Tag Archives: Arizona

Things Fall Apart


It seems that no VW long term journey is really complete without at least one good breakdown story.

Ours is a bit of a complex story…

You see, back in New Mexico along that wonderful Rio Grande River, one evening Fred sort of backed the van into a tree while we were getting set up for a night’s camping. Not a really bad encounter, but enough to mush up the bumper pretty good and ding up the back hatch door.

We did the proper thing and eventually turned it into our insurance, which promptly gave us a $900.00 check to go with our $500.00 deductible, to fix it at our leisure, anywhere between New Mexico and California. Sweet.

We decided to get it fixed when we got to Tucson. In fact, when we got to town, we arranged for an appointment, and for the Collision Center to get the parts before the appointment, since we would be without our home for three to four days and have to stay in a motel. All’s well.

We stayed out at Catalina State Park for the weekend, until our Monday appointment. On Sunday, we decided to run into town, just a few miles up the road to get a few groceries.

We only made it around the first corner out of the campground.

Bingo! Crash. Bam. What the heck.

It’s an ugly situation.




Our front ball joint just broke. The wheel fell off, and ugly oily stuff was leaking out the bottom. It was hot. AND it was Sunday.

Never, ever have a breakdown in Arizona on a Sunday.

After a very long wait, one park ranger, and two different Arizona highway patrol officers, our awesome tow truck driver arrived and artfully and skillfully got this mess up on his truck bed without damaging the entire front of the van.




In Arizona, nothing is open on Sundays. No auto dealerships, no repair shops, and after noon, no rental car companies. Yikes.

We managed to get into our motel room a night early, and thanks to the campground host, our stuff back at the campsite was safe and secured.

Monday was slightly better, as Geico gave us a nice 2014 GMC all wheel drive SUV for as long as we needed to drive around at no charge. Fun.

Of course, now the back collision work can’t be touched, until the front is fixed so the vehicle is mobile.

Very long story, shortened for this post…is two garages, different mechanics, one ball joint, one CVC and shaft, a new seal, and some new gear oil, and 11 days later, our beloved van is again on the road. Our insurance covered the second incident as well, but the rear end crunches are still not fixed. The first garage sent the parts back, when the van was moved to the second garage, and after 11 days, we really wanted our home back more than we wanted to wait around another week to get the back damage fixed. So we’ve put that off until we get back to California in Dec. to deal with.

During this time of van repairs, we had also arranged to meet up with some family in the little town of Laughlin, Nevada for a few days for a pre holiday get together. We were on a minute by minute standby, waiting for the van, and after waiting for us for a couple of days, they had to head home. No meeting up with them.

But wait, on Thursday afternoon, moments after we picked up the Keevan, they called and guess what?  Their car broke down. In Laughlin.

Geeze…Friday we headed up there for our visit as now they were stranded for the entire weekend while the garage was closed.


We had a lovely visit with them.

And we had lots of fun in Tucson, got to visit another cousin of mine up near Phoenix, see some sights, and feel like locals for awhile.

And enjoyed some more beautiful Arizona sunsets.




Oh, those desert sunsets…                 ❧

This And That Around Flagstaff

Pulled into Flagstaff to be greeted by more cold weather and crazy wind.

We drove out to Sunset Crater to check out the lava beds and trails, but the wind was gusting so hard we could hardly stand up. Then the trails all said “no pets allowed.” It just wasn’t in the cards that day. Many of the Monuments and Ruin sites around here do not allow pets for some reason.

We decided to head back into town, and after a little bookstore browsing and some warm coffee, we thought we would head towards the South rim of the Grand Canyon. We drove about half way and took a nature hike in the cold breezy wind, got back in the van and were met with snow flurries hitting the windshield. It didn’t take long of looking at each other, to rethink those plans. Soooo, we both laughed and decided to head east where the temps were much warmer. Fred wanted to go rock hounding, and the place to look for rocks just happened to be about 20 degrees higher up on the thermometer!

Standing on the Corner
Standing on the Corner…


Made this quick stop in Winslow…there’s not a lot in this town, except for this one very famous corner. “Standing on the corner…in Winslow, Arizona…” A tribute to the song “Take it Easy” written by Jackson Brown and made superbly famous by the Eagles. The town now supports this bronze statue of a hitchhiker with a guitar, (donated by the band itself) and the mural painted in the background of the flatbed truck from the song, and the corner sign where tourists now flock to take memorable photographs.  Amazing what a song can do for a rundown town.

