Wynword Press

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Wynword Press loves deep literature!   We focus on a few, high-quality titles rather than diffusing our efforts across many titles.  Each title is a book we truly believe in...each of our books has something to offer in addition to a good read.  Whether it's from a best-selling author or a relative unknown, you'll find something here to inspire you, grow you and entertain you.

Birds of Prey

After a day in Boise doing exciting things such as laundry, we drove south a few miles looking for the Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. If you are thinking that I stopped to take a photo of Absolutely Nothing, you are quite correct. That is what we found in the Birds of Prey Nat’l Conservation Area…Absolutely Nothing. Actually, I’m exaggerating a bit. We also found thousands of shell casings, broken glass, and various items of a rubbish-y sort. I did not photograph them because you can find similar views at your County Dump if you are interested. Why do people figure the desert is a good place to dump their garbage? I am mystified.

Hell's Canyon (continued)

Then, the next day, we pottered along for many more miles to discover that there is a road at the bottom of a portion of Hell’s Canyon which dead-ends at the Hell’s Canyon dam. Determined to see the actual canyon and the actual river in the canyon, we drove the 22 miles to the dam, and this is what we saw. It is difficult to capture the massiveness of these cliffs looming over the canyon, but I’ve given it my best shot.

Hell's Canyon Overlook

After an entire day of climbing straight up, and straight down, and straight up again, we reached the Hell’s Canyon Overlook. Here is the view from Hell’s Canyon Overlook…do you see the Snake River 7,000 feet below us at the bottom of the deepest gorge in North America? Neither do I.  I’m not exactly sure what we are ‘overlooking’ here, but I guess this is as close to an overlook as you get.  We did see some swoopy limestone ridges though.

Fall 2017

We departed from Sandpoint, ID on October 3rd. In addition to my two large dogs, I am now traveling with 3 cats as well. I really didn’t think the hair situation could get any worse, but I was wrong. 

We were on our way to Boise and decided to take the scenic route through Oregon to see Hell’s Canyon. It took us a few days to accomplish this because the roads are so mountainous that we averaged maybe 25 MPH. Here is the area we were traveling through.

Three Rivers Petroglyph Site

Because we couldn’t camp at White Sands, we had to find another spot. This spot turned out to be the Three Rivers Petroglyph site, where there are over 20,000 petroglyphs. I’ve seen plenty of petroglyphs in my travels across the southwest, but these were the absolute best. The variety (and sheer quantity) was amazing. I’ve never seen a petroglyph of a human face before this, and some of the animals were pretty great, too. There were many more photos I wanted to include, but enough is enough…go see them yourselves; it is well worth the visit.

Of course I injured myself clambering among the rocks to see the petroglyphs, partially because I had not properly equipped myself with a cane, and partially because a pair of sandals with actual straps to keep them on my feet (as opposed to the more usual flip-flops) is about as close as I can come to hiking boots. A pair of ankles with the strength and stability of half-cooked pasta did not help matters, either. I was congratulating myself on my persistence and willingness (as a handicapped person) to overcome any obstacle in the pursuit of seeing cool stuff, so I stifled my cries of agony and superciliously brushed off the injuries as being of no importance.  Then the next day, as I was hobbling down the road trying to walk the dogs with a wrenched knee and some sort of weird (but very painful) abrasion on the bottom of my foot, I felt very whiny and put-upon. So much for my persistence.

This probably isn't the best one to start out with, but it was one of the first ones I saw, and it reminded me of a pooping angel. Maybe the angel is pooping lightning bolts? Anyway, I was very fond of it for that reason, and included it even though it isn't one of the clearer petroglyphs.

Much later on the trail I found another pooping angel but this one has a growth of some kind on its wing that might be a dog?

The naturalism of this ram's head is different from the more highly stylized petroglyphs I've seen before.

Here's a whole sheep...again, I thought this was unusually naturalistic.

So most of you probably aren't impressed with this petroglyph, but my family members will immediately recognize it as Leopold the See-Through Crumb Picker. Leopold the See-Through Crumb Picker was one of the many books our mom read to us when we were little. I thought he was an original idea, but here he is in a 900 year old petroglyph. Wow!

This is obviously a cross between a giraffe and a turkey. 

And this, also obviously, is some sort of pterodactyl/road-runner thing.

