New Years 2022 It’s back to the Cibola NWR area and a couple days with a friend, Jayne, and her giant sweet black dog, Rio, down from Canada for the winter.
Jayne has been to Hippy Hole before, but it’s new to me and The Chiweenie Brothers. Located a bit north of the refuge, Hippy Hole is a small BLM camping area with a few covered tables, a fire ring, and vault toilets. It sits on a small lagoon alongside the Colorado River and is so peaceful. An occasional vehicle rumbles by, but it’s not constant and not a bother.
We spend our days walking the dogs, playing card games, relearning how to play Mexican Train … and eating. Jayne fixed a scrumptious dish called Mission Shrimpossible, starring jumbo shrimp in a tomato sauce with zucchini and feta cheese served over rice. I made a salad and brought snacks and fixings for hot toddies when night descends and the wind blows. Yeah, it was pretty cold on New Year’s Eve. Just another reason to have another toddy! Cheers!
Birds are plentiful and a joy to watch from our respective vehicles in the cold mornings. Egrets, a great blue heron, many coots, a pair of grebes that were too quick to photograph, and two pair of American white pelicans. The pelicans flew off at one point, but one pair came back soaring low, extending their ‘landing gear’ and gliding silently onto the water. Of course, I didn’t have my camera ready. A Flock of sandhill cranes flew over in the early morning on New Year’s Day.
The wind blew all night beginning New Year’s Eve and by noon on January 1, 2022 it hadn’t let up. We decided to call it a wrap. Fun while it lasted!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Stay safe, be happy, and make 2022 one to remember.
Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel. Hugs, Shawna
Current Read: Her Perfect Family by Teresa Driscoll. Having trouble getting through this book. It’s a good read, just a lot to do around the ol’ homestead.
November 24-25, 2021 . Summer has finally given way to our autumn even though autumn this year is 10+ degrees above normal. It would be nice to have a normal season, but we’ll take it over the hot humid summer. Sitting around and sweating for months on end was no fun. I swear this next summer WE ARE OUT OF HERE for a few months. I hope!! Nothing is a sure thing any more.
The Chiweenie Brothers, as is their normal behavior when sensing a change, are racing around chasing each other’s heels, barking in wild abandon because, by golly, WE’RE GOING SOMWHERE!!! With that doggie sense of detecting when something they love is about to happen I grab and hug each of them in turn. Yes, boys, we are going on an adventure. I am as excited as they are!
MissAdventure packed with last minute essentials, I dress the boys in their bright red harnesses and attach the leashes. Grabbing wallet, keys, sunglasses, and my ever-present desert fashion accessory, the essential SUN HAT, we load up.
We drive to Love’s Truck Stop to fuel up. I gulp at the price of gas and quickly determine the amount we’ll need to make it to our destination and back home. Okay, it’s a lot for such a short trip, but we need this. The boys need a change because, well, they’re dogs. They thrive on new places, new smells, new adventure. I need a change because I am sick of sitting for months as the only way to deal with Arizona’s much needed monsoon. Let me go on record saying I hate humidity. It’s draining and restricting and miserable. Too miserable to get even one thing checked off my project list, but I did get a lot of reading done, :). And now my mental state needs a change.
Fueled up we head west across the Colorado River into California stopping in Blythe for a few grocery items and ice. It takes a few minutes to get things arranged in the ice chest, but at last we are on the road again heading west. Just a few miles out of Blythe we exit the freeway and turn left at the top of the off ramp, heading south. We again cross the Colorado and are back in Arizona in and around the Cibola Wildlife Refuge. They grow a lot of cotton out here.
We can’t camp in the refuge, of course, but the drive in reveals a feast for desert eyes. This area is flooded each fall with water from the river and hundreds of ducks, coots, Canada and geese, and even some sandhill cranes on the opposite, dry side settle here to spend the winter feeding before moving on. The poplars and scrub are dressed in brilliant yellow. With the backdrop of a brilliant blue autumn sky it’s breathtaking.
Not sure how long I have been sitting here enjoying the view, but The Boys remind me they are waiting. Dogs are not allowed outside of the vehicle, and they are getting antsy. You guys have been so good. Let’s go find a camp and do some exploring. Camera put away; we head back out onto the main road.
The BLM camping area begins right across the highway from the refuge, but I turn right, and we do a bit of scouting. It appears the camping area goes on for at least several miles with some entrances named, by campers no doubt, who have put up little homemade signs naming the dirt roads. Wino Way catches my eye and I drive back in a ways only to drive back out. It wasn’t impressive and the winos can have it.
There are lots of possibilities, but I think across from the refuge will be our best bet. Making our way back north we turn right across from the refuge and follow the fairly decent dirt road up and around. There are only two other vehicles here, both vans. We settle on a knoll that has a nice, elevated view of the area, and at least a quarter mile away from the nearest vehicle. It’s rocky and a bit barren, but the view towards the refuge is lovely.
I get the van backed in, our windshield cover put on, the solar panel set up facing south, and then take The Chiweenie Brothers for a nice walk. Every few steps I see a pretty rock. My jean’s pockets get full rather quickly. Note to self: Bring a couple plastic bags next time.
Oh, look, donkey tracks!
A well-used, narrow trail going mostly north/south disappears into the distance. Oh look, a pretty pebble. And so it goes. By now my shirt bottom is a makeshift receptacle for rocks, and we make our way back to camp, me doing a drop, stop, and rearrange of my cargo every few yards. *sigh*. But these rocks! They’re so pretty!!
We repeat the above on Thanksgiving Day. Our much-needed respite eventually comes to an end. I break camp but take the time for a couple more shots of our view then I take the boys on a very short walk, put the camera away, and we are off.
