Buckeye Hills Regional Park

I got away from Ehrenberg with only one rock! OK two, but one is really small. I had collected five rocks, and at the last minute I narrowed it down to just the two. It wouldn’t be so bad except I have to carry all these rocks around with me everywhere I go! Sometimes I get them all out and see if there are any I can bear to get rid of, but it usually doesn’t work.

We’ve moved to Buckeye Hills Regional Park, about 35 miles west of Phoenix. This is the 3rd time we’ve been here, and we like it a lot. There are not very many campsites here and most of them are spread very far apart (like 1/2 mile!) Nearly all the sites were occupied but I got one at the dead end. Later I got a neighbor; a massive Class A whose occupants can’t live without their generator. It’s fairly quiet though, and they don’t run it late at night.

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I got a site with a covered picnic table, so I can use my bbq grill. I went out and bought some boneless pork ribs and a small steak to grill and was very excited about it. But first I had to put a new propane burner on the grill. All the info on the web said it was easy as pie.  Well….only if you can get the old one off! I struggled with the bolt for a long time and finally gave up.

Then yesterday I had a short visit from Donna Morey, who was en route back home from a Sisters on the Fly gathering at Quartzsite. She had a little socket set, yay! And then that ol’ bolt came right off, and so did the burner, and it WAS easy! It’s all a matter of having the right tools. I carry a small socket driver set but it wasn’t big enough for this particular bolt. I cooked those ribs, mmmmm they were good!

I think it’s funny that someone has made all kinds of paths (that go nowhere) with little rocks. But the fire ring has no rocks!

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We’ve been having very overcast weather; what happened to my nice bright Arizona sun?? This morning there was heavy fog! I didn’t know Arizona had enough moisture in the air to make fog.  The sun finally broke through around 11:00 and it’s beautiful now.

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The only bad thing about these sites are the trash barrels; they always seem to be overflowing! I think I remember that they come around every week and empty them, but they fill up quickly. I think people come and dump their household garbage.  It’s very nice to have any kind of garbage pickup though. There are a couple vault toilets here also and they are very very low…..maybe only a foot high?  It’d be good for little kids but really tough for us old folks with bad knees!

Buckeye seems to have everything anyone would need…Wal-Mart, PetSmart, Lowes, big grocery stores, and even a do-it-yourself dog wash that we’ll be visiting one day soon!  All that stuff is about 13 miles from here, but there’s a small IGA grocery store, Walgreens and a few smaller stores in Buckeye itself which is about 8 miles away.

There’s a little critter that has a hole right next to the concrete slab for the picnic table. I don’t know what it is, but he’s been working on his hole, as he’s thrown up some sand onto Roxie’s exercise pen mat! Maybe I’ll catch a glimpse of him soon.

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I also see evidence of some little critter in my car again…..something bigger than a mouse but smaller than a rat, judging by what he left behind. I set a trap last night but didn’t catch anything, nor was the bait (a pistachio!) disturbed so maybe whatever it is has already moved out. Or maybe it just doesn’t know what a pistachio is.  I wonder if it’s the same little guy who owns the hole? I’m going to look today for my solar string lights and put them on the ground under the engine; I’ve heard that’ll keep rodents away.

 

 

 

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ALiner Life

After seeing the photos I posted yesterday, a friend commented that she’d never seen the inside of my camper. So I decided to post a few more photos , with explanations.

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This is one from yesterday. In the corner of the camper is the sink, but it’s tucked right up where the roof is lowest, and it’s a real pain to use. So I made a little riser to go over the sink & faucet and I have 5 bins there. The white one holds cosmetics, hairbrush, comb, toothpaste, that sort of stuff. The big blue one behind it holds dog grooming & medical supplies, some paper products and the pans on top. Behind that is one that holds a big bag of essential oils (for making my own insect repellents), homeopathic medicines and oh, I just found some cookies that are probably a year old!  Another holds napkins, some paper plates & bowls and plastic cups. The 5th one holds bread products. Hey, this is a good exercise; I think I could consolidate some of this junk and get rid of one whole bin! (Later….I did! I got rid of the white one!!!)

The wire shelf overhead is resting on two adjustable painter’s poles, which are supported by pieces of wood along the eaves.

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Moving on. The Olympian Wave 3 heater hangs on a cupboard door and it’s removable. (The heater, not the door) Love this little heater! It has a quick-release propane connection. Behind that door is 3 shelves. One holds plastic wrap, alum. foil and baggies. One has a bin of spices, and one holds first aid supplies.

