Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Arizona vacation with Mom: Phoenix and Mom's arival

Apr 1 2013: Phoenix (No really, no joke!)

Mom is scheduled to fly into Phoenix tomorrow so I headed in that direction this morning.

But not before taking a quick peek into the exhibits at the Picacho Peek State Park visitor center and driving to the end of the road at the Sunset Vista trailhead. This park looks like a place worth a longer stop some day with some easy as well as more difficult trails to try out. Of course I couldn't resist trying out at least one, which turned into two and - well -  my 'quick peek' ended up taking pretty much all morning.

Between Casa Grande and Phoenix I10 crosses the Gila River Indian reservation. Maybe it’s my imagination but I10 was a smooth, well maintained road right up to the border of the reservation where it degraded significantly until exiting the northern edge of the reservation just before entering metro Phoenix where it got nice and smooth and fresh again. I don’t know who’s responsible for the road maintenance through the reservation there but they aren’t doing a very good job. Maybe the difference between federal oversight within the reservation and state oversight outside the borders. But the rest areas, both north and southbound, within the borders of the reservation are very nice indeed and lots of native artisans are displaying their work there.

My first job upon reaching Phoenix, besides negotiating the traffic, was to head for the airport where I located the terminal Mom would be arriving at as well as the cell-phone lot where I could wait for her arrival. My second job was to locate the home of a family friend where Mom would be spending her first night.

This home was over in Gilbert on the southeast side of the city and after I found my way there and marked it on my map so I could get back, I located a nearby campground, the Hacienda Solano Park, which is more like a mobile home park but has a few spots for campers and a reasonable bathhouse. Turns out the people manning the front office are from Michigan (Where our family is from and most still live.) and one of the residents of the park used to own a well known apple orchard not far from our house.

Apr 2 2013
Vacation with Mom starts today. Yay!??
All went well at the airport today and we spent the evening visiting with the friends Mom is staying with tonight.
I’m back in my campsite for the night and we have a plan for tomorrow.
I can’t believe I’m on vacation with my Mom!!!


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Arizona vacation with Mom: Made it to Arizona

Mar 31 2013: On to Arizona

This morning I got back on I10 and continued west.


As you cross New Mexico on I10 you make a gradual but noticeable climb to the continental divide near Lordsburg. From there you drop down on the west side of the divide and cross some flats where you can see dust plume 10's of miles away, too far away to tell if they are from vehicles or other such activity, or if the winds the signs along the road warn about are raising the dust.

Near the New Mexico/Arizona border you're climbing again, right up between Stern's Mountain to the north and Attorney Mountain to the south. (I wish maps included little explanations about how a place got named. . . That one might have an interesting story!)
A Google-eye view of the abandoned S curves along the Union Pacific
railroad just east of the Arizona/New Mexico border
The Union Pacific railroad roughly parallels I10 along here and at exit 3, not much more than a railroad siding called Stern's, I got off to do a little exploring. My map showed a foot trail of some sort along the flank of Stern's mountain and a close inspection of Google Earth reveals what looks like some really cool looking S curves that the tracks used to follow at one point, the usual reason being to flatten out the climb and/or reduce the amount of fills and cuts needed to get through an area, but have obviously been abandoned now, probably when the track was double-tracked through here at some point and either more powerful engines of the day could handle the steeper grade or more modern construction equipment and methods made creating fills and cuts more economical. (Curves create friction which results in more wear on rails and wheels and uses more fuel, so straight track is better if you can get it.)
Unfortunately I couldn't find a way to get close enough to the abandoned tracks to get a real look at them, nor was I able to find a foot trail, but I did spend a pleasant couple of hours away from the hustle of I10 exploring some rarely used roads along the Peloncillo Mountains.
Just on the Arizona side of the border I10 starts a long downhill slide towards Tucson through Texas Canyon which has all sorts of cool rock formations. The rest-area at mile marker 389 westbound, or 388 eastbound, is a convenient spot to stop and get a closer look. If you're not careful, while you're sitting at a one of the picnic tables with your back to the freeway you'll start daydreaming and just might start seeing ghosts of the Apache tribe members that inhabited this almost un-inhabitable area up there in the rocks. If you're even luckier you'll catch an eastbound freight grinding up the grade on the north side of the freeway.

When I got to Tucson I still had plenty of day left so stopped at the Saguaro National Park East Unit to renew my federal parks pass since I knew we would be stopping at several federal parks this trip. I had completely forgotten that this was Easter day so was lucky to get one of the few parking spots available at the park headquarters.

