Friday, March 27, 2009

Joshua Tree National Monument

Friday: (03/27) Up early. The wind blew with gusts above 40mph all night. It made packing up last night a little interesting. Lou fixed a nice pork hash with dried tomatoes for breakfast. We hitched up the car and stopped by the dump on our way out and departed by about 8:30.

We stopped by the Date Garden in Bard to get more dates and also had to try a date milkshake. Date shakes are very good.

Next stop was a couple of gas stations. Both the RV and the car needed some more cheap gas before we enter California where gas costs $.6-1 more. Our vehicle gas fillers are on opposite sides and getting back in the first station wasn't possible so we headed on into town toward the market stopping at another station for the toad. The first station was no problem but the second had a low canopy but it was labeled 11'3" clearance. No problem, we're under 10'6". It would look worse than it was. I forgot that I have two solar panels up as well. Fortunately they were only slightly elevated and are about 5" above the AC unit so we were closer to 10'11", a bit closer than I intended.

I've enjoyed not having to raise and lower the panels every time we move. They've been up for the past couple of months moving from Quartzsite, to Yuma, up to Las Vegas and all the stops back down to Yuma again, and they are still up. They seem to travel well since they are barely above the AC unit and behind it. I just need to remember that the RV is closer to 11' tall now.

We stopped at the Fry's market and restocked then headed West on I8. We cut off onto highway 115 through Holtville to highway 111. We stopped for lunch at one of the state beaches by the sea. I fixed chili with wieners and cheese. We took a peek at the tufa forming on the beach. We then headed on to Mecca above the Salton Sea turning on a small black line road heading up toward Joshua Tree National Monument.

The road went through the Orocopia Mountains. It wound fairly level through some washes. The rocks look quite interesting and there are several places that we could have camped but most of them looked a little softer than we were interested in. We wouldn't want to get stuck. We'll return in the future and try to find a suitable spot and do more exploring.

BLM Campsite South Of Joshua Tree NP
We stopped for the night just before the entrance to the Joshua Tree National Park. We parked in the desert with a bunch of other RV's. Free camping is always nice.

Lou fixed strawberry shortcake for dinner.

Saturday: (03/28) We enjoyed our morning tea watching the desert. Lou served up some of her leftover hash for breakfast. We looked around the campsites around our desert area which is just outside the South entrance to the park. The site we stopped in last night was quite nice except not too level. We found a vacant spot that was level and also nice so we moved. We then went into the park.

Flowers Along Bajada Trail Flowers Along Bajada Trail
Just inside the park is the Bajada Trail which had the best collection of wild flowers we've ever found. I took a walk while Lou didn't. Her knee is much better and she wisely isn't pushing it. This trail is the best spot for wild flower viewing in the park.

Flowers Along Bajada Trail Flowers Along Bajada Trail
These are some of the smaller flowers.

Flowers Along Bajada Trail Flowers Along Bajada Trail
Some flowers were quite detailed.

Flowers Along Bajada Trail Flowers Along Bajada Trail
There were lots of interesting flowers.

Flowers Along Bajada Trail
Red flowers were in abundance everywhere, much to the humming birds and bees delight.

Trail To Lost Palms Oassis Lost Palms Oassis
My second walk was at Cottonwood about 6 miles into the park. There are two trails starting at the Cottonwood Oasis. One is a trail to the Lost Palms Oasis. My walk was intended to be a short walk up to Mastodon Peak, the shorter trail but I decided to also walk out to the Lost Palm Canyon. The weather was perfect for a walk, nice temperature and a slight breeze. The total walk was about 9 miles and took a little over four hours. Lou gave up after 3:59 and left to report me missing. When I got back to the parking area, she and the car were gone. When she headed back she picked me up and she returned to report me found. I guess I should keep her better informed! I've been thinking of getting the Spot locator so my whereabouts are always known and I can report myself safe or notify 911 all via satellite. More reason to do so.

Flowers Along The Lost Palms Trail Flowers Along The Lost Palms Trail
Some interesting flowers on the trail to the Lost Palms.

Flowers Along The Lost Palms Trail Flowers Along The Lost Palms Trail
The yellow flowers on the left are about a 1/4" in size. The flowers on the right I almost missed. There was a boy scout troupe heading out for a camp out ahead of me. They stopped near similar flowers. I hadn't seen these flowers before. As I approached them, I heard the scout master tell all the troupes to move to the side of the trail so I could pass, so, I couldn't then stop and take a picture so I hiked on. Fortunately, I did pass a couple of more further up the trail, but nowhere else were they seen.

