Arizona Adventures

Epilogue (use deep voice when reading)

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 3

This is a rough sketch of some of the stories that are forth coming. They have not been completely edited or thoroughly thought-out but they are true. The names are real and only used to persecute the guilty. If your name is included therein, well, that is was you get for enjoying nature with the Wagner’s. For now that’s all. As the late, Former Arizona Governor Williams would say to close out his weekly radio address “It’s another beautiful day! Leave us enjoy it!”…

If You Are Having Trouble Sleeping. Read This.

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 3

One early autumn morning while sitting near a comforting fire in the little shelter we fondly call the •wagner’s Wooden Tent”, I was enjoying my first cup of coffee. Carol notice my lap top computer was fired up and ready to go. She asked if I was creating a new story. I told her I was actually doing a little editing as these stories just gush out of my mind faster than my fingers can hammer the keys. Using this state of the art computer at my finger tips is of great benefit, but sometimes it will try to out think me and put in words that are not my own. If I misspell a word, it will underline it in red or it will put in the correct spelling of a word that is close to word I intended. I made the statement in one of my earlier stories about going back and editing my work, but that is too boring for me because I already know what it says. Just about everyone who reads these stories, want to help me edit them, but to date, my daughter Heidi has made the biggest contribution to this effort and my son Jeremy did his magic on some of my spelling and grammar. The only problem with her editing is that it is too darn good and it does read like I talk or write. So here is the challenge. As you read these stories, have a pencil or pen handy and put it to work when you come across a misspelling, punctuation error or grammar catastrophe. Let me know of your findings, and I will consider them as long as they aren’t too perfect.

If you find yourself a subject or player in any of these stories, please feel free to jot down any corrections in the story line or your interpretation of the account. People, places, things, events, blame, innocence, etc. are my remembrances of the events or stories and enriched by creative license and bad memory. So, have at it if is your story too! Even expand on it if you dare.

Well, it’s mid morning now and Carol already made the rounds at the portion of the Fall Festival held at the Blue Ridge School. The “Run ForThe Pines” antique auto show is underway at the Pine Top Lakes and there is more art and crafts across …

Wapiti Crossing

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 3

The gote post assembly was ready for installation. We determined that the best place to install the gate the would lead to our second back yard consisting of 100,000 acres was right in the middle of the pine tree stand above the hammock. The frame materials was purchased with the Home Depot gift cars that Chip and Teri Stauffer left on the kitchen table along with some other tokens of appreciation for using the cabin. The new cork screw was one essential kitchen utensil that was missing from our wares. How did they focus in on our needs for that instrument? I must say that Carol did scold them for leaving the gifts, but we will put everything to good use.

We had been planning a gate to go through the Sitgreaves National Forest, barbed wire fence for some time. Over the last forty years, family and friends have climbed over or through this fence 1,000 times and most of the time without drawing blood. It is about time to make it easy on everyone by putting in a gate. With the contribution of Chip & Teri, we were finally ready to move forward on this project. Since the gate will be installed near the area the elk use to jump over this fence to gain access to the tender grasses of the meadow along with the various neighbors delicious plants and young trees, we decided to call this place •wapiti Crossing”, the name Native Americans use for the North American Elk, which means •white rump” in Shawnee. In other words, get your white rump over this fence and enjoy God’s Creation. When the gate is complete, the sign with the words ·wapiti Crossing” engraved in a slab of wood, will hang over the Stauffer’s gate as a reminder to do just that. The wapiti will still have to go over the barbed wire and the cows will still have to graze on the other side of the fence.

My son Chad mentioned on several occasions when I had need for a particular thing for the cabin, it would come. This weekend we had need for a posthole digger to excavate two narrow holes of the legs of the gate frame. So early Saturday morning we set out to town to see what we could find, but it would have to be right after breakfast. We were open to looking …


By Arizona Adventures, Volume 3

Way back in 1979 we were invited by Larry and Cheryl Burleson to take a vacation with them to San Diego. They were official Zonnies and were looking for new converts. I was real busy with work and didn’t think the time would be right to go, but Cheryl and my wife Carol made up my mind for me. So much for my input, we were going to San Diego.

It was late September and the annual flight of the Summer Zonnies was over. I don’t know if Summer Zonnies travel in flock or herds, but they are normally spotted in greatest numbers in the last two weeks of August and up through Labor Day Weekend. But they were all back home by the time our vacation time was upon us. Besides, the Pacific Ocean is actually a little warmer in late September and early October due to the shift in the ocean currents, or a least that is what Cheryl reported. So our plan was to drive two cars. Larry and Cheryl had their little compact car that would have great gas mileage and Carol and I had our large, nine passenger, Chevy Suburban with dual air conditioning and a 454 cubic inch engine to power us there at the rate of ten miles per gallon.

We meet the Burleson’s at their house early Saturday morning. The anticipation was high and everybody with anxious to get on the road. We had our two youngsters, Chad and Heidi loaded into our car with all our gear and the Burleson’s were packing their three kids, Christian, John and Adam into their car, along with Cheryl’s guitar. With everyone situated, we were off! Or were we? Larry backed his car out of the driveway and then suddenly the engine died. The engine was cranking OK but it wasn’t getting and fuel to the carburetor. After many attempts to get it going, Larry determined that the problem was a direct result of filling the fuel tank the night before with a new kind of gas that would clean up the engine and improve performance. It contained a new additive call ethanol. As it turned out, this additive did dissolve the gunk in the car’s fuel system but unfortunately sent this crud to the carburetor and plug the gas flow. So with the repair too costly in time we decided to pile everyone and …

I Smell Golf!

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 3

Many years ago I bought a set of golf clubs from my next door neighbor during his family’s big garage sale. The set came complete with a bag, clubs, an odd assortment of golf balls and tees. The golf shoes were a size eleven. I wear a size 9 1/2 and a 10 feels really good so an eleven must be even better. So now I’m suddenly a golfer!

In my late teens some friends tried to get me into the golf game. At the time I was into camping, hunting and fishing. I would always respond to their request with the same reply. The day the make a shotgun barrel big enough to hold a golf ball, I may consider taking up the sport that is if I could use the shotgun in play. Well, that didn’t happen so I didn’t become a golf bum, or should I say enthusiast? Now that I think about it, I did play on a specialized course. My biggest problem in tournament play was getting by the big wind mill on the first try. The hole with the draw bridge was a piece of cake.

So here I am with my first set of golf clubs for a total investment of $35.00. That hot, summer evening would become my first outing with my new golf set. Where could I go to play and not be embarrassed? Well. the vacant field beside our house would be a good test range. Sound like rocket science doesn’t it? I did happen to hit a few balls with the largest club in the bag that I remembered my neighbor calling a -hot driver.” Summer time in the Valley produces many hot drivers, but they all don’t hit balls. This experience was an interesting one, but as fate would have it, my other neighbor had a garage sale and my bag of clubs found their way to a spot closest to the sidewalk You couldn’t miss them; they had a big $30.00 sign on with some fine print at the bottom. It read, -complete with comfortable golf shoes, especially if you wear size 9 1/2.

Years passed, and I thought that getting into golf again might be fun. Several of my friends play golf and my Son in law is an avid golfer. Also, our church has golf tournaments from time to time to raise money for specials …

Chiggers Nothing, Bears! Run Forest Run!

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 3

So there we were, hiking behind the cabin on a beautiful Sunday morning. Carol and I were making our way north over some slight, rolling hills. The sun had been up for about an hour and we both already had our morning coffee. Tradition has it that I have the coffee ready to go with the touch of a button at day break. Most of the time I have to lay in bed, waiting for the sun to lighten the morning sky before I can start the process. This particular morning was no different. I was ready to kick the day into gear, so to speak.

The afternoon before, the boys and I were trying to install new fascia boards on the front of the “A· of the cabin. The 4×4 that frames the large, triangle pieces of glass and the front Arcadia door was getting well weathered. It had been oiled and stained several times over the years, but has been giving in to the elements over the last few years. It had lx2 fascia boards that provided some defense again the rains but also lost the battles to the elements. So they were stripped off and discarded and actually became the last exposed wood of the original cabin when it was first erected in Goodyear, Arizona some fifty years ago. The addition Dad put on covered the original back timbers and the cedar shake roof was not part of the original construction but added shortly before Dad purchased it.

Anyway, back to the new fascia boards. After purchasing them at the new Home Depot in Show Low, the boys and I spent a good part of the morning preparing them for installation. We had to custom cut and shape the miters, notch out for the 4×12 x .”th ick, steel splice plates that Dad made to allow the top six foot of the cabin to be removed made necessary for clearance so it could be trucked to the White Mountains.

After all the pre-fit preparations were made, Carol stained the new, rough sawn fascia. When it was fairly dry, Jeremy and I dawned gloves and Chad grabbed his hammer and nails and we started the final installation. Just then our neighbors from next door decided to come over for a visit. The other couple strolling down the lane decided to stop in also. The boys and I weren’t …

Chiggers, let’s get out of here!

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 3

Well as the days start warming in the White Mountains, large and small creatures change there annual cycle. On an early June outing to Sky Hi Retreat, Jeremy, Carol and I headed up to the mountains after work of Friday afternoon. Our routine refueling stop at Irene’s Mexican food was another great dining experience; well maybe good would be a better definition. It is great when it comes time to pay the bill. Not that I’m cheap or anything, we do have a nice meal at a very reasonable cost. We threaten to stop elsewhere, but at Irene’s our waitresses have our orders memorized.

Our trip from Globe through the Salt River Canyon was extra buggy. I had to stop in Show Low to clean the windshield in case we wanted to take an early morning jaunt down the primitive road behind the cabin.

It was about 10:00 P.M. when we arrived and 10:15 P.M. when we were unpacked. It doesn’t take long to get squared away once we energize utilities. Jeremy unloaded his mountain bike and was going to take it for a little ride around the neighborhood. It was pretty dark out, as the moon wasn’t going to be coming up for another couple hours. I asked him if he had his head lamp with him, but he said he was going to use his night vision. Yea, yea: good story. Off he went. He came back about twenty minutes with exciting news. A half a block down Bonanza he heard something moving in front of him and then suddenly he could make out the silhouettes of three large elk running across the road a few feet in front of him. They were making their way to the tall grasses of the meadow for an evening snack and were not going to let JJ get in their way. We have our routines and I guess they have theirs.

