Sunrise brings a sprinkling of rain and more high winds

Sunrise over the Kofa Mountains

Normally, I'm up too late for sunrise, but this morning, I woke to the sound of rain on the trailer.  I was enjoying the sounds when Fay Wray realized I was awake and began her morning campaign to get me up: meowing, bouncing off the walls of the trailer, landing on me, using me as a launchpad - in short, making it impossible to consider going back to sleep.  

Seemed like a good project day

I brought a roll of reflectix insulation along and several weeks ago fitted a panel for the back window.  It has worked really well to keep the sun/heat out of the trailer.  I decided today I would cut panels for the rest of the windows - not needed now but if , in the future, I'm camping someplace really cold, they'll help to insulate against the cold.  The non-opening windows all have a handy channel that the reflectix fits into nicely.  For the opening windows, I cut the panels to fit the frame.  The next time I'm in town, I'll pick up some Velcro 'dots' and use that to stick the panels to the window frames.  Meanwhile, the panels fold up and fit very neatly under the dinette seat.

No pictures of the reflectix panels, so these saguaro will have to do

Some cactus play by the rules

Others dance to their own music!

I've heard that when folks say "the desert smells like rain", the smell is the fragrant creosote bush.  Tonight, as scattered rain continues, I can validate the saying!  My trailer is smelling like incense.

Can you see the little hummer in the middle of this creosote bush?

What to do with a windy day . . .

Fly kites, of course!

Years ago, before I traveled with greyhounds, I spent a lot of time on beaches flying sport kites. I got pretty good; I could put a kite up in almost any wind condition; I could do several tricks; I got pretty confident.

That was a LONG time ago!

Pulling out several kites, I wonder if I'll even remember how to assemble them!

Luckily, the jumble of strings and supports give way to some kind of muscle-memory and I get a couple different kites assembled.  

What follows is not pretty!

Set up a kite; walk back 80 feet to the staked handles; launch the kite . . .

Bad idea to try this one - it's small and difficult to manage in the best of times!

A moment of hope as the kite springs into the air (kites love to fly!)

Then, the wind gusts, the kite lurches, I  overcorrect . . . SPLAT!!

The walk of shame . . . 

One of the first things I learned with kites is to re-launch them no matter what position they end up in on the ground - but that is not happening today.  The wind smashes the kites onto the hard desert shingle - loosening struts.  And the lines are getting snagged on cactus.

So, the 'walk of shame' is when you have to have to walk back to your kite, straightening out the lines and resetting your kite.

This process repeats, and repeats, and repeats.  RVSue drives by on her way into town - yup, the desert is a hard place to fly a kite.  Bill and Anne, and then some quad OHV riders come by . . . nope - still don't have one in the air.

"Take pictures" calls Anne as she and Bill take off on Refuge business.

My most reliable kite - I couldn't even help this one get into the air!

 I'll be spending time on the beach in Oregon this summer

Clearly, I have some work to do in reclaiming my kite flying skill!

So discouraged I had to have pizza and beer

I decided to get some errands done in town and treet myself to lunch at Silly Al's.  Everyone at the Quartzite gathering had raved about the place.  

My first surprise was that there were actually a couple of good beers on tap ( in the pacific northwest, we tend to get very particular about a) coffee, b) small run craft beers, c) Oregon grown Pinot Noir).    I started my lunch with a Kilt Lifter Scottish style ale - excellent!

I ordered a mini Hawaiian pizza - after almost two months of my own cooking - it was delicious!

Lunch almost took away the sting of my failed attempts with the kites!

Another great sunset

I took pics of this one about a week ago.

Palm Canyon - Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

Chance meeting at the laundromat

Last week in Yuma, I finally broke down and found a laundromat.  While there, a woman says Hello and asks if I'm Anne - I was so surprised!  Turns out I met Anne (yes, we're both Anne) and her husband Bill at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon a couple years ago.  Wow, she has a good memory - Anne also follows my blog.  As we chat, she tells me that they are camp hosts at Palm Canyon.  Oh yay, this gives me more confidence to visit Kofa after my stay at Imperial Dam.

Kofa mountains from my new site

New camp on Palm Canyon Road

As I drive along looking for suitable campsites, I see a large area off the road aways - it's good to be a little way of the road and away from the dust that cars throw up - and look, there's a small fiberglass trailer - maybe it's someone I met at the Quartzite rally!

Anyway, I pull off the road and then get out to scout around.  I've been surprised before when the road suddenly drops down into a wash.

View out into the desert; set up for sunset!

Meeting one of my inspirations for boondocking!

As I walk around, I'm taking a closer look at the little trailer - hmmmm . . . it's a Scamp, white tow vehicle with a solar panel on top . . . I check the back bumper on the trailer - omg, there's a familiar antenna!  I think that my neighbor is RVSue ( ) - later as I'm setting up camp, I hear two small dogs barking - that seals the deal - gotta be Sue.

Later, I take a walk and introduce myself - Sue is almost finished waxing her trailer!  Now, I'm really feeling bad about my filthy dirty, bug-spattered trailer (mind you, not bad enough to actually wash it).  I met the canine crew but after saying hello, they retreat to shade and their bones.  I had a nice visit with Sue before leaving her to enjoy her extremely shiny home (and a big bowl of popcorn).

