Monday, January 26, 2015

Counting down in Quartzsite

Well, it’s a rare rainy day on a Monday near Quartzsite, the big show is over, so it was a good day to give the generator it’s monthly exercise, and see if I can put together a blog post.G0021988

I abandoned my ‘usual’ camp spot off the Old Yuma road near La Paz Valley.  It was impossible to sit outside in the evening and enjoy a fire or the moon and stars with generators whining and groaning and humming and buzzing from all directions.  The place had all the ambience of a busy truck stop!  I sure don’t know how all the folks closer to town in the LTVA’s etc manage to deal with it, and the ever present dust from the continuous line of atv’s parading by.


Anyway, one afternoon I’d had enough and decided to ‘bug out’; threw Hailey in the truck and were rolling down the road in less than an hour.  A few miles further south we pulled off down an unmarked desert road on the way to the KOFA refuge.  I’d made note of the spot on my map a few years ago, and it turned out to be perfect.  Nice large flat parking area next to a nice wash, good sized trees, and NO ONE in sight!

The loudest thing at night was the crackle of my little fire.  Peace and quiet at last!  There were lots of trees for Hailey to climb, and none of the dreaded cholla cactus.  That’s not to say there were not lots of other barbs laying about.  My old Crocs collect lots of them, and if you step on a rock the right way, you certainly feel it come right through! Picking them out of the soloes is a regular chore.  Fortunately they do not seem to bother Hailey, nor me if I choose more substantial footwear.


Hailey enjoys playing and digging in the endless sandbox; hiding from and ambushing her imaginary foes all around.IMG_1738

Then one day, there was a muffled ‘whoosh’, and a mottled adversary landed not ten feet away in the wash!IMG_1739

It was a Great Horned Owl, just the far side of that bush!Soon, the owl moved up into the trees to observe his domain.


At long last, it was the day of the anticipated ‘Blogger Fest’ meeting of fellow RV bloggers in the area.  Hailey decided that was a good day to work on her tree climbing skills!


It was close to departure time, but she wasn’t sure of the right way down from the tree!  I thought I might miss the big meeting – but finally (I’ll blame the loose bark on the tree!), she lost her grip and came crashing down, landing on top of another bush!  She put on her white socks and white mitts, and off we went just in time!  I won’t go into a lot of detail or photos of the blogger fest, as that has been well covered by many others, including the Bayfield Bunch, Just Wanderin’, Where’s Weaver, Our Awesome Travels, RV Life is Good, On the Road of Retirement, and Travels with Emma.

There were some there who did not know who I was – until Hailey made an appearance, and then it all came together.

Of course Hailey, with her very short fuse and a great dislike for all the dogs running around began hissing and taking swats at people, so she had to watch the proceedings from the truck.  I met Doug and Yuma, but did not know their harrowing tale till I read his blog post later.  So glad that BOTH of them were there.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Cat + Camera + Tree

It’s not even two weeks since I last convinced myself to update the blog, so I’m doing pretty well I think!IMG_6561

After endless battles with computers and buggy software, I think I have finally got Hailey’s video up on Youtube! The worlds greatest cat-photographer! (That’s my opinion anyway)


Anyone hear that it is ‘illegal’ to fill propane containers after dark in Arizona?  I hadn’t, but went to get one filled at a truck stop along I-10 in the evening and that’s what they told me.  So, I did what anyone else would do and went to a different station and … got my bottle filled!  I also discovered a hot springs right beside the truck stop.  It’s called El Dorado, and as most reviews state, its rather – umm, rustic!  You can soak in a private tub for $15/hr or ‘semi-private’ for $10.  Bathing attire is not permitted! I checked out the semi-private option and found that there are multiple bathtubs essentially scattered around the grounds, so once you’re in one, it’s fairly private!  Their website does not show photos of the tubs, but you can check out lots at this link.  (I didn’t see any nudity in these pics, so you can safely look, or not depending on your taste)  Signs say that cameras are not allowed (no surprise), so I guess those photographers were bending the rules?

After leaving the BLM area near Buckeye, Arizona our route took us took us south to Gila Bend and then west to Yuma.  The few days in Yuma were mostly spent visiting relatives who spend part of the winter there, as well as checking out the wares at the Arizona Marketplace.  After that it was out to Ogilby Rd where Wandering Willy and his cohorts had set up camp along American Girl wash.  And as mentioned before, Jean & Skip were also in the area.  A few days were spent based out of there, while zipping across the line to Algodones, Mexico for some teeth cleaning and to see the sights.  Had the feeders out, which attracted a flock of finches.  One had lost most of it’s beak somehow, but it still seemed to be able to eat just fine and it looked otherwise healthy.  Do they grow back?


Finally got some use out of my gold pan!


A couple days later I got a call that some additional relatives had arrived in Yuma, so back I went for a couple more days.  One of the spots I ‘camp’ while there is a favourite location for model aircraft flyers.  So one morning I gave a demo of my helicopter to the guys that were there.