By the time JJ came back with the news of his adventure, Carol had the hide-a-way opened and ready for bed. We noticed that the front room looked like the moon light was streaming in as it does during the winter months, but this was not winter. And what’s more, the moon was due up for two more hours. We looked out the front arcadia door and saw that out neighbor across the way, installed a new area light similar …


By Arizona Adventures, Volume 3

Uncle Casper Brenner was my maternal Grandmother’s step brother. He was quite a character and very interesting to visit with. Being a barber by trade, he was a good story teller and had an opinion on everything.

Casper moved to Arizona in the late forties or early fifties from Dayton Ohio. He fell in love with the desert and bought several parcels of land in what is now called the Cave Creek I Carefree area north of Phoenix. One parcel we called Casper’s Mountain was adjacent to two residential lots with old block houses on them. He lived in one and rented out the other. He was never married, but had a girl friend in Dayton named Viola. He named the two dirt roads that went by his property Viola Lane and Casper Lane. He didn’t have a drivers license until Viola have him a car when he was like sixty years old. He drove the car to Dayton and back a couple of times, but only a not more than 40 miles per hour. That mode for a long trip.

Uncle Casper would cut all of his relative’s hair for free. The boy’s hair was easy. He would put on his butch attachment and let the hair fly. Some of our Uncles were easy too! As there were pretty much bald, It didn’t take long to shorten the fringe around the edges. One time when he was cutting Dad’s hair, he thought he would do him a big favor my running the clipper up his hairy back. Dad couldn’t believe Casper did that without asking. I don’t know what was said, but it may have been words from Dad’s limited German vocabulary. One Saturday, all the families were going to have a big picnic at Uncle Casper’s desert home. Dad and Uncle John were going to do a little rabbit hunting while they were out there. Some of us kids tagged along as they went hunting. Suddenly a cottontail rabbit jumped out in front of us and ran into a rabbit hutch. These hutches were quite common in this area and built with small branches and cactus arms like jumping Cholla or prickly pear. They were sometimes three to four feet wide, two feet or so high and built under the low branches of a Mesquite or Palo Verde tree and usually had two or more entrance tunnels so …


By Arizona Adventures, Volume 3

Over the years, I had many adventures with family and friends on, in and around the desert lakes in the Valley. Many people are not familiar with our lakes don’t even know they are there. At on time, it was once report that the Valley had more boats per capita than any other major city. How true that was is uncertain, but with the warm water lakes, water sports are very popular.

One of my first recollections of boating in Arizona was an outing to near by Canyon Lake that our family was invited to by my Uncle John & Aunt MIJ.ryW. e were to meet them and my Uncles family on the west end of the main beach, just past the steel trestle bridge, on of the lakes many landmarks. Uncle John and his brothers had a brand new, red & white, fiberglass boat that they all shared. Uncle John used it for fishing while his brothers preferred water skiing and sight seeing.

Arrangements were made to borrow an additional boat, a small cabin cruiser, so they could have two boats to provide recreation for all the families they invited to join them. It was a great day for boating and playing on the sandy beach while waiting your turn in one of the boats. The water temperatures were refreshingly cool and the sand was warm. Lying on a beach towel after a quick dip was very therapeutic.

Lunch was served on an as needed basis and consisted of various lunch meat sandwiches, potato chips, cold pop and cookies, but dinner was even better. A seven coarse meal consisting of hot dogs, relish, onions, mustard, ketchup, more chips, and topped off with roasting marshmallow on a stick. All was washed down with cold pop out of a bottle. Canned pop wasn’t readily available then. Cans were reserved for beer in those days and the adults did have a few of them to enjoy while sitting around the fire after watching the sun go down over the mountains ridge. An occasional pop and crackle of the fire would send a flurry of sparks into the night sky. As the lake of the flames would go down, flashlights led the way to our car for trip back to the city. We left the lake with great memories and a little sting of sun burn.

My next trip to Canyon Lake was …

Ann Hiser’s Blue Ribbon Pies

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 3

I will always remember the first day my wife Carol, took me to the Hiser’s farm in Lexington, Ohio. She had told me so much about her many visits there over her early years. Remembering the summer days by the lake picking berries; sharing a swim with the Hiser kids and water moccasins; Ron’s adventures with the cows and other creatures; and summer storms. Helping with the hay harvest and exploring the old barn; riding her pony Cinders that she had parked there for years. Carol shared a lot of stories with fond memories as we walked around the fields and strolled down by the lake. The fresh smells of farm life were very refreshing to a boy raised in the desert of Arizona.

As we walked into the Hiser’s farm house, we were greeted there by Robin Hiser with a big smile on her face knowing that her mother, Ann had two of her famous blue ribbon apple pies cooling on the kitchen counter. The aroma was heavenly. Robin new what I was in for and her smile became a grin as we all sat around the table and were served big slices of pie and cold glasses of milk. It tasted every bit as good as it smelled. The flakey crust complemented the fresh, picked apples that had just cooled from the simmer of the baking process. I did feel a little silly chasing the last morsel of crust around my plate with the fork. I did not want to waste it.

After that day at the Hiser’s, I had my own fond memories of Ohio farm life. For years that followed, Ann made sure that she had a pie waiting at Carol’s parent’s house for us when she knew we were in town.

I remember the summer following the passing of Carol’s Dad; I made a trip by myself to Ohio to help Carol’s Mom, Edna with a few maintenance items around the house and at the rentals. I would work around doing some chores during the day and then go to back to Edna’s for dinner. She fussed over me a little too much and always made too much food. There would be no room left for the pie that Ann had dropped by.

As it was day light savings time, the sun would still be up for another three hours after dinner, so I took …

Then Comes Winter

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 3

After the snow flies, life in the forest slows down for a rest. Many of the forest creatures hibernate for the cold, winter months, while others migrate to warmer elevations and the vegetation that is their life support.

The trips to the mountains are less frequent but in some ways more meaningful, as it is a time that one can reflect without the hurried pace of everyday life in the valley. You have seasonal limitations put on you high in the mountains that come in the form of winter weather like chilling rains, blustery snow falls, freezing cold and blankets of snow hiding the tools of toil under the cabin. As the snow repeatedly thaws and freezes daily, you have icy sheets over the water puddles, crisp snow where the sun shines and nighttime temperatures freeze and deep pockets of soft snow in the shadows where the fluffy stuff is hidden from the warm melting rays.

An early morning walk down the frozen, rocky road to the abandon railroad track bed that serves as a sidewalk above the forest floor.

It is an odd feeling when you do something contrary to habit, common sense or custom. for example, as I started walking down the railroad bed, which makes an excellent hiking trail, I had an uncomfortable feeling. The bed had about three inches of snow on it except wheel a four wheel drive vehicle had driven over it a few days before. The sun had melted the snow compressed by its wheels leaving two steaks of exposed lava rock that make ups its base. As I was walking along enjoying the view, my thoughts were jarred by the barking dog that is always there to give you a howling sending off as you head into the forest or welcomes you upon returning if you choose to come by that way. But that wasn’t what made me feel uneasy. It was the fact that I was walking in the left tire track in stead of the right track that you would select if you are driving a car or riding a bike down the street. You should always be on the right side of your line of travel. I tried moving over to the right rut and sure enough, it felt more comfortable. Then moving back to the left side, I noticed the change in feeling. Isn’t that odd? We are …

Short Wheel Base Jeep Short Lived

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 3

For years my Dad had a good, old fashion station wagon for a family car and sport utility vehicle. There were a few four wheel drive automobiles around like the International Scout, International Crew Cab, Dodge Power Wagon, Jeep Jeepster, ford Bronco and a few others. But Dad’s station wagons served us well in getting us where we needed to go for the best hunting and fishing spots.

In 1964, Dad and one of his Condition Air Company partners, Paul Enginbritson, made a trip to San Diego to buy some Navy surplus equipment for their company. One of the items they targeted was a Navy Jeep that would be convenient to chase parts and have available for hunting and fishing jaunts. They were successful with the Jeep purchase and some other equipment for the shop.

Dad, one of his employees, Joe Savatone and my brother Rick, age 14, made a trip the following week to pick up the Jeep and equipment. They took the companies two ton Chevy stake bed truck to bring back the treasures. They loaded up their ditty bags and a large, shop made, galvanized ice chest in anticipation that they could find some time to do a little deep sea fishing while they were there and bring back some fresh seafood. Dad built this ice chest ten years earlier.

Well, as it turned out they did catch some Bonita and other salt water varieties and loaded up the ice chest with fish and as much ice as they could pack in for the long drive home. With the Jeep and other recently purposed equipment safely lashed down in the twenty foot long stake bed, they were off, heading back to Phoenix. They made it all the way to Indio without a hitch. Truck was running great. The two-forty air conditioning was working great, which is two open windows and forty miles per hour truck speed. Then came the hitch. It was more like a hitch hike which became necessary after they were pulled over by CHIP, or fondly known as California Highway Interstate Patrol, Just like the on the TV show, CHIP pulled Dad over to check all his documents like drivers license, truck registration, insurance certificate, oh yeah, CDOT transportation of commercial equipment permit which California requires. Whoops. The lack of that little piece of paper moved them out of the truck that CHIP confiscated …

Fishing Fineness Doesn’t Guarantee Success

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 3

Angling is a sport that has a lot to do with knowing some of the basics and being lucky. Maybe at the right place at the right time has a lot of merit or maybe a combination of all three. Knowing basics, right place, right time, and one more doesn’t hurt, being my brother Rick.

In example, Rick has caught a lot of fish over the years. I remember when we were fishing with our Dad and Glen Keith on a day trip to Canyon Lake. Everyone called him Keith down at the Dad’s shop. He was his chief estimator for as long as I could remember. Nobody was catching anything but there were a few, occasional strikes or what appeared to be so. These bits of excitement would help bring everybody’s mind back from day dreaming or sharing stories to the sport of fishing. Rick and I would loose our concentration faster than the adults. We could not just sit there and watch our line for hours at a time, but had to be casting and retrieving our baits constantly.