On our way home, we checked out the Cottonwood Campground and decided where we are is much better. The campgrounds in the park are all full and they are packed in like sardines. We'll stay outside where we have much more room (our closest neighbors are 100 feet away) and a better view.

Lou fixed a nice dinner. Everything that was getting old from the refrigerator. Italian sausage with cabbage, carrots, onion, broccoli, and a can of three bean salad put it all together. It was quite good and, of course, there were leftovers.

Sunday: (03/29) Breakfast burritos started the day. We were home bodies as I relaxed today after my hike. I worked at the computer while Lou worked on doll clothes. Dinner was leftover vegetable mix from the other night.

The campers around our camp really thinned out as people went home after the weekend.

Desert Tortoise Desert Tortoise Tracks
We finally got to see a desert tortoise in the wild near our campsite. The tortoise tracks are neat. We met some new neighbors as they were walking the campground deciding where to park. They mentioned they had seen tortoise tracks crossing the dirt road and had seen a turtle by their RV so we followed them home. There was a very nice looking 10" desert tortoise. Tortoises can really move when they want to.

Wind Blown Sand
The wind blew really hard (60mph?) and blew all the sand off the ground near any object on the ground like the car and RV tires.

(03/30) The wind blew very hard all night, probably 60mph. It started just after we went to bed about 11pm. About 3am we realized what the knocking outside was. We had two chairs outside. Fortunately they were on the upwind side so they had blown up against the RV and were the source of the knocking. If they had been on the other sides they would likely be gone. There has been a swarm of earth quakes just a few miles South of here 100's in the past week or so. We sure couldn't feel an earthquake  if it occurred with all the rocking in the RV with the heavy winds.

About noon we drove down to Indio. We'd intended to go by the General Patton Museum but turned the wrong way. Of course, when we travel, there is no wrong way so we made a day of the direction we went. We had lunch at Sloan's Restaurant in Indio on Highway 111. I had a chili relleno omelet with pancakes. Lou had carnitas. My omelet was a cheese stuffed peppers in a three omelet. It came with three pancakes. Lou got three huge pieces of pork on the bone looking like drumsticks. It came with a nice avocado salad and tortillas. It was all excellent. Another place to add to our return list.

Lou also made a tour of the thrift stores again and then we returned home.

Dinner was chili and tomato soup.

Tuesday: (03/31) Breakfast was Don McMuffin's. We then drove into the park to the visitor center. I picked up a hike trail book and other information. It turns out the trails I hiked the other day were all that there are on the South side of the park so we decided to move North to the other side of the park. While we were packing up, a neighbor dropped by asking a few questions about the Datastorm system and also mentioned the Escapees social hours and why we weren't coming to them. We're novice Escapees and didn't know that everyone else here was going so we stayed another day and went this evening. Lou fixed a salad for lunch.

Escapees Social Hour Humming Bird In Nest
We dropped by the social hour at 4pm and the campfire at 7:30. It was fun! In a tree above the fire pit was a nesting humming bird.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Senator Wash Reservoir, Winterhaven, CA

Friday: (03/13) We had cereal for breakfast then got LPG and did tank duty at the Pit Stop North of Quartzsite.

Yellow Flowers On Each Side Of Highway 95
We were then off toward Imperial Dam. There are lots of yellow flowers along the highway. Must be one of those Arizona Highways moments.

We accidentally went out to the Imperial national Wildlife Refuge by taking the road on the North side of Yuma Proving Grounds. We stopped by the Visitor Information Center but they didn't know anything about camping in the area? There was a bleak looking private campground on the way in for $5 per person so we returned to Highway 95 heading South to the Imperial Dam Road that we should have taken.

We crossed in to California though there is no sign and headed in to the Senator Wash Long tern Visitor Area (LTVA). We went out to the Senator Wash Reservoir and got another two week permit then picked a nice site overlooking the reservoir. It's away from the more populated and more dusty area just above the reservoir.

Wild Burros Wild Burros
It's also on the path the burros take to come down from the hills into the camp to say high to the campers.

Wild Burros Senator Wash Reservoir
They are very friendly for wild beasts. Hopefully Lou gets a burro serenade tonight. Our site overlooks the reservoir.

Senator Wash Reservoir Senator Wash Reservoir
This is desert but there is some green especially near the water. Our RV is on a bluff above the reservoir. We also don't have any close neighbors, even though there are seveeral hundred RV's within a 1/2 mile.

We had cold chicken for lunch with broccoli, cauliflower and carrot nuggets. The weather was nice in the mid 70's with a nice breeze that occasionally had some good gusts.

Dinner was leftover ribs, baked potatoes and broccoli slaw.

