Sunday, January 25, 2009

Out in the desert at Quartzsite Arizona

Sorry it's been so long since our last post. We are dry camping out in the desert, so have to have our very-noisy generator on to use the computer. Here is an aerial photo of our circle of Montanas. At the high point we had twenty-nine rigs (mostly Montanas, but some SOBs -Some other Brand).
Here is a closer shot. Our rig is at the top, just to the right of the "driveway". In the center is the fire-pit where we gather each evening.
And here is a shot of some of the rigs from the ground, with several people talking and admiring CC, who is being terribly spoiled, by the way. (She chooses a different lap each night at the campfire!)

Nearly two full days were spent on this rig. All the the graphics were removed and replaced with new. What a job! Nearly everyone here was involved in some way, and everyone (especially the owners) are very proud of the completed job.

One day we had a potluck. There are some very good cooks in this group. One of the women is putting together a cookbook so we can all share in the bounty.

We think one of the things Montana owners do best is eat! What a great bunch of people.

Quartzsite, AZ is known as having the biggest swap meet in the world. And how does one choose from so many? But choose we did--t-shirts, earrings, beads, etc. What fun! There is acre upon acre of items for sale. If you can't find it here it's not made. They estimate over 75,000 RV's visiting this area in 2 weeks of swap meets, gem and mineral show and the sports, vacation and RV show. Did we mention that there is a car show starting in about a week.

We looked at little rocks and...

big rocks and all sizes in between

This was one of the thousands of cut rocks for sale all over town.

And at night we enjoyed beautiful sunsets, good company, fun fires, and stars.

At night we get to sit by the campfire and watch all the stars. This is a 1 hour exposure with the north star in the center; you can see just how far the stars rotate in that short a time. Again this is for Debbie.

We don't know how long we're going to be here; we're having too much fun to leave! We have a day trip to Mexico planned for later this week, so will include that in our next blog. Just know that we are enjoying RVing full-time more all the time!
To be continued...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Our last days in Borrego Springs and some pictures for Debbie..

We rode our bicycles to a lecture on ravens the other day and on the way back we saw people climbing this hill. It's a lot higher than it looks in this picture.

Dick said he would like to try and do it on foot rather that take the truck up there (LOL). The next day we headed off and found the trail starting up the hill. It was quite a climb with lots of switch-backs and loose rocks but what a sight when we got to the top. The park says (in its literature) that it is a .5 mile hike -- that must be as the crow flies. Nice hike, and Dick was pleased that Jackie could do it (she is not known for her balance, etc., you see).

This is looking down (lower left) at the campground and our rig is in there and across the desert valley to the mountains is our last Blog.

A little bit of a close-up showing just part of the campground. Looking at it from up here it doesn't look like much, but it really is a nice park. We hiked back down and then went to town for groceries and out to a nice dinner at the Red Ocotillo restaurant here in Borrego Springs. (We have US and WA flags flying -- can you find us?)

These following pictures are for Dick's daughter Debbie; she challenged him to show the depth of the stars in a photograph. He is still trying, but needs to find an area where the north star is out and maybe get a little better shot.
Had to try and see what could be done with the moon and a long lens. This is the best that Dick could do with the equipment he has; it was fun trying.

Again with a longer lens but after the full moon was out. He is sitting out on the picnic table with his camera on a tripod. Too bright to try and see what is in the sky with that darn full moon.

The next two were taken tonight before the moon came up. Wanted to get some more but got back to the rig to change batteries and was a little concerned about all the noise out in the desert.

And finally here is the last shot Dick took. It was a 15-minute exposure at F3.8. The stars are not out-of-focus: it's just that there are so many and all at a different brightness. Two minutes after he got back home you could hear a pack of coyotes were he had set up to take these, that was the "noise out in the desert".

We are off in the morning (Wednesday January 14) for about 2 weeks on BLM land (free) near Quartzsite Arizona with 30 to 40 other Montana owners. Should be fun and maybe Dick can get out and try some more time-exposure night shots out in the desert.
To be continued...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Back to the bad lands...

I guess we never learn from our mistakes because yesterday we decided to try again with a "4WD only tour". We headed out and met up with 2 other rigs for a trip out into the desert. The ranger never showed so we decided to venture out on our own and see what we could find. This is an area that has no roads and is in the desert rather than the mountains. Should be no problem compared to the day before. We will tell you in advance that we made it the whole day without any mishaps except at the end of the day heading back to the main road we just about crashed into a very large critter. More about that later; have we peaked your interest?

This is about 20 miles into the desert with nothing growing for miles.

A typical track running up a dry wash. Every corner brings a different geology look. Unbelievable so barren and dry. It was only 61 degrees and it felt like 80, that is until you get in the shade and then it's cool. Would not want to be out here without lots of water.

