July 1 – 5: My days here at Pine Flats in the Abajo Mountains of southeast Utah begin with a walk through the woods, groves of aspens and scrub oak, with pines on the periphery.
There is one especially large and impressive pine, a subspecies of Ponderosa, that grabs my attention. At my sister’s suggestion, I ask the tree what its name is in people language. I don’t get an answer until, as I turn away, Bartholomew pops into my head. So I take it the tree is to be called Bartholomew.
Yarrow and some kind of little yellow flower are the predominant wildflowers; red blossoms, like teeny day lilies are also found, but scare. I enjoy the peaceful ambiance of the “road less traveled.”
Photos for blogs and the Higher Vibration Series, journaling, editing for my daughter Ang – a new sci-fi novel, and domestic chores take up the rest of day. Clifford continues with his ham radio, playing the dulcimer, and virtual flying.
Every day the sky is a gorgeous blue, highs are mostly in the 70’s and some days big billowing cumulus clouds build up.
No rain, however, except on the 4th of July, there is a brief, but heavy rain storm, which apparently causes the tipi group camped near us to pack up and leave. Even though it is great that people want to be out in nature, some folks are a bit loud and we don’t mind when the weekend is over and most of them leave.
We are eager to go camping for Clifford’s ham radio field day, the weekend of June 27 & 28. After considering our options, we decide to go to Pine Flats, the large dispersed area on the north slope of Abajo Mountain. We head up on Wednesday morning prior to field day, and partway up the mountain, there is road construction with a THREE-hour wait. Luckily we are able to pull off and wait it out in the shade of the forest service campground adjacent to the flagman. We make use of this time to have a picnic lunch, then Clifford plays his dulcimer and I write in my journal.
Finally we are on our way again, following the pilot car to the turnoff into Pine Flats. We are pleased to find that our favorite spot is available. The road is rugged and we drive about two to three miles an hour for the last half mile.
The spot is at the end of a side-road and with some finagling we are able to get Cougar tucked back under the pines so as to have plenty of shade for these hot summer days. I am hot and dusty by time this accomplished. It is pleasant to sit in the shade and relax before we finish setup.
Clifford gets his antennas set up; he is ready for field day, but also for the usual morning traffic net (ham radio message transfer). I make sure the inside is homey and comfortable.
The next days are a mix of sun, clouds, calm, and wind – sometimes all in the same day.
My mornings begin with a walk on the road that makes a big loop through this dispersed area, traversing pine forests, aspen and scrub oak groves. I really like the lovely peacefulness of these forests and photos taken on the morning walk often become the Higher Vibration photo for the day. Other activities include journal writing, photo editing and blogs, editing my daughter’s most recent novel, and either cello and viola as often as I can fit it in.
Clifford’s activities: ham radio, dulcimer, virtual flying.
Calls, messenger, FB, texts, Instagram – these are the ways I am in contact with my family and friends. While we are here, work is scheduled for repairs to the roof of the house following the hail damage earlier this month. Waiting for this work to take place means our Montana travel plans will have to be adjusted. Further adjustment may depend on the virus situation, as the news remains contradictory. But in the meantime, we are grateful for all the mountain offers in the way of peace and quiet, beauty and shade, and cooler temperatures than the valley below.
April 6, 2020 – At our overnight camping spot in the Coconino Forest north of Flagstaff, our last morning in Arizona, it is 38 degrees and windy. The winds will be coming from behind, so we pack up and are on our way by 10:00 a.m. We leave the forests behind and enter the badlands of northeast Arizona, taking the junction off US Highway 89 to US Highway 160, and then north on US Highway 191 into Utah. The badlands, while barren of vegetation, are impressive. It is Navajo Reservation all the way to Bluff, Utah.
When we reach the San Juan River just outside of Bluff, we plan to spend the night at the Sand Island Campground.
The website did not indicate closure, nor was there a sign at the entrance to the campground. It is only after getting set up that, at the pay station, we see a sign indicating that the campground is closed due to Covid19. Odd, since are a few other RV’s camped along the river. I am very disappointed, as I have been looking forward to camping by the river, having gone all winter with no rivers, streams, or lakes. However, it seems that we don’t have a choice, so we leave the campground and continue the journey to our homebase in Monticello, arriving in the later afternoon.
And now we are back at homebase after having left four months ago, returning a month earlier than planned due to the travel and camping restrictions imposed by the covid19 issue. At this point, travel plans for the summer are on hold until we see how things develop.
