Monthly Archives: January 2012

Searching for Woody Hi-Q in the desert

Herb and Lois are full-timers we met through ham radio rallies years ago.  Debbie and I  have fun with them and share many interests including walking.  This day Debbie and Lois drove to Quartzsite on a shopping trip.  Herb and I agreed we might take a little walk while the girls were away.

Herb and I left our campsite intending to stroll about looking for Woody, the Hi-Q antenna guy.  Herb has a couple of Hi-Q ham radio antennas (neat stuff!) and brought along some money to buy a few more parts from Woody.

I assumed Herb knew where we were to look and I had no idea whatsoever where Woody might be camped.  Had we talked a little more about our prospective walk I would have figured we were really just on a walkabout in the desert south of Quartzsite.  Which is fine but I would have brought along more stuff than I did.

SAR guys tell us the basic rules for trips into the desert

The search and rescue guys had only two days before given a presentation to our large group.  These SAR guys provided very clear precautions  before striking out into the desert and Herb and I violated all but one.  Good news, we did have a portable ham radio and a cell phone with good service and battery.  We had no water, no sandwiches, no sunscreen, no camera, and had left no note as to our walk plans.  And, if I had remembered it, we had a quite capable compass in my Suunto wrist computer/watch.  The compass would have been helpful if I had remembered it AND if we knew what bearing to take.  You do need both, a compass isn’t as useful if you don’t know where you want to go.

So Herb and I set out along a pretty decent road from our camp, walking briskly.  After 45 minutes we see a settlement a mile or two (or three) ahead in the desert and decide we’ll keep going in that direction.  We arrived a the housing development (park model development?) after another 45 minutes, or two miles walking, and spent twenty minutes walking 3/4 around it.

We were at least two miles from Quartzsite and not sure whether we could find Debbie and Lois there and hitch a ride back with them so we struck off across the desert toward (we thought) our encampment.  Bearing on a distant landmark in the mountain range well to the southwest, we headed across the open desert watching for the road we had hiked in.  It was a well-traveled road we were sure we “couldn’t miss”.

More than two hours later we had missed the road without knowing it.  We also didn’t realize we passed well west of our campground and extended our walk a couple of miles.  Thinking we needed to change our approach we headed for some buildings to our east, and encountered a dirt-biker heading by us.  He told us we had a several miles on a new course to reach our campground and pointed the way.

My next RVing antenna?

Fortunately the dirt-biker was correct on the direction and overestimated the distance a tiny bit.  We entered the Road Runner BLM “campground” from a new (for us) angle.  We saw this antenna — it was worth the walk to see this antenna holding the little camper down.  Herb and I marched, triumphant at our 10+ mile walkabout, into the campsite.  And drank a gallon of water each.

Next up — pictures and descriptions of our week in the desert (no, not walking) with 400 other amateur radio RVs at the 2012 Quartzfest Rally in Quartzsite.

Jim and Debbie

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We didn’t think it would take so long

We didn’t think it would really take more than ten hours. The hike was only supposed to be 11.5 miles and we three men are physically fit and active. Two (Bill and Steve, not I) are successful multi-marathoners. Our packs weigh less than ten pounds each, carrying primarily water and food. We wanted to believe we would be off the trail in under ten hours.

Start time: 06:03 a.m.
Finish time: 17:20 p.m.
Elapsed time: almost 11.5 hours
Distance hiked: 12.5 miles

This was a grueling hike for us, more so than most of our hikes. Bill organizes hikes for a group of us throughout the winter. Mostly the hikes are minor elevation change and up to five or six miles. He can easily get a group of eight hikers interested in these scenic and not-too-challenging Saturday morning hikes. Not so easy to find victims for a planned 11+ mile hike with some elevation change.

We left Towerpoint Resort in Mesa AZ at 05:30 a.m. and arrived at our trailhead just off McKellips east of Mesa thirty minutes later. Diana rode with us to take the car back until later when she and Debbie would drop it off for us at our final destination, Carney Trailhead.

Six o’clock a.m., still 0’dark-thirty, and we headed up the trail away from Diana and the car. We start ascending almost immediately, watching our footsteps in the eery led lighting from Bill’s small but bright headlight. Within twenty or thirty minutes we have enough light from the sky to see the trail without lights and foot placement gets a little easier with each minute.