Nobody was having much luck. We were using waterdogs, worms and artificials like waterdog bombers, broken minnows, rubber worms and anything else Dad and Keith had in their tackle box. Rick was using waterdogs exclusively. The problem he was having was that he was trying to throw them half way across the lake. I think at times they were going that far, but only because they came off of his hook and were free flying. Waterdogs were the most expensive of all the live baits we used. Minnows were next and worms were the cheapest. But Rick loved fishing with the waterdogs. After Rick was exclaiming how far he cast the last dog, Dad told him that that was all he could use as the supply was running low. He stuck his hand in the bait bucket and handed Rick a dead waterdog that had made several trips down to the bottom of the lake on Dad’s hook. It was not only dead, but it was beat up pretty good. As Rick was threading it on his hook, Dad told him that would be his last waterdog to use and not to cast it, but instead, drop it straight over the edge of the boat an leave it there until he told him to reel it in. Rick wasn’t …

Epilogue (use deep voice when reading)

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 2

This is a rough sketch of some of the stories that are forth coming. They have not been completely edited or thoroughly thought-out but they are true. The names are real and only used to persecute the guilty. If your name is included therein, well, that is was you get for enjoying nature with the Wagner’s. For now that’s all. As the late, Former Arizona Governor Williams would say to close out his weekly radio address “It’s another beautiful day! Leave us enjoy it!”…

Creek Side Bonanza

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 2

Dad took Rick and me on a weekend fishing trip to Christopher Creek when we were both in our early teens. I was thirteen Rick was tenteen. At the time, the trout bag limit was ten for an adult license holder and five for each young fisherman under fourteen.

The creek was flowing like a large irrigation ditch and where we camped was fairly straight for about twenty five yards both upstream and down. Beyond that, it was very rugged with boulder and fallen trees creating rapids and pools. The leaves of the few oaks scattered amongst the ponderosa pines started to turn yellowish orange and red now that the night time temperatures of early autumn were dipping below freezing. There were enough leaves that had fallen to make a quiet walk on the creek side trails a little noisy with the shuffling of our PF Flyers as we worked our way up the stream.

Dad taught us early on, how to sneak up on a fishing hole or bend in the creek where the bank may be under cut and the bottom dug out from the summer monsoon floods that violently recreate Arizona’s water ways each season. These are the best locations to find the cunning, wiry, trout. Our goal would be to quietly position ourselves behind some sort of cover just below these choice trout habitats. We would cast our lines upstream as far as we could without getting hung up in the tree branches covering the creek or on the rocks, bushes or grassy areas above the target.

As we would cast our line, we had to be ready to immediately maneuver our lines to keep the slack out allowing us to feel the hint of the strike and then to set the hook before it was rejected out of the trout’s mouth. This split second timing is what makes trout my favorite fish to catch.

After your bait or lure pass the pools there is one more chance to have success. That is in the area just below the pool but above the barrier of rock, fallen tree limbs, trunks or branches harvested and constructed as a dam by the beavers. This water tends to slow down because of its depth created by the restriction. It gives the fisherman time to catch up with the winding of the surplus line and then wait as the slow …

Uncle Pete

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 2

Everyone should have an Uncle Pete, or a relative like my Uncle Pete. My early memories of Uncle Pete are when he would bring his family over for a visit. With his kids similar in age with me and my siblings, made great family visits.

Uncle Pete seemed to always have a project outside of his work, on the burner. He was an auto mechanic and I know he worked as a carpenter on the Glenn Canyon Dam construction project. But I was too young then to understand what exactly he did there. I remember when my Aunt Hilda would take my brother Rick and me and her boys to the Boy’s Club not far from their home. We had great times there. Uncle Pete would be the one to pick us up when it was time to go home. He always had a smile on his face when he would greet us. ·vou boys had a good timer Not waiting for an answer, we would drive off in his old Hudson.

Sometimes just the ride in his car could be a great adventure. Like when my brother Rick wanted to check out what Uncle Pete had in the trunk of the Hudson while we were driving home. He used the hole in the hat shelf behind the back seat that was contained a radio speaker. Well Rick’s head went into the hole all right, but his ears kept him from taking it out. So there we were, driving down the street with Rick’s head in the trunk. It’s a good thing that Uncle Pete didn’t stop quick or hit something. Rick’s head could have stayed in the trunk without the rest of Rick. Pete Rick with the help of his cousins got his ears tucked in tight and he was rescued.

Then there was the time that on the way home from the club, Cousin Jim was sitting in the front passengers seat when Uncle Pete went around a corner. The passenger door flew open and Jim was hanging on to it for dear life with his feet hooked around the front jamb. He was saved when the car completed the corner and swung back closed.

Uncle Pete was way ahead of his time. One afternoon he picked us up about thirty minutes late. As we jumped in the car he told us he had car trouble on the …

Hooked On Fly Fishing

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 2

Fishing for me has been a progression of the various means and ways to get fish out of the water, from a boat or on the shore. I have tried all kinds of baits including worms, salmon eggs, marshmallows, waterdogs, shrimp, stink baits (that’s a story all by itself), dough balls, grubs, corn, baked beans, lunch meats, chewing gum, chicken livers, grasshoppers, crickets, mealy worms, hellgrammites gathered form under rocks at creek side, minnows, crayfish (crawdads), and parts of other fish. I think I have tried them all. But fly fishing is my favorite.

When my brother Rick and I were in our early teens, our Grandfather gave us an old tackle box he acquired with some other junk from a house he purchased. He was more interested in the property for a future retirement home for his church than the buildings on it. The junk he found in a stand alone garage that was filled to the rafters with stuff. The old saying •one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” was again proven correct as my grandfather passed all the junk along to people who would appreciate the treasure. Rick and I were recipients of this old tackle box that was someone’s fly tying kit. To us, it was a treasure. To our Dad, it was junk and he didn’t want to see feathers all over the place. Rick and I fashioned a few flies out of the materials that caught our eye as we probed through the small, brown bags labeled in pencil as to the contents inside. We would clamp a large hook in the kit’s homemade tying vise and started tying. Knowing nothing about the art of tying flies, the products of our imagination looked like something out of an old ·9″ rated, science fiction movie. I could almost imagine the title •Miniature Mutated Birds, with Sharp Stinger On Attack.”

My first real experience with fly fishing was with my friend Mark Tomich. We had been on many fishing and hunting adventures and were both open to any new opportunities to get out of doors. We were planning our next fishing trip when the subject came up about fly fishing. I can’t remember which one of us heard about a class being given by the Arizona Fly Casters Association, but we both agreed to go. It started out as a casting class at one of the …

Practice, Practice, Practice

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 2

It is always good to practice when your are planning to do something new or change the way you have been doing it in the past, to be certain when you come down to actually doing it. you will do your best. Sounds like a Boy Scout motto, •Do Your Best”. Or was that Cub Scouts? By the way, not many people know I was a Boy Scout. Never got out of Tenderfoot, which is an entry level of the Boy Scouts. I lasted less than a month when I found out the only reason the other scouts in my squad just wanted me to join was that they wanted to have the weekly meetings at my house because I had three beautiful sisters, or was it because I could already tie a square knot.

Back to practice. My dad was planning a weekend trip to Oak Creek Canyon. It’s a great place for all types of outdoor activities like camping, hiking, rock climbing and fishing, my favorite. I had just purchased a new ultra light fishing rod & reel that was going to change my old habits of fishing with the so called garbage baits like cheese, salmon eggs, worms, marshmallows and corn. Almost sounds good to eat, except for the salmon eggs and worms. As a matter of fact, I remember times when would be out fishing for trout and getting a little hungry, we would cut off a piece of the Velveeta Cheese and pop it into our mouth or smelling the kernels of canned corn and couldn’t resist a small hand full for a snack. Anybody can usually catch fish using these baits in the process I called •Garbage Fishing”. My Dad and brothers did it for years along with using different fishing lures. I always did enjoy fishing lures the best. So I decided to go the ultra light, spinner bait route and wean myself off the garbage bates. The theory was that it takes more skill to land a fish, after selecting the right lure, casting at the right place and retrieving the lure at it’s correct speed for the right action and then setting the hook with the right pressure at the instant you detect the strike and then using the flex of the rod. the correct drag of your reel and finally your own knowledge f habits of the fish when hooked. …

Canyon Creek Adventures

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 2

Canyon Creek, a real fisherman’s paradise, originates at a spring in one of the many canyons that, when viewed on a topographical map, resembles a ten toed dog paw print in the mud made by a giant canine. The top of the rim is at 7600 feet above sea level and the sheer, solid rock walls drop 1000 feet to their base, in other words, straight down.

The trick is to get down to the creek below when considering that you are only three miles away from your destination, that is, as the crow flies. With the help of the Valentine Ridge’s gradual decline, we near the edge of the rim, where there is a sharp, hairpin curve and then down we go. This dirt road is in pretty good shape most of the year, but becomes a little ragged during heavy rain and snow storms. The view out the cars passenger window, you find yourself looking down on the top of forty foot pine trees that appear to be forming a natural guard rail should your vehicle suddenly leave the roadway.

Canyon Creek’s spring water is supplemented by rain storm run off and snow melt along with additional similar creeks increasing its flow. With this pure, cold spring water supply, it was chosen as a perfect environment for a trout fish hatchery at it origination. The fish hatchery was built at what is called Upper Canyon Creek. Nestled at the base of the Mogollon Rim, it makes for a picturesque backdrop for camping, hunting, hiking and most importantly, fishing.

My first trip to Canyon Creek was with my wife Carol, son Jeremy and nephew Brad. We were traveling in our 1990 Mazda 929 which is another story for another time. In a nut shell, it was totaled, purchased at an auction, repaired and then sold to me by our friend George. It was a great, luxury road car in its prime with the engine in front and real wheel drive. It was a real comfortable ride all the way to the Young road turnoff. This was where the pavement ends and the bumpy, dusty dirt road begins. Just before the descent from the top of the rim down to Young Arizona, we turned due east and follow the small road cut through the pines on the top of Valentine Ridge. At the end of the ridge, we make the …

Getting There Is Not Always Half the Fun!

