Arizona 2007
Diary of Linda and Roger's trip to Arizona, January 2007



11/10/07 Linda, Meghan, and I left with the 5th wheel for Quartzsite, Big Bend, and Organ Pipe trip today at noon. We parked at Joe and Scarlet Willingham’s house the first night. Doug and Lana Willingham was also there. We all ate at a Mexican Restaurant called Celia’s that night I had the best Machaca and eggs ever!

11/11/07 After having breakfast at Burgers n Beer with Joe, Scarlet, Beverly, Gretchen, Stan, and Joy Rae we drove to Quartzsite, AZ. It was sunny but very cold. Attendees were: Scarlet Joe Willingham, Lana Doug Willingham, Stan Joy Rae Gienger, Junior Tommy, Dianna Fred Rooney, and three rigs of Fred Rooney’s kids wives. Had a nice hot large campfire this night.

11/12/07 It got down to 18 F. last night BRRrrrrr. I ran the furnace at 55F all night causing it to come on every 45 minutes for about 10 minutes. It was sunny in the morning, so my batteries did get charged up by the solar panels. It turned cloudy and windy tonight. We all hunkered down in our rigs having no campfire this night.

11/13/07 It was a high of perhaps 49 F. today. We ran our heaters allot and I became concerned about the batteries so I connected the cable to the truck and charged at 9 amps for 1.5 hours. If I come here next year I must bring my generator. For some reason I did not think I would need it. We watched some of the pro football playoff games on satellite TV. Had another campfire and a group dinner which was provided by Joy Rae’s brother Junior. He cooked Taquitos in his deep oil fryer, which were excellent.

11/14/07 My typical routine each morning at Quartzsite was to get up about 8:30 a.m., take Meghan for a 1 to 2 mile walk into the desert. Return to trailer where Linda may or may not be up. I would then make a typical breakfasts: cheese omelet, butter toast with jelly; fried eggs, hash brown potatoes from scratch using the salsa maker; sour dough pancakes , bacon or sausage; as a last resort dry cereal or oatmeal both with fresh fruit. Went shopping at the hundreds of shops a couple of times. Spent some time on my laptop or watching satellite TV. The rest of the time was spent socializing around the campfire or in our rigs. I watched all of the Charger Patriot play off football game on TV at Joe Scarlet’s rig. We were all very disappointed about stupid mistakes which caused the Charger loss.

11/15/07 Left Quartzsite, AZ at 9:00 a.m. for our trip to Big Bend NP in Texas. We drove to Benson, AZ where we checked into the Butterfield RV Resort. Stan and Joy Gienger were right behind us. The resort was very modern and really nice. The RV Park had an astronomical observatory with a 16” Meade SCT, equatorial polar mount located in a good sized observatory. There was a full time astronomer on duty putting on a show every night. The Giengers heard about the bad cold weather and snow in Texas on TV and decided they didn’t want to go. I wanted to wait another day before cancelling, so I decided to stay in Benson another day.

11/16/07 Linda and I decided that it was going to be too cold and wet in Big Bend Texas, so we also cancelled our trip into Texas. We decided to stay another day in Benson to visit the Cochise Strong Hold canyon park. Stan drove us to the park. The last 10 miles was a windy rough dirt road. There was a nice camp ground at the end of the road. It was too rough of a road however for our 33’ 5th wheel. The actual strong hold was up the canyon another 5 miles only accessible by foot. We did a short nature trail hike before leaving. I want to come back here on our next trip getting here early and hike the 5 miles up to the strong hold. We returned to Benson via Tombstone, AZ. We did a short walk to the OK Coral and then had drinks and appetizers at Long Nose Kate’s Saloon and Café. We returned back to Benson RV Park. I barbecued tri-tip roast on the Baby Weber grill which turned out really good. Joy Rae prepared salad, baked potato, and a delicious acorn squash. We ate in the Gienger trailer adding 2 bottles of great wine for a real gourmet feast.