I don't know what this is...some kind of scrawny horse, maybe? But what I love about it is that it seems to be playing yo-yo with its tongue, and the yo-yo is the Earth. So it must be a cosmic beast of some kind that has a yo-yo earth tongue.

Here is an ancient road sign. It was actually sitting beside the path, pointing in the direction we were supposed to go. Coincidence? Perhaps..........

Here is a man with garden rakes for arms and bell-bottom pants. 

Here is a person wearing earrings

And here is a googly-eyed monster. 

And here is an even more terrifying monster with halloween teeth.

Lastly, we have a man with a Mayan pyramid on his head. There were several others I wanted to post, including a fish and a bunny and what looks like an Urban Planning layout, but I thought you might be getting bored, so I will cease posting for today.

White Sands National Monument

After leaving the Gila NF, we tried unsuccessfully to find our way into the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. This is a huge NM in three separate pieces clustered around Las Cruces. We were seeking access to the portion that is immediately southwest of Hatch, NM.

Information subsequently obtained from the BLM indicates that there actually are access roads into the monument, but I could not locate any of them, as none are on my roadmap. In fact, even though the BLM says there are numerous access roads, their map doesn’t show any, either, nor does it give any directions for finding them. And there's not a sign to be seen on the highway, either. Is this another tissue of lies foisted onto the American Public by the national government? And why would they do such a thing? Alien burial ground? Nuclear wasteland? Oh wait. They don't hide those; they build picnic sites over them. 

Ultimately, I blame my Associate Navigator for my failure to find my way into the monument. I’m really beginning to question his competence. However, since I signed him up for the job without his consent, I guess I am getting my just deserts. I should have known he was lying about his qualifications.

After we gave up on Organ Mtns/Desert Peaks, we headed for White Sands Nat’l Monument, which hangs off the White Sands Missile Range like a half-forgotten appendage. We wanted to camp there…my son and I stayed there many years ago (like 30), so I thought we could. However, we were informed at the gate that there was a ‘test’ of some sort the next day, so no one could stay in the monument that night. I assume the military was planning to bomb it into oblivion, in which case these photos are among the last surviving records of what it used to look like. There were several miles of road through the monument on which we were not allowed to stop (a ‘safety zone’) so I had to shoot a bunch of pix from my moving vehicle.  This made us very unpopular with the other tourists, as it necessitated moving at a slow pace. It also resulted in a lot of useless photos of my exterior rear view mirror.

In case you are wondering, the sand in White Sands is truly white. Apparently it comprises the largest collection of gypsum dunes in the world (or possibly some other impressive area such as the western hemisphere…I forget). Anyway, the gypsum dunes are plopped down on top of other, normal desert soil sort of like whipped topping on a pie, so it’s quite interesting to drive along on the brownish soil and suddenly see these snow-white dunes looming over the road.

The Soaptree Yucca were in bloom at the monument

This is called the 'inter-dunal' area, where there are many patches of regular desert amongst the dunes, and more plant growth on the dunes themselves.

As you continue down the road, you reach the 'heart of the dunes', which is all dune with less vegetation.

The sand was soft, like beach sand, and it looked a lot like snow in the areas without vegetation.

The dunes are always moving because the wind blows the gypsum around. 

The sand actually did sparkle like crystalline snow. Although this is a poor photo, you can kinda see sparkles here and there.

Gila National Forest

As you leave the Gila Cliff Dwellings NM, you find yourself back in the Gila NF. We actually stayed in more than one spot in the Gila NF, and this is the nicest one. It’s FREE!!!! MY kind of campground!!! Of course, it has no amenities, including garbage service, but who cares? Pack it out. The whole area is just beautiful, and for some strange reason we had the whole campground to ourselves on Friday night. On Saturday, a couple of other misbegotten souls joined us, but they seemed intent on enjoying the silence and the view just like us, so they were no bother.

This is the view from our campsite looking at the opposite side of the gorge, across the river (which no doubt carved out these cliffs).

And here is the river, itself. One can walk down to it (or drive, actually, but we walked). These pictures were taken just as the sun was about to rise over the cliff, so the angles at which I could photograph were severely limited...somehow, taking pictures of the sun results in white photos. Go figure.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

We were in NM by this time, camping (well, living, really…you can’t call what we do ‘camping’) in the NF northeast of Silver City. So before we left the area, we drove up NM 15 to see Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. NM 15 is basically hairpin turn after hairpin turn. Much of the time, I was in first gear doing 15-20 MPH, so it takes a long time to drive to the monument. It’s worth it, though, and I highly recommend seeing it. 

