Saturday, February 17, 2018

Driving a Subaru

One year ago today I bought my first Subaru. 

I can’t pinpoint the exact reason I wanted a Subaru.  But when it was time for me to shop for a new car, it was the one that caught my eye.  Of course, I tried to be fair.  Nearly every car manufacturer has an all-wheel drive Sport Utility Vehicle similar to the Subaru.  “Look,” I would say to my husband as we drove past one, “there’s the Ford wanna-be.  There’s the Nissan wanna-be.”  Etcetera.  But when it came right down to it, I didn’t want a “wanna-be.”  I wanted the real thing.

Subaru definitely has a culture.  I guess there are other cars that have a culture.  I just haven’t owned one.  I mean, seriously.  What do you think of when you think Buick?  Old???  When you think Subaru, you think of the outdoors, of adventure.  In fact, when I told my daughter and her then-fiancĂ© that I was considering a Subaru, they told me I wasn’t “granola” enough.  They issued a challenge – make it to the top of the climbing wall to get their blessing on buying a Subaru.  I was game – and I succeeded!

My Outback has been a great road trip car.  Since buying it, I’ve taken it all over the Western U.S. – to the tune of 18,000 miles in the first year!  First oil change and 6000 mile checkup!  Check.  Second oil change and 12,000 mile checkup!  Check.  Third oil change and 18,000 mile checkup!  Check.  The Subaru dealer’s service department waiting room has been all that I expected.  Free water, sodas, juices and popcorn.  Recycle bins.  Dog biscuits and a water bowl for the best friend who rides in the back.  The technicians and service representatives are top notch, and they even give me a cookie on the way out. 

My Outback also does quite well off the beaten path.  We’ve taken it off-road several times, and the only problem is getting all the dirt off the back windshield.  There’s a spot at the top of the lift gate that car washes just don’t reach.  Oh, well.

In case you’ve heard the rumor that the Subaru Outback is a “lesbian” car, let me set the record straight.  In 1995, Subaru of America became the founding sponsor of the Rainbow Endowment, a 501©3 charity that contributes to non-profits serving the LGBTQ community.  So our LGBTQ friends support Subaru because Subaru supports them, and has done so long before it became fashionable.  Now we know.

According to Wikipedia, the word “Subaru” is the Japanese name for the Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters.  According to tradition, one of the sisters is invisible; hence there are only six stars in the Subaru logo.  I’m convinced the stars aligned for me when I made the decision to buy a Subaru. Love it!!!!

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Logandale Trails

The Logandale Trailhead
The Logandale ATV trails are a short drive southwest on I-15 from Beaver Dam – not close enough to ride the back roads but not far to trailer.  The road to the trailhead is a little tricky – we saw tire tracks of many other trucks that crossed the railroad tracks in the wrong spot and had to turn around.  For the record – you follow the road to the right and cross at the second crossing.

The trail is relatively well-marked.  I say relatively because it is marked in relation to a map that we did not have when we started.  The overall map showed a loop that had trail markers throughout.  As we examined the trail markers, there were numbers and letter which meant nothing to us, and even though there was a place on each marker for the GPS coordinates, they were not filled in.  We ended up taking a few wrong turns.  How is it that we can get lost on a well-marked trail system?  Yes, we’re that good.

I have never seen an ATV trail area complete with rest rooms and picnic tables along the first few miles of the trail.  I suspect that if we were to ride these trails during spring break, every possible spot would be filled with campers in tents and smaller trailers.  There’s even a group camp site.

Much of the area we rode through reminded me of Lake Powell – minus the lake, of course.  High red cliffs above, red rock and red sand under our wheels.   The parks perimeters were more reminiscent of Southwestern Wyoming, with its green-tinted mountains.  

