Covid-19 and Home Sweet Home

May 2020 for the months of February to May. I am pretty sure somewhere along the line during the trip from AZ to CA and back to say goodbye to my sister I contracted Covid-19. I gassed up 10 different times and there were a lot of people, mostly from out-of-state by the amount of traffic heading south at the end of the day, in the Mammoth Lakes area for the skiing and getting fuel for the return trip.  Or …

Perhaps my sister had it. When I received a copy of her death certificate she had listed what was not a surprise, COPD for “years”. The other three: Acute chronic respiratory failure, bilateral pulmonary emboli (blood clots in her lungs), and unspecified pneumonia, all listed as “days”.  Hmmm.  Just a thought that crossed my mind.  I was at her side holding her hand, stroking her cheek or forehead, leaning over to talk to her for the majority of the ten days I was there.   Anyway, I was sick for three weeks and it seemed like a hybrid of a cold and the flu. Grateful I had gotten back home before it really hit me.

Plans to use up the last months of my New Mexico State Parks pass didn’t come to fruition because of Covid-19 and The Chiweenie Brothers and I settled in on our little piece of Arizona. Once feeling better I got busy with installing snake fencing along the chain link fence on the north side.  Shade cloth was put up along the east side of our cool cover, a cement block wall was put up between the casita and the laundry shed. It works as a chiweenie barrier to keep them in the back and unable to see anyone who happens to pass by, AND it’s snake proof. I planted some rescued cacti out in the front, and  I also had to dig up most of the succulents I planted in the back last fall as the 112 degree heat (triple digits for two weeks beginning in late APRIL!!) was frying them.  Thankfully the evaporative cooler works really well; as long as it’s below about 105 degrees.  Then it is just okay, but certainly better than not having one!

Being an introvert and a homebody the stay-at-home order from Governor Ducey didn’t bother me a bit until I couldn’t get outside. Then I did get a little stir crazy.   For a while it was even too hot/windy in the early mornings to even enjoy my coffee under the patio umbrella. Like the crazy weather a lot of you are having, it has been bouncing back and forth.  Last week we got back down into the 90s, then two days of 80s, and now the temps will begin marching toward triple digits again.

Nothing prettier than cactus flowers

Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel.  We’re mostly staying put for the summer so I can keep the new transplants watered, but hopefully we can take a couple of short trips. I will definitely be researching places to go for next year, and I may publish a few destinations we are thinking about. Next month I  have an interesting person post to share. Hugs, Shawna

Lots of books were read over the months of winter and during the stay-at-home order.

Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey. Fictional novel inspired by a true event. ****

In an Instatnt by Suzanne Redfearn. ***** five stars.  Written from an interesting perspective, this book tells the story of a horrific accident and its aftermath; how each person’s character is revealed as they make life altering decisions during their struggle for survival.

Thief River Falls by Brian Freeman.  I thought this book was just okay (THIS wouldn’t happen! I kept saying to myself.  How stupid) because of an implausible story line until there very end when the story line is explained.  *****

The Other Wife. Another ***** five star read. Well written with lots of surprises.

The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards. **** Well written thriller that bounces back and forth between 1999 and 2015 with, of course, a surprise ending.  Only four star simply because, I think, it wasn’t quite as good as the others I have read so far this year.

The Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent, ****. Full of surprises and a happy ending.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (author of Gone Girl, A MUST READ!). A who-done-it murder mystery about a dysfunctional family with a surprise ending.  Four stars.

Rain Will Come by Thomas Holgate, ****.  Fast-paced thriller abiut a serial killer, but with a twist. Not for the squeamish although it isn’t TOO bad.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rowls.  Re-read this classic which I both love and hate.

Twisted Twenty-Six by Janet Evanovich.  Another light-hearted Stephanie Plum read.  Grandma Mazur marries into the mob!

When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal, ****. Nice coming-of-age story. A nice, but hard to believe, love story. A nice read about forgiveness.

And last-but-not-least Girl Next Door by Willow Rose.  *** three stars.  I found this one just okay.  When the author named a male cat Misty I was instantly put off. The story line about a serial killer and woman who leaves an abusive relationship ending up in the same town with her high school sweetheart who is a detective that speaks like a woman would speak put me off.  Then the cat is miraculously described as a female cat toward the end.  Who edited this???

