Sunday, November 12, 2023

Homolovi State Park Winslow Arizona

We were "Standing on the Corner in Winslow Arizona" as in Eagles fame, when we decided to visit Homolovi State Park. The State Park offers scenic views, hiking trails and camping sites, some with full hookups. Homolovi, is Hopi for "Place of the Little Hills", which is also the traditional name for Winslow Arizona. The Hopi Indians consider this area to still be spiritually alive. The State Park consists of over 4,000 acres and was created to preserve the history of the Hopi migration during the 1200-1300AD period. During the 1960s this area was being decimated by illegal collectors of prehistoric sites and the State Park was created to prevent further destruction and removal of these artifacts. Unfortunately, it took over 30 years to complete the transformation leading to much destruction of the original structures and surrounding area, but in 1993 the State Park was finalized and the area is now protected and preserved. GPS 35.025328, -110.628671




There are a total of seven archaeological sites at Homolovi but only two are open to the public. The village was built on a floodplain overlooking the Little Colorado river and the Hopi grew cotton, beans, corn and squash. These were traded with nearby villages for pottery and clothing.

There are seven pueblos within the park's boundaries. The largest with nearly 1200 rooms. Based on what was discovered and plotted, this is what archeologists feel the village looked like during the 1200s. It consisted of three plazas, an outdoor rec area and approximately 40 Kivas.

What is a Kiva? A kiva is an underground house or ceremonial center. It is thought that underground chambers were constructed as protection from the weather above, both hot and cold. This is a drawing of the largest kiva in this village. This kiva is roughly 20'X33' and is 6.6' deep, with he average kiva measuring about 14'X17' and 6' deep. Imagine what it took in 1200AD to build these structures! See Below.

Besides housing, kivas were used as work spaces and ceremonial activities. This is what remains of the above depicted kiva. It was used as a work space where cotton rugs, blankets and clothing were created to be used as barter with neighboring communities. Men were the primary users of the kivas; women and children had access during certain ceremonies and seasons.


In the distance is the Paayu, the Hopi name for the Little Colorado River, a year round source of water here. Even when "dry" water can be found a few feet below the sand. The area supported a large variety of animal and plant resources including deer, beaver, elk and waterfowl. These were important for the diet and rituals of the Hopi people.





If you look closely, far off in the distance you can see the San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountains in Arizona at 12,670'. The Hopi believed them to be home of Katsina spirits. They believed these spirits were supernatural beings with the power to bring the rain necessary to make their crops grow and produce a bountiful harvest.




While this area was farmed and inhabited for nearly 200 years it is believed around 1400AD most of the 1000 inhabitants of this pueblo abandoned it and returned to the Hopi Mesas approximately 60 miles north.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

White Tank Mountains ~ Northwest Phoenix~ Waddell, Arizona

White Tank Mountains Regional Park ~ Nearly 30,000 acres makes this the largest regional park in Maricopa County. Most of the park is made up of the rugged and beautiful White Tank Mountains on the Valleys west side. The range, deeply serrated with ridges and canyons, rises sharply from its base to peak at over 4,000 feet. Infrequent heavy rains cause flash floodwaters to plunge through the canyons and pour onto the plain. These torrential flows, pouring down chutes and dropping off ledges, have scoured out a series of depressions, or tanks, in the white granite rock below, thus giving the mountains their name. The park offers visitors day use and overnight camping. There are many walking trails including one to view petroglyphs and another to a waterfall. You can also either bring your own horse to ride the trails or rent one from the nearby stables. Day use entry fees are generally $7/carload and camping fees are $32/night which includes the entry fee. Water and 20/30/50amp hookups. No sewer but there is a dump station on site.    GPS coordinates to the entry station ~ 33.566088, -112.496239



The park has a nature center where you can learn about desert creatures on display and family-friendly activities like stargazing.








Even though you're close to civilization, over 15 restaurants are within 5 miles of the park, you get the feeling of being away from it all.

