, bush, rock, name it he had an answer. It was like watching a couple of teenagers in love while he was talking and Patricia was so in awe of his knowledge. You could tell he was really trying to impress her as well as us. I was going to ask if they wanted to find a cactus and have a little privacy :)
We were on the subject of gold prospecting and Glenn said a friend of his had a claim nearby and he took us to meet him......that's a whole other neat story that I'll do a blog on tomorrow.
We got back after about 3 hours, I threw him a $20 tip and told him to buy Patricia some flowers. He said he'd pull some out of his neighbors garden and pocket the I like this guy's thinking.
I took dozens of pictures but I'll post just a few of the more scenic ones. Love & miss ya all.....Bob & Laurie

Seniors.Com, it works! Notice the old jeans used as a trash bag.

The Red Chariot
Desert Mistletoe 

No clouds

Vulture Peak in the distance.

Glenn cutting a piece of Mormon Tea plant

Used for healing headaches, fever, colds, smart ass husbands. Laurie took some.

Bolting down the windshield...rough trail ahead.

Notice the small leaves...they have adapted due to minimal rainfall

Barrel cactus

Sharp quill from the Barrel cactus

"Cotton" from the top of a Barrel cactus. Indians used it to stop bleeding. 

Up we go.

Miners look for granite like this when prospecting in the desert.

Jojoba Plant, native to the deserts of Arizona

Jojoba seed. The oil is extracted and used in cosmetics & shampoo. That one nut will last me years.

Teddy Bear Cholla cactus

The skeleton of a Saguaro cactus

I was taking a pee, he said watch where you point with all these sharp needles around.

This is what falls off the Teddy Bear cactus....then it will begin growing another one.

The spines are barbed and hold like a fish hook

Cowboys would start them on fire......

Which burned off the barbs, cut open and you have water to drink

Dead Cholla, people make rain sticks out of them

Ocotillo "Devils Whip"...they are barbed. Just starting to bloom.


"Game Water", catches dew and rain for the wild animals. The locals made this, the fence is to keep the cows out.

Birds will build nests in the Saguaro cactus. The left side shows where the cactus has tried to heal itself. 

Yucca Plant, the Indians would use the inner leaf as thread.

Thread from the inner leaf

Agave plant....used to make Tequila. Where's the Limes? Actually only the Blue Agave is used to make Tequila