Archive for category Arkansas

Flagstaff and The Fearsome Four

 

Flagstaff AZ

Sam back on the Arizona Trail

August 21-September 21, 2016

After climbing to new heights at Mt. Whitney Jeff and I had about a week before needing to be in steamy Phoenix for business travel. We wanted to camp where we could get a break from the heat just a little longer, so we headed straight for Flagstaff, Arizona.

We’ve been camping in Flag off and on for the past year, one of our favorite locations. There is an abundance of free forestry land to camp in with endless trails to run, hike or mountain bike just outside your door. This and being close to town makes us feel like we live in the community. Flag is definitely familiar to us now and there is no need for GPS to get around town any more.

Flagstaff AZ

A delightful sunny spot amongst the trees

Not only was the 70 degree temps sublime, but Jeff has been training for the Stagecoach 100. Stagecoach is a 100 mile ultra trail run that starts in Flag and ends at the IMAX theater at the Grand Canyon. Jeff is running a relay with a buddy. 55 miles for Jeff and his friend Jason running 45. Since the race was just 4 weeks away some high altitude trail training was in order.

We camped at a new boondocking site on FR6051 near Snow Bowl on the North side of town. The road was a bit rough, but we were able to wedge our modest 32’ into a nice spot for maximum solar gain. There are endless forestry roads here with several short spurs that connect directly to the Arizona Trail. So getting in our trail runs was a piece of single track cake!

Oh Arizona Trail, how I love thee!

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One of the first things we usually do when getting to a new location is to see if there are any running events happening during our stay. We have done this in Moab, Chico and Whistler  among others, and it keeps us motivated to get out and exercise on a consistent basis. Without the motivation I would struggle with the RV-15 (think freshman-15) and bedsores!

One of the things we learned about is the Flagstaff Fearsome Four Challenge. Four peaks, 34 miles, 10,307 of elevation over 2 days. Sure…why not! As part of Jeff’s ultra training this challenge was right up his ally.

Here is how the challenge works. Hike or run Humphreys Peak, Kendrick Peak, Mount Elden and O’Leary Peak in any order. If you accomplish this challenge under 15 hours (not including driving time) in a 24hr period you are honored with the status of “Ultra” runner. Well then. Lets get to it!

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Kendrick Peak

Things that go bump in the night…what was that noise?

Jeff started at 1am at Kendrick Peak. Besides being scared by some sort of large animal in the woods, this was pretty uneventful. Humphreys Peak, the highest peak in Arizona and most challenging of the four, was next. Jeff ran into a couple of trail runners that run Humphrey’s 9 miles in under 3hrs, twice as fast as I hiked this beast! It had snowed on this peak the day before, so some of the trail was still covered.

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Summit of Humphrey’s Peak

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Rugged trail

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Snow covered trail

After a brief refueling of bacon and a nap at the RV it was on to Elden and O’Leary’s peak. Sam and I joined Jeff for the final two hikes. Though Elden is a short 4-5 miles round-trip, it is very rocky, technical and steep. We were glad to be hiking this one in the daylight!

Eden Peak

Third peak in the bank!

Heading further north we finished with O’Leary’s. This trail was a well-groomed forestry road all the way to O’Leary’s lookout, where we took in sunset views before racing back down the mountain to finished after dark.

Jeff did an amazing job coming in under 15 hours for the Fearsome Four and we celebrated with some late night BBQ!

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Number four…O’Leary Lookout!

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Racing the sun

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Steapest section at O’Leary Lookout

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After dark finish!

The next day we packed up and headed for Phoenix where we jumped on a plane and flew to Dallas. The Dometic show vehicle needed to be transported to Elkhart, Indiana for the RV industries open house.

A stop over in Bentonville, Arkansas was in order and we stayed for two weeks. This gave us a chance to check on family and our beloved Beaver Lake cabin.

I tell ya, when I sit on that porch swing overlooking the Lake, it’s hard to think of ever leaving! I love the smell of fresh lake water, hearing fish flopping in the early morning hours, swimming in water so clear you can scuba dive. I love that I can lace up my shoes and go for a run on lake roads that only a few locals travel. I ended up with 5 of the neighborhood dogs on one of my runs, which helped with missing Sam on our trip.

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The view from our deck

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Well hello humidity! Where have you been?

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Getting in a Saturday morning run with friends

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Quick visit with two of our Guatemalan students in AR on Walton Scholarships to John Brown University…so proud of them!

Arkansas is a beautiful place to call home for sure and I always shed a tear when we leave. But the road calls, and we must go and off to Elkhart we went.

