On the Road Again after a Long, Hot Summer!


Jury Duty.
We LOVE our

Roper Lake State Park


21-24 Sept 07: After what seemed like an endless summer of too-hot-to-travel-locally temperatures, is was at long last reasonable weather to head out to one of our favorite long weekend destinations in SoAZ...Roper Lake State Park, just south of Safford, AZ.  The park is about 30 miles or so north of I-10 on Highway 191 on the far eastern side of southern Arizona, and about 120 miles from Tucson. Just far enough away to know you’ve traveled, but not so far that you can’t easily make the trip in a couple of hours. Roper is a man-made lake that was once a catfish hatchery... Now it’s a park managed through an arrangement between the Arizona State Parks and the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The Lake is stocked and is a popular for fishing, boating, swimming and picnicing. There is an “island” (really a penninsula) with a large grassy open area with a central ramada for large groups and several smaller picnic sites sprinkled along the edge of the water...it is reserved for day use and swimming and has a not-too-sandy beach...very popular with the locals. In the main camp ground is a rustic hot-mineral-spring-fed soaking tub...

The Girls—Cockers Annie and Sadie—were as excited as we were to be heading out again. All you have to say them is “RVing” and they know it’s coming...and as we make preparations, their anticipation grows and grows, finally peaking in an excited frenzie when it’s finally time to don their travel harnesses (which we call their “bustiers”) and get them strapped into the back seat of the truck...they can hardly stand the anticipation. They have enough room to move around but are secured so they do not become projectile doggies if we have to stop suddenly...and also keeps them from climbing into the front seats out of excitement.  They have it pretty good back there... Greg made them a comfy cushion of vinyl which is then covered with a fleece pillow case...it’s a caccoon of plush softness for them to enjoy as they travel in style.  Once in the truck they settle down for the ride... Annie usually immediately enters her napping mode while Sadie is prone to commenting on bicyclists and motor cycles until we are out to town.  Then it’s time for her nap or maybe just watching the world go by.

We have been to Roper Lake many times before, the last time being October of 2006 with our friends Deb & Loretta. We were in our small motor home and Deb & Loretta tented with their “Lil” Red Truck”... This was our first trip to Roper with the Bambi. When we arrived at the Ranger station to register, the Ranger looked puzzled...he recognized us but couldn’t remember the Airstream...and for good reason!

You can make reservations at Roper Lake—one of the few Arizona state parks where you can—but we knew we wouldn’t have trouble finding a good space unless there was some huge gathering in the works...and we called ahead to make sure that wasn’t the case.  There are 2 loops with electric and water hookups ($20/night), and one of those has individual ramada shelters and some tent sites as well.  There are no sewer hookups but there is a dump station... There is also a large group area that also has cabins for rent.

Happily, our favorite camping site was open for the weekend, so we settled right in.  It was late afternoon when we arrived, and our site was well-shaded by a mesquite tree... Once we got the basic unhitch done we took the Girls for their first walk after the 2-hour drive...  Then we came back and finished setting up camp...and settled in for a pleasant evening.

                       Saturday we took a drive into town to gas up and re-aquaint

                       ourselves with Safford (pretty quiet on a Saturday afternoon),

                        and visit the other part of the park, a day-use only area about 3 miles south of the main park called Dankworth Pond, which also draws lots of day-visitors and fishermen. Before returning to the camp site we took a drive around the lake to get some fresh pictures... 

The days were still kinda warm in the high 80s, but the evenings were quite pleasant... By Saturday, a few new groups of campers had arrived for the weekend, and it seemed more filled than when we’d been there before, but there were still plenty of sites. We noticed that several of the sites seemed to be occupied by folks who were gone during the day and returned in the  late afternoon... perhaps forest or construction workers who were staying there long-term while they worked.

The fire restrictions had been lifted since the hotter months, and though we thought it was too warm out for a campfire, we did BBQ a couple of nights...      the traditional steak and hamburger/hotdog fares...mmm...always better when camping! Of course we took plenty of walks with the Girls and let them enjoy the grassy area on the “Island”...without fail, the Girls get accosted by young un’s who want to pet them (which is OK...the Girls love the attention) and we learn all about every pet they’ve ever had...it’s cute how kids react to friendly smallish dogs. And the adults always say, “We had a cocker when I was a kid.”

We stayed until Monday afternoon...I had jury duty on Tuesday,

so we had to go home. It was a very pleasant weekend and so

good to be out again after a couple of months of not being able

to enjoy the Airstream and camping.  This was also our first trip with the new awnings we had installed on the road side and rear of the Bambi...they really do seem to help keep the Bambi cooler...glad we did that.

Below are some pictures from the trip...we got home again safely on Monday afternoon and are rearin’ to go again!

14-17 Dec 2007: Christmas was just around the corner, and we hadn’t been out since the weekend after Thanksgiving, so we took a long weekend jaunt back to Roper Lake for the last time in 2007.  Our favorite campsite was reserved for the weekend, but our 2nd-favorite site was still open..and just a couple of spaces away from the other...on the sotuhern-most corner of the Hacienda Loop...set back from the road and shaded by a nice mesquite tree...not that we needed shade this trip...it was pretty cool weather...downright cold at night (27 degrees was the coldest night), but pleasant in the daytime while the sun was still up.  We didn’t spend much time outside after dark on ths trip!

