We started our second Oliver trip on March 31, 2019, and will return by May 7.  Destinations include Lost Dutchman State Park, Catalina State Park and Picacho State Park in Arizona, and other southwestern parts unknown. An added treat will be the opportunity to visit Tom’s brother and sister-in-law in Apache Junction.  I hope you enjoy this journey. 

If you would like to follow our daily footsteps, visit this link (NO password needed):

https://us0-share.inreach.garmin.com/H495J - you have the option of changing the view.

This blog is presented with the most current entry at the top of the chain. 

4/16/2019 – Catalina State Park, AZ

Today is REST DAY, but first we have to do a few errands:  laundry, truck wash, hardware store, and Wal Mart. After the errands, we ran by Wal Mart and picked up a few groceries and 2 nice pork chops for lunch.  Tom grilled the chops, while I made a salad and heated beans.  Again, a most amazing lunch!  We took an afternoon nap, and I do mean afternoon.  All of this hiking has caught up with us and we slept from 3-7 pm.  We watched a GRIT movie – another old western.  Tom fell back to sleep around 9 and I lasted until 11.  Tomorrow is moving day.  We are going just down the road to Kartchner Caverns State Park, AZ, about 71 miles and we hope to visit Tombstone.

4/15/2019 – Catalina State Park, AZ

Today, we started our hike at 7:30 since it gets so hot later in the morning.  We took a ‘no-named’ trail that cut off the 50 Year Trail that we spotted on a satellite view of the area.  It wasn’t on the park map.  It was uphill all the  way to the top of the peak and we were walking across the canyon from the hike on Saturday.  We stopped all along the trail to take photos.  The yellow flowers were abundant and so beautiful.  The crisp clean air with the beautiful flowers made the hike more pleasant.  At 1 ½ miles, at the top, we turned around.  This trail actually is part of loop and goes around the canyon to the 50 Year Trail.  No way could we do the whole loop.  It is about 8 miles!  We took it easy on the return trip because there were lots of loose rocks.  I didn’t want Tom to fall again and he didn’t want me to fall this time.  We had another amazing breakfast:  bacon, Eggbeater omelet with diced turkey and shredded cheese, plus the remainder of the Sierra chicken from yesterday.  Our hike had made us extremely hungry!  We had planned on laundry today, but I decided to wait until tomorrow.  I am just too tired.  We will still go to Oracle, about 20 miles up the road, to get the oil changed in the truck.  Tomorrow, except for laundry, we think will be a rest day!

4/14/2019 – Catalina State Park, AZ

This morning we left around 7:30 for a hike in the canyon.  These trails are at the upper end of the park, so we
drove to the trailhead and the parking lots were almost full.  Seems like everyone out here that camps and hikes
has at least 2 dogs.  Funny to see them hiking while carry their little ‘froo froo’ dogs.  We hiked 2 trails for a total of 3.25 miles.  WHEW!  We didn’t see any photo ops, but the hike was nice and we enjoyed the outdoors.  It got into the 80’s today.  When we returned, Tom made an ice run and I started lunch:  iron skillet cornbread cooked on the propane grill, and Sierra chicken (grilled chicken, broccoli, covered in provolone cheese.  I cooked this in the toaster oven.  Surprisingly, the cornbread was very tasty.  I’ll have to make this again.  After lunch, we sat outside for a while and then surprise, surprise, we took a nap – it is habit forming.  Sunset tonight was beautiful, but we just didn’t feel like dragging out our cameras again.  So, we will leave that for another day. Tomorrow will be a busy day.  We are going to go back up 50 Year Trail early, then go into town to do laundry, return here for lunch, and then at 4:00 take the truck to Oracle, AZ (20 miles from here) for an oil change

4/13/2019 – Catalina State Park, AZ

We hike about 1.5 miles this morning, but the we couldn’t find a good spot for photos.  Seems like the poppies like just one specific elevation.  The only shot I got of a small poppy/lupine field I converted to ‘oil painting’ in Photoshop and it looks pretty decent.  Tom made his famous bacon and eggs on the propane grill and I made gravy and it was fabulous!   We took a very long nap.  Tom slept even longer.  I think his arm injury and the elevation have made him tired.  By the way, his arm is much better, thank goodness.  We thought we would not use the TV much that comes in the Oliver, but we were wrong.  We don’t have a satellite, but can get many over-the-air channels here in the desert.  One of our favorites is GRIT TV which shows old westerns from the 50’s and 60’s.