11/17/07 Decided to stay another day in Benson. Stan Gienger drove us all to Bisbee Arizona today, about 50 miles from Benson. It is an old nicely restored copper mining town. We visited the huge Lavender open pit mine. The under ground Copper Queen mine was the most famous. We had a very enjoyable lunch at the old very elegant Copper Queen Hotel. Next we walked along a few downtown streets which had lots of artistic and antique shops. After this we drove to Sierra Vista near Fort Huachuca to visit some friends of Stan and Joy Rae’s. We then drove 50 miles back to Benson.

11/18/07 We all drove to Organ Pipe National Monument today via highway 86. The road went past the Kit Peak astronomical site. I would have loved to visit it, but it was located 12 miles up a steep mountain road unsuitable for a 5th wheel. I could have unhitched but it was probably very cold up there and neither of the women were interested. This route was apparently not the fastest route but it was definitely very scenic with lots of mountains and dessert cactus of all varieties. The land was mostly government and Indian Reservation land. We decided to visit a small town called Ajo 20 miles out of our way for lunch, but got caught up in an accident caused by a 5th wheel that rear ended a flat bed truck. The 5th wheel somehow disconnected and crushed up against the cab of the 5th wheel tow vehicle causing severe injury to the passengers. We pulled over to a turn off and made lunch in the trailer. We finally arrived at the monument about 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon. It was a beautiful sunny day in the mid 60’s, very pleasant compared to the weather we had been experiencing. We got a nice pull through site in the monument camp ground. This camp ground is one of the most beautiful federal sites I have ever been in. Sites are huge far apart with many cactus all around you; Saguaro, Barrel, Organ Pipe, Pear, Cholla, etc. To the east and west are beautiful mountain ranges. There was allot of birds in the campground. The Gambles Quail and Northern Cardinal were my favorites. We had left over tri-tip roast, rice, and avocado for dinner. We did a ranger talk at night about the origin of the various names used for land marks in the park.

11/19/07 Got up late about 8:30 a.m. to a beautiful sunny morning. Opened up every drape in the trailer for the view and made a cheese omelet for breakfast. About 10:30 we all did a 4.2 mile hike to Victoria Mine. It was a relatively easy scenic hike over rolling hills and washes. It turned cloudy on way back but we made it back before any rain. We had more leftovers for lunch. Had barbecue chicken pizza for dinner. Did another ranger talk at 7:00 p.m. It was too cloudy to think about setting up the telescope. Linda watched a crime show or two, on TV before retiring.

11/20/07 I got up at 7:30 a.m. and made sour dough pancakes and thick bacon for breakfast. We invited the Giengers over as they were leaving for home right after eating. You never know how sour dough will turn out, but these were delicious with real maple syrup and butter. The Giengers were great traveling companions and we enjoyed our time with them allot. Too bad we couldn’t do Big Bend Texas, perhaps another time. They said that they might be interested in a trip into the Alaska interior.
I spent an hour talking to a retired couple from Green Bay Wisconsin. He was a science teacher and avid birder, so we had lots in common. Next Linda, Meghan, and I did the 2.6 mile dessert hike to the visitor center. Dogs were allowed on this trail, so Meghan was off leash and actually got tired on the way back or perhaps sore feet from the sharp rocks on the trail. The volunteer ranger at the visitor center told us that a substantial part of the western part of the park was closed because of drug traffic. Apparently they transport huge garbage bags full of marijuana by attaching the bag to a bicycle and then they push the bicycle over the trails or roads. I expected something more high tech than this!!!!! I signed Linda and I up for a 2.5 hour free park volunteer guided van tour tomorrow through the Ajo Mountains. Last nights low was 33 F. today’s high about 57 F with partly cloudy and 5-15 mph winds. My batteries are slowly loosing their charge as yesterday was cloudy and when the sun is out it is at a low angle in the sky causing my solar panels to only produce about 50-60% of their normal output. The ranger talk put on by a retired female botanist about plants and flowers in Organ Pipe was excellent tonight.