April 1 to April 5: These first days of April are a time of change for us. We had planned to leave LaPosa South on the 15th, but due to increased travel restrictions because of covid19, we change our minds and begin packing so as to leave tomorrow.
My brother Rollie and his lady friend Tata plan to come for dinner and music, but Rollie collapses. Tata calls 911 and we all spend the evening at the emergency room of the nearest hospital. Tests are done and Rollie will be fine. Clifford and I go back to camp around midnight; Rollie and Tata return to camp even later. Rough night for all, but glad everything is okay.
We delay our departure to make sure Rollie is okay and to have another opportunity for dinner and music. Saturday is now our departure date. Even with preparation ahead of time, it takes us awhile to get ready to leave. We say good-bye to Rollie and Tata, and she gives me two beautiful rocks: obsidian and a quartz crystal imbued with the intention for safe travel.
The Arizona desert is beautiful with so many flowers blooming, but hard to get decent photos from the vehicle at highway speeds. The ocotillo in full bloom, a purple ground cover, and California poppies are especially colorful. We leave I-10 at the junction of US Highway 60 to Wickenburg, then travel east on Arizona Highway 74 to I-17, bypassing Phoenix.
North of Phoenix at the Agua Fri National Monument, we pull off, intending to camp where we camped with Rollie two years ago. However, Saturday afternoon is not a good time to fine a place to camp. This place is not designed to encourage camping, so the few possible places are already taken. Going in further was not a good idea because the road becomes more rugged and steep in places. We turn around, drive back out to I-17, then backtrack south to a parking area we had seen a few miles back, which turns out to be the Badger Springs Recreation Area. There is a large and level parking lot and we get set up away from others who are already there.
The next morning, my son Matt calls, as there was an explosion and fire at the CBD plant where his son, my grandson, works. It was very very scary for everyone, but other than singed clothes, none of the workers were injured. Thank goodness!
As we are getting ready to leave, four semi’s pull in and unload their cargo – several hundred sheep that will soon spread out over the land for their summer pasture. It was fun to see them since I raised sheep for several years – not hundreds, but enough to have a fondness for them.
It is steep downhill to Camp Verde followed by a steep haul back up to Flagstaff, Arizona.
North of Flagstaff, on US Highway 89, we turn off on a forest road and find a spot to camp for the night. We are set up in time to have lunch and a restful afternoon. I walk about, missing the flowers of the desert we have left behind, but pleased to see trees and snow on the mountain peaks. We are grateful for a peaceful place to spend the night.
Sunday, March 29 – More flowers…. More restrictions, including mandated “Stay Home” under whatever names various states call it.
Monday – Clifford wakes me up at 3:00 a.m. because there is a mouse in the house and he didn’t know where to find the traps. The mouse is subsequently trapped, and in the morning I thoroughly clean and disinfect the floor before getting on with my morning walk and other projects.
The flowers are so beautiful and I especially enjoy photographing and editing globe mallow.
Although the desert marigolds are past their prime, they are still attractive and grab my attention.
Other blossoms, from the tiny ground-huggers to the tall ocotillo, add to the desert palette.
In the later afternoon, Rollie and Tata come over for dinner and music at a campfire.
Tuesday – Rollie comes to look at our leaking water pump, and later when he and Tata go into Quartzsite, he picks up one for us. In the afternoon, they come over, bearing food for dinner and our new water pump, which Rollie installs. We visit as we eat dinner, but no music tonight, being too late to get out the instruments.
And thus March marches out and we will see where April takes us.
Saturday, March 28 – This morning the sky is a beautiful blue, so an outing is planned to Crystal Hill, which is not far from where Clifford and I are camped at LaPosa South, south of Quartzsite, Arizona. We meet up with my brother Rollie and his lady friend, Tata, so we can hike and have a picnic together.
By the time we are ready to go, spraying has messed up the sky, but we go anyway, taking the road out to Crystal Hill slow and easy, stopping a couple of times for photos.
When we arrive at Crystal Hill, we pick a nice spot to set up a picnic table, but decide to explore before eating. While Rollie, Tata, and I hike along the hillside looking for crystals, Clifford hikes to the top of Crystal Hill, where he sees a couple chuckwallas, foot long lizards. That was exciting for him.
Afterward, we enjoy a tasty picnic; wherever Tata is, food is good!
On the way back to camp, Clifford and I stop so I can take photos of the ocotillo, which are so bright with their blossoms fully open. Streaks in the sky kind of mess with the photos, but still the ocotillo and desert marigolds are worth capturing for a blog.