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Next to that is a drop-down door and two drawers. I can pull out the top drawer, get out the hot pads and put them on the corner, then the drop down door will sit level and can be used as a workspace.

I sit on the porta-potty to work there, and to cook. (with the lid down, of course) One of my good friends says when she thinks of me, I’m sitting on that potty, chopping vegetables and stirring stuff on the stove! Hmmm.  Inside the microwave are a bunch of nested bowls and a couple pans. In order to get to them I have to first remove all the jars of most-used spices from in front of the microwave door.

 

 

The most often used cutlery & utensils are kept in a mug on the countertop but the other kitchen gadget stype stuff is in one drawer, and the cleaning products in little bitty bottles plus some nested bowls are in the bottom drawer.

There’s a hidey-hole under the air conditioner just inside the door that’s supposed to be for a porta-potty but mine is too tall to fit in there, so there’s a bin of Justin Case stuff. You know, just-in-case I need it. It’s a bunch of stuff that I rarely use, but I never know when I might need it. Spare batteries, insect repellent gizmos, a fish skinner, well I don’t even know what all else is in there, but I’ve been through it recently and decided it all needed to stay. Between the door & window are my decorations. Three postcards and my little “JOY” Christmas decoration that I’ve decided should be permanent. Everyone needs a little Joy every day.  It’s crazy but just putting up these few cheapie decorations makes it feel like home.

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Next to the bed at each end are plastic bins.

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They help keep the mattress from sliding away from the wall. One holds socks & undies, prescription drugs and a couple books.I use the top of that that as my workstation/table. The other contains folded clothing. Under the bed are two more plastic bins; one for lesser-used and out of season clothes, and the other for food.  Roxie’s little bed sits on the floor next to my bed. She could sleep on my bed but she’s always been a “floor dog”. When I got her she was 5 years old and I was told that she was a “floor dog”. She’s very much NOT a lapdog!

The blue thing behind the bed is an ensolite backpacking pad, about $8 at Wal-Mart. In winter I slip it between the wall and mattress and it keeps the hinge on that side from collecting condensation in the night (outside cold meets inside warmth = condensation) and covers the bottom of the big curtain so cold air doesn’t fall on me; it goes behind the foam. Inside the curtain is a dollar store car windshield reflector; white side out (if foil side is out, the bubble window could get superheated and melt!) and also a big piece of folded fleece material for insulation. It works really well; I can put my hand right up to the curtain and don’t feel any cold (or heat). I also have a thinner piece of black ensolite against the head of the bed, to insulate against the outside wall.  It all seems to be working well, it’s very cozy in here except when it’s really windy, then there’s nothing that’ll keep that out, with all the seams in this type of camper. My Library (two atlas books and a spare Kindle)  is also here, between the ensolite and the mattress. I see a little bit of my red Arizona atlas sticking up. And of course my fire extinguisher on the floor in front of the bed so I could get to it quickly, if needed.

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There are two storage areas accessed from the outside that contain things like tools, leveling blocks, electric extension cords, tarps, my rubber boots & some spare shoes, and the off-season sheets.

I think that completes the tour! I know I could be a lot more organized if I wasn’t carrying everything I own. Most full-timers have at least a camper with a bathroom, so they have cabinetry and a medicine cabinet in there, and many more kitchen cabinets and overhead cabinets. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.  This works for me, it just doesn’t look very good, LOL!

 

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Hanging Out in Ehrenberg

I haven’t posted in a while because I haven’t been doing anything! And I love my lazy life. It’s been a little on the cool side here; high 50’s which I guess is actually pretty normal for this time of year. I’ve been trying to whine to my friends back east about it but it’s not very productive, since they are dealing with RealFeel temps in the single digits and teens!  It’s supposed to warm up to near 70 for the next week though; that’ll be perfect!

Pretty sunset tonight.

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I also was waiting to do a blog post so I could report on something. I’m camped near Bob Wells, who writes the CheapRVLiving.com blog and who hosts the annual Rubber Tramp Rendezvous in Quartsite. He wandered over a couple days ago for a chat, and he asked if he could video my camper for his YouTube channel. Of course I said yes! Then afterward I went to one of his YouTube videos and realized it’s not just him videoing people campers; it’s an interview on video! Yikes!!!  But I thought I’d go ahead with it anyway.  So I got the camper all cleaned up (and took some of the junk out to the car so it didn’t look quite so cluttered). We were supposed to do it yesterday afternoon but it was just too cold and very windy. Maybe today.  I guess he didn’t find time today, as it’s dark now.  But hey, I got my camper all cleaned, that was almost worth it!

