Monthly Archives: February 2019

Repairs, Holidays and Out West Once Again

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Stuck Slide!

After 4-1/2 months of volunteering in Yellowstone National Park, we left on October 2nd, a day later than scheduled. Each and every month throughout our stay, I would start the RV, retract and extend the slides & leveling jacks and run the generator just to make sure all systems were in good working order. Despite my best efforts, Murphy’s Law caused the hydraulic pump to fail on the very day we were planning to leave. Fortunately we have roadside assistance which reimbursed us the $1,700 required for a mobile RV tech to drive 3-1/2 hours one way and use his portable pump to retract our extended slide. Yellowstone is far away from everywhere!

Once the RV tech got the slide in, we were able to get back on the road despite a non-working hydraulic pump. But without the pump, we couldn’t extend our slides nor level the RV so we drove straight from Yellowstone to the Tiffin factory in Red Bay Alabama for repairs. Once repairs were made, we headed to Montgomery Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Texas to visit family and friends over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Our new hydraulic pump. Turns out Tiffin, the maker of our RV, had erroneously wired the pump causing it to fail over time. They admitted their error and replaced it for free even though our factory warranty expired 2 years ago.

Our new hydraulic pump. Turns out Tiffin, the maker of our RV, had wired the pump incorrectly causing it to fail over time. They brought this error to our attention and replaced it for free even though our factory warranty expired 2 years ago. I’m not sure what it cost, but it looks awfully expensive to me.

Off to Phoenix

Our route from Granbury TX to Phoenix AZ.

Our route from Granbury TX to Phoenix AZ.

We love the State and County parks just to the east of Phoenix AZ. They fill up fast in winter so we made our reservations about 6 months ago. It’s about 1,000 miles from our final holiday stop in Granbury TX and since we don’t like to drive more than 5-6 hours/day, we split the trip up into three ~300 mile legs…

Monahans Sandhills State Park, Monahans Texas

Monahans Sandhills State Park in Monahans Texas reminds me of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.

Monahans Sandhills State Park in Texas reminds me of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.

Our first stop was Monahans Sandhills State Park, just off I-20 in Monahans TX. This park is about 40 miles west of Midland-Odessa, not the most scenic place is the US, so we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived. We spent 2 nights and didn’t do much other than wander around the sand dunes and recover from 3 months of visiting with family.

We broke the rules and let Eddie off the leash. He loves running in the sand and I think he was searching for the ocean.

We broke the rules and let Eddie off the leash. He loves running in the sand and I think he was searching for the ocean.

Rockhound State Park, Deming New Mexico

Our next stop on our way to Phoenix was Rockhound State Park. This small park is about 10 miles off the interstate and is known for its geological and mineral features. Hikers are allowed to collect geodes and other unique rocks but according to some Rockhounds we encountered on the trail, one has to hike well away from the trails to find any. We did see some geodes and other rock samples in the park’s visitor center.

We hiked the 2 main trails during our 3 night stay and while searching for rocks is not our cup of tea, we did enjoy seeing the many roadrunners running about.

We hiked the 2 main trails during our 3 night stay and while searching for rocks is not our cup of tea, we did enjoy seeing the many roadrunners running about.

Usery Mountain Regional Park, Mesa Arizona

Usery Mountain Regional Park has the best of everything. It’s beautiful, sites are huge, lots of hiking trails, abundant nature and it’s close to shopping and restaurants. We stayed 8 nights and wished we could have stayed longer.

Here's a picture of Wind Cave from our campsite. The hike up is about xx miles with an elevation change of xx feet. While dogs are allowed, I left Eddie at home (he's getting too old for this). Being so close to Phoenix, this is a popular hike on weekends for the locals so I went mid-week.

Here’s a picture of Wind Cave near the top of Pass Mountain as seen from our campsite. The hike up is about 5 miles round trip from the campground with an elevation change of 900 feet. While dogs are allowed, I left Eddie at home as he’s getting too old for this. Being so close to Phoenix, this is a crowded hike on weekends so plan on going mid-week as I did.

