Temperature & Exercise
There are two reasons that we are here in Arizona. One being, most important, getting away from the darn, long cold winter! The other reason is trying to stay healthy! Well, the first item is nearly taken care of, that is no snow, but as I knew before coming here, it does get cold at night. After supper time, the temperature drops from the mid to low seventies into the mid forties. This is because of the radiation cooling, no clouds to keep the heat in and the 2,850 feet of elevation on the valley floor makes it drop quickly. We have overcome this problem with a little electric heater. Our propane furnace would certainly handle heating the truck camper, but it does make noise from its blower. Why use propane when we have electricity. I set the little heater on a timer, at 4:30am. It starts and heats perfectly!
The second reason for being here is exercise. Yes, at my age 72-3/4, I need to move and motivate this old body. Riding a bike, my prefered method, is on top of the list. This Air Force Base is large and nearly flat. Let me explain, the populated part of the base is around six miles in circumference. The entire base is miles and miles long, by just as much wide. It is bike friendly with bike lanes along the major streets. Our first long jaunt was up to the end of Yuma Rd. This 7-1/2 mile, one way, trek has a slight upgrade gradient. It isn’t bad unless there is wind blowing in the opposite direction. This ride is pretty cool. The road parallels the so call the bone-yard. 4,000 aircraft are stored there. Some are ready for dismantling, some are used for parts, some are obsolete and some are ready to fly. I love seeing every type of aircraft. I will do a separate blog in an upcoming adventure report.
When we first got here, we rode early morning. The temperature was moderate back then. Now, later in the season, it is a little too cool earlier in the morning. Helen and I prefer a ride in the early afternoon.
“Jack” ~ The Stallion and Helen
One might think that our ride is boring on the long dead-end road. Not so, in the last 2-1/2 miles or so, the desert cactus multiplies, the Air Force Base buildings dwindle to a very few. The wildlife increases, one of our encounters was with a good size hawk. He or she would be sitting on top of a power line pole. I would bike fairly close, for photo, and the Hawk would fly two poles down. This would be repeated three times. No close up on this day. The next day, Helen noticed feathers in this same general area. It was that of a hawk! We stopped, I walked over to the feathers, the Hawk had been taken down. Looking around, thinking was this from a Coyote? How could a Coyote possibly catch a Hawk, even on the ground? I collected some long feathers and continued on our way. I kept thinking, in the back of my mind, how and what did the bird in.
The following day, our neighbor, forgot her name already, was sitting at the picnic table. I brought over the feathers. She is a birder. She would be able to identify the feathers. She identified the feathers as a Harris Hawk! I asked her what could possibly take down the Hawk? She said, “Most likely,” It was an owl”. She said, “It could have been a Mexican Spotted Owl”. That is the explanation that I can live with.
A week later, on our ride to the end of the road, I spotted something in the road, maybe a quarter-mile away, it was black and walked on the same side of the road as we were biking. It was too dark-colored or black for a Coyote. A range control pickup, coming from in back of us passed us. It caught up to the walking animal ahead of us. The animal now took off, like a bullet. I could now see that it was a Javelina (wild boar). Checkout the You Tube link for a look at what they look like and how they sound! Javelina ~ Looks & Sounds
“Jack” the Wild Horse
Yuma road, on base, our biking road, terminates at a military small arms rifle range. Also, to the right a horse stable. Our first encounter was with a Stallion named “Jack”. The stables are set back a couple of hundred feet from the road. We couldn’t see any horses at first. Upon parking our bikes for a break and drink of water, we actually were looking towards the firing range as gun firing was going on. Turning around there was a horse, in a coral, with a mesh mask over his head, (protection from flies). He was nodding his head up and down, as if saying, “come on over here”. So we did! Not knowing anything about horses, we approached cautiously, I knew enough not to reach up suddenly to pet him. As I reached up with my left hand slowly, he turned his head towards my hand, I quickly pulled my hand back. He immediately jumped back. We both, me and the horse, were cautious and feeling each other out! I didn’t want to get my hand bitten, so it took awhile to actually touch him. That was the extent of our first encounter with Jack.
Heather ~ The Owner
Our second encounter was a lot better, as we met Heather, Jacks’ owner. She had bought Jack at a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) auction. All wild horses belong to the Feds, at least on BLM land. She told us a lot about Jack and her love of horses. She gave us treats for Jack. Holding our hand flat as we gave him homemade granola type balls. We now had a horse friend! Heather also told us that she tried to ride Jack and was thrown off, with a broken neck as result. She’s alright now, but will have some cowboy do the break-in. This is just a small glimpse into our bike ride on Yuma Rd.
The Runway Loop ~ Ride
Another bike ride we discovered was a paved trail around the entire runway. It took us a couple of recon’s to figure where to get on this loop ride. A military police cruiser was parked next to the Swan Gate. I stopped to ask if this was the bike/jogging path and were we allowed to use it? He said, “Yes”, and off we went. Now here we are at the end of the active runway. Don’t get me wrong, the actual runway is a half mile away. To our right is a giant C-130, four engine plane coming in for a landing. How terrific is it to be able to have a plane landing just a hundred feet above your head. We stopped the bikes and I took my iPhone out for a photo. The plane had already touched the runway and took off for what they call a touch and go, a practice landing and take off. He flew around again and this time, I would be ready for that great shot above our heads!
Further down the loop trail, on the civilian side of the fence line, we encountered a junk yard, not your ordinary car junk yard, but an aircraft dismantling junk yard. Massive planes, some with wings unbolted from their bodies, some with tails unattached, lay on the ground. They selectively strip different metals and materials for salvage. It is the ultimate in recycling! Of course big money is involved in these aircraft parts and materials.
At the end of the 12 mile loop is another gate. It’s called the Wilmott Gate. The odd thing of this ride is the fact that we are on the secure side of the fence. We ride up to the gate, on the trail and come to a man gate right across from the guard shack. From there we are on the main road back to the Fam Camp.
That is what we saw and did!