Refreshed and ready to get on with the projects that were put off this past summer, they have now become autumn and winter projects i, and it’s time to get crackin’.
Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs!
Summer and Current Reads:
Three Forensic Genealogy novels by Nathan Dylan Goodwin. Hiding the Past, The Lost Ancestor, and American Ground. All are based in the UK and are not bad reads, but if you’re not into genealogy they may drag a bit for you. I believe there are several more of his books yet to be read.
I Thought You Said This Would Work, Ann Garvin. Cute, appealing story of three friends and the insights, trials, and tribulations they deal with when one of them is hospitalized. A road trip, a new friend added to the mix, romance, and animal rescue round it out. **** Four stars . Just because.
Flight Risk, Joy Castro. I started out loving this book. The Latina heroine from the hills of West Virginia married to a well-to-do man must make peace with her upbringing and come to terms with the fact that, yes, she does belong. But like so many new novels today there just had to be a LTBGQ appearance. It just didn’t seem to belong in this poor-girl-marries-well story. And then the author throws in a short, vicious, crying-her-eyes-out scene when our heroine is reminded of the 45th president and his “crimes against women” in a very transparent and ill-researched personal rant. I won’t be reading any more of Castro’s books. *** three stars for the first 2/3rds of the novel.
Two of Dean Koontz’ Odd Thomas novels, Odd Interlude and Odd Apocalypse. How can you not love any of these books? Koontz’ sweet, unassuming, psychic fry cook hero, Odd, is so lovable, and Odd is the perfect vehicle for the Dean Koontz imagination.
These Toxic Things, Rachel Howzell Hall. Wow! I think I’ve just discovered a new favorite mystery writer; could not put this book down and the ending blew me away. My only disappointment is the title. It sounds too much like a tacky romance novel. Sorry Ms Hall, but that’s what it made me think of. Carry on with the stellar writing no matter what title you give your next book. *****
The Four Winds, Kristin Hannah. FIVE STARs *****. 1921, Depression Era America. Choices must be made, survival may depend on that choice: One woman’s struggle with abandonment, change, choices, hardship, and raising her two children during the Dust Bowl years. I finished this book in two sittings. It is beautifully written with believable characters and situations. A heart wrenching read, but good portrayal of the choices people had to make to survive this catastrophic, man-made disaster. A wonderful historical fiction novel.
Another good five star read, Beneath Devil’s Bridge, Loreth Anne White. Excellent who-done-it. Years after the unbelievably violent, rage filled murder of a 14-year-old girl, old wounds are opened and brings to light new questions and new revelations when the man who confessed to the 25-year-old crime now claims he is innocent. *****
And that was my summer and how I dealt with the heat and humidity. I’d like to encourage you to read more, and The Chiweenie Brothers would like to remind you to remember to take your favorite furry buddy for some nice longs walks. Preferably before AND after a reading session. Bark! Woof! Woof! Bark!!!
The Chiweenie Brothers and I would like any of our readers who may be coming to Arizona during monsoon season to be aware that flash flooding is common during our fast and furious rain storms. Practically all of Arizona has been under flood watch the past several days, except US! Be aware that as little as six inches of fast flowing water can sweep a person off their feet, and 12 inches can sweep a vehicle away. DO NOT CROSS FLOODED STREETS and most definitely STAY OUT OF THE WASHES.
Turn Around! Don’t Drown!
A four year old girl was swept off the top of the family car last week, and I don’t believe as of this writing her body has been found. Now this:
Yesterday at 9:43 AM · YCSO ASSISTING IN SEARCH FOR 16 YEAR OLD GIRL SWEPT OUT OF HER VEHICLE IN RUSHING WATERS. YCSO in coordination with Verde Valley Fire, Cottonwood Fire and Police and other agencies are searching for a 16 year old girl that was swept down stream in her car after she drove through a low water crossing on Camino Real around 9:30 pm last evening. Verde Valley Fire was dispatched after the 16 year called 911 saying she was stranded and the water was up to her knees, however during rescue efforts she was swept out of the vehicle and downstream. Swiftly rising waters and active storms made air support impossible last evening, however search efforts are continuing at the moment. YCSO, Verde Valley Fire and Sedona Fire all have drones in the air now searching the Verde River and Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is sending an airboat to assist. YCSO wants to thank all the volunteers that have contributed to the search efforts and for the public’s outpouring of offers of help. Currently the professional search teams have all the volunteers they are able to manage so they ask that any others wishing to help to stand by until more resources are needed. YCSO also wants the public to know that the wash has been thoroughly searched and asks anyone still in the wash to be aware of the weather because rains will cause dangerous conditions.
Stay safe! Hugs, Shawna and those rascally Chiweenie Brothers
Covid lockdown is past us. We are a travel blog so why are we at home?
Couple reasons. I don’t like to share my private life on the blog, but I do feel an explanation is necessary so you understand why we aren’t back out there. My HOA claims it is illegal for me to live in the casita and required me to bring in a travel trailer. So I purchased an older “vintage” 17 footer and it now occupies the space under the kool cover, east side, in front of the casita. The numerous windows in the trailer give me a beautiful view of the mountains and I can enjoy our glorious sunsets without even going outside if I don’t want to. I now also have a nice large covered area to enjoy when it isn’t too hot; the kool cover provides shade but it also tends to hold in the heat. I still have room to park the vehicles in the shade, and The Chiweenie Brothers have shade to lounge around in, too. The downside is the casita is now storage and the lovely patio I built out the back sits unused.
