Monday February 19: Very windy all day with hard gusts that shake our little home.
I start the morning with a walkabout n the misty rain to see how much water is flowing in the wash.
With the rain last night, the waterfalls on the rock face of the mountain have been reinvigorated and I estimate from the water in a free-standing pan that the Dragoon Mountains have received about 3″ of rain in the last several days.
In the afternoon there is enough sunshine to charge my laptop for a few minutes so I can do some editing, but most activities during the day are non-electronic related. Dinner is simply soup and salad, since I am not crazy about cooking and cleaning by lantern light. Living in a cute homey but small camper can be stressful when the weather is not conducive for spending time outdoors.
Tuesday February 20: High today is only 53 and the wind is chilly, so no morning walk. But later, as some blue sky appears, I do a good walkabout up the mountain and then out to the road and back to the campsite via a long loop. It is good to spend time outside.
Back at camp, I make a list of things that can be done that do not involve power: Hike, take photos, write in journal, read a book or magazine, play viola, play guitar, color, sing, clean a cabinet, clean the floor, meditate, go visit someone, dance, write postcards, write a letter, gather wood for a campfire, build and sit by a campfire (if it’s not too windy), mindmap a project, cook something, gather rocks, knit, tidy camper, tidy campsite, add to planner, study up on essential oils, make coffee and take time to enjoy it. If the cell is charged, then I can add texts to family/friends, practice Morse code, and peruse cell pics.
Since cell is charged a bit, I check FB, post a pic, and text with Rollie – he is on the east side of Tucson tonight, having left Parker, Arizona, this morning, and he will be here sometime tomorrow. Big smile! Now I can add play cribbage and music with Rollie to the non-power list.
Wednesday February 21: Breezy and cool with a mix of blue sky and clouds throughout the day.
When Rollie and Ninja arrive, I show him around so he can pick a campsite that will work for him; he decides to share our site with us, as that will make it easier to visit back and forth for music and meals.
After he is set up, we drive through the entire loop to look for firewood that has been left behind by other campers. Then we head on up to the Cochise Stronghold campground so Rollie can meet the camp host, our friend, Jimi, and we make plans for a hike on the Cochise Trail later in the week.
In the evening, we play music at Rollie’s camper; fun to play viola with his guitar, now that I can play a few more tunes, and of course, the mandolin and guitar as we were doing earlier in the winter.
I make a big pot of chili for dinner at our place – too cool and windy to eat by a campfire, but fun to share the meal in the comfort of our little home and catch up with the events of the last couple weeks.
Saturday February 17: I go for a walkabout first thing to check on the water in the wash. It is far from flooding, but fun to see a stream where a few days it was dry sand.
As fog rolls in, I go out again to take photos.
A text from our Cochise Stronghold Campground host friend, Jimi, suggests a hike this afternoon, so I go on up to the campground.
We hike up the trail to the pictographs, an interesting trail, not really for the casual hiker, but not too strenuous, either.
Instead of hiking back down the trail, we hike down into the ravine, which now because of the rain holds a flowing stream, and make our way down around boulders, dead fall, and shin dagger yucca – wicked little desert plant best seen at a distance.
I learn that the bubbly scum I’ve seen on pooling water is from the abundant yucca, since the rain has saturated the soil enough to get the roots. The soaptree yucca derives its name from the soapy material in its roots and trunks which made this plant a popular substitute for soap. (www.desertusa.com).
Sunday February 18: Still cool and mostly cloudy this morning, but enough sun to hang out everything that is wet from the rain that leaked in a couple of the camper windows.
In the afternoon, beautiful cumulus clouds form over the mountain with the sky a gorgeous blue backdrop… quite wonderful to see.
Message and pic from Ang showing two feet of new snow. Guess the high of 66 here today would seem like a heat wave to my kids and siblings in Montana. I miss seeing my kids and siblings and feel a little sad that we are so far apart.
Big wind and more rain in the evening and during the night.
Thursday February 15: Rain and wind all night here in the dispersed area outside Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains. A couple windows are now leaking, so we redo the tarp to cover both the vent and the windows. Looks like we have a project to take care of when the weather is warm and dry.
I walk down the road, rather enjoying the rain, and down to the wash at the base of the mountain to a cool little spot that I call the Gnome Home.