It’s Coming to an End

September 5, 2019
Leaving Winslow after our short visit to Standing on the Corner Park, we make a dash for Flagstaff, the air becoming noticeably cooler the closer we get. Taking the exit for Walnut Canyon I look for the same camp we stayed in year before last. There is no one parked there! Yeah! Shade, privacy, and memories—the little juniper tree I backed into then, tearing out the van’s right tail light, is still there, limb hanging down. Dead but still attached to the little tree.
I make camp, feed The Boys, fix dinner, then lie down to read for a little while. I had intended on staying a couple of days, but I am restless. After reading a chapter in my book I get up. I take down the tarp and put away the camp chair. The need, for some reason, to get “home” is pulling at me, so with nothing but a quick morning walk for The Chiweenie Brothers we will be ready to pull out first thing in the morning.
A thunder storm rolls through—nothing like Coyote Creek State Park in NM!!—and we get a bit of rain. It’s much cooler up here at the higher elevation and sleep will be good.
Upon awakening in the morning I haven’t changed my mind, and we drive into Flagstaff where I get supplies at Wally. One more stop, at the Cricket phone store, and we are soon on our way to Williams where we head south, ending up in Prescott.
I drive through town and on the way out locate the White Spar Campground where we spend the night. We were here, too, year before last. I got lost hiking. Haven’t told that story yet. Perhaps before winter is over.
On the morning of the 7th we head out at the crack of dawn. It’s only 120 miles to Quartzsite (Q Town). We wind our way, slowly, down the 15 mile long grade that twists and turns down the narrow mountain road, finally arriving at Yarnell, then on to Congress. Once out onto Hwy 60 we turn right and drive the last leg of our journey. Our adventure is over for this year.
We are back in Q by noon, and the first thing is to get the cooler going. It’s still triple digits here, and our little place is HOT. The floor is hot. The walls are hot. It’s stifling and the sweat runs in rivulets off my brow.

It takes two days, the swamp cooler running around the clock, to get our tiny one room/one bathroom casita cooled off, but we’re “home”. I begin making a list of the many things that I intend to get done this fall and winter. Lots of things to do to make our winter retreat the haven I want it to be.
Here is where I will take my annual hiatus for the holidays. Not sure exactly when in January I will be writing again. It may be February. It may be spring. We may or may not take off in January for a getaway trip while our little town of 3000 is overrun by snowbirds to the tune of 90,000 plus. Or we may stay put and hunker down until the New Year is a little older. Playing it by ear.
Thank you for riding along with us on our New Mexico adventure. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Hugs, Shawna

CURRENT READ:  Voyager (3rd book in the Outlander series) by Diane Galbadon. Checked out from the library for the third time — too much to do for reading!!
The desert tells a different story every time one ventures into it — Robert Edison Fulton
PS Any suggestions for where to go next summer? Someplace you’ve been that’s awesome? Some place you’ve always wanted to see? Would love your suggestions.

Our Desert Oasis and Zoo Nebraska

Wow, the weather is really warming up. It is time to button up our little oasis in the desert and head out to somewhere cooler. Little oasis in the desert? What’s this? Welllll. Let me explain.

This past winter was a bit of an eye-opener for me. The wet, the cold (comparatively speaking to the rest of the country), the wind. The boys and I spent a lot of time inside the van. I love to read, but there is only so much one can do before it becomes reading-by-rote and nothing sticks! When I started having to re-read the previous chapter to remember what went before I realized that another winter like this past one would not be good for my mental health, not to mention two rambunctious wild wiener dogs that were mad for exercise.
After much thought and knowing there weren’t too many places that would be warmer than right here in Q, I made the decision to buy a lot and have a permanent place to roost during the winter months.

DSC_0082Charlie.Fries.Listen Fries!

This little oasis in the middle of “civilization” will also allow me to have my crafting stuff and my genealogy paperwork at hand. Perfect time to work on the family history! I am healthier and happier with some kind of project in the works and having a permanent spot to light while waiting for winter to run its course is the answer to several concerns.