After paying a modest fee of $5, you can hike a mere half-mile up to the caves where these dwellings were built. They let you walk right through the caves and see the ruins close-up, which is educational. As a tourist, I love things that are educational.

This is the little creek flowing at the bottom of the gorge which the cliff dwellings overlook, and you cross it many times on the trail up to the caves.

As you see, the photo is still grainy...I had not discovered my ISO setting yet, and so, spoiled all the pictures of Gila Cliff Dwellings NM as well as the Chiricahua ones. 

Here are the caves in which the dwellings are built

In case you have temporarily lost your mind and think that these lovely stairs disappearing into the gloom of the cave might have been used by its ancient residents, no, they are a modern addition by the Dept. of the Interior to enable us tourists to climb up into the ruins.  

I didn't take any photos inside the caves because the lighting was poor and I had no outboard flash...I figured none of them would come out anyway. This, however, is the view that the residents had from their dwellings.

How does a navigator get lost?

I’ll just skip over the next couple of weeks quickly because they were a nightmare that took 5 years off my life.  

My Associate Navigator (whom you see here, looking as if bad behavior is as foreign to him as quantum mechanics) got picked up twice by well-meaning citizens because they thought he was lost as he bounced happily through the forest (and probably back and forth across the highway) on exploratory journeys. The last, most traumatic episode lasted three interminable days and nights. 

The first day, I rode my trike for 23 miles around the Gila National Forest (which is beautiful, btw) looking for him or anyone who had seen him. The cool thing about that (which I failed to document in pictures…I was in no mood for ‘cool’) is that I rode over the Continental Divide twice.

The second day I drove to the pound in Silver City NM, but it is closed on Mondays so I sat in the Walmart parking lot for a while worrying, and then drove back to the Gila NF in case Shadow had magically returned. The third day, I rode down to the ranger station (that’s only 7 miles) to post signs and talk to the NFS staff. The fourth day, I returned to the Silver City pound and found him (of course) chasing his tail like a maniac and shedding blood all over the cell walls <shudder>. Let us move on.

Chiricahua National Monument - Day 2

It was so lovely that I actually drove all the way into Wilcox to get groceries and do laundry and all the way back (and camped on the road outside the monument) so I could ride my trike up the road forbidden to my RV. 

‘UP’ is the important word here. I rode 6 miles or so from the visitor center to Massai Point to see the view. We won’t discuss my speed riding up the mountain except to say that many people hike faster than I rode. Fortunately for my self-respect, I didn’t see anyone hiking. It would have been depressing to get left in the weeds by someone on foot. On the way down, though, I did 25-30 MPH. Wheeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!  Here’s what I saw along the way.

 

I know what you’re thinking. Oh, wait. Maybe I don’t know what you’re thinking. I know what I’m thinking, and I am totally disgusted by the hideous graininess of the sky in these pictures. I didn’t know they were grainy until I downloaded the whole batch to my computer, only to discover that I had ruined all my pictures of Chiricahua NM and all my subsequent pictures, too, up until this very day. Somehow I managed to set the ISO on my camera to 6400, which is way too high. Grrrr. Anyway, in all these pictures that should show a beautiful sky we will be assaulted by this horrible graininess, but these are all the pictures I have, so I can’t avoid it.

So when I had finished the laborious climb to Massai Point, here's what I saw. 'Wow!', I thought. 'I rode all the way up here for...this? But no. I kept right, like a good, law-abiding citizen, and saw the following views.

So when I had finished the laborious climb to Massai Point, here's what I saw. 'Wow!', I thought. 'I rode all the way up here for...this? But no. I kept right, like a good, law-abiding citizen, and saw the following views.

Okay, I didn't technically see this from Massai point. I had to ride up another hill to some lookout whose name I can't recall, and that's where I saw this crazy rock.

Chiricahua National Monument - Day 1

When we drove from the National Forest back toward Wilcox to engage in the futile process of washing the dog hair and dog dust off the bed and couch covers…this produces a significantly cleaner environment for as many as five or ten minutes at the modest cost of $15 worth of laundry…we stopped by the Chiricahua National Monument just to check it out. 

