Lake Mead N.R.A.

Lake Mead N.R.A.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Travel Day to Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge

August 30, 2010, Parker, Az
Yesterday was very windy and we were under a "wind advisory" as I made preparations to depart The Canyon Motel and RV Park in Williams AZ. I aired up all the tires on my truck and the fifth wheel. I then installed the transmitters on the valve stems of the trailer for the TST Tire Pressure and Temperature Monitoring System. However, I discovered the right front tire transmitter wasn't providing data so I replaced it with one of my two spares. They are supposed to last for 5 years, and I've had the system just over a year! While airing the tires I noticed a large piece of wire or perhaps a large staple stuck in the tread of the right rear tire on the fifth wheel trailer. I pulled it out and checked with soap and bubbles for a leak but didn't find one...whew!

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We were hitched and ready to go about 9:45 and said goodbyes to our neighbors, Dave and Judy. We hope to see them again down the road as they don't live too far from our destination: Lake Havasu/ Parker, Az. It was very cool this morning with a low in the 40's but it quickly warmed up. We still had a pretty stiff wind out of the Southwest which stayed with us along the 200 mile route. However, we made pretty good time on I-40 arriving in Kingman, AZ in time for a quick lunch.
Two hours later, I was turning onto a dirt road, Planet Ranch Road. I had followed the directions from the link on the website for Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge which lead me to this dirt road which parallels Bill Williams River on the National Wildlife Refuge property.
This road sure looked rough! I sent Joyce ahead in the jeep to find the visitor center as I creeped along with the rig. I got just over a half mile up the road before Joyce radioed back that she was turning around as the road was getting worse. This couldn't be the right road! I stopped the rig here and backed up in 4wd low and with Joyce's help found a slightly wider spot to slowly jack-knife the rig to get it turned around while avoiding dropping it over the cliff! I took these pictures the day after as I didn't have enough composure to take the pictures at the time!
We finally got turned around and headed back towards Hwy. 95.  Unfortunately I didn't have the phone number to the refuge handy because if I did I could have avoided this near disaster. I dug my laptop out of the rig and found the phone number. I called and learned that the visitor center and our destination were actually about a half mile down the highway to the left in this picture on Lake Havasu.
Minutes later we arrived and were greeted by some of the staff that we would be working with. They helped to get us parked and then allowed us to get set up ...which took me all evening. It was about 95 degrees when we arrived.  Again, I failed to take pictures till the next morning. A nice plus is the sunscreen drapes that block the afternoon sun as well as the sunscreen roof. As you can see I have the covers on the Jeep and our truck.
We have neighbors that we have yet to meet. They are here till the end of September until another couple arrives.
Our covered table at the front of our rig has a great view of the lake and a campfire site.
View of the visitor center across the parking lot.
And finally a picture taken the evening we arrived just after sunset over Lake Havasu.
Tomorrow we need to get up early and meet our new boss for a run down on some of our duties. I'm sure it will be a warm day!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Preparations to Move to Our Volunteer Job

August 28, 2010. Williams AZ
The last few days have been spent primarily hanging out at the RV park. We’ve both been doing some bike riding in and around the town of Williams.  The weather has been very mild with occasional afternoon showers although it rained last night.
I mentioned in one of my previous posts that we accepted a volunteer position for at least part of the fall and winter. I occasionally check the website Volunteer.Gov which is where I had found this position.
We will be working at Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge which is on the western border of Arizona. It’s about 23 miles south of Lake Havasu City. We were looking for something out west that would be warm for the winter. I think this will fit the bill.
It’s my understanding that our jobs will be doing general maintenance and upkeep of the day use facilities and visitor center working a schedule of 3 days on and 3 days off with another couple. In exchange we will be provided with a covered RV site with full hook-ups. We accepted the position back in June and were invited to start right away. However, we declined noting the temperatures were well over 110 degrees. We told the refuge we would be there by the first of October and possibly earlier.
Well we decided to go early..about a month early and plan to be there Monday. It’s still hot at the refuge, but the month of September should bring a cooling trend. We’ve been getting a little bored hanging out in Williams so we decided to volunteer early. We plan to stay till the first of January.
Today we took a ride in the truck to Flagstaff for an early dinner and to fill up on diesel to include filling my two 5 gallon containers. At $2.95 a gallon I figured it was worth it to purchase the extra ten gallons. Diesel in Williams is $3.19 and $3.59 at the interstate exits...literally highway robbery! 
Tomorrow I’ll check the air in the tires on our Carriage fifth wheel and air up the rear duals in my truck along with a host of other chores in preparation for departure Monday. I just hope the weather cooperates as it’s raining as I’m writing this.
So I’ll report back soon and provide all the details once we arrive at the refuge.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Exploring the area, biking and window tint for the Jeep