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 2

In 1966 my Dad was pulling our boat to Roosevelt with his new Jeep Wagnoneer. It wasn’t quite brand new, but a 1965 demonstrator model he bought with only 13,000 miles on it. It was a great car for towing the boat with its 327 cubic inch, V8 motor and three speed automatic transmission. We turned off the Bee Line Highway onto a familiar dirt road that led to the lake. It was a downhill grade from the highway for the first five miles. The drop in that distance in about 1,000 feet which was gradual most of the way except one big drop off at the base of Baker Mountain. That is where the road becomes extremely rutted due to the •wash boarding• effect caused by the rain water falling on a road surface and washing the dirt away in little rivulets ( my word for mini rivers) running parallel to each other, perpendicular to the roadway. Besides the bumpy ride, the tires of the car and trailer if you are towing one start jumping up and down and actually leaving the road surface on the up motion. Then you lose steering control of the car as it slips sideways. If you a pulling a trailer, it tries to pass you in a maneuver called “Jackknifing”. To prevent all these bad things from happening, you best slow down to a speed that you feel you can control the car at. Sometimes the wash board sneaks up suddenly and you don’t have a chance to slow down. Dad was going about twenty-five to thirty miles an hour when suddenly we hit the wash board. Looking out the drivers side, back window we saw a boat just like ours trying to pass us. Dad had two choices. One was to let the car slide in the jack knifed position off of the roadway and down the steep embankment until it came to rest on its own accord or to drag the side of the car the opposite side of the road where the mountain was cut away leaving a rocky sheer wall. Well, he chose dragging the mountain but it took two time hits to get the car and trailer straightened out. The good news was that we were still on the road. The bad news was that the back fender of the Wagnoneer was completely creamed. Dad didn’t let this …

Sometimes You Can Catch More Than Just Fish

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 2

Another one of fishing experiences that Dad had to endure happened on Lake Pleasant in 1966. Dad, Rick and I were fishing the shore lines for bass or anything else that would take our lures. This time, we all were using a newly introduced lure that mimicked a large minnow, a favorite bass food. It was called a Reppela and made in Sweden out of a light wood painted with glossy minnow colors & patterns, a plastic water wing attached to the front underside to make it dive deep and two sets of treble hooks, one in front behind the wing and one in the back at its tail.

We would cast this lure up toward the shore line where it would float until you started to retrieve it. The water wing would send it down like a submarine with the shape of its body making it wiggle like a live minnow. Being so light, it would take a lively whip of the fishing rod with good wrist action to get it to sail through the air for the maximum distance. That is how it is supposed to work in theory.

My brother Rick had another theory. If he could swing his rod back and then use his arm and body strength to project this lure through the air, then he would cast it much farther than using the finesse of rod and wrist action. The only problem with his method is it is a little out of control. If you were in a boat by yourself, this wouldn’t be that much of a problem. When you are in a boat with two other fishermen, look out. Well, I didn’t look out. Rick reared back on his rod and let it rip. The double trebled hooked, hand crafted in Sweden, lure caught me it the forehead with one of its back treble hook barbs. Rick kept trying to cast and couldn’t figure why his rod wasn’t coming forward. He looked back to see what he was snagged on and saw me grabbing the Reppela and trying to pull it out with both hands. Nothing doing, I was hooked good and wasn’t going to get away. Dad stopped me from pulling so he could assess the situation. He tried backing the hook out with his fingers, but the hook was planted pretty deep and barb on the end of the hook …

Lake Powell Adventures & Misadventures

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 2

One of my Dad’s favorite places to fish was Lake Powell. My brother Rick and I used to accompany him on long weekends to that beautiful lake. Glen Keith from Dad’s office would also come join us. You might recall, he had a problem with night vision. When the sun would start going down, he would have to use a flash light to get around. Something about the rods and cones not right.

I remember when they first started filling it up after they completed the Glenn Canyon Dam in 1963. We would put our boat in at the Wahweap Marina and cruise for miles to find a place where we could actually get out and explore or just for shore leave if you know what I mean. Its sheer canyon wall rose 1000 feet straight up. To find a place to camp on the lake was a challenge in itself.

These early trips to Lake Powell were fishing bonanzas. We all were required to have not only an Arizona fishing license, but also a Utah license because much of Lake Powell was located in Utah. The big advantage for us was with two licenses we were each catch two limits of trout and bass. We were mostly fishing for trout and but there was an abundance of both fishes. Trout were found in the deep, colder water while the bass preferred the warmer, shallower waters.

We enjoyed setting up camp in the brand new camping area near the Wahweap Marina. There wasn’t much shade yet, but the newly planted trees gave promise for future camping. But the sparking clean restrooms were most appreciated.

Our favorite fishing spot was up near the Glenn Canyon Dam. We would spend much of the day trolling at the base of the sheer canyon walls until we came to the floatation barrier that keeps boaters away from the dam’s face which could be a dangerous place at times. At that point we would drift in these deeper waters and allow our lures and baits sink lower until we catch something. Then we would try to find the same level again.

On this trip we had one of Dad’s company’s electronic thermometers us plus Keith’s fish locator that he made from a “do it yourself” electrical kit by “Heathkit” It was a mail order house that put together kits for TVs Stereos, short wave radios, …

Hell’s Gate

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 2

In the summer of 1963, my dad planned a fishing trip to Hell’s Gate located at the confluence of Tonto and Haigler Creeks. Both of these creeks cut through steep canyon walls and form pools that are ideal habitat for trout. It is a tough hike but made more difficult carrying camping and fishing gear on your back.

Joining the party was his business partner, Bud Burnett, his long time employee, hunting & fishing partner, Joe Savatone, and me, a young high school kid looking for adventure. We planned that trip weeks before departure. Back packing equipment was not readily available so we improvised the best we could with what we had. Much of it was army surplus and our standard camping gear including a two burner Coleman stove, lantern, and our combination camp kit with four complete table settings, two pans, one skillet, coffee pot and all of the interchangeable handles. We had visquene plastic for ground cover or protection if we had inclement weather. One backpack was dedicated to food and kept cold by the frozen steaks reserved for the last night’s meal. Other foods were your standard canned foods like beans. corn, peas, spam, soups, coffee, hot chocolate, soda pop and beer. Breakfast foods were breads, rolls, carefully packed eggs, frozen bacon and fresh fruits like apples and oranges. Fritos and Oreo cookies were in plentiful supply because of their tight mass and pack ability. A lot of taste in such a small morsel. Our noon meal staple, lunch meat wasn’t frozen but would be kept cold by the steaks and bacon. Dad found two simple back pack frames for us at the Yates Army Navy Surplus store. We attached some old army packs on them and then lashed everything else with nylon cord. On top of the pack we secured our sleeping bags. We would wear our heavy jackets to help cushion the bumps and ridges of the gear and besides, there was no other place to put them. We all were loaded to the hilt.

Bud drove his own car and brought his Bassett Hound along. He was going to head back to town a day early. Joe came along with us in dad’s sport utility vehicle, a 1962 Chevy station wagon. Since 1954 his cars were always station wagons.

We met at 7:00 AM at the Knotty Pine Restaurant in Payson were we all …

Lake Pleasant or Unpleasant Lake

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 2

In the summer of 1962 my dad encouraged me to sign up for a Maricopa County Youth Work Program as a summer job. The county would randomly pick several hundred young men to work somewhere in the county park system over the summer in work sessions of four weeks for each youth. I was lucky enough to be drawn along with thirty other young men to work on Lake Pleasant for our session. They would have several other groups working one month intervals at different locations during the summer break from school.

This was my first real job other than mowing lawns, making label tags for my dad’s air conditioning company, or chopping weeds and sweeping floors and other chores at Dad & Mom’s industrial property in South Phoenix.

My five day a week work detail started the first week of July. My father would drop me off at Central High School in Phoenix at 6:45 AM each work day. With a sack lunch in hand, work gloves in one back pocket and a blue, cowboy type bandana in the other, I would board a school buss with the other young men along with our straw bosses who were about a year older and had worked the summer before as rookies and were invited back this year to supervise the new recruits. We also had two adult leaders and a bus driver. At 7:00 AM sharp we were off. If you were late, you would have to have your family take you to the lake or you missed out on a day’s work. I don’t recall anyone being late.

We would arrive at the Lower Lake Pleasant camp ground close to 8:00 AM. There was a snack stand with picnic tables near by that they used for headquarters. We didn’t have snack bar privileges before 12:00 noon each day. Our job was to extend the existing campground into an area that was adjacent to the lake but overgrown with underbrush and a wild mesquite forest. You could barely see through this tangled straw and twig fortress. One of our adult leaders was my P.E. coach from my former grade school. Unfortunately he recognized me and acknowledged that fact by calling out •How are you doing Wagner? You will help man the wheel barrels along with you, you, you, you and John; pointing at five other boys. Next he picked out …

Arizona Boy Fishing In Florida

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 2

When I was in second grade, my family made a cross country vacation to the town where my Dad was raised, Dunedin, Florida, just north of Clearwater. What a long ride that was even in the new 1954 Ford Station Wagon with a forced air, evaporative cooler mounted on top of the front passenger’s windowM. y mother was in control of the temperature regulator. No, it wasn’t a thermostat. It was a rope that, when pulled, rotated a spring loaded cylinder filled with an absorbent material that rotated into a built in basin of water. With the absorbent materials soaked with water, the cord was released and the spring would return the cylinder into a position that allowed the forced air provided by the cars forward motion, to evaporate the water creating a cool breeze that would flow through to the passengers. It worked until we hit Texas and then it seamed the hot, humid air stayed with us all the way to Florida making the evaporative cooler not as effective.

Visiting with Dad’s family was OK and staying in a motel on the beach was nice, but I enjoyed fishing the best.