While some of the hiking trails can be challenging, many are level and can be used by anyone. As with any hike, carry water and stay hydrated.

Dogs are allowed on leash and remember to please clean up after your pet. Even though it's the desert, many of the dwellers of the desert may contract harmful bacteria or worse from your pet's waste. Besides, it's the proper thing to do.




Petroglyphs found in the park date back 10,000 years, but the Hohokam were the first people to call it home. These predominate hunter-gatherers built seven villages, ranging in size from one to 75 acres, during their stay in the area from 500 to 1100 AD. Petroglyphs, or rock carvings are reminders of their time here.

Waterfall Canyon gets it's name from, (drum roll please) waterfalls. Unfortunately, water only falls right after a rainfall, otherwise it's just rock outcroppings.  The trail to the waterfall is still spectacular and offers wonderful views.



Hiking is very popular and the park offers many trails from easy to difficult. The waterfall trail is just short of 2 miles, round trip, but is a very easy trail. Even though you may not see the waterfall it's still a worthwhile hike as you go through Petroglyph Plaza before you get to the waterfall.

Of course, hiking is just one of the fun things you can do at the park. Mountain biking,horseback riding, stargazing and just relaxing are some things to enjoy while you're there.

There are currently 40 camping sites that can accommodate RVs up to 45 feet in length, and all have water, electrical hook-ups, a picnic table, barbecue grill, and fire ring.The park's address is 20304 W White Tank Mountain Rd, Waddell, AZ 85355.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

South Mountain Park ~ Phoenix, Arizona

We will start by offering views from the highest point in the Valley of the Sun. South Mountain Park.

At more than 16,000 acres, South Mountain Park/Preserve is one of the largest municipally managed parks in the nation and consists of three mountain ranges - the Ma Ha Tauk, Gila and Guadalupe. The park boasts more than 50 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. Additionally, the roadways throughout the park are a favorite for bicyclists.  

Dobbins Lookout, at 2,330 feet, is the highest point in the park that is available to the public. Accessed by both hiking trails and Summit Rd., the lookout is popular with tourists and locals, who want to get an unobstructed panoramic view of the Valley. There is no camping at the park but there are many, many hiking/biking trails. A word of caution is the speed within the park. The roads are narrow and winding and you'll find yourself sharing the road with hiker and bicycles. Use caution on the hairpin turns. There are many picnic tables throughout the park so be sure to pack a lunch. Always carry water and stay hydrated.





While Dobbins Lookout is the highest point in the park available to visitors, the radio/TV towers occupy the top of the mountain.






Phoenix is the capital and most populous city in Arizona, with 1,680,992 people. It is also the fifth-most populous city in the United States, and boasts as the only capital city with more than 1 million population. 

No, that's not a sundial. It's a directory of what you can see from Dobbins Lookout. Embossed around the plaque are various locations in the valley below.






Overview of the City of Phoenix. Camelback Mountain, another favorite hiking mountain is visible in the background. It gets it's name because it appears to be a camel laying on the ground.






View of the Valley of the Sun through one of the windows at Dobbins Lookout. 

Looking West towards Avondale, home of Phoenix International Raceway where NASCAR races are held. There is camping available at the raceway and it is venue to FMCA and Camping World rallies.



                          No post would be complete without a picture of my beautiful wife!




 Of course, my wife wanted to be sure I included a picture of Bailey. She's sitting on my lap. I'm just fodder for the picture.

Looking South toward Tucson. The land around the south and east side of South Mountain is all Indian land. Loop 202, a freeway that encircles Phoenix was just recently completed. The connection between I-10 from Tucson and I-10 to Los Angeles traverses the Indian Land and this section was the final addition. If coming from either, the 202 will bypass Phoenix altogether.

Horseback riding and hay rides are available at the entrance to the park. While we skipped this attraction, we did follow them for several miles as they do use the roadway. Notice the no passing double yellow line.