August 23, 2010.
The fields are awash in a sea of yellow and green. Nearly every empty field in The Williams, Flagstaff area is full of sunflowers. Apparently this year they are more abundant than usual as are the flies and mosquitos! It doesn't help that we are less than a mile from the well used rodeo grounds. We purchased a smelly fly trap that we set at the edge of our site adjacent to a vacant site to catch flies. We've also hung fly paper. I keep our large outdoor fan going when we sit outside to blow away the critters. I always assumed there were less bugs out west than in Florida...I'm beginning to doubt it!
The other day we loaded up Maggie and Rico in the Jeep and took a ride off road in and around the Kaibab National Forest
One stop along the way was Kaibab Lake which is surrounded on one side by the Forest Service campground. It's a paved campground but there are no hook-ups...and it was full!
Rico pondering his next move!
While driving around closer to Williams and headed towards Cataract Lake, we came across this old railroad overpass. The road wasn't posted regarding the overpass height however on the opposite side scrawled on the wall it indicated the height was 13ft 3inches.
Out by Cataract Lake we found another much smaller Forest Service campground. Again no hook-ups. The area around there has many small ponds and lakes.
An old abandoned Ranch.
We continued exploring down some of the forest roads before heading back home. Out on some of the forest roads we found folks camping in dispersed areas. I should note that in the designated campgrounds that I mentioned above, the camping fees were $18 a day plus $9 for an additional vehicle. Rather expensive for no hook-ups! 

I've been doing some biking in the mornings in and around Williams. It seems that downtown Williams is always alive with tourists. A couple days ago we drove into Flagstaff or "Flag" as it's known locally, to get the passenger and driver side windows of the Jeep tinted. 
Not much else till next time, we'll keep you posted!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


August 17, 2010.
We are continuing to have mild weather. It's been cooler the last few days and the monsoon season is back. Big clouds roll in during they day and we sometimes get some rain. Best of all, it's kept the highs in the upper 70's.
Today we took a ride out to Sedona, Az. just over a hundred miles round trip.
We should have been on Highway 89A heading south out of Flagstaff. But I didn't pay attention to the map thinking I could get to Sedona off I-17. However, after more than 50 miles on I-17 I hadn't seen a sign for Sedona, so it was time to break out the map. We made it to an exit which put us south of Sedona and thus we headed north on 179 from I-17 towards Sedona enjoying the beautiful red rock mesas.

Love this photo!

Notice the homes nestled in the hills. 
Sedona is located in the Upper Sonoran Desert of northern Arizona. At an elevation of 4,500 feet (1,372 m), Sedona has mild winters and summers.
The famous red rocks of Sedona are formed by a layer of rock known as the Schnebly Hill Formation. The Schnebly Hill Formation is a thick layer of red to orange-colored sandstone found only in the Sedona vicinity. The sandstone, a member of the Supai Group, was deposited during the Permian Period.
As of the census of 2000, there were 10,192 people, 4,928 households, and 2,863 families residing in the city. The median income for a household in the city was $44,042, and the median income for a family was $52,659. Males had a median income of $32,067 versus $24,453 for females. The per capita income for the city was $31,350. About 4.7% of families and 9.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.1% of those under age 18 and 5.0% of those age 65 or over.
Sedona has a temperate high desert climate. In January, the average high temperature is 57°F (14°C) with a low of 31°F (-1°C). In July, the average high temperature is 97°F (34°C) with a low of 64°F (17°C). Annual precipitation is just over 19 inches. Temps were in the low 90's during our visit, milder perhaps due to the clouds.
Sedona began to develop as a tourist destination, vacation-home and retirement center in the 1950s. Most of the development seen today was constructed in the 1980s and 1990s. As of 2007, there are no large tracts of undeveloped land remaining.
The red rock formations surrounding the downtown areas were absolutely beautiful.
It's obvious that Sedona is a tourist town. The Main Street (89A) is lined on both sides with restaurants, T-shirt shops and Jeep tours. 

