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  1. #51
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,052

    Default Seen along the road.

    Going back over paperwork, I realise there have been a couple of omissions.

    Did you know that the largest rocking chair in the world is in central MO somewhere. The sign was in the vicinity of MM 208 on I-44.

    Exiting a rest area - no idea where - there was this message:

    No matter how expensive
    No matter how new
    The best safety device
    in the vehicle is YOU.


    Lifey

  2. #52
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,052

    Default Lordsburg and beyond.

    Saturday I drove to Lordsburg, where FJ had a Denny's. These usually have wifi, and since I had some urgent phone calls to make home, I was in need of an internet connection. It was well after lunch when I arrived. Dinner time saw me still there. It was air conditioned and the heat outside was becoming a bit too much. I've learned to ignore most of the menus, and stick to my soup and salad.

    That night, I again slept with my doors open. Once again we had a spectacular lightning show during the night, at times lighting up the area sufficient to see way out into the desert. One bolt of lightning must have hit close by as the whole area was blacked out for some time.

    After checking out this small town and stocking up once again on milk, etc (I must get a larger fridge) I headed off out of town to pick up route 80 south. Such a relief to be off the interstates. Lightly travelled, 80 is a nice, though not spectacular road through the desert, down to Douglas. A handful of trucks use this route to serve Douglas, and the small settlements along the way.

    At Rodeo there is a historic marker, marking the railway which ran from LA to El Paso until 1952.

    Arriving in Douglas on a Sunday was not the smartest thing I have done. The campground on US-191, just north of town, right by the rangers' office was closed. None of this was on the internet, and reviews I read were quite recent. But apparently there was a chance of trees falling which could become a danger to campers.

    Of course the adjoining rangers' office was unattended. The visitor centre does not open on Sundays. But the police department next door was open and staffed. After a short chat with the officer, she advised me the best places to park overnight, and be safe.

    I could park right there, on the vacant lot across from the station, that would be safe. Or behind the visitor centre. Next day I learned that RVs are quite welcome to park in the visitor centre car park. The other place would be to park where the trucks park. There is not a truck stop in town. It is on the now vacant block where Safeway used to be, that trucks park overnight. It is a stone's throw from the border crossing. I was assured that the truckers let the police know quick smart when any funny business takes place. A bit too close to the border for my liking, and definitely too dark. Of course for all of those places one would have to be completely self contained.

    Next she went on to suggest Walmart, as they are 24hr - right opposite the spot where the trucks park. That was not going to suit me. However, closer into town, thus further from the border crossing, was a 24hr McDonald's. They were happy to have me stay the night. Bonus was that I had wifi all night if I wanted it. Keeping in contact with home is becoming more and more challenging as I move into areas where there are no truck stops, and Panera's - along with most of the other businesses which offer free wifi - does not have a presence.

    Lifey

  3. #53
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,819

    Default

    We ate breakfast at the Denny's in the Lordsburg FJ, back on the 3rd day out on our trip. The FJ itself charges for their wifi, but the Denny's does not.

    Other thoughts for free wifi other than McDonald's, Denny's and Panera: most Starbucks. Sometimes you can sit outside of a motel in your car and see if you can get onto their wifi -- doesn't work with Super 8's or Motel 6's (they usually password theirs) but we stayed at a few that did not password their Internet. Most of them were independents, but also an Econo Lodge. Most public libraries, too, even when they are closed. (I've dropped off books in the night slot and seen people sitting on their laptops on the library's patio, on the 'Net.)


    Donna

  4. #54
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,133

    Default Theft is not generally a good thing

    Do you realize that when someone logs on to a private network, without permission -- like those motels -- that they would be committing theft? Such an action would be using bandwidth and computer resources that the person did not pay for. Some businesses offer free Wi-Fi as part of their business model -- but.... freeloading without paying for services is generally that is not something we recommend here.

    Wi-Fi is never really free --- someone ALWAYS has to pay for Web access.

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 08-01-2014 at 03:43 PM.

  5. #55
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,052

    Default I feel obliged to purchase.

    I'd have to agree with Mark. Even when I sit outside Maccas, I still go in and purchase at least a milk shake, if not more. Have not tried hotels for that very reason.

    When I arrived at the Denny's in Albuquerque, I had planned not to get anything, and explained that I had eaten earlier. I was told there was no obligation to purchase to use wifi. As I got to the booth I noticed a new tablemat advertising their milk shakes. I had to have one.