Since we’ll be back here in a few days I didn’t join the crowds entering the park after I renewed my pass as I had originally planned, but rather went off to explore a couple campgrounds in the area. I already had one in mind that I’ve stayed at before but wanted to make sure there wasn’t something better. There wasn’t.

Snaking my way across Tucson on surface streets (For a city of this size there sure aren’t many freeway options.) I picked up I10 again, but only for a few miles before stopping for the night at the Picacho KOA in the shadow of the Picacho Peak State Park.



Monday, April 28, 2014

Arizona vacation with Mom: Land of the free???

Mar 30 2013: Ft Stockton TX to Deming NM

This morning I noticed a very concerned camper opening all the compartments on his motor coach and sticking his head into each one. When he saw me he came over and asked if I smelled something burning because he did but couldn’t find what it was. I pointed out that the creosote was in bloom and that’s what he was smelling. I’m sure it was a scary few minutes for him waking up and thinking his coach was on fire!

Today was all about the Chihuahua desert, the city of El Paso, (With no good way to avoid going right through downtown because the Franklin mountains force all roads down to a narrow gap between the southern end of the mountains and the Mexican border.) the dairy operations along the west side of I10 between El Paso and Las Cruses feeding on the hay grown down along the Rio Grande, border patrol and so called ‘interior border control checkpoints’.

This may sound like sour grapes, but as a citizen of this country I really resent being forcibly scanned, sniffed, photographed, computer checked; and then after all that, grilled about where I’m from and where I’m going. I once even had my van searched. All this by armed border patrol officers yet I was doing nothing but traveling entirely within the borders of my own country. Sounds like something you’d expect in Nazi occupied France or from the warlords of Somalia.

As for the time I was removed from my van while it was searched: The Supreme Court has ruled that Border Patrol has the authority to ask questions such as what is your citizenship, where have you been, where are you going, etc., but they have also ruled that, as per the 5th amendment, anybody already within our borders, citizen or not, has the right to decline to answer.  When asked my citizenship at one of these abominations I will answer but when they ask where I’ve been or where I’m going that’s none of their business and I decline to answer. The Supreme Court has clearly ruled that refusing to answer can not be construed as probable cause and detaining and/or searching a person or their property based  solely on them declining to answer questions is illegal. Apparently the officers dealing with me that day didn’t get that memo, and they didn’t much appreciate me informing them that they were breaking the law either. That whole mess turned into a two hour delay, most of it standing out in the hot sun.

(Since that experience I have wimped out and now I just lie instead of declining to answer, which, unlike declining to answer, is actually a crime! But just like when anybody asks for my mother’s maiden name – which is public record and easy to get so is useless as a security measure anyway – , my birthday – which, along with my name, is all anybody needs to get access to my medical records over the phone –, or asks for my zip code or phone number at a cash register, I give a fake answer. It keeps them happy and I’m not giving up any real information.)

When heading westbound on I10 between Las Cruses and Deming, (or eastbound just west of Sierra Blanca TX, or northbound on US70 or US54 just south of Alamogordo NM or – well, you get the idea.) there’s a mandatory checkpoint with electronic sensors and scanners and drug sniffing dogs and unsmiling armed men in uniforms and you have no choice but to submit to the indignity. It’s bad enough to go through US customs and immigration when re-entering the country (By the way, world travelers will universally tell you that entering the US, citizen or not, is worse than pretty much any other country.) but when I’m simply traveling within the borders??? And to make it worse, they’re using my tax dollars to pay for all this!! And what about all the citizens of this country that live in the no-man's zone within 100 miles of the border where border patrol is allowed to operate these checkpoints? Just taking San Diego, Las Cruses and El Paso alone that's 2 million citizens that not allowed to go anywhere else in their own country without having to submit to one of these checks.  Does that sound right to you??

This map posted on Wikipedia shows 32 permanent 'internal checkpoints'
along the southwest border as of 2009 that we as citizens of this country have
to submit to. (Today there are 71 of them country wide.)
Notice that Arizona has almost none, that's because they made it illegal to set up
permanent checkpoints within the Tucson sector so border patrol
uses what they call 'tactical' checkpoints instead. Still a checkpoint, but one in a truck
that can be quickly set up and taken down therefor not considered permanent.

Anyway – enough ranting – I made it through the checkpoint and ended up in Deming NM for the night in one of the many, many campgrounds available in this little town. (I think they claim something like 27 campgrounds in a town of 15,000 people.)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Arizona vacation with Mom: Reality bites!

