Posts Tagged With: Arizona

Weeks 27 – 29: Yuma and Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Yuma

This was our second year back in Yuma and this year was even better because my nephew’s family lives there now and we driveway surfed for a week.  The next week our friends Chyerl and Jesse joined us  camping in the desert off Sidewinder Road about 14 miles west of Yuma (which is actually in California).  I was surprised by the way I felt when I saw the “Welcome to California” sign.  I felt really happy to be back in the state I’ve called home since 1979.

We parked in Kevin and Mariya’s driveway where they an an RV spot. I still don’t know how Ralph backed our 33 foot Motorhome in the spot. As you can see from the photo below, it was a very tight spot, so tight in fact that we couldn’t get the door open all the way and had to squeeze through it for the week we were parked there.

Driveway surfing...we barely fit

Driveway surfing…we barely fit

We took advantage of Kevin, Kevin’s tools and the many RV stores in the Yuma area to complete a long fix-it list. Ralph installed a new toilet, kitchen faucet, water pump, check the slides, light fixture above the kitchen sink, valve extender on a tire, and hinge under the bed. I also purchased new curtains for the front of the rig. Yuma is an RVer’s dream. There must be 50 RV parks filled with mostly Canadian’s (seasonal) and many RV stores and dealers. Yuma also has three “swap meet” type marketplaces for you to spend your money in. We bought a sun screen to hang from our awning to block the sun and a roll up table to use when there is no table at the campsite. Both things we’ve wanted to buy for a while and they had very good prices at the swap meet.

We had such a good time with the desert Furtah’ s. Mason, my grandnephew, is almost four years old and was so much fun to spend time with. He warmed up to us pretty quickly and had Ralph playing with him and his toys in no time! After we moved to the boondocking site on Sidewinder, they came out to visit us twice.

Arizona Swap Meet...the desert Furtahs: Kevin, Mariya and Mason

Arizona Swap Meet…the desert Furtahs: Kevin, Mariya and Mason


An usie...Mason and I

An usie…Mason and I

We all went across the border into Los Algodones, Mexico for the day. Ralph was our tour guide because he has been there a couple times before. Mariya wants to get some dental work done at the same dentist that Ralph had dental work done. The seven of us (including Chyerl and Jesse) walked across the border and the four blocks to the dental office. Mariya met the dental staff and checked out the office and made an appointment for a full consultation in March. We then went to a great restaurant for lunch and drinks. For seven lunches, four beers, one margarita and a couple of soft drinks the bill was $44.00. We purchased several things from the vendors that like the sidewalks and then walked back across the border. There wasn’t even a line at the border crossing. We all had a fun time and I think the desert Furtah’ s will be returning in the future.

Mason's first trip to Mexico

Mason’s first trip to Mexico


Colorful Mexico

Colorful Mexico


Mexico

Mexico


A day in Mexico...great lunch

A day in Mexico…great lunch

Chyerl, Jesse, Ralph and I went Geocaching one day and found eight geocaches.  They were all located along Sidewinder Road and pretty easy to find.  We had a long walk and came across this marked grave.

 

RIP in the desert

RIP in the desert


Looking for a geocache

Looking for a geocache


We found it...actually eight of them!

We found it…actually eight of them!

The next day Kevin, Mariya and Mason came out to our campsite with the s’mores fixings and we had a campfire. Little Mason really enjoyed himself out in the “wild”. Jesse got out his drone and flew around the area video taping.  When I get a copy I will post it here.

Drone pilot and co-pilot

Drone pilot and co-pilot


Drone flying over the desert

Drone flying over the desert


Another perfect Ralph campfire

Another perfect Ralph campfire


Desert Furtah's at the campfire

Desert Furtah’s at the campfire


S'mores in action!

S’mores in action!

I never tire of the beautiful desert sunsets.  I was very sad to leave Yuma and the “kids” and look forward to my next time in Yuma.

Desert Sunset

Desert Sunset

Lake Havasu City

From Yuma we caravanned with Chyerl and Jesse up to Lake Havasu City and stayed in the back lot of Prospector’s RV, the same place we stayed last year. We took advantage of their pool and showers and had a pleasant three day stay. We took Cheryl and Jesse to the Desert Bar. They couldn’t believe we took the Mini Cooper up the Desert Bar road last year. This year we had the Honda CRV and it was just as bumpy! We also went to an old car show at SARA park speedway. Also we had to make a stop at the London Bridge.

