Montana to Black Rock – October 2021

Autumn colors in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana

After the trip to Wallace with my sister Nancy, the next few days are spent reorganizing Suburban and Cougar in preparation for leaving Montana. Clifford and I want to be on our way before the weather turns colder than it has been. The autumn colors are at their best in the nearby woods. Nancy and I walk to the side channel of the Bitterroot River one more time.

Autumn in Montana
Side channel of the Bitterroot River
River Reflections

Thursday, October 21, Clifford and I finish packing and leave Florence a little after noon. The autumn colors along the Clark Fork River are quite striking as we head east from Missoula toward Butte.

Autumn colors along the Clark Fork River
Autumn Color along the Clark Fork River

Although we usually stop at the rest area south of Butte on I-15 or at Divide Bridge Campground, this time we push on through to the rest area at Dubois, Idaho, arriving at sunset, 284 miles, a very long day for us.

Southwest Montana landscape
Dubois, Idaho, rest area

The next day is windier, so not as easy driving, and we stop at the Devil’s Creek RV park in southern Idaho around 3:00. We set up on the far end of the reservoir rather than in one of the RV sites. I have time to post photos to the RV Bunch on FB, play fiddle, and make dinner before heading to bed. A good productive day despite the hours on the road.

Devil’s Creek Reservoir, Idaho.

Drizzle and rain in the night and the misty morning provide some photo opportunities for me.

Misty morning at Devil’s Creek Reservoir

We take time to repair the rear view camera and leave Devil’s Creek about 2:00 in the afternoon.

Still a grey day at Devil’s Creek

Construction as we approach Salt Lake City slows us down, but we arrive at the Perry, Utah, Walmart about 4:00 and are happy to get a spot along the median with grass and a tree.

The next morning is Sunday, October 24. We always plan our drive through SLC on Sunday so there isn’t as much traffic. We are up early enough to do a bit more shopping and leave by 10:00, but we are disappointed that the rear view camera is still not working despite our working on it. Driving through SLC is taxing enough, but doing it without a camera makes it even worse. As we drive through Salt Lake City, we feel the wind starting to pick up.

Heading southwst on I-15
Utah landscape

By time we get to Beaver, 200 miles to the south on I-15, we pull off and find a place to park in a trashy dirt lot behind the Flying J. It is very windy now and we are both glad to be off the highway and parked for the night.

Monday is much too windy for travel and despite putting down the stabilizers, which we don’t usually do for an overnight stop, we are rocking and rolling in the wind all day. We bundle up against the wind and walk to nearby Denny’s for a meal. We keep busy the rest of the day with our various projects.

Working on projects on a windy day in Beaver, Utah

Our friend David calls to see if we are still in Montana. He informs us that the campground in the Virgin River Gorge where we had planned to go, which also happens to be where we met him several years ago, is closed. That is disappointing to us, but David encourages us to go to Black Rock Road and camp there near where he is set up.

When I open the door the next morning, I am surprised and delighted to see a landscape covered with snow. Trash has disappeared under white fluffiness.

Surprised by snow at Beaver, Utah
Trash has disappeared
A grey sky morning

As the sky clears, snow on the nearby mountains is quite scenic.

By afternoon, blue sky has returned

We are not traveling today, waiting for the roads over mountain passes to clear. Cell service is good here, so both Clifford and I work on our projects, mostly editing for me, and for Clifford, whatever he has going on.

By Wednesday, the 27th, the snow is mostly gone and the highways are clear, so we leave Beaver and head south through St. George, and cross the border into Arizona.

Southern Utah landscape

With David’s directions, we find our way to the spot he has suggested for us on Black Rock Road. There are desert views in every direction and gently rising hills in this valley basin, sloping down to a wash and upward to nearby mesas, but not a single tree. The acres and acres of creosote are green and alive, but without trees, it feels kind of exposed and barren to me.

Cougar at Black Rock

I appreciate the views, and how peaceful and private it is here, but coming from the mountains, trees, and rivers of Montana, Black Rock will take some getting used to for this Mountain Girl.

