Thursday March 29: This morning, we – Clifford, Rollie, Ninja, and I – are going to the Grand Canyon National Park, about 12 miles to the west of our boondocking spot on FR 307 off Arizona State Highway 64. I make tea for the thermoses and a picnic lunch, and off we go.
Our first stop is the Visitors Center at Desert View, located at the very east end of the park. We tour the Watchtower, an amazing and beautiful architectural work of art, inside and out. The architect and builder, Mary Colter, was a woman of great vision.
I take photos of the canyon from Desert View. The lighting is not the best, but it is what it is.
After we leave Desert View for more sight-seeing, we stop at a picnic pull-out and enjoy our picnic lunch.
Then we drive on to Grand View Point, hoping to find the Rim Trail so Ninja can get out and walk with us, but no such luck, so he stays in the car.
Next is Yaki Point and we find the Rim Trail. We have an enjoyable hike along the rim before we head back to camp.
Along the way back, we stop to explore other dispersed camping areas on highway 64, but we like the spot where we are the best.
Back at camp, we enjoy a campfire and play music until it gets too chilly.
Then I make dinner for all of us and play a game of cribbage with Rollie. Later Clifford and I have a discussion about ozone and ether, topics of interest in connection with his research. And bed late.
Friday March 30: We are going to the Grand Canyon again this morning, leaving earlier and planning to be back in time for lunch here. No need to make a picnic, and since Rollie is going to buy me a latte at the Desert View Gift Shop&Store, no need for thermoses, either.
At Desert View, as we enjoy our hot beverages, we take more photos and chat with a couple from Pennsylvania.
Today we go to Navajo Point, Lipan Point, and visit the Tusayan Museum.
We take lots of photos at every point and then return to camp in time for peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Easy and tasty!
Rollie and I explore further up the road from where we are camped and find a much larger campsite, one that could work for us in the future, should we come this way again.
We have breakfast burritos for dinner by the campfire, a pleasant and relaxing end to our couple of days here.
Saturday March 31: We start packing as soon as we are up, leaving FR 307 once we are all ready. It has been a good spot, but it really is time for us to get back to Monticello. Rollie is going to caravan with us that far, which will give him a day to relax and get his laundry caught up before he heads on north to Montana.
We backtrack to highway 89, then travel north until we reach the junction with highway 160, which runs east across the northern tier of Arizona.
There are some crazy drivers here, passing when it is not safe to do so. There is a roll-over near Kayenta… not surprisng, but still sad for those involved. There is a long delay before we can go on.
Arriving at the junction to highway 191, we turn north and soon we are in Utah and back to our home base, no longer nomads for the time-being.
It was a lot of miles, with many good camping spots and beautiful places to see, photograph, and hike. Plans are already underway for a trip to Montana in this summer…..
Monday March 26: It is clear and calm this morning, so we – Clifford, Rollie, and I – decide to go sight-seeing in the Sedona area. By the time we are ready to go — what with showers, breakfast, and making a picnic lunch, then driving to Sedona and finding the recommended scenic road — jet spray has started to mar the sky and the wind is kicking up. In spite of that, we continue as planned.
We go to the Dry Creek View Point, which we find to be very popular, even on a Monday morning, with the trail head parking lot full and cars parked along the road.
Hard to imagine what a weekend would be like. We hike the trail a ways; very scenic, except for the jet trails and haze in the sky. Of course, I take lots of photos anyway and will come up with a few to save.
We also drive out Boyton Road as far as the pass. There are some pull-outs, but way too many people. Really, the weekends must be a bit of a nightmare.
Back in town we go to to the Sedona Community Park for a picnic. It is a nice park, lots of tables with shelters, lawns and great trees… and we almost have the place to ourselves.
On the way back to our camping area on FR 525, we drive the Red Rock Loop Road, which is also very scenic and not nearly the traffic. We stop at a pull-out and hike up a little knoll for a great view of Castle Rock, which was the most interesting part of the outing, in my opinion.
Back at camp, I download photos and then make dinner for all of us. Tidy up the kitchen, but no dishes tonight. A game of cribbage, followed by writing in the journal wraps up the day.
Friday, March 23: Today is another travel day; we say good-bye to Agua Fria National Monument and head north on I-17. At Camp Verde, we stop for gas and then continue on state highway 260 to 89a toward Sedona, where Clifford is meeting with environmental activist, Matt Landman.
