Sunday, March 30, 2014

Holbrook and the Petrified Forest

March 27 - 30, 2014:

We left Payson around 9 AM, I stopped across the road to fuel the RV and get the propane tank filled while Twinkles went right on the highway.  This separate driving is good as we we don't always drive so well together.  She can listen to her books on tape while I can blast my music.  The drive north on route 260 takes you up 2,000 feet to the Mogollon Rim which is a long climb.  I had my foot heavy on the gas pedal and was able to maintain 50 MPH all the way up, not bad !  Good news was that the high winds had mostly abated.  I seem to have gotten used to the feel of the rig now, it floats around quite a bit, rocking and tail wagging, but when you get used to the motion and learn how to go with the flow, not too awful bad.  After the hill climb, the rest of the trip was easy and went from the seemingly endless green Ponderosa Pine forest at the Rim area to the endless high desert plains again at Holbrook.  

As we checked in at the OK RV Park in Holbrook they told us that yesterday they had 80 MPH wind gusts that knocked over three trees in the campground.  Glad we missed that !  It was still a bit breezy, 20 MPH, but the wind diminished in the evening.  We took a ride over to Jim Gray's petrified wood museum and store outside of town, bought a couple of small pieces, then cruised through the route 66 flavored downtown.  This is my forth time in Holbrook and things on first impression look improved from the last visit.  I noticed that two of the downtown bars both appeared to be open for business.  Well, I had to check that out in the evening and ended up at "Young's Corral".  The bar tender and a guy who looked like a regular were having an interesting conversation about medical stuff and kept mentioning this "Indian Mud" stuff that cures cancer.  I heard all about it, know how to get it and might even be a believer ?  

The view behind Gray's Petrified Wood store

You can have this polished tree stump for $49,000

Friday. we visited the Petrified Forest National Forest and the Painted Desert.  We went to a favorite spot, the "Painted Desert Inn" and then went for a hike from the adjacent Kachina Point into the wilderness area.  The trail went steeply downhill to the valley floor where you are able to wander around for miles amid all forms of Petrified wood, logs, chunks, splinters surrounded by painted desert views. After that, we continued on the park road stopping a several vista points.  We made a point of stopping at another favorite of ours, the "Blue Mesa" viewpoint and trail. The 1 mile trail is perhaps the most scenic 1 mile trail anywhere, it's really special. 

The inside of the Painted Desert  Inn

Counter space at the Inn

Painted Desert view

We came upon an old dam , Twinkles is the little one in the  background

Taking a rest on ancient Log

Huge Petrified logs are laying all over

Beautiful colorful layers

View from the Blue Mesa Trail

A Great Trail !

Mind boggling sights !

Feel like I'm on a far away planet

Petrified wonder

Petrified Tree

The bark looks so real, actually it is

Amazing colors

I like to shuffle back and forth between the natural world and the un-natural world.  So, I again went downtown, after dark, to the other interesting bar in Holbrook, the "Winners Circle".  That's an oxymoron as I saw no one who looked like a winner in there.  It is a classic route 66 biker theme on the outside, but inside is more of a sports bar, pool hall with a new DJ booth set up with  accompanying hypnotic dance floor lighting.  I learned that the place had been vacant for two years and was just recently re-opened by a new owner. There was hardly anyone there, but the bar maid told me the 21 year old crowd, who don't worry about getting a DUI, start coming in around 10:30.  I didn't stay to see that.

Joe and Aggie's Cafe at night

Holbrook mural at night

The famous Tee Pee Motel at night

Another view of Joe and Aggie's at night
I wandered around Holbrook a while Saturday morning, the old train station, the Bucket of Blood Saloon, the rock shops, the big dinosaurs, and several old buildings in various stages of collapse.  Holbrook has quite the history, mostly bad stuff, but the westerners take pride in that. 

Mural at Young's Corral Bar

The Bucket of Blood Saloon

Horsehead Crossing Deli, now vacant

Old Hotel in Holbrook now falling apart

The classic Route 66 dinosaurs in Holbrook

Holbrook mural of Hashknife Pony Express riders

The Pow Wow Trading Post in Holbrook

The ultimate VW RV at a shop in Holbrook

After receiving a bigger than expected check from canceling the extended warranty on the GMC Denali, we went out for dinner.  The dinner options in Holbrook are limited, nothing fancy.  We ended up at a place, "Mr Maestas" which seems more like an antique shop inside, with good (almost) home cooked food. Haven't had Meat Loaf and mashed potatoes in a while !

