Rain in the Desert – January 2019

Cougar and Rollie’s rig in the rain

Tuesday January 15: It is raining this morning where Clifford and I are camped at La Posa South, south of Quartzsite, Arizona. This is a big deal in the desert. I go walking, taking photos of the water in the washes and arroyos. Where it has been dry sand, rocks, and gravel on previous days, there are now rivers and streams. It is lovely and peaceful walking by myself in the rain.

Other than the rain, today is a day with many of the usual activities: editing, blog writing, and music with Rollie. There is now a domain and website platform in place for Ang. It will be up to me to populate the website with information and photos. Sounds like an interesting project except for the fact that I don’t know how to do it! Might be a steep learning curve….

Clifford at work

No drone-flying for Clifford today, but research continues.

Evening in the desert

After dinner, Rollie and I play cribbage before I tackle the dishes, and then I write in the journal before heading to bed.

Arizona, We Have Arrived – January 2019

Tuesday January 1 – New Year’s Day!

Western Arizona Landscape

It is about 23 degrees this morning at the Love’s truck stop at the junction of I-40 and highway 95 south of Kingman in western Arizona. In spite of the chill morning, Clifford and I are happy to be out of the snow that is hitting northern Arizona. We have a quick breakfast before heading out on the next leg of the journey.

Western Arizona Landscape
Colorado River makes its appearance

We stop for supplies in Lake Havasu City, which is situated alongside the Colorado River, then continue southward. The dammed up river is a blue contrast to the harsh, but usually interesting, desert landscape.

Colorado River adds a splash of color to the landscape
Continuing south, a painterly version of the mountains ahead

Between Parker and Quartzsite, there is quite a lot of BLM land, some of it accessible for boondocking, but the land here doesn’t really appeal to me that much.

South of Quartzsite, we reach our destination at La Posa South long-term camping area by mid-afternoon. We head out to where we were camped last year, as my brother Rollie is already there and has fixed up a nice camping area. We find a spot near him and start getting set up, the bitter cold wind making it not so fun to be outdoors, but we are grateful to see a blue sky.

Brother Rollie in the Class A; Carol and Clifford in the Cougar

Even though I’m not totally in love with the spot we have chosen, I do like the area. We are not far from the wash, which is quite wide with lots of trees and shrubs, and beyond that is wild natural desert with more washes and many kinds of cacti and other desert vegetation. I am looking forward to desert outings.

Sonoran type desert surrounds us

I make dinner for all of us and after dinner Rollie beats me at a game of cribbage. Dishes and writing in the journal wrap up the day for me. We are happy to be here, a great way to start our new year.

Wednesday January 2: I begin my day with the morning routine that I enjoy – making a good cup of French press coffee, reading a poem by Mary Oliver, writing in my journals. I have a Gratitude Journal that is expressly for writing five things that I am grateful for every day and the diary-type journal that keeps me from forgetting what I’ve done with my day-to-day life.

Then I run out to take photos at sunrise. I’m discovering that the cell phone doesn’t take great sunrise photos, as it can’t handle the light of the rising sun, but other than that, I’m enjoying using it for photos that are going to be used via the internet or cell phone.

Today is our settling in day; I organize stuff inside and out, while Clifford gets his ham radios set up. In the afternoon Rollie and I play bluegrass music, with Rollie on mandolin and guitar, and me playing fiddle music on the viola, reading cello music.

Rollie on the mandolin with Ninja for support

We have dinner together, then Rollie and I play a game of cribbage. After dishes, I want to work on a blog, but I’m just too tired and head to bed instead.

Hiking to Rim Overlook: Dead Horse Point State Park – October 2018

Sunday October 28: Clifford and I are camped at the Dead Horse Point Utah State Park, thanks to our Colorado friends who are in the site next to us. First thing this morning I call my daughter Katie to wish her Happy Birthday and then head out to Rim Overlook on the west rim trail. I hike by myself, enjoying the solitude and beauty of my surroundings this morning.

The trail to the Rim Overlook

Back at camp, I continue editing Emperors and Exiles, eat left-over pizza for lunch– not my usual, but sure tasty. In the later afternoon, we – Clifford, our friends, and I – hike to the same Rim Overlook where I was this morning. It does feel different hiking with others, with companionship replacing solitude.

Hiking with friends

Later, Clifford and I join our friends for dinner at their camp. Afterward, Dave and Clifford go out to use the night vision goggles, which is a lot of fun for them. We ladies are ready to turn in; I write in my planner and then head to bed, feeling a bit weary from the day’s activities, and knowing that tomorrow is another travel day. Only 3 1/2 months on the road this time, but it seems like a long time ago that we left for Montana and here we are, nearly back to our home-base in Monticello, Utah.

