Winter Journey – Last Days at Virgin River – March 2017


Thursday March 23rd – Clouds today with rain off and on, wind coming and going. Tea with David and Glen, but since Clifford is fussing with the solar panel, which is not working, we all end up at our place, watching Clifford and offering suggestions. Eventually the right connections are made and the solar panel is on track again.

Rainy view of Virgin River Canyon

I extend an invitation for us all to have dinner together, since David will be leaving tomorrow. We agree on a time and then proceed with the day’s activities. Clifford works with his visible light spectrometer; I edit and write blogs. In the later afternoon I run to the lower campground, hike back on the trail, and then get everything ready for nachos for dinner.

Somber light on the mesas

We meet at David’s place; he has a campfire going, Glen and another neighbor come over, and we have a good visit as we eat. I certainly have enjoyed the friendliness of the longer-term campers here.


Warmth of the evening sunlight on the mesas
Last moments of lively light before sunset

Friday March 24th – I have tea with Glen this morning, sitting outside and enjoying the sunny morning. Clifford is too busy already to join us and David has left for California. The day’s activities are similar to yesterday with editing for me and Clifford working with the spectrometer.

Another gorgeous day with the mesa in the background and the Joshua tree that I visit on my run/hike every day.

While editing photos in the evening, my laptop battery goes dead; I must have ignored the warning beep. I am not at all comfortable with this forced shout-down… memo to self: pay attention to little beeps!

Saturday March 25th – I get up earlier this morning, but it is too overcast to see the rising of the sun, which I was hoping for. Make a campfire instead, intending to have my quiet time and journal writing, but Glen comes over. Guess he is a bit lonely, especially now that his buddy David is gone.

View of the Virgin river on my run this overcast day
Joshua tree on the ridge above me

In the afternoon, the sky clears enough to get some light on the solar panels and charge my laptop, finding, fortunately, that the forced shut-down did not cause any damage to any files.

Some clearing in the later afternoon

Sunday March 26th – Have a nice visit with the couple who came in late last night, parking in the spot next to us. Then Clifford and I get ready to head to St. George for supplies and errands, since we will be leaving Virgin River on Tuesday and won’t want to take time for errands. The Suburban is very reluctant starting – not sure what that is about… On to St. George, run our errands and get back in time to put food and sundries away, go for a run, and then start dinner. I have invited Glen to join us, since he will be leaving tomorrow. Start cooking fried chicken, rice, and veges inside, but finish cooking over a campfire so we can sit at the picnic table and enjoy the evening here at this great location – one of my most favorite.

Monday March 27th – The weather is quite a mix today, moving from cloudy to clearing, cloudy and windy, rain, calm, and then cold wind.

Clearing – for the moment

Good day to stay inside and take care of business, since we might not have internet (hotspot via cell service) at our next campground. Check email, download new documents to edit, upload those that are complete, post the next blog, and so on. Today I run the full loop of this campground rather than running to the lower campground, pausing to visit with neighbors on the way, saying good-bye to those we have met.

Overcast on the run today
Overcast soon replaced by real cumulus clouds

We look forward to spending time here next fall on our way south.

Winter Journey – More Virgin River – March 2017

Monday March 20th – Today we go to St. George, across the state line in Utah, for errands and supplies. It is a very windy day and we when get back to camp, our awning has blown down. We don’t bother to put it back up, as it is still too windy and the forecast is for cooler weather, so we won’t be needing it so much.

Our campsite at Virgin River – before the wind blows the awning down

Glad to be back out at camp, chatting with Becka when she calls, and seeing a cell video from Ang showing melting snow creating a small river down her driveway. I love hearing from my kids!

Tuesday March 21st – This morning on my way back from my morning walk, the neighbor Glen invites me over for coffee; we wave David over to join us and I go see if Clifford wants to come over, also. What fun! In the afternoon, we meet a couple who pull into the spot next to us for a view of the canyon, but noticing Clifford’s ham antenna gets a conversation started. We chat for about an hour like we have been friends forever. After exchanging contact information, they head on their way home to St. George. Maybe we’ll see them again – who knows?

Our campsite at Virgin River BLM Campground

My son Fin, who lives in China, has just successfully run a marathon! That is an inspiration to all of us, and in talking to Becka this afternoon, (she also runs regularly), she encourages me to start running. So, in the late afternoon I run, rather than walk down the road to the lower campground. Even downhill, it is tiring, and I end up fast-walking much of the way. From the lower campground I hike on down to the river, catching light on the mesa to the east as I go, returning to our campsite on the below the rim trail.

Early evening run/walk
Heading down to the river
River bottom

I check the sunrise photo contest on FB: quite a few people have responded, but no clear winner yet.

Wednesday March 22nd – Coffee with Glen and David again this morning. I am noticing a pattern of calm in the morning and increasing wind in the afternoon, so today I take the cello out earlier and have a good playing session before the wind comes up.

There are some real clouds today. I run down to the lower campground, making it a bit further than yesterday before running becomes fast-walking and hike down to the river again,

Heading down to the river
The Virgin River Canyon

…and back to camp on the below the rim trail. I really like this private quiet trail surrounded by the great walls of the Virgin River Canyon and all the desert vegetation.

Joshua tree on the below the rim trail
Returning to camp on the below the rim trail

Back at camp, I do some book editing and download my camera. Always fun to take a look at the newest round of photos. I post the winning sunset photos on FB, happy that so many people voted.

In the evening the wind increases and rain obscures views of the mesas to the east.

Evening rain obscures views of the mesas

We watch a western movie segment on our little DVD player while we eat dinner.