As some of you know, my youngest son has been having some major health problems that have been going on for a few years, but now his gastroentologist thinks he may have had a heart attack. We are waiting for him to be able to see a cardiologist, and I don’t want to be any farther away than we are now. By being home I at least know how long it takes me to get back to him, where all the fuel stops are, and where we can stop for the night along the way if need be.
I have two or three closer to home mini trips in mind, but a phone signal and monsoon or lack thereof dictate whether we will take those or not. One is already off the table due to wildfires burning. UPDATE … Since beginning to write the draft of this post we had, at one point, 23 wildfires burning. I believe at this writing it is down to 20, but things change fast and just this morning State Trust Land in Arizona, along with five of our six National Forests have been closed to camping. The fire danger is just too bad to take the risk. I applaud our state for doing this. Five national forests closed due to wildfires across Arizona | 12news.comPLEASE DO NOT COME TO ARIZONA TO CAMP THIS SUMMER. THE CHOICE, COOLER, HIGHER ELEVATION AREAS ARE CLOSED. OTHERS THAT ARE NOT UP IN THE HIGHER AREAS ARE DESERT … no one in their right mind camps on the desert floor this time of year.
We will stay close to home, and in the meantime I continue to work on our new outdoor living space, known as an Arizona Room, underneath the Kool Cover alongside my permanently parked travel trailer. I have moved outdoor furniture here and set up an outdoor kitchen. This change has not been all that bad for the most part.
I do love this new space but mourn the loss of my time intensive and fairly expensive patio behind the casita. I also cannot see the White River of quartz hauled boxful by boxful from an old dump of mining quartz about five miles away that was put in along the fence line and the red yucca, Texas sage, and cacti I planted in that backyard space. I do get to see it when I head to the laundry shed—oh goody. I may move the patio pavers at some point, but that’s a LOT of work and energy is low to repeat that job, but it’s a thought. No hurry with any of that.
Prayers and good thoughts for my son would be greatly appreciated and some good thoughts that we may get away for a few short trips this summer would be nice, but if that doesn’t happen, there’s plenty to keep me busy around here. It is what it is, and will be what it will be; We will adjust our course as needed. The main thing is that my son get healthy and he doesn’t end up with even more health issues to deal with. This good man deserves a break!!
The Chiweenie Brothers relax under the cooler during our most recent excessive heat warning, anything above 110. I know they would enjoy some time away from home, too.
Hello Friends! Spring is pretty much over here in the low desert southwest; we got our first triple digit day last week, but I want to share with you what the area around our little piece of the desert looks like when it is in full show-off mode. I hope you enjoy the photos.
ocotillo in the west front cactus bed
Opuntia ‘fiesta’ prickly pear ‘chenille’
creosote bush –smells heavenly after a rain
Dang, can’t find my clear photo of this beautiful bee attractor,
so this one with the wind blowing it around will have to do
I am finally getting to see the old mining town of Oatman, AZ and the famous wild herd of tame donkeys. That’s an oxymoron, but the donks are technically wild, but have declared Oatman part of their territory and wander freely around town taking hay cubes from enthralled visitors, crowding around cars, some are even bold enough to enter a business or two.
I have followed the Oatman Burros FaceBook page for quite a while and it’s a great way to follow what these adorable animals are up to. Or what sneaky, evil persons do.
The young donkey abandoned by his mother last year was adopted and cared for by a young couple who live in Oatman. Walter has since become the Mayor of the town, has his own book and occasionally comes to town for book signings.
On the other side of the coin, a couple of gals came in one night and donkey-napped the young and adored Tinkerbell—Read the last two sentences on the above sign. Those two are facing federal charges. Thankfully Tink was found, unharmed, and brought back to Oatman. She had some tough times from the herd (burros are territorial), but eventually became part of the group that Bureau of Land Management auctioned off to vetted homes. Happily, she ended up back in Oatman with her adoptive family.
My trip to Oatman will always be a highlight for me. This little old mining town is authentic and charming and the donkeys that freely roam the streets capturing hearts are the icing on the cake. They are actually the biggest draw I think, but don’t let that sway you from coming to town. Even without the burros this town is a place to see. And their souvenirs weren’t priced outrageously either.
Write title? I have no idea how to get rid of this, but it is a view from last night’s campsite. The new WordPress editor is hateful.
Baby Hank is the current draw in the Oatman donkey herd. His mom, Annabelle, wanted to make sure I meant no harm when I wanted to cuddle him and she nipped me on the arm. Not hard, but I think she wanted to make sure I wasn’t one of those donkeynappers who took her Tinkerbell last year.
When the day was over I wanted to say goodbye to this cutie and make friends with Annabelle. She pulled the bag I was carrying my new Oatman hoodie in out of my hand and started chewing on it. I got it back from her with a bit of tug-o-war. I think she was smiling when I prevailed.
Wondering what is on Baby Hank’s forehead? It is a sticker that says STOP, do not feed the babies anything. They don’t want any of the donkeys to be fed carrots, apples, any human food actually. The sugar in apples, carrots, ect., can cause health issues for these guys. Even hay cubes are forbidden for the young Hank as I found out the hard way. Got a good scolding from the fans of the Oatman Burros’ FB page. He was eating them in front of a store, so I thought …
Oatman is still on my Bucket List. I didn’t mark it off because I will be going back! Thanks for coming along. Hugs, Shawna.
P.S. The Chiweenie Brothers were sad they didn’t get to see the donkeys, but the donkeys don’t like dogs and the town asks that you leave them in your vehicle. There have been a few stompings and it can get ugly.
Current Read: The Willows in Winter by William Horwood. Excellent sequel to Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows.