My Dad took me and an old friend of his out into the Gulf of Mexico. Since we were already on the ocean shoreline it would take only a half an hour to get to the marina. It started out as a bright, sunny day. The little boat we rented had two oars, one concrete coffee can on a rope for an anchor, two small coffee empty coffee cans and a small, red gas tank connected to the outboard motor mounted on the back of the boat. I sat in the front seat, my Dad sat in the middle and the old man sat in the back and was going to pilot us to the fish. This was my first experience fishing on the ocean. We headed to some sort of concrete wall up against a bank of dirt or sand. I’m not sure of its function, but Dad’s friend said he catches a lot of fish there, but they were small ones. We stayed there for a short time and then headed out to sea. I looked back at Dad and the old man and saw that they were intently looking straight ahead, kind of like leaning forward to make the small boat go faster. The …

There’s No Age Limit On Fishing

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 2

Angling has been around since God first made the earth, splashed on some water, threw a few fish in it and then created mammals, birds and man. We here in the US of A call it fishing. It seamed logical to me that since God covered two thirds of the earth with water, we are to spend two thirds of the time we have here fishing. I haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet, but since my early years, I have been programmed to get to some body of water to fish every chance I get. Sometimes it is at great cost and peril.

My first fishing experience came in the early 1950’s, when my Dad and Mom would take our family to Encanto Park in Downtown Phoenix on Labor Day. Mom would pack a picnic lunch that she would serve on a large blanket under a shade tree. There would be entertainment at the old band shell and periodic announcements about the traditional fishing contest in the lagoon, how to enter, categories of the contest like biggest fish, littlest fish, etc., and description of the prizes. They had prizes galore! One traditional prize was a new bicycle plus fishing gear and stuff like that.

The Encanto Lagoon was originally created as a dual purpose resource. It made great recreational water for canoeing, fishing or just strolling on the dirt paths on each side of the lagoon. What many people didn’t know was that it served as part of the air conditioning system for Saint Josephs Hospital. For all air conditioning systems to work there has to be some method to reject heat. On small air conditioning units, it is an outdoor coil with a fan blowing through it. On large buildings it would sometimes be a cooling tower with water pumped up to a distributor where the water cascades over louvers with a blower increasing evaporation which cools the water by rejecting heat created during the refrigeration process. Refrigeration is the process of taking heat out of something and putting it somewhere else. In this case Encanto Lagoon was used to reject the heat. It’s water was sucked into the hospitals equipment room through a large underground piping system, where it cycled though a heat exchanger that would increase the water temperature twenty to thirty degrees and then it would be sent back to the lagoon where …

Epilogue (use deep voice when reading)

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

This is a rough sketch of some of the stories that are forth coming. They have not been completely edited or thoroughly thought-out but they are true. The names are real and only used to persecute the guilty. If your name is included therein, well, that is was you get for enjoying nature with the Wagner’s. For now that’s all. As the late, Former Arizona Governor Williams would say to close out his weekly radio address “It’s another beautiful day! Leave us enjoy it!”…

Black River—Black Bears

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

The Wagner Boy’s annual camping trip has been held for several years on the Black River on the border Fort Apache and San Carlos Indian Reservations. This area is very rocky, high desert. The main camping area had a lot of shade supplied by cedars, mesquite and some cottonwood trees and was well maintained but had no facilities. The road to the camping area is fairly rough but can be negotiated with passenger cars to a point just before the last camping area. A four wheel drive vehicle was required to get over the last embankment unless you didn’t mind taking a higher speed run at it a time or two. This camping spot has a unique location just above the confluence of the Black and White Rivers which then becomes the Salt River that in turn, runs through the Salt River Canyon. Both of these rivers originate high in the White Mountains. Coming from State Route 79, you pick up the turnoff half way between Cedar Creek and Canyon Day.

Jeff, Phil, Robert, Jim, Nichole, and Jason had arrived the night before we did. They had timed their arrival to be at one minute after midnight so they would not be violating their camping permit. I had to work all day Thursday, so Jeremy headed down Thursday night. We had special instructions from Phil on exactly where to find there camp. I mistranslated the part about coming to a big tree by the road and turned off the main road a little too soon. We found an area a little more primitive than their site but we were the only ones there. Jeremy and I pulled in about 10:00 PM. We towed the canoe trailer with Carol’s Explorer. That last embankment was too difficult to negotiate with the trailer, so our spot was the best spot for us. We pulled up to the edge of the river on a sandy beach. On one side we had a small hill that was solid rock. On the other side we had a stretch of sand, some large shade trees and a rock face of a small mountain. This beach area we were in would best be described as a wash. I’m glade we had a clear weather report.

Most of our camping and fishing gear was stored on the trailer along with two mountain bikes. Our clothes, ice chest and sleeping …

Hot Time in Oak Creek

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

In the late fifties, Oak Creek Canyon was the major route to Flagstaff from Phoenix. This was when Oak Creek was a fisherman’s paradise.

One weekend Dad loaded my Brother Rick and me in his 1959, Chevy Station Wagon. This was Dad’s sport utility vehicle and we had taken it everywhere. It did not have air conditioning, four wheel drive, or all terrain tires, but it did have a luggage rack.

Being the major truck route to Flagstaff made this little, winding highway fairly busy all night long. At that time there weren’t many campgrounds in the Canyon. Most fishermen would take their spot on the narrow pullout that were sized to fit two to three cars at a time. There were little trails along the roadway leading down to creek banks some thirty to fifty feet below. Most of the fishermen would spend the day at creek side and then head back to the town of Oak Creek to spend the night in a small, rented cabin. But with Dad’s SUV we could spend the night right there and be up as the sun rises to hit the creek for the best trout fishing of the day.

The sleeping arrangement for the three of us was easy. Dad and I would stretch out in the back of the wagon, while Rick would lie on the front seat. His four foot frame fit there just right.

Cooking was all done on the tail gate and the dining area was the closet larger boulder you could find. Dad would leave the camp gear out during the night and move it in the back of the car during the day. On this Friday night, we finished our bologna sandwich dinner complete with Clover Club Potato Chips, root beer and Coors beer to drink. Rick and I had the root beer.

Dad fired up the Coleman lantern to give us a little light to help get the camp kitchen was squared away and he would use it to throw a little heat in the car, with the window all cracked open, of course. We all stripped down to our skivvies and climbed into the sleeping bags. Dad was shutting down the lantern as it was hanging on the coat hook. We watched the bright mantel do its familiar dance in concert to the distinctive hissing sound of the pressurized gas. The light would …

Hunting or Hunted in Cherry Creek

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

It was a beautiful October afternoon when we arrived at Cherry Creek area which is located about tens miles west of the 260 and nestled between the Verde Valley and the Black Hills. Cherry was another five miles down the road. At an elevation of 6,000 feet, we were in the cedars with a few cacti scattered around and only a few pines could be seen higher on the surrounding hills. We pulled up to a spot in this high desert paradise that would make a perfect campsite for the next three days. With the purple and black mountains surrounding us, it was spectacular. My Dad, Brother Rick and I were anxious to do some serious mule deer hunting. This area was chosen after Dad heard some favorable scouting reports from the boys at the shop.

We pitched the tent in a fairly flat area away from any washes as we were expecting a little weather that weekend. The soil was rocky, making the digging of a drainage trench around the tent a little tougher that usual but it was necessary if you want to keep your gear dry.

After camp was set up, we had just enough time to take a short hike to the west to see if we can kick up any deer. We had a little breeze blowing in our faces which makes a perfect condition for sneaking up on deer or any other big game animal. We decided to follow the continuation of the dirt road that we came in on as it was going in the right direction and the walking was easy. A mile down the road we hit a •T” intersection at what is called the Western Trail. We kick up a cottontail rabbit and a covey of quail, but no deer so far. We hiked north for a half a mile and the back east to the camp. That nice two mile walk will helped to get us limbered up for Saturdays hunt.

Back at the camp, we got everything situated and Dad started cooking dinner using the camp kitchen he designed and fabricated. In two equal sized aluminum chests, he put all of his cooking equipment, food and lantern and the other was a very large ice chest with several compartments to separate the various types of food. Dinty Moore Stew was always a favorite with dinner rolls. After dinner, …

Inaugural Vacation

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

My very first trip to the White Mountains came in the early 1950’s when Wagner Family only numbered five. This is the first family vacation I remember and it was spent in Lakeside, Arizona. I remember the trip there took forever. After leaving Phoenix, it seemed like we drove for a half a day through the desert when Dad said announced •well there’s Mesa”. After Mesa we had another long ride but I don’t remember the detai Is. I must not have been looking out the window. It was hot and we didn’t have air conditioning back then.

I do remember when we went through the tunnel at Queen Creek. It must have been the start of the •blowing of the horn” tradition that carved this experience into my memory. The only part of this inaugural trip to the White Mountains was the construction of the road going through the massive Salt River Canyon. This must have been when they were widening the road from two skinny lanes to two a little larger than skinny lands or maybe just adding guard rails. All I knew is that the traffic was backed up for what seemed like hours. That is when heard our first “Rickyism”. •Dad, why are we going so slowly? I can go faster on my tricyclel” or something like that. But we finally arrive. I wasn’t sure what country we were in, but it was green, cool and a neat place to be with tall trees.

Dad and Mom rented a little cabin which was one of four lined up perpendicular to the main road. It was a common arrangement of motel cabinets. This one had a small creek behind the property with several small pools providing a wet, great recreational playground for us kids. (I don’t think we knew it back then, but this was Billy Creek. Billy Creek is crossed every time you turn off of Buck Springs Road, which is the road heading back to Pine Top Lakes, to get to Sky Hi Road. The water going under the first culverts is Billy Creek). We didn’t spend much time inside this cabin so I don’t recall much detail. It may have only been a two room structure with one room being the bathroom and the other a kitchen/dinning/ living/ bedroom combination.

Everyday all the kids in the area met early at the ponds edge and …

In Search of Bog Tank

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

In the summer of 1968, my buddy, Bob Staich and I had been planning a trip to the White Mountains for a weekend of camping and fishing. We had heard about a back way to get to Show Low through Payson and up on top the Mogollon through the Heber/Overgaard area where State Route 260 transitioned to a graveled for est road. So this promised to be a great back road adventure. We loaded my brand new, 1968 Volkswagen Bug and headed for the hills.

