Sunday, November 28, 2010

Craggy Wash–Lake Havasu, AZ

When it came time for the decision to be made whether to move or not, I had a little help.  My main power inverter decided to fry itself early in the morning as I was checking the news and weather, so that was all the urging I needed to pull of stakes and head out.  My back-up inverter is noisy and only works some of the time, so it is not much help.  I could always run some of the stuff from the generator, but I prefer the quiet of the suns rays and battery power if at all possible.

A pair of hikers approach the bottom of the main dune summit.

They are at low center of the photo and the trailhead is at the top center.


Now they are practically on hands and knees trying to climb up the sliding sand!CIMG2665CIMG2662

So we loaded up in the morning and headed further east on I-40 into Needles, where I googled a recycling depot and off-loaded all my cardboard, paper, and cans.  They didn’t do small batteries or plastics, so we still have a bit of that.  Loaded up on a few groceries at Bashaw, then headed for Arizona and a return to Mountain standard time.  I was sure there used to be an RV dump at the Pilot truck stop at the 95 junction, but there wasn’t one in the area, nor was there a convenient water source.  Nor did they fill propane tanks!  But they did have power inverters, so I went all out and got a 1000W version.

 I came up the ridge line, which was somewhat easier.  Sort of like climbing in snow, except not cold or wet.


From the summit, I could make out traffic on the I-15, about 30 miles to the north!CIMG2677CIMG2679

  Then we headed into Craggy Wash BLM site just north of Lake Havasu City.  More changes here again!  Last time I was here they closed the first mile of camping area, now they have an active host on site who actually issues permits!  They are free, but it is a way to enforce the 14 day rule, as there had been a fair sprinkling of homeless types in the area, and a fair bit of garbage, etc.  It’s all good, I guess. 

Map picture


But the road has suffered a bit of damage, partly due to flood waters at some point, and too many quads on the corners which forces all the gravel to the outside and makes quite a slant.  One corner was a bit too interesting to make it around with the fifth wheel – even in 4 wheel drive.  May have to do some roadwork myself to make it safer on the way out!  But I like to go a lot further back than the majority of campers, so for them it is not a problem.

Lake Havasu in the far distance, Hailey in the foreground.


But we got all set up in time to watch Hockey Night in Canada, and are all set to watch the Grey Cup game today.

If I don’t blog again for 3 weeks, maybe it is because the Rider’s did not win?  But there is little chance of that.



Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving – and Retirement!

Today was Thanksgiving in the US, but I was giving thanks as well.  Today was also my last day of ‘work’.  As of tomorrow, I will be officially retired from working for the federal government!  And I am giving thanks that I am down in the warm sun of the desert and not dealing with some of the –39 temps and snow around home.  It has been a cool spell down here as well, but I will try to not complain as long as there is no snow to shovel. 

And as of today, I guess I could almost call myself a ‘full-timer’, tho I’m not sure I can use the title because I still have the house up north.  I just don’t know yet how often it will get visited by me!  These are pics of my house a year or so ago, but it probably looks pretty similar there right now.  Beautiful, but chilly!


Since my last post, Hailey and I have moved on down the road, and have now been in the Mojave National Preserve for several days.

Map picture
Map picture

I’m losing track of how many days we have been here, so that is a good thing!  The only question now is whether the supplies will last until the Grey Cup game on Sunday, or whether I will have to move along and replenish?  It is a fairly isolated area with no fuel or services for many miles, so if supplies run low it would be easier to move camp than to drive many miles to a store and return again.  Next stop is likely to be Lake Havasu?CIMG2622

It is very quiet here with lots of room and only a few distant neighbors in the area. 

Great desert hiking is available all around, including up the Kelso dunes.  Hailey has been given the run of the camp, and is really enjoying the freedom.  Here she found a spot in the hitch to hide out! (Click any photo for a larger view)


I went for a hike the other day and found a vacant desert tortoise shell.  I have only ever seen a live one once, near Quartzsite, and I don’t think they are active this time of year, but the former occupant of this shell had not been using it for quite some time.CIMG2640CIMG2641CIMG2642

There are also some tortoise-shaped burrows in the same area, but I don’t know what type of animal inhabits them?CIMG2643CIMG2644CIMG2645

This sign likely pre-dates the National Preserve, which I think has been here for only 10 or so years now?CIMG2646CIMG2647

After having a few ‘issues’ with my satellite internet gear when I was on Vancouver Island in October, it has been working well ever since.  I finally got around to hooking up my voip phone correctly – the same one and same number as I use(d) at home.  There is a bit of a delay due to the satellite connection, but it was working well, so I took advantage of the virtually free calling and made a few calls to celebrate my last day of work.

(Hailey playing ‘hide and seek’!)


Even though I have been fortunate to have spent a lot of time down south in the last few years, there has always been a date when I had to be back to work.  Now it feels weird and very nice not to have any deadlines at all.  Certainly, I will head back north in the spring, but until then I check the map and online sources daily, looking for interesting places to make my next stop.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Southbound again.

I enjoyed the beautiful sunny, warm weather at Lake Sonoma, but the forecast was changing as a big cold front came in from the north west.  The weather maps showed that the very southern tip of the snow might actually reach me, so it was time to move on.

Even the local bat populations seemed to be seeking shelter


Perhaps the ‘bat house’ was full, but this little one was crawling in behind the glass on this signboard.