Hiking in Dead Horse Point State Park – October 2018

Saturday October 27: Today Clifford and I hike with our Colorado friends who are camped next to us at Dead Horse Point Utah State Park. We start from the Visitor Center and walk the canyon east rim trail out to the point that gives the park its name. The story is that wild mustangs were corralled here at the point, the best picked out to be kept as riding stock, and the rest turned loose, except for the time that they were left corralled and died of thirst. Not a pretty story, but the name remains.

It is a scenic hike with deep canyons on all sides and the Colorado River far below. Back at camp, we all rest up a bit and then head to Moab to have dinner together at Eddie McStiff’s. This is a fun outing for us and after we return to the park, we have tea and visit until midnight.

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah – October 2018

Thursday October 25: I take photos as soon as I get up, watching the play of sunlight on the desert scene. This is our last morning here on Mineral Point Road outside Canyonlands National Park. After breakfast, we begin packing up for our move to nearby Dead Horse Point State Park, where we are meeting Colorado Friends.

Desert view from Mineral Point Road
Beneficial soil microbe colonies

The spot reserved for us at the state park is small, and although not quite as challenging as our set-up on Mineral Point Road, it is tricky because of a culvert that does not allow for an adequate turning radius to back into the small site. But eventually we are set up and have 110 electricity for the first time since leaving Monticello in July. That certainly is a convenience! And we did save some time and trouble not having to set up the solar panel.

Our site at Dead Horse Point State Park

Now the odd thing about being here is that, while the electricity and the nearby flush toilets are quite the treat, we have gone from being surround by acres and acres of sage brush with seldom another camper or person in sight to being in a fishbowl surrounded by campers and people in every direction. I guess that is fine; it just sort of feels weird to me.

Our friends arrive and set up in the site next to us, which makes it easy to visit. We haven’t seen them for awhile and enjoy their company, so end up going to bed quite late.

Friday October 26: Frost on the grass this morning. Looks like fall is upon us.

This morning, I walk to the new campground, which is not far way, to check it out for future reference. It is flat and much more suited to RV’s, but not nearly as pretty.

Walking to the new campground

Back at camp, Clifford is up, but still in his pj’s. I sit outside in the sunshine to write in the journal with my little thermos of French press coffee.

Clifford in his pj’s

A half-mile trail takes me from the campground to the Visitor Center where I look at the displays and follow the nearby Nature Trail. There is no cell service at the campground, but I can send texts to kids and siblings from the Visitor Center.

A view of the La Sal Mountains from the trail to the Visitor Center
Walking on the Nature Trail at the Visitor Center
Nature Trail as seen from the Visitor Center

Back at camp, after lunch, I do more editing of Emperors and Exiles, my daughter Ang’s epic fantasy. Clifford works on his projects, also. When our friends return from their Moab outing, we all walk down to the Visitor Center again before dinner and more visiting.

Views from the Dead Horse Point State Park Visitor Center
Views from the Dead Horse Point State Park Visitor Center

Later, by time I finish my bedtime routine, it is nearly midnight – way past my bedtime.

A Trip to Canyonlands National Park – October 2018

Sunday October 21: Clifford and I are boondocking with Cougar on Mineral Point Road outside Canyonlands National Park. Even though our original intention was to find a spot in Horsethief Campground, we are liking the view and the quiet of being further out on the road away from the busyness of the campground.

Morning View from Mineral Point Road

Today is spent at camp taking care of things that we need or want to do. I take photos, post photos for friends and family, and finish editing the revised Princes and Priests for my daughter, Ang. This is a big deal, as we are preparing her novel to be presented to a literary agent.

It is nice enough that I am able to play viola outside in the afternoon, alternating it with writing in the journal so as to play longer.

Clifford works on the animation video for CI for a good part of the day, but we also walk up the road to explore a campsite, now vacant, that we had seen from the road. It does, indeed, look like a good spot for a future trip.

The night time view from Mineral Point Road

Monday October 22: It is a pleasant temperature outdoors in the sunshine this morning, so after breakfast, I play viola and write in the journal on the sunny side of Cougar.