It was a great day for traveling with a few, light clouds in Phoenix just as predicted on the weather forecast along with possible scattered rain showers forecasted for higher elevations. It was about time of year for the annual monsoons to move into the state. The Saturday morning traffic was light all the way to Overgaard. We both had Monday off, so we weren’t in a hurry which allowed us to enjoy the deep forest of Arizona.

Just as the pavement turned to gravel there was a dark cloud hovering overhead that greeted us with a flash of lightning followed directly by a clap of thunder. A few drops of rain sprinkled do that felt refreshing through the open sunroof, but then suddenly the clouds opened up and dumped torrents of rain on us. So much for the open sunroof. We battened down the hatches, so to speak, and plowed forward. Plowed meant more that just pressing forward on a very muddy road. The tires were actually pushing mud aside and leaving our tracks behind as the rain was still falling. One major benefit of the VW Bugs, besides the great gas mileage, was the placement of the engine over the rear wheels. This weight pushing down on the wheels gave it good traction which allowed us to zip through the muddy mush. We did do a lot of slipping and sliding but under some degree of control. It was great fun even though I saw in my rear view mirror the reddish brown mud that was splattered on the sides of my new VW, eclipsing the beautiful British Racing Green color. A good car wash would unearth that Beetle soon enough, so we didn’t hesitate to continue down the muddy forest road through the little towns of Clay Springs, Pinedale Linden, and finally to break out on pavement when we intersected US 60 …

Hunting the Kaibab

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

Hunting the Kaibab North of the Grand Canon lays the Kaibab Plateau. To get there from Phoenix you head due north to Flagstaff, make a little jog to the east and then due north almost to Page, Arizona. The stretch from Phoenix to Flagstaff is very scenic and the view changes every fifteen minutes. You’re running flat through the desert with cacti and desert scrub brush as far as the eye can see, then suddenly you’re surrounded by mountains formed from extinct volcanoes. Then you are winding though steep mountain roods with sharp curves, and canyons to the left and then to the right, until you drop down to Camp Verde, crossing the Verde River see the giant cottonwood trees and the salt cedars. The air was permeated with fishy or musty smell of desert rivers. Not far from the river banks little farms of the Verde Valley hod flourish by growing all kinds of vegetables including great sweet corn. Cortez Junction was next, where you could turn and head West to Prescott and the little farming and ranching towns like Mayor or Dewy. But we continued heading north and found level, open grass lands where the deer and the antelope play. The buffalo are not roaming here, but they are up around Page, about three hours away. As the roadway starts climbing again, we are seeing and smelling cedars and juniper trees and can catch a little fragrance from their berries. All of scenery gives way white powder rock formations near the ancient Indian ruins of Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well. There are cliff dwellings and a National Park that are very interesting to see and learn about how the Indians learned to cope and flourish in a hostile wilderness as this.

Two miles down the road we find ourselves in ponderosa pines and can see the Red Rock Country of Sedona and Oak Creek beyond. There are many fishing stories I could tell about Oak Creek Canyon, but they are for another time. Right now we are climbing up to Flagstaff that sits 6 ,906 feet about sea level. We can see Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona at an elevation of 12,643 feet. We then take I 40 four miles to the northeast and the head due north again toward Page.

Just outside of Flagstaff as you leave the cool pine forest, you hit rolling sandy …

Fishing Big Lake

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

One summer weekend, many years ago, I went fishing with my Dad and brother Rick to the largest lake in the White Mountains, Big Lake. It was early Saturday morning when we left the cabin with the boat and trailer in tow. We went through the reservation fishing and boating permit routine at the Honda convenience store. The Indians have a permit for everything. And yes, we picked up a few snacks to add to our food supply for the day. Dad always planed menus that fit these occasions which usually consisted of all the components required to construct salami sandwiches with accessories like Fritos Corn Chips, pop for the boys, Oreo Cookies and Coors beer. Apples and Oreos were a great combination for anytime snacks. Those tailgate or boat seat lunches and snacks were great.

The thirty mile drive from the store to the turnoff was as spectacular as usual, with the green shades of summer at every turn. The only breaks in the green were the blue waters of• A-1″ and Horseshoe Cienega Lakes and the lily white, vertical trunks of the Aspens just before you top out and enter the grass meadows at the base of the actual •white Mountains”. Many people call the pine country from Heber / Overgaard to Show Low area part of the White Mountains, but it isn’t. Show Low is known as the gateway to the White Mountains and rightly so, you can see them from there and in the winter months, they usually are white with snow. There are several mountains in the White Mountain Range and the highest being Mount Baldy.

The road from the turnoff to Big Lake is a typical forest road with a good gravel base with the traditional washboard ruts and pot holes that keep the driver alert and the passengers awake. Rick & I used to dose off from time to time, but that wasn’t due to the boredom of the drive. We stayed up too late the night before.

After the forty-five minute ride to Big Lake, we backed the boat trailer to the waters edge . We were now eager to get the boat in the water and start fishing. We untied the hold down springs attached to the stern, attached a rope to the bow of the boat, hooked up the motor and set the ores in ore locks. Dad backed the …

Snow Flying High

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

My son Jeremy and I planned a trip to the cabin on a weekend that started out normal with the winter months not far ahead. It would be a great time to do a little trout fishing now that the water temperatures are cooler which brings the trout up closer to the surface. They are also a little friskier and aggressive in taking baits. On this trip we pulled the canoe trailer with our 1987 Nissan Maxima. I loved that car and appreciated all the service it gave our family over the years. Carol drove it for several years and then passed it along to Chad. He liked it so much he bought it and took it to San Diego and then up to San Francisco in a job change. In San Francisco he learned how unnecessary a car was, so he sold it back to me. But this trip has Jeremy behind the wheel with a fresh, learners driving permit in his pocket. We decided to head up through Globe/Miami area and through the Salt River Canyon. This is a little shorter and quicker route than going up through Payson.

Jeremy was probably a little comprehensive on his first road trip and having the trailer in tow was a little unique for first time cross country traveler. But there we went, heading east to Apache Junction then south to Florence Junction and then east again on the winding mountain road to the mining towns of Superior, Miami, Claypool and Globe. Jeremy was doing great and did not need much instruction. Passing semi tractor trailer rigs were a little tense for me, but J J handled it well. The sun had set by the time we traveled over the Queen Creek Steel Trestle Bridge and through the tunnel. He had to continue the traditional “blowing the horn” ritual in chorus with other motorists. Why do we do that? Well anyway, we popped out of the tunnel into spectacular Devils Canyon. It was dark but you could see the bottom of the rock spires in the headlights as we swept around the curves running parallel to the creek bed below.

After a short stop in Globe, we headed east toward the Salt River Canyon. In the night time, the Canyon looses its vastness and the sheer cliffs that drop as much as 1,000 ft. to the river are not as intimidating …

Cross Country Fishing?

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

Many years ago my brother Phil heard about a place to fish that was deep in forest and without any trails to lead the way. He picked a parking spot along the dirt road heading to Big Lake. We were in the middle of a grass covered meadow where in the past we could spot a heard of elk moving out of the nearby ponderosas or antelope in the safety of the open meadow. Armed our fishing gear, we headed due west through the tall grass. It was late in the afternoon on a warm summer day. At an elevation of 9,000 ft. above sea level, warm was in the low 70’s. We could see what appeared to be short pines ahead with taller pines that appeared to be marching up the mountain slope behind. Short pines were very uncharacteristic for this higher elevation. As we reached them we realized that we were seeing only the tops of giant ponderosas, firmly planted on the rocky slope dropping down 300 ft. to the blue ribbon of water below. “We’re going down there?” was the big question on everybody’s mind but not lips. We were real macho fisherman with no fear! Gulp! As we slid or I should say traversed down to the bottom of this gorge cutting through the earths crust, we discovered a large pool of cool, clear water.

The sun was sinking fast now and we were down in the depths of this canyon. Without wasting any time we rigged our fishing poles and started the casting and retrieval of our individual lures and baits. Mine was a Size Ought (zero) Gold Mepps spinner secured to the two pound test line on my wife’s Garcia Ultra Light rod and Mitchell 408 open faced spinning reel. Sounds like a lot of detai I, but this was my favorite rod & reel for fifteen years. I gave this rig to my wife shortly after we were married and it is know on loan to me for this trip. That is also about the same time I quit catching fish using the next heavier duty rod & reel. But for now I have my wife’s ultra light rig using very lightest test line on ultra light fishing poles, making the landing of a trophy fish an effort of skill and some degree of luck. It has been years that I was doing …

The Wind Beneath My Wings

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

There is a Bible verse that many love to quote, especially my wife Carol. It is found in Palms 40:41 “They would soar on the wind like eagles” and then you have the song “You are the wind beneath my wings.” I have always been fascinated by the sight of eagles and amazed by the fact that because of their enormous size they would not be able to survive without the wind currents. Fortunately we have natural wind currents throughout Arizona and that eagles, along with other species of the raptor family, take advantage of this great habitat. We find them wintering over the desert and summering in the highest mountains, following the breezes that provides the lift to carry them to hunt rivers, lakes and streams for their prey that will satisfy the ferocious appetite. The king of our states raptor family is the Bald Eagle. With its white head and tail feathers contrasting with the black fuselage and powerful yellow beak and legs armed with sharp and powerful talons. It is in magnificent display whether gliding the currents or perched on a naked branch in the highest tree or jagged rock outcropping. Words cannot capture this vision; one must see for thy self.…

Hiking to the Grail Tanks (Uphill both ways.)

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

It was another cold and wintry day. After a good mornings work, sons, Chad, Jeremy, and I decided to take a break and go for a little hike. The daytime temperature was rapidly climbing into the forties. That’s good when you compare it to the temperatures the night before. Inside the cabin the back room where the boys slept was probably in the 65 degree range. Where I was sleeping near the front glass wall was in the low thirties with the outside temperature in the low twenties. It was cold but can get a lot colder up hear in the “White Mountains.”

