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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Days 78 3/21/17 - Global Entry Interview With Homeland Security - Douglas, AZ

I'm on my way to Douglas for my Homeland Security interview in Douglas, AZ on the Mexican border. I'm going for an interview for my application for Global Entry Status.  

Global Entry Status is a Homeland Security program for US Citizens returning to the USA from foreign travel.  It is a prescreening program to eliminate me from standing in line with everyone else to get through Passport Control. 

The above picture is a stopped train that has been sitting there before I arrived, and was there another 20 minutes before it would move and continue on my trip to Douglas.  

Good thing I planned extravtine in my trip for bumps in the road like this.  This is the town of Bowie, AZ and there is no other crossing to go around this stopped train.

Last year when I came back from a trip to Russia at Logan Airport in Boston, I stood in line with all the passengers from all the planes from foreign countries that came in at that time.

People were walking by me and I later found out they had a Global Entry Status to get through Passport Control.

This program prescreens travelers and when they land at an airport they stick their passport in a kiosk and it does facial recognition then fingerprints recognition.

Provided the data matches what's on file, you get to proceed to customs declaration and skip the folks in line waiting passport control and quickly get through the system.

So in summary you use a kiosk for passport control.  It costs $100.00 for the application.  Getting approved also gives you a KTN (Known Travler Number) for Pre TSA approval at US airports.  I already have that and it cost $75.00 so for $25.00 more you get both. 

Pre TSA approval allows you to limited TSA screening where you leave your shoes on and liquids left in bag with your laptop.  Your carry on still is scanned and you are subject to additional screening if TSA feels it's required.

Have a car and travel to Mexico or Canada you can add a car for $40 and drivevthe special lane and not have to wait for a long time to get through the border.

My appointment is at this government building downtown Douglas.  There is a court in the building too and a number of convicts I orange jumpsuits work in maintenance.  They were all polite and respectful as we had passing conversations. 

My appointment was at 9:30 and I was asked questions that they already knew the answers to and they took a digital image of my face and then a digital image of 4 right and then left fingers.  Then both thumbs.

Finally I watched a videos about the rules of the program.  The biggest one is that they stress if you are supposed to declare something do it as if you get caught you will loose your Global Entry Status.

I'm done with the interview and I'm ready for my 2.25 hour ride back to HWD-BLM.  That's right about a 5 hour round trip for the interview after a 7 hour ride this past weekend to travel from Page to HWD.  Good thing I like to drive.

Heading north from Douglas to Wilcox there are many farms.

Google image above

Ever fly over the US and see the circles created from center watering fields, well here this is how they do it. 

Google image above

More round watered fields.


Days 77 3/20/17 - Hot Wells Dunes BLM Layover

I drove to Hot Wells Dunes - BLM yesterday and gave myself today as a layover day before my Global Entry Interview with Homeland Security in Douglas, AZ tomorrow morning.

The picture above is BLM road repair as I head back into Hot Wells Dunes (HWD) from the town of Safford.  Safford is 32 miles from HWD and I wanted to go to have an email printed and pick up some food at Walmart.

The BLM is poring concrete bases for the wash crossings to hold down erosion and making it better for traffic to pass.

The camping area at HWD is sand and grass Dunes and a few short trees in the first campsites.  This place is popular for off road vehicle use.

It's been in the 90's here lately and there are pit toilets and picnic tables at some sites with rubbish removal.  It is $3.00 a day even if visiting.  With my senior access pass it's half price $1.50.  Oh, you get to use the hot tubs filled with solar power and hot from geothermal water.

Bring lots of water to stay hydrated! 

This solar panel pumps water as long as it has sun.  The hot tubs auto drain when the sun goes down. 

Beautiful sunset cloud over the pit composting toilets.  Art and function meet in this picture and in the one above.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Days 75 & 76 3/18 & 19/17 - Page to Southern AZ

I'm on another mission.  Since I will be traveling outside the country again this year, I have applied for Global Entry Status. I'll write about this in another post.

I have been looking at where it would be best to stop for an appointment to be interviewed by Homeland Security and all the major markets are a few months out for an opening.

I can get an appointment next week in Southern AZ so I am leaving the Page area to head south for an appointment. 

This is over a 500 mile drive and I plan to come back to Northern AZ / Southern UT after my appointment.  Of course my plans are dependent on the weather too.