11/21/07 The predicted weather forecast this morning was FAIR, but we woke up to total clouds. We decided that if it was not clear by the end of breakfast we would leave, bummer as I got no astronomy in, one of the reasons for coming to this dark area. We left about 10:00 a.m. mountain time. It started raining on the road, so it was a good decision. It began getting clear and sunny as we drove the 270 miles west. The 15 to 30 mph wind gust caused me to slow down to a top speed of 60 mph. We arrived at Sun Beam Lake RV Park with full hook ups at 2:45 p.m. Pacific time. Got set up including satellite TV with networks and watched the final play off game on TV. Had a shower and then visited Bruce and Beverly Roberts who where staying at the park also. Bruce is making good progress with the healing of his reconstructed knee operation from two weeks back.

11/22/07 Its good to be back in California with sunny weather and nice day time high temperatures of mid 60’s and lows at night in high 30’s. I got my trailer flat tire repaired at Big O for $20. I refilled one of my two propane bottles for $21. We went to Stan and Joy Rae Giengers house for dinner. Joy Rae made Chili Verde stew which was so good, that I requested and got her recipe for it. Bruce and Beverly also attended the dinner. We all had a great time and soaked in some heat in front of the Gienger large fire place.

11/23/07 Drove to Vallecito County Park in Anza Borrego dessert, a pretty little rustic no frills park without hook ups, but it is very dark. There is great hiking on the Mormon Trail and up the many scenic dry washes. Linda was against it but I talked her into it as network satellite TV is available to her while I do astronomy. We arrived around 11:00 a.m. and did a 3 mile hike on the Mormon Trail and up a wash. We barbecued chicken with mustard marinade for dinner. I got my 85mm Televue refractor scope with a side by side camera mount on my Losmandy G11 mount set up and did a polar drift alignment using my 9mm illuminated reticule ep with a 2.5 Televue Powermate doubler for more accuracy. I did about five 4 minute exposures of the Orion Nebula using my Canon Rebel with a Canon F series 70 -200mm lens. The new moon was at about 15% of full illumination. It got very cold in the low thirties at 10:30 p.m. so I reluctantly packed it in and watched a show on TV with Linda.

11/24/07 Very cold last night but a beautiful sunny morning. I made thick bacon, cheese omelet, and muffins for breakfast. We all three did another 3 mile hike this morning, but this time we headed east towards the Laguna Mountains. We spent the afternoon soaking up the warm 65 F sun by our trailer. We were the only camper in the whole camp ground so it was very peaceful and Meghan could run off leash without worry of other dogs. I took a shower in the trailer and then soaked up some sun in my comfortable La Fuma chair. Made fried rice for dinner and then we made a nice camp fire for 1.5 hours. The weather was perfect with no wind.

I then got back to my telescope for more viewing. I successfully used the same drift alignment setup from last night. This time I connected my camera using prime focus to the TV85. I did 8 exposures 4 minutes long of M42 using my Canon “timer remote controller” TC-80N3 which makes it all happen automatically. I used 30 second delay between exposures to allow time for the raw exposure file to be transferred to the camera memory chip. I also did 6 exposures of M45 Pleades star cluster. While these exposures were being made I spent time in the trailer watching TV and warming up. Next I visually watched Saturn for 15 minutes. The view through my Nagler 3.5 ep at 171 magnification was breath taking stable, crisp, sharp, and with nice color. The seeing at the zenith was excellent. I hung it up about 11:00 p.m. just as the moon was about to go under. I should have stayed up longer to do some moonless exposures, but I was just too tired and cold.

11/25/07 Got up at 8:30 a.m., ate, and leisurely packed up. We drove to the county campground Agua Caliente 5 miles south, to dump thinking it was free, but they napped me for a $7 fee. Drove home through Julian and stopped at Santa Isabella Julian Pie company for Dutch Apple pie alamode for lunch. I also bought some delicious apple cake donuts for the road. The pie and donuts probably contributed to my 5# weight gain on this trip. Not our best trip ever because of the cold but still we had lots of fun. Got home about 1:30 p.m. and spent the afternoon unpacking.



Last updated on April 23, 2009