Sure enjoying our time here at Virgin River Campground.

Winter Journey – More Virgin River – March 2017

Thursday March 16th – I am up early, before sunrise so I can catch the first light on the blossoms on a family of Joshua trees in the campground.

Sunlight on Joshua tree blossoms
Joshua tree blossoms, sunlight, and moon

Joshua tree blossoms at sunrise

In continuing on my morning walk, I run into David, the friendly fellow I met yesterday, and another neighbor. In commenting about the jet trails marring the sky, it turns out that David is quite aware of the phenomenon and very interested in learning about Clifford’s research.

Today is an editing day for me, but also a good cello-in-the-shade day. Hooray! It is a “biochemical-analyzer” day for Clifford as he learns more of the capabilities of this instrument.

Friday March 17th – My morning quiet time is a few minutes of sitting on the canyon rim, more of a slope than a drop-off, and then writing in my journal, warmed by the sun.

View from the doorway

I walk around the campground and talk to David and several of the other neighbors that I have met. What a friendly campground this is – I think perhaps because there are so many snow-birds. We are all of a similar age and living a similar lifestyle, which makes it easy and interesting to talk about where we’ve been and where we are going, sharing the memories of common places and learning of new places.

More editing for me and more chemical analyzer testing for Clifford.

Loving this beautiful desert canyon spot!

Nearing sunset at the Virgin River Canyon

Saturday March 18th – This morning I walk to the lower campground, which doubles as a rest stop along I-15. I walked along the trail below the rim, which is private, quiet, and scenic… and this walk is my quiet time.

Joshua trees along the below the rim trail
View of the Virgin River from the below the rim trail
Joshua tree at the Virgin River

Back at camp, I spend much of the day editing for two authors. In the evening I edit photos for the next couple of blogs. No cello today, as it was too hot and windy.

Sunday March 19th – After my quiet time of sitting on the canyon rim, I take care of internet business, including banking, emailing completed edited chapters to my authors, and posting a photo on Celebrate What’s Right With the World, a FB site that I follow. As I’m preparing photos for the next blog, I am undecided about which of several sunsets that I want to include and decide to have a contest on FB, posting seven sunset photos, all taken within moments of each other, and having my FB friends chose which one they like best. This will be interesting.

David comes by and suggests meeting for a late lunch at his site, so I get busy and make a potato salad to share. We gather at David’s site, joining him and three of his kids who are there for a visit, as well as a couple other neighbors. Of course, they are interested in Clifford’s work, but the talk centers around life in general and about the journeys we are all on.

Later in the day, David joins me on my walk down to the lower campground, which gives us more time to chat.

Flowers along the road

Lots of things on the “to-do” list don’t get done today, but that is okay. Spending quality time with people is more important.

Winter Journey – Virgin River – March 2017

Tuesday March 14th – We are up about 8:30 and soon packed and ready to leave. Although it is pleasant in the early morning here at Cottonwood Cove Campground, we know it will soon be hotter than we like, so we are continuing north. We make it safely through Las Vegas, Nevada. I-15 between Las Vegas and St. George, Utah, cuts through the very northwestern corner of Arizona and it is along this stretch of interstate that the Virgin River BLM Campground is located, and where we arrive by mid-afternoon.

Virgin River Canyon, northwest Arizona
Another view of the Virgin River Canyon

We have never been here, but the location was right for us and the reviews indicated scenic views, so this was our destination. We are not disappointed; the views are fabulous and we are lucky to find a pull-through spot on the outer loop overlooking the Virgin River Canyon. Facing south when we park is not ideal, but other than that, we are very pleased with the site and get set up, including ham radio antennas and a tarp for an awning.

Set up on the edge of the Virgin River Canyon

Within a few minutes of being here, we meet several of our neighbors, most of them curious about the antenna; this seems to be an unusually friendly campground, with a mix of long-term snow-birds (like us) slowly heading north and younger people stopping on their way to or from some other destination, as well as weekenders with families.

View of the Virgin River and the canyon as seen from Terry – this is our front yard!
More of our front yard at Virgin River Canyon

In the evening, I hike down to the river.

At the bottom of the Virgin River Canyon
The Virgin River

I am delighted to find Joshua trees here as I hike back up to the campsite. What a great place this is!

Joshua tree on the ridge

Wednesday March 15th – off to a great start this morning with a campfire and a few minutes of quiet time, just sitting facing the river below and the red cliffs opposite, feeling the sun on my face. Make a cup of tea and write in my journal. This is how I would like to start most every day, but it doesn’t often happen.

Joshua tree at Virgin River Canyon

I meet another neighbor, David, as he comes by, also curious about the antenna. I thought he was joking when he asked if it was to pick up alien signals. He is very friendly and having a large family himself, he is curious to know about my kids and actually listens as I mention each of them briefly.

And cello outside today, sitting in the shade of our tarp.

Virgin River Canyon Cello

I walk about picking up trash (of which there is not very much) and bits of dead wood to use for kindling, as well as scavenging wood from abandoned campfires. I hike down to the Virgin River twice, which at this time of year is quite muddy; Clifford goes with me the second time.

Hiking around the bend
Another hike with Clifford

Becka calls on here way to her evening activity… I’m glad cell service here is decent and we can chat. I can also access the net and am able to download documents that need editing.

I am delighted with the late afternoon light as it hits the cholla that cover the slope below the campground.

Afternoon light on cholla
Afternoon light on cholla

Clifford spends much of his day using the biochemical analyzer instrument.

This was a fun and productive day for both of us – what a great place to be this time of the year.