Late afternoon sunlight on creosote with mesas on the horizon, peaceful and private

Returning to Home-Base

Arizona Landscape on the Journey North

Our time camped south of Ash Fork, Arizona, goes by quickly. The last days there are not very comfortable for me due to the wind and the stress of being on the move again and my heart feels a bit uneasy, but I am happy to be alive! We have enjoyed this peaceful location situated among the junipers, but it is soon time for us to take the next leg of the journey back to home-base in Utah.

Our first destination is a forest road north of Flagstaff. We are up early and ready to go, planning on getting out ahead of the wind, but by time we are on I-40 heading east, the wind, the semis, and the uneven terrain make for very difficult driving conditions. Had we known how much the wind was going to pick up, we would probably have stayed at camp longer, but after a stressful drive, we are relieved to arrive at the forest road north of Flagstaff where we spend a comfortable night.

Forest Road North of Flagstaff, Arizona

The next morning we leave for Monticello.

Elephant Feet Alongside US Highway 160, Arizona
Northern Arizona Landscape
Northern Arizona Landscape
Northern Arizona Landscape

With the wind and traffic, it is a long drive, but by mid-afternoon we are back in Monticello.

There are big changes ahead in the next weeks, but for a few days I just enjoy having the space of the home-base, especially my writing table at the east-facing sliding glass doors….

Tea at the Writing Table

and time in the enclosed backyard.

View from the Deck

On to Ash Fork – April 2021

Camping South of Ash Fork, Arizona

Right when our two-week time limit at Powell Springs is up, Clifford is sick and the wind is blowing up a big storm, so consequently we end up staying longer. The ranger who stops to check on us is very nice about it.

Where to go next has been the question, and even with our exploratory drives and studying the maps, we have not come up with a good next destination until we hear from Tony, who invites us to join him on a forest road south of Ash Fork, Arizona. He left Powell Springs a couple days ago. Before he left we tried to figure out where we might both go, but things didn’t seem to be working out, wind and weather being an issue. However, his suggestion works for us, and we head north on highway 89 to the forest road turnoff. It is a nerve-wracking drive on highway 89 with way too much fast traffic for this highway. It is a relief to arrive at the forest road and find Tony, and we soon get ourselves set up nearby in a stand of pinon pine and juniper.

Setting up in a Stand of Pinon Pine

We are grateful for our spot here, despite the trash left by others. I pick up around our campsite, but disposing of trash is problematic, so I have to let much of the rest of it go.

Sunset from Forest Road 4

I go walking most days, just because it is part of the regimen established for stabilizing the heart. I’m always on the lookout for flowers on my walkabouts, happy to find a few here and there.

Happy to Find Flowers
Flowers on FR4

The Daily Walkabout

Daily activities include music and editing and visits with Tony while we are camped in this peaceful location.

Clifford Playing Dulcimers
Carol Editing and Studying Energy Medicine

We drive to Prescott Valley, about 30 miles to the south  from where we are now camped, and more work is done on the Suburban . Several days and many $$$ later, we have important repairs done that, while expensive, are very important for the safety factor involved in towing an RV.

Peaceful days on FR4

After we spend two weeks here, we make plans to begin the journey back to Monticello homebase.  It has been a good and peaceful spot on the route northward and we look forward to perhaps coming this way another time.

Good-bye to Forest Road 4

Hiking With Clifford – April 2021

Hiking With Clifford

When I am not out sauntering about the forest near our campsite at Powell Springs, I have a favorite spot under the alligator juniper near our front door. It is a great place to read, write, and enjoy a morning cup of coffee or afternoon tea. There are days when I play the cello outside. Along with these activities, domestic chores, editing and blog-writing fill my days.

Sauntering in the Forest
Forest Treasures

Clifford works with his ham radio and he also has a favorite outdoor spot where he spends as much time as possible playing the dulcimer and singing, the secret side of his life after 20+ years as the scientist devoting hour upon hour to his research.

Favorite Music Spot

Over the two weeks that we camp near Powell Springs Campground, along with the usual camp activities, Clifford and I go hiking a couple times, not with any particular destination in mind, except for one hike looking for and finding Powell Spring.