4/12/2019 – Picacho Peak State Park, AZ to Catalina State Park, Catalina, AZ – 37 miles)

We have a very short day today, so we waited until 11:30 to leave Picacho.  We will get there early, so will stop for a Wal Mart run on the way and we won’t have to go back to the town (Oro Valley).  When we got set up, we took a 2-mile hike up 50 Year Trail.  The trail is said to be named because the county leased the property for 50-years and currently has 35 years left.  Don’t know what happens after that.  Anyway, it is a beautiful trail with an incline up to the ridgeline.  There are lots of Saguaro cactus and yellow flowers in abundance.  We both got good shots there.  We spotted poppies along the bottom of the trail, so we will go back tomorrow and see if anything looks like a photo op.  The poppies are only open from 10am to 2 pm, so we will sleep in.  To us, that means 6:30 instead of 5:30!

4/11/2019 – Picacho Peak, State Park, AZ

No sunset last night!  It got cooler during the night with a low around 45 degrees.  Such a relief.  This morning we changed Tom’s dressing.  It looks horrible, but OK (not infected).  It’s going to take a long time to heal.  I just hope it doesn’t get infected.  We are being very careful to clean it when we change the dressing – gloves, alcohol, peroxide, and topped off with a large gauze pad with lots of Neosporin and/or antibiotic cream.  It is not as windy as yesterday, but we couldn’t cook outside.  I made a great omelet with Eggbeaters, little fried hot dog slices, and mozzarella cheese with a side of hash browns. We decided to lay around today.  Out here, you can only shoot early morning or late evening, the sun is so harsh, even on a cloudy day. We switched up our plans a little.  Instead of going to Joshua Tree National Park in California, we will stop for a couple of days at Katchener Caverns State Park, AZ, near Windslow.

April 10, 2019 – Picacho Peak State Park, AZ

We woke up early this am, drank 1 cup of coffee and then around 6:30 headed out for a short hike and photoopportunities.  We hiked up Sunset Trail a ways (1.2 miles).  It was short, but elevation gain and rock trails made it slow for us.  We took a few photos and then came back for breakfast.  We needed to run into Eloy (small town nearby) since we have run out of bottled water.  We chilled awhile, this time BESIDE the Oliver – less wind.  It is not so hot today, 74 degrees for a high.  We may try again this evening for sunset.  But, we will see.  We still have one more night here.

April 9, 2019 – Apache Junction, AZ to Picacho Peak State Park, Picacho, AZ – 87 miles

We left around 10:00 since we have such a short day.  The temperature reached 94 degrees and wind is extremely high and gusty.  When we got to the campground, we could only sit BEHIND the Oliver in a little sliver of sun to except the heat and wind.  We just hung around the campsite this evening.  The sunset was nothing much..

April 8, 2019 – Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ

It got up to 94 degrees today – now that’s HOT!  We met Bud and Cora for lunch at Panera Bread – we won’t see them again for quite a while.  There ‘summer home’ is in Warren, PA and they don’t get to NC often, nor do we drive up to PA.  We got back around 2:30 and it was so hot we couldn’t even sit outside with the awning and sunscreen up – no breeze at all!  We turned on the overhead fan and got in a little nap.  After sunset, it cooled down a little and we sat outside and listened to Braves baseball on our XM radio.  We relocate tomorrow 70 miles SE to Picacho Peak for 3 days.  It should be a little cooler there.

April 7, 2019 – Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ

 This morning started great.  We met Tom’s brother and sister-in-law (Bud and Cora, who winter in Apache Junction) for breakfast.  He gave us information on where the Salt River wild horse herd is located, so after breakfast we took a drive into the Tonto National Forest.  We hadn’t gone far when we saw them!!!  As many of you know, I love horses and am always anxious to see the wild herds in the American west.  Many people say these are 'feral' horses. The 'feral' supporters go back to the 1930's. Historical records and other documents dispel the 'feral' notion. In 1687, Eusebio Kino, a Jesuit missionary, journeyed throughout Arizona (then called Sonora) and built 6 missions. He left hundreds of horses and cattle with each mission. I choose to believe these beauties are those descendants. We must always protect this piece of the American West.   We had an early dinner of chicken fajitas and tossed salad.  The rest of the afternoon, we rested.  Tomorrow we will meet up with Bud and Cora again before we leave Apache Junction on Tuesday.

