Roadrunner Days – Winter Journey – December 2017

Tuesday December 26: The sky is mucked up with jet trails today, so no photos, even though I do go for a long walk. Rolly has gone to Lake Havasu for errands; Bill and Sally leave for their home in Dillon, Montana. It was fun having them here this past week. Later, after Rollie returns, he and I play music at the campfire. Then dinner at our place. We look into moving to Mule Mountain, a long-term BLM place in California, after our 14 days is up here, but more cons than pros, so will pick someplace closer to Quartzsite. Read “Eight Girls Taking Pictures” before I go to bed.

Wednesday December 27: Today is errand day, not a particularly fun day, but we return to camp with clean clothes, propane, water, food, and no trash. Besides reorganizing my clothes area to make room for the clean items, I write an agent letter for Ang and read “Eight Girls Taking Pictures,” appreciating how much harder it was (is) for a woman to make her way in a male-dominated field, since it almost always falls upon a woman to maintain the domestic front, often pushing her personal and career desires to a back burner.

Thursday December 28: Today’s temp: 35/72. It is mostly clear when I get up, so I go for a long walk catching images of the rising sun, appreciating what the first light brings to a scene.

Early morning light on the mountain to the west of the camping area
The rising of the sun
The warmth of morning light on a decaying desert tree
Looking beyond

Rollie goes to a jam session with friends at Lake Havasu, so no music here today and I catch up on other things, editing, sending off the agent letter, and finishing “Eight Girls Taking Pictures.

Saguaros in the Arizona Sonoran Desert
Saguaro and Palo Verde are desert friends, often growing close to one another

Another walkabout before sunset, enjoying the light at this time of day.

Mountains to the west near sunset

Roadrunner at La Paz Valley – December 15-19, 2017

Friday December 15 – Today’s temperature: 47/78. Quite a switch from much of the rest of the country.

Our campsite at first light

Clifford and I walk out to the host station to sign in, since we arrived here too late yesterday to do so. While we are there chatting with the host, my brother Rollie and his little dog Ninja arrive. He has been in Arizona since October and now that we are here, Rollie is going to join us for some time camping together.

After Rollie gets set up just a ways down from us, he takes out his instruments. I get out my guitar and we jump into some bluegrass music. Doesn’t take long for my fingers to object, as it has been quite some time since I’ve played the guitar. One might think playing cello would keep my fingertips tough enough for guitar, but not so.

Music with Rollie and Ninja

I round out the day with editing for Ang – her next series “Dragons of Va’ha’den” – before making chili dinner for Rollie, Clifford, and myself. It is fun talking to Rollie about some of his adventures thus far in his winter travels.

Saturday December 16 – Photos at sunrise, then tea and breakfast with Rollie.

Photos at sunrise

Today is reorganization day, which always happens right after a move. Then a campfire and more music.

 Clifford has been getting his ham radios set up, including a 35 foot vertical antenna attached to the end of the camper. I make a spaghetti dinner for us all tonight, then read until midnight.

Sunday December 17 – It is cooler and windy today, so activities are mostly inside, including music, which is quite a feat, as both Rollie’s camper and ours are on the small side when it comes to anything extra, like instruments and extra seating. I edit for a couple of hours in the afternoon; would like to do more, but with all the demands on our solar system, we can only charge my laptop for that long each day. Rollie donates some ribs for dinner and I fix a red sauce and honey topping for them. Tasty!

Evening walkabout and photos of the setting sun

Read before bed, but not so late as last night.

Monday December 18 – It is clear and breezy today. I have tea with Rollie while Clifford is still sleeping.

View to the west from our campsite

Our cousin Bill and his wife Sally arrive to join us for a few days of camping, coming down from Dillon, Montana, in their 5th wheel. They get set up in between Rollie and Clifford and me. Nice big fire ring at their spot, so that becomes our center of operation. Bill is a great cook and makes fancy burgers for us for dinner. Rollie and I do some music, in spite of my sore fingers – hard to resist playing music with someone.

Evening walkabout and photos at sunset

Tuesday December 19 – Today’s temperature: 33/70. I join Rollie at a small campfire at his place this morning for tea, writing in my journal while he plays mandolin. Edit Dragons as long as the laptop has power and then finish reading the book I started a couple of days ago. We have a campfire at Bill and Sally’s spot in the afternoon and more music.

Rollie, Ninja, and Sally at the fire ring, getting set for more music

Clifford is focused on his ham radio, but always joins us for music.

So much fun to have family on the journey. We have plans for an outing tomorrow and we are all looking forward to seeing Palm Canyon.

Winter Journey – La Paz and Palm Canyon – January 2017


Sunday January 29th – Quartzfest is over, but some ham radio operators are staying on at La Paz. However, there is hardly anyone along our side of the wash now. It is not so windy this morning, so I fix up the fire ring and build a little campfire this morning, the first one at this campsite. It feels good to have a morning where I can be outside without being wind-blown and not having to go off somewhere right away.

Last morning at La Paz BLM dispersed camping area south of Quartzsite, Arizona
Rebuild the campfire ring and first campfire of our stay at La Paz

After breakfast, I pack a picnic lunch and we head out sight-seeing, Palm Canyon being our destination. Palm Canyon is located in the KOFA National Wildlife Refuge south of Quartzsite – another 10 or 12 miles beyond La Paz and another 12 miles or so to the base of the KOFA Mountains.