We started the last part of our trip back to California and the next stop: Death Valley!

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Week 26: Tucson, Ajo and Gila Bend, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

We were very happy to be back in Arizona.

Back in Arizona!

Back in Arizona!

Tucson was our first stop and we camped at the Gilbert Ray County Park, a small campground in Tucson Mountain Park in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. It is a county park that is very close to the Arizona – Sonora Desert Museum, Old Tucson Studios and Saguaro National Park West.

We arrived at Gilbert Ray about noon in order to ensure a campsite because they do not take reservations. Good thing we arrived early. We were the first in a line of many to get a site for the fours days we wanted to stay and explore Tucson. As soon as we finished setting up we headed over to the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. I read a lot about the Desert Museum on the many blogs I follow and was anxious to see it. And I must say it was fantastic! There are two miles of trails that wind through various Sonoran Desert habitats featuring flora and fauna native to the region, 16 desert botanical gardens, and earth sciences center cave showcasing minerals, animal exhibitions and animal-keeper demonstrations. They almost had to kick us  out of  the place at closing! It’s the number one attraction in Tucson and now we know why.

Desert Museum

Desert Museum

Desert Museum

Desert Museum

Desert Museum

Desert Museum

Fox at the Desert Museum

Fox at the Desert Museum

Desert Museum-Cholla Cactus

Desert Museum-Cholla Cactus

Desert Museum

Desert Museum

Desert Museum - Mountain Lion

Desert Museum – Mountain Lion

Yes...we see you.

Yes…we see you.

The next day we drove downtown to Tucson’s 4th Avenue District to meet a riding friend of Ralph’s for lunch. It’s a funky area with shops and restaurants. It was a lot like 6th Avenue in Austin. I love college towns. They are so alive with well…everything! After lunch we went to the Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show. What a place that was! It had everything from ready-made jewelry from dinosaur dung to ancient fossils for sale. It was interesting with a lot of eye candy.

Funky 4th St in downtown Tucson-top of a bar

Funky 4th St in downtown Tucson-top of a bar

Funky 4th St in downtown Tucson-all locks

Funky 4th St in downtown Tucson-all locks

Funky 4th St in downtown Tucson

Funky 4th St in downtown Tucson

Fossil

Fossil

Fossil

Fossil

Tucson is surrounded by Saguaro National Park East and West. The National Park was established to protect the Saguaro Cactus. The area we visited was like a forest of cacti. It was something to see. We took the scenic Bajada Loop Drive to explore the park. Here’s a few photos of the beautiful area.

These boots are made for walkin'

These boots are made for walkin’

Ramada with picnic table. Love this!

Ramada with picnic table. Love this!

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro Cactus

Saguaro Cactus

I also toured the Old Tucson Studios. I wasn’t sure about going there, but I decided to and it was interesting and educational too! The studio has hosted 300 film and TV productions since 1939 including film classics such as Rio Bravo, Tombstone and The Three Amigos. Many, many famous stars walked the streets of Old Tucson like John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Clint Eastwood and Kurt Russell. There was a film playing that showed all the films made at the studios and the various stars. The scenery and buildings are authentic and some very old. There was a fire (arson)  several years ago, so some of the buildings were rebuilt after the fire. I took a walking tour and a train tour of the entire grounds. Loved it!

Old Tucson Studio

Old Tucson Studio

Old Tucson Studio

Old Tucson Studio

Old Tucson Studio

Old Tucson Studio

Old Tucson Studio

Old Tucson Studio

After the studio tour I headed over to the Mission San Xavier Del Bac, a historic Spanish Catholic mission founded in 1692 by Padre Eusebio Kina. It was destroyed by Apaches in 1770. The current building was built between 1783-1797 and is the oldest European structure in Arizona. It is considered the finest example of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States. It was so beautiful! They are refurbishing the building.  As you can see the left side has been completed.  They are trying to raise funds to complete the right side.

Mission

Mission

Mission

Mission

Our time was short in Tucson and I hope to get back there sometime in the future.