We find Forest Road 525 south of Sedona, which we learned has dispersed camping. What we didn’t know was how popular this road is. We drive out on FR 525 for several miles, but every pull-out is already occupied. Finally we turn back toward the largest of the pull-outs, just a ways off the highway. Even though there are several other campers already here, the pull-out is spacious and RV’s of all sorts are parked along the perimeter. It is sort of like a little village.
We and Rollie find open spots big enough to pull into without crowding anyone and get set up. There are no trees and we can’t see the red mesas, which this area is famous for, but it is only for a few days, so we will make do.
We set up our screen tent for the first time so Rollie and I have a place to play music a little out of the wind. Later Rollie joins us for dinner and I just barely win a game of cribbage. Too late and too tired to write in the journal tonight.
Saturday, March 24: Chilly and windy this morning with jet trails marring the sky. I have tea with Rollie and after breakfast, we walk up the nearby Ranch Loop Road to check it out for possible future camping spots.
It is a scenic walk, red rock, junipers, and meadow grass, but the spots for camping are limited. Then we hike the hill behind the pull-out where we are camped. A good walkabout for us.
After breakfast, Rollie and I play music in the screen tent, but it is too chilly with the wind, so we soon pack up. Just a minute after we move out of the screen tent, a gust of wind causes it to collapse; the tent poles are being seriously bent, and luckily Rollie notices that I need some help releasing the tension before the poles break. We get the tent safely down and pile tables and chairs on it to keep it from blowing away. No time to pack it up now, as we are leaving for Sedona.
We are camped close to Sedona, as Clifford has an interview scheduled with Matt Landman, who has done exceptional work in bringing attention to serious environmental issues. We meet Matt, a young man full of energy and enthusiasm, and watch his documentary “Frankenskies,” a very well-researched presentation of the environmental issue of toxins in the skies. Plans are made for the interview with Clifford tomorrow.
Back at camp, I make breakfast burritos for dinner and nearly get skunked at cribbage with Rollie. I keep planner current, but no time for journal before heading to bed.
Sunday, March 25: Chilly wind this morning, so not spending much time outside. Clifford’s interview is this afternoon, but his only dress shirt is quite wrinkled, so I “iron” it by heating enamel cups on the stove and pressing them against the dampened shirt. Very slow, but it works.
Today I play viola inside; just too windy and chilly outside. I do some editing for Ang, the second book of her “Dragons of Va’ha’den” series. Then off we go to Sedona.
While Clifford has the interview with Matt, Rollie and I go with Matt’s partner Amanda to a cool little organic health food store/eatery and have the best cup of coffee ever! We sit and chat so long that we miss the Farmer’s Market, but instead we go on up the hill to the Buddhist stupa, Amitabha Stupa.
It is very scenic and peaceful, and we take our time wandering about on the trails and pacing around the Buddhist structure at the center of the property.
After we return to Matt and Amanda’s place, the interview being successful completed, we decide to go to a brewery for pizza and a beer to celebrate the success of the day. The seating for the brewery is in a courtyard and luckily we find seats at the campfire, as the evening is quite chilly. It is really nice to have more time to visit before heading back to camp.
Wednesday March 21: Clifford had a rough night, but we are still planning on leaving Molino Basin Campground this morning to begin the journey back to Monticello, our Utah home base. Besides the packing up, we – and Rollie – also have to stop for gas, water, and propane. It is early afternoon by time we finally leave Tucson.
So much traffic, but we make it through Phoenix without mishap. We are now on I-17 and take exit 259 to the Agua Fria National Monument, which we learned about from our musician camping friend, Rachel.
There is some confusion about which side of the highway we are supposed to be on, and after driving a ways on the road to the west, we backtrack and enter the national monument on the east side of I-17. The road is not great, but we find a spot about a mile from the exit where both we and Rollie can get set up on fairly level ground.
First thing we do after getting set up is pick up trash – lots of it. Ugh. But on the plus side, the ground is strewn with beautiful variegated quartz rocks and other rugged and colorful stones.
Clifford is feeling worse, so goes down for a nap before the propane is turned on. I can’t get fridge or range working, but luckily Rollie comes over and figures out the problem. I have soup with Rollie for dinner, as Clifford is not up to eating tonight.
Thursday, March 22: There was some rain in the night, which seems surprising in this unusually dry desert landscape.