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My “work station/dining table” next to the bed.

 

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I thought it looked so good! Until I looked at the photos. In spite of the stuff I hauled out to the car, it still looks cluttered! Well I guess it just can’t be helped; after all, I’m carrying nearly everything I own. (That’s a good excuse, right?) Sadly, the truth is, I’m a cluttery kind of person.

Hey have you tried this stuff?  Crio Bru Ghana Light Roast Brewed Gluten-Free Cocoa

It’s Crio Bru…..like coffee, but it’s roasted cocoa beans!  I know, right? Oh, the smell alone is worth the price! It’s nice that you don’t have to go through the bother and mess of heating milk to make real cocoa (though I suppose not many of you do that anyway) I first made it as directed on the package; using 2 tbsp.  You can’t use a paper coffee filter; it’ll clog it all up. So you use a permanent gold filter, or else a french press. That first cup was awful, like really weak chocolate-flavored water. Blechh!  I had my taste buds all set for a nice strong thin cocoa and that was NOT it! So now I make it using double (or maybe even a bit more) the ground beans, and it’s really good! Add a little sugar, a little half & half….ahhhhh.  Nice.  I splurged on this purchase (Christmas present to myself) and won’t be buying it very often because at the portions I’m using, it won’t last very long. Unless I win the lottery, of course; but I hear you have to actually buy a ticket for that to happen.   http://amzn.to/2iUU38V

I’m meeting my cousin Patty for lunch on Tuesday! She lives in Lake Elsinore, CA and we are meeting exactly half way, in Indio. I mean EXACTLY. It is 90.9 miles for each of us! I’m looking forward to seeing her again.

Thank you all for your Amazon purchases through my Amazon Associates link, and a special thank you to the folks who used my PayPalMe link!! ! I get a small percentage of each Amazon purchase, and it doesn’t cost you anything extra. Here’s the link:

https://www.amazon.com/?tag=litbitliv01-20

 

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After Christmas

Now that Christmas is past, I’m back to regular chores. I mailed some solar gadgets to a friend who’s just setting up her new system and went over toBlythe, California to get some groceries. I didn’t know that in California you have to bring your own grocery bags or else pay for them! I’ll try to remember.

I finally got around to doing laundry today too….I’ve been putting it off and putting it off, washing out a few undies every few days. The laundromat in Ehrenberg is very cheap…it cost only $3.50 to wash & dry two loads of clothes! And I forgot (again) to put any fabric softener in the dryer. I don’t like to use dryer sheets; I don’t want whatever those chemical are, all over my clothes & touching my skin. But here in the desert you almost have to. And since I didn’t, I’ve got enough static electricity in just my clean underpants alone to power this camper for a full day, if only I could harness it! Hate when that happens, don’t you?

While I was out I called Wal-Mart Pharmacy. On the 23rd I called to have 3 prescriptions refilled and sent to me at the Enrenberg Post Office (General Delivery). On the phone we wet over each one and the strength, etc. I looked on line and it looked as though only one of them was ordered. Sure enough, not only was just the one ordered, but the woman said they were waiting for payment before they shipped it. (A whole $.83) I said “You have my credit card, right?” and she read off the last 4 numbers. So what’s the problem here??  She said she would TRY to get it sent out tomorrow.  I guess I’m going to have to get the others ordered for pickup at the nearest Wal-Mart, which is 40 miles away!!!  An 80 miles drive just because people are stupid.

Other than those exciting things, we are just hanging out here, enjoying the sunny weather and being lazy. One day soon we’re going to go to Cibola Wildlife Reserve which is on the California side of the Colorado River but not too far from here, and I have orders to check out a campground near Blythe that my friends are interested in for next winter. I have to find them the best site……oh dear, the pressure’s on!

There was a really cute sign in the laundromat that said “Free hair washing sink”! Wish I’d known that. Then there was another sign that said “Washing dogs and kids, special today $139.00”!!   I took a picture of it with my phone but it refused to email it to my laptop. It always does that.

Oh it looks like the computer is in a good mood today and is going to let me post a few photos!

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Not A Sunny Day….Again

Gee this is the 3rd overcast or rainy day in a row! What happened to my nice Arizona sunshine? Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain again too. I’m having to be very  careful of my battery usage. I got the DVD’s for Season 1 and 2 of Northern Exposure and I want to watch them but I need a pretty good battery charge to run the TV. It’s supposed to be sunny and nice on Christmas Day, maybe I’ll have a Northern Exposure marathon then.