    I feel even more obliged, as a rule, since I always plug into the electricity as well as their wifi. Sitting in the van I can run the computer off my house battery...... all night!

    At libraries, I have often been told at closing time, that if I can pick it up in the parking lot, I am welcome to stay. I often have... for many hours. Very occasionally I have picked up a library's wifi when the library was closed and there was no other source readily available. But that is rare.

    Donna, where I am now, and where I am heading, there is a Maccas, but not any of the others you mention.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 08-01-2014 at 07:01 PM. Reason: add info

  6. #56
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,819

    Default

    Yes, this is true, sitting outside of a motel that you are not staying at, and using their wifi, is like stealing. The vast majority of motels use some form of password-ing, to keep folks from doing that. Anyone with a home wireless network is also wise to tighten up the security, for the same reason. When we use wifi at Mickie D's, Denny's, Panera, we are always there as a customer anyway. If I happen to be at another restaurant having a meal, and see if they have wifi and it's unlocked but needs a password, I'll ask. We bought a very limited data package with our smart phones, so logging into a wifi network helps save us $.


    Donna

  7. #57
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,052

    Default US-191 - Douglas AZ.

    Monday morning made an early start to see what information I could gather (over and above what I already had) for the trip ahead. Visitor centre was most helpful, especially in providing where to find all I was looking for in Douglas. Not quite sure why I ended up at the Sheriff's office. I was looking for some other office which should have been in the same building, but wasn't.

    How lucky I was to be speaking with that lovely Dep Sheriff, Anthony. The very southeast corner of AZ, and all of route 80 was his responsibility. He gave me some helpful detailed maps of the area. It seemed, no matter what question I asked, he seemed to somehow always turn it back to his passion, the Wonderland of Rocks. I knew that I would not have sufficient time to make this detour. My plan was to get to or near Safford for the night, but listened to all he had to say.

    At the rangers' office, Zac was most helpful and full of information. He handed me a wonderful little pocket map with all the detail of the area north of Douglas, up to Safford, including all the camping areas. It turned out to be a most useful publication.

    When I saw unleaded for less than $3.50, I topped up the tank. Doubted I would see it any cheaper going north. I was also glad to see a locally owned supermarket, where once again, I topped up.

    It was late morning, going on for lunch time, when I finally headed up US-191, and out of Douglas. There appears to be a disagreement as to where US-191 actually starts. Some maps show it starting at the Mexican Border, right by 1st Street. Others show it starting at AZ-80, just north of the town. The latter is actually where the mile markers start. When heading south, it does say 'End US-191', but there is no sign whatsoever saying that is where it starts. I decided to start at 1st Street, the nearest one is able to get to the port of entry.

    It was an ambiguous feeling, heading south along G Street to 1st Street and see those four fences in front of me. It was not a time or place to linger. I wasted no time joining all the vehicles heading north up the 'main drag'.

    US-191 north of Douglas does not carry a great deal of traffic. It was a most pleasant drive through desert scenery interspersed with small settlements and what looked like farms. When the sign to the Wonderland of Rocks loomed, I knew I was doomed.

    It must have been close to 3pm when I arrived at the visitor centre. It did not take long for Karen to have me enthralled with all she had to tell me. Such a wealth of information. I had not stopped for lunch. Karen suggested I drive up the Bonita Canyon Drive to Massai Point, 8 miles away, where there are parking and picnic facilities. It turned out to be the perfect spot with views in every direction of the famed rocks.








    Now going on for 5pm, I was conscious of the fact that there was not another person in the park (as far as I knew / had been told), and the visitor centre closes at 4.30pm. By now I had decided to camp in their campground. There was no time to go anywhere else, even though I knew I would be alone. I had been told there was no one else camping.

    When I finally got to the campground, after stopping at all the scenic turnouts on the way down (they are all on the right side heading down the mountain), I was surprised to see three young folk with tents pitched. It was not only good to know I was not alone, but as a bonus, they were great company. Their plan to visit here last year was foiled by the government shut down.

    A really nice place, Bonita Creek campground has more than two dozen spaces.. Each large enough to pitch three tents and park a truck, as demonstrated by these young folk from Ottawa. We had a great evening.

    Next morning I went back to the visitor centre to purchase one of their looooong walking sticks... the kind that look like ski poles. I had been wanting one for a long time.

    Lifey

  8. #58
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,133

    Default Chiricahua Mountains

    Country I know well.

    I was a fire lookout on Silver Peak during the summer fire season in the Chiricahua Mountains many years ago. I've spent a good deal of time in Douglas and the surrounding area.