Palm Canyon Hike

Short, but rugged hike traces about .5 mile up into the canyon before you see a narrow draw off to the left and up in the cleft - are palm trees!  Apparently, you can walk/clamber-over-rock and follow the draw up past the visible palms to a point where the draw takes another sharp turn to the top of the mountain, with a lot more palms to be seen there.  However, it's not recommended unless you are in good shape and don't mind some rock climbing - also, they warn about snakes.

Entry to the canyon

Palm trees near the top of the draw - the sun hadn't quite lit them up yet.

A look back down from inside the Canyon
It took me quite awhile to hike into the canyon.  I kept getting stopped by the birdsong echoing off the canyon walls, or the flowers, once I stopped to watch a hawk spiraling upwards in the morning thermals.  The deeper I climbed into the canyon, the more I noticed a slight dampness and the smell of the plants.

The desert is starting to bloom!

It's later than I thought!

Despite the warm days, I was thinking that it was still too early and the ground too cold for snakes to come out of hibernation.  But today, I saw my second rattlesnake in a week.

I thought this one was dead on the the road, so I stopped to take a picture.  As I approached (carefully), it proved to be very much alive and none to happy.  I guess if I had just gotten up after a long sleep and hadn't had time for breakfast or the snake equivalent of a strong cup of coffee before the popparazi started buzzing around with their cameras, I'd  be a bit peevish too.

Hope she made it out of the middle of the road!
Now, I have another thing to worry about when FW takes walks around the trailer!  No going into the bushes for her!

Kitty Corner

FW exploring the fire pit

And, of course, another super sunset!

Sketching the Music Jam

Sunday afternoon, musicians and audience collect at the pavilion

A white back drop, some speakers and a couple of microphones set the stage in the shade of the pavilion.  People bring chairs, dogs, and their knitting. Musicians show up with guitars, banjos, a Ukeleli, harmonicas, a saxophone.  Folks take turns playing, other musicians provide accompaniment.  Lots of old favorites and a few that people have written themselves.  I wish I knew more tunes so i could play along on my harmonica or recorder.

Instead, I enjoy the music and sketch.

My favorite; takes a few sketches to warm up!


So hard to get good photos of these tiny dive bombers!

My camera automatically stitches together shots taken in burst mode!

Shortly after I put my camera away, there was a dramatic aerial conflict between a couple of these very territorial little birds - too bad I didn't catch any of that!

Things are hopping at the LTVA

This morning on my bike ride I came across a miniature airstrip and several guys practicing their touch-and-goes with small electric ( and one not so small, gas powered) remote-controlled air planes.  They regaled me stories of learning to fly - lots of crashes and trips back to the hobby shop.  One little plane was so sophisticated that it even had an auto-pilot feature!  You can turn it on for landings, it automatically kicks in if there's a stall or uncontrolled dive.

I took a nap this afternoon and was awakened by music and a microphone - there was a wedding reception in the pavilion below my campsite!

Kitty Corner

I'm trying to give FW as much freedom as I can when she's outside.  I let her roll around in the dirt turning her immaculate white coat to cafe au lait; I let her examine all the tiny rodent holes; I drew the line when she wanted to roll in burro poop.

Imperial Dam LTVA

Can't miss this turnoff

From highway 95, the turnoff for Imperial Dam is also the entry to the military Yuma Proving Ground.  You can climb on the old guns; further down the road is another display of old military stuff that you can play on (totally at your own risk, there are many signs forbidding climbing on the equipment and denying any responsibility for injury - but, really - how could anyone resist).

On each side of the entry road sits a 200mm m1 howitzer; sure can't miss these babies!

Tanks, howitzers, rockets and rocket launchers, troup carriers, all sorts of big rusty stuff.

The LTVA is massive and has some surprising services

In addition to the usual RV dump, fresh water, and trash dumpsters, there is a 'Liberry' trailer book exchange and a can and plastic recycling program that funds a surprising library accessory program.  The library maintains a collection of folding tables, BBQ's, and other common things that you might want if you're hosting a party or have someone visiting you (but that you wouldn't keep in a small trailer).  You can check this stuff out just like a library book.  How cool is that!!

I'm told that there are organized exercise classes several times a week at the pavilion and a musical jam session every Sunday afternoon (in the pavilion just below my campsite).  All that, and Yuma is still only about 20 miles away.

There are lots of different areas to camp and even more styles.  Some rigs are lined up like streets; others are grouped into a circle-the-wagons style.  Some are loners.

I'm betting this guy got here in September to snag this primo spot!

A Class B or maybe conversion van disguised as an Arabian tent (very cool and shady under those sun screens)

Jon Vermilye, was still camping at Imperial Dam when I arrived.  Yay, I'm camping near him - and his hummingbird feeder has got the locals trained (as a result, my feeder had visitors within the first day).  When I noticed equine poop near my site, Jon said that he'd heard the wild burros that hang out on the military proving ground several times during his stay - so apparently, they wander through the LTVA as well.  Later that afternoon, I saw a group of 4 burros (including a foal) about 100 yards away, casually strolling thru the campsite.  Unfortunately, I was walking Fay Wray and couldn't get to my camera).

