In mid-November Clifford and I make another trip from our camp on Black Rock Road through the Virgin River Gorge on our way to Littlefield to pick up our mail. Again, I am amazed at the geology of this 10-mile stretch through the gorge. There were some very dramatic earth changes that took place here eons ago.
Less dramatic are photos taken on the walks to the nearby mesas and in the wash, although I am quite thrilled to find a flower blooming in the wash on one of my walks. When we camped in the desert at Quartsite, flowers bloomed all during the winter months. Apparently that is not the case here and seeing a flower is a big deal.
Clifford starts a different blog site for me (since my wordpress site doesn’t seem to work anymore), so I am able to do blogs again. I am months behind but happy to be at it again. Editing for a couple of authors continues.
Besides ham radio every day, Clifford spends a significant amount of time increasing this dulcimer playing skills, and he has been singing and recording some of the songs he has worked on. A new addition to the music scene is the tongue drum.
Even though he does not have the equipment or space here in Cougar to pursue an interest in researching aspects of covid that might tie in with his earlier CI work, his inquiring mind is always active. Never a dull moment in his busy brain.
We are still cat-sitting Ravyn and she makes herself at home.
Although there have been some very chilly nights, the daytime temperatures have allowed us to spend time outdoors and for that, we are grateful.
Since there are no trees to obscure the views, watching the sky, the clouds, and the rising and setting of the sun is what I do. The variety is quite mesmerizing.
The east mesa creates a vibrant slash of color across the horizon at the setting of the sun while ambient clouds subtly reflect the dusky rose color.
Clifford and I appreciate the views, as well as the peace and quiet from our campsite on Black Rock Road.
In early November, we decide to go to Mesquite, Nevada, just for an outing. The drive though the Virgin River Gorge is quite stunning on this beautiful blue-sky day.
Building an interstate highway through the gorge was an engineering feat. It is the kind of highway where one should mosey, but no, most people travel at breathing-taking speeds, totally missing the breath-taking views.
November 7th is a special day of gratitude as I sit out with a perfect cup of coffee after a short hike with Clifford. Today marks one year from the stroke. I am well, I can hike, I can read and write. I can talk to my kids — I feel very fortunate and very blessed.
Most days I go walking. I could probably walk for miles and not get lost here. As it is, I try to vary my route a bit every day to see what I can see. One day, I find the wash, which obviously is subject to flash floods when there is enough rain. The vegetation here is more varied; boulders, gravel, and sand form an interesting rugged pathway across the desert basin. It is my favorite place to walk.
Clifford and I go for short walks together now and then, but often I walk alone.
At the end of October, after several days of travel with good camping spots every night, Clifford and I arrive at Black Rock Road in the very northwest corner of Arizona, about six miles south of St. George, Utah. It was only by chance that our friend David called to see if we were still in Montana (guess he saw my photo of the snow at Beaver, Utah, posted just a couple of days ago on FB). As it turns out, the campground we were headed to is closed, so he invites us to camp next to him on Black Rock Road.
There are acres and acres of creosote, alive and green, but not a single tree. In all directions we have desert views of mountains and mesas, no buildings, no power lines, which is a real plus, but no trees.
After we get set up, I walk to David’s RV, about 300 feet further along the road and meet Ravyn, David’s sleek black cat. He has to leave tomorrow and has asked if I will feed her while he is gone. Ravyn and I immediately become friends.
A routine is soon established: I walk to David’s RV in the mornings to feed Ravyn while Clifford is on the ham radio. Then I sit out with tea and write in my journal.
After breakfast, we proceed with our projects, appreciating this quiet and private place close to nature. I try imagining that the creosote is a vast forest and I am a giant towering over my trees. It’s an image I enjoy; the only thing lacking is shade.
Although we can’t see it from here, I-10 is not far away, so cell service is decent. This means we can work on projects that require the internet. Clifford always has a list of projects. Having the space to put out antennas for his ham radios is at the top of his list.
We also enjoy being able to play music via zoom with our folk song group from the UK.
Ravyn comes to our place during the day and finds the fiddle case to be a perfect napping spot.
There is an open-ness to being here, but I also have a less definite sense of purpose. Maybe that’s okay after all the moving since leaving Montana, and purpose will define itself more clearly over time. I am grateful for the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, “Breathing in, I am happy to be alive; breathing out, I smile at my world.” I am grateful for the desert with its quiet privacy, the views, hot yerba matte, colorful pens, and pretty journals. This is a good place us, at least for the time being.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Drizzle and rain in the night and the misty morning provide some photo opportunities for me.
We take time to repair the rear view camera and leave Devil’s Creek about 2:00 in the afternoon.
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.
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.
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.
As the sky clears, snow on the nearby mountains is quite scenic.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The next morning we leave for Monticello.
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Of all the places that we have camped in our years of travel, this is one of my most favorite.
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.
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.
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.
In the morning I go for a short walk to take a photo at sunrise.
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.
We are soon set up, inside and out, happy to have found such a nice spot.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With the ongoing drought conditions, there are still no flowers blooming. Trees and snags remain the focus of my attention.
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.
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.
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.