Gold Canyon, Az

Gold Canyon, Az
New Years Day 2015, Gold Canyon, AZ

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Fountain Hills

Tuesday, November 28 we left Holbrook amid sand and tumbleweeds and travel south on Hwy 377.  We slowly climbed till the brown landscape gave way to a juniper and pine forest.  The road was good the whole way and turned from a narrow 2 lane highway to a divided 4 lane.  We crested around Payson and then we began our descent into the Valley of the Sun.  Fountain Hills is a bedroom community just north of the Scottsdale and Mesa suburbs of Phoenix.  The descent included lots of long 6% grades and for the most part I set the cruise at 50 mph, engaged the engine brake and tow/haul and sat back and let the truck do the work.  At times it downshifted to 3rd gear but the RPM seldom got over 3100.  Red line is 4000 so had room to spare.  Almost 12 mpg with all the downhill grades.

Phoenix is down there somewhere

We had never been on this highway before and our other alternative was a longer route on I40 to Flagstaff and then south on I17 to Phoenix.  We have been this way before and I17 from Flagstaff to Phoenix is a very busy road and we have since discovered it is the 4th most dangerous stretch of interstate in the country.  If we travel this way again I think the route through Payson on secondary highways will be our choice.

I would not want to travel any of these roads at sunrise or sunset.  Lots of "Beware of Animal" signs with Elk and Deer being common in the area.  At one point we saw an animal crossing sign with flashing lights.  It appeared that both sides of the road had fencing and were funneling animals to one point where motion sensors would activate the lights.

We checked into Eagleview RV Resort which is located on the Fort McDowell Navajo Reserve.  The cost is about $50 per night but we got a 3 nights for the cost of 2 deal so it was $103. for 3 nights.  The sites are level with asphalt parking pads and the facilities are in good condition.  They don't have a lot of other activities so it probably wouldn't be a place where we would want to spend the winter but lots of others are here for the season.  There is probably lots of good hiking in the surrounding mountains but I suspect the main attraction is the Casino across the street and the shopping in nearby Scottsdale.

Always interesting walking through the RV Parks checking out some of the rigs.
The Luxe is one of the real high end 5th wheels.  The truck above is a F650.
Didn't know they went that big.  The Ram below was a 4500.
Both had some pretty nice customized boxes.  

We found a great dog park for Charli which had lots of room for her to run.  Unfortunately Charli doesn't know know how play with other dogs.  She keeps coming back to us waiting for us to walk with her.

One of the attractions of Fountain Hills is their World Famous Fountain.   Not sure how world famous it is but it sends up a pretty big geyser of water.   It is surrounded by a very nice 33 acre park with a million gallon lake and a walking trail around the lake.  The fountain is on every hour for 15 minutes and with 2 pumps turned on it reaches a height of 330 feet.  There is a 3rd pump that is turned on for special occasions and the fountain can then attain a height of 560 feet.  I don't think our visit was deemed a special occasion so the pictures represent 330 feet.

Weren't quite sure what those baskets were placed around the lake.
Then these guys with Frisbees came by.
Turns out its a Disc Golf Course.  Neat idea. 

330 feet according to the sign.
Would have been more dramatic with a blue sky. 

Very nice gardens lining the walkway.  

Feeding the Coots, Mallards and Wood Ducks was popular.

The park had an area with bronze statues of 6 presidents called Fount More.

The boulevard had tents set up for all sorts of vendors

Including some very large Christmas Trees. 

More of the boulevard

Houses are all of the Adobe style and all earth tones.  


We walked around the lake and down the main street where there was a market set up on the blvd.  Stopped for an early supper on the patio by the lake.  A nice relaxing day to end our stay.

Our view from our dinner table. 

Thats it for Fountain Hills.  Friday we have a short 45 minute drive to Gold Canyon to check in for our 4 month stay.  Really looking forward to setting everything up and getting settled in.    

Monday, November 27, 2017

An Overnight in Holbrook

Monday, Nov 27.  We left Santa Fe this morning at 8:30 with a days end destination of Holbrook, Az.  It was a beautiful day for driving, light winds, sunny and the temperature warming up to the low 70s.  I finally started to see some respectable gas mileage in the 11.3 mpg range.  That all changed as we approached Gallup, NM and the forecasted high winds started up.  Soon we were driving into the teeth of 50-60mph gusting west winds and saw the average mileage drop to 9.4 mpg.  At least I know that if the driving conditions are good this truck does have the potential to exceed 10 mpg towing my home away from home.

I have been impressed with the stability of our truck/trailer setup as even with the high gusting winds, either head on or crosswinds, I only experience a very slight buffeting.   I remember my first experience towing a 29' bumper pull trailer with our '09 Ram 1500.  Any crosswinds, or the worst, being passed by a Semi, was like a near death experience.  The wave of wind created would hit our rig and push us to the shoulder and then pull us into the passing lane.  A white knuckle, heart in the throat experience.  Now I don't even know a Semi is there till I catch sight of him over my shoulder.

Last year we drove this way and spent a day visiting the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert so our stay in Holbrook was just going to be an overnighter.  I decided to fill up with gas before we checked in to the OK RV Park ($31 for 30 Amp with Good Sam discount) and since we were just overnighting I didn't unhitch.  I did fill up with diesel at a station just off the interstate and couldn't believe the price.  $3.299 per gallon.  Down the road, in town, it was a more typical $2.78.  What a ripoff.

