Arizona, Ammo, Axle

Like a big sodden blanket, inertia has settled in at Camp Fireball. Seems like we barely move some days – gotta shake this off!

Leaving Joshua Tree NP, we headed to Lake Pleasant Regional Park near Phoenix for a rally with a bunch of T@Bs and T@DAs.20160122_173957 It’s always great to meet folks with like-style campers. We never fail to pick up tips for storage, cool spots to camp, and new gadgets to jazz up our camp. A cool little swivel table we saw here will be our next Fireball addition. But, we’re still not ready for exterior customization like the T@DA Goldie.20160123_104759 Outrageous graphics +glued-on jewels set Goldie out in any crowd.

Jezzy HATED Lake Pleasant. Our campsite was perched on a ridge at the far edge of the campground.20160122_174514 Sounds from a shooting range five miles away had her quivering and scared 18 hours a day. We probably wouldn’t go back here – the lake is the big attraction, and we’re not watersport people. There really wasn’t much else in the area that appealed to us.

We did venture into Phoenix one day to visit the Capitol.20160125_125752 The original Capitol building is now a museum, flanked on both sides by more modern buildings where government building is conducted. “East Germanesque” is how one website described these facilities. Here’s the photo – you decide. 20160125_130422The inside of the Capitol/museum is very plain. There’s a dome, but it’s painted pure white inside – no Greek goddesses holding scrolls of wisdom here! My favorite exhibit was the Arizona Lego Flag. It’s constructed of 114,000 Lego blocks, one for each of Arizona’s square miles.20160125_121307One whole room of the museum was dedicated to the USS Arizona, which was sunk at Pearl Harbor. I was astounded to learn that the Arizona had a custom-designed Reed & Barton silver service, which had not been onboard at the time of its sinking (it had been removed for refurbishment). These ornate pieces are displayed here, and they are gorgeous.20160125_12541520160125_125220A huge memorial plaza surrounds the government buildings. Here are memorials to soldiers fallen in each of the conflicts since Arizona became a state in 1912. In addition, there are memorials dedicated to the WWII Navaho Code-Talkers,20160125_130709 fallen firefighters and police officers, police service dogs, and 9-11. Remember the 19 Prescott firefighters killed in 2014? It was startling to see such a large group of names engraved on the memorial. The mast of the Arizona, as well as a 16″ gun are also installed in the Park. The entire area is beautifully executed with life-sized bronze figures, sculptures, and signage. The sheer size of the monuments and the bright sunshine made photos difficult.

We were happy to move on to Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson. 20160129_150605Set in the Tucson Mountains near the Desert Museum, this huge county park offers a great selection of trails for hiking and biking. We’ve got a great site, although once again a nearby shooting range has Jezzy cowering. What is it with Arizonians and their guns, anyway? (OK, let’s NOT get into that!)

We hiked up Brown Mountain and enjoyed views of the Tucson Valley, even though it’s shrouded in smog-like dust. 20160129_13020620160130_10463820160130_11584520160130_103323 We cycled around Saguaro National Park West. 20160129_130250At Signal Hill, ancient petroglyphs still adorn the rocks here, created by the Hohokam hundreds of years ago.20160129_13350920160129_133439One bad thing? It seems as though the Saga of the Fireball Axle has at least one more chapter to be written. John has been watching our tire wear – we replaced one tire on our trip last fall. That tire is already showing signs of wear, and the tire on the opposite side with about 12,000 miles is nearly shot. He called the shop in Grand Rapids where we had the axle installed. Whoops – they no longer have a service department. So, we got a recommendation for a frame/axle shop in Tucson, and rolled in for a consultation. The guy took one look at things and said “I can see right away that this isn’t right”. He’s going to contact Alko, the axle manufacturer, and attempt to get a replacement under warranty. (We just had it installed in May 2014). If not, we’re going to have to get another new axle. Apparently, there’s a camber problem that cannot be repaired. Incredible.

Monday, we move on to Green Valley for a month. This will be a different kind of camping for us, as we’ll be installed in an RV park with nearby neighbors. A social experiment?




20 thoughts on “Arizona, Ammo, Axle

  1. Sure loved your picture of the Code Talker – their role was fascinating. Is Green Valley near Tuscon? If you want a nice spot on your way back home – we’ll be in Alabama until mid April and the campground here is beautiful.


    • Hi Cait. Green Valley is halfway between Tucson and the Border – about 30 miles each way. John has been coming to this area for years (way before he knew me), and we have lots of friends and family that either live here fulltime, or come for the winter season. It’s a good spot for a breather.

      Don’t think we will get as far east as Alabama this year. We’re going to slowly crawl up the CA coast in March/early April to get to the Redwoods National Park. Not sure exactly where from there, but we will be in NC mid-May before heading home.

      Are you going to be anywhere near Michigan this summer??


  2. Sorry to hear about the axle. Is the universe trying to tell you something?
    We also did not care for Lake Pleasant…one of the few places that just did not do a thing for us.