Forward: In case you haven't figured it out, I don't post real time on the travel blog. It's a security/paranoia thing. In fact I'm way behind on posting some trips and this one was taken a little more than a year ago now.

Mar 29 2013 Fort Stockton, TX
OK, I left the house this morning on my way to Arizona for a vacation with my Mom and as I’m driving along it strikes me; I’m going on vacation with my Mom!  What was I thinking?!!!!
It all started innocently around the first of the year when I was on the phone with her. She told me about this trip she was going to take to Arizona in early spring with the senior group. She and Dad used to spend winters camping out west after they retired, much of it in Arizona, and she thought it would be nice to go back and see a few of the old places again. A month or so later she told me that the trip wasn’t going to happen because something came up and her travel partner couldn’t make it. I made the appropriate sounds of regret and we hung up.
A couple days later I had this highly questionable good-son moment that just so happened to coincide with a bout of temporary insanity, in other words a brain-fart, and I picked up the phone to call her.  She answered and I blurted out, “Hey Mom, what if you go ahead and fly out to Phoenix anyway and I meet you over there and the two of us can take your trip?”
There was this moment of stunned silence, on both our parts, followed by sounds of shocked surprise and delight; on her part.
Anyway – that’s how I came to be on the road today headed off for a week-long vacation with my Mom who's old enough to have a child that can draw from their 401k account without incurring any early withdrawal penalties. (I’m certainly not about to give out her actual age here, she still packs a mean punch!, So I'll let you do the math. . .)
I try to avoid San Antonio when I can, (For some reason they built the freeway system there with no acceleration/merge ramps. You actually have to come to a stop at the end of these short little angled connectors between the frontage road and the main lanes and then try to jam yourself into highway speed traffic. It's almost like pulling out of your driveway straight onto a freeway. It’s asinine and scary as hell!!) so I headed west through Austin instead.
Over the years Austin has seen some tremendous growth and the constant road construction that comes with it. One area of which is the US71 & I35 interchange which has been under construction for about 10 years now and still is. I don’t get over here much but it’s getting better, very slowly. Except that a few miles west of here, where US71 and US290 split and go their separate ways, that intersection is still untouched and still a bad choke-point. I wonder what they’re waiting for??
Anyway, I had a fairly leisurely drive through Johnson City and Fredericksburg, both interesting places to visit, but not on this trip, before hitting I10 at a no-name spot in the road about 30 miles east of Junction.
Starting just east of Junction, and going for quite some way, I got to watch a major new high-voltage power line being built alongside the freeway. There’s not much in the way of population out here so I suspect the power lines are for carrying the wind-generated power of West Texas back to the population centers in Central Texas.
Construction was at different stages along the way so I got to see the entire build process compressed into 40 miles or so. Freshly cleared right-of-ways; concrete footings being poured; piles of steel sections that will become massive towers being trucked into place; towers being erected with impossibly tall cranes; massive pulley’s being lifted up to the arms of the towers; cable being laid out and pulled through the pulleys off of giant reels; and the final work of fastening the cables in place with insulators. It was pretty interesting.
My destination for the day was just somewhere down the road. Being Easter weekend I was expecting to spend the night in a truck stop somewhere but as I went past the Fort Stockton RV park just east of the town of the same name it looked like they had plenty of room so I went to the next exit, made a U turn and backtracked a few miles.
The creosote was blooming and ‘perfuming’ the air heavily and they regretted that the restaurant was closed because the cook was off for Easter weekend, but there were plenty of sites available.

Friday, April 25, 2014

More shade for the van

I'm an information freak, I'll admit it. Which is one of the reasons I have a DashDaq ODB2 reader in the van. (I was going to put a link here for it but I see it's no longer in Drew Technologies product offerings.)

This little guy lets me monitor the signals available on the ODB2 port, (That computer diagnostic port somewhere under the bottom of the dash on all vehicles not old enough to be called 'classic'.) which means I can read diagnostic codes as well as monitor a number of different 'gauge' signals.

You remember gauges don't you? (Well maybe not if you studied the Gulf War in high school history.) They're those round thingies in the dashboard that told you what's going on with your vehicle before they were abolished by lots and lots of lights. (Like I really need a light to tell me my coolant system has overheated! I guess that's in case I missed the terrible noise coming from the engine and the billows of steam blocking my view!!)