Of recent in Page it has been in the mid 80's each day and in the high 40's at night.  For me this is great vandwelling weather and my solar system is very happy with all the sun.

Before I leave I needed to stop in at the Laundromat.  I got to meet a guy who just retired and moved here in Page.  I've gotten to meet and talk to people at places I go,  places I hike, and places I park/camp.  The diversity of prople, politics, and personality, had been very interesting.

My license plates beg the question about why I'm here. 

My first stop is back in Winslow, AZ at a campground as my trip to BLM land is over 7 hours away.  Winslow is only 2.5 hours and a nice stop right next to the water. 

Winslow is an excellent place to stop with all the things I need to access and is convenient as it is just off I40.

You can't beat the spot to camp either.

I'm up and ready to drive 5.5 hours today to my next stop on BLM land for a couple days before the appointment. By now you know I'm a morning person, always ready to go or do something first thing in the am.

I drove straight south through the mountains and the town of Payson.  Further south, coming down past Roosevelt Dam, I was stuck in traffic.

This is a nice  wide road and a box truck was on its side and SUV on its roof / people were gone to hospital and FD was waiting for wreckers.

It was a 1/2 hour stoppage.

Near Globe, AZ I found this nice patch of desert bloom.

Then later on BLM land this roadside color.

I'll be hanging on BLM land for a couple of days until my appointment.


Havasu Falls Camping

The Havasu Falls Hike generally results in staying at the campground along the Havasu Creek. The other option is to stay in the Lodge in the Supai Village, 2 miles away.

I like to drop pins on my google maps to keep track of things and where they are.  I know lots of detail but that's me.  I also download the google maps I need offline so when out of cell service I have my data.

Joanne and my campsite was in the first 1/4 of the campground closest to Havasu Falls.  All campsites are along the beautiful blue Havasu Creek.

Campsites include a picnic table and as we did you can share sites, with one person's reservation. 

Here is the beautiful blue water passing by our campsite.

Further down the Creek are more campsites right on the water.  A flash flood would not be fun here.  There is a High Ground sign near Havasu Falls to gather during flash floods.

There is a camp host of sorts (Ranger's Office on map) that does not deal with reservations to camp but does deal with issues and arranging packingbout your equipment the day of hiking out.

Some of the sites at lower levels have stones or wooden planks to get to these sites on the other side of the river or in this case in the middle.

No matter where you put your tent it's beautiful!

We camped near the fresh water spring for easy access.  I used a small dry bag as a water container to use at the campsite.  The spring is supposed to be tested monthly but we used it in boiling to reconstitute dehydrated food so that was ok.  For drinking I put water in a bottle and killed any possible bad stuff with my steri-pen with ultraviolet light.

We did drink water from the river where we have the last water before our hike out.  This too was all sterilized with the steri-pen I carried.

Bathroom facilities are composting toilets.  There are 3 of these on the main side and one in the other further down.

As you notice I did respect the Supai population by not photgraphing them.  There are two vendor tents near Havasu Falls and Camp Host that serve fry bread, tostadas, etc.  One night we shared a fry bread.  They have drinks too.  Note that prices reflect the difficulties bringing food into the canyon on mule train, but they are not outrageous. 

There is a market in the Supai Village along with one snack stand and a small cafe.  We did not eat at these or go in as it was a 2 mile hike to get there and then 2 miles back to camp.  We were built sightseeing and carried all our own dehydrated food packages. 


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Hot Car Test with LiFePo4 & Engel Fridge

I knew the day would come that I would be gone all day and would have to leave the car in the hot sun and I would see how the LiFePo4 will hold up running my Engel Fridge.

I parked my Prius at 0830 for a day-long flat water rafting trip down the Colorado River. It was in the low 70's outside at this time.

My fridge is wrapped on 3 sides with Reflectix and I pulled the Prius privacy cover with the compressor fridge plugged in to my fully charged LiFePo4 30 ah battery.

I returned back to the Prius at 1630 after 8 hours of the Prius being closed other than the 4 passenger doors cracked under the rain guards. It was 86 degrees outside when I returned to the car.

The picture is a bit washed out but the LiFePo4 battery reads 13.0 volts under load of compressor fridge running.

In my glove box is my remote thermometer with sensor at the bottom of my Engel fridge.  I was thrilled to see that it was 32 deg inside the fridge and in the glove box is 103 deg.