December 17, 2020. I spent a couple of days reorganizing and re-doing the inside of MissAdventure. The bed platform needed a bit of tweeking, and I had bought a couple of cabinets from a lady down the street from me and needed to install them. Now that we are not living full time in the van I am going for a more cute and stylish look rather than stuffing everything I own into every nook and cranny I could find. It will be nice to have items with a permanent place and out of sight!
My first dental appointment is Friday, but we leave in the early afternoon Thursday because no trip to Yuma is complete without time spent at the Bark Park and I want to make sure The Chiweenie Brothers have a great time. I get in a lot of walking, and an afternoon’s worth of running, hiking (in every sense of the doggie version of ‘hiking’) and sniffing for the boys leave all three of us worn completely out.
We spend the night in Wally’s parking lot only to wake up and find a flyer on the windshield stating they no longer allow overnights in their lot. Alrighty then. We head out onto I-8 West toward San Diego, and in just 8 short miles we take exit 166 and head south to the border and my dental appointment with Dr. Dennis Cochran, DDS, whose goal is the become the best dentist in Mexico. She’s on her way to being that in my opinion.
She preps my mouth for the ‘installation’ of two zirconia crowns on the implants I had put in a couple of years ago, takes impressions and I’m set free until tomorrow. Our adventure part of the trip begins.
I looked up a couple of places I wanted to see this trip and first up and just a few exits from the one I take to get to Los Algadones is Old Plank Road off Gray’s Well. This is a small preserved section of the wooden plank road built to connect the lower section of Southern California to Arizona. Built in 1915 the east-west route over the Algodones Dunes provided the last link of the commercial route between San Diego and Yuma.
Constructed of huge, thick, wooden planks linked together with metal strips and big bolts, it is a testament to man’s ingenuity of doing what needs to be done to go where he needs to go. I cannot even fathom the work that went into this endeavor nor the muscle used to keep the planks free of blowing sand.
Not wanting to press my luck with trying another night at Wally, the boys and I locate a LTVA (Long Term Visitor Area) off Sidewinder Road and ask the host if there is a section where one could park just for the night. He says no, not in this one, but if I go back to the Chevron Station just this side of the freeway and take the service road for 3 miles there is a 14 day stay free area right after the pavement ends.
This service road may be paved but it’s the roughest damn thing ever. Slowly we drive, slowly we get there rolling forward a few feet, BUMP, and then another few feet and the back wheels BUMP, and so it goes for three long miles, but we finally arrive and shockingly nothing inside MissAdventure has been jarred out of place or fallen over. We are rewarded with a nice spot to park for the night with no neighbors within 1/4 mile.
After a good night’s sleep we are up early and head back to Yuma on the 8 and I head into Walmart to purchase a new battery for my solar setup in the van and get a few groceries. A quick stop at the ATM to pull funds for my crowns and we head back to Mexico for my 10:00 a.m. appointment.
The second half of the crowning appointment didn’t go quite as planned. Due to a power outage my zirconia crowns are not ready and I sit in the reception area for four hours. They must have noticed me getting a bit worried when it got to be 1:00 p.m. and I kept looking at my watch wondering if I would get back into the US before they closed the border at 3:00. Poor doggies still in the van all this time.
The receptionist, Margot, a VERY young lady, asks if I want to go see the new office they are moving into next year. I jump at the chance to get my mind off the border crossing and my boys being stuck in the van all this time. We walk out to the sidewalk between two vendors where her scooter is parked and she tells me to wait, she will go get the car.
Margot makes it back in jig time in a beautiful what-looks-like- brand-new white four door Chevy. Is this Dr. Dennis’ car? Yes, she says. I hop in and we buzz along back toward the crossing and she makes a right turn and up the hill we go getting a few looks from some pedestrians as she whizzes by leaving a hair’s breadth of space between them and the side of the vehicle. I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding when she pulls in and parks in front of Dr. Dennis’ new place.
It’s big. It’s beautiful. The interior has some Spanish style roundtop windowless cutouts in walls between some of the rooms, and there is room left for her to expand her business. In my opinion no one deserves it more than this young hard working dentist that wants to become the best dentist in Mexico. From one chair to two, and with this move two chairs and a dental surgeon she will rent to. She’s smart as well as deserving.
Part of the interior walls are painted this gorgeous shade of green, one of my favorite colors. The perfect shade. That, of course, has no bearing on my love of her new building. 🙂 We wave goodbye to the young man swiping what looks like spackle onto a section of the entry and get into the car.
Young Margot starts the car and begins to back up. I glance behind us just as a woman begins to step behind the car. I yell stop and Margot slams on the brake. The pedestrian glares and Margot laughs and says she glad she didn’t hit her. Oh yeah, me too!! I’m grateful she didn’t hit any cars either, I think to myself.
Margot says when she was hired Dr. Dennis (and this is pronounced like our female Denise) asked her if she could drive. Margot told her yes, and that she had a license. Welllll. Margot confides in me that she just said that so she would get hired, that she doesn’t have a license. You told her the truth, though, right Margot? She laughs and says yes, after she was hired. Oh dear Lord. 🙂
When we get back to the office I am whisked into a chair and the crowns are screwed onto the posts and cemented around the bottom or whatever it is they do. I won’t be able to eat for an hour. Lordy, it’s been a good eight hours since I have eaten, but I still have enough padding to get me by I am sure despite what my stomach is telling me.
There is a line today to get back across the border, as there always is when you stay in Mexico past noon, and that gobbles up a good half hour. People are desperate in this Covid pandemic and the usual vendors who ply the line headed back across to the USA seem especially desperate. Selling everything from masks to yard ornaments to ironwood statues these merchants have a different look in their eyes this year.