I mean for crying out loud! My Sprinter doesn't even have a fuel gauge!! Instead it has this LED display like the signal strength meter on your cell phone, only with 10 bars instead of 5. So I'm driving along feeling pretty good with 4 bars of fuel when I noticed that at some point along this dark and empty road it dropped down to 3 bars while I wasn't looking. So does that mean I have just a little under a half tank and am going to make it to those distant lights I can see out there across the desert, or have I burned almost all the way through my '3' bar and am about to suddenly have less than a quarter tank with which to escape the rampaging coyotes and swarming tarantulas???

DashDaq to the rescue! Seems the signal that used to be sent to a 'regular' fuel gauge is still there, you just have to know how to get to it. Fortunately my DashDaq does know and can tell to within 1 one tenth of 1 percent how much fuel I have in the tank. (That's if I use a digital display, but I find it a little disheartening watching the tenths click down when bucking a headwind so I stick to an old-fashioned dial type gauge for that reading.)

There's lots of other useful 'gauge' signals available off the computer too.

I have mine set up to show:

Fuel level

Engine load:   This one helps me treat the van gently. If I see the load getting up over 80% and staying there it's time to think about slowing down or downshifting (Yes, the automatic transmission will downshift on it's own at some point but you have to remember that the factory set the shift points for maximum fuel mileage with drivetrain wear being a secondary consideration.)

Manifold air pressure:   There's a turbo under the hood of this thing and manifold air pressure is another way of monitoring the strain your drivetrain is under, as well as keeping an eye on the turbo health.

Fuel mileage:    Sometimes it might be easier on the nerves to bury my head in the sand on this one, but - well - I seem to be addicted to watching this number fluctuate as I climb hills then coast down the other side, though I am tempted to turn it off when pulling the trailer!!

Ambient air temp:    I don't know, I just think its good to know if that wet looking bridge up there might just be covered in ice, or, on the other end of the scale, if your brain is going to boil when you leave the air-conditioning.

Engine coolant temp:    I'd much rather know ahead of time that the engine is getting hot. That way I can slow down or even pull off in a spot of my own choosing. The alternative is to wait for the dash light to light up and then panic. I'm not good with panic.

Exhaust gas temp:    Another good indication of engine load. And since the Sprinter is a diesel with a soot filter, I can see when a 'burn-off' is under way to clear the filter because the exhaust temp shoots up by about 500 degrees. This helps prevent me from freaking out when the fuel mileage drops during the 12 or so miles it takes for the burn off to finish.

I could go on for a while more about the capabilities of the DashDaq but this was supposed to be a simple post about a short project.

You see, there's a reason your dash indicators are buried way back in there where the sun can't get to them very easy. It's because they're kind of hard to see otherwise. And the DashDaq suffers from the same problem. In fact it's amazing how many different sun directions can make it nearly impossible to read.

My first attempt at correcting this situation was OK, but had two major flaws. Even though the dash cowl is close to the right side of the DashDaq and I didn't think I'd need shading on that side, the sun still sneaks in there with annoying frequency.

And here you can see the gap between the cowl and the DashDaq. This lets a surprisingly bright band of light through and turns out that's pretty annoying too.


  So the fix was to start over. This time I cut a piece of the black backer-board long enough to wrap both sides as well as the top of the DashDaq. I also scored and bent down about an inch of the board which will eventually fit in behind the DashDaq blocking those sneaky light rays.

Some more scoring where the sides will bend down

The little 90 degree 'nibbles' have been removed so the bends can be made with no bulky overlaps

I cut a couple of splice-plates, just by eye, to cover the joints formed by the nibbles and hold everything in place once all the bends are made

After making the bends I glued the splice-plates in place, keeping them there until the glue set with clamps and a few brass weights.

Added a couple Velcro dots (I know, I know, I'm supposed to write 'hook and loop' rather than Velcro unless they actually are Velcro brand dots, which I didn't bother to check, but I don't actually talk that way, saying Kleenex and Velcro and Xerox with no regard to registered brand names so why should I write that way??) The notch over there on the left is so the cable can be plugged into the back of the DashDaq

Stick the matching dots onto the back of the DashDaq, clip off the protruding square corners to give the shroud a little class, and we have liftoff!  Better sun shading and no light leaking in around the edges.

Since I got so long-winded at the beginning of this entry I think it might have taken more time to write it up than it actually took to complete the project!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pedernales Falls: Birds and fuses

Last day at Pedernales Falls.

After a leisurely start which included revisiting Twin Falls for some early morning photos, which didn't happen because I didn't want to wait for the fog to burn off, I headed for the bird blind.