Warm enough to sit outside

Clifford is working on the animation video for the CI website, but in the afternoon he takes a break and we go for a drive to nearby Canyonlands National Park. Even though it was nice outdoors earlier, by time we leave for the park, it is windy and jet trails mar the sky. But we go anyway, visiting the Visitor Center and then walking to the viewing point across the road from the Visitor Center. The view of the canyons with the La Sal Mountains in the background is quite spectacular.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Back at camp, we get the Suburban in place to tow Cougar out, as thunderheads are forming and the weather forecast shows the possibility of rain. The set up here was awkward and challenging, and getting out will have its own set of problems, particularly if it rains. Getting Suburban situated while the ground is still dry is a smart move under the circumstances. And indeed, there is rain in the evening hours.

Mineral Point Road – October 2018

Wednesday October 17: It is cloudy and rainy today and we spend the day at our campsite on Mineral Point Road near Canyonland National Park.

Cloudy and rainy day – can’t even see the La Sal Mountains

I take photos, send texts with photos to family and friends, play viola, and edit Princes and Priests. Clifford is working on preparing his CI lab notebooks for digital copying. While none of this sounds super exciting, it actually is what we want to do.

Clifford working on projects

Thursday October 18: This morning I walk about taking photos of the fog. It is not often in these desert regions that I get to see such.

Trees lost in the fog
Cougar like a ghost ship on a sea of sage

Taking photos, making business calls, writing in the journal, editing, playing viola, and blog writing fill my day, a good day for indoor activities with the high only 45 degrees. I start reading “Anatomy of the Spirit” by the medical intuitive, Caroline Myss. Clifford is working on video animations for the CI website, an interesting way to introduce certain papers.

Friday October 19: Frost on the ground this morning! Today is a Moab town day and off we go after making tea and coffee. We have breakfast at Denny’s, then run errands. We also spend time at the library with free power and wifi, which allows for downloading of bigger files, necessary for some of the work that Clifford is doing.

Trip to Moab

Back at camp, we find new neighbors in the spot right next to us; we are glad they found a place to camp. We have learned that it is fall break and thousands of people flock to the scenic camping areas of the country, like the national parks of southern Utah. We are happy to have found a niche to call home for a couple of weeks.

Painterly view of evening light on La Sal Mountains

Saturday October 20: Another coolish morning, but after tea and coffee we go for a drive further out the road to look at other possible camping spots. There is a good one not far from us, should it be available at some future time. We are fine with staying where we are for the time being, however.

Exploring for future campsites

After a late breakfast, I edit photos, edit Princes and Priests, then sit outside to write the next blog (Sedona in March). Later I put the text and the edited photos together and publish the blog. We are lucky to have that much cell service when camped out in the boonies like this.

Boondocking with cell service via La Sal Mountains

Clifford continues with his projects, mostly the animation, but also plays his dulcimer, and works with his ham radio. After dinner, reading and playing viola finish out the day for me.

Mineral Point Boondocking – October 2018

Saturday October 13: It is 32 degrees, clear and windy this morning at Beas Lewis Flat, west of Capitol Reef National Park. The sunlight on the mesa at sunrise is amazing!

Last morning at Beas Lewis Flat

Clifford has been watching the weather forecast; a storm is coming and he figures we should leave. I want to stay and hike in the park as planned and leave after the storm, but my brother Rollie has had enough of chilly weather and is also ready to move on south. So, we pack up and head out, even though I think moving to a popular area (Moab for us) on a Saturday is a bad idea.

Leaving Capitol Reef National Park
Utah sand dunes

We arrive at Horsethief Campground outside Canyonland National Park in the late afternoon and sure enough, there is not a single site available. We keep on going out Mineral Point Road, as we know there is some dispersed camping about a mile further on. When we reach this dispersed area, we discover that it has been closed. We continue on and it seems that every available pull-out is taken. Finally we choose a spot that is small, hard to get into, and close to the neighboring campers, but the best we can find. We are barely off the road, the ground is far from level, and the sand is soft. It is one of the hardest parking and set-ups we’ve ever done, but at least we have a home for the night.

Sunday October 14: It is a windy chilly day here in this sagebrush desert. We had thought we’d move to Horsethief Campground this morning, but decide there really is no point in doing that since we are set up here now. It is very peaceful here and the neighbors left, so we don’t feel so much like we are crowding someone. And interestingly enough, we have better cell service at this location with the slightly higher elevation and a view of the snow-covered La Sal Mountains (cell service is better when there is line-of-sight to La Sal Mountains).

Peaceful in the sage brush desert
Line-of-sight to the La Sal Mountains

Since we are not moving this morning, I walk down the road to take photos, send texts with photos to family and friends letting them know where we are, redo the fire ring at the campsite, and rake out unsightly tire tracks. In the afternoon I edit, making good headway on the revised and updated version of Ang’s epic fantasy, Princes and Priests. Clifford has kept himself busy with working on video projects for CI, ham radio, and his dulcimer.