I am up before sunrise, but I left my camera at Rollie’s last night, so miss the shot of the rising sun. I go on to his camper to get the camera and stay to visit a little. Clifford is feeling better this morning, but weak.
After breakfast, Rollie and I go for a hike to the rocky hill top and then beyond to look at the pinkish rocks.
Back at camp, I edit for awhile, then check texts and FB. A couple of my kids call – good that we can get cell service at such a remote location. Later, Rollie and I do music at his camper; too windy outside.
After dinner, we get packed up as much as we can (mostly we had not unpacked at this stop), as we will be heading toward Sedona in the morning. There must be more to see at this national monument, but it will have to wait for another time.
Sunday March 18: I have tea with Rollie after taking photos of the creek with my smaller older cell and Clifford’s newer bigger one.
I like the bigger brighter screen, but the color seems just a bit off. This photo taken with the canon camera for comparison.
Dark clouds move in and it looks like it could be a big rain, so I cover the fire wood and such, but the rain is brief and doesn’t amount to much.
Walking to the far end of the camp, I discover that there aren’t many spots suitable for trailers, so we were really lucky to get this nice big level spot where we and Rollie could both set up our rigs.
I edit for awhile, the second book of Ang’s “Dragons of Va’ha’den” series. Then Rollie and I play music in the tipi tent. It is small, but more room than either his camper or ours.
After dinner, Rollie and I play cribbage and he wins by one point!
Sometime during the day, the ongoing power issues, even with the new batteries, is resolved. I don’t know what Clifford figured out, but sure glad it has been taken care of.
Monday March 19: It is a beautiful morning, and even though I thought about having a campfire for the morning chill (it is 34 degrees), I decide against it as I don’t want smoke to mar of the air. It is warming up nicely, anyway.
I go sit by the creek for my quiet time, then make my organic French press coffee and sit in the sunshine to write in my journal. Rollie went to Tucson first thing this morning and when he returns we do music outside, the usual in and out routine: too hot in the tipi tent, too windy outside, but the music goes on.
Then we all go down to the Babad Do’ag Vista Point to get cell service, taking care of emails, downloads, texts, and so on. Merri sends pics of the continuing snow in Montana, while we enjoy a 70 degree day.
Our camping musician friend, Rachel, has returned to Molino Basin, so we are once again able to play music with her. We play until it gets too chilly out, then we all go to our respective traveling homes.
Rollie brings over some fish, which I cook for dinner, and tonight I win the game of cribbage before taking care of dishes and the usual evening routine.
Tuesday March 20: Another beautiful day here at Molino Basin Campground, and our last day, as we will be leaving tomorrow morning. I visit the creek, walking up the dry creek bed, then sit in the sunshine to write in the journal.
Rachel comes over and we do music one last time, as she is leaving for Colorado. Maybe our journeys will bring us together some time down the road.
I cook nachos for dinner over a campfire, our last one here. After dinner, we start getting things packed up as much as possible so as to minimize what will need to be done in the morning. This has been a good camp for us with lots of music, making a new friend, hikes, and enjoying the mountain desert landscape.
I look forward to another stay here if our travels allow for such.
Friday March 15: My day at Molino Basin Campground starts with a hike to the creek for photos and quiet time.
Today is catch-up day after our long day in Tucson yesterday. Dishes are done, sundries and clean clothes are put away. Rachel, our camp neighbor, stops by and we look at maps together. She knows of dispersed camping areas that we are not yet acquainted with. Rollie and I play a game of cribbage before I start editing, finishing up The Keeper and the King. Too windy to do music outside, so Rollie and I just work separately in our own campers – good time for me to really focus on viola technique. It is fun learning to play the little instrument, but I have to say (in my opinion) that violins and violas are not very ergonomic compared to cellos, and I miss playing my cello.
Saturday March 16: Overcast, then clearing, then cloudy and gusty – guess it is spring weather. After sitting by the creek a bit, I have tea with Rollie. He is feeling off today – a bit dizzy. I give him some good salt to put in his water and we go for a hike on the portion of the Arizona Trail that parallels the campground.
Walking back down the road, we visit our musician friend, Rachel. She is getting ready to leave, but we talk her into singing and playing for us, and I record her singing her beautiful Desert Song. We will miss her.
After breakfast Rollie and I do music in the little tipi tent, kind of crowded, but it breaks the wind so we can play outside. Then we all go down to the Babad Do’ag Vista Point, which overlooks Tucson, as we can get cell service there. We catch up on email, phone calls, and texts.
