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 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.
March 18 – Overcast skies and rain off and on keep the temperature in a holding pattern of 50’s all last night and all day today at LaPosa South (south of Quartzsite, Arizona) where Clifford and I are camped.
In the afternoon, a very strong wind comes up and I am sure glad that the awning is in. Other folks, including Rollie’s lady friend, suffer damage from the rain and especially from the strong wind.
In spite of the tempestuous weather today, I go out walking a couple of times and enjoy taking photos.
In addition to the desert walking, today was also a day to run errands. Back at camp, I did some editing and blog writing, while Clifford worked with his ham radios and dulcimer. … All the news is about Covid 19 as more schools, rest areas, campgrounds, and restaurants close.
March 13-17: Desert walks in the morning at LaPosa South (south of Quartzsite, Arizona, where Clifford and I are camped) are such a great way to start the day. Flowers and flowering shrubs blossom more abundantly. The bush with the red trumpet-shaped blossoms is especially striking, as are the huge clusters of desert marigold (which are probably not marigolds at all). A mockingbird chirps, tweets, trills, and calls over a dozen bird songs, sounding like a whole chorus all by himself.
One day we go to Albertson’s in Blythe, California, for groceries, about 20 miles to the west, the nearest grocery store of a decent size. There is plenty of food except for rice, but no toilet paper or paper towels, which fortunately we don’t need anyway. We find out from the cashier that people are coming all the way from Los Angeles, 200 miles away, to buy stuff as shelves in all the cities between here and there are empty.
Clifford is quite sick for a couple of days – an infection that he has been dealing with for some time. Because of his being sick, as well as the increasing issues with the spread of the virus, some of our plans are changed. Calls are made to friends and family to see how everyone is doing. Once Clifford is feeling better, we get together with my brother Rollie and his lady friend Tata for music, but other friends we will not be seeing.
February 16 to 19: Our life here in the desert camping at LaPosa South, south of Quartzsite, Arizona, is somewhat like it would be if we were at homebase in Utah in that we would still have errands, still need to do laundry, still buy groceries. We would still work on our projects: ham radio and dulcimer and CI for Clifford; taking photos, editing, blog writing, and playing viola for me.
What is different is that my brother Rollie is camped next to us, so we share meals, hike together, play music together, and Rollie and I play cribbage almost daily.
And the desert itself – that marvelous bit of land that stretches for miles is the greatest difference. I find peace and joy daily in meandering about, catching the rising of the sun as often as I can and finding the inspiration for my daily Higher Vibration Series. (Daily posts on FB and on my website.)
I have named the desert Serenity, for that is what she is to me.
Clifford and I are camped at LaPosa South, BLM land south of Quartzsite, Arizona, next to my brother Rollie.
Monday February 3 to Friday February 7:
Monday is very windy, all last night and into the day. Dust at sunrise gives an other-worldly look to the desert when I go out for a morning walk.
Wind continues the next couple of days, although not quite so fierce.
These are days when we mostly stay inside to work on projects, including music with Rollie in his motor home. I edit photos, write blogs, and edit for a couple of authors, including a submission for Ang’s children’s book, Permaculture for Kids, an excellent little book to introduce kids to permaculture.
Clifford is involved with his ham radio and dulcimer, writing his own accompaniments.
We make a couple of trips to Quartzsite, one day for mail and another day to pick up our Amazon order, supplements that we sent for, as there is no place to buy locally.
I walk in the desert in the mornings and sometimes near sunset, in spite of the wind.
The last days at Roadrunner, January 22 to 26, include participation in Quartzfest, the ham radio gathering held just south of Quartzsite, Arizona, which is attended by several hundred ham radio operators. A variety of classes are offered every day, mostly around radios and antennas, which Clifford is interested in. He and I also attend a couple of classes geared to first aid and survival.
We spend an afternoon at the Big Tent & RV Show, a big deal here in Quartzsite, browsing the plethora of vendors selling their wares or services. While open-house viewing of RV’s is a big draw for most folks, we are not interested in that so much, being perfectly content with our Cougar.
We get together with my brother Rollie to play bluegrass music a couple of times and one evening we go to bluegrass concert in Quartzsite.
Another day we go to one of the tents that sells burgers, “eating out” Quartzsite-style.
usual activities of photography, editing, writing, and reading
continue for me, while Clifford works with his radio for hours and
plays dulcimer when he is not on the radio. It is a busy time for
Wednesday January 15: First thing this morning, I go out to take photos of the mountains and the cacti surrounding our campsite here at Cactus Forest, northwest of Tucson, Arizona. Clifford and I really like Cactus Forest, but we need to head on to Quartzsite, Arizona, for Quartzfest, the ham radio week-long gathering.
We travel northwest on I-10 to the junction with I-8, then west through the Sonoran Desert National Monument. We reminisce about our camping trip here four years ago, the first trip with our 30-year-old Terry travel trailer. That was an adventure, which I won’t go into here.
At Gila Bend we stop for gas, which is fun because of the pet dinosaurs and fun stuff to buy, and then continue north on highway 85 until we rejoin I-10 west of Phoenix. We had thought we might stop for the night at Buckeye Recreation Area along highway 85, but travel conditions have been favorable today and we are making good time, so travel all the way to Quartzsite.
At Quartzsite, we turn south on highway 95 and make our way to Roadrunner, the BLM camping area south of Quartzsite where Quartzfest is held. Driving into this dispersed desert camping area, we are pleased to find that the campsite we had at Christmas two years ago is available. We were here then with my cousin and his wife, and my brother Rollie. We are very happy to be here in this spot now as we set up and prepare for Quartzfest.