Someone had some fun creating their style of art. Go back to the last photo and see where this was taken.

We found two areas out in the desert where there are palm groves. One of these was a stopping place for travelers in the 19th century and was one of the few spots where they could get water. You can see here again that the only thing growing is the palms. There was not any surface water, but it must be here or these would die out real fast.

Another view of a palm grove with the dry was road going by it. There is a box tied to two palms that was full of messages from people who have visited this spot. It was used in the 1800's just for this purpose.

We took another road was that we were told was a neat place to go. We went 4 miles up another dry wash and were not excited by what we saw. We got to the end of the trail, parked and walked up the short trail to look over the edge and see this. Our mouths fell open and we backed away from the edge real quick.

We got our picture taken just to give you some idea of how deep, barren and beautiful this really is. Notice that there are not any guard rails at the edge of the dropoff.

This will give you an idea of how deep this is. Yes that's Dick standing on the edge in the distance. If you enlarge this picture and at the top of the road in the distance just left of center is where we are camped. It's just at the base of the mountains in the distance.

This is the critter that was walking across the wash as we headed back to the highway. Glad Dick was able to stop before he did damage to the front end of the truck. Must have been about 5 feet across. So there are large critters out in the desert.

Did I say 5 feet? I think I should have said 5 inches. Either way he/she is big. Go ahead, click on this one and fill up your screen with this harry critter (tarantula?).
To be continued...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A good day and a not so good day...

We are still camping at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southwest California and really enjoying our stay. It is a beautiful park with great sites that have lots of room to relax. We are surrounded by mountains on 3 sides and about 2 miles from the very small town of Borrego Springs. Here is a shot of our campsite. Please note the blue sky.
We have shown the ocotillo cactus on this blog but this is the first time we found some with flower blooms on them. The bright red flowers are very unique and...
a closer look shows how beautiful they really are. Just had to share this as it's something you would never see back home.

One of the most popular hikes here in the park is the 3 mile roundtrip up and down the valley to Palm canyon. The start of the trip was pretty easy and a well defined trail. Well, that didn't last for long for as soon as we got around the hill on the right it turned into a narrow canyon with lots of large boulders.

I dare you to pick the trail out so you just make your own. This is at about the 1 mile mark and you can just see the top of the Palms in the middle of the picture. Still had to figure out how to get up to it with out crossing the stream several times.

Some places it got a little tight to get through but we made it.

What an interesting site as the only thing growing in this canyon is the palms as a spring starts just above the grove and then disappears back into the ground about a half mile below the grove.
Jackie had to get a shot of Dick on top of another large rock before we started back down.

A last look over our shoulders and it was time to head back to the ranch. This was the good day but...

The next day was another white knuckle drive day. The park offers a "tailgate tour" to various parts of the park with a Ranger, so we thought it would be fun to take the one to "upper coyote canyon". It did say that 4 wheel drive vehicle was required. Keep that thought in mind.
We met up with 4 other rigs and the park ranger about 35 miles from our campsite. We then traveled another 45 minutes to the top of the canyon. We shifted into 4 wheel drive and started into the canyon. The road, if you want to call it that, turned out to be straight down switch back with boulders sticking up at every turn. It was so narrow that with our large turning radius we had problems getting around some (read that "most") corners.
We finally got to the bottom only to be met by a mile of road with heavy bushes growing on both sides of the road and we both cringed as they raked down the side of our truck. We continued on for another few miles but when both running boards rubbed on rocks at the same time we decided the road was too narrow for us so we said goodbye and tried to see if we could get back up the side of the mountain. One good thing if we got stuck, when the other rigs turned around and headed out they had to get us out before they could proceed up the hill.
We stopped in a large wash after the other rigs went on down the road and had lunch. We were the only people in the valley and wow was it quiet. We snooped around the desert and just relaxed. We saw lots of animal tracks, but no animals (or even birds).
It was touch and go getting out as twice Jackie had to get out and direct Dick from side to side as he climbed out of a wash. With the truck pointing straight up in the air it's kind of hard to see where you are going!
I guess you can tell because we are posting this Blog that we finally made it. We did have to go up the mountainside in 4WD low range. And we agreed that in all the years of backroads, this had to be the absolute worst.

This picture was taken at the top where the road was a piece of cake. We stopped at this location because the day before the Ranger was snooping around some rocks here and found indications of it being a old Indian camp.

You are looking straight down into the valley that we had to go into. No the big wide road was not a road but a dry wash. The road we had to travel was that little narrow line in the middle of the picture that looks like a trail. I don't think I would even use this as a hiking trail!

This is the pile of rocks that the Indians camped in a very long time ago. We found large rocks where they ground roots and other food stuff.

