Monday, March 30, 2015

First Time Visitors

Gary's daughter and her family are visiting for the week and today they took their first ride in the desert. It's always a delight to go out with first timers as you get to see everything through a new set of eyes; it reminds me of Christmas with kids.

After one of the coldest winters on record back in Michigan, I think they are considering a place here in Arizona for the winter. Here's a fixer upper with lots of character that appears to have caught their eye...

Photo of the day...

Note bee in upper right corner

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Funny Car

Lightning McQueen from Disney-Pixar Cars?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Munzee Personal Best

I have been using the Munzee app to explore new places and get some much needed exercise. Yesterday, I went all out and scored 10,195 points which was #6 in the world that day...

Click on image to enlarge

Here are some tips based on my experience to date: 
  • Shopping centers and parks are good places to capture a lot of Munzees in a relatively short period of time
  • Look for high value Munzees such as Mystery, Motel/Hotel and Virtual

Sunday, March 22, 2015


While surfing the Internet looking for something interesting, I came across a website called Social Blade that publishes statistics on YouTube channels. What jumped out at me is this guy, Felix Arvid Ulf Kjelberg (a/k/a PewDiePie), who they estimate makes $576.8K - $9.2M per year from his videos. He has 35,462,226 subscribers and his videos have been viewed 8,171,368,437 times!

I immediately thought those must be some insanely great masterpieces like Gone With The Wind, Citizen Kane and Blazing Saddles... but alas, I was wrong. After viewing a couple of posts, I am in complete and utter amazement as to what others see that makes him so popular. Take a look at his channel and let me know what I am missing (caution: foul language).

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Today's Photos

Obviously, I am much too young to remember Tom Mix, the silent movie cowboy, but I do recall my much older cousins telling me about him. Turns out he died in a car crash south of Florence, AZ...

The Pinal Airpark north of Tucson is where commercial aircraft go to die. Unfortunately, it is closed to the public which is a shame considering the number of huge aircraft stored there...

Lastly, if you would like to get into RVing but are on a tight budget, you may wish to consider this low cost, low maintenance option...

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Big Score

I captured 1,943 Munzee points today while walking 3.1 miles (win/win). Although it was a good day, I am afraid my body will be complaining tonight as it has been a while since I walked that far.

How do I know how far I walked you ask. I used the MapMyWalk app to record duration, distance, pace, speed, elevation, calories burned, and route traveled on an interactive map.

Lastly, using a phone's gps drains the battery fairly quickly so a portable charger is highly desirable if you want to run all day. I use an Anker unit that I purchased sometime ago; it's small enough that I can carry it with the phone.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Red Mountain Park

While out chasing Munzees, I discovered Red Mountain Park, an oasis in Mesa, AZ complete with hiking trails and a stocked, fishing lake...

I am finding the Munzee app to be a fun way to explore new places and get some exercise. Plus, I expect that #1 guy on the leaderboard with 4,000,000+ points is getting really nervous as I am closing in with only 3,999,800 points to go.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Desert Spring

Spring has come to the desert here in southern Arizona. An abundance of wildflowers in assorted colors are turning otherwise dull landscapes into things of beauty. In some areas, the poppies are so thick they have turned entire hillsides yellow. Even a few cacti have started to blossom...

Click on photos to enlarge

On the downside, the accompanying pollen is wreaking havoc on allergy sufferers. And, of course, now you have to look out for these bad boys...

Caution: this is a trained professional, do not attempt this at home

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Government Waste

I've got to stop reading articles about government; it's not good for my blood pressure. Today's example:

The president and first lady took separate planes on the same day from Washington DC to California. His trip was to appear on the Jimmy Kimmel talk show and then a DNC fundraiser. Her trip was to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres talk show where she challenged Ellen to a funky dance.

Call me old fashion but when the country's national debt is over 18 trillion dollars (and rising), this does not seem to be a good use of taxpayer money.

Update 3/17/15 - GOPUSA article on Obama legacy (hint: 6 years, 38 vacations, 219 golf rounds - $40+ million)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Real Men/Women Ride RZRs

Our goal this morning was to find some new trails that our group had not ridden (this was not as easy as it sounds as we have covered a lot of ground in the last four winters). I am proud to report that we not only met our goal, we exceeded it. However, it required traversing some really gnarly, adrenaline pumping sections. Fortunately, everyone was driving RZRs which made the impossible possible. <grin>

I wish I had more action photos but I was too busy concentrating on not careening off the side of the mountain and going up in a fiery ball of flames. Here's the "No Fear" team on top of the world...