Next will be a trip back to Cali to haul my stuff out of storage and get it and my Honda back to AZ where it will all be stashed away until our return in late fall. We are NOT giving up our travels, just facing the reality that there is no place better than  in right here in Quartzsite to spend the winter months. This decision will, no doubt, insure that another winter like the last one is not going to happen. Ha!

Thanks for stopping by! Hugs, Shawna and The Chiweenie Brothers

CURRENT READ: Zoo Nebraska: The Dismantling of an American Dream by Carson Vaughn
Note: While on my way back south from South Dakota after establishing my residency almost two years ago I dropped down into the northeastern part of Nebraska and along the road was a hand painted wooden sign on which was written Zoo Nebraska. I thought it odd. There was no other signage to indicate there was an actual zoo nearby and we traveled on. That sign, as you’ve surely figured out, was for the zoo in the above mentioned book.

The Polar Vortex and a Super Snow Moon

February 19, 2019 I just happen step outside MissAdventure in the early morning hours before dawn and see the Super Snow Moon falling slowly behind the mountains to the west. I am thrilled to have awoken to this as my shots of the super moon rising did not turn out well.


The temps have been dropping as the weather people around the nation herald the coming of a Polar Vortex. Little did any of us realize just how bad it was going to get. By February 22 Flagstaff was reporting 40” of snow; a one day record since records have been kept. Kingman had 18”, the road into Payson was closed due to the snow. Snowflake AZ saw snowflakes, Benson saw snowflakes as did Nogales on the US-Mexican border.
Mammoth Lakes on 395 in California received over 22 feet. Going to have to take that camp off our list for summer! They may never get anything but the roads cleared there this year!

Oregon had record snowfalls as did Washington. The places in the nation that always get snow, got more than they bargained for. It’s a crazy winter for sure! Bet YOUR area saw some interesting weather, too!

The Chiweenie Brothers and I spend most of our days inside. It’s too cold and/or windy to be comfortable outside for very long so only the necessary walks are taken. Poor guys are a bit bored.


DSC_0156Fries with His duck Head
On one walk I gaze off into the distance and the Kofa Mountains look a little strange. What the heck? Oh I see what it is. The Kofas are wearing white!! It stays for a few days, too. Seems like Q, Yuma, and perhaps Ajo are the only places that didn’t get snow. I tell ya, Quartzsite is the best place to be in the winter, even though locals say this winter has been the coldest they’ve seen. So much for global WARMING …
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Storms, whether rolling in or on the wane usually leave some beauty behind.

DSC_0008MissAdventure with Pink CloudsThanks for stopping by 2Dogs! Hugs, Shawna and The Boys.

CURRENT READ:  Still working on Mary, Queen of Scots 

The Desert Turns Green

Quartzsite, Arizona, our winter refuge, is cool with lots of moisture; it is turning green.  Lush, spring grasses and plants put on a show that is beautiful in its simplicity.  One would not even notice if you hadn’t spent several winters here, or at least experienced a few of the winter months at some point.  Usually the greening of the desert is so brief it’s hard to imagine it even happens.  This year it happens.

DSC_0132Green Desert Clouds, and Buttermilk Clouds
A Buttermilk Sky

DSC_0139The Desert is Turning Green, Plant with Rock

The spring flowers put on a colorful show and all of it with the “purple mountain majesty and the brilliant blue sky depending on the hour, is breathtaking.

The middle of February brings unusual cold, even frosty temps, lots of cold wind and some rain.  Many hours spent inside reading, planning, writing.

The boys need a little walk a couple of times a day and I bundle up and take them out.  It’s cold enough that my little Fries doesn’t mind at all when we head back to the van.

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They play, nap in the sun if it has made an appearance, and just generally go with flow.  On Occasion there’s a row, but for the most part they get along splendidly.

Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel! Hugs, Shawna

CURRENT READ:  Mary, Queen of Scots

 

We’re Back in Q

                                                                Life is short

November sure has whizzed by.  The Chiweenie Brothers and I made it to Arizona, spent a couple of nights at Craggy Wash in Lake Havasu where some guy tried to roust us from our spot beside a nice shade tree by whining about how this was the third time he’s lost out on this spot and HE needed shade­­­—like we didn’t!—and when I refused to give it up  he hopped in his rig and peeled out spraying us with small rocks and dirt!

