Tuesday, February 28, 2017

More day trips around Organ Pipe

Another morning with fruit first for breakfast. Those grapefruit are really good. It was mostly sunny today and got up to 20C, but with a cool northerly wind.

After registering for the next 2 nights, we drove the Puerto Blanco Drive as far as the 2-way road goes. It gets quite rough and deserted after that apparently. This area is a route popular with both illegal migrants and drug traffickers:

They are mostly active at night though, when we aren't. We're averaging 10-12 hrs sack time per night!

We did do a hike on the Red Tanks Trail. The flag and barrel shown marks one of the relief stations set up here and there, for humanitarian reasons. There are quite a number of deaths each year of illegal migrants trying to make it through the desert to a better life in the US, and a lot (even most) of these deaths are due to dehydration. I hope Trump doesn't outlaw these aid stations in the name of more "security":

When we left on our hike, ours was the only vehicle in the parking area. There were several there when we got back though, including 3 that disgorged a troop of Border Security agents, all dressed in dark camo and equipped with body armour and handguns. They headed off on the trail we had just been on, no sense of urgency though. We didn't feel we'd dare take their picture!

The showers back at the campground were cool and refreshing. The shower water is solar-heated, and today wasn’t a good day for that.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Day tripping around Organ Pipe.

After all the exercise yesterday, we were both in bed by 8pm and didn’t get up until 8am. It was an overcast 11C to start, but got up to 20C by 2pm.

Today we first drove around the nearby Ajo Mountain Drive. It’s  about 34 km, mostly gravel and rough in places, and we averaged 15 km/hr; also did a couple of miles of hiking along the way. 

We did a 1.2 mile hike up a narrow rocky path called Arch canyon, but stopped at the sign “steep rocky climb ahead”. We thought it was already a steep rocky climb!

We had a lunch at a nice picnic area at Estes Canyon, joined by an Abert Towhee, who thought he should share our lunch. See it on the bench across from Cathie?

By the time we got back out to the main road, we were quite happy to be off the bumpy gravel drive. Then we headed up to Ajo for some groceries, and a rotisserie chicken for supper. We didn't stock up on the way here, since we didn't know if we'd be able to stay at all, or for how long. We'll be registering for a couple more nights tomorrow.

Our van has been getting some interest and nice complements. The units here tend to be in the class B to small Class A size range, with some fairy large 5th-wheels but few of the usual behemoths.

It's a real symphony of generators at breakfast and supper times. Even though we are in the generator-free section, it's like being in the peeing-free section in a swimming pool. The noise does get a bit diluted by the time it gets to us.

We met a couple from Washington State that are proud owners of a year-old Road Trek Zion model, one of the new Chrysler-based Hymer models. We were able to tell them that our son-in-law (Clare) was responsible for almost anything in the van that is formed from plastic, and there is a lot. Luckily they love their Zion! And they told us that before we mentioned Clare.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ajo AZ to Organ Pipe National Monument

Streets & Trips says it is a 47 minute drive from where we boondocked last night near Ajo to our spot here in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (National Monuments are much the same as National Parks here in the US, but a President can create a National Monument at his discretion, whereas designating a National Park needs Congressional approval).

We saw these burros soon after starting out, along the highway. The fence was just to keep them off the road, otherwise it looked like they are free-roaming wild burros:

Anyway the 47 minute trip took us about 3 hours, there's just so much to see that's new and different for us. Yes, it's still rocks and desert and cacti, but that's still new for us, it may take years before it would be “old hat”.  

In Ajo we stopped at the Shell station to wash the van. Third time this trip, but it was just travel dirt this time, no salt. We also topped up our drinking water, since we didn’t know what we’d get at Organ Pipe.

Once we got to Organ Pipe though, we were able to book a lovely site for 2 nights, with daily extensions available. $16/night with our annual entry pass. There are no hookups at the sites, but central toilets with showers, and water taps scattered around the park. The van with the solar panels works really well in a park like this.

We did some hiking today, 2.5 miles return to the Visitors Center, and hope to do some touring by van tomorrow as well as some more hiking. It's not too hot yet, but the walk was warm enough to justify a G&T later. Boy does it cool off fast when the sun goes down!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Quartzsite to Ajo via Yuma

We left our boondock spot south of Quartzsite in good time this morning, and headed back in to Quartzsite for a laundromat, which just happened to be the same building that houses a restaurant. Nice to have some breakfast served to us while waiting for the laundry to be done.
Then we headed south to Yuma, stopping at a Farmers market there for grapefruit, radishes and 3 apples. Grapefruit is so much better down south than at home in Canada.

