Funny how life is connected. For example, how does camping lead to a bad parking decision that leads to a sponsorship? Allow me to explain.
The White Mountains connects to the Airstream…
After our trip to the White Mountains the Airstream furnace failed, so I left it with a dealer for a few days.
The Airstream connects to Fred’s neighbor…
After picking up the Airstream from the dealer mid-week, a car was parked on the other side of the street from Fred’s house and I was alone. A normal person would have either a) Asked the neighbor to move for a few minutes or b) Left the trailer out front and come back later.
Fred’s neighbor connects to my bad decision making…
I chose c) Pull in tight, possibly brushing up against a small bush in the the process, without a spotter. What could be the worst that would happen?
Well, this is what happened:
The aforementioned “small” bush turned out to be a Palo Verde that’s been cut super short, and it left a severe scratch in the Airstream for 10′ (3m) give or take.
My bad decision making connects to a wonderful new relationship!
But all is not lost!
Enter Bulldog Detail. These guys run a shop in Scottsdale, Arizona and specialize in scratch repair, ego repair and ceramic coating. After explaining what happened to the Airstream they quoted me an incredibly fair price and got it done in only a few days.
While Fred and I were dropping off the Airstream we asked Kyle owner/operator if he would mind us making an episode around the scratch repair. One thing led to another and we all thought Airstream MTB and Bulldog Detail would complement each other, thus a sponsorship was born!
Ceramic Coating Oh My
You can find an extensive walk-through of what Bulldog Detail did to repair this scratch and the special ceramic coating they applied to defend it against future encounters right here in our latest video. There’s a lot of science here centering around hydrophobic coatings, electrostatic properties, hardness scales and layered barriers – enjoy!
Onward With the Sponsorship
With this episode we are rolling into season 2 if you can believe it, and what better way than to spruce up our splash screen with credit to Bulldog Detail. We’re proud to have their sponsorship and look forward to a wonderful year! By all means, if you have any questions comment or even better give Bulldog Detail a call.
Please join us on our final ride in the White Mountains, this time on the Lake Mountain Spur Trail.
This ride is interesting because that thumbnail above is where we rode in the caldera of an extinct volcano! It looks innocent enough until you realize it’s also at 8500′ (2590m) and the site of former magma flows.
As promised, we’re pumping out more content than political ads in October so please enjoy our next trail review for Land of the Pioneers. As before we’re experimenting with ways to make these videos more interesting including a preview during the cold open and split-screen riding.
With that, enjoy the format, see Fred endo and watch us get eaten alive by mosquitoes.
I’ve been remiss – career and life have gotten away from me and the blog has gotten very little love. But fear not, Fred has been busy and we’ve put together a most excellent set of videos reviewing the Los Burros trail, which we rode on our firs day Airstreaming the White Mountains.
We’re having some fun experimenting with format so here’s a long-cut video in our usual style.
And a second video in a more contemporaneous form.
Enjoy our review and please punch the like button on your preferred version of this video!
I mentioned in my last woefully old post that we were planning an adventure to the White Mountains in eastern Arizona. Why go there? Because the White Mountains is on my list of “special places”. In this post, we live up to that promise with a lovely diary of our adventures including Airstreaming, mountain biking and camping.
I’m sure by now it’s come through I deeply miss traveling full-time in the silver tube, but there is one benefit to living in sticks & bricks – those brief opportunities to escape the bonds of careerdom are even sweeter when the diesel motor is roaring and the horizon is ahead.
And so it is.
As the kiddos head back to school, the sun sits lower in the sky and mother nature is about to release her triple-digit grip on the valley Fred and I embarked on a multi-day adventure to the high country.
We were equipped with a gaggle of new technology, including a GoPro Hero 6 and more suction cup camera mounts than an octopus. We made our way into the wilderness to do some serious dispersed camping and to review no less than three mountain bike trails.