Evening view of the La Sal Mountains

Monday October 15: It is 25 degrees outside and 34 inside! That is a bit chilly for an inside temperature, but we can’t run the furnace without electricity. Ah well. Making coffee and cooking a big batch of applesauce with the last of the wild apples warms Cougar up.

Applesauce made from the great wild apple tree

Clifford continues working with the video project and his ham radio set-up today, and I continue editing.

Tuesday October 16: Another chilly morning, but luckily Cougar’s living space is small enough that it warms up adequately with making coffee and breakfast. Today we go to Moab for errands and a stop at the public library where we can use power and free wifi. I post a blog of our brief stay at Agua Fria National Monument in Arizona on our way north last spring. Clifford always has research to do when the opportunity presents itself.

Scenic drive to Moab

Back at camp, we have a late dinner, and even though it is near bedtime by time dishes and cleanup are done, I take out the viola and play for a bit. Sending texts with photos rounds out the day for me, while Clifford stays up to listen to the radio.

Another Visit to Capitol Reef National Park – October 2018

Friday October 12: The low last night was 32 degrees, but the morning is calm with some puffy little clouds against a blue sky, a nice day for an outing.

I make sandwiches and thermoses of tea, and then we – Clifford, Rollie, Ninja, and I – head off to Capitol Reef for another day of sight-seeing there. First stop is Twin Rocks, right alongside the highway, then Chimney Rock where we hike up the trail a ways. Photos can’t do justice to the enormous size of the mesas here.

Twin Rocks
Chimney Rock
Hiking at Chimney Rock
Hiking at Chimney Rock
Photos can’t do justice to the enormous size of the mesas here. If you look closely, you can see Clifford where the path drops off.
Sculpture by Nature

Panoramic Point is next and we walk out onto the rocks for the panoramic view of the colorful striated mesas, imagining the tremendous geological activity that took place eons ago to create such a landscape.

View from Panoramic Point
View from Panoramic Point

At the Visitor Center we sit on a bench to enjoy our sandwiches and fruit cups. While we are there, I cross the highway to get a better shot of the iconic rock formation.

Picnic Lunch at the Visitor Center
Iconic rock formations near the Visitor Center

After lunch, we visit Gifford House, once part of the original farm settlement, now renovated and operating as a living demonstration of the life of the early Mormon settlers. Pies, candles, soaps, and such are made and sold at this “home.” We visit the nearby orchards, 200 acres of fruit trees. One orchard has been designated as available for tourists to pick an apple. We walk through the orchard, but it has long since been thoroughly picked over, so my thoughts of eating a freshly picked apple do not come to fruition, so to speak.

Fremont River

As we head back to camp, I am able to get a few more photos of the scenic landscape through the open window, but no more stops.

Dunes
Mesa near west entrance to Capitol Reef National Park
Time to say good-bye

Back at camp, dinner is sloppy joes. Cribbage with Rollie, dishes, and journal round out a very full day for me.

Camp Days at Beas Lewis Flat – October 2018

is Wednesday October 10: A very windy and rather chilly day here at Beas Lewis Flat west of Capitol Reef National Park. Too chilly for this early in October, in my opinion. Big hurricane, Michael, is in the gulf and hitting Florida, so guess I don’t have much call to complain.

Beautiful first light renders the landscape to the west an awesome rich golden color, but soon the moment passes and usual daytime color returns. I make my French press coffee and then go over to my brother Rollie’s rig where it is warmer while Clifford is still sleeping.

Rich color at first light of day
Normal daytime color

Later, Clifford and I go to the nearby town of Torrey for errands and the laundromat. Back at camp, I do some editing before starting dinner. After winning a game of cribbage with Rollie, I do dishes and then play viola for a bit. Start putting away clean clothes until I reach our pj’s, and then off to bed. The rest of the clean clothes can wait until tomorrow.

Thursday October 11: There was some rain in the night and this morning is overcast and calm. After breakfast, Rollie gets out his fire pit and we have a little campfire, but being outdoors is still kind of chilly. Some sun broke through for a bit, followed by more clouds and a little rain. Definitely a fall-ish kind of day.

A little fire in the fire pit
A rain storm approaches
Rainbow as the storm passes
Light on the mesa to the west near sunset

In the afternoon we all go to Red Cliff Cafe in Torrey and have pizza, a fun thing to do on a chilly day. Back at camp, I continue with a reorganizing project that I started this morning. Rollie and I play music at his rig in the later afternoon before having a light dinner, since we had a big lunch today. Cribbage, dishes, and journal writing finish out the day for me.