We had lunch at a local Mexican restaurant and watched through the large windows as the storm clouds rolled in. The waitress made mention of flash flood warnings out of Flagstaff.
We had traveled in the truck as I hadn't driven it for over a week. It began to rain as we headed north on 89A towards Flagstaff. The rode was narrow and winding through a canyon. I was beginning to regret not having taken the Jeep because of the narrow twisting canyon road. However, it was very beautiful especially when we could see the water falling off the canyon walls. Unfortunately, the water often ran into the road creating potential flash flooding and falling rock conditions. We weren't able to take pictures do to the rain. Before long we came across some ascending switchbacks. After gaining altitude the rain began to subside as we drove through a pine forest that was littered with hail on the ground so thick it looked like snow. I'm glad we didn't drive into the hail as it was falling! The rest of the ride home was uneventful with sporadic rain showers.
Sedona is worth checking out if you're in the area. There are a number of hiking opportunities just off the highway. We had hoped to take advantage of one in a slot canyon, but were thwarted by the rain and lightning.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Relaxin' in Williams, AZ

August 16, 2010.
The last few days have been relatively uneventful. We've had cool nights and warms days. The last couple of days have been in the upper 80's which has created a real temptation to turn on the A/C. However, I'm still leery of the minimal voltage i.e. 112-114 volts as indicated on my meter.
The other day we drove back to Flagstaff and visited their mall. Flagstaff is a small city in my estimation. It does seem to have most of the major stores that we grew accustomed to in the Tampa Bay area. Overall, I like the Flagstaff area. We also stopped at the new Camping World on I-40, but weren't tempted to buy anything.
Williams had a car show over the weekend, so we checked out the old cars lined up on Main Street (Rte 66). Folks said it was smaller than years past, possibly affected by the economy. This is a era original gas station on main street that has been restored.

Saturday evening we rode our bicycles into town and had dinner. 
The food at the Pine Country Restaurant was average and not expensive. There sure doesn't seem to be a shortage of tourists in Williams. A good percentage seem to be European.
We've only been here close to two weeks about halfway through our paid month, but we are getting "hitch itch" (the desire to move on). 
We'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Grand Canyon National Park

August 10, 2010.
Yesterday, we hung out at the campground. I cleaned my bike up and then took a short ride. We made preparations for our trip today to The Grand Canyon National Park. We had heard that the park is very busy and that there is construction going on. We figured today would be a good day to visit since school had started this week. So I loaded the bikes on the Jeep as we decided we would ride them around the park.
So much for thinking we would beat the crowds. I took almost 20 minutes to get through to the entrance gate. Then we had to search for a parking space at the visitor center. The park was full of what seemed to be mostly foreign visitors. However, we saw license tags from every state in the union to include Hawaii. It was so crowded it reminded me of Disney World.
We walked our bikes to the first viewpoint near the visitor center because of the crowds. Of course the views were spectacular! 
A glimpse over the side. In some points it's a mile down!
We rode our bikes through the park which allowed us much more freedom. There are shuttle buses but they looked jam packed and there was always a crowd waiting to board one. So, the bikes worked out great for us. We seemed to be the only cyclists taking advantage of our own wheels.
We stopped and walked through El Tovar Hotel
It's hard to capture the beauty of the Grand Canyon in photos. The distances are so great.
A lady was nice enough to snap this picture of both of us together.
After getting back to our Jeep we loaded the bikes and drove out of the congested area of the park towards Hwy 64 and the "Desert Views" which are just a series of viewpoints along the highway.
Another glimpse over the side.

