I’ve done the impossible and for the most part have evaded Verizon’s coverage web. I am occasionally stymied by a stray bar of solid 3G service, but can otherwise answer “No.” to “Can you hear me now?” (Which I guess I wouldn’t be able to hear. Eh, details.)
To chat with Ayo and my mom I’ve snagged a ride into town (pop. 3000) and have solid service for the next couple of hours. As a bonus I found wireless at the town motel, so I get to blog a bit about the past four or five days.
Mesa is pretty generic, like any other small city. I stopped there to check out an old-school optics shop and get my constantly overheating phone replaced. The telescope shop kicked butt and I’ll be writing about it in a separate post. On my way in I swung by Papago Park, which boasted free electricity (!) and some sweet geologic formations.
Apache Junction, AZ
Apache Junction is much smaller than Mesa, I stopped there to meet up with Diana and friends for dinner at Superstition Skies Bar & Grill, where as Diana wrote in a recent post there is horse parking in the front lot. The restaurant boasted a hot country band and a view of the Superstition Mountains, and it was cool to meet up with fellow fulltimers. Diana and Phil are mean dancers, and had a good time poking fun at my complete lack of country song knowledge. With 10+ years on the road Diana has taken in a lot of the country and posts fantastic stories and photos on her blog. Ayo would have enjoyed meeting her, and I hope that we can meet up again on the road.
I overnighted in the Superstition Skies parking lot.
Oak Flat Campground, Tonto National Forest
The drive to Oak Flat was very scenic and was marked by constant stops for geocache hunting. Cacher “Sahuaro 3” set up a string of caches along US-60 and I snagged a bunch of them on my way to Oak Flat. I’m glad to have arrived at the (free!) campground on Thursday, as the sites filled up by Friday night. The site that I picked is perfect. It is far from the other sites, has morning shade, two tables, a fire pit, and gets occasional visits from curious cows.
I’ve had time to do some work on the RV and sort through the crap that’s built up in our cabinets, and have been enjoying the quiet and cool starry nights out in the mountains. There are tons of places to explore, and I’ve come across plenty of climbing and bouldering routes in nearby Devil’s Canyon. I’ve also found some very tough-to-reach geocaches in the wilderness.
Possibly the coolest thing, however, has been meeting a die-hard Harley biker named Tom. Originally from a farm in southern “Mizhur-uh,” he’s a Vietnam special forces vet who worked as a mercenary post-war. He is always carrying at least one gun and travels with a small armory in his trailer. We hung out for a couple of hours one afternoon and did dinner another night and I’m certain that I have a friend looking after me for life. He’s my first biker friend, and I’m his first “Hebrew friend.”
Tom’s past is a bit sketchy. As he puts it, he used to be a “one percent-er.” Tom: “Ninety-nine percent of Harley riders are kind and decent human beings. One percent are the people you don’t want to meet on the street. I was one of them.” Back in the day he worked as a “problem solver” and debt collector for drug dealers, and when money wasn’t to be found, a kneecap was. Tom is convinced that he’s headed to hell, but wants to put some good karma out in the world before he gets there. He’s a really nice tough guy.
He and some biker buddies will be riding through Bryce and Zion around the same time that we’ll be there, so we may meet up again. It’ll be an experience for Ayo to see the human side of rough riders, and it may be a similar experience for Tom’s friends to hang out with a couple of people who don’t own leather chaps.
posted by yair