I sat next to the smiling Texaco man at the Diner

 We extended for another day at the campground after hearing the dust storm weather advisory on our cell phones and a forecast of 35 to 50 MPH winds with gusts to 60 on Sunday.  We have free cable TV here along with some working WiFi, so I don't mind staying put.

The mouse mystery from the previous post came to a sad ending on Saturday.  As Twinkles was going under the sink for cleaning supplies, she noticed lots of chewed up toilet paper which stopped her in her tracks.  Of course I was called in again to delve deeper and eventually found a little dead mouse.  I suppose it became trapped in there when the escape route was sealed and could get no food or water and died. 

It's noon on Sunday and the RV is rocking in the wind, the dust is blowing and it appears to have been a smart decision to stay put for the day.  I'm reading a Zane Grey book now, The Hash Knife Outfit, that takes place in this area.

The Hashknife Gang in Holbrook
Our next stop is going to be another repeat, the McKinley County Red Rock Park outside of Gallup, New Mexico.  This week has a cold weather forecast, may have to bring out the winter clothes for the morning.

Drifting along with the tumbling Tumbleweeds,
Twinkles and Slick

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Payson, Zane Grey and the Mogollon Rim

March 22 - 26, 2014:

On Friday, two new campers moved in, one on each side of us.  We saw them going back and forth and learned that the husbands had gone through grade school together and hadn't seen each other for some 50 years.  This was like a reunion of sorts.  Twinkles tipped them off that we were leaving our site on Saturday so they move over and be next to one another.  Saturday morning, we had a hard time getting away from this very interesting, talkative, retired man who was a former cabinet maker, but is now a pyrotechnic who does fireworks shows and also does announcing for the Drum Majors. Finally Twinkles said, OK, We have to leave now.  You meet some really unique people at times in this lifestyle.

After using the one Dump Station, we took route 188 over the Roosevelt Bridge and then continued along the wide valley along the Tonto Creek.  This route eventually merged into route 87 north and went up and over a mountain pass and into Payson, Arizona.  Payson sits at a 5,000 foot elevation and seems to be rather vibrant growing town.  The Payson RV Campground & Resort is on Route 260 about a 1/2 mile from downtown Payson, very easy to get into and convenient to about everything.  We have a full hookup site which will be a treat after about 8 days of dry camping.  After setting up, the first order of business was a car wash to remove a thick layer of dust from the  Jeep due to my Apache Trail ride. 

On Sunday, we wandered around in a great old antique emporium called the "Art and Antique Corral".  It had room after room of fascinating old western stuff, better than many museums !  
Afterwards we went to the Zane Grey and the Rim Country museum.  The Historical Society has built a replica of Zane Greys Cabin where he wrote many of his books.  The original cabin was located north of Payson up on the Mongollon Rim and was destroyed in a huge forest fire in 1990's.  The replica is an exact copy and is furnished just like the original.  The Zane Grey story is a great one, baseball player, NYC dentist and then writer who became the top selling author of his day.  He wrote 64 books, 300 short stories, several western/hunting/fishing articles and his books were turned into 130 movies.  At the museum, we were told that the movies don't match the books very accurately, if at all.  They have very dedicated volunteers who give guided tours of both the Zane Grey Cabin and the Rim Country Museum.  The Rim Country Museum is about the rich history of Payson, the Tonto Apache tribe, the famous Payson Rodeo and the Mongollon Rim. 

Inside the Art and Antique Corral

Old Chaps for sale

If I'm good please tell others about it, I can be bought

Zane Grey Cabin in Payson

The Sides Mud House, oldest house in Payson

A house that was known as the Mansion, it's for sale

Ox Bow Saloon also for sale

Sunday evening about 8 PM, all is quiet, Twinkles is in bed reading, I'm on the couch reading, when suddenly Twinkles starts screaming.  It seems that a mouse, she calls it a "Pack Rat", paraded about 3 feet in front of her on a shelf next to the bed.  She was in total hysteria mode, I thought she might go into convulsions at any moment !  So, Twinkles darts to safety to the other end of the RV and my job is to attempt to capture this critter.  I was kind of thinking dead or alive, but Twinkles is anti death penalty all the way.  This is when I could have used Marley, our beloved cat, although the outcome would have been brutal.  So, I am taking about 8 pairs of shoes off the shelf expecting the critter to jump out.  Then I see the mouse in the corner and I attempt to force it out where I can slam dunk a plastic bucket over it.  It then darts out really fast, I miss with the bucket and it shoots under the bathroom door.  I carefully opened the bathroom door and looked around inside and find no sign of the mouse. There is a opening where a pipe passes through the bathroom wall which hopefully lead this mouse outside, I hope.  I sealed the hole with duct tape to prevent the mouse from coming back in.  In the morning, I remove the cover at the wall bottom and sure enough there is a large unsealed hole where one small wire passes through. I sealed this up with Foam spray insulation, hopefully that rodent never returns.  