Ajo, Arizona

We drove about 120 miles southwest from Tucson to Ajo, Arizona in order to visit Organ Pipe Cactus National Park. Ajo was a copper mining town back in the day. It’s a cute, little town about 25 miles north of the park. It is not far from the Mexican border so there were a few border patrol check points.   Let’s just say…we didn’t fit the profile. We actually boon docked (no hook ups) in the wild on Darby Well Road (BLM land). It felt so good to be back in the wild and the wide open spaces.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Historic Ajo

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Old Copper Mine

We spent the next day at Organ Pipe and drove the 21 mile Ajo Mountain Loop. Stops were numbered along the way and there was a brochure that guided us through the 18 stops. The park was formed by Franklin Roosevelt in 1937 to project the Organ Pipe Cactus which are rare north of the Mexican border. The cacti do not like cold weather.

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Organ Pipe Cactus

Organ Pipe Cactus

 

Gila Bend, Arizona

Our next stop was Gila Bend (pronounced He-la Bend) so we could visit the Painted Rock Petroglyphs Site. There is a campground right at the site. The campsites were very large and private with no hookups. Our senior rate was a whopping $4 per night. We could walk to the petroglyphs and also found a Geocache nearby.

That's us...the large one in the middle

That’s us…the large one left of middle

Another Geocashe found!

Another Geocashe found!

Painted Rock Petroglyph Site is an ancient archaeological site containing hundreds of symbolic and artistic rock etchings, or “petroglyphs”, produced centuries ago by prehistoric people’s.

Petroglyph Site

Petroglyph Site

Petroglyph Site

Petroglyph Site

Petroglyph

Petroglyph Site

Gila Bend has made national news by becoming the nation’s leader in the creation of a modern, renewable energy grid. It is home to four solar plant operations. I don’t understand why there are not more of these solar plants.

Our next stop is Yuma and a stay with my nephew Kevin and his family. And then friends will be joining us in the desert for some fun!

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Another beautiful sunset

Driving from Gila Bend to Yuma

Driving from Gila Bend to Yuma

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On the Road Again, January, 2015

We have been itching to get out of cold and foggy Sacramento since New Year’s and finally headed south on Jan 16 for the two day trip to Quartzsite, AZ.  This year we are here in time to catch the biggest gathering of RVs and Rvers on earth!  Think of Sturgis for RVs.  Said to be 150,000 people in Quartzsite, which normally has a population of 3,600.  It’s going to be a zoo.  However, I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of drunk women flashing their boobs in this crowd!  Ralph can only hope…

We (Ralph) drove 360 miles the first day and we overnighted at a rest area four miles west of Boron, CA.  I think it’s one of the few rest areas in CA where you can stay overnight. I learned about this from the Day’s End Directory published by the Escapees.  We joined the Escapees this year.  It’s an organization based in Texas geared toward full-time Rvers. The Day’s End Directory lists free or very low cost campsites around the country and it is constantly updated by the membership.  It’s a great reference for those of us who like to dry camp (without hookups).  It was a great place to spend the night, except for the train that passed by every hour.  With my earplugs in I barely heard a thing.  It did get pretty cold; it was 45 degrees in the rig when we woke up.  We started the furnace and within 15 minutes it was up to a comfortable 65.

We headed to the Dome Rock area seven miles west of Quartzsite to see if we could  find the same spot we camped in last year. But first we had to find water to fill up our freshwater tank. We went to the RV Pit Stop to fill up our fresh water tank and then went to Love’s to fill up the gas tank. Arizona doesn’t add as much tax to the price of gas, so it is less expensive.  And with gas so much cheaper; we are in hog heaven.  Just look at the price of regular unleaded!  Fill ‘er up!  When we first purchased the rig gas was around $4/gal.  Now half that…means we can go twice as far!  Remember, we only get seven miles per gallon. Do I hear a collective gasp?? We are going to explore more of Arizona’s southwest corner on this trip.

The price as been as low as $1.81 this week!

The price as been as low as $1.81 this week!

We are in the same area as last year, Dome Rock, seven miles west of town.  It’s boondocking at its best.  It’s elevated so we can see the twinkling lights of Quartzsite and it’s not as crowded.  However, it is much more crowded than last year because we were here after the big show. We can see the sun rise to our left and the sun set to our right.  It is beautiful.  We tried to get our same site as last year, but someone was already there.  Not surprised.  So we scouted another spot a little higher.  We are right o the fringe of the area so no one can pull in behind us.  Our friends, Diane and Ronnie are joining us in a few days so our location had to accommodate two rigs.  They have a 5th wheel travel trailer so we will both fit it this spot nicely.  It will be nice to have another couple along.  I don’t know how long we will be together, but it will be fun while it lasts.