I'm guessing that it was hotter near the fridge as the sun was shining more on that end of the car.  Probably 110 deg from past experience.  I should have put my second thermometer by the fridge.

Either way I was thrilled that my Lithium house battery power worked exactly as I was expecting.  My goal was to leave the car in the sun all day and still have battery power to get to where I had an opportunity to recharge the battery.

I fully charged the battery that evening using solar for 3 hours.

I still wish I had a sun roof to crack to help exhaust the heat and pull in the relatively cooler air from outside.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Day 73 3/16/17 - Wire Pass Hike & Area Scenery

Good morning all,

Sunrise in AZ with Lake Powell, just north of Page.

With the lack of a pass for The Wave, I was off to the Wire Pass Trailhead for a hike. 

My hike is in the general area of The Wave as I was looking for a possible siting of some similar formations.

This is a well graded BLM road to the trailhead.  Even though I say well graded I have to be very careful with my Prius driving these roads.  The biggest risk is large rocks on the road that will hit under the car if you try straddle it.  Second are the dips and rocks that are now bumps 

Random flowers brighten the trail.

The Wire Pass Trail is a Slot Canyon trail.

It passes through two slot canyons on the way to Buckskin Gulch.

There were a number of rock formations along the way worth looking at.

Here is a piece of sandstone that is similar to the Wave but it's orientation is not correct.

Here in the second slot canyon I stand on a rock looking at an 8 to 9 ft drop with no good way to get back up if I get down.

I backed out and met a family who knew of a side trail over a hill to get to the other side.

The slot canyon enters into the Buckskin Canyon/Trail, above.

I turned around and went off trail to the south to look for more interesting formations.

Above are what are referred to as Teepees. 

It's interesting to see the differences in the sandstone layering. 

The lower part of this picture shows similar characteristics as The Wave too.

More hills with white tops.

I found a wave.  Rain caused a trickle of water that created a wave.  Not nearly as impressive but it will have to do until I get a permit to go.

My hike was about 6 miles and about 600 ft of elevation.  It was very dry out and hydration is very important here.

Here I am back camping on the edge of Lake Powell.

Ahhh.  The sunset, above, just makes the day that much better.


Day 74 3/17/17 - Colorado River Flat Water Rafting Trip

In my past trips to Page, AZ I skipped the flat water rafting trip down the Colorado River below the Glen Canyon Dam.

This year I decided to take the rafting day trip and here it is.

At $113 per person for the full day trip down the Colorado River I feel it was a bit pricy, but when all said and done it was interesting and a decent value.

We meet in the center of Page, AZ for 8:30 check-in for the 9:00 start of our day trip.  There is our bus in front of the booking office. 

You can bring a backpack and it will not get wet unless it rains.  There is no white water on this rafting trip. No pocket knives or other such items are allowed as the Department of Homeland Security runs the dam where you embark on your rafting trip.

The trip takes you down a tunnel road built for the dam construction and through security to the rafts.

You need to wear hard hats for a short distance as you are directly under the bridge that people walk over.

Don't want a coin landing on your head from that height.  They move you along to the rafts where you take of the helmet. 

Our rafts await us at the bottom.

Jerry is our river guide and with 15 years experience he is very good at what he does.  He conveys lots of personal information about the canyon.

Jerry stops the raft for the light of the sun to be directly behind this rock formation that looks like a monk with a hooded robe.

The scenery at the start looks like the next turn but the birds that nest in the cliffs are fun to watch.

We stop for our boxed lunch included with the total price on this sandbar in the clif side.

There are petroglyphs at this stop that breaks up the trip.

There are composting toilets for those that needed a rest stop.

The water is generally flat and you can the canyon wall reflection.

Further downstream there is this very large sand dune that was formed by sand blowing over the canyon wall.

This is one of the last hills before the river Wall's go away for a distance where a ferry used to bring people back and forth before there was a bridge.

This is Lee's Landing Ferry.  The ferry is long gone but this is where we end our day trip.  This is also the spot where the white water Grand Canyon rafting trips start.  270 miles down is where you finally can get out after leaving here.

I too this picture to show the various colors in the stone near the landing.  This area is part of the gulch that I hiked the other day, although about 20 miles up into the canyons.  We were supposed to return for 4:00 but we needed up arriving back at 4:30.

It was a good day but of all the things to do here a tour of Lower Antelope Canyon to me is the best