This is a new thing since I was here last. A small garden with nice, really nice, bird-blinds to either side, each of which looks out onto a fenced in feeding area. I've said before that I'm no expert and field guides are frustrating, (Like using a dictionary, you have to already know [how to spell the word/what you're looking for] in order to find it!) but I've made an attempt to identify the birds in these photos.

Purple Finch

I know! Where's the purple?
But nobody bothered to get my opinion on just what this bird should be named

I wonder if that hummingbird over there waited 30 minutes
after eating to get in the water bubbling over that rock??

White-winged dove hanging around the cactus.

In fact several birds seem to find that cactus interesting.
I must be missing something

Apparently I wasn't the only one as this Western Scrub Jay

found this upside down stump more to his taste.

Neither one of these guys seem to have put much effort into

their disguises. No fake beaks, walking on all fours, not even any paper wings!!

Maybe that's why this Goldfinch seems to have a little attitude.

Even experienced birders find sparrows a challenge so I'm not going to
try and identify which one of many this might be.

But I think this one with the big black eyes might be a Fox Sparrow

And I'm going to call this one a Henslow's Sparrow

Spotted or Rofous-sided (depending on what part of the country
you come from) Towhee.
Not the best photo but I was shooting through glass which confuses my camera

Who, me?  No, I'm not the one using up all the hot water!

The plan was, once I left the bird blind I would go to the northern most part of the park and wander around the falls area, maybe with a side trip to the duck pond, before heading home in time to miss the Austin traffic; but that's not how things worked.

When I got back in the van and turned the key - nothing!  OK, this isn't good! Try again. Yep, still nothing.

Dash lights up: check, headlights come on: check, battery voltage is good: check, starter starts: I said! starter starts: nope.

Well isn't that about as much fun as a stick in your eye!!?

OK, think. Like most vehicles these days the Sprinter is computer dependant, but I could hear the security system sense the key-fob and unlock, there were no lights on the dash that shouldn't be there, and by using the DashDaq I could see there were no error codes from the computer. Oh great!! Just great!!

At least I have one bar on my phone and my GoodSam roadside service is paid up through 2016. In fact, I'm a long ways from anywhere so should probably go ahead and call to get things started. (No pun intended but if the van want's to go ahead and start now I'm not going to complain!) If I can figure it out on my own I can always call back and say 'never mind'.

Call; punch a couple buttons to work through the menu; get a live person. First question; am I in a safe place? Well- pretty much, unless those thieving rodents back there in the bird blind decide I'm easier pickings. A few more questions and TJ is going to work on getting me some help and will call back in no more than 15 minutes.

OK, while I'm waiting let's check the owner's manual.

What to do if: Engine doesn't start and you can hear the starter motor working

Nope, not that one

Engine doesn't start, you can't hear the starter motor working, the yellow DEF light is lit

Nope, not that one either

Engine doesn't start, you can't hear the starter motor working  Oh! Wait, phone's ringing.

Towtruck is on the way, it will be here in 2 hours then another 2 hours to the dealership and TJ already checked, they'll be able to look at the van right away. (Of course by then all the mechanics are going to be wanting to do is go home and kick back with a beer.)

OK, where was I?  Oh yeah.

Engine doesn't start, you can't hear the starter motor working: check the battery disconnect switch.

Well it's obviously not that, everything else electrical is working, but I'll check anyway.

Nope, not it.

Engine doesn't start, you can't hear the starter motor working: starter motor is defective, contact an authorized service center.

Well that was a big help!!!!

Looks like I'm in for a long wait. In the mean time, this van has a ton of fuses. In fact it has three different fuse blocks. I know because when I first bought it I checked them all to make sure I had spares for every fuse. In fact here's one in the manual that says starter motor! Fuse 23, a 25 amp fuse in block SRB. Except the only 25 amp fuse in block SRB is for the Center Console 12 Volt Outlet. I know because I pulled it and checked that there was no longer any voltage on the Center Console 12 Volt Outlet. (And no, the starter motor didn't miraculously start working. . .)

It took a while, standing on my head there under the dash, but I finally figured out which was fuse 23, only it was a 20 amp fuse, not a 25 amp, but the good news is it's blown!!

OK, I have 20's and 25's I can replace it with. I haven't messed with any of the fuses before so it must have come from the manufacturer with the 20 in it so let's put a 20 back in.

And we have ignition!!

Call TJ back and cancel the tow truck.

Thinking back on it, when I got to the bird blind there was a class C that pulled out just after I parked. Since they had been sitting in the best spot to stay out of the way of other vehicles I started back up and moved once they were out of the way. I may simply be making things up now to settle my nerves, but I seem to vaguely remember bobbling the key when I started back up. Maybe I double-tapped the starter which blew the fuse???

