Friday, May 19, 2017

Escaping the Heat & Cold

OK, so I’m really, REALLY behind with this blog (& it’s heavy on photos) cause. . .I’ve been busy traveling & enjoying life during the last two months. March 12, John & I traveled together but in our separate RVs from Quartzsite to the Lone Tree BLM area north of Lake Havasu City, AZ to escape the heat. But. . .that didn’t work out so well. It was hotter in Havasu than in Quartzsite. John actually started his generator & ran the RV’s A/C one day, but the next day, we took the dogs with us down to the Lake to cool off. I don’t remember the last time I got into a lake, & although it was a bit cool at first, it didn’t take long until I was neck deep in coolness. John hadn’t been in water for years either, so sitting on the sandy bottom in shallow water with both dogs near by was just what we all needed. We were all comfortable the rest of the afternoon & evening as fur & clothes dried. Our last day, we hiked up a nearby hill to take pictures of the area. We were parked WAY DOWN there in this photo.

DSC04582

After 3 nights, we headed east on I-40 for a few hours, to south to Prescott to park in the national forest. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any campsites big enough for John’s rig (plus my Casita & truck), so we spent a couple of nippy nights on an access road in the forest. We hung out at a campfire one evening with Carol & Peter from Quartzsite who we went to the Desert Bar with a few weeks earlier. We ate lunch at the Palace on the Square that still looks like it did in the 1800s. Loved the old tin ceiling in this hotel/restaurant. We drove around looking for a big campsite but never found one, so we headed east to Sedona.

2017-03-17-11-42-53

We tried John leading & then me leading but haven’t quite worked out the fine details yet. I have trouble imagining how long & tall his rig is, but at least when I’m leading, I can see the road ahead of me. Plus, I can drive a steady 62 mph where he has more difficulty maintaining a steady speed especially going down hills. So sometimes, he just passes me & I follow him.

West of Sedona, we found a slightly crowded BLM spot on Forest Road 525 that was big enough for both of us to get comfortable in, looking over at some of the big, red rocks. Fortunately, most everyone left Sunday so it was more peaceful.

DSC04603

We spent a lot of time during our two weeks camped near Sedona to explore the area. We had a couple of cold days & nights but for the most part had pretty great weather. We drove up (then back down) Oak Creek Canyon first. It is FABULOUS. I took gobs of photos & enjoyed the panoramic views from the top.

DSC04678

We took a kewl train ride west of Cottonwood up the Verde Valley along the Verde River thru a canyon.

0321171457h

We visited Tuzigoot National Monument.

DSC04869

DSC04931

Plus the little mountain town of Jerome which clings to the edge of the mountain. The view of the valley below Jerome is pretty intense.

We visited Montezuma’s Castle National Monument & Montezuma’s Well near Camp Verde.

0323171339a   0323171450d

We saw Cathedra Rock & Bell Rock east of Sedona.

IMG_6265

0319171433b

We went up Airport Road & CLIMBED up onto a big rock with a fantastic view.

 

We also toured Honanki Ruins.

 

0329170946a

We really enjoyed the Sedona area, so reluctantly moved after our 14 days on BLM land to Winslow AZ to McHood Park, a place I stayed last year on my way to the Wolf Sanctuary. We managed to get a large, remote site on the west side of the lake with a big shelter & picnic table. AND, the Canadian couple (Rick & Angela) who parked next to us in Sedona arrived after a few days to spend some more time with us. We had a couple of good campfires but the windy conditions kept that from happening most evenings.

We took a day to travel east an hour on I-40 to see the Painted Desert & Petrified Forest National Park. My favorite spot was Blue Mesa with a definite blue color to the soil/rocks.

07-04-2017 08.30.12

We took another day to head back west toward Flagstaff to walk around Walnut Creek National Monument. Boy were those 200 steps coming back up out of the Canyon exhausting – but fun. There was a controlled burn going on west of the Canyon so the smoke cut visibility down a lot.

0412171312

Overall, Winslow is an unexciting town but had a Walmart & several good places to eat. Again tho, we moved on after our free 14-day stay at McHood. I read a book a couple of years ago that took place in Big Lake AZ & always wanted to visit it. So, we actually spent a night at an RV park – PLUGGED into full hookups – to tour Big Lake. It’s just a lake, no actual town. Hey, at least I got to see the area tho.

16-04-2017 10.18.20(1)

Next, we traveled east to Pie Town NM on Highway 60. It sort of hurt leaving Arizona after five months but at least we really enjoyed the three nights spent free in the City Park at Pie Town. And we were close enough to just walk across the street every day for PIE! The wind blowing thru the pine trees was nearly magical but we both were affected by the 7800’ elevation near the Continental Divide & lack of oxygen so leaving wasn’t all that bad.

18-04-2017 12.20.56

We got up close to & visited the Visitor Center at the Very Large Array east of Pie Town an hour. It’s interesting how many movies have used this facility in a film.

