Friday, February 23, 2018

February in Quartzsite, AZ - Fun-filled Trips, Fellowship, and Fired Up Furnaces

It seems Quartzsite is quieting down early this year.  Many vendors who remain typically through March 1 have departed already.  Perhaps because we are in the midst of a "cold spell" in Southwest Arizona.  Registering in the low 60s during the day and dipping into the 30s at night, temps are about 5F degrees lower than normal for this time of year.   Although Mom prefers to keep the rig on the cooler side (she's like a polar bear), we have been running the furnace for heat regularly throughout the day and night, mainly upon the request of our crazy cat, who jumped on the recliner (something she rarely does) to give Mom the stink eye!

"I will stare you down until you fire up the furnace."

The winds have been gusting, too!  On a recent morning hike, we noticed dark, ominous clouds in the distance.  Nope, they weren’t from a rain storm, they were from a dust storm!  

Dust in the wind.

The cooler weather gave us an opportunity to explore without incident the new hiking trails created within the “Magic Circle”.  For those of you unfamiliar, the “Magic Circle” refers to the clothing optional section of the Long Term Visitor Area (LTVA).  Since we have never explored this part of the LTVA (mainly because Dad gets uncomfortable seeing other people’s junk in the trunk, so to speak), I was surprised by many things.  First, that so many people subscribe to this alternative lifestyle and camp in the clothing optional area!  Second, that professionally-made street signs are posted throughout the section (There is an Avenue B, Alexander’s Way, etc.).  Third, that the trails extend so far into unoccupied land! There is Sonny’s Trail and the Bare Trail, which encompass more than 3 miles.  Along the route are wooden benches for resting and unique art.  I enjoyed my visit to the "Magic Circle" trails so much that Mom and I popped back over the next day, she sans my Dad and me sans my clothes!

A sample of the rock art along the trail.

Magic Circle Artisan "The Tin Roof Roamer" has a "Solution for Pollution" - Art made from refuse/recyclable materials.

Visiting the Magic Circle trails a second time, sans clothing!

The weather also provided the perfect reason to stay inside and write this blog post.

I have a terrific view from my "office" window!

Friends Kathy and Allen, with whom we worked at the Grand Canyon Association, came down from the White Tank Mountains for a visit.  What a fun time we had catching up with them!  These folks, who became vegans over 10 years ago due to heart issues, were instrumental in our decision to go plant-based with our diets.  Mom still finds adhering to plant-based much more challenging than Dad does.  (Truth be told, so do I.  On National Pizza Day recently, I was salivating for just a nibble of melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella cheese on a thin crust!)  Mom considers herself an apprentice with preparing innovative plant-based meals.  But she has been successful in modifying a few of her tried and true recipes, including Dad’s favorite apple walnut coffee cake, in which she substitutes unsweetened apple sauce for oil and flaxseed for eggs.  Needless to say, she was happy that Kathy and Allen genuinely enjoyed the plant-based luncheon she prepared.

Me, Dad, Allen, and Kathy.

We have had loads of fun exploring these vast desert lands with our side-by-side, Rat Patrol!  Mom, who never missing a chance to multi-task, has us seeking geocaches and getting in some hiking in a new area all at the same time!  Geocaching is quite cool.  For those of you unacquainted with geocaching, it is like an old-fashioned treasure hunt.  Rather than written hints, you use GPS coordinates to lead you to the hidden treasure.  I found my first geocache, with no outside assistance, out by a wash off of Trail 0061 about 5 miles from camp.  It’s called “Cement Biffy”!   I left my own “mark” in the area, one of my rock self-portraits.  In fact, I’ve done this on several geocache outings.  So look for my “mark” wherever you are, a geocache will never be far!  

"Cement Biffy" geocache and my rock art self portrait to mark the spot!

Views from my first geocaching trip.

The rocks out here are more colorful (many with pink hues) than where we are camped.

Chuparosa bush in bloom.

One day, we rode Rat Patrol about 9 miles out of camp just as the sun began to rise.  Once I started exploring, I noticed all sorts of things.  Like the tracks that looked like hooves.  Could it be some deer several folks told us they observed in the area?  Or maybe it’s the mark of a Big Horn Sheep?  Or what about the poop pellets I found?  Me thinks they belonged to a jackrabbit.  I witnessed an ocotillo in bloom, my first of the season!  I spotted a lone ground squirrel doing surveillance from his perch upon a rock.  The desert is so alive!

Ride, Park, Hike...

Can you find the ground squirrel perched in the pic?

The desert flowers and bushes are just starting to come back to life...

My first sighting this year of an ocotillo bloom.

You never know what you will find in the desert--here is the grave site of someone's beloved pet.

It’s been three years since we visited Crystal Hill at King of Arizona (KOFA) National Wildlife Refuge.  Last time we were there, we used our medium duty truck, Big Boomer.  He did not fare well on the primitive, washboard roads leading from Route 95 to Crystal Hill, resulting in a bent tie-rod.  But with Rat Patrol, we encountered no problems.  Trekking along BLM trails, I soon learned that a multitude of natural gas pipelines exist in this area!   Mom actually joined Dad and me as we ascended Crystal Hill.  (She has come a long way these last three years in overcoming her acrophobia.    She would not even leave the base of the hill during our first visit.  Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?)  I must say that finding no crystals on Crystal Hill nor in the nearby wash was a bit disappointing. (Fortunately, I have been successful in finding several during our hikes and treks in other areas of the desert).  But as we traversed with Rat Patrol along various trails within the Refuge, I was rewarded with boundless beauty and panoramic views everywhere I looked.  Time may march on, but much remains the same in these desert lands.

