Lake Mead N.R.A.

Lake Mead N.R.A.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

CAT Scales Certified Weight of Our Rig

May 29, 2010.
I mentioned in the previous post that we stopped and had our rig weighed before arriving at Davis Monthan A.F.B. Well, in fact, we stopped at a CAT Scales in a truck stop off the interstate. The scales are located throughout our country. Operation is simple and there is a "how to" video on the CAT Scales website. Basically all you do is drive onto the scales ramp noting the segmented slabs on the ramp. You want to stop with your axles on the separate segments in order to get the various axle weights. Now unfortunately it doesn't weigh side to side, just whole axle weights.

There's a speaker box and a call button. Hit the call button and ask for a private weigh. They then tell you to come on in with your tag number. After parking and going inside you pay $9 for your weigh ticket that has the weights for your Steer Axle (front), Drive Axle (dually axle on my truck) and the Trailer Axles. The ticket also gives you the combined axle weights as the Gross Weight. After weighing the rig, I opted to come back within 24 hours with just my truck to weigh it separately for an additional $1.

Okay, let's get to the numbers! On my first weigh with the rig (truck and trailer) and a 1/2 tank of diesel, my Certified weigh ticket reported:
Steer Axle 4760 lbs.  (Rated for 5200 lbs.)
Drive Axle 6800 lbs. (Dually rated for 9350 lbs.)
Trailer Axles 12380 lbs. (combined axles rated for 14000 lbs.)
Gross Weight 23940 lbs. (Truck GCVW rated for 24000 lbs.)

My 2009 Dodge Quad Cab Longbed 4x4 dually diesel with a 4:10 axle is rated at the following:
Steer Axle 5200 lbs.
Drive Axle 9350 lbs.
GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) 12200 lbs.
GCVW (Gross Combined Vehicle Weight) 24000 lbs. with 4:10 axle
Max Trailer Weight 16900 lbs.

So, with all of those numbers in mind, I'm within the manufacturer's rated weights on my truck. With the trailer my GVW on the truck is 11560 lbs., well under the rated 12200 lbs. However, I'm only 60 lbs. under the manufacturer's GCVW of 24000 lbs. Now I should note that the GCVW is considerably less with a 3.73 rear axle at 21000 lbs.

I went back to the scales later in the evening after unhitching from our Cameo fifth wheel to weigh the truck separately. The truck only had a 1/2 tank of diesel but was loaded just as if traveling to include the dogs, storage box, hitch, inflatable kayak, satellite tripod, gray tote tank etc.  However, Joyce also came along and normally she doesn't ride with me as she drives her own car. Anyway, she seemed to have no affect on the weight.  The results of the truck weights were as follows:
Steer Axle:  4980
Drive Axle:  3740
Gross Weight: 8720
Now it's interesting to note that with the fifth wheel hitched it transfers 220 lbs. of truck weight off the steer axle and onto the drive axle.

The numbers for our 2010 Cameo F35SB3 are not as impressive!
Our hitch weight:  2820 lbs.
Axles weight:  12380
total weight: 15220 lbs.
The manufacturer's GVW rating is 14999 lbs.
So, we are over the GVW on the fifth wheel by 221 lbs. That's with about 20 gallons of water in the storage tank and empty grey and black tanks. I guess Joyce will have to get rid of some clothes!

Overall, I'm happy with our weights.  I knew we were heavy and I always guessed that our fifth wheel was at its rated max of 14999 lbs. so I'm not surprised. We will need to keep a watch on our rig's weight and try to slim down!

Travel Day to Tucson, AZ Davis Monthan A.F.B.

May 28, 2010

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Today was a travel day! After spending a few weeks in Mesa, AZ and Carriage Manor Resort, it was finally time to hitch up and move on.

Some of you may have been wondering why we would spend nearly 3 weeks in Mesa, AZ enduring 90 plus temps. Well the plan was to hook up with my father and Karen near the 1st of June. Then we would travel to Colorado together pulling our fifth wheels. My sister and her family live in Colorado so we plan to pay them a visit. Our combined trip and vacation should take us into or close to July.

