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Random thoughts and pictures from our travels in a LazyDaze motorhome.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Last Post For Awhile

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These are the Spanish Peaks to the south of Lathrop SP at Walsenburg CO, 13610 and 12669 feet respectively. The plains Indians named the peaks Huajatolla (Wa-ha-toy-a) which translates to “Breasts of the World”. That certainly fits. The twin peaks were used as directional guides for many years by explorers, trappers, and settlers. We were supposed to reach Pueblo today, but gusty winds and blowing dirt forced us to hold here. Just to the west, on the plains, blowing dirt forced the closure of several highways due to accidents and zero visibility.

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If you do not have a Colorado State Park sticker, the state parks can get expensive. At least at this park, you are charged for a hot shower. You can use the rates here to charge your in-laws when they visit. At least, I imagine the showers are hot. A change box was available outside of the building.

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This is the reason for our extended stay at Denver. Asa will be 13 months in a few days. He needs some balancing assistance for walking, plus he likes his binky occasionally. I have never seen a kid eat practically everything you put in front of him. Brussels sprouts to tomatoes to tuna on toast. He does not like kale.

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So, with that shot, we will temporarily halt this production. We will see you all again soon.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Maxwell NWR

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Once you chug up to Santa Fe above 7000 feet on I-25, you then head east and northeast onto a high plateau. Santa Fe is a very interesting town, and the oldest capital city in the United States. It has a lot of history. So we plan on coming back and spending time around here. Curiously, we passed a Corp of Engineers lake between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, which we were not aware of, but now we are! Half-price camping! This image is of emerging peaks around Taos as we travelled north from Las Vegas.

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Miles and miles of grassland. You see quite a few herds of antelope.

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Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge is about 4 miles west of Maxwell NM and I-25. It entails about 3200 acres with various habitats for wildlife. Here we are next to Lake 13.

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This road travels around the southern half of the lake. Winds were reaching 35 mph in gusts.

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You can see dust being kicked up by the increasing winds. This view is to the west. We started our walk at this point on the road. By the time we reached our turn around point, the winds were hitting 40 mph with dust. Just a lovely walk back into the wind with dust in your mouth and nose. Various fowl were riding the white caps on the lake as we walked by on the high bank. A coot jumped up into the strong winds and was immediately slammed back down into the water bill first. It was funny.

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Carla finishing her walk, no tumble weeds and dust at the moment.

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A shot of the mountains to our west the next morning. Nice.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Albuequerque

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We like stopping at casinos if they are situated where we need them to be! Just so happens, Sandia Casino and Resort on the northern side of Albuquerque fit the bill. That is Sandia Crest in the background. We arrived around 2 PM, and the mountain top still had snow, but by evening it was gone.

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One requirement is that the parking be relatively level and not made of dirt!

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Despite the parking lot lights, sunsets can still be pretty. Tomorrow, Maxwell NWR.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Caballo State Park NM

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We left Gila Box and Arizona to head to Caballo SP in New Mexico as we travel towards Denver. We opted to dry camp along Caballo Lake, which is New Mexico’s third largest. This is the view out our door looking east across the lake. About 50 miles farther east is White Sands.

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It was breezy by late afternoon, gusting to 30 mph by evening. So we knew we were back in New Mexico! You can see the white caps beginning to form on the lake. We received some spits of rain, but that was it. The mountain ranges run north-south in the southern half of New Mexico for the most part. This valley extends all the way north through Albuquerque, terminating at Santa Fe.

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There was a full moon the first night there, so I tried this shot out the door. The next afternoon and night the winds had increase substantially, reaching 45 mph in gusts. Of course, I stuck my head out the door to check the weather out, forgetting about a small sack of pop cans on the door step, those were sucked right out the door and immediately disappeared in the strong winds. Damn, stuff like this happens to me more than I’d like to admit. So, I grabbed a flashlight and ran outside and found half of them on the other side of the rig. Once the cans were on the ground, they didn’t blow too far. The rig was rocking so bad later as the wind direction shifted, that we had to turn her more into the wind. Made a big difference. The next morning, we found the rest of the cans.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Gila Box Riparian Corridor

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Since both of us grew up on farms, and our families still have working farms, these cows caught our attention. These animals are actually two hundred feet up the outside stair step of the Miami open pit copper mine. The mine is right across the street from Walmart as you come into Globe AZ from the west. You just don’t see that in Iowa.

