Monday, February 29, 2016

Funfilled Days in Yuma

We took Mike and Claudia down to Yuma recently, showing them Imperial Dam, the Proving Grounds, and the BLM lands available for boondocking.  We visited Squaw Lake Campground and Recreation Area, a picturesque oasis, complete with water fowl, palm trees, and aqua-blue waters.  It was a little bit of island paradise right in the middle of the desert.  Squaw Creek has a camping fee of $75 annually or $15/night, and you can only camp for a maximum of 14 days within a 28 days period.  You can enjoy boating and swimming for a nominal day-use fee of $10.  And according to the Yuma Field Office of BLM, this day-use fee gets waived if you have the National Park Inter-Agency Pass.



We also visited The Camel Farm.  Based on its suggestive name, we thought we were going to see herds galore of camels, maybe even some descendants of Quartzsite’s “Hi Jolly” herds.  (Hadji Ali, AKA “Hi Jolly” was employed by the US Government in 1856 in an experiment to transport freight and people across the Southwest via camels.  The experiment was abandoned and the camels left to roam the desert).    However, The Camel Farm turned out to be more of a petting zoo.   And a little pricy for the size of the place ($7 for adults under 55, $5 “geezer” rate for 55 and older, $3 for kids).  Still, as animal lovers, we had a great time feeding the donkeys, goats, water buffalo, and other animals.  I found the “hybrid” animals, like the Zeedonk (zebra and donkey) interesting.  There were a few camels, including a mama and her recent baby.  It is amazing how each animal had a different personality, how they argued with one another vying for food, and how they knew the minute we exited the truck that treats would be coming their way.

Momma and baby camel doing well!

Horns a plenty on these guys!

A "Zeedonk"!

Water Buffalo, good for fresh mozzarella balls!


A Sicilian Miniature Donkey in desperate need of a dentist!

Ironically, traveling home from Yuma, we saw a lone coyote wandering around and a pack of burros grazing along the roadway!  All the places to hide in the desert, all the “stakeouts” and hikes we do to see wildlife, and there these fine exhibits are, right out in the open.  I didn't even need my binoculars!  Crazy stuff!

A lone coyote looking for dinner along Route 95 in Yuma


Wild burros outside Imperial Dam


This guy is just posing for us!

We also visited the Castle Dome City Mining Museum/Ghost Town.  Castle Dome City served as a mining town from 1864 until 1979.  Although silver mining was predominant, mining operations included copper and lead during WWII.  This place wreaks of authenticity.  They have mannequins, dressed in period clothing, set up in some of the restored buildings.  You feel transported back in time, visualizing how life was for the miners and their families.  I could see the children in the schoolhouse, learning their times tables, and the families attending Sunday service in the church.

Rambling RV Rat at Castle Dome City Mining Museum/Ghost Town


Castle Dome School House

I'd be quiet as a church mouse during Sunday Services

With five bars/saloons in Castle Dome City, a miner could be slinging back an awful lot of whiskey!

One of Five Saloons in Castle Dome City

I particularly enjoyed the diner depicting Castle Dome City’s “restaurant” life in the 1950s, with its cute lace curtains, vintage metal tables and chairs, and poster pinups.

Mining City Diner Circa 1950

One of the Many Mines at the Site

We enjoyed a picnic lunch reminiscing about times gone by and realizing how lucky we are to have all the amenities of modern life!

On our trip back to Quartzsite, we had a dreadful scare as we traveled on US 95!  A car three lengths in front of us lost control.  It cut across the highway, just missing oncoming traffic.  It went airborne multiple times as it hit into bushes.  It had enough speed and momentum to re-enter the highway, cutting across two directions of traffic to land in a side culvert ditch in front of us.  Miracle upon miracles, no other vehicle was hit, the car did not flip or set fire, and the occupants of the out of control vehicle were still conscious!  We called 911 and stopped to help.  Seems the driver blacked out.  His poor wife was frantic trying to wake him.  The vehicle is a mess, but thankfully, no one seriously hurt.

It sure makes me realize how every day we are given here on earth is a gift, and how quickly it can all be taken away.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Springtime Has Sprung!

Spring is in the air and the desert is coming alive!  Flowers are blooming, creatures are looming!

The lizards have come out to play during the day, while the scorpions lurk at night.

Lizard out playing

Scorpions lurking at night

A jackrabbit scooted through camp recently, and a roadrunner whizzed by one of the washes we were exploring (maybe its the same one who visits Steve and Dianne!).

The jackrabbit scooting for cover

The hummingbirds and woodpeckers still come to visit us, although not as frequently—seems they found Claudia and Mike’s feeder more appetizing.

A defecting hummingbird at Claudia/Mike's feeder

Best of all, the coyotes are howling!  We haven’t seen them, but they have definitely been in our camp.  They rummaged through the trash bin to get the remnants from our steak and shrimp dinner, and even left their calling card—they pooped on a paper plate!
I am amazed at the beautiful flowers that bloom in the desert.  Pretty yellows, purples, and reds dot the canvas.

