Bruce The Nomad

In Northern Arizona part 2

Above is a photo of the Nomad motorhome, Molly and the hot rod
at Camp Elden, our Forest Service camping area.

This travel log covers our activities since July, 2011 in the Coconino National Forest and Flagstaff, Arizona.

When we arrived the weather was a nice 72 and sunny. July 1 the weather warmed up and was nice until the monsoon rains began on the 2nd. Fortunately the rains were light and only during the late afternoon and evening. This is a good thing since I do not have a top for the hot rod and don't relish driving in the rain. The bad thing about these monsoon days is the lightening and thunder. Since the forest is extremely dry the lightening poses a major fire threat. Molly just isn't very happy about the thunder. She come to me to complain, as if I could do anything about it. So far the summer here will continue to be like a Tucson winter, only warmer but not hot like Phoenix and Tucson. The down side of the cloudy/rainy days is that the humidity has increased, and it sure takes one energy. It feels like Virginia.

The monsoon rains continued periodically through August mostly occurring in the afternoon and occasionally through the night. The weird thing is the clear skies in the morning and as the hours head to afternoon the clouds form and around 4, sometimes sooner, we get rain. With the rain comes the growth of wild flowers and other plants, which I cannot name, but i do enjoy the beauty. Wild mushrooms started to arrive in early August. One of the volunteers, Ruth, shared with be some Bilini that she foraged. I sliced, sauteed and enjoyed them with a steak. Quite good.

Ruth and I also went to the Lava River Cave. This is a mile-long lava tube cave that was formed roughly 700,000 years ago by molten rock that erupted from a volcanic vent in nearby Hart Prairie. The top, sides and bottom of the flow cooled and solidified first, after which the insides of the lava river continued to flow emptying out the present cave. The cave is as cool as 42° even in summer, but we didn't find any ice inside. The rocks were always sharp and slippery, too. It was very dark just 1/4 mile from the entrance. It was a fun journey. Here is a link to more info about this site. There is a similar one just south of Bend, Oregon.

Below are photos of some of the activities I enjoyed and of the areas that I have traveled as part of my work duties and fun time.
Here are pics of the 4th of July party which show most of the volunteers. The party was hosted by a volunteer couple, Richard and Linda. It was also Linda's birthday party. Later that night we could see the fireworks event from the town. Here are pics of the Lava River Cave, Ruth at the entrance and a couple of shots of the inside, plus a map of the cave. Many visitors come to explore this literally "cool" part of nature.
Here are a few pics of the Kendrick cabin that is available for rental, and the great views. This is located in a remote area about 25 miles from Flagstaff. I had a few repairs to do here. It is really isolated and quiet. Here are photos that I took while I was installing reflective road markers on some of the remote forest roads. There are a couple showing broken trees caused by last winters tornade that hit several places around this part of the Coconino National Forest.
Here are photos of the car show held along historic Route 66 in Williams, just 35 miles west of Flagstaff. I went with four other volunteers. We enjoyed the stroll along the mainstreet and then had lunch at a nice little cafe. Here are photos of the old steam engine at the Pioneer Museum just north of town. The engine was used by a local lumber company for many years to haul lumber from the forest to the mills.

As part of my duties are to assist as needed in the woodshop where two volunteers make wooden signs as needed and the ladies do the painting. My main purpose however, is to perform repair and maintenance work as needed to the various NSF facilities. My partner whom I worked with in the beginning has left early since his wife got ill. So I assummed full duties as the volunteer handyman. There are photos above of some of places that I travel to.

I have done work on the two rental cabins located in the forest about 30 miles away from Flagstaff. One cabin I had to repair a water heater, shown above, it also required replacement a fence post and rail. Each place is remotely located, away form each other. There is sleeping for about 10, limited running water, provided from a tank which the Forest Service fills periodically, propane for cooking and lights, fireplaces and not much else. No electricity so no TV, cell phones, computers or electronic games. Kids have to play at other activities, much like we did as kids.

I was recently assigned another job of installing reflective signs at potential hazardous locations along several of the Forest Service unpaved roads. I easily passed my driving test and safety exam so I drive a Forest Service truck. This is great since I will be travelling on the back roads enjoying the wilderness. I will be working this job alone but not necessarily every work day. So far I've depleted the supply of reflective signs along the first 10 miles of one road. And I am exhausted. I will still work on needed repair projects. More reflectors arrived and after I finished a couple of painting jobs to information kiosks located in the forest I began the road work again.

A Saturday in early August I was invited to join 2 volunteer couples in attending a car show in historic Williams along Route 66. We had a great time, as usual, looking and commenting on the variety and craftsmanship of the cool rides on exhibit. We stopped at a local cafe for lunch, conversation and cool beers - I wasn't driving. Just as we returned to Camp Elden and after I took Molly for a stroll, the rain started as what was becomming a pattern.

I have completed all of the the assigned tasks, even though there were a few more roads to add markers to, the supply of reflectors I depleted again. So I will probably return and finish the job next summer. Hense I have returned to Tucson. The heat here is just about 25 degrees hotter than Flagstaff, but I still get to enjoy the afternoon monsoon rains. I have enjoyed this summer work so much that I'm looking for some part time handyman work. The added money will also be nice since the cost of living is getting too high on my limited budget.

Some people try to turn back their odometers.
Not me, I want people to know 'why' I look this way.
I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved.

Bye for now.

Bruce and Molly

Link back to my In Northern Arizona part 1 page.

Link back to my "Bruce The Nomad" page.