We decided to head over to the old railroad track bed and explore the forest to the west. It has been almost twenty years since the Indians decided they did not want the sight seeing train traveling on the Indian reservation anymore, so they demanded the removal of the train track and all the trestle bridges on the route. Originally the train was used to haul timber to the lumber mill at McNary and then lumber to distribution centers throughout the eastern and northern Arizona. It also was used by the cattle industry to move the cattle to lower elevations after the fall round up. That is another story for another time. It is about Cowboys and Indians except rather than fighting each other as depicted in the Westerns, they are working together and actually the Indians are Cowboys too. Its final use was the old sightseeing train powered by a steam fired locomotive. It that would pickup passengers in McNary and make a round trip through the pines, aspens, oaks, junipers, meadows and around the mountains. There were also adventure stories for the passengers and of course, a hold up pulled off by bandits dressed in the western garb and handkerchief mask. Boy, did I get sidetracked {pun intended). My train of thought is having trouble getting out of the station. I better get back on track before I run out of steam. So to get back on track, let me see, oh yes, we were heading west to the RR bed. This bed of cinders is now us used by hikers, dogs, horseback riders, bikers, ATV enthusiasts and wild game. We prefer seeing the later. When you hit the RR bed, you can head south toward Pine Top Lakes which is about three miles or …

Lake Mountain Lookout or “Look Outl”

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

One summer morning while the air was still cool, Carol and I decided to take another little hike behind the cabin. We grabbed our binoculars and headed out. I am notorious for finding wild animal droppings and kicking them around with my foot or smashing it with a stick or stone. In hunting, we call this “looking for sign”. In other words “poop”.

The summer flowers are in their splendor. Red, purple, white, orange, yellow and shades in between. Butterflies, grass hoppers, blue birds, squirrels, chipmunks and other creatures not as easily seen are all darting around the forest.

My quest for fresh sign (poop) was not going well. I explained to Carol that many times we find the big game we are looking for in an area where there are no fresh poops, I mean sign around and sometimes when there is fresh sign around we do not find the game. She said that was a line of sign (poop). Anyway, we are enjoying our hike and all of God’s creation around us.

•stop, don’t move! Look over there! Wow!” There stood a large bull elk standing sideways to us. The sun was still low in the sky to the east of us and shinning directly on this magnificent beast. “Who is full of poop now, huh?” The rays were glistening off of it enormous rack and with its tuff around its neck looked like a classic pose in Field & Stream Magazine. What a sight and thrill. We watched as it trotted over the ridge after it caught our sent. They don’t smell that great either. We looped around in a direction that might give us another glimpse but without success. But that was great! See what you can kick up if you don’t take your camera.That afternoon we went on another adventure. This trip was to Lake Mountain Lookout. This is a mountain about thirteen miles to the east of the cabin on yet another primitive road. The scenery was great and also changes as you wind around, up and down this mountain road.

As we pulled up to the access road to the top of the mountain we discover that the gate is locked. There is a lookout tower at the very top and we suspect that you can see all the lakes that dot the White Mountains from that tower thus the name Lake Mountain.…

Critters Have To Eat Too!

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

Chad, Jeremy and I loved to fire up the barbecue on Saturday night after a hard days work. The day was very productive. We were popping out the bathroom to make this little shelter more civilized and upgrading it from a fish’n cabin, Dad’s original plan when he moved it here from Goodyear, Arizona some thirty-five years ago, to a cozy cabin with a modern bathroom and toilet. Carol and I doubled the size of the bathroom some twenty years ago when we extended a sheet rock wall and installed a larger 32″ wide door. We taped the sheet rock hoping that overtime someone else would be inspired to texture and paint it out. But that never happen. It was good enough and not broke, so there it was . The modern bathroom has a glass shower that replaced what the Wagner Boys used to call the ductwork shower as it was metal but very small. The sink that helped throw-out Brother Jeff’s back and created a few bumps on various heads is now a nice large vanity and sink. Boy, did I get side tracked. I was talking about BBQ.

So after a hard days work, we were looking forward to •tiring up the bar-b”, which I understand is not what they say in Australia as per popular belief. This night it was to be filet mignon with baked potato with sour cream, Caesar Salad, and sourdough garlic bread. What a treat! When the charcoals were ready and the grille positioned to take advantage of the bright back porch light to check the progress of the cooking, I sat out all the required cooking utensils, which was only a small dinner fork to turn the meat, plate and steak knife to check its progress as we didn’t have the official BBQ tool set. So while I was cooking away, Chad & Jeremy stepped out of the cabin to check the process and to give me advice. They suddenly yelled •Dad, Watch Out!” As I the flood of the light was a masked intruder. With teeth bared and fierce eyes, a giant raccoon was encroaching in on my outdoor kitchen. Grabbing a near by walking stick, I headed off the initial attack. No creature was going to rob me out of our main course, well any creature this size or smaller (excluding skunks). The local, larger creatures that could cheat …

Desert Adventures and Discoveries

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

After replacing all the camping gear with desert travel (survival) gear (mostly water), we packed everybody in the trusty 1977 Chevy Suburban. Being a nine passenger vehicle with dual air conditioning, we could all travel comfortably.

Our destination was to find saguaros and scorpions, which was relatively easy here in the desert, sometime too easy. The best place to find these and other desert displays was to head straight to the towns of Cave Creek and Carefree.

In Cave Creek, we parked on what used to be my Great Uncle Casper’s property near the base of Black Mountain. There was a smaller mountain that he owned we called Casper’s Mountain. He owned several properties in the surrounding cacti covered hills. We climbed Casper’s Mountain using the road the he had spent years bull dozing through rock and cactus. On his death bed, he would tell visitors to look at the rock on his the bed stand. He said that was his life, moving rocks. It wasn’t negative, but more of a glimpse of how much he loved the desert. He loved having family out at Cave Creek for picnics which consisted of bone fires, hot dogs with all the trimmings, roasted marshmallows, hot chocolate, and all the other fixings.

We were successful in finding the saguaros and scorpions, but had to leave them behind. We did manage to stop at a gift store where Mark and Richard found plastic encapsulated scorpions. Mark had picked out a bolo tie with a small scorpion and Richard chose a paper weight with a large scorpion. They are amazing creatures.

Another desert adventure was a trip to Nogales , Arizona and across the border to Nogales, Mexico . It was a routine tourist’s trip until we discovered the boys smuggled switch blade knives that where purchased without their parents knowledge. I gained from that experience because Ken made the boys give their knives to me for safe keeping.…

Going to Town

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

Well, it was time for Carol and me to go to town and pick up few supplies, mostly from the hardware store. We had been very fortunate to have had surplus construction materials on hand left over from the bathroom pop out addition Carol and the boys helped me construct the previous summer. As I purchase materials I made sure I bought a few extra pieces to keep us going without excessive trips to town. When you are doing carpentry, roofing, electrical, plumbing, dry walling, texturing, painting and trim, you best plan ahead and buy a little more. Home Depot in Mesa was a major source for construction materials and has a great return policy. We had some time, so decided to take the Forest Road #182 back to town and see what we could kick up.

It was about 11:00 AM when we left the cabin. We timed it just right to hit Eddies Country Store before we headed back to the cabin. We would pick up some of the BBQ right off the portable pits set up in the parking lot near the front entrance. Eddies plans the cook times perfectly to be ready just before noon and with the smoke rising and the aroma permeating the air was all the advertising they need to draw in the customers. They do chicken, ribs, tri-tip beef and other slabs of meat. They also have a real, county smoke house in back where they use mostly apple wood for that great flavor it produces. I think I will try smoking with apple in the smoker Chad got us for Christmas last year.

As we dropped down from the large ponderosas around the cabin to a shorter variety of pines with a heavy mixture of oak we shared stories of past adventures and talked about how fortunate we were to have a cabin in an area with so much variety of vegetation and animal life. The shorter pines are probably also ponderosa but with the rocky ground and less water soaking their roots, they had more of a stunted growth. As we entered the areas with alligator juniper becoming more dominant brought out the stories of bear sighting. The alligator juniper is known for their trunk bark that looks like ….. you guessed it, alligator. The bears love their berries along with the grubs and other delicacies they scrounge up.

On …

Wildlife at Every Turn

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

Traveling on a primitive road three miles to the north of the cabin, there are four trails we love to drive, bicycle or walk. Each one has it own distinctive terrain, trees and critters. On one trail, Jeremy and I spotted a Great Horned Owl sitting on a short pine stump. We watched it through our trusty binoculars for fifteen minutes or so. Its head did appear to be turning 360 degrees and it did not pop off like I expected. On the same trail and different trip, we kicked up a white tail deer.

The next trail to the north, Carol and I ran across no less than twenty four bull elk. One mile down the road, Chad, Carol and I hit a trail that produced half dozen wild turkeys. As we circled around to try to scare them up again, we came upon a well used hunting camp with a large fire ring and remnants of crude fire side furniture or call them tree stumps. The short ones with square cuts and standing on end were most comfortable. This was more than likely a place of different kinds of •wild life”. You can imagine the stories, folks breaking out in laughter, and maybe someone strumming a guitar accompanied by a harmonica and singing songs that sometimes resembled the bugle of a bull elk. We also found several strange log configurations fashioned out of two foot long logs, four inches in diameter. Chopping out the center of one log half way through and chopping away the end of a second half way through. The two pieces were joined to form a “T” with 16 penny nails. May have been use to tie up the horses, dry soggy boots by the fire or use as a camp table. I know a few cow pokes that are also hunters that may know the answer.

There was another curious thing. We found several rocks that looked as though they popped right out of the ground. They were quite large and by judging the deeps of the craters of earth that once bound them, they had only one third of their mass protruding above the ground. After carefully inspecting the surrounding area I found just what I expected. Bear tracks! One large set and one smaller set. The bears must have been looking for grubs to fill their stomachs before hibernation. Against the …

Easterners Travel West For High & Low Adventure

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

In 1983, Carol’ sister Bonnie Pavkov and her husband Ken along with their two sons Mark and Richard came from a small town near Hartford, Connecticut to visit us in Mesa, Arizona. It was the year our youngest son, Jeremy was born and one reason for the trip out west. Their boys, then in later years of grade school, were excited about their first trip to Arizona. On a short drive to the near by town of Carefree, Mark ask his Dad • Are we out west yet?” He was thinking that you would enter an area with cowboys, Indians, horses pulling wagons and a general store for staples. The boys did not expect that out west was a mixture of those things but also saguaro’s, prickly pears, ocotillo, rattlesnakes, scorpions, tarantulas, tacos and enchiladas. Yes, they were out west.