I did want to mention a change we made this year with respect to our Phone/Internet service while in the US.  In past years we subscribed to US service by way of a Canadian outfit called Roam Mobility.  We paid them a fairly reasonable monthly fee for unlimited Talk/Text within the US or back to Canada.  We additionally subscribed to a Data plan which provided us with a specific amount of GB.  We used our existing iPhones, getting them unblocked by our Canadian service provider and then inserting Roams provided SIM card as we crossed the border.  It all sounded great and very reasonably priced however thats where the positives ended.  Roam only provides online support by way of sketchy chat and emails.  No phone number to talk to a live body.  Coverage is good around major centres although even then there are major dead zones.  When travelling in less populated areas the coverage is pretty much non-existent.  Not great in the event of a breakdown in the middle of nowhere.

This past summer we upgraded our phones to iPhone 6S and found that Bell provided a Canada/US plan that gave us unlimited Talk/Text and 1GB of data with more available for an additional fee.  This applied whether we were in either Canada or US.  The cost was $60 for each of us but on the plus side we didn't need to pay to get our phones unblocked, no SIM cards to lose, no change in phone numbers.  Since we have crossed the border we have driven through ND, SD, NE, KS, NM and now AZ.  Much of the time we are miles from any sort of development and we have always had telephone service and an Internet connection.  Very impressed.  Is the $60 p/m pricier than we what we paid before? Somewhat.  But its nice to know that when you pick up the phone you have service and that if I need to phone Bell I will get through to someone.  After of course, listening to their music playlist for awhile.  I believe Telus has a similar plan.  Rogers and MTS did not when we switched this past summer.

I have had a couple of blog readers ask about the new truck so here is the story.  Upgrading the truck was definitely not in the plan as the 2011 F350 had only 115,000 km and was operating fine.  Only the usual maintenance and it pulled the trailer well enough.  The only downside was the lack of an engine brake.  So why you might ask would we shell out major bucks to upgrade when the 2011 diesel would probably outlast our RVing life.

Well it all started with a flat tire which led to an oil change which led to a new truck.  Pretty straight forward, right.  In September we were getting our car packed up to take Lori's mom back home to Swan River.  Thats when I noticed that one of the tires was real low.  Rather than filling it up and risking it on the 550 km trip we decided to take the truck.  The aforementioned 2011 F350 King Ranch.  Problem was the Oil Change Indicator message had popped up a few days earlier but I figured that it would get us there ok and I could then book an appointment at the Swan River Ford dealer for an oil change.  So when I brought the truck in to the dealer I was sitting in the waiting room drinking my Timmies and minding my own business (for US readers that is a Tim Hortons coffee.  A staple for all Canadians).   The sales manager came by and asked if I wanted to take a new F350 for a test drive.  Now I have great control, do not buy things spontaneously and besides that I knew Lori would nix the purchase in any event.  So I took the keys and drove over to pick up Lori and take it for a spin.  We were very impressed with the ride, the additional power and all the new fangled gadgets.  I took it back and we discussed price and was surprised how my old truck had kept its value and with the Ford Employee pricing, Costco and Loyalty discounts the cash difference wasn't as bad as I thought.  The real kicker for me was that the 2017 F350 now came with an engine brake.  My 2008 Ram 2500 had a Cummins with an engine brake and I fondly remember how it aided in braking when pulling down long mountain grades.   Long story short we didn't buy then but when we got home I started running the numbers and with the new tires and normal maintenance that would be due on the 2011 in the next year the cash difference was starting to look more reasonable all the time.  And after all, its a big NEW truck.  How can any guy say no to that, especially when the little woman is ok with it.  Lori did have one stipulation though.  She had her eye on a Red Kitchen Aide Mixer.  I thought that was fair.

So far we only have 3700 miles on it but like the way it pulls, the engine brake isn't as strong as the one in the Cummins but it certainly helps.  Were a little concerned about the height.  What is it with these manufacturers.  Every new model has to be bigger and higher.  I was already towing nose high and the bed of the 2017 was 2" higher than the 2011 and the bed rails were another inch higher, making it 60' to reach over the side and get something out of the bed of the truck.  Good thing I keep a 2 step folding step ladder permanently in the back of the truck.   We were able to lower the hitch 1" and raised the rear of the trailer by mounting the new axles under, rather than over, the spring pack so we are now almost level and the overall height of the trailer when towing hasn't changed much, if at all.

White is so much easier to keep clean than black. Another plus.

 Bottom line was we didn't need it but I think in the long term it will prove to be a good purchase.  More bells and whistles than I even know how to use yet but the 5 cameras providing a 360 degree view and a view of the truck bed when backing up to hitch up are kind of neat.

Men and their toys!

Next stop Fountain Hills for 3 days and then a short drive over to Gold Canyon.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Pics from Santa fe

Sunday provided a pretty nice sunset so thought I would get these posted before we head out tomorrow morning.  Guess what.  Tomorrow, wind gusts from the south-west, right in our teeth, up to 60 mph.  There goes the gas mileage.

Same pic as yesterday but this one during the day time

Old construction equipment parked all around the RV Park.
Nice vibrant colours. 

Flowering Staghorn Cholla 

There is a not so thin layer of dust on everything.  Even Charli.
All need a good washing when we get to Gold Canyon.

A few more clouds provided a more vibrant sunset.

Good night from Santa fe.  Next stop Arizona.