We have interesting neighbors. Many of our neighbors are from Canada. One neighbor from Quebec is known here as the burro lady. Nancy grooms them, gives them a drink, and talks to tem. her husband Rene said he has a picture of here taking an afternoon nap with them.

Another neighbor, Les, collects all the aluminum cans from all around.  He's made a pretty hefty bundle from people's drinking habits all winter. Some people must use a lot of "antifreeze."

Yuma, Az Street  Faire Yuma, Az Street  Faire Muscians
Saturday: (03/14) I fixed Don McMuffins for breakfast and we drove down to to Yuma to a street fair in Olde Town. We looked  around their mall and Lou got a couple of tops. We had a late lunch at the Golden Corral. We also stopped by the new Quechan Casino West of town. OK but nothing special. It was then time to return to camp. When we arrived we noticed that our neighbors had departed and we decided to move to their spot since it's bigger and more level and has an even better view.

Sunday: (03/15) We drove over the other other side of the reservoir, about 1/4 mile across the water by boat but several miles of rough dirt road by car. It's really no place for a big RV or even a medium RV like ours.

Flowers Flowers
There are many flowers to be seen.

Flowers Flowers
One must be careful near these flowers!

We mostly relaxed around home the rest of the day.

Monday: (03/15) A day at home. Lou warmed up breakfast of pancakes and sausage. Lunch was a Thai noodle soup with tofu. Lou worked on doll clothes i worked at the computer. Our biggest effort today was a couple of walks to the trash bin about a 1/4 mile away. What excitement. Both walks took over an hour due to required stops at various RV's along the way to shoot the breeze. Many people are very interested in meeting us, or anyone. Many of the people staying here all winter are from Canada so they talk a little funny.

We've gotten so used to not getting broadcast TV that we often don't even try. We finally tried TV here and we get four channels two Spanish and two English. What luxury! None of the stations were DTV only analog so the future doesn't bode well.

Tonight is hamburger night for dinner.

We only saw one burro yesterday just before sunset. It dashed over to our neighbor who has a love affair with the beasts. The burro wanted it's hair brushed which the neighbor does for her.

(03/17) Lou's leg still isn't better, mine is feeling fine. Lou started the process of seeing a doctor which, since we are members of kaiser and traveling, isn't always easy. We'll head up to Palm Desert tomorrow for a doctor visit. Breakfast was cereal and bananas.

Since my leg was fine, I took off about 8am to walk around the Senator Reservoir. Since the water was dropping (This is a battery lake the pumps the water in and then generates power on demand), I walked along much of the edge of the lake sometimes in the mud. The first half is that type of hike. The last half was along a service road and over the dams and back to camp just before 10am. Along the way I passed a herd of burros. i saw their tracks and heard them but didn't see them. I also saw lots of raccoon track in the mud. When I did go up the bank a few times to avoid deep mud or other objects I met vultures at the top of the hills sitting on sign posts if available or the ground of bare hill tops. I do hope they aren't the same 13 buzzards that we've seen at Las Vegas Wash and Cottonwood Cove.

Today was a little hot. we tinkered at home the rest of the day. Lunch was leftovers.

Wednesday: (03/18) We were on the road to Palm Desert at 06:30. We stopped in El Centro at the Mexicalli Taqueria and picked up a couple of breakfast burritos and a horchata drink. We arrived in palm Desert before 10:30 amd Lou was through at the doctors office by noon. Kaiser had sent her to an "Urgent Care" store front. Not really sure why. The doctor there basically said her knee was injured and to limit use of it and it should heal. We stopped at marie Calendars for lunch nearby. We shared a chicken fettucinni and a slice of pecan pie. Dawn called shortly thereaftr to say kaiser had called to set up an appointment with an orthopedic surgen. We had determined to have her just take it easy and get it looked at when we get home in a few weeks. Now, she has an appointment Friday afternoon, in Palm Desert.

Palm Desert is next to Palm Springs and about 180 miles from our camp. Lou doesn't want to loose our site so we didn't move to Palm Desert we just drove the car. Friday will be the same again. I'm sure glad for the lower gas prices.

On our way home we stopped at the Cracker Barrel in Yuma for dinner. Lou had a chef's salad and I had my usual, chicken fried steak with a broccoli casserole, pinto beans. and coleslaw. Cheap excellent dinner. We then stopped by the market for a few things, especially drinking water.

It was a good day to be gone with the high temperature expected and probably 94 degrees.