One young woman with two little girls sits on the low rock wall playing an accordion. She looks tired and sad. As I get closer I see a quiet desperation in her lovely eyes and I give her a dollar. The look she gives me and the quiet ‘gracias’ in thanks breaks my heart. It’s a dollar; her gratitude and her eyes tell me it might as well have been a hundred as far as she was concerned.
Spending more time waiting for my dental work to be finished than I planned on, I forego the other places I wanted to explore and will save them for next time, but I do stop to get these photos of the All American Canal.
The All-American Canal is an 80-mile long aqueduct, located in southeastern California. It conveys water from the Colorado River into the Imperial Valley and to nine cities. It is the Imperial Valley’s only water source, and replaced the Alamo Canal, which was located mostly in Mexico. The Imperial Dam, about 30 miles northeast of Yuma, Arizona on the Colorado River, diverts water into the All-American Canal, which runs to just west of Calexico, California before its last branch heads mostly north into the Imperial Valley. Five smaller canals branching off the All American Canal move water into the Imperial Valley. These canal systems irrigate up to 630,000 acres of crop land and have made possible a greatly increased crop yield in this area, originally one of the driest on earth. It is the largest irrigation canal in the world, carrying a maximum of 26,155 cubic feet per second. Agricultural runoff from the All American Canal drains into the Salton Sea.
The wait in line to cross the border, stopping for the photos of the canal and the short trip back to Yuma with some traffic eats up most of the Do-Not-Eat-For-An-Hour order I decide to stop at In and Out for a burger. The line is long and it takes about 40 minutes so I am good to go… I mean eat. A burger never tasted so good!! The Chiweenie Brothers enjoy an unsalted hamburger patty and we are on our way home.
Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel. We are hoping for more travel in the coming year. Praying all your hopes come to pass also. Hugs, Shawna
Books read since last post: Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore. Very good read about a rape and the effects on the victim, the town and its citizens. *****
This Magnificent Dappled Sea by David Biro. The Holocaust, an Italian family, a Jewish family, a baby, a disease. Another good read. ****
The Ultimate Road Trip Guide by Christina Bogantz and Melissa Rios. Their trip to visit 47 state parks in two months. Some good info here. ****
October 13 to October 16 . 2020 for most of us has been the year we’d like to forget. Covid, lockdowns, closures, and stay-at-home orders re-invented a lot of lives. Arizona, our new home base, experienced the hottest summer ever and broke many records. Right here in our little piece of this beautiful state saw almost a week of 120 degree plus temps; the rest were 110 plus. Oi vey.
Not being able to enter New Mexico to finish up our state parks pass and having some new plantings in the yard to keep alive we decided to just stay put. Until recently that is. The weather up until mid-October has stayed hotter than usual, but the higher elevations are beginning to cool down and plans were made with previous Interesting Person, Sylvia, to camp for a couple of days near Prescostt AZ.
White Spar is a medium-use USDA Forest Service campground and I have never not found a spot, but I didn’t take into account it is still 2020. The plan was to meet at White Spar. My Camping Buddy tells me she is leaving around 4:30 a.m. to beat the morning commute in Phoenix and will wait in the parking lot of the trail head and read and/or walk the campground while waiting for me. I rise early, too, but do not drive anymore before the landscape can be seen and tell her I will be leaving about 10 and see her about noon.
Feeling guilty (a bad habit of mine) that she will be waiting all that time cooling her heels I buy ice, load the groceries, and get the last minute things loaded up the night before and the Chiweenie Brothers and I are ready to roll at first light. I enjoy the two hour drive, and the boys are excited to be on the road. We’re in the Honda CRV instead of the van, trying out car camping, and they have a bird’s eye view of the road ahead as the mattress from the van just fits in the back of the Honda and brings them up high enough to see out the windshield. Happy little chiweenies!
The air gets cooler as we climb past Yarnell. Once we begin the second half of the climb, about 10 miles worth, the road is two-lane, narrow, and takes all my attention, but it’s a slow enough go to enjoy the cool morning air through the open driver’s window. Lovin’ it!!
I make note of the entrance to Wolf Creek Campground as we pass and cringe. It appears to have had a LOT of traffic recently; it’s fine powdered dust indicating a lot of use. That could be a backup if needed, but I surely do not want that dust sifting up under my back window that no longer closes all the way. A couple miles up the road we come to White Spar.
I park at the trail head—day use only—and leash up The Boys so they can relieve themselves then we walk the parking lot looking for Sylvia. She is not parked here. We walk it again to make sure; I don’t see her silver SUV.
Climbing back in the car we drive up into the campground. I have never seen it so full! We make a circuit looking for her SUV. She is not in any of the camp sites either, but maybe I just missed her. We drive around again. There are a couple of empty sites, none with level ground, and a few with only one day available. Hope nothing has happened to her.
Energy ebbing, as is normal these days after doing practically nothing, and thinking she must have had car trouble or something else happen I sign in and pay for one night and text her number. While waiting for an answer I pull out my chair, the sun oven to heat up some lunch, and get the Chiweenie Brothers staked out. No sense fiddling with the new camping items just for one night. No tent either (YEAH!!) as we will be sleeping in the car. Just a couple of adjustments to the mattress after my mad dash to Cali last spring to say goodbye to my sis and my sleeping set up is a cloud to sleep on.