We got on the road shortly after 10:00 headed south. It was in the mid 80's when we pulled out and quickly warmed to the upper 90's. I followed my father and Karen's rig and I was followed by Joyce in her car. Traveling caravan style always has some issues. We each have two-way radios to communicate but the range is limited to probably less than a mile. Also I like to pull no faster than 60 mph and my father likes to go a bit faster. I'm sure we will get all the bugs worked out.

Before arriving at our destination, we decided to stop at a truck stop that had CAT Scales to weigh our rigs. I'll post more about the weights in my next post. Before long we were approaching the entrance to Davis Monthan A.F.B.

My father is retired from the United States Air Force so he has military base privileges to include the use of the FAM Camps which are RV campgrounds on military bases. We are able to tag along as his guests. So the first stop was at the visitor center so that Joyce and I could get passes for the base.

Then it was off to the FAM Camp to get registered. (I took the pictures below in the evening.) As we got registered and set up the temperatures were close to 100 degrees! Our site is beautiful. We got an end site with a few trees, cactus and beautiful landscaping.  Needless to say I wasn't in the mood to take pictures at that time. Below is the view out our door.

My father and Karen also got an end site across the road from ours. A view of our site from the side. 

A front view of our site. We set up a small outdoor kitchen and my father grilled chicken and pork chops for dinner. As the sun went down it began to cool off and it was very comfortable.

The view down the row. You can see the tails of hundreds if not thousands of surplus depot military planes that are stored here at Davis Monthan A.F.B.
The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (309 AMARG) is a one-of-a-kind specialized facility within the Air Force Materiel Command structure. 309 AMARG provides critical aerospace maintenance and regeneration capabilities for Joint and Allied/Coalition warfighters in support of global operations and agile combat support for a wide range of military operations. 

Immediately after World War II, the Army's San Antonio Air Technical Service Command established a storage facility for B-29 and C-47 aircraft at Davis-Monthan AFB. Today, this facility is the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (309 AMARG), which has grown to include more than 4,400 aircraft and 13 aerospace vehicles from the Air Force, Navy-Marine Corps, Army, Coast Guard, and several federal agencies including NASA

Davis Monthan A.F.B. is also home of the 355th Fighter Wing flying the A-10 Wart Hogs. 
The 355th Operations Group consists of six squadrons and over 450 personnel employing 75 A/OA-10 aircraft and an AN/TPS-75 radar system. It provides war-fighters with forces for close air support (CAS), air interdiction (AI), forward air control (FAC), combat search and rescue (CSAR), ground based tactical air control, and airbase operations. It also conducts all formal course directed aircraft initial qualification/requalification training.

This is a really nice campground. The facilities are very clean and modern. Our site and the majority of the sites are gravel with a door side slab and picnic table. Each site has 30/50 amps, water, sewer and WIFI. We paid $20 for each night and plan to spend at least 3 nights maybe 4.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Blogless in Mesa

May 20, 2010.

It's been a while since I last posted on the blog. We are still here in Mesa, AZ at Carriage Manor Resort near my father and Karen. We've been slowly making preparations and assisting my father in making preparations for our trip to Colorado via New Mexico.

We have to transport Maggie and Rico back and forth to the dog park in Karen's golf cart. We are not allowed to walk them through the resort. However, they both enjoy riding in the cart. We take them to the park at least once in the morning and evening.

The temperatures continue to hover in the low 90's occasionally threatening to hit 100. We are fortunate to have two A/Cs although one could do the job. We usually run the bedroom A/C in the late afternoon. At night we turn off the main A/C and occasionally run just the bedroom unit. One of our readers, Karen Tipton commented about the dry heat. For us, 80 plus degrees in dry heat is comfortable in comparison to the same temperature in high humidity. It's only during the peak part of the day when it's uncomfortably hot and we move indoors. The mornings and evenings are very enjoyable. In fact, it's 10:00 a.m. and I'm sitting outside typing this blog.

At the Carriage Rally in Texas, I had met a couple that had re-positioned the rear basement wall in their Cameo thus giving them more space. Although their floor plan was different, I decided to remove my rear basement wall and see what if any adjustments I could make to add space. So after emptying the basement and detaching the wall, I learned that I could move it back about three inches. Although a small gain, it actually opens things up and makes it easier to move things in the basement. While I had the wall down, I was able to inspect the bathroom drains and pipes and I'm happy to report, I did not find any leaks or obvious problems.