Or perhaps it is a portal to another universe! Later in the afternoon, another walk on a trail through a narrow meadow-like area takes me to a natural enclave, a grotto of sorts.
These hidden places are quite a delight to me.
Clifford prefers to stay in the camper working on his ham radio projects.
Cell service is weak here, but we do get messages and calls in and out. The evening is the usual routine, using only lanterns as there is not much solar power happening these days.
Friday February 16: Low and high temperatures: 50/56 degrees… hardly any variation all day long. There is fog in the morning and rain off and on all day.
This morning is different, however, as we hear a sound we’ve not heard before and looking to the mountainside, we see numerous waterfalls, some of considerable size, dropping hundreds of feet down the rock face. So many waterfalls in the desert is quite an exciting event to see!
Walkabouts in the morning and afternoon provide ample opportunities for photos, especially the waterfalls and little rivulets everywhere.
Even the trail up the mountain where I walked yesterday is a running stream.
I am more limited in my usual activities, other than the walkabouts, as there will be little laptop usage today. I write a couple short blogs, read a Dr. Oz magazine, play the viola, and practice Morse code.
We use only lanterns to light the camper for dinner, as well as the other evening activities.
Tuesday February 13: No time for a morning walk at Snyder Hill, west of Tucson, as we are packing up and leaving for Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains, about 50 miles east of Tucson.
We make stops for propane, water, and groceries, as well as picking up forwarded mail, so it is afternoon by time we make it out to the Stronghold.
This time we are camping in the dispersed area along the forest road that leads to the campground. This area will give us more space, more sunlight for the solar panels, and it is free. Between the recent wildfire and the forecast for inclement weather, no one is there and we have our choice of campsites.
We find a spacious site and get tucked in between a couple of oak trees. Clifford takes care of the solar panel and ham antenna while I get the inside ready for us.
I call and/or text my kids to let them know where we are before going for a walk to explore. There are several other campsites that could have been suitable, but this one is good for this time of year. I am happy that it worked out for us to come after all, with the beautiful scenery and ample hiking opportunities away from traffic and noise. There is something about this place that really resonates with me.
Wednesday February 14: It is cooler here today than the past week in Tucson, with a high of only 60. I send Happy Valentine’s Day greetings to my kids and my siblings. And, of course, Happy Valentine’s Day wishes to Clifford!
This morning I explore the ravine at the base of the mountain, discovering faint trails up the rocky slopes. Walking the road that meanders through the camping area, I find more campsites and another trail up the mountain. I hike a short distance up the trail and sit on a rock there, with a great view of the valley below and mountains beyond.
Back at camp, after writing thank you cards to recent donors to Carnicom Institute, we drive out to the Peace post office and on to Marsha’s Garden, a great little shop of lotions, salves, soaps, creams, and candles made with goat milk and essential oils. I take my time selecting items to purchase, enjoying the wonderful smells of this delightful little shop.
On our way back to camp, even though it is raining, we drive on out to the campground to say hi to our camp host friend, Jimi.
Back at our campsite, we discover that our camper has leaked and our bed is wet, all the way to the mattress pad. Ugh. We soak up as much as possible with towels and let the layers dry out over the course of the afternoon. We put a tarp over the vent, as it appears the rain will continue. I am happy to be here and grateful for the rain!
During our days at Snyder Hill BLM, west of Tucson, I go for a hike at sunrise every morning, around the hill and a couple of times to the top of the hill. I especially enjoy seeing the Palo Verde with their chartreuse trunks and branches and the ocotillo with their sparse desert ambiance.
One day we meet our special RV friends for breakfast at a cafe we discovered on McKinney Road. They were camped close by at Gilbert Ray campground and this cafe is on the route to their next destination. Coyote Pause is a nifty place, a lot of ambiance, good food, with a courtyard of interesting little shops and galleries. We have a good visit, getting to know each other better, and sharing stories about our travels and rock collecting adventures.
A couple days later, for my birthday, I treat Clifford to breakfast at Coyote Pause. After a very good meal, we browse through the shops in the courtyard there. An artist’s gallery is filled with beautiful artwork of all sorts and I buy a couple of small prints depicting the beauty of the Sonoran Desert. We also explore Buffalo Trader and Clifford buys me a very colorful pair of pants, light and loose, which will be great in hot weather.
