Palm Canyon – Arizona – March 2020

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.

Globe mallow in full bloom
Desert marigold with Kofa Mountains in the background
Desert marigold and globe mallow share a space
A prickly pear in bloom
Ocotillo just getting buds; our destination in the background

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.

Clifford, Tata, Fifi, Rollie, and Ninja ready to hike
Clifford on the Palm Canyon Trail

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.

Picnic after the hike
View across the basin

Solstice to Christmas at Roadrunner – December 2017

Thursday December 21 – Today’s temperature: 42/56, windy and chilly. Today is the Winter Solstice, which I celebrate by walking around collecting rocks, many beautiful white quartz streaked with colors. Some of these will be added to our campfire ring and a chosen few will go home with me.

Roadrunner at La Paz Valley: Carol and Clifford to the left, Bill and Sally in the middle, Rollie to the right

I do some editing today, clean out a storage space- simplifying and organizing being essential in tiny homes, and look into essential oils good for maintaining healthy skin. Later we all go to Bill and Sally’s 5th wheel for tasty burritos for dinner. Fun to share meals with family.

Friday December 22 – Today’s temperature: 28/58 and clear. Today we make a trip to Quartzsite for gas and propane, stopping at the market and Dollar General to get little gifts for everyone. Bill barbecues  great burgers at his place, then Rollie and I do music there, as the 5th wheel is considerably roomier than either Rollie’s camper or ours. My fingers are still sore, but the blister is going away, and I can play more bluegrass songs with Rollie on either mandolin or fiddle.

Bill has made a “Christmas tree” out of tire irons or something and a lighted rope, and I add a few inexpensive ornaments from Dollar General. It looks a bit odd in the daytime, but is beautiful at night!

The beautiful La Paz Christmas Tree made by Bill

Saturday December 23 – Today’s temperature: 30/61, pretty sunrise color, but overcast all day.


Colors at sunrise – La Paz Valley, Arizona

Today is our anniversary; too chilly for an outing, but it is good just to spend the day together.

Reorganize another storage area so as to find the ornaments and get them hung up along our back window. These are some of my old-time favorites; glad they are still with me. My daughter Merri calls and we have an interesting conversation about how the health of one generation can strengthen or weaken later generations, and not always in the way one might think. Then I go on a walkabout with Bill, Sally, and Rollie with the metal detector, finding a couple old coins, but mostly junk. After that, Rollie and I do music at our place, as it is too windy to play outside. Crowded, but better than not playing at all.

Day’s end at La Paz Valley

I begin reading “Eight Girls Taking Pictures,” staying up later than intended.

Sunday December 24Today’s temperature: 31/67 and mostly sunny. We knew it would be warmer today, so have planned an outing to Crystal Hill. The turnoff to Crystal Hill is just four or five miles south on 95, and the rather rough road crosses BLM land before entering the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. At the collection area, which is designated by a map at the Crystal Hill boundary, we discover a mostly vacant campground with some really nice sites along a wide wash at the base of Crystal Hill.

Clifford and Rollie cross the wash at Crystal Hill

Smoke trees grow in the wash at Crystal Hill

Clifford and I hike to the top of the hill – good to stretch our hiking muscles at bit.

King of the Mountain: Clifford on Crystal Hill

Surviving on Crystal Hill

Although crystals can be found here, it is beautiful quartz pieces that are found in abundance and we each keep a small collection, a limit of 10 per person, per the collection rules.

Back at camp, we have tasty egg and cheese sandwiches for lunch, sitting outside. Today, with good solar and a bit of luck with the hotspot, I am able to get on the internet and do some agent research for Ang for “By Wing, By, Wild, By Wisdom,” the first book of the Dragons of Va’ha’den series. Looking for agents is new to me and there is a lot to learn, but we hope to find an agent to pick up her series.

Later, we have a delicious chicken dinner, again thanks to Bill’s great cooking (and my contributions of quinoa and rice) around a campfire. Then we open the gifts placed around the little Christmas tree. Bill and Sally are very generous and our little gifts add to the enjoyment of all. As soon as it gets too chilly to sit outside, we all go to the 5th wheel where Rollie and I play music, a nice long session until my fingers get too sore.

I finish out the day with sending Christmas greetings to all of my kids, grateful for the cell phone which allows me to text or message all of them. What a great day!

Monday December 25: Today’s temperature: 36/64. Colorful sunrise this Christmas morning, but my cell died after one pic; luckily I got a few shots with the camera before the sunrise faded.

Christmas sunrise

Tea and journal while it is still quiet, meditating on the meaning of the Christmas celebration. Then the day proceeds with the usual activities, but somehow everything seems special.

Bill fixes a great ham dinner for all of us and we eat around the campfire. After dinner Rollie and I do music together until my fingers are too sore. Back at our place, I read “Eight Girls…” while Clifford works with his radios; he is getting back into Morse code and other modes of communication.

So happy to have spent these days with family, sharing meals, outings, and special celebrations. Times of sharing are never to be taken for granted!

Palm Canyon – Kofa National Wildlife Refuge – Arizona – December 2017

Wednesday December 20 – Today’s temperature: 39/72. Clear and breezy

Plans are made to go early to Palm Canyon in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, about 15 miles from where we are camped. We (Clifford, Rollie, Bill, Sally, and I) head out in a couple of vehicles, driving about seven miles south on 95 to the turnoff, a dirt road that takes us several scenic miles across the Kofa Refuge to the parking area at Palm Canyon.

Scenic views as we drive into the Kofa Mountains

View of the Chocolate Mountains to the south from the Palm Canyon parking area

Closer view of the mountains to the south

Now the problem with leaving early is that it is cool in the morning and the mostly south-facing canyon is still deep in shadows.

Canyon in shadows

The wind is chilly, but we are all eager for the hike and head up the trail.

Eager for the trail: Sally, Rollie, Bill, and Clifford

The canyon is lush with desert plants, the trail a bit rugged, but not difficult.

Rugged terrain of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

At the end of the trail is a viewing spot and a sign. We look across the canyon to the deep ravines on the opposite side to see the palms growing there.

Ravine across the canyon where the palms grow

Close-up of the nook where the palms have taken foothold

These California Fan Palms are possibly the only native palms in Arizona in a natural location. They may be remnants of an earlier cooler climate or perhaps seeds were carried to the deep ravines by wildlife. Either way, these palms flourish in the coolness of the shadows where the ravine collects moisture from scant rainfall. It is possible to go beyond the trail and make one’s way across the canyon and up to the palms, but we are not doing that today.

Looking deeper into the canyon

After taking photos, we head back down the trail.

Because of the chilly wind, we decide to take our picnic back to camp. Bill has made a great ham and chopped egg sandwich mix for us, which we enjoy around a little campfire, protected from the breeze of the day.

Sunset from the campsite at La Paz Valley