    If you still have time -- Cave Creek is a favorite drive of mine -- Rustler's Park Campground has great views and you can drive in to some of the most scenic spots. (Oops -- the area is still closed due to damage from a wildfire in 2010... bummer -- here's some information.

    It would be backtracking to go to Cave Creek from the monument though

    Mark

  9. #59
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,052

    Default So many campgrounds.

    ... Cave Creek is a favorite drive of mine -- Rustler's Park Campground ...
    Cave Creek is actually where the three young folk were camped. They left the rest of the party there, and the three went to check out the NM. They came over the mountain. Said it was a pretty rough road. Were going back the next day, via Wilcox and the long way round. The Deputy also said it was a pity I did not go into there when coming down route 80. I saw the road, but it looked a long way. Guess if I had known I might have had time. Could not get to Rustler's, though it was on my list.

    As so often mentioned on forum, you can't see it all. There's always another day.... God willing.

    [I am many days behind with this thread, so by the time you read it, chances are I will be hundreds of miles along the road.]

    Lifey

  10. #60
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,052

    Default US-191 - Swift Trail

    [By the way, did I mention that during the summer months Chiricahua NM and the camping are both free? Can't beat that.]

    Headed out through Wilcox back onto US-191, heading north. My destination was to be another scenic byway of which I had read.

    The Swift Trail in the Pinaleno Mountains leads up Mt Graham. There is a good selection of campgrounds along the way, and I planned to make use of one. The first few miles are straight and flat, heading up to the National Forest Boundary, whence the road starts to climb and wind its way up Mt Graham.

    There are a number of attractions along the way. The orchard, a sign by the side of the road tells of what fruit is available. The picnic grounds, all of which have tables and fire rings, and are free to use. Separated by a good swatch of vegetation, one could have a party without being a disturbance to others. Really nicely laid out.

    The campgrounds likewise were in bushy glens and nooks.

    In Arcadia, the first campground I came to, there was a gentleman, settling in. He had been up the mountain decades ago and thought he'd camp there again, before continuing to Tucson next day. Round the Mountain was a tiny campground with only three spaces. There was a van there, but no sign of life. Once again I decided to venture out on this road, which was still winding its way up the mountain.

    As I was driving and the elevation increased, rapidly at times, I was fortunate to be on the side of the mountain most of the time. But I kept thinking, I have to come down tomorrow, and on this narrow road, with the double lines down the centre and no shoulder to speak off, the cliff side, driving down, was not all that appealing. Still, stubbornly, I continued upwards.... or was it because there was nowhere to turn around. I did see, at times, vehicles coming down pulling trailers - three of them with U haul trailers - and figured it may not be too bad..... but

    Finally, having passed a batch of 74 summer houses (there is a plague explaining their presence) and much winter information (ski, snow mobile, etc.) there was yet another campground sign. The road in (the previous two had been right by the road) almost made me change my mind, if it were not for the fact that there was nowhere to turn, I might have turned back. It was a dirt road winding its way down to 11 campsites. It seemed to take for ever, but in reality was 0.2 miles.

    At the very far spot was a couple from Tucson tent camping. They were looking for respite from the heat for a couple of days. They had been there one night, and planned to stay another. The fire was burning; the kettle was boiling. I was invited to have a cuppa with them. By my accent they recognised where I was from, as the lady has a sister living in Melbourne. In fact, she lives in the same suburb as I do. Small World.

    Since the spot for the camp host was vacant, and was also the only spot which was reasonably level, I chose to park there for the night. No leaving the doors open here. At 9000' there was no need for it, and we were definitely in bear country.

    Next morning I set out to drive further up the mountain. Only a couple of miles above Shannon campground - where I had camped - was the end of the bitumen. Gravel from here, all the way to Riggs Lake. No lines, no markings at all, and still no guard rails. I chickened out of the rest, turned round - there was ample room - and headed back down the mountain.

    Guard rails do not exist on this road/trail. Turnouts are few. It was a breathtaking ride, all the way in 2nd gear, whilst praying no car would come up the mountain. (Of course, that prayer was not answered.) I was well and truly over the double lines most of the time.

    It is said to allow five and a half hours for the complete round trip. The 22 miles I did took me almost two hours, each way.

    Highly recommended for anyone looking for a challenging drive with stunning views and beautiful scenery. Pity there are so few chances to park off the road. I have the complete drive down, and most of the drive up on video. Can repeat it as often as I like in the comfort of a chair.

    Lifey

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