 

Hiking near Powell Springs Campsite

We also go for a couple drives to explore the general region to have ideas of future camping spots. On one of these outings, the Suburban starts making a rather unpleasant sound, but we make it back to camp and then to Big O in Prescott Valley. The immediate problem is taken care of, but other issues will have to be taken care of as soon as possible.  But in the meantime, we will enjoy our last days camped at Powell Springs, grateful for having found this beautiful camping area.

Exploring

Powell Spring Days – April 2021

Powell Springs Days

Camping in one of the dispersed sites near the Powell Springs Campground in northern Arizona is a big switch from wintering at Quartzsite in southwest Arizona. Although this area is considered desert, the road from highway 169 up to Powell Springs is a transition from desert to a pocket of pines and other forest vegetation. It is so refreshing to be among tall trees and lush green shrubs.

Sunrise – First Morning at Powell Springs

On our first full day here, Clifford and I hike all the way around a large mound to the east of our campsite, getting a feel for the lay of the land.

Getting a Feel for the Lay of the Land

Most mornings I climb the nearest rock mound at sunrise. As I become familiar with the area, I go further away from camp, accompanied by my little thermos of tea.

Rock Mound at Sunrise
Hiking with the Green Thermos

One morning I encounter our neighbor and his dog as they are returning from their early morning hike. Camping as we do, we seldom get to know other people, but I invite Tony to come over when he hears music, as Clifford plays his dulcimer outside almost every day. Tony and Kimber do come over, and we strike up a friendship, including learning of the beautiful leather work that Tony does. I even commission him to make a sheath specifically for the knife that my son Tye made for me.

Knife sheath Made by Tony

Of all the places that we have camped in our years of travel, this is one of my most favorite.

Drawn to the Rock Mounds
Forest Saunterings
Sunset at Powell Springs

Good-bye Quartzsite – Hello Powell Springs – April 2021

Powell Springs

As April approaches, the handwriting is on the wall, so to speak, that it will soon be too warm here at La Posa South, south of Quartzsite, Arizona, where Clifford and I have been boondocking since November. We make plans to head north.

Sometimes I am sad to leave a campsite where we have been set up for awhile, but not this time. Although I will miss the comradre that Rollie, Tata, and I share, between the dust and noise from the ATV’s going by and the almost constant wind,  I feel no particular attachment to this spot.

Tata, Rollie, Carol, & Cifford

The morning of April 1, we say our good-byes and get an early (for us) start. The landscape is barren  as we head toward our destination for the night, but more saguaros as we reach I-17 north of Phoenix.

Barren Arizona Landscape
Saguaros North of Phoenix

We arrive at Badger Springs Trail parking lot in the Agua Fria National Monument by late afternoon and get set up a little off to the side of the main lot. There is still highway noise, but other than the trash left by slobs, it is an okay spot for an overnight setup.

Cougar at Badger Springs
Badger Springs Area

In the morning I go for a short walk to take a photo at sunrise.

Sunrise at Badger Springs

After a quick breakfast we head on north, still on I-17, until we reach the exit for highway 169 that takes us toward Powell Springs Campground, our next destination. We have never been here, but it sounds good from what we read about it. The road up the mountain to the campground is very steep, really a bit too much for Suburban to tow Cougar. When we get to the campground, it is small and very crowded. There is hardly room to turn around to get out. Heading back down the road, we find a dispersed site that is available and very appealing with a large space for parking surrounded with a variety of trees and shrubs.

Cougar Setup at Powell Springs

We are soon set up, inside and out, happy to have found such a nice spot.

Setup Inside

Finally Flowers – March 2021

Saguaros at La Posa South, Arizona

Even though we are “retired,” Clifford and I are busy as can be with our projects and domestic life here at La Posa South, south of Quartzsite, Arizona, our home for the winter.

Moonrise at La Posa South, Arizona

Besides the morning walks in the desert and learning to play fiddle tunes on the viola, I edit for a couple of authors and write blogs. Photos are shared daily via text and messenger to keep family and friends up to date. Clifford does ham radio for several hours a day, flies with a flight simulator, and spends lots of time learning new music.