Jeremy was too young to appreciate the White Mountains and a stay at the cabin, at that time a mere fishing hut, so he stayed at home with Carol, his sister Heidi and Aunt Bonnie. Ken packed up his boys and I packed up Chad and off we went on a man’s adventure.

On the road Ken & I exchanged fishing stories and other adventures while the boys kept talking about and making jokes about Mr. Walter Reynolds, our neighbor that lived cattycorner from the Fox Street House. Ken and I just about left the boys in Payson after a dinner stop because of their insistence to carry on about Mr. Reynolds. I can’t remember the circumstance, but I do remember being irritated most of the way to the cabin. When the boys were given an ultimatum if they mentioned Mr. Reynolds’s name again, they cleverly came up with a hand signal to form a ·w· for Walter. At least we couldn’t hear it.

Finally we get to the cabin late Friday night. The fresh air was great! The stars are magnificent! Ken swore he heard wolverines, but I didn’t hear anything and I didn’t even think we had them in this area. Ken kept insisting he could hear them and did so most of the evening. I wondered it there was a hidden meaning there. Well anyway, it was great to be up in the mountains surrounded by tall pines, an umbrella of stars, plenty of fresh air with a nice weekend ahead of us. That night we planned …

Mountain Top Lakes

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

Heading over McCoy’s Bridge and up toward Hawley Lake is a beautiful drive anytime of the year. This land is part of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. There are drastic changes from season to season in this wilderness land. The fall is our favorite because of the mixture of vivid colors in the autumn leaves of the aspens, oaks and various ground covers. Picture red, yellow, orange and many shades of green with a blue sky backdrop. As you top out at 8,200 ft. above sea level, you are suddenly looking down on the blue waters surrounded by rocky shores and scattered ponderosa pines. Across the lake you see the small country store, bait shop and boat rental. There are only a few log cabins around the perimeter of the lake know that as the leases ran out the Indians did not allow renewal.

The former, non Indian, summer, dwellers had their 50 year land leases run out and were not allowed to renew them. The only choices they had were to give up their cabins, tear them down and sell the building materials or move them off the mountain to non reservation land they owned or purchased in private developments such as Sky High Retreat. We have approximately six such cabins scattered around the neighborhood. They are all quite small which made their move practical. Many of the larger cabins that weren’t torn down were left to the Indians to use as seasonal rentals. There were maybe a hundred cabins there once and now only a couple of dozen left, and most in dilapidated condition. The forest is reclaiming the land once lost.

A short distance form Hawley Lake is Earl Park Lake. It is strictly a catch and release, artificial lure and no barb hook trout water. Not many people know it is there even though it’s over the next ridge. The road is steep and rough but less than a mi le long as it winds up, down and around.

On our first trip to Earl Park Lake we were fortunate to be pulling the canoe on its trailer. It was about 4:00 PM and just in time for the evening trout rise. We could see the ripples across the glass smooth lake surface where the trout just had nosed up to suck in a newly hatched meal. The name of the game is to match the …

Full Moon and Night Sounds

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

During the late autumn months the Elk are starting to herd together during rutting season and then begin their migration to lower elevations to winter where food is more plentiful. On the hills around the cabin they go through their routine of taking cover in the tall pines by day and moving to the open meadows in late evening to spend the night grazing on the tall grasses. Various families in Sky Hi Retreat have dogs that are notorious for erupting in their soulful howling upon hearing the eerie sounds of elk bugling. After a few minutes all is quiet again. Every twenty to thirty minutes the elk bugles and again another chorus of dog tunes break out. This will go on for a couple of hours. On full moon nights , this goes on all night long. To help mute the night melodies, we liked to listen to late night radio with Art Bell. Sometimes I don’t know which was worse, dogs howling, elk bugling or Art Bell’s side of his conversations with guest i.e., •uh Ha, Really, You don’t say, My Oh My,” etc.

Night time AM radio is limited in this neck of woods. Day time AM radio is a little better. Traveling to and from the White Mountains, we are forced to listen to San Francisco, LA, Denver and Albuquerque and sometimes Salt Lake City. It very difficult to pick up Phoenix stations until we are within fifty miles of their towers.

Back in the seventies , we enjoyed picking up some of the old melodramas hke The Shadow, Dick Tracey, etc. Now it is mostly talk shows or sports.

TV without cable or satellite is completely out of the questions. Some of our neighbors have satellite hooked up to their big screen TV. If they would only turn up the volume a little, we could sit on the deck and watch television with them. I think I will suggest it the next time there is a football game on that we would like to watch. Other than sports, I really don’t miss TV that much. Plenty to do here without it.…

The Sound of Music In Lofty Places

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

In 1985 my family and I where heading to Pine Top for a little end of summer vacation. After Carol packed the last of the supplies in the car, I was loaded Chad, Heidi, Jeremy and our English Springer Spaniel, Sadie.

The trip started off in a rush because we were aware that just above Payson, there would be a road closure lasting all night long due to some highway construction which required blasting through the massive rock mountains.

In Payson we pulled up to a MacDonald’s drive through. We kept looking at the time. The shut off was scheduled for 7:00 PM and it was already 6:30. The car in front of us had a bunch of screaming kids and the parents seamed to be very obnoxious. There was a lot of confusion as to who wanted what. It’s now was 6:35. Chad and Heidi were being perfect angels, so it seemed, with the three ringed circus in front of us, or was it a zoo? 6:40 was now staring me from my watch. Finally we made and received our order it one fell swoop. We hit the road eating on the fly and headed toward the construction zone.

Jeremy wasn’t feeling all that great, but did not complain too much. Chad and Heidi was perfectly content and all was well with them and their happy meal or whatever was in that box. As we pull up to the construction company’s signal person my watch was straight up at 7:00 P.M. We knew we were the last car through as we watched the road blocks go up behind us. After clearing through the construction zone, we were off and running right up to the speed limit of 55 MPH or possibly 60 on occasion. but not necessarily in a hurry. More like anxious to get up to the high country.

We enjoyed the fresh, clean air and the cool night time temperatures all the way to the cabin. We arrived at our destination close to midnight. Heidi grabbed her stuff and skipped into the cabin. After we knocked the chill off of the little• A Frame• cabin with a little fire in the fireplace my Dad built years ago, I energized the utilities and Carol tucked the kids in their sleeping bags. We were now officially on vacation and looking forward to a little R&R, which in military meant …

High Adventure on the North Fork

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

Crossing the narrow bridge over the North Fork you make a hard left and scramble up the rutted incline to peak over the ridge but not before the automatic, four wheel drive kicks in as the tires loose a little traction on the rocky road bed. You breathe a sigh of relief when you spy the welcomed smooth trail ahead. Bumpy roads are hard to relax on especially when you would rather be looking for signs of wildlife rather than dodging sharp rocks or pot holes. Washboard ruts are an experience all by itself. With the sun rising straight ahead and right in your line of vision, you wished you had cleaned the windshield the night before. But with the washer pump not working your new wiper blades do not give you much relief. The view out of the side windows was great!

Winding down the road at a snails pace was so therapeutic. Straining to find a bit of nature staring at you from the woods edge is a real challenge. The key for spotting big game is looking for something horizontal in a vertical forest. The key for spotting small game or birds is being lucky. But there we were, willing to accept spotting any critters as success whether it was by skill or luck. Being there to experience God’s creation is reward enough under any circumstances.

“Wait! Wait! Slow down! Quiet! What is that? Do you see it? Back up and let me look at it with my binoculars. It’s an elk! No, it’s a deer! No, no. Look at the brown patch on it’s behind. It’s a cow elk! Look there’s another and another. Oh my goodness. There must be twelve, see the one lying down under the tree. Do you see the bull? It’s that time of year. Look! Look! Ten yards back in the trees! He is standing there sideways. Look at the rack. It must be six feet tall. How does he get through the trees? Ok, there they go. Not much in a hurry. It’s not hunting season yet, not for another week or so.” This is a sampling of our many conversations as we come across the sights and sounds of creatures of the forest.

Down the road we entered the edge of the large meadow, and crossed a small spring stream, or actually more like a smelly bog with the …

Living on the Edge

By Arizona Adventures, Volume 1

The nature of the magnificent elk is to mill around the forested mountain ridges all day and then meanders down into the open meadow in late afternoon to graze on the tall grasses of summer. At an elevation 7,500 feet above sea level, the coolness of the forest by day and the late afternoon breeze that ushers in the evening chill to make a cozy environment to live life. Then the snow of late fall signals time to move down to the comfort of lower elevations to spend the winter months. But this seasonal change also triggers the courting of the cow elk by the majestic antlered bulls that fight for dominance. In this setting high in the White Mountains, my wife and I find ourselves at the edge of this theater, comfortable in a little cabin that is more like a wooden tent with a glass door, as many efficiently designed and built “A Frame” cabins are. Sitting on the edge of the meadow where the pine and oak trees of the forest meet the grassy carpet, I find myself separated from scattered civilization and the deep forested wilderness by a feeble, loosely strung, barbed wire fence that is routinely crossed by the long legged elk or compromised by short legged cows that share the nutritious grasses other flora and fauna.

My major function of the day is to shore up and improve this little shelter to prepare it to withstand the elements of weather that will soon follow. But in respect for the neighbor’s enjoyment of the quiet of the morning, we dawn our binoculars and digital camera and step over this wire barrier to experience God’s creation. If we want to see something really spectacular, we leave the camera behind.

As we move up the gentle hill and leave civilization behind, we travel in a different directional than the previous adventure. We never travel the same path although we cross familiar land marks like the small water filled pools of Elk Spring Draw with pond life abounding or the large oak tree with it knurled branches and distinctive fluttering leaves. Occasionally we are privilege to see an elk or two observing us and wondering why we are encroaching in on their domain.

One sunny morning, my wife Carol and I ventured over the barbed wire fence and headed due north toward what I call Wagner Bluff overlooking …