The nudist camp inhabitants have been more visible now that the weather has finally gotten warmer.  I think they want to recruit me! 

Yours Truly sans clothing by the Nudist Camp sign!

While out hiking one day, we got a friendly hello and wave from a man on his ATV, wearing nothing but his birthday suit!  A golden brown suit at that, with not a tan line to be found!  I wonder how he doesn’t stick to the seat of the ATV?  Maybe he coats it with cooking spray?

The desert sky has provided some wonderful astronomical views.   So glad we dug out the telescope!  Earlier this month, we got to see Venus, Mars, Saturn, Mercury, and Jupiter all aligned—a phenomenon that does not occur very frequently.  Last night, I saw a satellite travel by.  Hope the NSA isn’t watching me! 
We never get tired of watching the sunrise each morning from our bedroom window, and each sunset is beautiful, yet different from the day before.

Viewing a desert sunrise

Another glorious sunset

We had a rare occurrence on February 19—a VERY brief rain shower.  It was over within a minute or two, but not before it produced a beautiful rainbow.

Our desert rainbow

Our social calendar has been busy—still dancing our little hearts away (Dad has improved nicely!) and getting together with friends, many of which will be leaving the area soon.

Steve/Dianne and Pam/Red are all such wonderful folks, and they have hosted so many get-togethers for the RV Dreamers group out here in Quartzsite.  So as an expression of our appreciation for their hospitality and friendship, we invited them over for some home-cooked Italian food.  Claudia/Mike joined us, too.  Everyone seemed to enjoy Mom’s zucchini parmigiana, pasta and meat sauce, and grilled chicken, peppers, onions and potatoes.  And we all left room for Mom’s New York style cheesecake for dessert.

Italian Night at our place!  Photo Courtesy of Steve Colibaba

Mom suffers a terrible disease that strikes most Italian-descent people—she cooks too much food.  Dinner party for 8 people, cook for 28!  So no one got to leave without a doggie bag.  Even after all that sharing, Claudia, Mike, and my family ate leftovers for two days thereafter!  I don’t have this fat pouch tummy for nothing!
Speaking of fat, Mommy got paroled early from the fat farm!  Yes, because of her good behavior, she does not need health-coaching any longer, saving us $80 a month on our Liberty Healthshare costs.

A toast to celebrate!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Visiting London Bridge... Lake Havasu, of course!  Lake Havasu’s fame comes from having a bridge from London, England deconstructed, transported to Lake Havasu, and reconstructed stone by stone, with its official dedication in 1971.  It connects to an English shopping village, complete with replicas of Big Ben, the fountain at Trafalgar Square, and even a British telephone booth.
In its heyday, this was probably a quaint area.  Unfortunately, most of the shops are vacant now.  But still fun to visit for a few pics!

Me Posing With London Bridge in the Background!
Lake Havascu is also known for its Pyrotechnics Spectacular.  So we joined a bunch of our buddies from the Montana Owners Club over at the rodeo grounds to watch the fireworks display.  It was like Independence Day!  Lots of color, designs, and of course, loud booms.  In between, we had some great chats about Alaska!  Mike and Claudia, Stephanie and Curtis, and my family are all visiting Alaska this year, and we were picking the brains of Dave and Linda and John and Shirley, who visited in recent years.  They are a wealth of information! 
Our MOC Buddies!


Well, time for another fun day to end.  Boy, am I tired.  Think I’ll sleep in tomorrow!  After all, I good looking rat like me needs plenty of beauty sleep.


Talk to you soon!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Road Trip Back in Time – Swansea Townsite

We all scrambled into Big Boomer bright and early, excited to take our trip back in time to Swansea Townsite, about 30 miles northeast of Parker.  Located in the middle of nowhere, Swansea was a thriving copper mining development in the early 20th century.  By 1909, 500 people lived in the town, which included saloons, a general store, post office, railroad depot, even a moving picture house!


We stop along the way to take in the pretty vistas, crystal blue canals, and blooming desert flowers! 


Me and Claudia enjoying the flowers!


I've turned into quite an ornithologist!  Caught a glimpse of a Phainopepla!

We now reach a sign, “17 miles to Swansea". The initial road looks paved. Piece of cake—we’ll be there in under an hour, tops. No way, Jose! The last 7 miles were all gravel roads, with steep inclines and sharp turns. Yes, this was real “white knuckle” driving. The roads were so rough, we were bouncing around like a bunch of bobble head dolls! Let’s put it this way: I now feel qualified to ride a mechanical bull! Once again, Big Boomer was performing the duty of an ATV!

The Road to "White Knuckle" Driving!

Two hours later, we reach our destination.  Thank goodness, they have a port-a-potty!  Especially after that ride! 


Although most of Swansea Townsite has succumbed to weather erosion and vandalism, there are adobe structures, mine shafts, exposed stone foundations, and remnants of copper, now with a green patina, that tell its colorful history.