Palm Canyon

Approximately 20 miles south of Q on Hwy 95 in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge lies a canyon within the barren volcanic Kofa Mountain Range. Tucked away in this canyon are a grove of California fan palms the why and how of how they got there unknown, but speculation abounds and has over the years since they were discovered.

The boys and I head out in the late afternoon to drive to the refuge with the intent of staying the night and taking the short half-mile hike up to the palms the next day. The sun only shines in the canyon slot for a very brief time, and probably less this time of the year with the sun farther south. Photography requires light, so this is important.

It’s about 7 miles of pretty decent dirt road to reach the parking lot situated just below the trail head. The mountain looms upward dwarfing the lot and the vehicles parked there.  We are one of three who decide to go ahead a stay in the parking lot and wait for morning.

View from trail with van in prking lot ...

A bitter wind is whipping itself into a frenzy and it’s darn cold when the inevitable walk is needed for the boys to hike a leg. We don’t dilly dally around; it’s down to business and we scurry back inside.

The inside of the van is unheated, but comfy and warm enough as we snuggle under the covers listening to the wind poke and prod at the mountain and the van, sounding angry over something, voicing its mournful objections. It makes me sad, and my mind wanders to Burger. I miss my  Boo. I try to imagine him running in a field of green, happy and well … fortunately sleep comes fairly quickly.

Morning dawns bright and clear, and although still on the cold side, the wind has moved on. Coffee, another chapter in my book, a walk around the parking lot for the dogs, and  then a bit of breakfast while we await the sun to get a bit higher and the air a little warmer before we head out.  I check over my camera, make sure I have bags in my pocket for dog droppings, and we’re ready to go.

It’s a short hike, but it’s not a level hike. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult, but the trail does climb a bit, and there are a few places where it’s a bit tricky to navigate, especially with two dogs on leash who have their own idea of which way is the best way to go.

The palms are across a ravine from the trail, tucked away between the small canyon’s wall, protected from the elements.  The conditions surely must be perfectly right for them to continue to thrive and grow here.

You can read more about these palm trees HERE.

I decide to spend an additional night within the refuge enjoying the cholla (pronounced choy-ya) cactus, the saguaros and other desert plants that look fresh and clean without the coating of dust that covers most of the Sonoran Desert.  I spend the afternoon picking out things in the mountain range where the palm trees hide.  A mole, a seal, a hound dog. Can you see them? Click the photo to enlarge.

Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs. Hugs, Shawna

CAMPING:  You can camp within the refuge, free, for up to 14 days.  This is a boondocking area and there are NO amenities whatsoever. Come prepared for that if you plan on staying more than a night or two. There is  a narrow strip along the main dirt road where you can pull off to park. with signs telling you where the boundaries are. 


Hi Jolly

From Yuma we traveled 95 north to Quartzsite, “Q” to the locals and most snowbirds, and spent a few nights in the BLM boondocking area called Hi Jolly. I did errands from there: picked up mail, bought supplies, took the boys to the dog park.  Little stinkers can sure figure out where we are headed and they begin play inside the van in prep for the park.  You know, get those muscle warmed up!

Dogs Playing in Van

Once we got all the necessary things taken care of and put in a few days of doing nothing but catching up on rest–not the Chiweenie Brothers, they are always ready to rumble, but I needed it–we went out exploring a bit, taking in some of the sights and places we didn’t get to last year.  Between those excursions and the things I needed to get done for Christmas and the December birthdays for family back in Cali, the month flew by.  And here it is 2018!  Let’s make it a happy one!

The best place to start with sharing our exploration in Q is with where it all started, and with the man who’s nickname lives on in this little town in the Sonoran Desert.  

According to the Quartzsite Visitor’s Guide, the Hi Jolly Pioneer Cemetery is the most visited location in Q. It centers around the man, Hi Jolly, and some camels. Here’s what transpired to give Q some of its unique personality.  It all started with a camel driver.

It began in 1855 when Jefferson Davis, secretary of war and later president of the Confederacy, was sold on the  idea of importing camels to use building the wagon road through the Southwest.  They needed men who spoke camel, and the famed camel driver, Philip Tedro, a Greek born in Syria was contacted. Tedro had made a pilgrimage to Mecca, converted to Islam and his first name became Hadji Ali.

Tedro and another camel driver, Yiorgos Caralambo–he became known as Greek George–were hired to teach the soldiers how to deal with the camels. The soldiers couldn’t pronounce Hadji Ali and he became known as Hi Jolly.

Camels can carry two to three times as much as a mule and can go without water much longer than mules and horses, and they were a great success.

Then the Civil War started, and Jefferson Davis changed jobs; without his support the project was abandoned. Some camels were sold, others had escaped out into the desert.

Hi Jolly bought a couple of them and for two years ran a freight route between the Colorado River and the mining towns in eastern Arizona.

Hi Jolly became a citizen of the United States in 1880, married Gertrudis Serna of Tucson, and when he retired moved to Quartzsite and prospected around the region until he died in 1902. 

