Flowers at Homebase – May 2020

May starts out with a trip up Abajo Mountain for a picnic and music. In the morning it is calm with a lovely blue sky, but by time we head up, it is quite windy. We drive around Pine Flats until we find a spot a little more out of the wind.

Heading to Abajo Mountain
Mountain music man

The next two weeks are projects at homebase. With highs in the 60’s and windy most days, we are not so tempted to make more trips up the mountain.

Working on the backyard ….

as well as the usual editing and domestic chores, fill up much of my day. I play around with Snapseed to make the most of flower photos, as this is the first year that we have had such blossoms. Many of these become the daily Higher Vibration posts.

Rescuing a volunteer gaillardia on the street corner becomes a little landscaping project – little in size, but big in effort!

Clifford works with his ham radio and music with the dulcimer and the CI Legacy Project.

Most days we go for a walk around town, just to get out. We are looking forward to campgrounds opening, hopefully by the end of the month, and maybe other outings in the meantime.

Historic building in Monticello
Trees in blossom

April in Utah – April 2020

Mid April brings cool temperatures, highs sometimes only in the 40’s. Most of my projects and Clifford’s are indoor activities. This is a good time for reorganizing closets and cupboards in Cougar, editing, blog writing, and reading. With Clifford’s help I submit four photos to the Community Beautification Project.

A chilly April day

One of my sisters sent me a book, The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Very interesting insight into the reign of infamous King Henry VIII.

Reading

In spite of the chilly days, as I keep an eye on all the flower beds, I am happy to see the potential for blossoms this spring.

Blossom potential

Clifford is occupied with his ham radio, passing traffic (ham radio messages), and music, playing dulcimer and writing his own compositions using music software.

Although most small businesses are closed, on our daily walkabouts, we discover that the greenhouse is open, which I am glad to see. The “essential businesses” are mostly where we go anyway, so we notice very little difference in our weekly errands, other than the Plexiglas barriers in some places and many people wearing masks. We follow the news on Covid19 and inform ourselves through watching a number of videos related to the topic. There is certainly more going on than what the mainstream news reports, and even that is very contradictory.

Abajo Mountain

It is only toward the end of April that temperatures reach the upper 60’s and lower 70’s and we are finally able to make another outing on Abajo Mountain. The pond created by snow melt is a good place for us to stop. We set up table and chairs for our picnic and music, and I enjoy taking photos of reflections on the pond in spite of the clouds and gusty breeze.

Relflections on snow-melt pond
Picnic on Abajo
Reflections on a pond

Abajo Picnic and Needles Overlook – April 2020

Upon our return to homebase in southeast Utah in early April, life begins to settle into a different routine for Clifford and me. Now we have more house and yard chores to take care of, but it is nice to have access to hot showers, washer/dryer, and other conveniences.

More house and yard chores

For the most part, we are still living in Cougar. I miss being able to walk in the vast desert of southwest Arizona where we were camped all winter, but we make a couple of outings that are enjoyable.

Delighted with my first ever daffodil

Our first outing is a drive up nearby Abajo Mountain for a picnic. We intend to go to one of our favorite spots, either Monticello Lake and Pine Flats. However, when we reach the parking lot at the first campground, we can go no further, as the highway has not been plowed and there is too much snow. We drive back down the mountain to a forest road that is clear enough to allow us to pull to the side and park safely. We set up our table and chairs between old snowdrifts for our picnic before taking out our instruments to play music on the mountainside.

Picnic between the snowdrifts
Scrub oak

Our next outing is to Needles Overlook, about 45 miles from homebase. We pass the BLM campground where we stayed last fall, currently closed. As we drive to the overlook, we watch for places where we might boondock later this spring. Needles Overlook is 20+ miles from highway 191, but worth the drive for the spectacular view of the southern portion of Canyonlands National Park.

Views from Needles Overlook
Canyonlands National Park
Rock formation at Needles Overlook

Although there are picnic tables tucked in here and there, we decide to check out a couple potential boondocking spots for our picnic on our way back to the highway.

Sandstone Formation

The wind deters us from picnicking until we find a low spot off a side road that is out of the wind. A juniper provides a mix of sun and shade. We have our picnic and then play music, happy to have found a spot warm and calm enough to enjoy our afternoon outdoors.

Picnic in an arroyo
La Sal Mountains from our picnic spot

Flagstaff to HomeBase – Utah – April 2020

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.

Badlands of northeast Arizona
Utah looking a bit barren

When we reach the San Juan River just outside of Bluff, we plan to spend the night at the Sand Island Campground.

San Juan River at 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.

Abajo Mountains – Monticello lies at the eastern foot of the range

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.

Homebase

LaPosa South to Flagstaff – April 2020

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.

Last morning desert walk

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.

Leaving our campsite at LaPosa South

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.

Arizona desert

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.

Badger Springs Recreation Area
Overnight at Badger Springs Recreation Area

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.

Sheep coming to summer pasture

It is steep downhill to Camp Verde followed by a steep haul back up to Flagstaff, Arizona.

San Francisco Peaks above 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.

Forest Road camp
Evening at our overnight north of Flagstaff

March Marches On and Out – March 2020

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.

Desert walk

The flowers are so beautiful and I especially enjoy photographing and editing globe mallow.

Globe mallow – artistic impressions

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.

Groound-huggers

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.

Crystal Hill Outing – March 2020

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.

Beautiful blue sky in the morning

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.

Stopping on Crystal Hill Road 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.

Chuckwalla – photo from Clifford
Rollie and Tata with Ninja and Fifi at Chrystal Hill

Afterward, we enjoy a tasty picnic; wherever Tata is, food is good!

Great picnic at Crystal Hill
Rollie plays mandolin for us

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.

Teddy bear cholla and Ocotillo

Desert Opulence – March 2020

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.

Morning walks in the desert

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.

Apache Plume

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.

Desert marigold in bloom

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.

No social distancing here

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.

Sunrise in the desert

Life of a Snowbird – March 2020

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.

A morning campfire with coffee and journal

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.

Desert Marigold
Globe mallow bush
Layers of 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.

Globe mallow composite
Globe mallow and desert marigold composite
Desert marigold composite

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!

Deschutes River – Oregon

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