Next time, remind us when it says "4 wheel drive required" to stay home (they really mean jeeps)!
To be continued...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Goodbye 2008, Hello 2009

We left Desert Hot Springs on New Years eve after picking another RV park from the Net; we only booked for 3 nights as you never know what you are getting into. We have found some real "dogs" of RV parks in our travels. So we moved to Leapin' Lizard R.V. Ranch in Ocotillo Wells California and what to our surprise it was a great little park owned by Siegfried & Deborah Traviss. They have 78 fenced acres and the park only takes up a small portion of that.

We set up camp and relaxed until 3:00 that afternoon when we got to go on a Hayride in their little portion of the desert. Later that night they invited all the people in the park to a New Years eve party. We decided to go for a little while and then get to bed early. Well, that didn't happen as we stayed up playing games and enjoying all the new people we met. At midnight the owners gave out noise makers and we paraded around the park. Then it was off to bed. This is the latest we've stayed up in a long time (showing our age?), but it was sure worth it!

On the left is Jackie playing Crazy Eights with a group including kids and adults. It was really dark with just a few Christmas lights and some lanterns on the tables.

They put on a nice spread and also had several bottles of champagne to toast with.

This is Siegfried getting ready to open a bottle of bubbly behind a table full of raffle gifts they purchased.

The party was lots of fun and if in the area this is one of the parks we will visit again, even tho it has a funny name. Did I mention the hot tub and pool are about 75% finished?
We moved again on Saturday to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Yes, we are still in California. Again we found a wonderful park. The desert is growing on both of us and we are also starting to like the brown, brown hills, brown dirt, brown trees, but the palm trees still have some green at the top. Sure wish we could be here in the spring to witness all the desert color at that time of the year. But who knows we may be in a prettier place at that time.
Dick has wanted to try and do some night photography for a long time, so the other night he went out into the desert with his trusty camera and tried to get some long exposure pictures. The only problem: he should have a remote shutter release to do this. The next picture was taken with the camera on a tripod and Dick holding the shutter open for 3 minutes trying not to move the camera. You can see the short distance the stars have traveled in those short 3 minutes and you can also see a little movement side to side; that's him moving the camera. He ordered a remote shutter release today and hopes to get it before we leave so he can get some star shots for Debbie.

This one was taken for about 2 minutes of the half moon through an Ocotillo cactus. He also took another after shining his flashlight over the bush. I guess he had a problem holding the camera still while moving the flashlight. Sorry it's not up to the quality for this Blog.
We made arrangements with Dick's brother and sister-in-law, who are down in Yuma to meet in the middle and have lunch yesterday; it was nice to see them after all these months. Joan's Mom and Aunt also shared the afternoon with us. We met for lunch, but lucky for us the restaurant wasn't busy because we stayed for some time. It's hard to "catch up" quickly, you know.

On the way home we stopped near the road to get some shots of the Borrego Badlands. Here 4 vehicles were going up the wash. Not sure if they are camped up there but what a desolate place.

Another shot of them just as the sun was setting, hope they didn't have to come out of there after dark.

This final shot of the Borrego desert badlands just at sunset.

We got back to camp just in time to get a couple of pictures of the red sky after sunset. Should have been here about 15 minutes earlier. Oh well, you shoot what your got.
To be continued...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Remember this picture? Remember the question? Well, here is the answer.

While visiting the Living Desert in Palm Desert California, we saw this huge outdoor model train display that was put together with lots of hard work from a lot of people. Not sure what they do with all the trains when it rains but who cares as when we visited it was warm and sunny. This was an impressive part of that display.

This is part of the Grand Canyon display complete with a running water river.

Here is a city next to the Grand Canyon. Great job with all the buildings and scenery.

In one area was an old mining town, but I think the train is a little too new for this display.

Back home we decorated our tree with lots of small ornaments complete with our Christmas presents under it. The family all drew names so we put together a small list of what we wanted for Christmas and our grandkids pulled the names of who got who out of a hat. We sent off our package and it finally got there just before the start of the new year; sorry Deanna. We got an interesting package from Michelle for Dick and a large package containing several items from Deanna for Jackie. (Dick's is the tube in the picture below.)

While waiting for Santa, Jackie relaxes with another book. It was a little cool outside so we spent a day just relaxing.

Dick's list was short, so as usual Michelle came up with a great idea for a great gift. We can now go down the road and show the world our Blog address. It will be interesting to see if we get any lookers from this sign. Not only did she give Dick this set of vinyl letters she also...

sent this C-O-O-L welcome sign that we added to our front door. The colors match beautifully with the graphics on our RV. Thanks Michelle for the great gift, we both love them.

And one of Jackie's gifts from Deanna was a hardcover book of pictures of Daisy's first year. What a treasure to have and share. Obviously a favorite and very special gift. Thanks so much, Deanna. (Of course Dick says now we have to spend more money and get Jackie a larger purse so she can carry the book around as a "Grandma's Brag Book"!)

To be continued...