I wanted to make some chili but could only find one small can of tomatoes, so I thought I’d go over to the big metropolis of Blythe, CA to the Albertsons store.  But when I got to the interstate I noticed it was all backed up and barely creeping along in that direction, so I just went to the little convenience store in Ehrenberg, where a 14 oz. can of tomatoes cost me $1.99! Yikes, more than double what I’d pay in a larger grocery store! Oh well, I probably would have spent that much on gas getting to Blythe & back, plus bought other stuff I really don’t need.  I did finally get through to Wal-Mart on the phone to order my prescription refills and have them sent via mail to the Ehrenberg post office.  Their on-line ordering for pickup and/or mail delivery never works! Then on the way back home, I remembered a hidey-hole where I may have put a big can of tomatoes. Sure enough! Oh well; Princess Roxie got a nice little car ride out of the deal.

Ehrenberg is a pretty depressed-looking place. Lots of junky mobile homes & shacks, and businesses-that-used-to-be. They do have a nice new fire station though!

Love the smell here after the rain, and in the early mornings….some kind of bush that puts out a nice herbal smell when wet; I can’t remember which one it is. Maybe mesquite?

Oh! I heard from a friend that she’s going to be camp hosting at the most beautiful campground ever….Sunny Flat, in Southeast AZ near Portal, for January and February! Oh now I’m going to have to go back there. I haven’t seen them since Linda spent a week or so with me at Yuma last winter. Unfortunately it’s about 400 miles from here, but maybe I can work my way back around there by February. I nearly cried when I went past the exit on the way to Whitewater Draw when I first got to AZ; it is such a gorgeous place but it’s way the heck out of the way….something like 45 miles from I-10, in the middle of nowhere. It’s on the “back side” of Chiricahua National Monument, and there’s a little tiny twisty dirt road that goes over the mountain between the two, but it’s impassable in winter, with snow and ice. I tried it last December and had to turn back after a couple slow, bumpy miles. Here’s a photo I got off the web of Sunny Flat. Is that not a magical place? The high cliffs rise all around the campground meadow. It’s a great for birding and there are some nice hiking trails around there. It costs $5 a night with the Geezer Pass. If you get there in January or February, tell Linda and Rodger I said hello!

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Ehrenberg Camp

I finally got camp pretty well set up. When I woke up this morning, my first thought was “I’m home!” and I was happy. I don’t have to do anything, don’t have to go anywhere. I guess I really needed to stop traveling! Not that I would want to live here, I just want to be able to stay in one place for awhile.

I made a mistake in packing up yesterday morning and had a little incident with some spilled instant mashed potato flakes on my bed.. This has happened before and wasn’t a problem but with the dry air here, those darn flakes are all charged up with static! They’re not going anywhere; they cling like crazy to my fleece sheets and even the quilt that has a smooth surface. I tried using the whisk broom to fling them on the floor but they are resisting. Maybe I can pretend it’s snow…….And if it ever rains, maybe the humidity in here will go up enough that I can sweep them up. .No Biggie.

I’ve been busy today though; I washed out a few Unders so I don’t have to go to the laundromat for a few more days; made vegetable soup and applesauce, charged up the Kindles, laptop and some batteries for my little flashlight and rearranged the back seat of the car a little. I get it all organized but then as soon as I take one thing out, it becomes one big jumble again.

Here’s the “road” in…..and the neighbors. Yes, that’s right, there aren’t any! They are all about 1/2 mile away or so. Sorry abhout that handprint in the upper corner; I was trying to shield the lens from the sun.

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And here’s our camp. Nice tree, huh?dscn6807

 

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Ehrenberg, AZ BLM Land

I am hoping this is my last move for a good while….I’d love to stay here for a month or so. I’m told the 14 day limit is not enforced here.  It seems like a great place, except it’s rather windy right now.  The ground is covered with coarse gravel which is a little hard to walk on but at least it’s keeping us from getting sandblasted. I even have a TREE which gives shade for a good part of the day!  It’s a Palo Verde tree so it doesn’t have any leaves, but it still does a pretty good job of casting shade.  The gravel around here is very interesting; lots of white quartz stones, some of them pretty big. Oh no, not more rocks!!  I will try not to look down.