I especially enjoy the evenings when the last rays of the sun light up Snyder Hill with a warm golden glow.
We are greatly disappointed to learn that a wildfire in the Dragoon Mountains, which was to be our next destination, will prevent our camping there. The day before we are scheduled to leave, however, we receive word that the evacuation order will be lifted in time for us to go there as planned. Hooray!
Saturday February 3: High of 80 today here south of Quartzsite, Arizona, and the sky is clear, for a change. We hear about the inclement weather in the rest of the country. While I am grateful we don’t have to struggle with the hardships of cold and snow, I do miss the beauty of wintertime.
I go for an early desert walk this morning and then have breakfast with Rollie. Clifford is on his ham radio with the Early Bird Net.
Later Rollie and I go for an exploratory drive, curious see what’s on down the La Paz Valley Road and find ourselves on the Old Yuma Road. We find more camping – some long-term and some 14-day-free areas. Good for future reference, but no great advantage over where we are now.
Back at camp, I do some editing until the laptop battery goes dead and then prepare a spaghetti dinner. The wind has died down, so we make a campfire and eat outside. We haven’t had a campfire and eaten out very often here because of the wind, so it is a nice way to end the last day of our stay here at Roadrunner.
Sunday February 4: Clifford is up at 7:30 and we soon start packing. It takes awhile, especially with the elaborate antenna and radio set up, but we are on our way by 11:00 a.m. after saying good-bye to Rollie. We’re headed to Tucson; he will be camping near Parker for a bluegrass festival there. Bill and Sally left for Montana a couple of days ago. It has been fun having family around.
We stop in Gila Bend for gas, and I have to say this is a fun place to stop.
As we near Tucson, we stop for a meal at Cracker Barrel, quite the treat, especially for me as I won’t have to fix dinner and do cleanup tonight.
Then on to Synder Hill, the BLM dispersed camping area west of Tucson on Highway 86. Synder Hill is just a few acres at the base of a hill, once outside of Tucson, but now surrounded by the expanding population. It is still a popular place for people who need a free and conveniently located place to stay while in the Tucson area. The nice spot we had last time is taken, as is every other nook. We settle for parking right on the side of the dirt road that meanders through the area, pulling in as close as we can to a little cluster of mesquite trees.
We keep set-up simple, as we don’t plan to be here long and there is no room for anything other than simple, anyway. Play guitar a bit, but it is not nearly as much fun without Rollie on the mandolin.
Monday February 5: Warm temps here in Tucson: 42/80. Living in Montana most of my life, I think of February as being the dead of winter. Not so here.
We plan our errands for the day and the week so as to get everything done with the fewest trips to town. Today we are going to Southwest Strings, as Clifford wants to buy a viola for my birthday. I have missed playing my cello, but a viola is small enough to take traveling and has a nice sound. It’s not a cello, but it could be fun. So off we go and spend quite a lot of time looking at the very small selection of violas in a size and price-range that will work. I’m not feeling drawn to any of them, so am willing to wait until we get to Santa Fe where I can go to the Violin Shop for better selection and more helpful assistance. However, now is the opportunity, so after asking if they have ANYTHING else, they bring out a couple more instruments… and one of them is better and will work.
I buy a book of Fiddle Tunes for the cello, as I plan to read base clef on the viola. Why not? Same strings as the cello, just a higher octave. Back at camp, I begin experimenting with this new little instrument.
Sunday January 28: We are still camped at Roadrunner, the BLM campground south of Quartzsite, Arizona. It is calm this morning, so I make a campfire and Rollie comes over to join me. We chat as we drink our respective hot drinks.
I was going to sit out after the campfire to write in my journal, but the wind comes up and I head inside.
In the evening, Rollie and I do music at his place, as it is too windy outside.
Monday January 29: Today is an errand trip to Parker for the things that we can’t do in Quartzsite, which takes a good chunk of the day. When we get back to camp, Clifford and I have leftovers for dinner. Rollie has already eaten with Bill and Sally, but he comes over for tea. While we are sitting out, Clifford spots the exotic lights that we have seen before in the desert. They are still a mystery.
Tuesday January 30: I take photos of a colorful sunrise,