Thursday: (03/19) I had a Don McMuffin while Lou had some leftovers. I took off on a little walk. The water is way down so the big island in the lake can be walked to through a little mud so that was my first stop. I then headed over to the North campground. I heard some burros somewhere North so off I went. I was playing tag with some ATV'ers. They kept passing me. I guess I get around pretty quickly. I walked a mile or so up a wash Northwest of the lake and found some burros. One had an interesting voice. I  then walked back down the wash and was passed by the ATV'ers coming up. I continued down the wash to Squaw Lake and by the dam for Senator Wash Reservoir and back home. A little over four hours and an 8-10 mile walk. It was getting warm with the expected high in the low 90's today. We had chicken tacos for lunch.

Lou worked on her sewing and I relaxed and worked at the computer a little. Just before sunset we dashed over and did tank duty. With the warm weather, we've enjoyed our showers recently.

Dinner was a nice fruit salad, leftover green salad and ham and cheese rollups.

Friday: (03/20) We moseyed off to Palm Desert again today. Lou's appointment was at 2pm so no hurry except to get beyond the Border Patrol check points early to avoid the long queues we've saw in the afternoon Wednesday. Today, we took Highway 111 along the East side of the Salton Sea.We stopped for breakfast in Niland at one of the two little restaurants. My pancakes were good along with the eggs and sausage links but the hashbrowns were the toaster type patty. Lou had a choreso burrito which was good. All in all a very good meal for the low prices.

We stopped and looked at several State parks along the way. Someday we'll probably be headed this way for a longer visit.

I dropped Lou off early for her appointment and the dust didn't have time to settle before she called me to say she was through, almost. She had an 8pm MRI appointment. We want to get this stuff completed to eliminate many more 180 mile trips here for doctors appointments.

We browsed around some shops and had dinner at the New York Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Rancho Mirage before her evening appointment. We shared a piece of original cheesecake and followed that with a Sheppard's pie. We also made a stop by the Department Of Motor Vehicles to get an application for a Handicap Placard while she heals.

Lou was finished up with her MRI by 8:30pm so we hurried off toward home. The hurry didn't last long since we were stuck in a "DUI - Safety Inspection" for 20-30 minutes. What a waste of resources. Any drunk that gets nabbed by these worthless actions must be asleep as well as drunk. Of course, we didn't listen to the radio to find out where the checkpoint was, the drunks do.  While we waited we watched all the drunks make a turn through a side street to avoid the stop though they did end up waiting through the long  queue before they could turn. Then three cars at a time were stopped by no less (by actual count)  than 30 officers, as in 10 officers involved in the checkpoint for each person-contact. Seems excessive. If they had reduced that to 5 officers, we would have been on our way in half the time. If they are lucky, they might nab 5-10 DUI's during the evening but if 30 officers stopped 5 reckless drivers during the same period while they were out on patrol, they would net 150 DUI's. Somethings wrong withe stupid inefficient actions like these.

While I'm on a roll: And then there are the Border Patrol Checkpoints, two on the route North. Who do they think they'll be finding with these stops. They're miles from the border in most cases, at fixed locations that are easy to bypass. While there are more than 6 officers at the checkpoints they only have one lane and usually one car checked at a time making the queues much longer than needed.

Both of these inspections are really only a bother to the law abiding folks. The drunks and illegals simply avoid them.

We arrived home moments before midnight.

(03/21) Today was another relaxing day. Haven't even left the RV for anything. Lou sewing and me at the keyboard.

Breakfast was popcorn. Lunch was fruit salad. Dinner was sausage zucchini, cabbage, and onions.

The most exciting thing today was watching the lake slowly rising. It's been dropping for the past few really hot days but now it's much cooler so the lake can rise to be ready for the next heavy power usage. The island was completely accessible on one side but the water fingers are nearing each other to make it an island soon.

Sunday: (03/22) The wind blew hard all night and all day today. We got up and drove down to Yuma again. Nothing important but it's so windy there isn't much to do at home anyway. We stopped at Brownie's Cafe on 4th Ave for breakfast. Every time we've passed it the parking lot has been full and it's a big lot. We found a couple of seats at the counter, the rest of the place was full. I had their corned beef hash and eggs, Lou had a steak and eggs. It was all very good. Evidently the lot is full for a reason. We'll be coming back. Lou needed some things from Jo-Ann's fabric. We also drove out on 32nd St and stopped at a couple of model homes and looked at some other RV lots and homes. We also browsed through some RV's. Then we found a couple of thrift stores which needed inspection. We topped the day with dinner at the Golden Corral, again. It's habit forming. And finally a stop at Walmart's for a couple of things before heading back up to camp.

The dust was really bad all day in Yuma sometimes as heavy as the California valley fog but at home, the wind is blowing as strong or worse on our hill top but with little dust, just the dusty haze causing viability of about a few miles instead of the previous nice clear sky.

