Clifton, Arizona

Wednesday, February 9

Travel day, so we packed up everything, dumped the tanks, and checked out from Valley Vista. We headed for Clifton, our next stop, and the trip was uneventful for most of the way, until we found our road was taking us into mountain slopes. It ended with a long steep downhill that was not fun with the trailer behind us. We made it safely, but it was not something we wanted to do again if we could avoid it. At the park we had to back in again, but each time we do it we get just that little bit better at it. The way we do it is that I get behind the wheel of the truck, and do whatever Cheryl tells me to do. She is standing outside and can see everything that I can’t. 

The park itself is lovely. The views here are spectacular. The park is in a valley surrounded by mountains, and just the view out the window is great. This is why people get into RVing. We were told that sometimes you see wild sheep on the mountains.

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Thursday, February 10

Now that we are settled in here, we went for a walk to see what is around us. Our camp site is along the San Francisco River, and we can hear the water when we go outside our camper. There are bridges at either end of the park that go across the river, and there are homes and buildings there. We crossed one of the bridges, and walked down a street along the other side of the river. Coming back, we saw a couple just getting settled, Lynn and Denny Caulfield. They were originally from the New York City area, but had moved to Arizona and bought a house here.  But they liked to travel around the country in their RV, and were the opposite to Cheryl and I as they would go to places like Michigan in the summer to get away from the summer heat. It is not unusual to get 120-degree days in the summer here.

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Friday, February 11

We went into Morenci to do some shopping at the Basha supermarket, but the pickings were a bit slim there. It seems that supply chain problems are plaguing all of the stores. We eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, and that means shopping every couple of days since freshness doesn’t last. After that we went for a walk, and this time crossed the other bridge. The roads here have a constant problem from falling rocks because they are literally carved out of the mountain side. To be safe, we walked on the side farthest from the rock face.

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Saturday, February 12

Where we are there is basically no cell coverage for T-Mobile, and no WiFi. Fortunately, my Kindle is well-stocked with books, so I am getting a lot of reading done. And of course we try to get out for a walk most days. Today we were joined by Lynn and Denny, and walked to Veteranś Park. We were looking for a nature trail, but it turned out we had already walked most of it on a previous walk. We also stopped at the Visitor Center, but it was closed because of Covid. They did leave some pamphlets on the door, though. The Visitor Center is in the train station building. We watched some activity of train engines moving cars along.

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Sunday, February 13

Sent birthday greetings to my sister Eilleen first thing in the morning. I have learned that I get brief LTE connections throughout the day, and something like a text message will be picked up whenever that happens. I know it worked because I got a reply from her. Cheryl decided she wanted a turn doing the laundry, so I got to have a leisurely breakfast. After the laundry was done and lunch was over, we went for a walk, joined by Lynn. Then we borrowed her phone, which had connectivity, to change our plans. Cheryl had looked up our next planned stop, in Silver City, NM, and found that it was even higher in elevation, and required mountain roads to get there. We decided it was better to change our plans. Unfortunately, being Sunday we had trouble getting anyone on the phone. While we were discussing this, a couple pulled in next to our camper, and we met Stuart and Tanya. They also live in Arizona, but like to get out in their camper from time to time. After dinner, Lynn and Denny brought out the propane-fueled fire pit, and the six of us had a nice evening chatting before the Sun went down and it started to get cold.

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Monday, February 14

Morenci is next to Clifton, and there is a huge open-pit copper mine there that dominates the landscape. And getting there means a long, steep climb on the road, and a long steep descent coming back. I am figuring out how to use the gears, the engine, and the exhaust brake to handle that. What you don’t want to do is ride the brakes going down. They will burn out, and then you don’t have brakes any more, which is a real problem on a steep grade. We borrowed a phone again and made our plans. We contacted the park in Anthony, NM (just outside of El Paso, TX, and the stop after Silver City), and they could only get us in a couple of days early. We canceled the Silver City reservation, and tried to extend our stay here in Clifton, but they could only give us a couple of days more. So we called some places in Deming, NM to find a place that could put us up for the other nights, and were successful. After that, we went shopping. On the way back a group of wild big horn sheep was walking along the rock face next to the road. Cheryl also had a card to mail so we were going to look for a mailbox, but I found there was a Clifton Post Office just up the street. After getting our groceries put away we went for a walk, this time heading towards the Post Office via the Historic District. But the Historic District was mostly run-down and not all that interesting. We did get the card mailed, though.  We saw the sheep again as we were returning, and they eventually made it to the campground. After Dinner Lynn and Denny again brought out the fire pit, and again the six of us gathered. We stayed a bit longer this time, and I think it may have been because Lynn and Denny were to leave in the morning.

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Tuesday, February 15

The sheep were grazing about 30 yards from our camper this morning. After Lynn and Denny took off Cheryl and I went for a walk. Our objective was across the river, but as we approached the bridge we saw activity in the train yard and stopped to watch. The train brought in a long line of cars, and was going back and forth to bring the cars forward, disconnect a group, then move it back onto another track. This continued until they had put the cars into 4 different groups. Afterwards we chatted with one of the train yard employees, and he told us that the cars we saw were coming from the mine, and that they would later be picked up by engines from the Arizona Eastern line. After this was done, we crossed the bridge and went down to the river bank. While we were there a fellow came up on a motor scooter and explained that there were hot pools, which he showed us, and we could see the steam coming off of one. He explained that the mountain behind us was a volcano, which explained the heating.

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Wednesday, February 16

Today is is overcast, cold, and rainy, so a good day to stay in and relax.

Thursday, February 17

We spent the morning on errands, getting quarters from the bank (for laundry), refilling a propane tank, and grocery shopping. After lunch we went for a walk and went to check out the dike. It is on the bank of the San Francisco River, which right now doesn’t look like it needs a dike at all. But I have heard people talk of a spring ¨Monsoon¨ season, and the rocks all around us won’t absorb much water, so maybe it is needed then. Coming back, we checked out the high ledges the local sheep use to traverse the cliff faces.

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Friday, February 18

Another gorgeous day, not a cloud in the sky. After lunch, we went for a walk that took us into the residential section of Clifton. We saw an Arizona Eastern train bringing in cars to the train yard. We came back via the dike, and also saw the flood gate that would block rising flood waters from the residences as this section was downhill. As we came back we saw the mine company train taking the cars brought in previously, and located the tracks and where they split.

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Saturday, February 19

We did laundry and grocery shopping, and after lunch went for a walk. We picked a road we had been down before, but went a little further this time. We found an access point to the river bank, and there were some people fishing there, but we left them alone and walked elsewhere. Then we went into a pull-off full of rocks, and Cheryl wanted to see if there was anything interesting there. The problem was that neither of us knew anything about mineralogy, which was a bit of a handicap, so we walked back to the RV without any rocks. It was another sunny day with not a cloud in the sky, and warm. It is so nice to be here in February rather than in Michigan. I get notices every day about winter storm warnings back home.

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Sunday, February 20

 Our last day in Clifton, which is fine since we have run out of things to do here. We went further up route 191 to see more of the mine operations, but at some point decided we were just going up too many twisty-turny mountain roads and came back down. After that we decided to just relax for the rest of the day.

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