I’m a mere 3 miles from Exit 1 on I-10, where there’s gas, propane, dump station and water, laundromat and a convenience store! And it’s only about 7 miles to Blythe, CA for bigger grocery stores, etc.  I am getting great wifi and cell signals too.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be settling into one place for a while. I even took the time to finally put up my little decorations….I hung a glass art piece of a happy little whale I got in Maine, and some postcards on the wall, and of course my tiny Christmas tree. I might even get out the solar string lights, if I can figure out what I’ve done with them.

I first went in the other direction and tried to find a nice campsite right on the Colorado River but didn’t see anything that I really liked. There are other campers around me here but not close. This is the kind of place where if I don’t feel like getting fully dressed in the morning, I don’t have to! But yet there are others “within shouting distance”. I think.

 

 

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Moving to Yuma

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Wow, pretty amazing sunrise this morning! Roxie again woke me at 6:45 to go out but once I got up I was kinda glad, as I got to see the magnificent dawn breaking. There was a group of coyotes howling about 1/4 mile away so I hustled Roxie back into the camper pretty quickly. I love to hear them though!

Even though it’s a Moving Day, it’s also going to be a Pancake Day. I got some huge blackberries at Safeway for only $.88 and I love blackberry pancakes. Boy that reminds me of living in Ecuador where blackberries are available year-round and are $1 a pound!! Yum.

Later…..I set my GPS with the coordinates for Cochise Stronghold West but when we got just past Tombstone, it wanted me to turn on a road that was gated and locked! I asked it to fine an alternate route and it said there wasn’t one. So…..I just decided to head for Yuma.

We got as far as Gila Bend and stopped at an area that is part of the AZ State Trust Land. It requires an annual $15 permit to camp there but I  got one & printed it out before I left NC. It was very convenient for a quick overnight stop; just off I-8. It was almost dark when I got there and I really couldn’t see where to camp, so I just pulled off the little dirt road onto the desert and went back about 150′. The road is only about 3/4 mile long and it was very worrisome that I saw this sign on the way in:

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Yikes. It was already too dark to find another spot, so we hunkered down and didn’t use much light; I read by the light of the Kindle. We survived! We were out of there by 8 a.m. and headed to Yuma.

Got to Fortuna Pond (outside of Fortuna Foothills) by 10:00! Wow, it was way more crowded than when I was here last winter. I thought if I got here before Christmas I’d have my choice of sites, but not so at all. I barely squeezed into a tiny lakefront site near the porta-potty and dumpster. (I hope they don’t smell!)  Many of the sites have nice trees for shade but not this one. Hopefully it won’t get too hot while we’re here.

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A Do-Nothing Day

It was so nice to Do Nothing all day yesterday! Oh, caught up on little chores like some housekeeping, cooking & stuff, (made some really great sloppy joes to have for lunches!) but I never left the campsite til late afternoon. I needed this! It was very warm today; high of 79. My little canopy does not provide any shade since the sun is so low in the sky right now, but Roxie has shade cloth over her exercise pen, both for shade and for protection from predators in the sky.  33 degrees this morning, 79 by afternoon!

I was so pleased the other day at Safeway when I had a short conversation in Spanish! I had been looking and not finding the little Halo tangerines, and when I went to the checkout line, there was a Mexican lady there who had some in her cart. I heard her speaking Spanish to her grandson, so I asked (IN SPANISH!) “Where are the little oranges?” And I actually understood the answer! OK, I didn’t understand most of the answer, but I caught the word “debajo” which means “under”, so I knew to look for them below the counter. Found them!  It was the most simple little conversation but it really made me happy that I could even remember that much of my Spanish. I wish I had occasion to use it more often, as I really worked hard at learning it at my age, and I’m forgetting more and more all the time.

I walked back to the viewing platform this evening. That makes a mile or more of walking just today, wow!  Here are some pics….most of them taken using the digital zoom on my camera, so they’re not super clear.

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Whitewater Draw

This morning I only drove a little over an hour from Willcox, to Whitewater Draw Wildlife Management Area. It’s one of the places where sandhill cranes hang out all winter, and they come to the ponds at night and take off in a huge cloud of giant birds in the morning! Can’t wait to see that!!  It does mean I have to get up around 6:00 a.m. but I hope it’ll be worth it. Roxie has been waking me up awfully early anyway. I wonder if she’s still on NC time??

Camping is allowed in the parking lot here for up to 3 nights. It’s much nicer than I expected! I thought it would be just a big parking lot but there’s a vault toilet, dumpster, and picnic tables….LUXURY camping, compared to what I’m used to.

