Bruce The Nomad

In Northern Arizona part 1

Above is a photo of the Nomad motorhome, Molly and the hot rod
at our Forest Service camping area.



This travel log covers our activities since May, 2011 around Flagstaff, Arizona.

This summer job will keep us in Arizona and limit our travel options until October. On the 12th of May Molly and I left Tucson, AZ and headed to a summer Camp Volunteer job. First we stopped in Phoenix for a late breakfast with a high school buddy, Rich Dennis, who I haven't seen in nearly 50 years. There wasn't enough time to get caught up so we will need to get together many more times to share experiences. Rich is also 'Car Crazy' and a hot rodder.

We then continued north to Flagstaff. I plan to explore the Flagstaff and northern Arizona area (which I haven't visited since the 70's). Flagstaff is at 7000 feet elevation so the weather is cooler and with good air quality. On May 15th and we settled at Camp Elden, a campground created and operated by the USDA Forest Service (NSF). The camp consists of 10 campsites for us volunteers and a few fire fighters. All sites include power, water, sewer and even propane. It is nicely formatted within a grove of evergreen trees. There are 7 other volunteers, 5 couples, a single lady a single man and Molly and me. Most of this group also spend the winter in Arizona. All are retired and very nice people.

"I'm now working for the Forest Service". My duties include working with another volunteer and performing a variety of facilities repair and maintenance. The first week here the group of us had an orientation meeting on Monday, Tuesday we raked pine needles around our camp, got our propane connection and enjoyed a BBQ lunch supplied by our NSF supervisor. On Wednesday and Thursday my partner and I drove about 25 miles from our camp to a remote cabin that the forest service rents to vacationeers. We had a burst water pipe to repair, a shower handle to update, gas water heaters to light and a few other minor items. These jobs took 2 days (4 hours each day) because we had to inspect the site, return to town to buy applicable parts, return and make the repairs.

When we arrived the weather was a nice 72 and sunny and basically continued through Monday. On Tuesday the wind started to blow and got colder. After a night of 25-40 mph winds the day began with a covering of snow and cold temps. Flagstaff is known for the wind. A couple of times, while we were driving to and from our job at 8,000 feet, we briefly experienced a snow white out. Friday started as sunny, but gradually got cooler and became cloudy. I am scheduled to have Friday through Sunday as free days. I have been assured that the weather does warm up and is nice until the monsoon rains begin sometime during mid to late June. SOON
I have to rely on the weather to cooperate since I do not have a top for the hot rod and don't relish driving in the rain. I'm hoping that the summer here will be like a Tucson winter, only warmer but not hot like Phoenix and Tucson.

Below are photos of the area that I have traveled as part of my work duties.
Here is another pic of our camp with Molly. Elden Mountain is
in the background. We will probably go up to the tower for
some maintenance work.
Here is the O'Leary tower with my volunteer partner, Dick. He and I went here to do some window replacement. The peak elevation is 8916.
Here are a few pics of the Fernow cabin that is available for rental. This is located in a remote area about 25 miles from Flagstaff. Dick and I had a few repairs to do here. It is really isolated and quiet. Here are photos that I took from the O'Leary lookout tower. One is of the "Sunset Crater", another is looking south toward Flagstaff, of the lava flow from this extinct volcano. The tall peak with snow is San Francisco Mountain and the next shot is looking north toward the Grand Canyon. The final pic is of Jean the person who lives in the tower watching for fires and such.
Here are photos of the Ranger Station sign that we modified. Three of the volunteers and I made the changes to the new name "Flagstaff Ranger Station". Here are photos of the canyon looking toward Sedona. There are nice camping areas around the Oak Creek canyon.


As part of my duties are to assist as needed in the woodshop where two volunteers make wooden signs as needed and the ladies do the painting. The main purpose however, is to perform repair and maintenance work as needed to the various NSF facilities. There are photos above of some of the guys removing an old sign, making changes and reinstalling the sign. I work with a another volunteer, Dick, who with his wife have been serving here for about 8 years.

Dick and I made a trip up O'Leary Peak to the lookout tower to replace a couple of damaged windows. At 8916 feet, plus the height of the tower, one gets a great view of the area. We made three trips to determine exact needs and to gather tools and materials, and do the glass replacement. Due to the high winds we were only able to do one window on the second visit, and returned early on a light wind day. As you can see from the photos the views are great. Jean, who lives in the tower as well as monitoring the forest for fires has been doing this for several years. She is very nice and comfortable with the solitude.

We also have done work on the two rental cabins located in the forest about 30 miles away from Flagstaff. One cabin we had to repair a water line and shower valve and the other cabin, shown above, required some roof shingle replacement and fence post replacement. Each place is remotely located, away form each other. There is sleeping for about 10, limited running water, provided from a tank which the Forest Service fills periodically, propane for cooking and lights, fireplaces and not much else. No electricity so no TV, cell phones, computers or electronic games. Kids have to play at other activities, much like we did as kids.

On another day we traveled to another tower to check out possible needs. On the way there we stopped to enjoy the views looking southwest toward Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. I may go there on my days off, Thursdays - Sunday. I stayed there once with my second wife Pam, and would like to enjoy it again.

I expect that we will be kept busy throughout the summer and will send out other travel logs as the opportunity arrives. If there is a slow project week I can take a few extra days off in order to travel. The Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon areas would be good to visit. If any of you are heading this way let me know and I can assist with sights and lodging plans if desired. I would also love to see you.

I was recently assigned another job installing reflective signs at applicable locations along several of the Forest Service unpaved roads. I easily passed my driving test and safety exam. This will be great since I will be travelling on the back roads enjoying the wilderness. I will be working this job alone but not necessarily every work day. So far I've depleted the supply of reflective signs along the first 10 miles of one road. And I am exhausted. I will still work with Dick on needed repair projects, these jobs will be easier.

I will be taking more photos of the sights around here and send out other Travel logs.



Aging: Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age
and start bragging about it.




Except for snail mail delivery I am easily accessible by phone or email. I'd love to hear from you.
Bye for now.

Bruce and Molly


Link back to my "Bruce The Nomad" page.

Link back to my In Northern Arizona part 2 page.