We arrived over the weekend so that we could visit with some wonderful friends. The open house went well and we headed south with the RV to Louisville before flying back to Phoenix. It was a hard pressed 3 week trip and we were glad to get back to our dog and our RV.

With only 3 days before the Stagecoach 100, we were rushing again to get back to Flag for the race. So after landing at 6:45am, we picked up our dog and were on the road with the RV by 9am, and parked in the woods by that afternoon.

Holly moly…that was a tiring trip!

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Lake Levels, Trail Runs and RV Repairs

Beaver Lake AR

Catching up on the morning news

It’s been VERY wet here in Bentonville AR. We’ve been hammered with a lot of rain. So much so that Beaver Lake is at its maximum level of 1130ft. It’s been a few years since we have seen the lake this high…and we like it this way.

Beaver Lake AR

Beaver Dam Spillway, the gates are open!

Beaver Lake was created by damming up the White River nine miles northwest of Eureka Springs Arkansas. It was constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers from 1960-1966 and the lake did not reach its normal operational pool until 1968. It provides electricity, flood control, drinking water and recreation to the area.

With around 30,000 acres, 487 miles of shoreline and pristine clear water, it’s a popular place in the summer for sure.

My 87 year old neighbor, Ellis, told us about when the lake was going in that many cemeteries had to be relocated. He helped with digging up and moving some of the plots and commented that sometimes all they would find would be a pine knot or an old hipbone. Ellis spent many years fishing the white river and still refers to Beaver Lake as, “the crick”. (That’s hillbilly for creek)

The water is so clear on this lake that we have gone scuba diving with 25-35 feet of visibility. There isn’t much to see down there except a couple of house foundations and a school bus that was submerged to give divers something interesting to look at.

Jeff and I bought our first lakefront cabin here in 2000 and then sold the first cabin when we bought the neighboring cabin in 2009.

Our current cabin was built in 1968 right around the time that the lake was filling up. Back then dark paneling and pink appliances were all the rage. Jeff and I gutted the entire cabin down to the studs. And after 9 months of weekends and vacations working our tails off, we finally moved in to one of the cutest cabins ever, with one of the best views on the lake. But then again I may be a bit biased.

The cabin had been neglected for years and was another one of those smelly, dirty, rodent infested projects that left us scratching our heads at times. We had never seen more acorns and mud dauber nests INSIDE a house before. It took me a week to remove the dauber nests from the ceiling beams with a hand grinder. They had been beautifully baked and preserved through the years and were not coming down without power tools. Maybe that’s why we aren’t scared of a “little” RV project (see below).

War Eagle Tailtwister

While home this round Jeff and I signed up for the War Eagle Tailtwister 50k, 25k, 10k at Hobbs State Park (Jeff 50K. Deb 10K) on Beaver Lake. This is the only trail race allowed at Hobbs and is an amazing event run on some great trails through the hills of the Ozark Mountains. This was my first trail race and I definitely want to do another one. My favorite sport is hiking so this, for me, was a hike in the woods…only faster.

The course was a single track trail with around 600 runners. So navigating around other runners was a bit of a challenge. Mix in some poison ivy, heat, humid, drenching sweat, the taste of bug spray and a resident timber rattler at aid station #1, we had us a bonafide trail race in the Ozarks. (Banjo not included)

RV Repair Update

Carriage Domani

Roof still exposed

Jeff and I made a trip to Elkhart Indiana for a business trip and to check on the progress of our RV repairs.

We had little communication from MasterTech RV despite our emails and phone messages over the course of the last 4 weeks, which has been quite frustrating. We had a sense that not much was happening on our rig. But with our announced trip a fire was lit and they managed to get more done in two days while we were there than in the previous 8-9 weeks that it has been in their shop.

The mold has been sanded off the walls and new foam insulation has been sprayed. The top two inches of the walls at the roofline have been spliced in to replace all the rotten wood. Since the entire roof was leaking around the perimeter I noticed other inside walls that were warped. So out they came to reveal more mold and water damage. The smell continues to improve drastically with each removal of anything that resembles fabric or vinyl.

Carriage Domani

More wet moldy walls found

The flooring is now out of the RV, blinds have been removed and the new refrigerator, hot water heater and furnace have been installed. Since our long list of pre-wiring for things like audio video, wi-fi and solar had not been communicated by one of the managers, our roof still has not been installed because no work orders were produced instructing the guys what to do. So everyone moved on to other projects.

So we have met with the owner and have a new foreman who will oversee the rest of our project to ensure that it keeps moving in the right direction.