When we left a couple of days later I got the tires rotated on MisAdventure, and then we spent some time at the SARA dog park. SARA Park has much to offer besides a wonderful dog park: Hiking and biking trails, an equestrian area, and more.

We move on to Parker where we spend one night off Hwy 62.  Last year’s camping area is inaccessible. Not sure if it was due to flash flooding or just the fact the road has been graded, but nothing looks familiar and I can’t find a spot with shade. One night here and we move on. Q (Quartzsite) here we come! 

I drive straight into town, get ice and fill up the generator (I love being able to use my Instant Pot!!) then head to the dog park.  Big surprise here.  The “Big Dog” side is closed for some unexplained reason and all are using the “Small Dog” side.  It isn’t working too well as the big dogs have pretty much taken over and there are plenty of little dogs that don’t like being in with them.  But, it is what it is. We will either spend more time in other areas of La Paz County or we can change our preferred time to be at this dog park to later in the afternoon. We’ll work it out!

Once the boys are ready to leave the dog park I drive to the library and try to get a blog post done.  I no longer have mobile internet as ATT said I used too many roaming hours and they cut me off everywhere there is no ATT cell tower.  Hmph!  This may be a long winter with fewer posts. Not surprisingly I still have to pay until my contract is up so I won’t be getting anything different at this time. Again … It is what it is.  I’ll work it out!

Meanwhile, out in the desert we settle onto BLM land with a sweet, shady spot at the Hi Jolly 14-day area.  Long walks with the boys in the chilly air of morning, some reading, checking email­­­—fortunately I can get my email and get onto the internet with my phone, but no way can I do a blog post from it— and I am able to make an appointment with my dentist in Los Algadones. But, before that happens we will head to Bouse and stay a night or two.  The boys will get to romp in the HUGE dog park there, I will get veggies from the truck that brings in produce fresh from the fields, and I will also attend a get-together with the Bouse Genies, the local genealogy group. 

This trip to our wintering grounds has brought some frustration, yes, but there has been blessings, too:  Lying in bed one night with the back doors open I watch the space station glide silently through the night sky.  Early mornings, before sunrise, I watch Venus hanging huge and glittering, low in the east as day tries to make her disappear for another 24 hours, Sun demanding her time in the sky. One morning Venus was next to the quarter moon; so beautiful!   

Some mornings Sun brushes past the distant mountains with a silent but huge burst of light, other mornings she makes a magnificent entry wearing a cloak of the softest pinks and lavenders or bright red and gold if she’s feeling brassy.

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Coyotes howl across the desert.  I do consider this a blessing, although it’s not much fun when they come in close trying to trick The Chiweenie Brothers into coming out to play which they did three nights running at one point.  Sends a chill up my spine.

Gorgeous sunsets and sunrises.  They make my heart sing in their beauty.

Thank you for stopping by 2DogsTravel. We appreciate you coming along on our adventures, and appreciate your patience while we get through this little internet glitch. Hugs, Shawna

Biding our Time In Q

We’ve had a cold spell in the desert. For about a week we have had some chilly weather with a cold wind reminding us that, after all, it IS winter. A couple of recent nights it’s been a teeth chattering 36-37 degrees inside the van when morning breaks.  I take the boys for their early a.m. potty break, heat some water for coffee, then jump back under the covers and wait for the sun to warm our vome through the windshield.

I have a heater, but have never used it. I tend to just ride it out rather than artificially heat up the inside of the van, because it’s too hard to cool it back down once the day wears on. That’s been my experience around Quartzsite anyway; it may change when we leave here and head north, but we’ll take it as it comes.

Last year, by mid-March, the temps were climbing into the 80’s. That is barely tolerable when you live in a tiny home made of metal.  When it hit 85 we left and headed north toward home in Cali. We no longer live in Cali, but we will be heading north seeking cooler weather once it turns too warm here in the southern Arizona desert. That may be sooner than we expect if the chatter at the dog park is correct.

With a general idea of what route we will travel, the goal is to end up in southern Utah for a meet-up with a couple of gals I met at the RTR.  The trick is going to be timing:  Staying out of the encroaching heat, but arriving in Utah early enough to still be able to take in Arches, Zion, Bryce Canyon before they, too, become too hot.