Heading toward the KOFA Mountains and Palm Canyon
Nearing the KOFA Mountains

A half-mile hike takes us up into a canyon where, in a steep ravine above the canyon floor, palm trees are growing – native and wild. It is quite interesting to see palm trees growing in such a place.

The hike begins at the foot of this uplift of rock
Hiking to Palm Canyon
Hiking to Palm Canyon
Clifford on the trail to Palm Canyon
Hiking to Palm Canyon; the Castle Dome Mountains across the basin
Palm Canyon
Palm trees in the canyon

Other desert vegetation abound; the ocotillo are growing tiny leaves along their long spindly stalks and cholla cacti are flourishing.

Cholla in the KOFA Wildlife Refuge, Arizona
Ocotilla growing leaves along its long stems

In the distance, the rugged outline of mountains – Castle Dome Mountains, perhaps – reveal how “young” these mountains are.

Cholla with Castle Dome Mountains in the background
Ocotilla with Castle Dome Mountains in the background

On the way back, we stop for a picnic on the bench at the KOFA information kiosk. There is a brisk wind now and our lunch is in danger of being blown away, but at least it is not so cold as it has been. Back at camp, I do some editing for Ang (Novels of Shannon – epic fantasy series by Angela MacDonald – very exciting series!), write another blog, and talk to daughter Becka when she calls. It was a very good and interesting day.

Monday January 30th is an errand day, so no campfire this morning. We go to Ehrenberg, a small town to the west to pick up a month’s worth of mail sent from Wallace and a scientific instrument that Clifford ordered enroute. We try to avoid the busier post offices, but I ended up standing in line for at least a half hour at the Quartzsite post office, as a letter for me was sent there. That post office could certainly use more help.

Back at camp, I play cello outside for the first time in the week-and-a-half that we have been here. I feel kind of rusty having so many days go by without being able to play, but with luck we will have more warm and calm days coming up. Then more editing and blog-writing before and after dinner.

La Paz Cello

Tuesday January 31st is our last day here. Even though it is mostly clear and calm, instead of being outside, I have my nose to the grindstone taking care of email for CI and other internet business, as we might not have cell service at our next location. I clean out and organize Blazer in the later afternoon in preparation for leaving tomorrow. Then the usual editing and blog-writing in the evening.

Our home at La Paz for almost two weeks
Last sunset at La Paz

In spite of the hundreds of RVs parked all over the desert around Quartzsite, it was an enjoyable stay with the Quartzfest – people with a common interest coming together – and then a few extra days just to enjoy the desert.

Winter Journey – Quartzfest – January 2017


Quartzfest is the annual gathering of amateur radio operators and their spouses at the La Paz BLM dispersed camping area south of Quartzsite, Arizona. There were events and activities all day, every day.  Clifford attended classes on portable antennas, vertical antennas, drones, the Red Cross, RV Refrigeration, participated in the antenna shoot-out, and studied for his ham test, which he took and passed with flying colors (he now has his Extra Class license).


I went to a photography class, a card-making class, and attended a daily women’s circle. Daily we went to Happy Hour – the afternoon gathering where the events and activities of the day were reviewed, upcoming activities were announced, and raffle prizes handed out.


There were nearly 800 people in attendance at this Quartzfest, most of them camped in the desert for the week in everything from cars to giant 5thwheels. Bus-size motor homes were very popular and a few tents were set up. The events were either held in open-sided tents or out in the open. Usually the weather this time of the year is mild with daytime temperatures in the 60’s to 70’s. However, this year the daytime temperatures were mid-50’s, and with the overcast sky and a very chilly wind it seemed much colder. Several events were canceled due to the winds. But even so, people showed up activities and Happy Hour, bundled up in winter coats, hats and gloves. Clifford and I were camped about the equivalent of two blocks from the event center, so we made several trips daily, walking back and forth in the blustery wind, to attend classes and events.

A photo contest was one of the highlights of the week. As I mentioned earlier, I was not too inspired to take photographs here, as being surrounded by RVs in the desert is not really my thing.


However, I certainly couldn’t resist the opportunity to enter the contest. There were five categories: Technical, People, Pets, Nature, and General. I started looking around for photo opportunities, but even with the intention of taking photos for a contest, I didn’t come up with much. I reviewed and narrowed my photos for the week down to five and, just by chance, I had one photo to enter in each category.


On Friday, the top five photos in each category, out of hundreds of submissions, were posted on the bulletin board. I was quite delighted to see that two of my five entries had made it to this pared-down selection. For the rest of the day, people voted on their favorites. At the closing ceremony on Saturday, 3rd place, 2nd place, and 1st places winners were called up. My photo of a parrot on the shoulder of one of the volunteers took 2nd place in Pets


and my photo of a saguaro, taken right at the main fire-ring during one Happy Hour, took first place in the Nature category. Then, the professional photographer who gave the class chose one photo overall as the Grand Prize winner. To my surprise and delight, the saguaro, which he called Portrait of a Cactus, won the Grand Prize.


Hooray for me! In spite of not being very inspired, I still pulled the best out of what was available to me.

It was a fun week. I’m guessing we’ll go again and maybe next time it will be warmer.