On a positive note, the work that we did see done is of really good quality and they are committed to doing things the right way.

We remain skeptical that it will all be completed by the first week in July. There is a pile of work that remains. We are still hoping to hit the road around July 6 to kick off our summer travels with RAGBRAI, the bike ride across Iowa.

Until then we remain cautiously optimistic.

Carriage Domani

Does this foam make my butt look big?

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Bentonville Arkansas as a Tourist

Crystal Bridges

Crystal Bridges Museum newly installed outdoor sculpture (No artist info installed yet)

We’ve had some guests stop by for a visit on their way to other parts of the county. Chris and Cherie of Technomadia and their friends (and now our friends) Forrest and Mary parked their homes on wheels at our property in Bentonville AR.

We met Chris and Cherie at Sam’s Family Spa & RV Resort  last December and again in the desert of Borrego Springs, CA. They were a part of the infamous Soup Anarchy and outdoor movie night in the desert where wild ingredients were haphazardly combined to make an impressive dining experience.

Big screen movie theater with natural surround sound

Anyway…Chris and Cherie and friends were making their way to the middle of the country together before parting ways somewhere near St. Louis. But not before stopping in good ol’ Bentonville Arkansas for 3 nights.

We tried to be good hosts shooting for a 5 star experience. We gained points for trimming trees before they arrived and providing some Michelin 5 star quality meals, if I do say so myself (alright, perhaps a bit of an exaggeration).

But the stars we gained in tree trimming and baked salmon we lost in road noise and soft ground, as recent rains prevented us from maneuvering their rigs away from the road. We give ourselves a self-proclaimed 3.5 Star rating.

We spent a day showing off our wonderful community to our guests.

You can’t do Bentonville without showing off Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. None of us are really “art” people, but we could all appreciated the magnificence of such a beautiful facility strategically place on grounds that were in full display of spring.

We explored Crystal Bridges from the outside, with the intention of touring the inside the following day during forecasted rain. Jeff shared with the group that the grounds of CB and Compton Gardens are made up of native Arkansas foliage, but was quickly humbled by a plant labeled “New Jersey Tea”.

Chris being the inquisitive geek that he is wanted to know how New Jersey Tea could be native to Arkansas. It wasn’t until further into our hike that we learned that this plant was NAMED in New Jersey, but IS native to Arkansas. Phew!

Crystal Bridges

Crystal Bridges and great friends!

We also learned that during the American Revolution when tea was being taxed so heavily by England, that the settlers went in search of their own tea…discovering New Jersey Tea in where else? New Jersey. It was commonly used by Native Americans to treat infections of the respiratory system. So…there you go!

We made our way back to the Bentonville square after about 3 ½ miles for a MUST STOP food truck, Crepes Paulette. Paulette and Fred, husband and wife own and operate their food trailer one block off the square. Fred, being a native of France, brings an authenticity and charm to he and his wife’s outdoor crepe experience. As an RV’er we can appreciate a good name for a trailer…theirs being Madame Poupon, after Fred’s parents housekeeper growing up. There are 35+ sweet or savory choices of buckwheat crepes, all delicate and tasty! If you come to town, don’t miss this local favorite.

Bentonville AR

Crepes Paulette is the BEST!

After lunch we took in the Walmart Museum at Sam Walton’s original 5 & 10. It’s a wonderful tribute to the man who started it all. It marks the history of Walmart and the tenacity, brilliance and passion of Mr. Sam.

I really liked seeing his old pickup truck. He was once asked why he didn’t drive a fancy car. He responded with, ‘‘what am I supposed to haul my dogs around in, a Rolls-Royce?”

Bentonville AR

Good food and good friends

My favorite in the museum was a wall of returned items to Walmart stores. One item was a thermometer that someone returned because, “It kept terrible time” and a hand mixer that, “was possessed”.

We finished the Walmart Museum at their old-fashioned soda fountain for the cheapest scoops anywhere.

It was a beautiful day with wonderful friends. I’m sure they were tired of hearing about everything Walmart, but that’s just the world we live in as the home of the largest company in the world.

We LOVE our community and nothing brings about a new appreciation for our hometown than showing it off to fresh blood new eyes.

Jeff and I bid farewell to our friends as they headed off yesterday morning. We are stationary ourselves for another week before we head off to Las Vegas for the National Hardware Show. The plan is to then drive the company show vehicle from Las Vegas to Elkhart Indiana. At least that is the plan for now.

If that doesn’t happen then I guess we will “Au Pif “.

Bentonville AR

Wing It!

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