Getting to the park is very easy. Phoenix is set up as a grid city. This means most roads are north/south or east/west and are as straight as an arrow. The main road is Central Avenue which cuts through the middle of the city. Avenues are west of Central Ave. while Streets are east of  it. Easy huh? Anyway, get on any easy/west street and head to Central Avenue. Turn south on Central and South Mountain Park is at the terminus of Central Ave. You can see the TV towers anywhere in the valley so you'll never get lost.

Getting Around the Valley of the Sun - Phoenix, Arizona

Since we've been locked down in Mesa, Arizona this year, I've spent some time doing upgrades to the coach that I've wanted to do for some time. (See previous posts) We both contracted Covid this year and have recovered completely. So, as part of our personal wellness program, we decided we would take one day each week which would be a 'tourist' day visiting the many parks and locations around the Phoenix area. On the following pages I've posted pictures of the various parks we've visited along with a short narrative of each location.  Today, I'll simply let you enjoy some of the most beautiful sunsets you'll ever see.  I hope you enjoy the pictures and if you're in the Phoenix area, please plan on visiting the beautiful locations following this post.....Dennis



Wednesday, August 12, 2020

New GPS installed. Now I won't get lost.....maybe...

My last post was describing how old and antiquated the GPS system was in our coach. Also, it was no longer supported so I wasn't able to update the maps etc. With that in mind I went searching for a better solution. I had been using a window mounted unit that worked ok but I couldn't see any advantage to having two GPS units. With the dash cam, the TPMS and the GPS mounted on the windows there was too much clutter. Garmin just came out with a new unit, the RV890, which is designed with RVers in mind. It also has an 8" screen which would just fit in the factory opening. So, without further ado, here's my build out. If anyone has questions, feel free to contact me....Dennis

Here is the original factory unit. It consisted of several pieces and weighed over 12 pounds. You can see the microphone in the lower left corner, the A/C vent and two cigarette lighters. I'm keeping one of the lighters and replacing the other with a dual port USB device so we can charge our phones if necessary.






With the middle dash removed, you can see the break at the screw hole in the middle top. There is also a small piece broken out in the lower center hole. This is common with these plastic assemblies and I intend to correct, what I consider to be a flaw.


In order to 'fix' the broken dash, I purchased a sheet of scrap .80 ga. aluminum for $7 at a local machine shop, AZ Metals.  I then took that to Southwest WaterJet in Phoenix where they matched the dash using a CAD program, then fed the sheet of aluminum into their machine. The result was two identical dash pieces cut and drilled to perfection.

One piece of aluminum will serve as a backing to the original dash. I use E6000, an industrial adhesive to laminate the two pieces together. Notice I prefit the Garmin unit into the dash. I'll paint the aluminum black so any gap shown in the dash will disappear.

I did this with my left side arm rest several years ago which turned out great. The parking brake is now securely bolted in place.

Glued and bonded, clamped and allowed to dry overnight,  I now have a solid piece of dash that can withstand the beating of being in a moving vehicle.

Turned face up and prefit. It looks pretty good. I was missing a small piece of plastic at the top center hole so I'll have to live with that unless it shows up one day. The lower hole was patched and glued. The screws will now go into the aluminum sheeting instead of simply the plastic. Much more robust.

Now my next challenge was how to actually mount the new product into the dash. My original plan was to use velcro but I wasn't comfortable with how it 'felt' once installed. I then used the old mount from the factory install, modified it to fit and mounted that to the back side of the dash. The RV890 comes with a large magnet mount, which is what you see in this picture. I had to cut the original mount to allow the magnet to fit.


Continuing, I removed the windshield mount and formulated a strap from some scrap aluminum rail I had in my workshop. After drilling it, I mounted the magnetic mount to the strap and the strap to the housing. The large washers you see were used a spacers to get the proper 'look' from the front. Here is what it looks like.