The view from Wind Cave. If you look closely, you may see the campground off in the distance.

The view from Wind Cave. If you look closely, you can see the campground and Mesa’s housing developments off in the distance

This ground squirrel and some of his chipmunk friends demand snacks from hikers that make it to the top of Wind Cave.

This ground squirrel and some of his chipmunk friends demand snacks from hikers that make it to Wind Cave.

I enjoyed the xx mile hike around Pass Mountain. It has a similar elevation change as the Wind Cave hike but the views to the north and east are much nicer than the views from Wind Cave.

The next day, I hiked the 7.5 mile loop around Pass Mountain. It has a similar elevation change as the Wind Cave hike but the views to the north and east are much nicer than the views from Wind Cave. I followed the advice of reviewers on Alltrails and hiked in a counterclockwise direction. This route is not only easier on the knees but you face the nicer views when going in this direction.

Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction Arizona

The drive from Usery Mountain to Lost Dutchman State Park is only 17 miles so we took our time in leaving and filled up the motorhome with diesel and propane on the way. Fortunately our campsite was ready for us when we arrived early afternoon. We’ve been to Lost Dutchman on numerous trips and it’s one of our favorite parks of all time. It’s similar to Usery Mountain but the surrounding terrain is more dramatic and rugged. As readers of this blog know by now, I have been hiking a lot over the past two years so I’m always looking for a new challenge. And the hike to the top of Flatiron Mountain from Lost Dutchman Park offers that challenge. The out-and-back hike is only around 6 miles but the elevation change is 2,800 feet with rocks and boulders blocking the way. Last fall, I barely made it to the top of Yellowstone’s Avalanche Peak, a 2,100 foot elevation change with no boulders blocking the way, so this is going to be way tougher.

My goal is to climb to Flatiron Peak in the Superstitious Mountains next the Lost Dutchman State Park.

My goal is to climb to Flatiron Peak in the Superstitious Mountains adjacent to Lost Dutchman State Park.

Here's where I took a rest about 1/3 of the way to the top. Looking back down, I realized getting to the top may be the least of my problems.

After climbing 1/3 the way, I stopped to rest and admire the view.  Looking back down the trail. I realized getting to the top may be the least of my problems.

Yes, this is the trail to the top of Flatiron Peak. It's not well marked so It's easy to wander off the trail (I did it twice). I spent a lot of my time on hands and knees attempting the 2,800 foot climb the 2,800 to the top.

Flatiron Peak is getting closer and yes, this is the trail to the top. It’s not well marked so It’s easy to wander off the trail (I did it twice). I spent a lot of time on my hands and knees attempting the 2,800 foot climb to the summit.

After 3 hours and 2,500 feet of climbing I hit a literal wall of rocks with only 300 feet in elevation to go. My GPS said I was on the trail but for the life of me, I could not figure out how to climb the 20 foot wall that stood between me and the summit. The following day, I stopped in the Park’s visitor center and talked to a ranger who has made the climb on multiple occasions. He said I had made it to what he called “The Wall”. He showed me a photograph and said that he uses a route to the left using a tree to grab onto while climbing to the top. He also congratulated me on knowing my limits and not attempting a climb that I was unsure of. Thinking back, I should have waited for other hikers below me to catch up and show me the way.

With only 300 feet in elevation to go, I hit a literal wall and had stop. This is the view back down.

This is the view back down the trail from what is known as “The Wall”. From here, the summit is only 300 feet above me and an easy hike once you make it up the wall. At least I’m alive to try again next year.

That evening after attempting a climb to the summit, I took this photograph of Flatiron Mountain from our campsite. I'll make it next year!

That evening after attempting a climb to the summit, I took this photograph of Flatiron Mountain from our campsite.

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