The views from the mountain ridges were simply spectacular...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


In looking for fun ways to use gps, I came across an interesting app called Munzee. Their website will provide you with the details but in short, it is like geocaching but with some very clever twists including points for "deploying" and "capturing" Munzees. Another way to think of this app is an electronic scavenger hunt using QR codes.

After setting up a free account online and downloading the app to my smartphone, I jumped in the Jeep and drove to the two closest Munzees. It turned out they were not very far from the RV park and were placed in spots that correlated well with their Munzee Name. That's when I began to see how this app could be habit forming.

I then created my own Munzee and posted it at the entrance to the Arizonian. I am curious to see how many of my friends here in the park will find it. If you decide to try the app, let me know in the "comment" section below how you like it.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Arizonian (2014-2015)

It's hard to believe I have been here at the Arizonian four months. It seems like yesterday that I arrived. Some of the winter residents are starting to head back home so this seemed like a good time to put together a montage of this season's photos...

If you have the bandwidth, view on HD setting

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Social Event of the Season

I had the good fortune to be invited to the big social event of the season here in the park, Jim & Ellen's Annual Cookout. This gala extravaganza grows in popularity every year due to the good food and company.

Ellen & friend

It's always a pleasure watching professionals at work

"Good Eats"

Hey, get a room you two

Florence Coke Ovens

I was curious about the history of the Florence Coke Ovens so I did a little Internet research. What I found has led me to believe the “coke ovens” were used to produce charcoal, not coke.

Most of the articles I read indicated that the ovens used mesquite to produce coke but they did not have enough detail or documentation to be as credible as I would have liked. This led me to look into the use of coke for smelting. What I learned is that coke is generally made from coal which is the process most steel mills use today. However, early metal refining companies also used charcoal which is made from wood. Given the abundance of mesquite in the area and the lack of coal, it seems more likely the Florence ovens used mesquite to make charcoal.

Here are excerpts from some articles that you may find interesting:
  • Cochran and the Coke Ovens: Who built them: “On a hillside across the Gila River you can see the bee hived shaped charcoal kilns. Many people associate them with Cochran and call them the coke ovens but they were there before Cochran was built. It is believed that the kilns were built by the Pinal Consolidated Copper Company in 1882 to supply their smelter furnace with charcoal. The site for the kilns was four miles from the smelter. The kilns were built along the Gila River to take advantage of the supply of timber, mostly mesquite which grew on the hill sides and along the river. A newspaper report from that year reported they were paying woodchoppers $2 per cord of wood." 
  • Hotter Than Mesquite: “The Arizona Highways book "Arizona Ghost Towns and Mining Camps" by Philip Varney speculates that the five charcoal kilns were built around 1882 along the Gila River by the Pinal Consolidated Mining Company to turn mesquite into charcoal to be used in the ore smelting process. Charcoal burns hotter and longer than the mesquite wood from which it was derived. Smelters preferred coke, which is derived from coal, because it would burn even hotter and longer than charcoal. The abundance of mesquite in this Gila Valley location was exploited by the mining company in an attempt to obtain economic advantage. It should be pointed out that "Coke Ovens" is a complete misnomer and "Charcoal Kilns" would be most accurate to describe these bee hive structures.”
I’ll leave it up to the erudite readers of this blog to analyze, debate, ponder, question and make the final determination.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Walnut Canyon

We hauled our UTVs over to Battleaxe south of Superior and rode to the Coke Ovens via Walnut Canyon. After the government closed Martinez Canyon, this became my favorite scenic ride in the area...

Death defying feats...

Dick & Dona mountain climbing

Paul & Ione going where no Rhino has gone before

Gary breaking-in his new RZR

Update 3/7/15 - Dick & Dona used the telephoto lens on their camera to capture an image of what appears to be a large hawk. That nest was built in an alcove on a vertical rock face that was maybe a thousand feet high.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015


I know the guys I ride with off-road like to have a small beverage after a dry, dusty day in the desert so when I discovered a smartphone app called Locotext, I figured this might be something they would be interested in. What it does is automatically send a text message whenever your phone's gps indicates you have reached a pre-determined location.

As an example, you could choose the back gate to the park as the point where you send a message to the wife such as "have cold beer ready, will be home in five minutes" or "make sure dinner is on the table, I don't want to eat left-overs again". In which case this app could be used to send a message to 911 requesting Emergency Management Services when you arrive home.