When we found our way back to the main trailhead, we started exploring a few of the side roads.  We found a road to an abandoned mine – complete with warning signs.  It didn’t look that interesting so we turned around.  We found the road leading to the sand dunes, and Paul had waaaaayyyy too much fun bouncing up and down the dunes.  He hit one bump that reminded me of the old adage:  passengers fly – they just don’t land too well.  That one hurt and I was done.

All in all, the Logandale trails are a great ride.  There’s enough challenging terrain to keep the most expert riders entertained, and enough beauty to keep the fussiest passengers in awe.  After the ride, I highly recommend Sugar’s Home Plate in Overton – just a few miles up the road.  The wings are awesome, and I hear the carrot cake is to die for.

Happy Trails!

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Dam Trails

In the Beaver Dam Wash
With a minimal amount of riding on paved roads, we can ride out of Chief Sleep Easy RV Park and find ourselves on several ATV trails through and near the Beaver Dam Wash.

The trails in and around the Beaver Dam Wash all have one thing in common:  the combination of wind and water on sand and rock in a river bottom results in really rough roads.  I’ve started wearing a sport bra when we ride, to avoid “boobies – bouncing boobies – bouncing boobies – bouncing boobies on the trail.”  Sung to the Game of Thrones theme.

And speaking of boobies:  not far out of the wash on the south side we found the Thelma and Louise
Thelma and Louise
monument – complete with the exit sign leading over the cliff.  I have yet to make a contribution.  Not sure what to contribute, as I do not own – and will never own – a large enough bra.

Although we had directions from the BLM on how to find the Tri-State Monument, we found it on our own on the back roads through the wash.  The monument marks the spot where Arizona, Nevada, and Utah meet.  Here I am, standing in three states at once!

Tri-State Monument
Did you know you can ride the back roads from Beaver Dam to Mesquite, Nevada, and end up in the parking lot of Dotty’s Casino, overlooking the Eureka and a short ride on paved roads to the gas station?  This ride, however, is a one-and-done, as it is quite challenging.  For the first time ever, we hit a hill the Polaris couldn’t climb.  Thankfully, Paul was able to back us down and we found another way.  Next time I go to Mesquite, I’ll be taking the car. 

Did you know you can ride the back roads from Beaver Dam to the Virgin River Canyon Recreation
Overlooking the Virgin River canyon
Area campground?  That was a beautiful ride over the mountains and into the Virgin River Gorge.  We did have to use the main road to cross over I-15 into the campground, but having lunch at a picnic table with restrooms nearby was well worth it.

As you come out the north end of the wash, you come into what can be called a Joshua Tree Forest, as the trees are everywhere.  We learned in a John Sandford novel that the early Mormon pioneers gave these trees their name – as they reminded them of Joshua raising his hands toward heaven.

Joshua Forest
There are miles and miles of trails out of the wash, so we still have lots to explore.  And  I still can’t get that tune out of my head.  Dam.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Beaver Dam, AZ, U.S.A

Beaver Dam Station and Dam Bar
Beaver Dam is an unincorporated community in Mohave County, Arizona, located along the pack horse route of the Old Spanish Trail from 1828 and the later wagon route of the Mormon Road between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles from 1847. The town was named for a beaver dam that occupied and held back the waters on the wash when the first Mormon party under Jefferson Hunt established the wagon road through the area in 1847.

The Mormon Road was used by Forty-niners in 1849 and Mormon colonists and other travelers from then on.  The road passes southward from the Beaver Dam Mountains to the Virgin River along Beaver Dam Wash to where it met the river. From 1855, the road was a major wagon freighting road until the railroad arrived in Nevada in 1905. Beaver Dam was first settled by Mormon colonists in 1863.

The Beaver Dam Wash from the Bridge on Main Street
The town is built on both sides of the Beaver Dam wash – an impressive feature that you can cross at the bridge on Main Street.  Otherwise, you’re traveling through on ATVs, which, by the way, you can still do on the old Mormon Road.