March 25-27: It is usually calm in the morning when I go on my desert walk, as is my custom here at LaPosa South (south of Quartzsite, Arizona) where Clifford and I have been camped since January.
One of these mornings I go further out into the desert than usual and am rewarded with sightings of Apache plume, little pink puffs on a small shrub.
The globe mallow and desert marigold are still in full bloom, while tiny ground-hugging blossoms begin to make their appearance. I must walk carefully not to step on flowers.
Ocotillo buds begin to open, revealing blossoms that wave gently, like tiny red flags.
It is windy by afternoon and most activities are inside the RV – editing, writing, playing music, and so on. One day we go to my brother Rollie’s place to have dinner with him and his lady friend, Tata. Another day we go to town for errands, and when we return, it is apparent than a twister twisted through our campsite, creating a little disarray, but no damage. We are fortunate that the awning was not out.
Living as we do, camped by ourselves several miles from the highway and at least a couple city blocks from the nearest RV, being isolated is not a “thing” for us, it is just a way of life. I walk freely in the desert every day and never see anyone. However, going to Quartzsite for errands is weird, as social distancing is obviously in place at some establishments, but not others. However, everywhere we go, there is a sense of distrust, which feels odd and very uncomfortable.
We had planned to head north at the end of March and camp in northern Arizona for a month before returning to Utah, but with the current state of affairs, as well as the still mild temperatures here in the desert, we will stay as long as we can.
March 22-24: I can’t say how it is for other folks camped here at LaPosa South (south of Quartzsite , Arizona), but for Clifford and me, we are really enjoying our winter desert home.
I love spending time walking in the desert soaking up the stillness and beauty. The desert here is anything but barren. It is lush and rich with color.
I spend a lot of time taking photos, culling photos, editing photos, and writing blogs of our travels using photos. Of special enjoyment is using the Snapseed app on my cell phone to bring out the best of certain photos, which I then use for the Higher Vibration Series that I post on FB. I am on day 161-163 of this series. The purpose of this editing is to have a greater sense of the feeling of what has been photographed, not just a record of what I’ve seen. I’ve started doing composites using Snapseed, which is a creative use of photography that I’ve not utilized before.
Besides photography and the domestic chores, I edit books and play viola or cello. Clifford works with his ham radio and plays the dulcimer much of the day. We get together with my brother Rollie for music as often as we can. An occasional trip to Quartzsite for errands rounds out our week.
While editing and culling I ran across an image from five years ago: Deschutes River looking toward the Newberry Monument in Central Oregon. That was a great trip!
March 21st– I check the sky as soon as I get up and it looks like a good day for an outing. Clifford and I are camped at LaPosa South, south of Quartzsite, Arizona, and we want to go to Palm Canyon before we leave the deserts of southern Arizona. I make a picnic and tea for the thermoses, and then we meet up with my brother Rollie and his lady friend, Tata, at their camp down the road. They are eager and ready to go when we arrive at their camp.
We head south on highway 95 to the Palm Canyon turn-off, and then we drive another seven miles into the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge to the Kofa Mountains, stopping for photos along the way. Desert marigold bushes, globe mallow bushes, and ocotillo in bloom bring much color to the desert.
At the parking lot and trail head, we leave our vehicles and hike the trail up a deep canyon to the viewing point where the palms can be see high up in a side ravine, the last place in the state where California fan palm trees grow in their natural habitat. The half-mile hike is a little rugged, but not difficult, and very scenic with views looking back toward the Chocolate Mountains.
After the hike, we set up a small table by our vehicles and have a picnic, sharing the food that we all brought. We return to camp, refreshed at having had a change of pace and a hike on this beautiful day.
March 19 & 20, 2020 – While it snows in Montana where family and friends live, it is a season of blossoms and more blossoms here in the desert at LaPosa South where Clifford and I are camped, south of Quartzsite, Arizona.
Walking in the desert at sunrise is such a delight and later I get Clifford to walk with me to the largest of the ocotillo, which is beginning to bloom. I also show him my the red bush that the hummers love, but it has mostly finished its job. However, more little flowers hugging the ground join the parade of flowers in the desert.
Our usual activities continue: ham radio and dulcimer for Clifford; editing, blog writing, journaling for me. Since my brother Rollie has moved down the road, the viola is getting neglected somewhat, as playing tunes by myself is not as much fun as playing with him.
One of my daughters has closed her business and taken her kids out of school, even though school is technically still open. One of my sisters is now working from home. And so it goes…..