We spent the night at Homolovi State Park, a park jointly operated by the state of Arizona and the Hopi Nation. It was abeautiful, sweet, immaculately clean campground, with oh such wonderfully free Hot Showers! Showers that one could stand in for as long as one wished! As it turned out, we were asked to partake in a Park survey, and for return were gifted a pass for a free camping night at any Arizona State Park, so we stayed another night.



We checked out these Ruins (pets were allowed on all trails here, go figure.)

Besides for the historical and cultural interests and significance, all the trails were again beautifully maintained, with benches, canopies, viewing areas, tables, and nice signage all well placed along side them.

A few short hikes were rewarded by more sweet birds revealing themselves in the desert shrubs, and this awesome jack rabbit I encountered under a bush.


I do believe he/she was equally surprised by my being as I was by it’s presence. It took quite a while for it to get up the nerve to scamper off.

We did do some rock hounding further on south around Woodruff, and found many beautiful chunks of different colors of chert, agates, and  beautiful smooth lovely rocks. We each collected (allowable here) a small pouch, well, at least my pouch was small…for soveneirs and token gifts. It’s nice to take photographs in parks, but sometimes it’s nice to have something tangible to hold and remember good times with. The drive back into Flagstaff was a “Day of Clouds.”


We were graced with many beautiful formations all day long, as we went in to collect our forwarded mail. Our last night in the area, we found this lovely little park like setting to spend the night in.

Forest Road Campsite South of Flagstaff

It so reminded us of an alpine meadow like those in the Sierra’s. Onward north toward the Utah border we head. Hoping to glimpse the North Rim of the Grand Canyon this time instead of that Southern Rim, and to see the Vermillion Cliffs.

Pia Goes 4-Wheeling

IMG_9177 - Version 2
Ready for Adventure


Our last night in Sedona we took a jeep ride on back country trails around the outlying rim of Sedona.




When making arrangements for the tour, we specifically asked about dogs, and were assured that it was fine if Pia went in the jeep. Dog’s have a special place to ride, the fellow told us…

Well, Tony, our driver and guide for the three hour trip was a crusty chap with lots of desert knowledge, great rock crawling abilities, and stories galore. But he didn’t seem so keen on the idea of the doggy, and was a bit put out at first, as we had to shift to a larger jeep to accommodate her. There were six of us going on the excursion.

Luckily, the other four passengers were all dog lovers, and once we got going, and Pia proved her ability to handle being bounced and jostled around and still remain calm, even Tony softened. After awhile, he kept asking “how’s the pup doing?” Everyone else, took turns petting her, holding onto her, allowing her to perch her head atop any body that was handy.

Secretly, we were not really sure how she would do, and three hours could become a hell of a long time, if things didn’t go right. It was a very rough and rugged trip, with many steep inclines and declines and very large rocks!

Pia was a champ! She came through it with flying colors, and I do believe she had a lot of fun! The wind was blowing through her long black hair and she seemed to be smiling, enjoying the journey.

The rest of us? We all had a blast! My personal thoughts that this was going to be boring, and a waste of time and money, were proven unequivocally wrong. This time.

Sometimes, you just have to get outside your comfort zone. If Pia could do it, certainly I could too.

A grand time was had by all.


Fred in Safari jeep
Fred Enjoying the View


Our return trip back to Sedona was met by lovely sunset orange glow colors.








Prescott, AZ

New territory, new sites, new friends! Yuma is far behind us, and we’ve settled into Prescott, AZ for awhile.


Watson Lake, Prescott
Granite Boulders at Watson Lake, Prescott


The climb to over 5,000 feet in elevation has certainly cooled things down a bit, and we are now bundled up in jackets again. (At least in the evenings)  We really like Prescott a lot. We’re camped in a lovely spot call “White Spar” a forest service campground located only 2 miles from town.

Watson Lake, Prescott, AZ


A combination of hikes, taking care of business, and meeting new friends has kept us busy.

Prescott is part college town and part old historic western town. We strolled down “Whiskey Row” an old area full of historic bars and cutesy little tourist shops, and went out for lunch at the “Palace Bar and Restaurant” built in the 1870’s.  It’s claim to fame seems to be that the old western movie “Jr. Bonner” was filmed there.  Aside from that, the service was fabulous, the costumes entertaining, and the live music – a tribute to Waylon Jennings – was enjoyable.


Lunch at the Palace
Lunch at the Palace


The Palace Bar & Restaurant
The Palace Bar & Restaurant


The really impressive thing for me though about Prescott is the wonderful trail system that surrounds the town, and connects with numerous forest service and wilderness trails. The city publishes an absolutely beautiful colorful map with ALL trails labeled clearly. And it’s free! Always love those freebies that are actually useful.


Pea Vine Trail, Prescott
Pea Vine Trail, Prescott