View westward from Flat Iron Mtn

The trail gets steeper and we can soon look down on the small development and the state land which surround our starting point. And we begin to see ahead of us this cool-looking large stone bowl, Siphon Draw. We head up through and over it, thinking this is big work and maybe it’s easier after this. We’re rewarded soon by reaching Flat Iron Mountain and watching the sunrise from over our heads and shining toward Mesa and Phoenix to our west.

The strongest and most confident look we wore all day

A bunch of high school (or are they really old enough to be university?) kids come hopping up to the lookout on Flat Iron Mtn and we ask them to snap our picture with this great background. We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves and our ability — we climbed up the difficult section of Siphon Draw without pulling any muscles or falling on our butts — Hear us roar!

Nice walking through this section

Eastward we go again through sections up and down but nothing very drastic for awhile. We have a snack stop, a lunch stop, another snack stop and things are still going well. Then we encounter a family of six — the parents with their 14 yo son, 12 yo daughters, and a five or six yo son. All are carrying packs except the most junior, and the dad’s pack was 69 pounds when they started two days ago. All our potential complaints about the hike difficulty paled when we considered our 8 or 10 pound packs against this guy’s 60+ pound pack and holding a five yo’s hand through all the sections and hand-over-hand pieces we’ve done.

Parts of the trail were really steep

We’re buoyed by the wonderful vistas and gorgeous terrain. Every direction we look (except uphill) is just beautiful. There’s a wide variety of cacti and different sorts of rock all around us. We walked around some very deep canyons, wondering were they passable descents if we needed an early exit.

How did it look before the material eroded from around these?

The rock formations were striking too — it was hard to imagine how these rocks eroded to their present standing, how long it took, what it looked like before the erosion bared these formations. We could have dallied much longer just staring at the scenery. But we didn’t know how long we would need to finish the hike and didn’t want to be caught on the trail after sunset.

We have to pay close attention to find the trail

Second half and despite feeling lighter compared to the dad, the hike is starting to wear on us. Our knees and feet are beginning to feel the joy of many miles on hard surfaces. We worked our way from 1,500 feet elevation to 5,000 feet without too much difficulty but now it’s hard downhill pieces followed by another course of uphill then more hard downhill steps. Our bodies kept feeling heavier as we took a big step down onto one foot, and another one.

We could see out in all directions

A big hike. A day full of nature’s finest air and sights and sounds. Lots of altitude above the greater Phoenix area, so we could look out in all directions and see cool views. Great tough exercise. We won’t look for quite this kind of hike for awhile yet. And we were right on one account — we were faster (barely) than one mile per hour.


[NOTE: all pictures taken and provided graciously by Bill Echert — Thanks Bill!]

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Nine readers generated 16,000 views?

Full-timing allows us an opportunity to experience a different lifestyle than we had before.  Some of you told us you are interested in how full-timing works and what it feels like.  Some of our readership are full-timers and we read each other’s blogs and compare notes.  I think full-timing allows time to write because we’re not spending time fixing walls, trim, gutters, roofs, basements, driveways, or working much on our landscape.

We’ve joked about having nine  (thanks to Dana, Cal, Rob, and Beth for upping the numbers!).  Wordpress says we had 16,000 visits to our blog last year.  Let’s see, divide 16K by 16 and everyone would have visited our site 1,000 times each?  No, there must be more of you than nine.  Somewhere in the wordpress blog stats it must tell me how many?

And thanks to these top referrers — we read and recommend you a lot and are glad we get referrals back.  We appreciate it.

Thanks to you readers for helping make this blog enjoyable for us.  Your feedback is fun for us and keeps us in touch with you sometimes.  Today we added sharing capability to our blog, we hope will make our blog easier to share when we deserve it.  We’re glad you read this far — now look just a little further and see the numbers YOU created.  The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for our  dreamstreamr’s blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy 75 Degrees

We thought full-timing would give us hope of better weather more often.  Instead we, like everyone else, settle for what we can get.  Sometimes we’re in really cold weather.  This past summer we enjoyed a fairly typical hot muggy summer in North Carolina.

Snowbirds from all over the continent migrate to Phoenix and Mesa Arizona for the mild winter weather.  This time last year we were facing rolling blackouts because of unexpected high electrical demand from very cold temperatures.

We’ve had our weather ups and downs over the past year.  Until this week — this is the weather we’ve been chasing for four years.

You know you're in the right place when . . .

Thanks to for this picture and the warm sunny forecast.

Jim and Debbie

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©2007-2012 Dreamstreamr