When I left Yuma again, I wanted to check out the Blythe Bluegrass Festival.  I got there late in the afternoon, and they had quit charging admission for the day, but I got to see a couple of acts perform for free!


The music was excellent, but I decided to keep rolling on to Quartzsite instead of sticking around for the following day’s performance.  The peace and quiet from the last time I was there was gone, replaced by crowds and traffic jams.  That said, I could see the floor in the ‘big tent’, sometimes, and there was still indoor seating at McDonalds!


Out in the desert, it’s generators, quads, and a constant roar, replaced by generators, lights, dust and campfire smoke in the evening.

I spotted some excellent deals at some of the off-site vendors.  Cutlery and coffee pots are on special!


After this, I think we’ll be headed for some peace and quiet, but have no idea what direction that will take us next.

Of course, we could always decide to show up … here!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Life and Death in the desert.

Well, well, well!  Welcome to 2015!
It seems that my blog has not updated itself for quite a while now.  Here’s an assortment of excuses:
My calendar crashed, and I had no idea that days were passing?  When I got the calendar working, I found out that it was a new year!
I have been working long hours with the GoPro movie editor, and STILL have not gotten Hailey’s video ready to go.  I’m sure it has something to do with my computer, but the program just will not work reliably and locks up every time.
My computer has taken to using the BSOD (blue screen of death) to get out of anything it does not want to do.  It crashes several times on every day ending in ‘y’.  Like Tuesday for example.Shifty
Or, non-stop excitement has taken my focus away from the blog?  You choose your favourite excuse.
We have had our share of excitement however.  I had moved down to a great little BLM area off Courthouse Road, west of Buckeye, AZ, after sending Wandering Willy down to check it out as an advance scouting party.  He recommended it, but left before I got there.  PC210356PC210349
So anyway, I was on the way back from a supply expedition into nearby Buckeye one day, when my nearest neighbour from about a mile away flagged me down as I drove past.  He told me that earlier in the day the place had been swarming with police and sheriffs, and even a helicopter.  They were supposedly looking for a couple with a gun!  Alrighty then!  Got back to my camp and checked my security/trail cam for any evidence, and sure enough camp had been invaded …  but the only armed people to visit were the sheriffs!
That was about all the excitement for the time being, so I occupied myself with scaling a few of the nearby mountain peaks.
Time lapse
First, I hiked up a small peak overlooking my camp.IMG_6584IMG_6582
And did a photosphere from the summit. (360 degree interactive view, including up and down and you can zoom in and out!)  Click here, or up there.
On the hike back down, I discovered a couple of exposed bee hives up on a cliff face on the north side of the mountain.  These were likely the bees that convinced me to remove my hummingbird feeder while here.
Took a couple of time exposures of things on Christmas night.
And then I scrambled up a larger peak to the south of my camp.
A few days after Christmas, I decided to scramble up Saddle Mountain, the tallest in the area.IMG_1715
The route up is on the far side, but I hiked over and did it, while showing a local family where the trail was.  They didn’t make it up, but I spent about an hour on top.  This is a video view on the way up …

And of course, I did another photosphere in the summit, that you can check out on Google Maps – right here!  (Photosphere is a free App from Google for the iPhone, and they can be uploaded onto Google Maps as I have done with a number of them)
And, here’s another video I shot – just below the summit on Saddle Mountain.

On a sunny Monday morning after a frosty night, I was up enjoying my morning coffee (and planning to update my blog Winking smile, ya right) when I noticed two unmarked pickups circling the area.  When they pulled up to my camp and turned on their emergency lights I went out with my coffee for a chat.  They advised me that the previous situation with the armed couple had not been completely resolved, and that a young female Hispanic had not been located yet.  I told them I had not seen anything, but offered my helicopter and camera if it would help.  Not a few minutes later, I heard and saw the sheriff departments helicopter circling in the area not far off.
Then I tuned in my scanner radio and listened to the helicopter advise that he had located the subject in a wash about a half mile away.  He then directed the ground units in to that location.  And it did not seem like a favourable outcome to the search Sad smile.  So I found myself a hill and spent the day watching things develop, including at least 15 police vehicles on scene at one time.

The last vehicle to arrive sadly was the medical examiner’s white van.  I let Fox news use a couple of my photos in their coverage.
As soon as the young lady's body was discovered, her boyfriend was arrested and charged with her murder.  A very sad and tragic outcome, specially at Christmas time.
Some media links to the story below.
I had likely walked within 1-200 yds of that location on my way to climb saddle mountain.
In other news … my blog posting was delayed yet again today (!) when Jean & Skip came over during my assigned blogging time and chatted for a while with Wandering Willy and I – somewhere close the the Mexican line.  I have no shortage of excuses.  I guess the Bayfield Bunch managed to sneak by me again as they returned to their winter home from Borrego Springs, but I believe there are still quite a few of the ‘regulars’ over there including the 12 paws and 40 feet of Wheeling It!