Monday, November 21, 2016

A Different Kind of Trail Ride

As Al from the Bayfield Bunch would say Yahooie Louie, Brenda has made it to Arizona. I ran into Sky Harbor to pick her up on Monday afternoon. Enroute I had some things to gather at Costco to start her re-provisioning of the place down here at Dogpound South. I guess the bag of spuds, package of steaks and jar of peanut butter that I had wasn't satisfactory.

I spent a large portion of the weekend dusting and vacuuming around the place here but as I expected she was soon redoing everything. Tuesday morning she was off to Fry's for a big grocery re-supply, so I headed off swimming so I was limbered up for the hauling the big load into the house when she got home. I am trying to get a swim in on most weekdays, nice to have the great Copper Sky facility so close, and usually for most of my swim I have the pool to myself.

On my last solo journey out into the desert with my ATV I met some hikers coming out of a wash, I stopped to chat with them and turns out they are from Canal Flats in British Columbia, having recently retired and moved there from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. Turns out they know our daughter Lacey. They also have an ATV and told me that they would give me a shout next time they were heading out.

Friday evening I heard from Paul and Linda, telling me that they and another couple, Brad and Carol were going to run down to Vekol Ranch late Saturday morning with the ATV's. I met them at their place a few miles from Dogpound South (DPS) and off we went. Now in the past when I am out there by myself I just poke along, but these guys cover ground in a hurry. Amazing how fast you can actually move with these machines and the suspension just eats the bumps. And seeing how I had no idea where we were going I had no choice but to keep up. That sometimes is a challenge as you want to stay far enough back to avoid most of the dust but close enough so when they take a fork in the road you don't miss the turn. I am a decent tracker and given time I could probably figure which way they went, but at the pace they set, pondering the turns would just put me further and further behind, so driver her McGyver was the order of the day. They did stop along the way for a cool beverage though.

As this was my first trip out with a group I had brought along my extra gas can, just never know how far this guys we're going and I don't yet have a good handle on how far my outfit will travel on a tank, so better safe than sorry. After asking that question they assured me they never really travel more than a tank of fuel on a trip as they would have to leave some coolers full of beverages home to make room for gas. I'll know for next time. Bigger coolers and smaller gas jugs, Got it!!

After a short break we headed south up Vekol Wash, under I-8, and soon arrived at a spot they call Vekol Ranch, an abandoned set of buildings. Rumour has it that it was inhabited as recently as the 1970's, but I am betting water levels dropping caused it to stop flourishing. The old well sounded pretty deep but a rock dropped down it just hit a dry bottom after a long fall so that probably confirms my theory.

Stone and Concrete
 The house was made out of cement blocks and all the walls and outbuildings were fashioned from stone. The fireplace below as well as a big fireplace inside the house were also built with stone. Probably hauled in from the mountains you see in the background and obviously, from the green tint, a copper rich environment.
Outside Fireplace and possibly Cooking Oven
We ate our lunch at this stop as well.
Lunch spot
After lunch we continued on south to another spot where some enterprising folks had built a kind of stone boundary complete with lizards, stone, and other figures outlined with local stones. A lot of work went into this and it appears that most folks are respecting the work and leaving it be.

Stone Art
It would be interesting to talk to the artist and hear just what it is meant to signify, I think it is pretty recent stuff, unlike the Medicine Wheel we came upon while riding up near Wickenburg. This was the southern terminus of our trip and we basically followed the wash back up to the Petroglyphs I was at a couple of weeks ago and then on to DPS. Overall we traveled about 50 miles through the desert and it appears that I had lots of fuel left, I think I am down to 3/4 of a tank now, so I might be able to leave that jug at home.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Picket Post and ATVing

This week I spent some time at the pool everyday getting my routine back up to snuff. Yesterday Thursday was the first time I make the 4000 yards I try to achieve each day. Took ten days to get there after having a sloth like summer where swimming wasn't on the agenda. But it is hard to ignore Maricopa's great facility just down the road and that morning swim is usually just me, 8 lanes of pool, and a life guard or two.