We spent a good 4-5 hours at The Grand Canyon National Park. The entrance fee was $25. It's worth the visit but be prepared for the crowds. Joyce and I both remember coming to the Grand Canyon many years ago, but we don't remember the crowds of people and the buses, tour groups and traffic. We remember it used to be so peaceful and quiet.
I would suggest riding your bike if you want to avoid some of the crowds, but be aware the terrain is hilly and can be challenging. We rode one hill that was posted with signs warning vehicles of a 7% grade. Coming back the opposite direction I was doing 32 miles an hour down the hill and sporadically touching the brakes to keep from going any faster!
We drove over one hundred miles round trip today.We got home by 5:30 and released Maggie and Rico from their prison inside the rig! We hate to leave them so long. We made dinner and then called it a night, exhausted from our adventure. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Canyon Motel & RV Park, Williams, Arizona

Aug 6, 2010.
The last few days have been occupied doing domestic chores around the rig along with some short excursions. Last night we rode our bikes in the evening into Williams to sit outside and watch the people cruising the Historic Route 66 Main Street. We have very good lights for our bicycles so we felt comfortable riding at night on the way home. It was a cool and beautiful evening.
We are staying at The Canyon Motel & RV Park. It's located about a couple miles from the Main Street of Williams, Az.
The Canyon Motel & RV Park has a few rental rooms that are converted train cars..kinda neat. Most of the rooms are in the standard cottage style buildings.
The cottages and trains are near the entrance. The sloping RV park is located directly behind the cottages and the office/ retail shop. There is a small indoor wading pool in the park however, it has been closed for repairs.  Although advertised as being in the Ponderosa Pines, except for a very few sites, there are no trees in the RV park as it's an open gravel parking lot with some areas of weedy greenery. The majority of the sites are pull throughs, but be aware the sites are generally not level.
I-40 is visible and can be heard at night to the north of the park. There are at least two train tracks in the area. One north and The Grand Canyon Railway runs just south of the park. You can see the The Grand Canyon Railway train passing in the picture below which is the view from our site.
We are in Site 14 and are paying $761 for a month including electricity with full hook-ups. I've noted the voltage readings on the power are minimal. So far we haven't had the need to run the a/c and I don't plan to use the a/c due to the minimal and fluctuating voltage. At times, my AC Volt Meter is reading barely 112-114 VAC. 
Temperatures here in Williams, Az. have been very moderate with lows in the 50's and the highest at 83 degrees for about an hour.
The lower part of the park had flooded a few days before our arrival due to excessive rain. The flooding reportedly damaged the pool. Our site backs up to a residential neighborhood. The empty residential lots behind our rig are full of sunflowers that are in full bloom.

The park advertises WiFi however it is virtually non existent. We've talked to some folks in the park that return every year. They have told us that the low voltage and poor WiFi have been a problem for years. Yet this park seems to be the best if not one of the best in the area. 
All things considered we are satisfied with this park for the next month as there are lots of things to see and do in the area. We plan to take our time and relax cutting back from the fast paced touring that we've been guilty of. It's very easy to get sucked into the constant vacation mode and forget that this is our lifestyle and not an extended vacation.  We need to slow down and smell the roses!
Yesterday we drove the truck into Flagstaff, 30 miles away via interstate 40. We did some restocking of groceries and purchased a hitch from U-haul for the jeep. Back home I installed the hitch on the jeep for the purpose of mounting our bike rack and thus being able to take our bikes with us for exploring.
It's the same bike rack that we use on the kingpin of the fifth wheel. However, it doesn't fit properly on the Jeep. The latch that collapses the rack down also hits the spare tire if you try to open the rear door. However, it will work for now.
Another reason for staying a month in Williams is that we are slowly headed for our 2nd Volunteer (workamper) experience. We've accepted a government volunteer position for a few months near Lake Havasu, Az. We are expected by October 1 but we may entertain arriving earlier if the temperatures come down a bit in Havasu!  I'll post more about that position in the near future.