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Gila Box National Riparian Conservation Area is just northeast of Safford AZ. This is essentially a small river with trees through the Chihuhuan Desert which consists of mostly ocotillo, various small cacti, and creosote bushes. I much prefer the Sonoran Desert. Driving from Globe to Safford was depressing since the landscape is pretty barren IMO. Of course, the US Government in its great thinking in the 1870s established the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in this area. With the sun blazing down and blowing dust, its bleak. The Gila looks to be a nice kayaking river though!

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To get to the designated camping area, you have to drive about 4 miles on the edge of the river basin on these narrow and steep roadways.

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Water was flowing pretty fast.

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I don’t think its over 4 feet deep, probably 2-3 feet on average.

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I don’t know if water smoothed this rock out or if was overlaid with the jumbled mess on top. The stuff on top looks like volcanic tuff. Closer inspection of rock nearby indicated tuff.

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Struggling for a drink. Flash floods are common as indicated by the trapped piece of log.

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Another shot of a steep and narrow roadway. The picture does not show the actual grade well. Some of the grades were 15%. Vehicles climbing have the right-of-way. Better if you disconnect your tow.

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We did not make it to the camping area, so we dry camped just off the road a bit. That’s what’s so nice in the west, you can camp nearly anywhere on government land and nobody will hassle you. Just so long as you camp in a location that has been used before. We did check out the camping area since it was another two miles down the road, not that impressed. It was much closer to the water, but no trees.

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An igneous rock among the sedimentary stones.

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It had been dusty and hazy all day, but toward the evening it cleared up. Nice.

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The following morning this mountain greeted us to the west of Safford, Dzil Nchaa Si An in Apache or Mount Graham to us Europeans. It is considered a scared place to all native peoples in the area at 10720 feet.

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If you look closely you will see the Mount Graham International Observatory.

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Surprisingly, farmers grow cotton along the bottomlands here. To an Iowan, this immediate transition from crappy desert to growing crops is hard to get used to.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Desert to Pines Highway

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At the eastern end of Lake Roosevelt, Highway 88 heads north to Young AZ climbing into the Mogollon Rim. This shot is through a slot canyon to the lake below.

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Higher terrain stair steps above the road. These are locally called Angel Wings.

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Higher still, looking back towards the lake valley. A lot of dust and haze in the atmosphere below 5000 feet. Moving into elk country now.

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The road was nearly one lane in places, the dropoff to the left was significant but not straight down. Supposedly trucks up to 70 feet are allowed, but I don’t know how.

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We stopped at the USFS Reynolds Group campsite where a trailhead was located. We did about a four miler. It was nice to be in TREES!

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We were going to Young, but at 20 miles to go, we decided to turn around. Our hike was a bit exhausting. On the way back, you can drive out to the edge of one of the plateaus that overlook the lake. This guy was out there. Again, it was very dusty and hazy. Visibility was not more than 10 miles. Picture taking in this crap is not the best.

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Here is a bit better shot. Yes, it falls straight down just beyond his truck.

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On the plateau, getting close to going down. Going around some of these roads is quite unnerving at times. Going up maybe ok, but coming back makes you wonder why you drove up in the first place. Sometimes it works the other way. Just depends if you are on the outside edge and no guard rail. Carla is usually the better trooper on road edges than me. If I get out and walk it, no problem. Weird.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Apache Trail

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A good shot of the Roosevelt Lake Bridge taken by Carla. The $21.3 million bridge was built to take traffic off the top of Roosevelt Dam. Roosevelt Lake Bridge is the longest two-lane, single-span, steel-arch bridge in North America. The bridge, spans 1,080 feet across Roosevelt Lake providing two-way traffic. The original dam-top roadway was designed to allow two Model-T Fords to pass abreast, but today's recreational vehicles and full-size automobiles were too wide to permit two-way traffic. Hence, before rebuilding of the dam began, traffic needed to be re-routed.

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The original dam was of masonry construction, which you can see a portion of in this image. Seventy-seven feet was added to the dam’s height.

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The Theodore Roosevelt Dam.

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As originally constructed with working beginning in 1903, and dedication in 1911. The transformer house on the right, is still standing.

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View looking downstream.

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The road between the dam and westward is dirt and sand, and occasionally one lane. Trucks over 40 feet are not recommended.

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Farther downstream is another dam, Horse Mesa Dam, which forms Apache Lake.

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This is what you see as you approach the end of the road in Fish Creek Canyon. You climb out along a relatively narrow and steep stone and pothole filled road up that side wall on the right. Here is a Youtube video of driving it.

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At the top is a rest area with super views.

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Heading back towards Lake Roosevelt.

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THOU SHALL NOT PASS!