Lots of bicycling and hiking in the area.

I've been walking and bicycling every day.  I met a gal from Bend, OR. who had the good sense to bring a kayak!  She's been out on the reservoir every day.

Best of all, no bugs!

Kitty Corner

Endlessly Curious!

Driven out of Yuma!

I was invaded by gnats

I was sitting in my trailer, quietly reading a book after dinner when I noticed some gnats buzzing around my head.  I looked up and was appalled to see the light cover, well, covered in gnats!  So were the mini-blinds, and as I looked around, I realized that the other light covers were also covered in gnats.

They were so small that the window screens couldn't keep them out.  I sprayed with some insect spray, but it barely made a dent!  And it was way too hot to close the windows.  I sprayed and cleaned, and sprayed and cleaned, turning out lights as I went until I was in the dark - but still pretty surrounded by gnats.  Fortunately, they didn't bite.

I'm outta here!!

I hate bugs!  So, even though my campsite is very convenient to Yuma - I'm moving.  Fortunately, I had spent the whole day in Yuma taking care of various errands - life goes on while on the road and the car needed maintenance, the laundry needed doing, I needed to pick up mail (and mail the monkeys!), there were groceries to be bought, etc.  So, I was in pretty good ship to head off to who-knows-where!

Where to go next?

After only 3 days in Yuma, I didn't want to have a big driving day.  I decided to try Imperial Dam LTVA, just about 50 miles from my current spot.  I'd heard about it from a guy while I was in Quartzite - maybe he's even still there.

New camp near Yuma, AZ

Boondocking on American Girl Mine Road

I had heard that there was boondocking on Sidewinder Road West of Yuma of I-8.  Here's a tip - don't take the Sidewinder road exit!  From that end, you have about 5 miles of very rough washboard before you get to the boondocking area.  There are huge sand berms on both sides of the road - no way for most vehicles and RV's to navigate over them.

Instead, proceed west to Ogilby Road exit and go north thru Picacho Recreation Area, across the train tracks.  American Girl Road, and several other areas that allow camping start right after the train tracks.  

Here's my new camp:

Kitty Corner

It continues to be blistering hot here!  FW naps during the day, but as the sun starts to go down, she has begun to display intense interest in OUTSIDE (by intense I mean meowing continually and climbing on the screen door - yikes!).

So, as usual, I caved!

So far, when she gets scared, she runs back to the trailer.  I'm surprised by how brave she is and how far she wanders!  She's learning to not freak out at the restrictions of the leash.  For the last couple of days, she been outside for about 20 minutes each  evening - she explores chipmunk holes while I follow her around keeping the leash untangled, watching the sunset and watching out for kitty predators (3D - snakes, coyotes, birds of prey).

Takes her awhile after I bring her in before she calms down and stops looking for exits and meowing.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

RV'ing Women Event, Arizona Chapter

When I was in Quartzite, I heard about an event "RV'ing women" was hosting and decided to check it out.  I'd been wondering if it would be an organization that would be useful when I was on the road.  I think, based on the weekend, that I might join.  The event itself was fun, drawing women not only from Arizona but others like me who were fleeing the winter weather in our northern home states.  Got my fill of socializing for awhile and made a few contacts that may grow into longer term friendships.

Unusual crested organ pipe

Cactus, cactus, cactus . . . and then more cactus!

The Organ Pipe Cactus Monument is a specially designated bio-zone (not exactly the correct term) dedicated to preserving the unique, pristine nature of the Sonoran desert.  It is the greenest of the 4 american deserts and forested with saguaro, organ pipe, ocotillo, agave, brittle bush, creosote, mesquite, ironwood, paloverde, prickly pear, fishhook and barrel cactus, and, a lot of flowers this time of year.

The campground is only about 5 miles from Mexico!

Several groups were continuing on after the weekend to Rocky Point, Mexico. Rocky point is a beach town on the Sea of Cortez.  Fresh shrimp, an ocean beach - hard to imagine while sitting amidst the dessert sands and cactus!  Very tempting if I had had the proper paper work for Fay Wray!

Being so close to the border is an interesting experience after 9-11.  There are border inspection stations along all the highways north out of Mexico and along the major east/west highways.  Not much hassle, although most of them have dogs that take a sniff at your vehicle.  I saw a border patrol take down of a vehicle a couple miles from one of the inspection sites and several women at the event had similar stories.
There are signs at most of the major boondocking areas warning of illegal activity and what to do if you see anything suspicious.  

At Organ Pipe, rangers told me that they have found more than 150 miles of illegal roads cut into the park, along with marijuana grows and meth labs.  Such a shame to damage such a fragile and beautiful place.

Sunrise, I was trying to hike up to a viewpoint - but overslept :'(   

Kitty Corner

Arizona is experiencing unusually warm weather - high 80's.  So warm, the snakes are starting to come out of hibernation early!

Mom, it's 92 in here!
Be sure and catch my next post - FW's solution to the heat!