Great friends, the 'Great Tree, and the timeless 'Bouse Fisherman' Intaglio

Nov 20-27; Quartzite, AZ, camping in the desert.

Camping with a friend brings back memories.

My friend, Lyda, came to spend some time camping with me in her vintage VW Westfalia.  In the summer of 1974, we took another VW Westie from Colorado to Alaska and back.  Quite the adventure in the days before the Al-Can was paved;  it was my first experience traveling and camping for a significant period of time - and, as it turns out, that had a big impact on my idea of travel!

We spent the week touring around the Quartzite area, but rough camping in the VW wasn't as much fun for Lyda as it was 40 years ago - especially as the nights get colder.  While I don't mind camping alone, I will miss her.

Bailey, the shih tzu, is an amazingly sweet, yet rough and tumble little dog.  She probably would have loved to run in the fenced dog park that I found in Quartzite - unfortunately, after Lyda and Bailey headed back home.  

Nice fenced dog park with separate areas for big/small dogs - right next to the city park.

The 'Great Tree'

The landscape doesn't sport a lot of actual trees - but near the washes, one can find mesquite, palo verde, and ironwood.   One very large ironwood tree in town has been dated to over 1,000 years old and was photographed in the early 1900's - a landmark even then.

Quartzite AZ, Boondocking on Plomosa Rd

Nov 17, 2016; Quartzite AZ

I feel like I've come home!

For over 3 months, I've been traveling mostly to new places.  Coming to Quartzite, where I've spent 2 winters, really felt like coming home.  I know the landscape, the little town, I don't need my map and I just feel very relaxed!!

I have missed being in the desert!

The start to my winter

Nov 13, 2016;  Wickenburg AZ

It's been a busy summer, but now I feel like my winter trip has started.

I've been traveling to see friends, visit family, conduct family business, and other schedule driven activities for about 3 months now.  I had one more chore I wanted to get done before heading down to Quartzite for the winter.  

The SKP RV Park near Wickenburg, AZ has a 'smart weigh' facility.

Now that the trailer and the car are fully loaded for extensive traveling, I wanted to get an accurate read on how much it all weighs.  There is so much room in the trailer and the Pilot that it could be very easy to stuff it until I'm dangerously over-weight.  So, I got an appointment to get everything weighed.

The actual process was pretty quick and easy and I was glad to hear that I'm well under the max weight for the trailer and the SUV.  However, the balance is off - too much weight on the nose of the trailer and too much in the back of the Honda (of course, that's where I stash all the gear!).  So, my challenge over the winter will be to try to move as much weight as I can to the back of the trailer and forward in the car.  I've already put down the second row seats and moved most of my gear to right behind the first row of seats.  This is actually working well in terms of having easy access to various things - but limits the number of people I can drive around.  The smart weigh folks offer a discount on a re-weigh if you come back within 90 days - so, hopefully, the weight will be better balanced by then!

No pictures of the smart-weigh, so I'll show some from nearby Wickenburg!

Wickenburg has a picturesque downtown with a nice historic museum.  The town grew up around mining and ranching in the area in the mid-1800's.  

Outside the museum

Another statue outside the museum

Several 'old-timers' occupy the sidewalks with us tourists

Realistic detail!

Even the lamp posts wear Cowboy Hats

Back in Tucson to visit with friends

Nov 4-13, 2016; Tucson, AZ

Staying at an RV Park very near the San Xavier Mission and Tohono O'odham reservation.

The mission was built in the mid-1800's and is still an active church.  Parts of it are undergoing renovation as they seek to preserve the beautiful wood carvings and painting on the interior.  The exterior is beautifully landscaped with native plants.  I always find it to  be a restful and spiritual place.  The nearby cemetery, although closed to the general public is also a beautiful experience.  The markers are covered in bright colored flowers and wreaths (no photography is allowed).

Madera Canyon - huge destination for birders - known for hummingbirds!

But, apparently, not at this time of year.  We saw very few birds and NO hummingbirds.  Guess I'll have to do some more research and come back at the appropriate time.  But, it was a lovely hike and we did see a deer.

Lovely fall day

Sonoran hot dogs - apparently they're a thing.

I've heard about Sonoran Hot Dogs - apparently, they are quite a popular item and lot's and lot's of mexican restaurants and food carts offer their own take on them.  I checked 2 of the most highly recommended places and, even though I do love hot dogs, have to say that they are not anything very special.  Basically, a dog wrapped in bacon, accompanied by beans, onions, etc on a grilled, buttered bun.  

Great authentic food, frequented by locals

No frills - just good food

My not so spectacular Sonoran Hot Dog (the bun was very good though)

RV'ing Women National Convention

Oct 23-30; Mesa, Arizona

450 RV's of varying description at a deluxe RV Resort for a week!

The venue offered a full 18 hole golf course, at least 2 pools that I saw, hot tubs, an orange tree at every site, and was so big that I needed my bicycle to get around.  There were lots of seminars, fun events in the evening and a few day tours offered for sights in the area. 

I was all excited when I thought they were limes (for gin/tonics!); sadly - unripe oranges

Opening Address

Trip to an olive farm - tour, an olive oil tasting, and a great lunch.

Who knew that olive oils could taste so different!  I was surprised - some are very 'grassy' and fresh tasting.

While this Olive press is still used; most of the olives are processed in giant machines inside.

Authentic olive press - brought from Italy.  

Best of all, a chance to meet new friends and connect with friends I haven't seen in years!

Classic Lazy-Daze

Free Sunscreen in the desert

Oct. 18, 2016; Tucson, AZ   Saguaro National Park

I hadn't noticed this in restrooms before, but here in Tucson, free sunscreen!

As much as I like the sun, I can do without the increased risk of skin cancer - so, yes, I apply sunscreen liberally and often!

Sunscreen was welcome for the very hot day I spent at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum and the Saguaro National Park.

One can easily spend a day at the Museum.  Acres of native plants, a reptile room, a hummingbird aviary, the native black bear was away at the vet - but I saw a bit of the resident mountain lion (she was up in the shade with just the tip of her flicking out in the light).  

I think, a black-chinned hummer.

Petroglyphs in the Saguaro NP.  Easily accessible and great detail!

It was only a short walk to an extensive display of petroglyphs; I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them.

The saguaro is dense enough to really qualify as a forest!  

Some of the prickly pear still had ripe fruit (called 'tunas') and the bees were going crazy.  Natives still harvest the tunas to make jam and jellies.  

Most plants have 40-50 tunas on them!

Bees, braving the spines for sweet goodness.

Natives are allowed to harvest the fruit from the saguaros too.  Here is a pole made from the ribs of a dead saguaro, used by Natives to reach the saguaro fruit which is located at the very top of the very tall saguaro's.