    We camped in the next campsite ( photo on your last post) at Joshua Tree. I recognized it right off as we were there a week, took many photos and utilized that outhouse!

    Gilbert Ray is a very special camp…glad to hear about your hiking experience. We have been there twice but not stayed long enough to hike. Enjoy your Tucson experience! We actually saw about 15 seconds of snow this am in Apache Junction!


    • If the universe is telling us to go home, we’re not listening. Pressing on…..

      We felt that Lake Pleasant was a perfectly nice spot to camp, it just wasn’t for us. Glad we’re not the only ones.

      Gilbert Ray was great. We would happily camp there again. We probably will not go back to Catalina, as long as Gilbert Ray is available. Much better for us.


  3. Poor Jezzy! You find campgrounds next to shooting ranges, I find them next to railroad tracks.

    The weather in the desert looks appealing, but I’d get tired of the sameness of it all after a while. Other than the silver service from the Arizona and the memorials, it sounds like there wasn’t much to see in town either.

    Sorry about the axle problems. I had the same thing with my bass boat trailer, but during the annual fishing tournament the manufacturer put on, they slipped a new axle under the trailer while I was out fishing that day.


    • Hi Jerry. Campgrounds do tend to be in some noisy areas, especially the ones near big cities. I have to remind myself that I’m camping, and that it’s okay!

      There are lots of different looks to the desert. We’ve never been around when everything is in bloom, which I understand is spectacular. Maybe we’ll see a bit of that this year. Don’t think that I could live out here year-round, tho. The wind and dust really grind at me after awhile. Last night we had wind gusts of 50mph and it poured! Tonight its going down to the low 20s. It was one year ago today that we were marooned at Catalina SP in Tucson by the flood. There’s a bit of everything here.

      We’re hoping for warranty relief with the axle. If not, the guy we are working with wants to put on a Dexter axle. I’m fine with No More Alko! We’ll see…..

      Liked by 1 person

  4. When I lived in Nogales, AZ; our property backed up to the Border Patrol firing range. I know Jezzy’s pain. The desert is interesting, beautiful and formidable—in my opinion. Guess I’m just more of a mountains and oceans kind of gal. Cruddy bum on the axle issue—-drive carefully and keep us posted.


    • This is a beautiful El Nino year for the desert. Here its gorgeous – I hate the tired sabdy brown areas too. I’m not real big on oceans, but from a distance they’re great.

      We will get thru the axle crap. See you in May.


  5. So sorry about the axle problems and even more so for poor Jezzy. Nell would have been crazy hearing that. Last summer we went to a graveside service and were astounded that the cemetery backed up to a firing range…the shooting never stopped during the whole service. Take care and miss ya’all.


  6. Axle issues suck! Sure hope the warranty covers it, especially if it was installed incorrectly in the first place. And tires aren’t cheap either. Last time I had an issue with tire wear it was a missing bolt on the tie rod – very scary. Please be careful out there. Your pictures once more are stunning. Do they make ear plugs for dogs? Poor Jezzie.


    • Ear plugs for Jezzy means Thundershirt + benedryl. After Monday, it won’t be a problem for a month. Like her mother, Jezzy has a blissful short attention span.

      Our axle issue appears to be defective manufacture, not poor installation. Hope that means we have a better shot at a warranty resolution. We’ll see.

      Thanks, Alison.


  7. OMG, not another axle problem? So sorry, we wish you lots of luck getting this fixed and right this time! Will keep in touch! xoxoxo Sandi and John


  8. Sorry to hear about your axle issues. boo. You’re in an area (Arizona/Hohokam) that I’m reading about in Craig Childs book “House of Rain”. Such a great story/history of the Anazazi and their migration across the southwest. Hope you can pick it up on your SW travels. Safe Travels!


    • Thanks for the book recommendation, Liz. I’m going to try to find a digital copy from the library. If not, it’s the kind of thing that is probably sold in the gift shops out here.

      What are your travel plans for the year? Would live to bump into you on the road somewhere.


  9. I love Tucson and the Desert Museum. I finally got to meet Sharon Lambert for about 5 minutes at last year’s BRR. She is my camping ideal–fearless and constantly on the go. She really got creative with Goldie’s interior, too. So sorry for Jezzy. Katie abhors gunfire, but instead of cowering she would be tearing the inside of the trailer to bits. And your axle. . .so very sorry about that. But I am so glad that you haven’t been left high and dry, or had to sweat bullets while someone hauled the Fireball onto a flatbed to be towed. Keep on keepin on; hope to see you down the road some day!


    • We love Tucson, too. Have you ever been to the Tucson Festival of Books? In March every year – they get some topnotch authors. It’s great.

      We are just a couple of miles from the Museum – our first time here, but not the last.

      We are gritting out teeth on this axle thing. Have complete confidence in the shop where we took it. But repairs may be awkward. Has to be done in Feb before we roll again. These things are never pleasant, but we feel like we are in good hands.

      See you in May, right? BRR?


I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s