THE Dome Rock

THE Dome Rock

Our view

Our view

Looking down at Quartzsite

Looking down at Quartzsite

Get ready, get set, RELAX!

Get ready, get set, RELAX!

The day after our arrival we ventured into town for the BIG RV Show.  I’ve never seen so many old people in one place!  Oh…right…that’s me too!  I keep forgetting…sigh…

I have to give some of these really old (smile) folks a lot of credit; they are using canes, scooters, etc to get around.  Heck one guy was using crutches and lugging a large oxygen cylinder along…that can’t be easy.  But yet, they are still out here, spending the winter in Arizona and going to the big show.  I don’t know how some of them get up the steps into their rigs.  Lesser folk would be home sitting on the sofa watching TV.  As my Southern friends would say, “Bless their little hearts”!

At the show there is one very big tent, called The Big Tent and that’s where vendors set up their wares.  And they are expensive wares.  We hear the rent is high in the Big Tent.  There are hundreds of other vendors that set up small tents on the streets and their prices are much more reasonable.  We are toying with the idea of getting a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).  There are sensors for each tire (including the car) that monitors the tire pressure and temperature.  There is a monitor in the cockpit that alarms when things are not right so that you can pull over before you get a blow out or flat. Tire blowouts are a serious problem for these large vehicles and can cause expensive damage to the rig. And 95% of blowouts are caused by low tire pressure.  We (Ralph) check our tire pressure every time we hit the road but, it would certainly add to our peace of mind if we had the TPMS.  We will probably leave Quartzsite with one in hand.  It about $450 dollars for the monitor and six sensors.  Cheap insurance if you ask me.

We’ll pick up a few more LED light bulbs and then we’ll have replaced every light with energy efficient bulbs. LEDs use 1/10th the energy of incandescent bulbs.  This makes a huge difference when we are living off of batteries charged by the sun.

Fred (AKA Freddy the Freeloader) is traveling with us on this trip. He has been really good.  He doesn’t try to get out of the rig like he did when Simon was along too.  We let him out to explore and roll in the dirt!  Oh my, how he loves to roll in the dirt. We have to clean him every time in comes back in.  He’s a great cat; friendly, affectionate, playful and comes when you call (mostly).  However, he doesn’t like it when we are underway.  He hides the entire time we are driving.

Fred enjoying the sun streaming in the window.

Fred enjoying the sun streaming in the window.

So that’s it for now.  Til next time…

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Roughing it Smoothly in Quartzsite, Arizona

After the holidays, I had a strong desire to get on the road again. In the RV blogs I read about many snowbirds, (or us rainbirds minus the rain) heading to the California and Arizona deserts in search of dry, warm weather. Ralph was game, so after preparing for two days, we hit Interstate 5 south towards the desert. We decided to bring my Mini Cooper instead of the motorcycle and rented a tow dolly so we could tow the car behind us. For $220 we could see if we prefer having a car with us or a motorcycle for getting around the areas where we are camped. To tow the car on a regular basis will take a $2000 investment for the tow bar, tow bar receiver and auxiliary braking system for the car (so it brakes when the motorhome brakes) and a shield to protect my little baby from road debris kicked up from the motorhome. That’s an investment we were not prepared to make just yet. It’s definitely a must for the full-time RVer’s. That’s not us…yet. Don’t know if it will ever be.

Took us two days to get to Quartzsite, just 20 miles east of Blythe, CA about 700 mile total. The Colorado River is the boundary between California and Arizona. The first thing we noticed is the .50 cent a gallon difference in the price of gas. That is .50 cents a gallon lower in Arizona. Apparently that’s the additional gas tax we pay in California.

Simon is finally getting accustomed to riding in the RV. I was shocked when he came out of his usually hiding space in the bedroom and jumped up on the sofa to enjoy the ride. Part of the time he even rode in my lap in the front seat. He’s come a long way, baby!

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Why Quartzsite you may ask? In the Winter, Quartzsite, let’s call it Q, a small desert town turns into the biggest gathering of people in the country. Over one million visitors gather here in their RVs. There is an RV show at the end of January that lasts 10 days. We missed this madness by a couple of days. Besides the mild weather (average 70 degrees) and the big RV show, the draw for many snow/rain birds is the 11,000 acres of BLM (US Bureau of Land Management) land surrounding the town where you can dry camp for free or next to nothing.