0419171315a

So, the plan was to head up to Santa Fe & Taos before sliding into southern CO & Pagosa Springs. However, Mother Nature had other ideas regarding the weather & we just zipped south on I-25 to Truth or Consequences to wait for Spring to finally arrive to the north. My Casita friend Emily lives in TofC & I visit her each time I come thru the area. And, we discovered a BLM spot called Mitchell Point at Exit 92 north of town to camp for awhile. It was handy & free but not very scenic, no trees, & horribly windy. Fortunately, we found another free camp spot south of town right along side the Rio Grande River. It’s spring in the valley so water is being released for irrigation from Elephant Butte Lake & the River is running full, fast, & clean. We picked a spot with a huge shade tree that was real close to perfect. Had shade all day long under this tree, the river was right there, & we had very little traffic coming by. One of the very best campsites I’ve ever been at. AND. . .the city park in TofC had a free dump site, free water, & trash cans for our trash.

0501171358

We took a day to travel west up & over the Gila National Forest to Silver City & then thru City of Rocks State Park. It’s such an unusual & unexpected place.

0430171116b     0430171512b

For years, people have talked about visiting the hot springs in Truth or Consequences (originally named Hot Springs) so since neither John nor I had ever been to one, we finally tried it. We picked Riverbend Hot Springs out of the 10 or so in town because it’s situated right along side the Rio Grande & all the pools overlook the river. The private room we had for 50 minutes had water between 105 & 107 degrees, & after the initial OMG that’s hot reaction, it wasn’t too uncomfortable. There was a cold water shower too if we got too hot. Not surprising, we were both like limp dishrags all the next day.

0503171754b      0503171754d

We also took a day to drive down to Las Cruces & over the east mountain to White Sands National Monument. It’s the largest gypsum dunes in the world.

DSC05326

So, very reluctantly – in spite of several 90° days & uncomfortable nights waiting for it to cool down inside – we left Truth or Consequences after our free 14 days along the Rio Grande River to head north, regardless of how cool it still is up there.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Leaving Quartzsite Winter 2017

Well the 2017 Fiberglass Rally at Dome Rock BLM area had around 150 units this year, not as many as last year, but they still filled the area well. John created & sold some decals of the Rally, & hopes to create & sell more next year for other rallies in the area.

DSC04307      DSC04309

DSC04310      DSC04311

I suspect John felt a bit overwhelmed by all us little white trailers tho because he returned to the LTVA area before the Rally was over & I moved over next to Wendy & Diane, up on a hill with a fantastic view of the whole area. We needed a break from each other & he felt sort of bad about me spending less time with Wendy than with him. So after the Rally ended & most of the “eggs” had moved on down the road, I met up with Wendy near Yuma at the Pilot Knob LTVA area as she finished up her dental appointments in Los Algadones, Mexico. It was a convenient parking spot but pretty bland, so we decided to take a little road trip into California. This was our last opportunity to travel together before she headed back to Florida.

I always wanted to see Slab City, southeast of the Salton Sea, but wasn’t comfortable going alone nor staying overnight. So Wendy & I drove through it on our way to Borrego Springs, CA to look at the metal sculptures of pre-historic animals around the area. Some people really like Slab City & feel safe there – neither Wendy nor I felt that, plus it was cloudy & gloomy as a storm was coming across southern CA, so we were fine leaving the area quickly.

IMG_20170217_125922

I had been thru Borrego Springs years ago but didn’t know for sure where to boondock camp. We ended up next to the horse sculptures for a rainy night, & drove around the next morning looking at more sculptures. Again, it was cold & gloomy, trying not to rain, & just made the whole experience uncomfortable. As we headed northeast toward Joshua Tree Nat’l Park, it rained pretty hard on us occasionally. Bad time for a trip to southern California.

IMG_20170217_154725

DSC04326      DSC04337

We took a short cut from Mecca CA at the northwest corner of the Salton Sea thru Box Canyon Road to cross I-10 directly south of Joshua Tree National Park where we intended to camp for the night. Unfortunately, Wendy & I were both tired, cold, a little damp around the edges, & didn’t like the total absence of cell phone service in the Park – so we just continued east on I-10 for a couple hours & returned to Quartzsite. Even tho we had to set up in the rain, it still felt like home!

Wendy & I hung out until Tuesday when she left to start her annual migration back to Florida. John joined us for a “last meal” before she left, & he helped grease her trailer axles for her long trip. I learned how to do that last Fall, but it’s just so much easier for a guy to mess with that mechanical stuff.

Thursday, John & I went to Los Algadones, Mexico to shop, eat, & for him to get his first pair of glasses. They help him but are taking time to adjust to. We hung out with a couple from Canada also waiting for the line thru Customs to shorten – but that didn’t happen so it still took us two hours to get back into the US. Didn’t get home until after dark.

Then Friday, we made a (sunny but cool) day trip to Joshua Tree National Park & I got to see a whole lot more of it than before. We’d like to return for a longer stay to see more of the Park so plan to visit either on our way north from Quartzsite soon or next winter before returning to Quartzsite.