For some reason, we didn’t get going as soon as we like, and when we got there about 4:30 pm, it suddenly got very windy and when that sun went down as we were setting up camp, it really got cold fast! We didn’t even connected the water the first night because we were afraid the hose would freeze.  But we were warm and cozy inside.

Part of the mission on this trip was to make a test run with our new tire pressure monitoring PressurePro system...which consists of tire pressure sensors that screw onto the valve stems of the trailer tires and a receiver/monitor that mounts in the truck, powered by a 12 volt plug.  (The Tacoma has its own factory tire pressure monitor system, so we did not purchase sensors for the truck tires, though you can do that and monitor all tires on your tow vehicle and trailer at the same time).

It’s a pretty neat system that allows you to push a button and get a tire

pressure reading for a specific tire—while in motion. It gives you a

visual and audible warning if any tire’s pressure drops 12.5%, with

another warning at 25% pressure loss. And they worked great. We

checked each tire’s pressure periodically while in motion on the 120

mile trip to Roper Lake from Tucson and our tire pressure held steady, starting at at 65 lbs cold and riding evenly with a 5-lb increase in pressure due to the heat of driving.  Of course, the system will not prevent a tire failure, but since the vast majority of tire failures are due to an unoticed loss in tire pressure over time while driving...the advantage of this system is that you have warning that a tire pressure loss exists and you can safely get off the road and deal with it before you end up with a complete flat and/or a shredding tire...not to mention potential damage to the treailer’s wheel well or outer skin. We were very pleased with the system, and it made the whole trip that much more enjoyable, just knowing that the tires were doing OK.  We’re sold on them.  (Let Terry know if you want further information.)

When we arrived at Roper Lake and got unhitched, we discovered that the break-away cord (a light-weight/plastic-coated wire cable that is fashioned to activate the trailer brakes should the trailer become detached from the truck while towing) had been dragging on the road during our drive and had worn through. Not hard to fix...we just had to make a trip into Safford the next day to find a coupler to attach the two ends of the severed cable.  In the process we discovered the Ace Hardware store in Safford...always a good thing.  While we were there we also got a key-lock to replace the swivel latch on the battery box...something Terry had been wanting to do...just to keep honest folk honest, and our batteries at least somewhat protected from those who aren’t.  It was simple switch-out...so simple that we decided to do the same thing with the two refrigerator access doors on the outside of the Bambi at another time...as they are the same swivel latches as the original battery box latch).  Mental note made.

Since we had to go into town anyway to get the supplies to repair the break-away cable, we took a little time and further explored the town...found a very fun antique store to put on our list of things to do when we return to Safford...and took note of other entertainment possibilities in town.

During the coldest part of one night—the 2nd or 3rd night we were there—the furnace began acting up...the blower would start, but the furnace would not ignite...it would try three times to light and then apparently go into shut-down mode. We have a heat pump on the Bambi, but it is only efficient down to about 40 degrees and then you realy need a furnace...  We could not get the furnace to ignite, despite Terry’s efforts on his hand and knees in front of the furnace giving homage to the gods of propane heating devices.  So we turned off the furnace and and just kept warm with the blankets and pups...we survived quite nicely actually.  The next day we relied mostly on the heat pump to keep the chill away, and in the evening the furnace was hit and miss..sometimes it would light...other times it would not... 

Fast-forward for a moment...the day we returned to Tucson we dropped the Bambi off at the dealer after stopping by the house and unloading the perishables...they had it for three days and could not duplicate the problem, so we picked it up. We spent that evening in the Bambi to see if we could duplicate the problem...and sure enough, as soon as it began to get chilly in the late evening, the furnace began having intermittent trouble.  Argh!  So Terry called the dealer the next morning and told them it was acting up again, and we were bringing it back in... Luckily, we were able to demonstrate the problem when we got there, and they jumped right on it...an hour later, they had determined that the gas regulator at the propane tank was not allowing enough gas to the furnace to ignite, and it would become worse in colder temps, as the diaphragm in the regulator was faulty and cold weather made it even less functional...that’s why the situation peaked when it was the dead of night at the coldest point. Glad that is resolved. A side-product of this fix is that now the pilot light on the oven is much easier to light!  Bonus!

Now back to our time at Roper...depsite the furnace trouble we had a good time and knew that we weren’t going to freeze with the other heating options available, so we went about the business of enjoying the time away...we took a nature trail hike up on the low hills south of the park one day...the Girls really enjoyed that...they are such little troopers when they get out on the trail...and it’s more of a dog-leading-man sort of thing than anything else...they get so excited at all the new sights and sniffs to make. Of course we carry doggie-bomb bags in the event a goddie comfort stop is necessary because we hate it when we run across someone else’s dog’s unexpected deposits...a “pet” peeve of ours when camping (excuse the pun). The trail begins near the natural hot spring hot tub in the park and meanders along the crest of the hill, offering panoramic views of the valley running south toward I-10 below Mt. Graham, and the valley north of the park where Safford sits...the winter sky was bright and the distant mountains were topped with the white stuff.  A good hike was had by all.

All too soon, out long weekend getaway had to come to a close as we packed up camp, battoned down the hatches, hitched up and bid farewell to Roper Lake until we can get back there sometime in the new year...

The second trip’s photos follow the first trip’s below. At the end you can click on “Other Trips” to go to a page from which you can access other trip logs. Ease on down the road!

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