There is a Camping World here in Mesa, so we took a trip to the store and I found a porcelain coated grill grate for my Coleman grill! As you may recall from a previous post, the teflon coated grill grate was worthless. Hopefully we will be happier cooking and cleaning with the porcelain grate.

Last Friday, we had the opportunity to go to downtown Mesa, and check out the Car Show. We walked around and had pizza at a local restaurant downtown.

Last week we entertained the idea of trading in our car for a SUV. So we test drove some models to include the Jeep Liberty, Jeep Patriot, the Dodge Journey, GMC Terrain and a Toyota RAV4. We kept having second thoughts about making a deal and had almost put the idea to rest. However, my cousin Terry and her husband Rick came over one night for dinner. Rick is a salesman for a local Toyota dealership. They arrived in a beautiful pearl 2009 Toyota RAV4 Limited with only 1800 miles on it (that's right 1800). He told me they would be selling it as used and it had belonged to the corporate office. We got to drive it and it was loaded with leather and all the bells and whistles. Long story short, we almost made a deal, but the night before, Joyce couldn't sleep from thinking about it and we again decided to put off making a purchase. Our car only has 66K miles and is in great shape. A SUV is a want and not a real need.  Perhaps it's not the most practical vehicle for our lifestyle, but it's paid for and gets 23-26 mpg. 

Terry and Rick are a wonderful couple of our age and have been married for over 30 years.  They both still look young and fit and have become avid hikers. They have done the hike in and out of the Grand Canyon and were telling us about the adventure. We hope to make plans to do it with them in the near future.

We've continued to travel around the Phoenix Valley visiting Aunts, Uncles and Cousins scattered about. It's great to visit family I haven't seen in years or decades.

Yesterday, I took the opportunity to give the rig a thorough washing. It sure looked shiny when I was done. Again I used the Dawn With Bleach dishwashing soap. 

Well, that about brings us up to speed. We plan to leave on our trip by the end of next week, so we only have a week or so left here in the valley.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hanging Out with Family, Carriage Manor Resort

May 13, 2010.

On May 11th, we moved from Usery Mountain Regional Park to Carriage Manor Resort. My father and Karen own a couple of lots in this resort, however theirs are occupied. Karen made arrangements to have us stay on their friend's corner site. Their friends our currently out of the state for the summer and they offered through Karen to have us stay on the site for free. Although very gracious, we will at least pay for our electrical usage. We can't be this deal.

Although we miss the beauty of the desert at Usery Mountain Regional Park, we had become concerned for Maggie and Rico. There was a marauding rattlesnake in the back yard coupled with potentially dangerous spiny cactus, we were concerned that the dogs would get stuck or bit by something. One morning I found a small scorpion in Rico's outdoor bed. Moreover, the park didn't have sewer hook-ups so an extended stay would be a hassle with having to use the dump station. 

Carriage Manor Resort is a resort park with all the amenities to include a pool, gym and dog park. The pool will certainly come in handy as temperatures are expected to hover around 100 degrees! But hey, it's a dry heat! The only downside is that we can't walk Maggie and Rico through the resort. All dogs have to be transported to the dog park. So, my father and Karen loaned us one of their golf carts to transport Maggie and Rico. They now love to go for a ride in the golf cart! Joyce and I looked for parks in this area to stay for a few weeks and discovered that the vast majority are all 55 plus resorts, so our pickens would have been slim! This arrangement will be perfect.

Carriage Manor Resort is a 55 plus resort, because we aren't there yet, we can only be "guests" for a couple of weeks. However, at that time we will be ready to leave on a trip to Colorado. My father and Karen will go with us pulling their fifth wheel as we travel to Colorado via New Mexico. So our plan is move on at the end of the month.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Relaxing with Family and Enjoying the Scenery

Painted Mountain (you can see our red car in the foreground)

May 9, 2010.
The last few days have been a whirlwind. We arrived on Friday, May 7 and got set up before going to my father and Karen's place in Mesa for dinner. On Saturday, we went to the home of my cousin Terri and her husband Rick. They put on a 75th Birthday Bash in their back yard for their mother, mi Tia Lilly. The mariachis played for at least two hours and were very good! In the photo below mi Tia Lilly is seated at the table in the purple top. The party was great and it gave us a chance to see a lot of my family that I had not seen in years. Terri and Rick have a beautiful home and organized a wonderful party.