Can you see me?  I found a cave to explore! Glad there were no bats in it!

Going up the hill.

We reach the top and enjoy the view.

Coming back down!

Tom's Well.

It has become an annual tradition during our Quartzsite winters to meet up with friends Bob and Marie, fellow Northeasterners that we met at Crazy Horse Memorial.  They stay at Roberts Pueblo El Mirage Resort, and we had some errands to run in Surprise, providing the perfect opportunity to get together.   What a wonderful day!  They gave us the grand tour.  The Resort is lovely, offering beautiful gardens, pool, clubhouse, spa, tennis, pickle ball, workshops, etc.—every amenity you can possibly think of.  If you can’t find something to interest you, there is something seriously wrong with you!  The only drawback in this stuffed rat's opinion is the glass-shattering sounds of the US Air Force fighter jets that fly overhead from Luke Air Force Base.  (Fortunately, they do no maneuvers at night or on weekends.)  We all partook of a delectable lunch on the veranda of the Resort's restaurant, which overlooks the golf course. Bob and Mom are both bookworms who share a love of history.  So Bob saved several of his books to pass on to Mom for her reading pleasure.  And she certainly did enjoy them!  (Once Mom gets her nose in a good book, we don’t see her for hours!)

Marie and Bob.

Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1964, is located in the floodplain of the lower Colorado River between Arizona and California.  Because we visited so late in the season last year, many of the migratory birds already departed.    This year, we timed things perfectly!  We arrived just after sunrise (we always forget the Refuge is in California, so we gain an hour by crossing into Pacific Time Zone).  The minute we embarked on the 3-mile auto loop, we encountered three coyotes hunting for breakfast.  Boy, they were a bit perturbed to be disturbed!   The lake waters were covered with hundreds and hundreds of birds and waterfowl, diversified species ranging from mallard ducks to pelicans.  Sensing our presence, the sea of birds took off in flight all around us, the flapping of their wings sounding like a thunderous storm!  It looked like the Alfred Hitchcock movie overhead!  Through man’s ingenuity in maximizing God’s natural resources, the brown barren lands turn into fertile, vibrant, productive fields.  The contrast between the earthen tones and the lush green of the field plantings was remarkable.  We had a cameo appearance by one of the resident burrowing owls, though my photo doesn’t capture him so well.  While last year we glimpsed only a few blue heron, this year’s specimens were prolific. They were jumping up and spreading their wings, a ritual that mating season brings!  The snow geese were like a white accent rug on the green carpeted fields.  We strolled along the 1 mile nature trail, soaking in the warmth of the sun and relishing in the wonders of this unique habitat.

One of the three perturbed coyotes!

Cameo appearance by a burrowing owl.

Yellow-headed blackbirds.

A small sampling of blue heron in the foreground, snow geese behind them.

We attended a Hot Dog Happy Hour sponsored by Pam and Red.  Fun, as always, to catch up with the RV Dreamers folks, who all set up camp close together near the middle of La Posa South.  We much prefer the seclusion and unobstructed views offered at our end of the LTVA.  In fact, not only has the “raided” rig been sold and moved, but two other rigs left as well, just in time for good friends Curtis and Stephanie to set up camp by us for 4 days.  Curtis and Stephanie were the wagon masters at the MOC (Montana Owners Club) 10th anniversary get together that we attended in 2015.  Subsequently, we have visited with them each year here at Quartzsite. We “clicked” with them immediately, sharing similar views and values.   And they are genuine, caring folks (They were a source of invaluable support during Dad’s medical crisis).   We spent hours just yapping with them, solving all the world’s problems, exchanging tips, imparting knowledge, and just enjoying their fellowship.   Mom bestowed them with a luncheon and a dinner during their stay as a way to say thank you for their past hospitality and their friendship. (Little did they know, they are participating in her recipe testing!)

Hot Dog Happy Hour.

Curtis and Stephanie moved into our  neighborhood for 4 days.  Their rig can be seen in the background of my pic of our dinner table.

Curtis, Dad, Stephanie, and Yours Truly.

Dad has been tackling Mom’s “Honey Do” List, working with a vengeance to complete her few requests.  Never mind the fact that she made the list 4 years ago!  The important thing is that Mom absolutely adores her new bird feeder, a replica of our RV!  You can tell that I had a hand in the design—that’s a picture of me looking out the back window!  (Poor Dad, he just finished one project.  Now Mom wants a bird feeder to replicate Big Boomer!)  We’ve had no visitors to the RV bird feeder yet, although our new hummingbird feeder has attracted several patrons.  Dad is also in the process of transforming the color of Mom's little Honda Rebel motorcycle from boring black to sunshine yellow!

Of course, no post of mine would be complete without a photo of our spectacular star, Mr. Sun.

Well, this post is running a bit long; time for me to zip my lip.  Will talk to you again soon!

We would like to thank some amazing organizations for all they do for the RVing community:

Escapees RV Club

Escapees RV Club

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