The town is about as small as they come.  It features a golf course with a lodge and the town’s only restaurant.  There is a small convenience store which adjoins The Dam Bar/Dam Deli – an inaccurate sign as there is no deli – just a bar with a couple of pool tables in the back and karaoke on Wednesday nights. The Mojave County Fire Station and Driver’s License Division are located in Beaver Dam, as is the Littlefield post office.  Beaver Dam features an elementary school, a junior high, and a high school.  I know the high school has a cross-country team, as I see them running sometimes when I’m out in the afternoon.  The only thing Beaver Dam has an abundance of is trailer parks.  I’ve found six so far.  I suspect the population more than doubles during the winter months.

There is a car dealer in Beaver Dam, but there is no gas station in Beaver Dam – yet.  One is currently under construction, but according to the locals, it’s been under construction for several years now with no completion date in sight.

So why is there always so much traffic in and out of Beaver Dam?  Two words:  lottery tickets.  Beaver Dam – and its nearby neighbor, Littlefield, have the distinction of being the only towns in Arizona on I-15.  All those travelers between Salt Lake and Las Vegas have to buy their lottery tickets somewhere. The Lodge, the convenience store, and the Dam Bar all sell Arizona lottery tickets.  When the jackpot was over $400 million, cars were parked up and down Main Street and the line in the convenience store was out the door.  Alas, the winner came from Massachusetts!  Maybe next time…

When winter season arrives, the locals keep things hopping.  There’s a Flea Market every weekend, lawn mower races on the second Saturday of each month, and of course, the Beaver Dam Jam scheduled for May 6.  So much to look forward to…

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Snowbird 102

Happy New Year!  In October of 2017 we pulled the trailer to Beaver Dam, Arizona for our second attempt at being snowbirds.  Taking the major lesson learned from our 2016 snowbird adventure, we knew we needed to go further south than Hurricane.  It was just too cold there in the winter and our trailer is too poorly insulated.

Why Beaver Dam?  Our first inquiries were in Mesquite, Nevada.   Two of the RV parks in Mesquite were glorified blacktop parking lots with hookups and the occasional tree.  And the one we were interested in wouldn’t take us because our trailer was more than 10 years old.  It’s official – we’re trailer trash!  So we turned to the Arizona Strip – just eight miles east.

Chief Sleep Easy RV Park in Beaver Dam was almost empty in September when we drove through. 
The parking was gravel with a few trees, and the parking spots looked really close together.  As we drove through, we selected several spots that we would ask about.  But when we met with the park manager we learned that they were almost completely full for the winter season.  Almost.  She had recently had a cancellation.  Site 32 was open if we wanted it.  We took it. 

By November the park was full, and the gravel drive strips came alive with trailers, carpets, bistro sets and plants, and of course, people.  Many of the residents knew one another from years past.  They welcomed us with open arms.  Paul joined right in with the guys drinking their afternoon beers, and even recruited a couple of them to repair our roof. 

Chief Sleep Easy hosts weekly activities and several potlucks during the season – all with the idea of helping the residents get to know one another.  And while there’s not much in Beaver Dam, Mesquite is only 8 miles west, and the Beaver Dam Wash offers dozens of trails to ride. 

Why is the park called Chief Sleep Easy?  Looking up from the clubhouse, you can see the Chief lying down, sleeping peacefully with the knowledge that his park is well cared for.  His head is at the right, nose protruding.  They say that when the thunder roars, the chief is snoring.

I have my planter boxes in front of the trailer, and a new bistro set graces the front entrance.  We are here for the winter.  Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Anatomy of a Marathon

At the Start Line
I was ready. I was excited.  All the time, all the training, all the carbo-loading, all the fast-food and sugar avoiding, all the alcohol avoiding – all came together on Sunday, November 12, at 4:41 PM when I crossed the start line of the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon.  At age 61½, I was running my first ever full marathon.  One more bucket list item to check off!