Walking in the wash

After Clifford gets himself a better drone, we go on an outing to try it out away from the camping area. With water, snacks, and my journal, I am set to entertain myself while Clifford flies his drone. This is cholla land, so walking is done with great care. As the sun gets low in the west, the light changes and the hills and mesas take on a rich warm color.

Clifford prepares to fly his new drone
Cholla land, so walking is done with great care
Last light brings a rich warm color to the mesa

Finally toward the end of the month, I spot a few blossoms here and there, but nothing like the previous winters. Still, any blossom is a delight.

The creosote appears to be the one that is thriving.

The creosote is thriving

Sunrise and sunset are special times of the day for me and I am always eager to see what colors will show up in the palette.

A pink dawn
A golden dusk

 

Windy and Windier – March 2021

La Posa South; view of Shale Mountain from our campsite at sunset

Clifford and I have been camped at La Posa South since late last November. Over the winter months I have established a routine of walking in the mornings, often taking a little thermos of tea and a small book of inspirational reading.

Morning walk in the wash

As March progresses, these walks continue, but the windy conditions make it sometimes a struggle to go as far as I’d like. With the approach of spring, the sun rises earlier and the sunshine soon warms the morning air, often too warm for me. Some of my more favorite places are traded for places to walk and sit closer to our campsite.

A favorite spot
A new spot closer to camp

With the ongoing drought conditions, there are still no flowers blooming. Trees and snags remain the focus of my attention.

Wild Stag Snag
The skeleton of a once lively tree
Turkey Vulture

Most days we play celtic or bluegrass music, outside whenever we can, Clifford with his dulcimer and me on viola. He finds places out of the wind and enjoys his music time regardless of the conditions.

Clifford playing dulcimer
Dulcimer in the wash out of the wind

For the Uke Jam, the UK zoom group that Clifford plays with, in celebration of the spring equinox, everyone was to show up as a rock star, Clifford went as Elton John.

Clifford as Elton John for Uke Jam

I sometimes take the cello outside, but music is always subject to the whims of the wind.

Sunset often offers delightful colors to end the desert day.

Saguaro at Sunset

Desert Walks – February 2021

La Posa South

Camped at La Posa South, south of Quartzsite, Arizona, for the winter, I can’t help but notice the many differences between this year and February a year ago. For one thing, last winter’s rain brought blossoms to the desert, but the dry wind of this winter has left the land more barren with even the saguaros struggling for life. Despite this, I walk daily seeking the beauty of the land, whether it be the sunrise over Shale Mountain…

Sunrise from the campsite at La Posa South

ancient trees with their complex growth patterns…

Complex growth patterns
Ancient trees in the desert
Survivor

or a saguaro silhouetted at sunset.

Saguaro at sunset

I also walk because walking is an important part of re-establishing and maintaining health, and I keep my eyes open for heart-shaped rocks, almost always finding one on my saunterings.

Heart in the desert

The days flow one into another, usually having coffee with my brother Rollie and his finance Tata after the morning walk while Clifford is involved with his ham radio, then sitting outside to journal and read after breakfast. Most afternoons Clifford and I get together with Rollie and Tata to play music, choosing outdoors when the weather allows. Although the wind this winter has made playing outdoors more challenging, Clifford always finds himself a niche that will work. 

Playing music in the desert

While political, social, and health issues dominate the scene for most people, we are fortunate to be in a place where social distancing is the norm, and where, for the most part, we are unaffected on a day-to-day basis with the upheavals at hand.

 

Birthday in the Desert

Birthday Outing

One of the highlights of February in the desert at La Posa South is my birthday when Tata and Rollie make a special birthday dinner and give me a lovely bouquet.

The table is set for the guests
The guests

An outing to the Colorado River, taking a picnic and our instruments is another day of celebration. What fun to share this time with family as well as with Clifford.

Birthday outing
Picnic at the Colorado River
Music at the Colorado River
Rollie and Tata at the River
Birthday dress from Clifford
A new year begins for me