Mogollon to McDowell Mountain
When the weather is hot in the low desert, it’s always hard to come down off the Mogollon Rim in northern Arizona. This rim is the dividing line between the high elevation north and the gradually increasing heat of the south. There’s a point just before AZ Rt 260 begins to descend where you can stop at the Mogollon Rim Visitor Center (a small log cabin) and stand on a deck at the edge of the rim to look over the broad view of green pines and valleys one last time. We always stop there.
From this lofty overlook at 7,500 ft elevation, the air is nearly always cool and redolent with the scents of Ponderosa Pine and small blooming flowers. Just down the General Crook dirt road you will find a few nice places to have a picnic lunch while taking in the view (your Airstream can remain safely in the paved parking lot at the Visitor Center.)
Indeed, in our case we continued on to one of the southern Arizona desert’s low spots, the Phoenix area, and got out of the car at 1,600 feet elevation in 93 degree temperatures. The higher they camp, the harder they fall, I guess.
Well, as they say, it’s a dry heat, and that really does mean something. If you aren’t in the direct sunshine 93 degrees can actually feel reasonable thanks to the low humidity. The park we’ve chosen, McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Fountain Hills, AZ (near Scottsdale) has 30 amp power but we decided to just run fans because it wasn’t terribly hot as the sun began to set, and Eleanor was planning to bake a pie.
The pie is a response to our disappointment at Pie Town, a sort of consolation prize to fill that gap in the alimentary psyche. Using the oven in the Airstream (which hardly anyone ever does) has a particular downfall: the oven produces much more heat than the air conditioner can remove, so baking results in a net heat gain and it builds up inside the trailer very quickly. The only way to deal with it is to crank all the fans up to their highest setting, open all the windows, and convince yourself that 93 degrees is a good thing. Or at least convince yourself that raspberry pie is worth it.
Being late summer, the park is nearly deserted. Nobody wants to camp in the dry low desert at this time of year, when you could be up in the sweet-smelling pine trees surrounded by greenery. In a few months that situation will reverse, but for now we are left alone with a few other hardy (or foolhardy) campers in a vast desert park, visited only by lizards, birds, and the occasional Sheriff’s patrol.
Through the past few weeks I’ve been accumulating a “squawk list” on the Airstream’s white board. I thought I would have nothing to fix after this trip since I did so much work last spring, but that was overly optimistic. The squawk list is ten items long at this point, none of which are huge problems.
Usually I fix things as we travel, a habit of being full-timers, because that way things don’t snowball. There was a little of that on this trip: I replaced the propane tank lid in Airstream’s Terra Port, and while parked on grass at Stevyn & Troy’s home I replaced two belly pan rivets and re-sealed a gas line entrance in the belly pan with butyl tape that Troy gave me. But I have to admit that I’ve just not been motivated to tackle the other items, with all the traveling we’ve been doing. It’s hard to keep up with maintenance when you are moving every day or every second day.
Two of the list items require me to get on the roof. The bathroom vent fan is starting to fail (clogged with dust after eight years of heavy use) and the handle broke last week. I expected that one, but was surprised when the MaxxFan in the bedroom also suffered a failure. I turned it on last week and it rattled, then spat out two acorn nuts and a washer. The entire motor/fan assembly has come loose, and it has to be accessed from the top (I can see loose nuts resting atop the fan but I can’t reach them), so between the two fans I’ll be on the roof for a couple of hours.
We’ll be home in a few hours. To prolong the trip just a tiny bit more, we plan to make a stop or two in the Phoenix. And just so we don’t have to think that the Airstream will be parked until January, we’ve already planned a little 3-day weekend in October. I’ll get my squawk list items addressed by then. The Airstream is returning to base … but not for long