Sue and I used Jeff Galloway’s run-walk-run strategy for our first marathon.  We worried that we would be much slower than the 5 hour maximum finish time the race had implemented, but race-day adrenalin had us pacing our running periods much faster than we had trained.  No sag wagons for us!  For most of the race, we were pacing 10:46 minute miles – even with the walk breaks!  We thoroughly enjoyed the festive atmosphere of the race, taking water when it coincided with a walk break, chatting, and thanking the police officers on every corner. 

With respect to all you ultra-runners and tri-athletes out there, the marathon is a grueling race that truly tests your body, your mind, and your strengths to their limits.  It seemed that, for this race, my limit was 21 miles.  At about the 21 mile mark, the notorious abdominal cramp hit, and it seemed the only part of my body that wanted to function was my lower digestive system – if you get what I mean.  Thankfully, the section of the race we were in at the time wound back and forth around a real bathroom! 

All done!
I thought I had a good nutrition plan, but my body had other ideas.  First off, pre-race jitters had me seriously limiting my food intake the few hours before the race.  And then, once on the course, after I hit the 21 mile mark, I couldn’t swallow the Clif Bloks that I dutifully tried to eat.  It was like my body was telling me, “I know you need food but I’m not going to let you have it.  Mwah ha ha ha ha!”  I drank Gatorade at the final two aid stations, but I wasn’t able to ingest solids until the next day.

I walked the last 3 ½ - 4 miles of the marathon.  Sue stayed with me.  When the Finish line was in sight, we decided to run it in.  Two steps and my left leg cramped up.  Yikes!  It took nearly four minutes for the cramp to ease so I could walk – yes, sadly I had to walk across the Finish line.  I know it was four minutes because that’s the difference between my finish time and Sue’s. 

I finished my first full marathon in 5 hours, 7 minutes, and 49 seconds.  Over the race time limit to be sure, but I finished under my own power and completed the full 26.2 miles.

So after all this, will I run another marathon?  Absolutely!  I’ll have to train better, and I’ll have to find a better nutrition plan, but now that I know what to fix, I can’t not fix it and try again.  New bucket list item:  finish a marathon in under 5 hours!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

I'm a Believer

My marathon buddy has had some nagging injuries these last few months, but being the competitive runner that she is, she’s not giving up the marathon.  She did a little bit of research into the Jeff Galloway Run Walk Run method, and decided to try it.   She told me about a few of the benefits of the Run Walk Run method, which I’ve captured here directly from Mr. Galloway’s web site,

Principles behind Run Walk Run
• Continuous use of a muscle will result in quicker fatigue
• The longer the run segment, the more fatigue
• Run Walk Run is a form of interval training
• Conservation of resources
• Quicker recovery
• Less stress on the “weak links”
• Ability to enjoy endorphins
• Reduce core body temperature

Walk breaks
• Speed you up: an average of 7 minutes faster in a 13.1 mile race when non-stop runners shift to the correct Run Walk Run ratio – and more than 13 minutes faster in the marathon
• Give you control over the way you feel during and after
• Erase fatigue
• Push back your wall of exhaustion or soreness
• Allow for endorphins to collect during each walk break
• Break up the distance into manageable units
• Speed recovery
• Reduce the chance of aches, pains and injury
• Allow older or heavier runners to recover fast, and feel as good as in the younger (slimmer) days
• Activate the frontal lobe – maintaining your control over attitude and motivation

Well, what’s not to like?  Especially considering that, in the long run (literally) you won’t lose that much time.  I tried it on a 20 mile run, and am thrilled with the results.  In previous long runs where I pretty much ran continuously, walking only to fuel, I ended up with about an 11 minute mile pace.  On my 20 miler, I ran four minutes and walked one.  For the first 10 miles my average pace was 10:12.  As the miles wore on I did find myself both running more slowly and walking more slowly, but even then the overall pace for the 20 miles was 10:58!  And while I was still quite tired after the run, I wasn’t sore. 

I’m a believer!  Thank you, Jeff Galloway!