The escaped camels thrived for a while, but eventually they died out. However, as late as the 1930s and ’40s  unsubstantiated reports were made of seeing camels in the wild.  One sighting in particular, the story goes, was of the Red Camel, spotted with a headless human skeleton on its back …  

You can visit the cemetery with it’s monument tribute to the camel driver, Hi Jolly, at the Hi Jolly Pioneer Cemetery on the west side of town.  

Hi Jolly overview of Cemetery

Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs!  Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  Hugs, Shawna






Celia’s Rainbow Garden

Quartzsite, for being such a tiny town, has a lot to offer people who come to visit.  I was floored to see parks within the park at the Quartzsite Town Park: a skateboard park, a park for remote controlled airplanes, picnic areas, bathroom facilities, the nice dog park we visit so often which is divided into two sections, one for big dogs and one for little dogs. And Celia’s Rainbow Garden.  Here’s the story of this lovely tribute to a child.

Celia’s Rainbow Garden is a 20 acre section within the Quartzsite Town Park donated to the town for the on-going volunteer project to landscape and maintain it in tribute to Paul and Joanne Winer’s 8 year-old daughter, Celia, who died in 1994.

The garden is a nature trail that includes several special areas along the trails including a miniature pioneer village, a mining display, a rock and gem pavilion, veteran’s area and more. It is so beautiful!

You can click to enlarge the photos.

Paul Winer is also a business owner and local character in Q. He owns and operates a book store in town. One can often find him behind the counter, naked … he is also a concert pianist.  No one has said whether he plays naked.  You may shocked, but you got to hand it to the man, he has all the confidence in the world! And he loved his daughter with all his heart.

Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs!! Hugs, Shawna

CAMPING Info:  Large BLM areas for LTVA (long term visitor area) boondocking.  Short LTVA of 14 days max is free. If you intend on spending the winter in and around Q and don’t want to move every two weeks you can go long term LTVA and pay $180 for six months.  The long term areas have garbage bins and water, and most have pit toilets but no electricity or tables. They are also patrolled and enforce a maximum speed limit within the area I am told.  That is a big plus because in some of the areas the ATVs and many vehicles have no problem bombing down the dirt roads and spewing dust everywhere.

Keep in mind BLM requires you to pick up after your pet or bury their waste at least six inches deep , and they must be on leash at all times. Also be aware that coyotes are abundant and keep a close eye on your pets at all times. DO NOT leave them outside staked out alone. Many have lost a beloved pet because they left them tied outside by themselves. 

Ringing in the New Year . . .

Boondock style, my style; as in quiet, off-the-roads, and cuddled up with the pups.

 HAPPY 2018!

December was busy at times, getting things bought/made to send back to family for Christmas, but it was also a time of rest and restoration. Lots of long walks with The Chiweenie Brothers, naps, reading. More walks, more naps, more reading.  

We did take a few small excursions around Q, and those will be posted in the days to come along with a listing of the dog parks we have visited–a reader request– and some guidelines on what to expect at these parks.

One of the highlights of December was the super moon. The following photos are not very good, but I do not have a lens long enough (YET!)to get the dark spots that make up the man-in-the-moon, however, I was intrigued by the clouds that rolled in later, and thought I would go ahead and post them.

Dec super moon with trees

Also in December came a couple of changes in the van. Not to the van itself, but in ridding us of things that needed upgrading, sorting/tossing/donating items, and trying to use up the multiples of a few things like paper towels that I was too frugal to give or toss when back in Calif. It’s a disease, I know! The Chiweenie Brothers weren’t too impressed as all they care about are breakfast, dinner, walks, and the dog park, but I sure feel better. 

One upgrade was replacing the burner that attached directly to a bottle of propane. It did the job, but as December grew colder–yes, it gets cold in the desert–cooking outside became uncomfortable and cooking inside was downright dangerous as the unit sat way too high and the flame underneath the cooking pot was way too close to the ceiling.  It was replaced with a GasOne 1 burner unit with a piezo start (no matches needed!). It attaches to the propane tank via a hose with a regulator and the unit itself is only about three inches thick so it sits flat on the desk/table and is very stable. 

The other change was replacing the folding potty chair with a small porta potty that fits perfectly under the bed in the space between the two storage units that make up the platform of the bed.  Convenient, secure, and easy to empty.

The boys will be getting new harnesses this year once we get somewhere where there is a Walmart. Thought of buying via Amazon, but I would like to be able to try them on and have them fit the first time around.  Being at Wally makes it easier to buy, try, and return if they aren’t a good fit.  

I am still working on going through and tagging past posts so things are easier to find. I was a lot lazier last month than I thought I would be.  🙂

Other December happenings:  buying a travel trailer has been put on hold. I can pretty much park anywhere with the van and after the purchase of the new cooking burner and porta potty I am almost as comfortable in Freedom as I would be in a travel trailer. At this point in time, I am perfectly happy with the living arrangements in the van, and I really don’t want to be dragging a trailer around. For now.

We’ve explored around Q during December, and those little excursions will be coming up in posts this month.  I am also considering taking a little circular side trip that will take us to the Salton Sea and Joshua Tree National Park.  That’s still in the considering/planning stage, not written in stone.  

Happy New Year!  Hugs, Shawna