To get there we pass through Payson, up the Mogollon Rim, though Show Low, then Pinetop and finally to Los Burros Campground.
See It! Live It! YouTube It!
For the visually oriented you can see part one of our adventure at our YouTube channel here! And then continue reading on below for a written account of how Fred almost got eaten by a bear.
Ok, Fred wasn’t almost eaten by a bear, but you will see some nice pictures and a dachshund in the woods, what could be better than that?
Phoenix to Payson
Our stop in Payson usually includes a quick bite at Sonic.
And a quick adjustment of the GoPro hanging off the back of the Doxi Bus.
The Mogollon Rim
Immediately outside Payson the drive then takes us up “the wall”, or more correctly the Mogollon Rim. This rift is a violent uplift that runs east to west splitting Arizona essentially in north and south halves. Any drive north in Arizona, therefore, ultimately climbs up this jaw-dropping terrain.
At the Mogollon Rim visitors center you can look out over the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. When I think of Arizona this is where my mind goes.
Booking Los Burros
After gorging ourselves on photos we moved on, passing through Show Low then Pinetop and ultimately into the far eastern arm of the national forest’s Los Burros Campground. As for booking reservations at Los Burros, I’m kidding. Where we’re going we don’t need reservations – Los Burros is free!
For amenities, this campground has a vault toilet.
In exchange for this sparsity, though, you get unbelievable views of flower filled meadows, giant trees and blue sky.
Sites are first-come-first-served and there isn’t any running water or trash pickup. You pack everything in and pack everything out. It also happens Los Burros forms the trailhead for the Los Burros Loop, one of the best trails we rode up there.
Finding Los Burros completely full is uncommon but we arrived close to Labor Day and the campground was full, so we were forced (aka thrilled) to do some dispersed camping along one of the many fire roads in the area. We landed only a quarter mile away in a lovely aspen grove.
Does it get any better than this?
Ginger doesn’t think so.
Amenities & Activities
Stuff Not Mountain Biking
Close to Los Burros there are a number of small towns, a casino and an interesting watch tower used by the forest service during high risk months for spotting smoke.
You can even pop into New Mexico with a fairly short drive. But make no mistake, Fred and I were here to mountain bike so that’s what we did!
I’m going to come at you soon with more detailed reviews of each of these trails but Fred and I rode three different loops over three days and here’s a primer.
Los Burros Loop
The Los Burros Loop was the most aggressive ride of the trip topping out at 1,900′ (580m) climbing and 13 miles (21km) distance.
This trail consists of highly volcanic sharp single track…
And epic stretches of aspen and pine.
Land of the Pioneers
Land of the Pioneers was less aggressive at 688′ (209m) 9 miles (14.5km). There’s a story to tell about this ride but I shall hold that until my next post.
Lake Mountain Loop
The Lake Mountain Loop was a ‘make your own adventure’ ride as I call them but lets just say to get up there it involved some walking.
Anyhoo, how many time do you get to go into an old volcano caldera? Well that’s what the loop is, a trail around a volcano!
No smoke or lava here, though – just lush greenery.
Ok, you knew it was coming. Flower time! With all the rain this season there were more flowers and greenery that I’ve ever seen here so I must share.
Ok not flowers, but mushroom can be kinda cute?
And … fern type things…
What Could Go Wrong
It had to happen I suppose. After a pretty good run with the Airstream she decided to get a little grumpy. Maybe she’s telling me she doesn’t get to go out enough?
The first night at our sweet sweet location we discovered the furnace wasn’t working. This wasn’t entirely fatal as we did have the generator and the heat pumps worked fine, but that’s only when the generator was running which usually isn’t overnight. That made for a couple of mildly uncomfortable sleeps but not unbearable. The ultimate diagnosis? A failed limit switch.
Bad Bed Mojo
The first night at our sweet sweet location I went to roll out the guest bed which cleverly lies under the front sofa and literally ripped the decorative fascia off with my hands. Examining the wreckage I could see the stupidity of the design: The panel is held on by three small wood screws that are a) too shallow so as to prevent poking though the decorative laminate and b) prone to self-releasing in the continuous shock and vibration environment the trailer offers.
