SUN CHASERS: ARIZONA AND DOWNTIME

I left you with a picture of the truck as we pressed on through the last of Zion National park into Arizona.  It already feels like it's been a lifetime since then -- I think it's been under a week.  We've since moved from Zion National Park, UT, to just outside Phoenix, AZ.  A lot has happened since then, not all of it particularly good.  I have a lot to cover here, so get cozy.

After Zion we drove till dark, arriving in Page for the night.  Our plan was to go to Horseshoe Bend just outside of Page the next morning.  As it has been our practice, we hunted for BLM land to stay on for the night.  We wound up back tracking out of the city and setting up just North of town.  Our spot was just off the highway, far enough that the traffic wouldn't bother us.  I still have no idea if it was actually BLM or not, doesn't matter now I suppose.  We woke up, did our morning routine then hopped into the truck and moved back onto the road.

 Not bad digs for just pulling off the highway...

Not bad digs for just pulling off the highway...

 Morning routine: coffee.

Morning routine: coffee.

 We have a small inverter plugged into a secondary battery...just so Alison can curl her hair outside.

We have a small inverter plugged into a secondary battery...just so Alison can curl her hair outside.

First stop, Horseshoe Bend.  I'd seen Horseshoe Bend in many pictures and made it a location I definitely had to visit.  In short, epic place.  First observations, 'wow, this looks just like the pictures.'  Looking at the the bend with your own eyes you'll be surprised by how the water-carved rock actually looks like you're viewing it through a wide angle lens, and it really is shaped like a horseshoe.  I don't think I need to tell you much about Horseshoe Bend other than like all the places that I have visited, you should definitely visit it in person.  Alison was an excellent model for me that day, despite having worn a rather eclectic choice of clothing (carpet sweater, leggings, hiking boots).

 That quintessential hanging shot that's so popular these days...

That quintessential hanging shot that's so popular these days...

 My favorite travel partner.

My favorite travel partner.

 My favorite shot from Horshoe Bend.

My favorite shot from Horshoe Bend.

As we progressed South towards the mountain range containing Flagstaff we encountered increasingly strong winds.  Like, blow you and your tiny little trailer off the side of the road, wind.  Were I driving at a different time I would have been mildly annoyed, but I'm overlanding...so who cares, it's an adventure.  Northern Arizona is beautiful, it's like the landscape can't make up its mind between being desert or slow rolling farm land.  I kind of wish we had spent a little more time on that stretch of highway between Page and Flagstaff, but we had our sights set solidly on the promise of a warm desert.

 They say Saskatchewan is the land of the living sky, buuuuut...I think its got some competition.

They say Saskatchewan is the land of the living sky, buuuuut...I think its got some competition.

 So...much...open...road.

So...much...open...road.

 Getting into that red rock again.

Getting into that red rock again.

As we climbed to Flagstaff we encountered a lot of rain and dense cloud, so our plans to go to Sedona for some riding were 86'd and we pressed on towards Prescott, AZ.  Unfortunately the storm we had passed through in Flagstaff followed us to Prescott, and after a short stay for some training we continued on our way.  Finally, after dark and considerably closer to the low desert the rain drops ceased to fleck our windshield and our thermometer climbed to 13*C.  It was getting late so we turned off the highway and found a gravel patch to sleep in.

Morning.  Oh hey, we're still in the mountains.  There's a trail head for mountain biking a few feet from the camper, oh look mountain bikers driving by...hmmm, I think we should follow them.  We drove down the road, which we now know was Bumble Bee Rd, and eventually came upon some riders unloading their bikes from their truck.  As I often have, I struck up a conversation and ended up following the two riders out into the desert on a two wheeled adventure.  Two hours later I returned to where I had left the trailer and joined Alison in the warm sunshine.  It occurred to me then that we were sitting in a perfect place to hang out for a few days.  Level camping spots, fire pits, mountain bike trails, warmth...all the pieces fit, until I looked under my truck and saw gear oil leaking onto my rim.  Well, found my vibration.  I had mentioned somewhere previously on one of my social media feeds that there was a suspicious vibration emanating from somewhere in the nether regions of my truck.  Knowing that at the very least I had a leaking wheel seal, I knew I had to get the truck into a shop pretty quick.  Half an hour later we were on the road again on our way to Phoenix. So much for that pristine camping spot.

 Lazy morning's had in Casper are by far the best mornings...

Lazy morning's had in Casper are by far the best mornings...

 This is what camp looks like in our world.

This is what camp looks like in our world.

 My acrobatic super-wife.

My acrobatic super-wife.

I won't bore you too much with the next 5 days, it mostly consisted of waiting.  After arriving in Phoenix we went about researching shops and attempting to find people in the area we could stay with.  After not having much luck we found a gravel parking lot next to the highway and went to sleep.  It was Friday, so we'd need to wait for the weekend to be over before getting the truck in.  Long story short, some friends of ours took us in and allowed us to park in their driveway, use their shower and wash our clothes at their house.  Truck went in the following Monday and was out Tuesday morning.  Total cost was $1274 USD for a wheel seal, new brakes (both sides), and wheel bearing.  Labor far outweighed the cost of parts...I feel like another week of research may have turned up a shop that could have done it for a little cheaper, but overall Phoenix, I think, is a very expensive place to have a vehicle worked on.

 During our downtime I attended to some much needed repairs and reorganization.

During our downtime I attended to some much needed repairs and reorganization.

We're fixed up now, our batteries are recharged, our water supply is full and we're out of the city...finally.  Phoenix, despite sitting around for a few days essentially doing nothing, cost us a lot.  I was eager to get out of the city to somewhere a little slower paced and peaceful.  We ventured out towards Tonto National Forest in hopes of a swim at Saguaro Lake, turns out you gotta pay $8 for a day pass...so, nahhhh.  Alison did some training and I went for a slightly dull yet enjoyable ride through the desert.  After questioning some people I found in the desert we discovered that we could get a permit for free and camp in the desert.  And that puts us to today.  We've found out that Verizon offers a pretty convenient deal on a pay-as-you-go mifi device which enables us to have wifi wherever we go, so we'll be picking up one of those today so we can stay away from the city for longer.  Next you read from us we'll be with friends, Jasmine and Cory, heading towards the coast.

 Entering Tonto National Forest.

Entering Tonto National Forest.

 Bulldog Canyon is a pretty kick-ass place, according to Alison.

Bulldog Canyon is a pretty kick-ass place, according to Alison.

 Home sweet home for a few nights.

Home sweet home for a few nights.

 Desert sunsets, so warm, so inviting.

Desert sunsets, so warm, so inviting.

 Finally a clear night for some night photography!!!

Finally a clear night for some night photography!!!

 We laughed uncontrollably while crisscrossing up the road.

We laughed uncontrollably while crisscrossing up the road.

 Till next time!

Till next time!