The next day we lounged around the rig as temperatures climbed to 96 degrees. However, we had a good breeze and it wasn't too bad. Later my father and Karen came over for dinner. 

This morning, I took a ride on my bike around the park and took these pictures of some of the cacti.

Some of the Saguaro Cacti are still in bloom and the birds are nesting in the cacti.

With the right growing conditions, it is estimated that saguaros can live to be as much as 150-200 years old.

Saguaro are very slow growing cactus. A 10 year old plant might only be 1.5 inches tall. Saguaro can grow to be between 40-60 feet tall (12-18m). When rain is plentiful and the saguaro is fully hydrated it can weigh between 3200-4800 pounds

I attempted to ride some of the trails around the park, but some were too overgrown to ride safely. I came across what I believe is a large Diamond Cholla still in bloom.

The Chain FruiCholla or Jumping Cholla are abundant here in the park. This one has an active bird nest in the center of it. 

While on a walk in the park, Joyce had come across a piece of Cholla cactus in the street and tried to kick it to the side of the road. Naturally, it impaled her sandals just missing her foot. I had to pry it off with a pocket knife. Our camping neighbors discovered a 4 foot rattlesnake in the back of their campsite and chased it off into the brush. We have to be very cautious with the dogs because of the cactus and the critters.

But I gotta tell ya, it's beautiful out here in the Sonoran Desert surrounded by the Superstition Mountains!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Travel Day to Usery Mountain Park Mesa AZ

May 7, 2010
Yesterday, we spent the day at home cleaning our Cameo and our vehicles. I checked the air in the tires and installed the transponders on the Cameo's valve stems for our TST tire pressure monitor. We packed up and prepared for our early travel day on Friday, May 7.

Today, we got up at 6:30ish and we were hitched up and on the road by 8:00. It was expected to be windy today as is common in the West! We wanted to get an early start as we expected to spend 6 hrs. on the road. Our plan was to travel to Usery Mountain Regional Park in Mesa, Az.

We had good weather, mild winds and rolling hills.

A beautiful day for traveling on the road.

We just wanted to get to Mesa AZ early to beat the heat. It was forecasted to reach 93! You can see the snow capped mountain in the distance on Hwy 70 near Safford, AZ.

We stopped in Globe, AZ at a McDonalds which advertised RV parking. When we got back on the road headed west on Hwy. 60, we ran into a traffic jam just outside of Globe. We inched forward till I was able to speak with a police officer in the median. He said the Highway Patrol was working a fatal accident and the road would be closed for at least an hour! He suggested we turn around and take Hwy. 77 to Hwy. 177 looping around to Superior, AZ and back to Hwy. 60.

So, we turned around and headed back through Globe, Az. and found 77 west toward Winkelman. We took the route and were soon headed down hill at a steep grade coming into a beautiful saguaro desert. However, it was a 50 mph road with winding curves and a steep rolling hills so it was too dangerous to risk taking pictures. Soon the temperature was 94 degrees and we were committed to climbing and descending some very steep hills/ mountains. I saw signs for 7% grades, then 8% grades and a sign for a 10% down hill grade for 4 miles.  Signs warned trucks to use lower gears and of truck runoffs. At one point I radioed Joyce following behind me, that I was climbing in 3rd gear and floored to maintain 2500 rpms. I thought that was the worst of it till we hit another climb where I had to shift to 2nd gear to make the climb at about 25 mph! That must have been a 10% or greater grade! Needless to say it was a white knuckle detour that I would not want to make again. 

After our 50 mile detour we made it into Mesa and Usery Mountain Regional Park. It was 93 degrees so we rushed to set up and get the two A/C's cranking. Our trip was 320 miles from which I got 9.9 mpg towing. I was surprised it was that good considering the steep climbs. As a side note, at their max, my TST Tire Pressure Monitor system measured the tire pressures in my Goodyear G614 tires at a pressure of 125 psi and 105 degrees. Cold pressure was 110. 