April 6, 2019 – Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ

This morning highway back through the saguaros is closed for a bike race, so we will go to WalMart and then drive up the Apache Trail to see what’s up the mountain.  We saw plenty of cacti, but there were very few pull offs.  When we drove up the mountain, the traffic was sparse, BUT when we came back down, I think everyone in Apache Junction was driving up the mountain.  There is a little community in one of the valleys – Tortilla Flats – that has a gift shop, restaurant, and other tourist trap stuff.  I got one shot that turned out pretty good as a black and white – the light is so harsh out West.

April 5, 2019 – Holbrook, NM to Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ – 177 miles

We had a very short day today, so lazed around a little and left around 9:45.  We took a scenic route that was recommended by a man we met at dinner last night.  The drive didn’t disappoint.  The elevations were between 6000 and 7000 feet and we show snow on the side of the highway.  There were signs for wild horses on this drive in Tonto National Forest, but we didn’t spy any.  Our campsite is without electric and water, but the view is amazing.  Superstition Mountain is right behind us and there are many Saguaro cacti on its slopes.

April 4, 2019 – Santa Rosa, NM to Holbrook, AZ – 346 miles

We slept in until 6:30 this morning – very unusual for us.  Our drive today was pleasant and temps hung around 60 degrees and it was a little overcast.  We took a detour on the way to Holbrook and drove through Petrified  Forest where we took a few photos of the petrified wood and the Painted Desert.  The Petrified Forest in Arizona contains remnants of a prehistoric forest.  As the trees died or were knocked down by wind or water, many were carried downstream and buried by layers of sediment.  The logs soaked up groundwater and silica from volcanic ash and over time crystalized into quartz.  The rainbow colors were created by different minerals in the wood.  When we got to Holbrook, we set up the Oliver and treated ourselves to dinner out – the best pizza ever.  We have a short day tomorrow on our drive to Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ.

April 3, 2019 – Foss, OK to Santa Rosa, NM – 328 miles

Pulled out around 7:50, but a stop at Wal-Mart pushed our departure from Foss to 8:50.  We drove through Oklahoma to Texas panhandle, and then into New Mexico.  Texas has an abundance of windmill farms.  As far as the eye can see on both sides of the rode for most of the ride, there were groups of windmills running and others in the process of construction.  We had a little issue with the wind shield on our sunroof.  The wind is very strong and apparently one of the attachment devices either came out or was not installed.  This caused the wind to really flap around, causing it to hit the window on top.  So, we had good.  Tomorrow we head to Arizona.to open the sunroof until we got to the campground.  Tom had to remove the wind shield.  But, all is well.

April 2, 2019 – Old Post Road, TN to Foss Lake State Park, Foss, OK – 360 miles

Great day for a road trip. The temperature kept rising until we finally hit 71 degrees.  We got to the campground around 3:00 pm and rested a bit.  It is very, very windy here.  Gusts up to 30 mph.  Tomorrow will be out last sleepover before we get to Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona.  Sure are hoping the poppies are still blooming!

April 1, 2019 – Montgomery Bell State Park, TN to Old Post Road Army Corps of Engineers, Russellville, TN -392 miles.

This morning we left around 8:00.  Again, it was pretty nippy, but the ‘bun’ warmers in the truck made us happy.  It reached 55 today.  We got to the campground around 3:00, fixed a very late lunch and relaxed.  We were able to get the Atlanta Braves baseball game in the evening.   

March 31, 2019 – Walkertown, NC to Montgomery Bell State Park, TN (Burns, TN) - 473 miles

The first day was very long, in fact, I think we broke the record.  We left home around 7:50 am and drove through some light snow west of Asheville and light rain.  It was cloudy all day.  We planned on stopping in Lebanon, TN a little east of Burns, but were not all that tired, so we trucked on.  At least, we have already tackled the horrific traffic in Nashville.  We HATE to drive in Nashville. We arrived at the campground around 4:30.

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