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.