Monday: (03/23) Breakfast of Don McMuffin's. (Whole wheat English muffin toasted in the fry pan with a little butter, Fried egg, sausage, and cheese). This breakfast lasts. After breakfast we were off to town.

First stop was the Post Office in Winterhaven to pick up our mail. Winterhaven isn't much of a town but does have a Post Office. It's across the river  from Yuma. Next stop the laundry to do the wash.

We then had to stop by Brownie's cafe to have a Brownie's Delight. We had seen a simple sign on the wall that said "Brownies Delight, $2.95". No pictures, no description. Yesterday at breakfast we were talking to a neighbor at the counter where we were seated and when we mentioned the sign he smiled and said it was huge and excellent. our kind of desert. His descriptions was exact. it was huge and excellent. a big brownie in a big bowl with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and fudge sauce topped with whipped cream. We shared one and it was plenty.

Lou also had to visit the Salvation Army thrift store that was closed on Sunday. We then visited the Yuma Territorial Prison State Park. Kind of interesting but not much there. We did get a good view across the Colorado River of the location of a brush fire that was blazing last night in the 40 mph winds. It really didn't look too bad just burn through the brush near the river. Apparently didn't bother any structures. While we were there some of the hot spots had flared up as the breeze returned.

Back home I fixed spaghetti and fresh asparagus for dinner.

Tuesday: (03/24) Another sunny day but it is also quite cool and a bit breezy. The lake looks nice when it's full. More Don McMuffin's for breakfast.

More of the same today. Lou sewing and me computing. About noon, i took a hike. I hiked up the hills behind our RV up to a water tank, on along the ridgetops via burro trails getting good views all around. I hiked on to get a good view of Squaw Lake and the Imperial Dam. Then back through a  little valley to home. On the way I passed a pond that has a no trespassing sign if approached from our campsite but, as I found, nothing via my current approach. The pond is evidently a beaver pond or at least has a dam made of sticks like a beaver dam. We've always wanted to see a good beaver dam with active beavers but haven't seen a good one yet. This one has a good dam and pond and maybe we'll be lucky. Of all places, this one found in the desert?

Dinner was fried fish, rice, and a nice green salad.

Lots more neighbors have departed recently. It's getting quite bare around here.

Wednesday: (03/25) Below is a collection of flower pictures from my various walks overthe past couple of weeks.

Flowers Flowers
The dead looking stick bushes (octillo) around the desert have these nice blooms after the leaves return. Many of the other cacti are in bloom.

Flowers Flowers
The purple flowers are pretty common here as well. The red one on the right is more unusual here.

Flowers Flowers
I saw the cactus on the left above on the top of the hill on the island in the lake. The flower on the right looks like it is a progressive bloomer each flower building on the previous?

Flowers Flowers
The yellow flowers on the left are all around but the heavy winds removed most of the petals. I haven't seen the flowers on the right before.

Flowers Flowers
Lots of the flowers look like daisy's. The flower on the right is a closeup of the flower below left.

Flowers Desert Mushroom
Some of the flowers are elaborate like on the left above. Even the desert mushroom is interesting. This is one of two I spotted. One was golden like above. The other was pushing up a rock and just a white blob. These were both high up on hills away from any moisture.

Breakfast was one of Lou's omlets. We relaxed around home all day. Lunch was some of my ham, pepperjack cheese and red pepper sandwiches. For dinner Lou fixed a stir fry concoction with vegetables, tofu and rice.

Beaver Pond Beaver Dam
We visited our local beaver pond just before sundown. It;s just a short walk from our campsite.

Beaver Pond Beaver Dam
The beaver pond and the beaver dam are shown above. Evidently the dam is removed each year and rebuilt per one of the regular visitors.

Beaver? Beaver?
The beaver munching on some reeds and swiming around the pond. This is a small beast and doesn't have a flat tail. Lou says it's a mountain beaver, i wonder if it's not another muskrat. It's head looks more like the beaver.

Burros Desert Iguana
Another picture of a friendly burro and on the right above is the desert iguana near our campsite.

Thursday: (03/26) We had cereal for breakfast then walked down the the beaver pond again. Nobody out.The wind blew most of the day getting much worse in the evening.

When we returned to camp we met our neighbor. She was excited because she had killed a rattle snake in her campsite this morning. She found it between two pieces of cardboard stacked outside. Maybe it is time to leave here?

We relaxed at home all day. Lunch was leftover pork ribs and lima beans with Parasean cheese. Dinner was a green salad and the leftover stir-fry with rice and tofu from yesterday. We took another walk to the pond but the wind was so bad we saw no beaver.

When we got back from the pond I packed up the stuff outside so we can leave earlier in the morning.