The obvious solution was to draw three #8 machine screws through the front of the fascia and affix them to the aluminum bed frame with lock washers and nuts then cap the machine screw heads with the same white button covers as are used in ten thousand other places in the trailer.
To Be Continued…
Fred and I kind of lost our mind on this trip, we have three more videos on the way as we review each trail we rode. It sure wore Ginger out.
In the meantime take this away with you, the White Mountains are awesome, and should you have the opportunity go there!
Amazingly, I still haven’t quite finished chronicling our journey across America in the Airstream. Our YouTube channel is keeping us very busy, and to say the least, our appetite to publish content is bigger than our stomachs. Still, I find myself with some time this morning so I thought I would weave together a quick post about another place that stands out in our memories as an extraordinary camping location: The Indian Creek Recreation Area, which sits in the middle of Louisiana’s Alexander Forest Wildlife Management Area.
Our stay-over in Louisiana was essentially accidental, we needed to get from Bentonville, Arkansas to Marianna, Florida – but I didn’t have enough PTO time at work to do the drive over multiple days straight. So we sat down, looked at a map and threw a dart. It landed on Indian Creek Recreation Area as a crude half-way point. Knowing nothing about what to expect we decided to drive from Bentonville, stay in Louisiana for the week, then get to Florida that next weekend. And oh what a lovely coincidence of serendipity that turned out to be.
Reservations at Indian Creek Recreation Area can be made on Louisiana’s Department of Agriculture & Forestry here. We stayed there in early December so the campground was largely empty. Rates that time a year were roughly around $20/day though incredibly they offered monthly rates, which we came to learn many retirees in the area took liberal advantage of.
Pads were meticulously clean and in good repair, we had 50 amp service and city water. No sewer though, so we did the dump at one of multiple stations throughout the park on our departure day. Landry and bathroom facilities were available at a central building.
We also scored a clear view of the southern sky so satellite was ‘rockin. And as always, since I program computers for a living we needed good cell internet service and Verizon was clear as a bell.
Amenities & Activities
Indian Creek Lake
Indian Creek Recreation Area abuts Indian Creek Lake. We had an unbelievable view. Mornings were especially amazing.
There are several pavilions located along the lake and boat launches as well.
While there are some hills in Louisiana along the the Arkansas border the terrain quickly flattens out and merges into low-lying forest and swamp as you move south. As such there weren’t any “mountains” to ride here, but there was a lovely nature trail running the perimeter of the recreation area. Speaking with the local rangers they said it was open for biking, though I must admit I did get a strange look when I asked.
As with my rides in Florida, I found this ride to be sublime.
Certainly not technical but the ride gave me what I needed, which was peace and centering. Deer were a-plenty as was awesome lakeside views, especially in the evening.
By now if you follow our blog it’s clear one of the primary objectives of our cross-America trip was to “get away from it all”. I think our multitude of posts shows we accomplished that in spades, which routinely put us in remote quiet locations with few people. Neither of us are introverted, it’s just sometimes you just need to unplug.
In the case of the Indian Creek Recreation Area, though, we had one of those wonderful chance encounters. We happened across another couple while doing laundry of all things, and got to talking. Char and Danny if you’re out there, hi! Our conversation grew into a friendship and it taught us the true meaning of southern hospitality.
Char introduced me to boudin, which I practically gorged myself on, and Danny taught us about gumbo. Over a few short days we met our new friends for a southern style dinner that blew our socks off. Turned out Char and Danny are retired and kept a brand new trailer in the park for most of the winter and they commuted up from Lafayette during the week. What a great stroke of luck we should meet.
It’s an old trope, but people really are what make places special.
We found Louisiana’s Indian Creek Recreation Area has “it”. If you have the means by all means stay there!