Dry camping (AKA boondocking) means no hook ups for electricity, water and sewer. The RVs are designed to be self-contained…that’s why they have generators, fresh water, grey water (for sinks and shower), and black water (for toilet) holding tanks. Also there is propane for heat, stove/oven, and refrigerator. Ralph installed a solar panel on the roof that helps keep the batteries charged…that is when there is sun. We’ve had several days of overcast weather and a little cool (in the 60s). It is supposed to warm into the high 70s this weekend. We were anxious to boondock and see how long we could camp off the grid. We are now on our 8th day and the water is running low. We’ve been conservative for sure, but not really inconvenienced very much, if at all.

We are camped seven miles west of Q on BLM land that allows 14 days of free camping. The Dome Rock area is not nearly as crowded as the areas closer to Q. It’s also a little hilly. We can see the sun rise in the east and set in the west and are surrounded by mountains in all directions. This is where we’ve called home for the last nine days.

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Done Rock Mountains

Done Rock Mountains

Our closest neighbor

Our closest neighbor

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The sunrises and sunsets have been awesome at times.

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunset

Sunset

And how about the size of this cactus!

Speaks for itself!

Speaks for itself!

There was even a boat parked here in the desert. Took a wrong turn??

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Ralph built a stone fire pit from the many rocks here. We’ve had some wonderful nights next to the fire, under the stars and talking, talking, talking. And he designed a special cup holder. How’s that for Michigan ingenuity?

Firepit

Firepit

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This trip is completely different than the last trip to the Southwestern US. We are not moving from place to place, staying in campgrounds with full hookups. It’s kind of nice to stay in one place. And it is amazing to me how fast a day can pass doing pretty much nothing other than going to the store or taking a long hike in the hills of the Dome Rock Mountains. This is also ATV country, so there are lots of dirt roads to hike. Other than going into Q to the store, our big outings have been to the vet twice and to the Kofa National Wildlife Refuse and hiking up to Palm Canyon.

Our cat Simon has a problem pooping on the road. He hadn’t gone since we left home…and that’s not good. So into the vet for a little rotor-routering. Seems the colon on old cats stop working properly. And I learned something I want to pass on to other cat owners. This clumping cat litter that we all buy for our convenience is not good for our cats…especially older cats. That stuff gets on their paws, they lick their paws and the stuff gets into their system and turns to cement while sucking all the moisture out of their digestive track. It’s the clay in the clumping litter that’s the problem. So…it’s only Yesterday’s News for my boy from here on out. It’s recycled newspaper. Simon is still adjusting to the new litter so we’ll see what happens.

The 23 mile drive south on Hwy 95 down to Kofa didn’t take long, however the seven mile drive down the dirt road to get to the trailhead for Palm Canyon was a long, bumpy ride. There are a lot of dry camping sites and it is very private and beautiful. This isn’t the desert of the Death Valley style…long flat expanses of sand. This is mountain desert with a lot of green, rocks, cacti and mountains. We wanted to visit Palm Canyon as it is the only place in Arizona with native palm trees. They are clustered in a narrow canyon in the Kofa Mountains. They are California Fan Palms and are suspected to be descendants of palms growing in the region during the last North American glaciation. The palms are able to survive in the narrow side canyons where direct sunlight is limited to about two hours and day and some moisture is available. We were able to photograph them in partial sun. Met a few people on the trail and stopped to chat for a few minutes. I must say, traveling people are very friendly and HAPPY! I do understand why.

Palm Canyon

Palm Canyon

Kofa Mountains

Kofa Mountains

We’ve decided to head back into California tomorrow morning after a stop at the RV Pit Stop to empty the grey and black water tanks and fill up the fresh water tank. We are headed to the south entrance to Joshua Tree National Park for our next bookdocking camping site. We will take the car and tour the park for a couple of days. It’s only 90 miles west of here on Hwy 10. It will be an easy day.

I’m glad we came here to check it out. We both liked being here and are ready to move on down the road. The desert has a beauty all unto itself.  We will cross Quartzsite off the bucket list for now.

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To quote Ralph, “There’s some beautiful-ass shit around here”. I totally agree! 

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