On Monday, after a trip to Ace Hardware to buy a "humane" catch and release mouse trap, I go off for a hike.  Twinkles stays at the RV to clean and sew.  I go a few miles away to a trailhead for the Boulders Trail.  It is a 4 mile loop through the forest along a small running creek into an area strewn with huge boulders and beautiful mountain views.  Yes, we are in a forested area again, real trees !   In fact the Tonto National Forest contains the World's largest stand of Ponderosa Pine trees.

View along the Boulders Trail

Interesting rock slope along trail

A huge rock pile

Looks like a sculpture, but  totally natural

We had some problems with our electrical post hookup, something in the circuit breaker or receptacle wiring would cause us to lose power every once in a while.  If you played with the breaker or wiggled the plug it would energize again.  It started on the first day here, we reported it and the maintenance guy came out immediately to check it out.  He thought the breaker was going bad and claimed he had one to replace it, but wanted to wait and see ?  He mentioned something about spreading the prongs on our plug if it happens again.  It acted up again on Sunday morning, so I bent the plug slightly which did nothing.  We reported it again, but again nothing was done. So on Monday, when it was still acting up we had to get a little nasty with them to get them to repair it.  Overall, we like the place, it's a nice campground, the people are friendly, but probably wouldn't stay here again.

On Tuesday we visited the Tonto Natural Bridge about 20 miles north.  It is believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world.  It is a 400 foot long, 183 foot high and 150 foot wide tunnel.  There are several lookout points and trails around the Bridge, we did most of them.  The Anna Mae Trail following Pine Creek was a fairly tough hike, sort of a rock scramble that gave us a real workout.  Also the Gowan Trail to an observation deck at the tunnel entrance was a steep climb. 

Looking down into Pine Creek Canyon

The Anna Mae Trail, a challenging hike 

The Tonto Natural Bridge

Walkway into the tunnel

Inside the tunnel looking back out

Beautiful river view at stop along route 260

Art on the bridge caught my eye at same place

Really good stuff

Another view 
The Mogollon Rim is a big natural attraction in this area.  It is a 200 mile long geological escapement that rises to 7,500 foot elevation north of Payson.  Geologically it is the southern end of the Colorado plateau.  We are struggling with the local pronunciation of Mogollon, it's very strange, it's pronounced "Muggy-own", after a Spanish King.

On Wednesday we decided to check out the Mogollon Rim in spite of very windy and cold conditions.  It is a long climb up there, but a good road.  It's going to be a grind getting up that hill Thursday morning with the Hawk, he only soars downhill, hope the wind dies off some.  At the top we drove on the "Rim Road" stopping at several vista view points, amazing views !  The road was closed after about 5 miles, so we then took route 300 to Woods Canyon Lake which looked to be a great campground for future reference.  We then wandered around a few other unpaved roads through an area of beautiful Ponderosa pine.  Everywhere we went there were undeveloped campsites, many nice ones on national forest land.  Also hiking trails were galore, but due to the cold, gale force wind we passed on that. 
Instead, we returned to Payson at 1PM and went for a nice lunch at  the Journigan House Restaurant.  It was really nice, clean, filled with historical photos, good service and great food.  It's a historic building originally built by an early settler who operated the mail route for many years.  The building is also supposedly haunted, but I saw no evidence of that. I saw a poster for a country band that was playing there at night from 6-9 called the "Plan B Band".  I went for a while, they were a group of old guys, all wearing matching white cowboy hats.  They had a senior crowd listening attentively, I was at the bar area dividing my attention between them, NCAA gymnastics, basketball and ultimate fighting.  It was just a sensory overload !  

General Crook Trail, he was another legendary leader of his day and
you can trace the steps of his party rounding up the renegade Apaches

View from a vista viewpoint along the Rim Road

A nice stand of Aspen Trees on the Rim

A nice Alpine meadow on the Rim, great campsite and lots of pine cones

Our next stop is Holbrook Arizona.  We have done it before, but at a different time of year, we'll see if anything has changed. Hope we don't freeze up !   

Adios Amigos,
Twinkles and Slick