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My fridge has gone back to its lazy ways, and is not cooling very well. Sigh….back to using block ice. I hate how messy and drippy it is, but it’s better than having ruined food. I wish I knew what was wrong with the fridge though; I thought last fall that it needed the burner cleaned but I had that done (and he said it wasn’t very dirty).  It’s so odd that sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t.

I ordered a replacement aluminum folding step and had it sent to the Bisbee post office. I went over there today to pick it up, what a fiasco. I  had to drive round and round until a parking space opened up at the post office about 12:20 and of course they were closed for lunch. So I thought I’d check out the REALLY cute historic section of town while I waited for 1:00. Nope. There was not a parking spot to be had anywhere near the shops. So I drove around a bit…the Copper Queen Mine is certainly a very impressive humungous hole in the ground!  And then went back to the post office; drove around in circles some more while I waited for a parking space to free up. Finally 1:00 arrived and by the time I walked down to the post office, I found myself 13th in line! And of course everyone had Christmas packages to mail. I finally made it to the window after 30 minutes and the woman said “Oh we don’t handle General Deliveries here; that’s at the other post office”.  Oh. So I drove over to the other p.o. and the line was not as bad there; finally got my package and came back to camp but that little excursion took more than 3 hours!! I decided I definitely am staying here at least two nights; I need a day of rest. Even though I spent 5 days at Big Bend, I was in the car driving around for the better part of each day, and it’s been 13 days since I left SC…..driving every day. I’m tired.

Yesterday I asked a guy if he’d seen the cranes take off in the morning and he said yes. I asked what time, and he said he thought it was around 6:15. So this morning I was up by 5:45 a.m. and stumbling the 1/4 mile or so out to the viewing site by 6:10. All the cranes take off at the same time in the mornings! In evenings they come in all at different times. As I was walking down the path, barely lit by my tiny flashlight with bad batteries, I heard several coyotes howling nearby. Oh. Do coyotoes attack people???  I wouldn’t really be afraid of one coyote, but several??   I kept going anyway and sat on one of the freezing cold metal benches provided. And I waited. And I waited. In 33 degrees, wearing just levis and a fleece jacket. Of course I had my camera ready for the action, so my hands were out in the cold. What a cacophany of sound all those cranes make!

Well that bit about them all taking off at once is a bunch of hooey! There was no action at all until 6:45, and then 10-15 at a time started leaving. I finally left and came back to the camper at 7:15 and there were still quite a few birds still there, but I was soooo cold! I hadn’t planned on having to sit there for over an hour.  My hands were so cold, I couldn’t turn the car key to start the car….it took both hands! While I was gone, Roxie had peed and pooped in the camper. (I had walked her before I left!) Nice.

Here’s a lone great blue heron fishing in the dusk last night…..and I didn’t even notice the little duck in the foreground!

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I’m sure I will go back this evening too and maybe I can get some better photos.

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All those “things” in the center are sandhill cranes.

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Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed in this morning’s action. The birds here are quite far away so it’s hard to get any good photos without a huge telephoto lens. Now I wish I’d stopped off at Bosque del Apache NWR again, in southern New Mexico. There are thousands of sandhill cranes there, plus snow geese and many other bird species. And you can easily get to within 15′ of where they take off and land.

Not sure what a Sandhill Crane looks like? Here’s one up close and personal, taken from the Bosque del Apache website:

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Arizona!

Finally I made it to Arizona! I didn’t get quite as far as I’d hoped, but I drove 350 miles and that’s a pretty good day for me. I just have 55 more to go tomorrow morning. Much of today’s drive was on the back roads again, through the desert which is pretty boring except for trying to figure out what all the squished animals are on the road. In case you’re wondering, there were probably 100 jackrabbits, with a few raccoon and a coyote mixed in.

As I left Guadalupe Mountains National Park I drove over to the Frijoles Ranch Museum exhibit. The buildings were not open so I just wandered around a bit.  The ranch was started in the 1870’s, then changed hands in 1906. The Smith family added onto the house and made their living by truck farming and a small orchard. The nearest market for their produce was in Van Horn, 60 miles away. So they would load up the wagon, hitch up the horses, cover the produce with wet paper & rags to protect them from the dust and heat, and drive all night, arriving the next morning to sell to their customers. Phew, sure sounds like a hard way to make a living!

This is the little red schoolhouse, built in 1925. The Smiths hired a teacher who was paid $30 a month plus room, board and the use of a horse! They had as many as 8 kids in attendance.

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And here’s my last view of Guadalupe Mts.

