Sunday, January 30, 2011

Why, Az. & Organ Pipe National Monument

Tue, Jan. 25th - Thur, Feb. 3rd

Retracing a lot of our steps from last year, we are once again at the Coyote Howls Campground in Why, Az. Why, you may ask, but we say, Why not?

Actually, that's the name of the little grocery store here -- The Why Not Store. We really like it here. It's just a rustic campground with bathrooms and showers and a place to get water and dump sewer, but no hook ups. The campers are spread far apart and it's very peaceful. They do have lots of activities such as pancake breakfasts, spaghetti suppers, quilting, cards, movies and slide shows, jam sessions, dances, etc.

Just a few pictures of some of the decorating folks have done around the campground. Notice in the foreground of this photo the cowboy hat, spine and boots.
This guy has filled glass jugs with blue water and set them all around his yard to let everyone know where his camp boundaries are. He was here in the same place last year with the same markers.

Lots of the people here seem to be permanent residents in the campground. It's quite interesting to see how they make themselves at home. Not us, we're just travlin' thru.

Mom and I hiked up the hill to get a better view of the campground. There was a coyote on the side of the hill and we just followed up after him. When we got to the top, he was just sauntering down the trail on the other side.

A couple views of the campground from the hilltop.

If you can zoom in, our camper and car is just at the top of the right arm of the saguaro cactus in the center of the picture.

This is part of the 21 mile loop we drove thru Organ Pipe National Monument, which is about 30 miles south of Why, near the Mexican border.
Incidentally, they had four very large marijuana busts a week ago between Why and the border, involving several million dollars worth and a number of illegal aliens. The paper had a picture of many bales out in the desert from one of the raids.

These cacti don't grow much north of the Mexican border. They need a very warm climate and can't withstand any frost.

I took this while Mom and I were hiking at Organ Pipe. The cactus grow all the way up to the top of these rocky areas.

This is a close-up of the same area. If you look really close, you can see a lone saguaro growing right on the top of the highest peak.

We are going to move into Aho (10 miles north) on Thursday to see at least one day of the annual Fiddlers Festival. It lasts four days and is their big event of the year, so we are going to check it out. Then we are on to Tucson and/or Phoenix. Mom will be flying home from Mesa in a couple of weeks and I have a friend flying in to visit for a few days. After Phoenix we will be heading toward Texas and new territory for us.
Happy Shoveling,

Yuma, Arizona

Sun, Jan.16th - Tue, Jan 25th

One day while we were at Yuma we went down to Algodones, Mexico. We bought a few trinkets and ended up at party central for margaritas, beers, shrimp tacos and burritos. This is a big outdoor cafe in the center of a block of shopping. They have live music here everyday. There was a big group of folks in orange t-shirts at the table next to us. They all spend the winters in Yuma and come here every tuesday. Other nights they are in Yuma at the VFW, American Legion, etc. You are never too old to have fun! We met some folks from North Dakota, Nebraska, California and several Canadian locales here.

Most people just walk across the border. We saw this little pedaling taxi guy hauling as many as 8 people at one time. What a way to make a living! As we left, we stopped for our liquor allotment. Each person is allowed to bring back one bottle every 30 days. They keep track by the bar code on your passport. $8.00 for a fifth of tequila and $6.00 each for Brandy Alexander and Pina Colada. The wait in the customs line to get back into the U.S. can be as much as two hours long. We had to wait about one hour. The locals go up and down the line trying to sell their trinkets, John's favorite part.

Another day we went to a celebration to honor the military, as there is a big marine base here. It was at the Visitor's Center, which is the old Quartermaster's Depot. The old downtown was also roped off with venders and entertainment. It was just across the river and down a couple blocks from where we camped. They had an excellent brass quintet group from another base and other equally terrific local singers and a band.

They also had this plane and car on display from the 1949 Endurance Flight. The plane flew continuously for 47 days. It never touched the ground. They handed fuel and other necessities to the two pilots from the car. They even changed oil and spark plugs on the go.

We camped here at the Paradise Casino while we were in Yuma. There were 50 to 75 campers there all the time we were there. Just across the road is a brand new, very pretty park with walking trails and a pond and it is right next to the river.

Just at the top of the park is this Quechan (pronounced Kwit-san) Indian Mission Church.
Just a few steps from the church is the Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge that made the first transcontinental road in the southern U.S. possible. Just beyond that on the other side of the river is the Yuma Territorial Prison Museum on the left and Old Downtown Yuma on the right. Also, right along the river is the East Wetlands Park, the Gateway Park and the West Wetlands park with continuous hiking and biking trails along the river for seven miles. We hiked along here several times. It is beautiful.

This is taken from the East Wetlands trail just across the river from the casino where we were camped. It shows the prison, the bridge and the church that we could see from the casino. We took Mom out to see the monuments at Felicity, which I wrote about in last year's blog, and spent a couple days at the huge flea markets here.
On to Why, Az. Tuesday morning. We had to stay thru Monday night for the TV reception, so I could watch "House". I will have to miss it for the next few weeks, so I hope Dawn is taping it for me.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Salton Sea to Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Mon - Jan. 10th to Sat - Jan. 15th
Hummingbird along the parking lot of the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio (near Palm Springs) where we camped for five nights.