At any rate, I've lost so much time that if I don't head for home now I'm going to end up in Austin traffic, and my nerves are already jangly, so home it is.

And thus the trip ends.

My hikes this trip


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Pedernales Falls: Wolf Mountain and more miles

Apr 16 2014

 Unlike yesterday which had absolutely clear skies all day,
this morning there were a few wispy clouds to spark up the sunrise

The trail starts out from the trail0head very promising.
A nice stroll through the trees
I got started at a decent time this morning and was finished with morning chores and headed over to the Wolf Mountain trailhead not long after sunrise. Because of my lack of success yesterday at finding a shortcut across to the trail I had the choice off walking the road, adding a couple miles to the hike, or breaking down camp and driving over. I drove.

For the first few yards from the trail-head it's a nice walk through the trees but that doesn't last long. At the end of that wooded stroll you come to the real trail which is more road than trail. This is becoming more and more common. Not all that long ago as a park ranger you expected to be hiking trails on foot, humping all the supplies you needed to patrol and maintain them on your back, but those days are fading fast. I suppose that's to be expected in this day and age of volunteer park personnel. You probably can't keep many of them around long if you make them carry chainsaws, gasoline and shovels on their backs instead of motorized transport.

but quickly turns into more road than trail.
that little hump right there at the end of the road is Wolf Mountain,
a stop along our way today.
It's hard to tell from this photo, but that Prickly Pear is actually growing out
of the tree that has fallen across the upper end of Regal Creek. It's hanging there
10 feet above the ground.

 The park guide claims the Wolf Mountain trail is 6 miles long and challenging. I'm not sure about the challenging part, I think it ranks more like moderate, but I have no idea where they measured from and to because my round-trip hike was 8 miles long. Maybe I just wandered around for those extra 2 miles??

Wouldn't this make a fantastic coffee table!!

At any rate I still fell 2 miles short of the daily average of 10 miles for a loaded oxcart traveling the Santa Fe Trail. I don't know why that always sticks in my head but it's a benchmark I measure most my hikes against.

This Mark Chalberg of scout troop 101 was busy earning his Eagle scout badge
back in 2010. I ran into half a dozen of his map and bench projects
scattered around the park.

At any rate, much of this hike was uphill - well - exactly half of it anyway - and, like vehicles, I clearly get less mileage to the gallon going uphill, but unlike vehicles, my mileage doesn't improve on the downhill-side. . .
And I made good use of many of them!! Like this one

up on the side of Wolf Mountain with great views of the river below.
Maybe I need wheels on my heels??
Sometimes it's hard to tell natural limestone ledges from man-made rock walls.

This tree, with its dark, twisted branches reaching out to engulf me in its embrace reminded me of so many
Disney adaptations of the Grimm's tales I watched as a boy. I could almost hear the evil cackle it made as it reached for me.  

Finally, on the far side of Wolf Mountain, the 'road-trail' petered out and I was hiking a proper trail down through the cool woods towards Johnson Spring.

Oops, need a little trail maintenance here. This probably came down during
the ice storm of a few weeks ago.
Just off to the top right of the photo, Walnut Creek disappears back underground

But right here there's enough water for a few creatures, such as the water-walker sitting in the top right and casting his
space-pod shadow on the bottom of the shallow pool,

or the big fat tadpoles squirming around on the bottom.

A little further downhill the trail pierces this dry-stack rock wall

probably built by the Johnsons to protect a crop from the livestock. Can you even imagine the hours of hard
work it took to enclose a multi-acre field?

And this is what remains of the house the Johnson's lived in

Nearby I found another weathered relic of days long past

And this is why the Johnson's chose to build near here. The clear water of Walnut Creek re-emerges from
underground, flows briefly across the rock

then makes a short drop into this pool which I'm sure was deeper in the days of dipping a bucket to haul water back
to the house.

There's another one of these concrete pads over on the other side of the river up above Trammel Crossing. This one is at the base of Wolf Mountain on the river side and from the bolt pattern I would guess it supported a small, three-legged tower, but I have no idea what the tower might have been used for.

I think this bench has seen a few too many butts, including mine!

Are we there yet?? Nope, not quite. Another mile and one more creek crossing before we make it back to the van.

One of the perks of being park superintendent.

This residence sits on the site of the mid 20th century two-story ranch house that burned to the ground back in the 60's or 70' and is just a short ways above the pool formed by twin falls.