DSC04372          DSC04376 

DSC04381          DSC04367

DSC04385

received_1135555093209361We rode with another couple (Carol & Peter from Canada) for a visit to the Desert Bar, north of Parker. We’d all been there before but not with each other. One of the priceless joys of RVing is running into previous friends in unexpected locations. The Canadian couple John & I visited with in Algadones while waiting to get thru Customs was also at the Desert Bar that day with another couple, so the eight of us sat around visiting for hours. It was a really great day.

Life has slowed WAY down around Quartzsite now as people are leaving to return to their homes or find cooler locations. Ironically, the nights in late February were colder than the rest of the winter. John & I are getting both our rigs ready to travel & are going to caravan together this summer. Since he has a long list of places he wants to visit, I just plain don’t want to sightsee alone, & we both need to return to South Dakota for driver’s licenses this summer, it seems like a win-win solution to travel together. Besides, we sort of enjoy each other’s company!

The last few days in Quartzsite really heated up, so we left on a Sunday instead of waiting for Monday (a better travel day). We had our last Friday night fish at Darlene’s & our last pizza & beer Saturday at Silly Al’s. Part of me just hates leaving Quartzsite because it has always felt so much like home to me. It’s hard to describe to people but it’s eclectic, quirky vibe is addictive. Nevertheless, Kira & me in the Tundra pulling my egg with two cats & John & Beethoven in his Class A pulling a cargo trailer headed NORTH on our summer adventure.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

I Met Someone. . .

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted cause I’ve had a busy couple of months . . . spending time with John, the decal guy I met back in December. It’s been a couple of months now & we’ve been working on getting to know each other & becoming really good friends. It may last a week or years – don’t know or worry about it as long as we’re enjoying each other’s company today. Plus Kira is happy having John’s dog as a play mate. I recently changed my Facebook status to “in a relationship” tho & was amazed over all the well wishes from friends. Guess I’ve been a big worry or concern for some people. I look back on my nearly 16 months now since Jeff’s death & realize I’ve changed (grown) quite a bit, almost becoming a different person than ever before. I’ve learned finally to trust my own decisions & have accepted that I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy or safe. Since I’ve spent most of my adult life having a male companion near, this was nearly as big a learning curve for me as figuring out how to manage living in & traveling with my trailer alone. In spite of all the tears & uncertainty, I guess it was a self-imposed loneliness I needed to go thru. I’ve learned to never expect either the good or the bad to last forever & to expect the unexpected.

Quartzsite was warmer this winter than last winter, but has had more days of rain & cloudy skies. Rain in the desert is always a special time tho. The clouds over the distant mountains is mesmerizing, as well as water droplets on the saguaro.

DSC04172

DSC04163

So John & I have spent a lot of days investigating the Quartzsite area. He’s been teaching me how to safely drive my 4x4 Tundra pickup over some pretty rough ATV trails. I finally decided tho that I could trust his driving the truck so I could get back into taking photos as a passenger. One day we followed an ATV trail south of Q Mountain (south side of Quartzsite), all along the west side of Tyson Wash (the river running north thru town) & discovered an old rock house.

IMG_20170114_171233

Another day we drove east on King Valley road at the south end of KOFA just to see what was over there. This is the back side of the mountain just south of Palm Canyon. The clouds made awesome shadows on the rugged mountain.

DSC04238

We also drove east on Plumose Road (north of town) to look at Bouse AZ & stopped at the Fisherman Intaglio on the way back. There’s another ancient ground graffiti north of Blythe CA similar to this. It’s hard to make out the drawing while standing next to it, so taking a photo was even more difficult.

DSC04202

After traveling over a rough ATV trail behind Dome Rock, we discovered the unique Gold Eye Mine. The owner is buried there, surrounded by several burnt-out rock buildings, but this display of decorated toilets had my attention.

DSC04282

We visited the vendors in town several times, ate out numerous times (especially Friday night fish at various restaurants), & walked thru the big RV Tent Show & the QIA Pow Wow (lots of rocks). I attended the BloggerFest 2017 this year & met lots of new people but only a few bloggers I met last year were present.

Of course, the sunrises & sunsets in this location at this time of year have been eye-popping. Apparently all the California drought & dust in the air make the sky come alive.

010817Sunrise      DSC04088DSC04099      DSC04151DSC04204      DSC04222DSC04246      DSC04249

I’ve been parked next to John’s big Class A for a month in La Posa South LTVA but John&Iwe moved together recently to Dome Rock as the Fiberglass Rally is about to start. This will be my 5th year at this rally & I’m looking forward to visiting with previous friends & making new ones. Last year had around 185 molded fiberglass units snuggled together near Dome Rock. John seems to consider us egg people sort of a cult (can’t imagine why). He’s a big guy tho & needs most of that room in his Class A but admits he’s a little envious of all the narrow, remote places I can get my trailer into. I took this photo of us the other day so at least you know I’m not imagining him.