We couldn't see much of the NM because my RV is too long to camp there. It is also too long to drive beyond the visitor center. However, the part we could see consisted of these massive rock formations that loom impressively over the valley.

 

On the Way to Portal

After a few days, we needed to empty and fill ourselves (sewage management is part of RV living) so we drove over to Patagonia Lake State Park. I took no photos there because it was basically wall-to-wall people, but I enjoyed it SO MUCH, and it’s hard to explain why. There was a beach, and a swimming area, and trails, and boat-in campsites, and families everywhere enjoying playing ball and swimming and having campfires and making popcorn and so on. A lot of the people we encounter on the road are blue-heads like ourselves. We don’t see all that many families, and here they were abundant. Next door to us was a family of about 11 people with two enormous tents and all kinds of kids running around having a blast. It made me feel all sentimental. 

Alas, though, it cost actual money to stay there, which we are philosophically opposed to (or else we are just extremely cheap…no comment), so we only stayed two nights and then headed on over to Tombstone (as last year, pretty much a giant yawn) and then to highway 191, and then toward the Chiricahua National Monument. We camped in the national forest between there and Portal. 

This is the place that I wanted to camp, but could not because I would have had to drive through low tree branches in order to get there.

After our horrid experience last year, when I drove too close to the trees and practically took my entire roof off, I have learned some degree of caution about tree branches, so we settled for this campsite instead.

Whilst there, my Associate Navigator tried to interest me in a game of fetch with this petite, delicate stick which I couldn’t even pick up, much less throw.

So he plunged into the wash, which showed signs of recent activity. This might actually be a creek. In Arizona, if there’s even a mud puddle at the bottom, it’s likely to be an active river.

Horrifyingly, we observed Chem Trails here. You would think that the government would have something better to do with its time and money than attempt to obliterate all life forms in southeastern Arizona with deadly, indiscoverable chemicals dropped from the sky. At least they could focus on a more populated area where they could get more bang for their buck. But no. We immediately donned our gas masks and full radiation suits, and in that way survived. IN YOUR FACE, Trilateral Commission.

Parker Canyon/AZ 83

After our fabulous scenic trek down highway 79, we stopped in Tucson to perform dreary tasks such as getting trike repairs and buying groceries. This took up two interminable days and one night in the Walmart parking lot (thank you, Walmart!!), after which we spent the night by the side of the road going to the Tucson Speedway. More Dangerous Encounters of the Cholla variety. We were so hemmed in by them that I feared they would engulf us like the Huorns in Lord of the Rings and leave nothing but a mound of bare stones.

Then we camped on national forest service land south of Sonoita, on the road to Parker Canyon Lake (AZ 83), where we kicked back for a couple of days and tried to recover from Tucson. We parked under a tree, and aside from a few miles of trike riding, did nothing but enjoy the view. 

These clouds just magically appeared one afternoon, and as magically vanished about 20 minutes later. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like them.

While we received no visits during our stay, there were some indications that we had neighbors.

Scenic AZ 79

After leaving the Sonoran Desert National Monument, we took AZ 238 to Casa Grande, then 287 to Florence and headed south on AZ 79. We did this because AZ 79 is labeled a ‘scenic route’ on the map, and I can definitely confirm it is scenic!  First, we encountered Cholla cacti that were far and away the tallest I have ever seen. They towered over my head, in some cases. 

There were several areas where some of the cholla were blooming. Although they looked very similar in form (I, at least, couldn’t tell them apart), they had different colors of flowers ranging from yellow to brown to dark red. 

Whilst taking pictures of the flowers, we got covered in cholla bits, which are called ‘jumping cactus’ for a very good reason. Although you think you are not touching the cactus, you feel pain in your arm, foot, leg, etc., look down and find a cholla bit attached to your flesh. “Hah!” you think. “I’d better get that cholla bit off my arm.” 

Think again. That cholla bit has barbed spines, and wherever you grab it to remove it from your arm/hand/leg/foot/shoe/shirt/dog-body-part, it will instantly stick to your hand and dig additional spines into your fingers. In the end, after much pain and bleeding and wild flailing of hands, you will find yourself picking it out spine by spine with a pair of tweezers while each spine holds on like grim death. Try this on a yelping dog who is attempting to pull away from your tweezers to avoid the pain. Then try it on your yelping self, as you attempt to pull away from the tweezers to avoid the pain, and find the stupid cholla bit detaching itself from one finger only to leap over and embed itself into another.