After the swim I headed out to Picket Post as I heard a rumour friends of our Dave and Linda Modahl were going to be there for a Lone Rangers ride this weekend. The Modahl's live up by Seligman now so this might be as close as they will get this winter so I wanted to take the opportunity to pop by for a visit. I had a nice chat with them and over the time I spent there some others folks I know, Judy, Suzi, Becky, and Gary pulled into camp so I got to say hi to a bunch of riders.

PIcket Post Mountain
 It is always great to see old friends and it is especially nice to do it in as beautiful a spot as this.

This morning I was intending to head to the pool but Matt called from Dogpound North late last night and said there appeared to be a lake forming in the barnyard back home so I stuck around here to give him what help I could on the phone as he troubleshot that issue. Turns out the waterer had burst a hose, so he was able to shut it down and will replace the hose in the next day or two. Meanwhile the horses have the other waterer to use so all is under control on the northern ranges.

Once the water issue was resolved at DPN I thought it was a good time to take Blue II for a spin down at the end of Warren. There are a bunch of trails down there that I have ridden in the past with Blue and I thought some of them might be OK with an ATV. Some of it is State Trust Land but I have always had my permit up to date so that wasn't an issue. I ran into some hikers down there from Rocky Mountain House and had a chat with them about some of the places they ride their quads when they aren't hiking.

Blue II ready to unload

 Although many of the trails are good enough to use the Commander on, it is still a little bit more restricted than a horse, when you are on horseback it is kind of go where you like, but with these machines you need to stay on the commonly used trails so you don't cause unwanted impacts to a delicate environment.
Along the trail.

I am still getting a feel for where this new outfit will go. And travelling alone out there it is always good to use an abundance of caution. Although the likelihood of getting bucked off is somewhat less than on horseback the consequences would be just as serious I expect. For the first 20 years of my working life I was in the back country with either four wheel drives or tracked vehicles and learned along time ago not to get myself into spots that might be challenging to get out of so I am always looking around the next corner to make sure I can get back. It is amazing the places that this unit will crawl over and up though. I am sure as I get more familiar with it my horizons will expand a little.

Top of the Mountain.
And here is the view from just behind the machine. The red circle is where our truck and trailer are and the X marks DPS. Wonder how many drug lookouts saw me go by and wondered what I was up to.

Back in Canada Brenda has returned to Alberta from her Rare Disease Conference and after a couple of days of rest will jump on a plane to the Valley of the Sun. We are looking forward to seeing her on Monday.

Saturday, November 5, 2016


Yesterday I decided to take a run out into the desert and see what I could see. I have heard for years about these petroglyphs but they are a little far for a ride from DPS, about 10 miles one way with the CanAm although you might be able to knock a mile or so off of that on horseback. But that is just a short run with my new ride, so I made a loop of about 25 miles out of it.

 The whole hillside is covered with this prehistoric art, obviously someone or probably many someones had a lot of time on their hands. I need to go back and take some better shots but I think I will wait till it cools off a little more, it looks like a snake rich environment, and although I didn't see any I wished I had some tall boots on while I was clambering about.
I did find this Millipede, who had not survived the summer heat or something. Usually they are a kind of reddish colour and this fellow looked pretty bleached out so he might have been there a while.

I am guessing that the artists who did these petroglyphs were actually just killing time while they watched this vast plain waiting for dinner to come walking by. It must have been a much wetter time as I can't imagine a lot of game wandering around there now, although I have seen deer in the mountains to the south before.

Today was the first of the winter series barrel races so I headed up there for a while and took a few pictures.
Sue Coleman

Connie Volk

Jasmine Naffarate

C.C. Cochran
Always good to see fast horses at work. I think they had about 40 riders and the weather was beautiful, mid 70's.