At sunset at the vista point, some girls pose for each other on the rock wall, which makes me very nervous for fear one of them will fall, there being quite a drop-off beyond the wall. But they survive and I get a few photos at sunset.
Back at camp, after a dinner of stir fry veggies and rice, Rollie and I play cribbage before I do dishes. Planner updates and journal are the usual closing of the day.
Saturday March 17: After my morning creek time,
Rollie and I hike up the creek on the other side of the highway, a trail that we saw below us when we and Clifford hiked the Arizona Trail to the saddle. It is really quite beautiful along the creek, and we hike until we get to a section that is too steep to interest us today.
Back at camp, after I tidy up the Suburban, Rollie and I do music, sometimes in the tipi tent and sometimes in the shade of the gnarly oak tree. It is too warm and too crowded in the tent, too windy out in the shade. Other than the in and out, the music goes well. After snacks, Clifford and I head to Tucson, as we are getting new batteries for the camper. On the way back to camp, we stop at the Molino Basin Vista Point for photos of the ocotillo. It was not the best spot and I didn’t have the right shoes to hike down into the ravine, but I got a few photos of these unique cacti in bloom.
The usual evening routine of dinner, cribbage, dishes, planner, and journal finishes out the day.
Monday March 12: Today is mostly a mundane town (Tucson) day.
Clifford, Rollie, Ninja, and I go to SW Strings again and I try other violas; Rollie buys a nice guitar case. We go to La Mesa RV to look at trailers and motor homes. The service is bad, but we do see a trailer that would suit our needs for space for Clifford’s research. At Camping World, the service is great, but none of the trailers in our size range have a floor plan that will work. We are not really in a buying mode, but it is fun to look. Brief calls and texts are made while we are still in town with cell service.
Back at camp, after we unload groceries and sundries, Rollie and I make a campfire and play music outside. We have dinner together and chat until 11:00 p.m., so it is late by time I finish my evening routine and get to bed. Clifford is always up until the wee hours with his ham radios, so late doesn’t mean much to him.
Tuesday March 13: One thing I like most about this campground is the great little creek that runs through it. This morning, I hike along the creek and find a nice boulder to sit on for my quiet time.
Back at camp, Rollie is ready for a walkabout, so we hike up to the group site and then hike down the Arizona Trail to our campsite.
When Rollie and I do music today, Clifford takes cell videos of us to send to Katie, since she might want us to play at her coffee shop in Wallace. I even play a piece on the viola, but it is too long to send. Oh well… at least I can play some tunes, even though I’ve only had the viola for a little over a month.
Lots of editing for Ang today and am nearly finished with The Keeper and the King. Then nachos for dinner and I just barely win a game of cribbage with Rollie before tackling the dishes.
Wednesday March 14: I am awakened at 5:30 by Rollie yelling at someone. Turns out some guy was shining a light on Rollie’s stuff – generator and bicycle and such – most likely with intent to help himself, but Rollie saw the light and went out and told the guy to get lost, but not in those words! Anyway, not a great start to the day.
Once it is light, I go sit by the creek awhile before getting ready for another day in Tucson.
Clifford is picking up a radio that he ordered and we need to go to the laundromat. Once there, we try using the hotspot that was supposedly installed on his cell phone. However, it does not work, so we go back to Verizon and talk to someone else, and it turns out that his phone is not hotspot compatible. We have to go buy a different phone and then back to Verizon to have it activated. This is after going to SW Strings to try violas again, thinking of trading up to a better one, but I like mine better, so it was a waste of time going clear across town. It seems the whole day was spent running around, not very productive, but at least he has his new radio and we have clean clothes.
By time we get home, dinner is late. No journal, planner, or music today, and dishes are left for tomorrow.
Saturday March 11: Cloudy and a little cooler with a bit of rain this morning and a high of 65 degrees today.
I hike a ways on the Arizona Trail where it parallels the Molino Basin Campground and come out at the group site. Nice hike and scenic. I receive a text from our new friend and fellow musician, Rachel, who has gone to Cochise Stronghold to camp. Although I can receive her texts, I can’t send any out from this location.
Back at camp I make tea, then visit Rollie and we look at maps in case he decides to leave before we do. Today I tackle domestic chores, cleaning out the closet, which tends to become a jumble since so much stuff has to go in that storage space.
In the afternoon, the clouds open up a bit, so we decide to drive on up the highway to Mount Lemmon at the end of the road.