Tuesday we headed over to the Fountain of Youth campground for five nights, where it was just a short walk down the hill to the two swimming pools and four natural hot springs. The swimming pools were 98 degrees, just like bath water. The hot tubs 100, 102 and 104.

White Boy with the Iowa farmer's tan in the hot tub. Behind him is the steam room and the lobster pot (104 degrees). Outside the picture is the pool and the coolest of the hot tubs with a waterfall you could sit under and get your shoulders massaged.

Across the road, we enjoyed the fitness trails in the desert, where residents have left lots of art work and memorials made from the rocks.

Well, no duh!

Mom enjoying the sunset over the Salton Sea. It was in the 70s most of the time we were here in this campground at the base of the Chocolate Mountains and looking toward the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains.

We had to stop again at Salvation Mountain and Slab City, since Mom hadn't been here for a dozen years or more.

I did a blog on this last year. She said it had grown and changed a lot since she was here. The old guy that does the painting and artwork with all salvaged and donated materials is still hard at work.

You just can't believe all the vehicles, trailers, boats, tractors, etc. all painted up. Also, all the rooms he has built next to the hill made out of hay bales braced and plastered together and painted. Just amazing! He has been living out here in the desert for many years doing this.

Here are a couple of photos of the inteior of some of the rooms. He utilizes every piece of junk anybody gives him.

Very creative and dedicated.

If you zoom in, you can see right near the center a small yellow sign that says to please stay on the yellow brick road. That's all the incentive my mother needed to start climbing up Salvation Mountain.

And there she is almost up to the cross. When she got to the top, she enjoyed a view of the hodge podge of campers at Slab City and hiked down the back side and back to the car where John was waiting for us.

We drove around the Salton Sea on Saturday afternoon, about 150 mile drive, and drove thru the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. They must have had very recent rains, because the ocotillo cactus were just covered with little green leaves and many were blooming with fiery red flowers. Trivia: Cholla cactus roots only go two inches deep, but spread out to 30 feet. The mesquite tree roots will go down 200 feet looking for water.
What is the oldest living plant? A 9,400 year old creosote bush in the Mohave desert. Will a rattlesnake bite kill me? One out of a thousand people will die if bitten by rattlesnake.

We had lunch at a little Mexican Cantina in Borrego Springs and drove thru the rest of the park. We saw a parasailer here. People were camping everywhere in the desert (outside the park) and driving their four wheelers and dirt bikes. The park is 600,000 acres, one of the largest state parks in the U.S. Over 900 square miles, elevations range from 6,000 foot peaks to only 15 feet above sea level. It is one of the last refuges of the endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep. Only 400 remain in the U.S. and 275 are in the park. They have lived here in the desert for thousands of years and migrated from Siberia over 10,000 years ago.

Heading for Yuma on Sunday.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Joshua Tree National Park & Palm Springs

Sat - Jan 8th & Sun - Jan. 9th

California Fan Palms at the Cottonwood Springs Oasis in the Colorado Desert portion of Joshua Tree National Park. The Colorado Desert is part of the Sonoran Desert. It is below 2,000 feet and very hot and dry.

These palm trees are probably about a hundred years old. They are very large. My mom is standing in front of them.

This is a cholla cactus in the cholla gardens of the park.

Mom and John are walking on the path thru the gardens. The Joshua trees only grow in the higher elevations of the park.

We did lots of nature walks thru the unique rock formations. Mom really liked the hikes thru the rocks. They were pretty cool.

They were formed by volcanic upheavals and erosion factors.

Mom said they reminded her of some of the places she had been in Utah. John said they reminded him of the Sheyenne Grasslands. Ha, Ha! For those of you who don't know, that's just a few miles from where I grew up in North Dakota.

The Arch.

Just two more examples of old, weathered things.

The Joshua trees are found in the higher elevations which are part of the Mohave Desert. They are not actually trees, but the largest variety of the yucca family in the U.S. Most of them have lots of branches and look like trees, but not all of them. The only way to tell them from yuccas for sure is that the yuccas have hairy tendrils on their needles. The Joshuas do not.

Mom and John stopping to read a sign along the trail.

The biggest Joshua in the park is 42 feet tall with a crown width of 34 feet and 9 feet around the trunk. They have an average life span of 150 years, but some are believed to live 300 to 500 years.

These are yuccas.

Mom watching the gondola at Mt. Jacinta on the south edge of Palm Springs, taking kids in their snow suits with their sleds on the ten minute ride (2 1/2 miles) to the top to play in the snow.

Main street downtown Palm Springs.

We walked the downtown celebrity stars area. Mom is standing in front of Elvis's star. We saw lots of others like Bob Hope, Marilyn Monroe, Dinah Shore, Liberace, Randolph Scott, Monty Hall, Ginger Rogers, Frank Sinatra, Harpo Marx, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and lots more. Also, a statue of Sonny Bono, their mayor.

And everybody's favorite, Lucy!

Over and out,