We have a beautiful site with a great view surrounded by various (dangerous) cactus and saguaro cactus.

There is plenty of space between sites as depicted in the photo of our nearest neighbor's site with Superstition Mountains in the background.

This is another shot down the road in the opposite direction.

And finally for today, a shot of our view out the back window. Love the view. What you can't see from this view is the city in the valley to the left. Last night we could see the lights of the city in the far distance and it was a beautiful contrast to the star fill night sky.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

May 5, 2010.
It was another beautiful morning in Silver City. Lows overnight were in the 50's and expected to warm to the lower 80's.  The sun was shining brightly and we had a steady breeze. The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is about 46 miles away and though it wasn't originally on our "things to do list", we decided to take the ride and experience it.

We headed north on NM Hwy 15 through Pinos Altos climbing to over 7000 ft and crossing the Continental Divide.

The narrow drive in the mountains on NM 15 had started out beautifully and was sure to be an enjoyable drive.

Shortly after leaving Pinos Altos we came across this sign. From this point the cliff dwellings were only about 40 miles away. However the travel time on the sign was for 2 hours!

The mountain vista views were quite striking.

You know the saying, "what goes up must come down". Well before long we knew why the route time was two hours. The road was increasingly narrow with several steep down grades...

and twists and turns. I flashed back to my previous career and training on the pursuit driving course as parts of the road was like driving through a serpentine course.

We went up one mountain and down another perhaps three times. I had to lock the 4spd transmission on the car in 3rd and at times 2nd gear going down the mountains due to all the hairpin turns and switchbacks. 

However, the views at the top were amazing. The two dimensional pictures just can't do it justice.

You can see the road across the valley that we had to navigate via one of many switchbacks. This was by far one of the most demanding mountain roads I had ever driven. Now to be fair, being from Florida, I don't have a lot of mountain driving experience! 

The real shocker is that this was the same route used for the final stage of the Tour of the Gila, up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument visitor center and finishing in Pinos Altos.

After checking in at the visitor center, we had to hike a mile to the start of the 1 mile hike to the cliff dwellings. Normally you would drive to the start of the cliff dwellings hike. However, the bridge over the Gila River was damaged and thus it was closed. Because of this, there was no entry fee.

Joyce standing on the bridge over The Gila River.

A National Park Service volunteer, snapped our picture before starting the climb up to the dwellings.

The hike to the dwellings is about 180 ft. up through a canyon along a stream and then up the side of the cliff over rough rock steps and switchbacks.

At a starting elevation of over a mile up, it's not an easy climb. We passed a younger heavy woman on the trail coming back the opposite way. She said she couldn't make it and she was obviously winded.
You can just see the opening of one of the caves in the picture below.

Once we arrived at the cliff dwellings, we were able to explore several of them and walk inside. A little more than seven hundred years ago, a peaceful people, called the "Mogollon" (mug-ee-yone) by modern archaeologists, sought refuge from marauding enemies and the elements. They built forty rooms within five spacious sandstone cliff caves, located in what is now the heart of western New Mexico’s Gila National Forest, on the edge of the Gila Wilderness. The ruins were designated as a national monument on November 16, 1907.

The Mogollon band at the Gila cliff dwellings, like Mogollon bands who lived in small groups along river systems as far south as Mexico, appear to have been influenced by the Anasazi who lived to the north, in the Four Corners region, during the same period. The clues lie both in the architecture and the artifacts from the Mogollon sites.

We came across a guided tour group in the middle of an interpretation.

Once again I was amazed by the views from inside the cliff dwellings. 

We still had a long precipitous climb back down.

We made it back to the start of the hike and then walked the mile back to the car along the hot road as temps were now in the low 80's. It was another long slow drive back to Silver City via the mountains. I'm sure you've heard the saying, "getting there is half the fun".  Well for me, the drive and the hike to the dwellings was the most exciting part of this excursion.  It's definitely worth the visit, but be prepared for the mountain drive and the somewhat arduous hike. 

Wear good footwear with substantial soles for hiking on the cliff dwelling or monument trail. The path is natural and quite steep in places. Take sensible precautions if you are not accustomed to high elevation hiking since it is more strenuous than trekking in the lowlands!