Brenda headed down to Toronto for her Rare Disease conference, she will be there all week, returning to Alberta on Friday. After a day or two of resting up from the long flight home she will be joining me down here at DPS.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Desert Rain

Yesterday I headed into town to Fletchers Tire for a 12:00 appointment to get my summer tires balanced and installed. I headed next door to Dave's BBQ for lunch. Great rack of ribs, and big enough to bring some home for todays lunch. It was pretty slow getting the tires done, took three hours. Once that was done I headed home. Donally's invited me to dinner with them Connie and Les Volk and Rene' from the Pinal Country Cowboy Church. The dinner was excellent and the company great.

Today Century Link was coming to work on our internet, it has been a little slow so they figured it needed a tune-up so I was home for the morning till they got done.

After lunch I thought Blue II and I should head for the desert for a look see at what was happening out there.
There's a roadrunner with a rider in that tree somewhere.

There was a storm rolling in from the south but it looked like I had time to make a loop out the wash then back in on the road. I dawdled along checking out some side trails and I guess I should have saved them for another trip because once I got around to the road that storm was moving fast in our direction. We jumped up into High range for the road ride back and Blue II is a lot faster for a lot longer than the original, but we still got caught in a downpour the last few miles home. Needless to say with rain and thunder the dogs were glad to see me home. It is still raining lightly an hour later but it is clear and sunny off to the south so I expect we will start drying out soon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Last Friday morning, early, I hit the trail south. We had spent the couple of days before that making sure we had everything loaded so Max, Maya, and I just had to jump in the truck and we were off. It was a quick leisurely drive south. Without the ponies we saved a couple of hours at the border so the first day we made it to Lehi, Utah where we pulled off at the Cabela's to spend the night. A walk with the dogs, a bite to eat and it was an early night.

That made for an early morning so we were up and gone long before the sun, in fact we were coming down the hill into St. George, Utah when that lazy old sun made an appearance. We have done this trip a few times so have figured out where to fuel and where the dogs can get out for run. We were pulling into Dogpound South (DPS) about mid-afternoon. Everything looked good here, so we got a bunch of stuff unloaded and then kicked back and enjoyed the sunset.

Sunset at DPS
Sunday morning early, I was up and enjoying Ol Sol's return to DPS.

And then it was time to get the deck and house pressure washed to get rid of the dust, and spider webs that accumulate over the summer. Shorty does a great job of the yard so there is not much to do there, it is just a matter of getting the deck spiffed up so I can haul all the patio furniture out of the house. It was good to get an early start because it was heating up pretty good by noon. Getting the outside stuff done early meant once it got hot I could move inside to start doing a clean-up inside. Long time readers will remember we had some work done to repair some storm and robbery damage last year. That meant we got a new door, complete with new frame. The old door had a gap underneath it that the bugs and dust availed themselves of to find a nice summer home, this new door appears to have been a better barrier so there were a lot less bugs and dust to vacuum up. 

Monday it was time to put some provisions in the fridge as well as head into Costco to get some steaks and a few other things like dog food. Then a stop at Home Depot to pick up a new post for our mailbox and some hardware for that job. I got the post for the mailbox set in the ground so we'll let it set up overnight.

Today I got the mailbox mounted and let the Post Office know we were ready for mail again, as well as making an appointment to get the snow tires off the Buick. When I brought it down here a couple of years back it had a pretty decent set of winter tires on it and as I figured it might never see snow again I decided to just run them off. It also has a set of good summer tires so we will get those out of our shed and on the car tomorrow.

After our break-in last year where the perps shut off the power I locked up our power box but I guess the power company doesn't like us to use our own locks so I stopped by and picked up one of their locks on my way home.

I also hit the pool for a quick swim. It has been a few months since I was in the tank and my body sure felt it. I wasn't sure I was going to make it to ten lengths, sad since in the spring I was doing 160 with a break. But I did get forty in and tomorrow is another day.