I hear from Slyvia after texting to ask where she is and she wants to know who is texting her! WHAT??? She doesn’t recognize the phone number? I tell her who I am. She says she doesn’t have my new number and has been using the old number. I remind her that I gave her the new number and it’s in a previous text, just look up at our old messages from a couple days ago.
She now tells me that she drove to Williams. She wants me to drive to Williams. I have already paid for my site for one night and tell her no. Long story short, I suggest she meet me back here at White Spar in the morning if she doesn’t want to stay in Williams and we will go from here. She arrives bright and early and I am shocked at how frail she looks. She is pretty much shuffling, too, and that is concerning, but she wants to camp. I keep my concerns to myself.
Mingus Mountain is where we will meet and perhaps find a boondocking site as I know of several people who spend their summers there. High elevation, cooler air, lots of pine trees. My Camping Buddy wants me to lead the way. I punch the name into my GPS and off we go. I have my GPS set for best route and it takes us through some beautiful old homes on the outskirts of Prescott. Nice not to deal with a lot of traffic, but I come to a yellow light. Too close to slam on the brakes for fear of throwing the dogs into the front seat I buzz through the yellow and lose Sylvia in the process. She is behind a couple of cars and she hasn’t moved over into the left lane. I slow down as much as I dare, but she doesn’t see my left turn signal or can’t see it. I stay to the left on 89A (alternate) per GPS instructions. The Boys and I wait in the first spot big enough to pull over and park, but still no Sylvia. Onward. She is getting water is the next text. We talked about this, but guess she doesn’t trust me to find a store with water. 😉
A quick stop at Watson Lake overlook to take a couple of photos and let the dogs out for a leg raising, hoping she will catch up. Still no camp mate.
I find another spot past a roundabout and pull off, texting her to stay on 89A and take the second exit within the roundabout in order to stay on 89A.We are just past the roundabout. She texts that she is on Such-and-Such Road. It wasn’t 89A. I can wait no longer parked in the sun, and I text her that the roundabout I described and 89A (alternate) is the best I can do for directions, and I will meet her on Mingus Mountain. I don’t worry because I know she has been to Jerome so should be able to find it.
Somehow she pulls up just minutes from my arrival at the summit! I knew she could find it. The road to the boondocking sites is covered in the same fine dust as the road that went into Wolf Creek. People are camped everywhere it seems and who can blame them. Even home bodies need new scenery at times!! I explain my reluctance about those powdery dusty roads and it sifting into my back hatch and she mentions Cottonwood. Cottonwood is located down in the desert and I know there is no shade from what other people who have camped there have said, but she thinks it’s the only place we can get information so–OKAY! Head to Cottonwood!
The road down into the valley is another one of those two-lane, side-winder type roads of steep descent. I put the Honda in 2nd gear and crawl down the tarmac behind my Camp Buddy along with dozens of other vehicles of all types (I can smell the heated brakes of a pickup hauling a large travel trailer) the 12 miles or so it is to Jerome—can’t wait to see this town on the way back—and then on down into the little spot in the road, the name escapes me, between Jerome and Cottonwood.
Sylvia gets her info from the gas station where she pulls in and treats herself to an ice cream sandwich. I assure her I do not want one. With tongue in cheek I ask about shade in the Verde Valley of which there is none. I know this because I know people who have camped there and it’s okay for the winter months, but desert is desert. I think she just had boondocking on her mind and not as cold at night, but I can’t do without shade. After a brief rest, we head back up to Jerome and although the town is packed with the hoards needing to get out of their homes just as we want to do, we find a few places here and there to park to grab some photos. This little berg is literally perched on the hillside and Old Town Jerome would be a wonderful place to spend time some day. No Old Town photos, but did get a couple of the old copper pit and another section of the lower part.
Once back on top of Mingus Mountain we are fortunate to get sites at the Potato Patch Campground. Paying for two nights we settle into our respective spots. I have purchased a couple of new camping items and am eager to try them out. The dogs run line is put up and they are leashed to it, and I set out to put up the pop-up (sets up in 60 seconds!!) screen room. About ten minutes into it I am muttering to myself and spewing out a few expletives. Sixty seconds my ***** is just one of them. It doesn’t help that the instruction tag attached to this thing isn’t in English, but I do eventually look closer at the pictures. Oh. I have the dang thing upside down. Well shoot. Now to get it turned over (it is 10′ by 15′) without ruining the screening. I am here to tell you it CAN be done, but wasn’t easy. LOL. I then struggle with trying to figure out how the legs extend, but it is just a bit easier than figuring out it was upside down. I am too tired to be doing this, but I carry on. Eventually it is up, a bit dirty, but still intact and I get it over the cement table.
The new hammock has to be a lot easier than the screen room to put up, but I am whacked. My energy these days doesn’t last long, and as much as I am looking forward to a long lounge in that hammock it is going to have to wait until either later this evening or tomorrow. The dogs still need a walk. It is a short one, but it’s all I can do. We pass this relic and grab a shot of the old-time version of a camp table according to our government. How cool is this? I am thrilled something like this has survived.
Back at camp and not having proper extended walks for most of the summer due to excessive heat, I forgot how much energy the Chiweenie Brothers have pent up in those poor little bodies. While they do really really well with the bicycles cruising by and haven’t even barked at the little kids with their scooters whizzing by on the downhill road going by the campsite, The Boys go berserk when someone walks by with their dog; and there are a lot of dogs in the campground. I get beyond frustrated with them.