On the way to Yuma there is an entrance to an US Army weapons testing area:

Just east of Yuma we stopped at a dealer for a browse of some Thor motorhomes. They look good, but not sure about Thor quality. 

Fueled up at Gila Bend, and settled in to another boondock site 
in the Ajo Recreational Park for the night (thanks BB!), our 9th free night so far.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Borrego Springs to Quartzsite AZ

Today we headed east from Borrego Springs, ending up boondocking on public (BLM) land, just south of Quartzsite AZ. We set off about 8am, a sunny 10C. 

We took a different route than we did coming in to the area, as we wanted to have a look at Ocotillo Wells as a future camp spot. I don’t think so! It’s likely an economical place to stay for the winter, but really no appeal to us. It’s a very dry sandy area with lots of camping for ATVers. It's likely really busy on winter weekends.
Around there we watched 4 military jets doing some amazing acrobatics off in the distance.

Down near the Salton Sea we stopped in Westmoreland and each got a "date shake". Just a good vanilla shake really, with dates blended in, and really yummy (doesn't sound that appetizing 
does it?). That was about 10:30 and we haven't eaten since (almost 5:30 pm now). 

Lots of huge green fields along the Colorado River valley, really here and there all over this area. The irrigation ditches were all running full, thanks (I guess) to the recent rainfall, some of which kept us camper-bound last Saturday. There were miles and miles of crops growing in the area.

Large rectangular hay bales stacked in the background

Crop dusters were working:
He didn't spray us though

While browsing "uptown" Quartzsite (there's mostly just a main street with all the businesses, flea markets etc) we stopped in to a solar supply store, and came away with a portable solar panel set. It's 120 watts total, packaged as two Zamp 60 watt panels hinged together, with a controller and a case. We're finding our electrical usage has been going up, especially charging electronic devices, and this will help out our coach battery. There was no AZ sales tax on solar panels.

Our BLM boondock site (free)

Our first solar panel deployment

We'll be heading south through Yuma tomorrow, on our way back to the Ajo AZ area.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hike in Anza-Borrego

Once again we woke early to another picturesque sunrise. After a bit more snoozing, we hit the showers, had breakfast and re-registered for tonight.

Today we took a longer hike around Little Surprise Canyon, still in the State Park. We managed to get off track a couple of times, but recovered. This is a LARGE park, with boondocking areas overlooking the town.

After the hike we stopped at a Mexican-style restaurant in Borrego and each had large burritos. I think the waitress didn’t expect us to finish them, and neither did we, but we did!

The afternoon was dedicated to hanging out at the campsite, 22C at 1pm.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Anza-Borrego to Julian day trip

We woke early to another beautiful sunrise. After breakfast and a walk around the campground, we renewed for another night. We can only renew for one night at a time since we had no reservation.

Later we drove a short circle route from our campsite in the Anza-Borrego state park, on a winding twisting road way up in the hills to a little tourist town called Julian. This is one of the few areas in these parts that can grow apples, so of course they are the world's best! And apparently Julian apple pies are world-famous! We just got an apple turnover to share though.

The routes up and back were quite a climb and descent respectively, with some terrific views. The navigator got quite edgy at times though. We made it ok, no problems except for nerves. It was about 18C when we left the campsite, falling to about 6C in Julian, over 4,000 ft elevation there.

Julian is on top of those hills, to the right of center:

On the way back down, we stopped at the Julian Pie Company store in San Ysabel for some cider donuts and 2 small jugs of cider. Yummy! 

It was up to 10C by then, sunny day and lots of greenery around.

Once back in Borrego we stopped in to the Borrego Outfitters. They have way too much really nice $tuff, but we got off fairly lightly.

Back to site 86 for lunch and a break, up to 22C this afternoon, just right for some lounge chair time in the sun.

Later in the afternoon we went out and found some more of those metal statues, quite something to have them around and so accessible. 

By 5pm it was down to 17C, and felt quite chilly in the wind. 
Supper was hot dogs and beans.