 

For those whose Spanish is minimal, 'cholla' is pronounced 'choya'

Closeup of red cholla (most of them were red).

Some were darker red than others, though, and this one was actually brown.

And this one (along with several others) was yellow.

I did not take pictures of the cholla bits that actually attacked us because by the time I got rid of them, I was terrified of getting close enough to photograph them. Here is an example of what they look like, though.

Some of the other cacti were also in bloom, and their flowers were dark pink. I’m not sure what kind of cactus this is…it vaguely resembles a barrel cactus, short and dark green with vertical lines of spines, but it is spindly instead of fat and it grows in clumps. Of course, there are a zillion kinds of cactus, and I know the names of maybe four of them, so it could be anything. Perhaps there is such a thing as a Skinny, Congregating Barrel Cactus?

Here is a real barrel cactus for comparison purposes.

The ocotillo were blooming, too (pronounced 'ocotiyo')

And the Palo Verde were blooming as well. I assume these are Palo Verde simply because the wood is green (hence the ‘verde’), and I mean GREEN like a katydid or a preying mantis. But I’ve never looked up Palo Verde, and perhaps these are something else.

Here's what I mean by green wood.

And finally, there were handsome Saguaro, which I only wish had been blooming. I had to put them in, blooming or not, because anyone who does not love a Saguaro is a Philistine.

This photo has it all...saguaro, huge cholla, blooming cholla, and blooming Skinny Congregating Barrel Cactus SCBC).

We also found this roadside shrine along highway 79. One sees these every so often on various roads through the desert.

VT's Rules for Using Your RV as an Off-Road-Vehicle in the Desert

And here, from the Olympian height of bitter experience, are Vagabond Tourist’s Rules for Using Your RV as an Off Road Vehicle in the Desert. Note that this list may not be complete. I shall add to it as time goes on, if applicable. 

You’re welcome, and good luck!

Rule 1: Never, ever, EVER drive through anything that looks like this. Even if you see hundreds of tire tracks from other vehicles who seem to have traversed it successfully, don’t do it. The rusting hulks of their vehicles and the sun-bleached bones of their skeletons are probably hidden behind a bush nearby.  In fact, simply avoid any area that is lower than the surrounding ground, and any area that has a vague appearance of sandiness, and any area that is lined with trees or large bushes. This is a wash. There is no such thing as a shallow wash. Under the surface, there is a bottomless pit of sand that goes all the way down to China. If you get stuck in a wash, you will never dig yourself out…the only way out is with a tow chain and a four-wheel drive truck, or a winch and cable, if you can find anything to hook your cable to.

Rule 2: Avoid any ground that has animal dwellings dug into it (it’s soft). 

Rule 3: Avoid any ground that is lumpy. Avoid any ground that is too close to the bushes. Avoid any ground that looks different from the ground you are on. In fact, maybe you should just avoid the ground altogether and stay on the road. 

Don’t delude yourself that you can tell which ground is safe by walking over it. As you can see from this photo if you look between the tire tracks, the ground you will get stuck in may look exactly the same as the ground you won’t get stuck in, and unless you weigh 15,000 lb. or so, the ground may support you just fine, yet collapse beneath your vehicle.

PS -- the rocks and branch mark the spot I dug myself out of the second time. 

Sonoran Desert National Monument

We went back to Yuma for one last trip to Food City to stuff our refrigerator with 20-cent avocados, 50-cent lettuce, 79-cent broccoli, 68-cent mangos, etc. (oh yeah...I also got my teeth cleaned and checked in Los Algodones, Mexico for $35), and then departed for the Sonoran Desert National Monument.

I don't know if you've figured this out, but some people describe me as being a teeny, weeny bit cheap. I prefer to call myself 'thrifty'.

In the SDNM, I once again got stuck whilst trying to find a camping spot. Here is the camping spot:

Quiet Neighbors

Then we camped here, on the back side of Joshua Tree National Park. The neighbors here were very accommodating. They had no complaints about my crazy, barking dog. Possibly, they didn’t hear him.

Wind Farm

Around the beginning of March, we had to make a hell-bent-for-leather trip to California for some family business. On the way back, I passed this wind farm (a fairly common sight in California). It went on for miles.