It is not only annoying, but disturbs the peacefulness and the relaxation I am looking for as I am sure the rest of those in the campground are also looking for. I do the best I can with keeping them quiet, but add in those who don’t have dogs, or don’t know dogs and walk up to them with their hands out toward them wanting to say hi . . . They mean well, but haven’t a clue. The Chiweenie Brothers are the best watch dogs ever, but like many they do not want to be reached for or touched by a stranger and especially not on their territory. This spot is their home and they act accordingly. I hate to do it, but out of frustration put their muzzles on. All three of us hate it! Much of the trip was already history before I resorted to this so they weren’t in them very long.
A group heads out for a hike
After the first night…Which is cool, but not as blessedly cool as White Spar had been…my Camp Buddy says she fell over the guy line on her tent and tells me she may have broken a bone alongside or under, I can’t remember which, her humerus but shows me her knee. She is nauseous, too, and asks if I will help her take down her camp. Of course, but I mention that I wish she had asked me earlier. She gives me an odd little smile. It’s later in the afternoon, but I begin taking down her tent which solidifies my reason for not using a tent of my own (UGH!! Hate ’em!!)), and after removing the contents which includes a box of books, two large tables and several side tables along with her bed which she will sleep on outside tonight, and various other things, she tells me where to put things in her vehicle; at least those that can go in now. Some have to wait until morning. And then the undelivered texts come through! Jeez. Ah, well, it is what it is.
In the morning there’s the rest of her stuff to pack. Another table, very heavy and the other folding tables that couldn’t be put in her vehicle yesterday, her bedding, many blankets, water, shovel, rake, ect. I finish getting her packed up and she is eventually ready to head out claiming she is okay as long as she is seated, and she heads for Phoenix.
I need to finish packing up my own camp and thankfully it doesn’t take long; there isn’t much as I took down the screen room and packed the camp stove, kitchen stuff, and food after packing most of Sylvia’s camp yesterday. That done, I heave a sigh of relief, get the dogs loaded, then plug Yarnell into my GPS heading out to 89A and then along a different route that branches off, seeing some new country.
New boondocking sites are noted along this road (Williamson) along with some granite dells, and just before dropping down into Skull Valley I spot smoke laying over the valley! OH NO!! Not another fire!!! As with California, Oregon, and Washington Arizona has had many wildfires this year. Human caused.
We gas up just north of Congress. I contemplate spending a night off Ghost Town Road in Congress, but it is too warm down here. I have stayed there before in years past and was fortunate to find a shade tree, but that can’t be guaranteed and I am too tired to deal so on we go. We head on through the desert taking Hwy 71 to 60 then catching I-10 and arrive home a bit before noon.
It’s very warm, supposedly the last day of the high 90s, and the casita needs cooling down, but the first order of business is getting The Boys into the back yard, then getting the cooler going. Energy expended from a nice-but-not-as-relaxing-as-expected camping trip deems unloading the car will have to wait.
I lie on my comfy bed under the cooler, the boys running in and out of the back door of our one room oasis checking their backyard for intruders. It feels good to be horizonal, the cool air flowing over me and getting my room down to a decent temperature. Before falling asleep I think about the next trip the Chiweenie Brothers and I will take. It is so much fun to plan, and there are lots of places in Arizona to explore now that the weather will cooling off soon and before the next wave of Covid potentially keeps us in lockdown again.
My last thought before drifting off for an hour’s nap is that surely November will bring the temps down into the 80s. The first week of October continued to break records with highs in the triple digits, and since then high to mid-90s has ruled. The weatherman tells us we are heading into lower temps and should get some wonderful relief next week, but I am not counting my chickens. Playing it by ear. Keeping from hoping too hard. This is, after all, the year 2020!
CURRENT and PREVIOUS READS: The Institute, Stephen King, The Outsider, Stephen King, Room 15, Charles Harris.
Potato Patch Campground. Forest Service. Electric sites in the first loop closest to the camp host is $18 per night, regular sites in lower loop, $14 per night half price with senior passes. Vault toilets, water, tables, firepits. Hiking trails of various lengths.
People are often puzzled by this term. Mention a haboob to a non-Arizonian, and they give you a look like “say what?!? Our weatherman has a saying: “Pain before the rain”. It pretty much sums up the excessive heat and hot drying winds that sets us up for the start of monsoon season, Then there are the hopes and prayers Monsoon actually happens as it’s our major source of rainfall. On average we only get a whopping 6.4 inches for the entire year.
What exactly is a haboob?
An old interview with some new members of our football team gives some interesting insight. I imagine there is some form or another of this asked of each new player that joins the team, and those who don’t live in Arizona.
The newest Arizona Cardinals weigh in:
Playing football, or any sport for that matter, in Arizona comes with some uncommon factors that don’t typically come into play elsewhere in the country.
There’s an abundance of scorpions — just ask Tre Boston — rattlesnakes and the occasional haboob.
Arizona Cardinals center Evan Boehm took it upon himself to make sure the newest members of the team were properly informed as to what exactly a haboob is. For most of the players asked, a haboob is pretty much the closest thing to the world ending, and from the looks of it, there may be a need for a refresher course in the near future for a few of the players.
“It’s when it seems like the apocalypse is coming, but really it’s only rain and sand,” wide receiver Brice Butler said.
Rookie center Mason Cole reiterated the wideout’s words. “It looks like the world’s ending, but when you are in it, it’s kind of foggy, real windy, but besides that it looks like the world’s ending,” Cole said.
For offensive lineman Korey Cunningham, the term can’t be real. “You’re lying,” Cunningham said when asked what a haboob is. “Were they the things in the cafeteria?” After experiencing the weather events firsthand, the lineman still wasn’t sure what a haboob was until he started talking about the loud phone alerts he gets when a storm’s on the way. “I thought a hurricane was about to hit, but then I was like ‘we ain’t by no water,” Cunningham said. “So then I asked someone at the table and they said it was a haboob and I looked outside and I thought the world was about to end. With all the dust in the air and it starting to get dark outside it was kind of scaring me a little bit. But it’s just a dust storm that’s all it is.”