So we bid Liberty Glen farewell and headed south and out of wine country.


We picked up I-5 and made a mile, eventually pulling into Bakersfield for the night, where it rained, but was still fairly mild.   We went east from Bakersfield over Tehachapi pass, and I took the scenic route the last little ways into the town of the same name.  It is a steep ascent, and the railroad has to make a spiral to get up the grade.  I stopped to read the plaque calling it one of the wonders of the railroad world, and I’m sure it is considering it was done mostly with hand tools and Chinese labourers about 120 years ago.  But when compared to the spiral tunnels in Yoho National Park back home, it somewhat paled.  There, the CPR mainline makes two spirals to get up to the continental divide, but unlike Tehachapi, the spirals are entirely in tunnels right inside the mountains.  Regardless it is beautiful country and high elevation, so I did not want to remain there long with the weather still coming down.

Staying on the secondary roads, I found one through a part of Edwards AFB, CIMG2609which worked well for the first 15 miles, till I came to the security gate! 

One U-turn later, I was back on #58 eastbound again towards Barstow.CIMG2611

But not before another fiasco at those lovely California gas pumps that are very unfriendly to non-US credit cards.  No, the ‘postal code’ trick does not work for me.  This time I had to go inside and leave both my credit card and my driver’s licence!  Well, I pumped $1.81 worth before the guy accidentally turned off my pump!  After another trip inside to re-start the pump, I put in an additional $44. worth.  So I was expecting to pay a total of $45.81.  Nope.  He charged me $44.53 for the $44. purchase, as well as the $1.81 purchase, on two separate credit card transactions!  Apparently in California, the price on the pump is not the price you actually pay!

I had hoped to make it to Mojave National Preserve, but time and daylight were running low, so I checked out a BLM wildlife viewing area called Harper Dry Lake Marsh.


I had only planned to be there for the night, but it was cold and rainy in the morning, and the football game started at 1:30pm, so I just decided to stay put and make sure I had good satellite coverage for the game.  True to form, the Riders pulled it out again, defeating Calgary on their home turf, in very cold temperatures.

CIMG2614CIMG2613CIMG2615CIMG2616It is a very quiet area, on a dead-end road, and were it not for occasional wind, I might be tempted to stay a little longer. But so far, I have been unable to spot much of anything for ‘wildlife’ in the viewing area.  Certainly nothing to compare to the wildlife preserve in Arizona where thousands upon thousands of Sandhill Cranes fly over twice a day.

Time to make a mile.  See you down the road.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lake Sonoma–Liberty Glen, Wild Pigs


You may recall that on a recent trip to Vancouver Island, I found that my propane would not switch to or use the full tank on the other side of the rig.  After consulting a few RV places – who suggested making an appointment, or to start replacing hoses, I stopped in at Triangle RV in Sidney, BC.

There, they correctly deduced that there was an extra regulator in the system, effectively double-regulating that tank and lowering the pressure so that the automatic switch thought it was empty.  I removed the regulator, and everything has been working just fine ever since.  Thanks for the good advice and a free solution.  Anyone want to buy a used regulator!

We had just arrived at the coast, and the first stop was at Ccrane in Fortuna.  They are essentially a mail-order business, but they do sell in person if you know how to find them.  I needed another wi-fire wi-fi antenna for my windows 7 computer.  My previous version still works fine with the old laptop, but is not compatible with 7.  These are the best thing around for getting wi-fi with weak signal strength.image

Then I did battle with the Shell station there – only needed about 4 trips inside to guess at how much fuel I would need, etc.  Other folks have had success with the old ‘postal code and add 2 zeros’ trick, but that one has never every worked for me at a variety of stations and states.

In the dark, using my backroads map book, I found an ocean-front view spot to spend the night.  A bit rustic, but quiet except for the pounding surf.  My map said it was near the wreck of the ‘Northerner’, which went down with 38 souls in 1860.  Sure enough, there was a cross and a plaque visible on a hill in the distance. CIMG2528CIMG2531CIMG2532I climbed up to check it out.CIMG2533CIMG2538

Next I headed for a place I had discovered last January called Lake Sonoma.  The campground is called Liberty Glen, and it is very unique in that it is built on ridges, high over the lake with great views, but very steep roads, and no two campsites are at the same elevation.  The dam that formed the lake and the campground were built by the Army Corps of Engineers.  Ironically, the lake holds hundred of thousands of acre-feet of water, but there is none in the campground!  Apparently a well failed, but it has not changed since January when I was last here.  But I don’t need water, and at $10, the price is right.  Sunny and warm and quiet and calm and almost deserted.  My kind of place!  Very scenic, too.


I went for a hike down towards the lake.CIMG2568CIMG2569CIMG2574CIMG2575CIMG2576I think this is a bat house?


A lot of the ground has been dug up – apparently by wild pigs.  CIMG2570I only caught glimpses of some grunting in the trees, but large areas look like they have been rototilled.  There is a hunting season on them, so perhaps they are good to eat?

On the ‘tech’ front, I had been meaning to conduct a test to see if I could get TV signal from the same dish I use for the internet.   After only a minute or so of waving the LNB in front of the dish, I found the sweet spot.  With the help of a sacrificed coat hanger, I soon had it temporarily in place with a great signal strength.  I’ll have to work on a more permanent attachment, but for now it is working fine.