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Ahhh Arizona! Back in the land of magnificent sunrises and sunsets. The past few mornings I have been up in time to catch the sunrise, thanks to Roxie. (Grrrr) It’s definitely worth seeing; I just don’t want to get up and go outside at 6:40 a.m.!

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Guadalupe Mountains National Park

I said a sad farewell to Big Bend this morning, with a hug from neighbor Neal and exchange of email & Facebook Friendships. I believe we’ll run into each other again somewhere in Arizona this winter. I think this time in early December is a really good time to visit Big Bend….not many people, good weather, and plenty of campsites to choose from. I hardly ever saw another car on the road!  As I was going out our bad dirt road this morning I saw the remains of someone’s bike rack or something in the road….three separate piles of “stuff”. I hope they were able to pick it up and put it back together on their way out.

I drove all day on little 2 lane roads (speed limits usually 70-75, but I only go 60). I was getting tired when I got to Van Horn, TX but I went another hour and made it to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The Pine Springs CG here is just a big paved lot with no shade but the price is right; $4 with the Geezer Pass! There’s a really cool Aussie-style camper across the road from me. I wish I had the guts to ask if I could see the inside….but I don’t.

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Here’s our campsite; barely got set up before dark! Pretty nice view.

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It’s pretty windy here; hope it calms down soon. It seems impossible to keep the wind from blowing straight through the camper, even with all 4 corners stuffed with foam.

(Next morning) The winds remained really gusty all night long…we were really rockin’ and rollin’! I was again giving thanks for my good friend Jenni’s help in installing the handy wind straps that keep the roof closed tight.  I was grumpy this morning because Roxie made me get up at 6:45 but what an amazing sunrise I got to see! And the mountains are bathed in beautiful golden light….compare this sight to the photo at the top that I took yesterday.

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I guess I may as well get an early start on today’s drive….if I do really well, we could get to Whitewater Draw Wildlife Management Area today! It’s 325 miles though, that’s quite a long driving day for me. So we’ll see.

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Big Bend Day 5

Today we went to Castellon and Santa Elena, where the whitewater trips through the Santa Elena Canyon take out. Without hiking over a mile, I couldn’t get any photos of the canyon. This is the closest I could get, and the river runs through that big vertical crack in the middle of the photo.

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For some reason most of the photos I took today turned out a little bit out of focus, not sure what that’s about! But there was a magnificent sunset and I’m posting one of the blurry photos of that anyway.

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These are from our first day here; I love this purple prickly pear! (Try saying that three times real fast!)

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And these are some kind of quail or ?; can you find them?

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Finally, Neal’s 1969 Playmor camper. Isn’t it cute!

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Big Bend Day 4

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Today we went outside the park on the west side, to the ghost town of Terlingua. I was interested to see it because I used to own  5 and 13 acre tracts of land near there at Terlingua Ranch, which I bought and sold sight unseen. I got gas in Study Butte (pronounced Stoody Byute) for $2.609, not cheap but at least it’s $.10 a gallon cheaper than inside the park. Terlingua is a really funky little place, with people living in shacks, nice homes, teepees, tents….you name it! I really like adobe and this isn’t this the cutest little adobe tiny house!

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And the next door neighbor is this teepee! There are quite a few old adobe and rock remains of homes.

Near town is this place, shaped like a clipper ship. In case you can’t read the sign, it says “Passing Wind”!  At another house that had a completely sand yard was a sign that said “Keep Off The Grass”.  

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In Terlingua there’s a really nice store with Texas and Terlingua souvenirs and gifts, and next door is the Starlight Theater. You can get dinner and a show! There’s going to be a live band tonight and I think my neighbor Neal is going.

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I keep seeing coyotes coming and going on “our” Grapevine Hills Road but they always disappear into the brush when I get close. Today there was one that slipped into the brush but when I got to the place where he left the road, there he was! He stood and modeled for me while I look at least 6 or 7 great photos, then trotted off. Then I noticed the little yellow blurb in the camera that I’d been ignoring, it said “No memory card present”. I didn’t get ANY of those photos!!!  As I continued toward our camp, I saw another coyote that was trotting up the road and went around a bend. When I got around it, there was our campsite. And the coyote was right there! He sure had no fear of humans; Neal was standing in the doorway of his camper and the coyote went within 4′ of him! He too stood around for long enough to me to get some photos but I’m sure they are not as good as the ones I couldn’t keep.

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On the way home I drove up to Chisos Basin; there’s a visitor center, campground, store and lodge there. The terrain is completely different….lots of conifer frees and there were signs warning of bears and cougars. There was even a “bear crossing” sign but I guess I was there at a time when there weren’t any crossings scheduled, as usual.