Here is the finished product. I'm very pleased with the result. I had to add a 12VDC outlet behind the display to plug the Garmin into. And because I wanted control over the on/off switch, I added a toggle switch in the cabinet below. Overall it's a great improvement over the factory unit. It has more features, can connect via cell phones, displays current time and temperature and weighs only 13 ounces.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Time to shed more weight and upgrade the GPS

Well, it's a new week and we're still in lockdown mode so I'm calling this the Covid upgrade. Our factory GPS unit was top of the line when it was new. Now, not so much. Like TVs of old they were big, bulky and weighed a ton. The maps no longer could be updated and it was simply cumbersome to use. I bought a Garmin unit that I attached to the driver's window and I used that for navigation. Debi liked to program our destination into the Kenwood but I rarely used it. I decided it was time to upgrade what we had and see if I could combine both GPS units into one that would satisfy our needs. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Garmin just came out with the RV890 which looks like it will fit perfectly for our needs. So, today I decided to demo the old unit. Here is the breakdown:

The Kenwood system consists of several parts. This is the GPS monitor which sits in the middle of the dash. The lower portion of the dash contains two 12VDC plugs, the microphone for the GPS and a voice sensor. There are two a/c vents as well. The monitor, microphone and sensors will be removed.

Here is the second part of the system. This contains the radio and the Aladdin system. The top portion extends and tilts upward when the unit is turned on. The Aladdin system contains the four outside and one inside cameras. It also provides all the operating data for the coach including mileage etc. This portion will not be touched.

After loosening the bezel, I tilted the monitor forward and removed the four screws holding the monitor in place. It was held onto the mounting plate by four velcro tabs. The A/C vent hoses are removed by 1/4 turn tabs. I set them aside to re-route later. 

With access to the back of the monitor, I unplugged the two cigarette lighters, the a/c hoses and unplugged the monitor. This allowed me to remove the bezel and the monitor as one piece.

Monitor has been removed. I intend to save the mounting assembly and attach the new Garmin device to it. This will allow me to mount that to the bezel and hopefully make it look like a factory install.

As I said, the Kenwood system consist of several pieces. The monitor which you've just seen, the receiver which is the silver box with the multi colored ports seen here, the radio assembly, described above and the CD unit which will be discussed below. The wiring was amazing and I knew I'd have to clean all that up before I was done. 

Here you can see three of the pieces of the system all in one picture. The monitor is removed and laying flat on the console. The receiver is the silver box in the back and the CD player is in the cabinet below the dash assembly. Four screws hold the CD player to a bracket and all the cables and wires simply unplug. That huge mess of wires on the console is for the microphone. I think the engineers thought the microphone would be mounted 150 feet away from the unit.

This is the single disc CD player. Kenwood uses CDs that contain all the information necessary for the GPS unit. North America is available on two discs, one for the East Coast and one for the West Coast. This sometimes is cumbersome if you're traveling across country as you must change discs to access the information needed.

Four screws and several wire plugs removed and the disc player is removed. After removal of the monitor, the receiver and the CD player, all the wiring must be removed. What a rat's nest. Very little thought went into the installation as wires went everywhere. The microphone had 150' of wire, the monitor, 15' and the receiver another 15'.!


System is out and on the table. The microphone and sensors were double sided taped to the bezel. It will take a bit to clean the residue off before I can reinstall it. I also found the bezel was broken at the top where the screw went in. I'll repair that with a thin piece of aluminum from the scrap pile and some JB Weld. All told the removed components and associated wiring weighed 10 pounds! The Garmin RV890 tips the scales at a mere 13.7 ounces.

I re-routed the a/c hoses away from the wiring, cut out most of the wasted wires and re-routed a bunch of them. Fifteen to twenty zip ties and a plastic anchor now holds all the wires together and out of the way.

So, I drew the bezel opening on a piece of paper and cut out the dimensions of the Garmin RV890 on another piece of paper. I then overlaid the Garmin onto the bezel and this is the result. The black lines are the bezel opening and the lime colored image is the Garmin RV890. I'll post the finished product once I've received and installed it. Wish me luck!