While biding our time waiting on the weather to send us scampering to get away from the heat we spend time at the Quartzsite Dog Park, rock hound on our morning and evening walks, and I do a lot of reading. Oh, and gazing at the barren mountain ranges, in this case the Plamosa Mountains, picking out shapes.  Do you see the lioness’ head?

Big Cat in mountain

CURRENT READ:  Beneath a Scarlett Sky. This is a good read, but for some reason it is taking me much longer than normal to finish it.  Perhaps because it’s another WWII story, and you know how heart wrenching those can be.

I spent the other day going through things in the storage area behind the bed sorting, tossing, and getting together a box of stuff to take to the Salvation Army. It’s an on-going process this continuing effort to get the vome cleared out of all the extras I brought along when we started our new life’s adventure of full-time traveling.

Ever being one not to waste anything or have to replace things I had extras of and brought with us to use up,  we’ve lived kind of crowded. Regular sorting, tossing, donating is needed to keep things organized as we rid the vome of stuff.  This last batch of unneeded items that went to the Salvation Army has gotten us to a I-can-see-the-finish-line place and the quest for having just what we need and not much more than that.  The goal of eventually having a place for everything and everything in it’s place is closer! Yippee!!!

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Our spot in Scaddan Wash.

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The full moon on March 1, 2018

Until next time, Hugs Shawna

 

 

The Great Tree

Alongside the north side of the courthouse in Quartzsite is a small sign and a short rock-lined path that takes you to The Great Tree, also known as The Witness Tree. DSC_0025

The boys and I walked this very short path today to gaze upon the large ironwood tree that has stood it’s ground for over one thousand years.

During Arizona’s centennial (February 14, 1912 to February 14, 2012) it was dubbed the Witness Tree, having lived and thrived in this desert environment and “witnessing” this state’s centennial.

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If you’re into heavenly happenings, mark tomorrow night, January 31st, on your calendar. Just before dawn you will be thrilled to see not only a super moon, but a super blue moon (second full moon in one month) along with a total eclipse!

Thanks for stopping by! Hugs, Shawna

RTR 2018

The Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, held each January on BLM land at Scaddan Wash,  is history for this year. Met some new friends, couldn’t find some I have been looking forward to meeting, and Charlie got us kicked out of one of the seminars.

He just couldn’t keep his barker quiet when other dogs were saying hello.  Charlie did, however, learn some better behavior in an all around sense so it was a very good experience for him and a relief for me.  He IS learning!!

The RTR is growing by leaps and bounds every year. From around 50 or 60 people just a few years ago to about 1200 last year, this year it was anticipated that the attendance would be so big that Bob Wells, the host and expert on van dwelling as he has been doing this for years, was required by BLM to bring in porta-potties for this year’s gathering. The unofficial count was over 3000 attendees, and I believe it.

Compared to last year when I arrived a couple of days early to try and find a bit of shade there were FOUR vehicles. This year my  early arrival found what looked like a vehicle beside every bush!

Except for a very few scoundrels, and there are those in every crowd, it was a well-behaved, respectful group.  Bob had the areas layed out into sections for Main Camp and Meeting Area, a section for the music crowd, a section for the disabled, a section for the larger vehicles.  Two seminars, sometimes three, were held each day of the two week event. At the end a women’s gathering was held.

Having been under constant stimulation from so many people and dogs, vehicles coming and going constantly, and the general noise of so many gathered in one place the boys needed some peace and quiet and I needed relief from the dust so we did not stay for the women’s event.

I met many wonderful people, but clicked with a couple of really nice gals, Peggy and Mary, and we have tentatively made plans to meet up again perhaps in Utah when it’s time to move north to escape the heat here in Arizona. Peg had to leave a bit early and get back to her job, but Mary and I gathered around the campfire every night and took a few walks. YES, she gets all that stuff in her Prius!!!

One of those walks was to search for the labyrinth that was somewhere near the camps.  We headed out to where we thought they were located and 45 minutes later while giving it up discovered the thing was right across the wash from Freedom!!

 

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Freedom is just to left of us across the wash!

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See Freedom lurking in the upper right corner?

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Thanks, as always, for stopping by 2DogsTravel!