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Big Bend Day 3

I have extended my stay at Big Bend for two additional days, as the first two days were completely clouded over, and I really want to see the park in the sunshine. I’m pretty sure there really are tops to these mountains; I just can’t see them.dscn6642

Yesterday I left the campsite and soon realized that my neighbor was right behind me. I drove through the gas station to see what the price is ($2.70 a gallon!) and he drove in also. I went to the Panther Jct. visitor center, extended my campsite stay, got some water and dumped my trash and when I came out, his car was also there. Then I drove over to see the Boquillas border crossing; I had hoped to be able to see the actual river but the U.S. Customs building was in the way. You can take a rowboat ride across the river for $5, then there are people on the Mexican side who will give you a donkey ride up to the little town of Boquillas for another $5. I have no desire to ride a donkey! I drove on to an overlook area and saw some people on the Mexican side of the rivier working on some project. There were some walking sticks and crafts all laid out on a rock there with no one around; you can buy things made in Mexico on the honor system! Most of the small items were $6 and the larger items were $10-12.

 

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On the Mexican side of the river

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The Mexican town of Boquillas

I went on to the Hot Springs and was surprised that there were old buildings there…one was a store and another looked like a motel! I actually walked the ¼ mile to the hot springs! (And ¼ mile back) My knees and hips were feeling it when I got back but there were places to rest along the way.  As I was coming back to the parking area, there was my neighbor again! I called out that it wasn’t nice to stalk people and he laughed; we stopped and chatted a bit. His camper is not as old as I thought; it’s a 1969 Playmor. He lives in it too, like me except he’s got almost twice as much space.

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Old General Store at hot springs

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Swallow nests about 50′ up on cliff wall

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Pictographs

The hot springs are free and about a 20’ square pool right next to the river, just a few feet deep. I believe the water is 105 degrees.

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Hot springs pool

I went on to the campgrounds. The one with electric hookups was like a paved parking lot though it did have some trees; campers were packed in very closely. This CG stays full all the time. The other campground without hookups had lots of trees and the sites were spacely farther apart. There’s a “no generators” area that would be quieter.  There’s also a visitor center, store and another gas station there.

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Full hookups campground

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Typical site in no-hookups campground

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These yellow flowers were growing right of the rock on the side of the canyon!

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Big Bend

I made it to Big Bend National Park! Finally. And just in time for the Arctic Blast….today’s high is 35 with a brisk wind, and the clouds are so low, I can hardly see the mountains. Drat! I may have to extend my visit.  As soon as I entered the park I saw my first wild critter…a big fat tarantula crossing the road; how exciting! I did not stop to take a photo of him. Then I noticed another, and another…..a really disturbing number of tarantulas!! Eww. Once I got off the paved road I didn’t see any more, but I bet they’re out there, just waiting to jump on me! Also waiting to leap on any unsuspecting person or dog are cougars and bears.Spiders, cougars and bears, oh my!

I am camped in a Backcountry site in Grapevine Hills. I was hoping there’d be a cell signal here but no, at least not on my phone. I really wanted to get the Government Springs sits as it’s quite close to the paved road, but it was taken. So my site is down 4 miles of very bad dirt road, but it’s nice once you get back there. It’s a sort of double site, and my neighbor is a young guy with kayak and bike and he’s camping in an old vintage Playmore camper! It’s cute as a button. (and so is he, if you care about that sort of thing) Oh no, I just tried to enter some photos and again my USB converter doesn’t work!  I really hate when that happens.

In the middle of last night I had to go outside and gather up my canopy, as it was too windy and the poles were banging on the camper. Oh the stars!! That song is right, “The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the Heart of Texas”!

It was so nice to not have to get up early and drive today. I made a big breakfast of “everything eggs” (sausage, ham, green pepper, onion, potatoes, eggs and cheese) and dawdled around all morning. I came out to empty the porta-potty and use the free wifi at the Panther Creek Visitor Center, which is only about 7 miles from me. On the way out the dirt road, I saw a coyote, a bunch of some kind of quail, and a roadrunner! I did take photos though they were kinda far off, so I don’t know how they turned out yet.

At the visitor center the ranger identified the thorn that went through my shoe as  mesquite, and he said the same thing happened to him the other day. I’m now very careful what i step on, but it’s already feeling better.

I’ll keep playing with the camera disc converter and hope to post photos the next time.

 

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