Out of all the players, offensive lineman Justin Pugh was the most knowledgeable and even used some cinematic inspiration to give his definition of the storms. “They’re like 70-mile long, five-mile high dust storms that come before the monsoons,” Pugh said. “I feel like I’m in that movie The Mummy when the face is coming out of [the dust storm].”
But whatever you do, don’t ask rookie wide receiver C.J. Duncan what a “Haboo” is. “I don’t know what that is,” Duncan said when asked. “Is it some kind of clothing?”
So, what is the actual definition of a haboob?
Seeing your first Arizona haboob can be a lifetime event. A haboob is a huge dust storm created from the airflow of a thunderstorm or intense shower. The winds driving the haboob can reach 50 miles per hour and blow dust up to 10,000 feet into the air.
The term “haboob” is from the Arabic language and means blown. A strong Arizona haboob can last for a few hours and travel over 100 miles. The winds moving a haboob can cause sever damage and power outages. Arizona haboobs occur during the summer monsoon season. Along with Arizona, haboobs occur in New Mexico and western Texas. Visibility is likely to be zero as the wall of dust overtakes vehicles. The haboob is the Southwest’s answer to the northern whiteout.
The greater Phoenix metro area is well known for haboobs. On July 5, 2011, one of the largest Arizona haboobs ever observed occurred. This Phoenix haboob rose over 5,000 feet high. A wall of dust covered the entire Phoenix area from Apache Junction to Goodyear.
What creates an Arizona haboob?
Summer monsoons bring strong winds and concentrated down pours. As the monsoon thunderstorms collapse, they can create high outflow winds. The outflow winds cause gust fronts to form. The gust front picks up massive amounts of dust and sand which move up into the atmosphere.
Phoenix has 1 to 3 Arizona haboobs every year. Haboobs are also prevalent in Casa Grande, AZ, about 40 miles south of Phoenix. See the Fox News video of the Phoenix Haboob. Be Patient, it takes a few seconds to load.
Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel. The Chiweenie Brothers and I are looking forward to, hopefully, doing a bit of traveling in the near future, but you know, with the way things are in Arizona and being the pariahs due to Covid …. no one wants us in their state! Perhaps a jaunt within Arizona once the crowds clear out of the higher elevations. We’ll see. It’s feeling pretty good sitting under the cooler that runs 24/7 even though it’s become a bit boring. Lots of reading time.
CURRENT READ: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (hard to put down!)
Just finished: The City by Dean Koontz. A decent read by this master of the horror/thriller/suspense novel, but not one of his best in my opinion.
Monsoon? In Arizona? Yes. By definition monsoon is a season, not a single storm. It is a large-scale weather pattern that involves a seasonal wind shift over a particular region and is usually accompanied by an increase in atmospheric moisture and precipitation. Our monsoon season here in Arizona started June 15th and runs through September 30th.
Arizona’s monsoon forms when the sun heats the Pacific Ocean and land at different rates. The land warms at a faster rate than the ocean creating a low-pressure zone. As the hot air rises, it forces winds to shift and fill the vacuum that is formed. All of these, in turn, enhance rainfall and thunderstorms.
Arizona’s monsoon is the northern extent of the North American Monsoon, which begins in early June in central and southern Mexico. The dry westerly winds that persist through fall, winter and spring shift to moist southerly winds, bringing thunderstorm activity into Arizona. Humidity levels increase which can lead to thunderstorms, heavy rain, lightning, hail, high winds, flash flooding, dust storms, extreme heat and sometimes tornadoes.
What is the rainiest month in the desert? July. On average rain falls for 4.2 days and typically aggregates up to 1.1″ of precipitation. Doesn’t sound like much does it? It isn’t, however, these rain storms fall fast and furious over ground that resists soaking up the water and instead it runs off into the lower lying areas—the washes and rivers—and this runoff causes the flash floods that are so common here in the Grand Canyon State. They are exceedingly dangerous and can hit without warning.
In 2017 a visiting family of ten was swept away and perished from a storm that dropped rain higher up in the mountains and a flash flood seemly appeared out of nowhere in the river bed where they were enjoying their getaway.
It is wise to be aware of gathering storm clouds and where you are at all times. Put a weather alert app on your phone and heed any warnings you receive. Do not drive into rivers running even a little higher than normal. You have no idea what is under that water. The road could be gone and you would never know it until it’s too late.
Not My Photo
If it’s posted to turn around do so. There were four people, three of them children, lost last year during one of September’s storms when they ignored signs to turn around and tried to cross a flooded river. Arizona’s advice: Turn Around Don’t Drown.
Last September’s furious storm and flash flood watch that we experienced here after our summer spent exploring New Mexico was a nice introduction to what we can expect as we spend a full summer here in 2020.
A nice thunderstorm would be welcome right about now. It’s been HOT. Our first triple digits arrived in late April. We’d have a week of that then a week of high 80s or 90s then more triple digits. Now that June is here the high temps are here to stay. Twenty out of the last 24 days have all been triple digits with several 110 and above. Yeah, a good thunderstorm to cool things off for a few days would be nice. We take what we get, but one can wish, right?
I hope you all are well and happy. Check in with a howdy and let me know how you’re doing. I worry about ya! Hugs, Shawna
CURRENT READ: The Price of Paradise by Susana Lopez Rubio Set in Havana, Cuba in the 50s. ****