I want to stop at some of the vista points while the clouds are still dramatic, but Clifford wants to get to the top first. The clouds are not nearly so dramatic on the return trip, but we stop at Windy Point Vista on the way back down the mountain and spend some time meandering about this rocky outcrop of stone.
We make another stop on our way down the mountain, and even though we have traveled down for some time, we can see the highway far below us.
Back at the campground we are surprised to see that Rachel has returned. We have hopes that she will be able to come to our campsite for a jam session, but she finds a spot at the far upper end of the campground, too far for a get-together this evening. However, we look forward to playing music together one these days while we are all still here at Molino Basin.
After dinner, Rollie and I play a game of cribbage before I do dishes. Planner and journal, but no editing today, due to taking time for the outing to Mount Lemmon.
Saturday March 10 – This morning Rollie and I have a campfire and music outside at our Molino Basin campsite before it gets too windy.
Then we – Clifford, Rollie, and I – decide to hike a bit of the Arizona Trail, as it goes right through the campground. It is a scenic trail, in a desert sort of way, very rocky, but decent.
We hike to the first saddle, maybe a couple miles, and sit on a rock outcropping to enjoy the expansive views.
The wind starts to blow and within minutes it becomes quite chilly. I am sure glad I had a windbreaker and stocking hat with me. Rollie and Clifford also put on extra layers. Ninja, Rollie’s little dog, is the only one who seems unruffled by the change in temperature.
Back at the campground, we see a beautiful horse being groomed for a photo shoot; the location they choose is the gnarly oak tree at our campsite, so we sit back and watch as the photographer poses the pretty girl with the gorgeous horse.
After dinner, Rollie and I play a game of cribbage. Finish out the day with updates to my planner and writing in the journal.
Tuesday March 6: Today is the day-before-leaving day, so Rollie and I say good-bye to Jimi, our camp host friend at the Cochise Stronghold campground.
We play music outside today – finally warm enough to do that. Pack up as much of the inside stuff as I can. Clifford saves his packing up for the morning, as he will be using the radios and antennas until late. We have an easy dinner of soup and sandwiches so that I have a minimum of cleanup tonight.
Wednesday March 7: We finish packing up and are on our way by 10:45 a.m, with Rollie right behind us. We take Cochise Stronghold Road to Dragoon Road for the first time, which saves several miles, and then east on I-10. We stop at Pilot on the edge of Tucson for gas, then head north across Tucson to the Santa Catalina Mountains and our destination: Molino Basin Campground.
The road up the mountain is a bit steep, but we take it easy, with Rollie following close behind us. Totally different landscape and vegetation than Cochise Stronghold; saguaros dominate the hillsides as we ascend.
We arrive at Molino Basin Campground in early afternoon and drive through looking for two campsites close to each other, but it is obvious this campground is catering more to tent campers than RV campers. We find a loop with a site big enough for both rigs, two picnic tables, bear boxes, a great gnarly oak tree, shrubs for privacy … hooray!
After getting set up, Rollie and I do music outside. The neighbor across the road comes over with her guitar and wow, can she sing! Another camper joins us with his penny whistle. It is so fun to have more musicians – a real jam session.
Later, I make nachos for dinner, but skip doing dishes, journal, and planner. Rare for me to skip these, but I’m beat from the whole move and set-up routine. But it was a good day with finding this nice big site to share and jamming with the neighbors.
Thursday March 8: Today is a town day with stops at Barnes & Nobles, Bookmans, Verizon to get Clifford’s phone set up as a hotspot, Trader Joe, and Natural Grocer. It is nice to be living out of town but with access to our favorite shops. Send texts and pics to a couple of my kids, Happy Birthday to my sister Nancy and a friend while we are still in Tucson, as we have no cell service or internet on the mountain.
Friday March 9: There is an issue with the Verizon hotspot not working even when we go to a pull-out where there is good cell service. Clifford wants to get it resolved today, so we head back to Verizon. Turns out Clifford has to buy a hotspot-compatible phone. We run a couple of errands, including buying a new phone at Target and returning to Verizon to get it activated. Before we know it, we have used up a big chunk of the day.
Back at camp, Rollie and I go for a walk through the off-road campsites on the other side of the creek, a secluded area where tenting is the only option.
It is too windy to do music outside, so I edit for Ang for awhile and play viola before making dinner for us to share with Rollie.