Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Hiking the Nature Trail at Catalina Park

Catalina State Park has some great trails for hiking.  The one we chose is the Nature Trail.  It's a 3 mile wake from our camp site to the Natural Trail and back.  We picked a warm and sunny day.
It was only a few hundred yards on the trail before we stopped to snap a photo of the Catalina Mountains in the distance.
The desert was quiet except for the four or five birds that were chirping and cooing and making their regular morning greetings to each other.
The saguaro cactus is a monument to itself.  This old beauty is several hundred years old.
The trail began near our campsite and meandered through the wash to the trail head where we took the turn up the hill marked "Nature Trail."
There were a few signs telling of the indigenous animals including this display and info about the mountain lion.  Yikes!  We were ok without a personal appearance...
Years from now we will remember this selfie among the many we have taken over the years.  
The signs appeared to mostly be new and made of sturdy metal.  The information on them told the story of the of the creatures living in the area.
The mark of a well done display is enough information to explain things and hit the highlights.  These markers accomplished that.  I didn't care about the latin name of the desert dwellers or the biological history of the palo verde tree.  I just want the common name of the flora and fauna and maybe a few tidbits.
From the top of the Nature Trail, we could see the Catalina's in the distance and the rest of the beautiful scenery.
It was great day to go for hike.  Hopefully there will be more to follow.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!


Monday, January 22, 2018

Quartzsite Three Times for the Roadrunner

This is our third visit to Quartzsite AZ since our Roadrunner adventures got underway in 2009.  Today's post tells a little bit of the story of "What do you guys do when you are out there?".

We find just like the RV lifestyle in general, there are thousands of ways to do this.  Our goals for Q were to see some friends, see what's going on at the RV Show, check out the large flea market, get one of the world's best cinnamon rolls and go by La Mesa RV and look through some Class C motorhomes.

We were planning to see friends at the Outside Our Bubble "OOBerfest".  Pam and I are not big rally folks (although we have been to a few) but we signed up for this one knowing we did not have to wedge into the large circle of the other 113 RVs.  We parked away from the main OOBerfest crowd off Plamosa Road north of Quartzsite in a space that was fairly open but only a few hundred yards away from the rally.
 I went over to the check-in tent where I met Brenda and over by the main area, I met Dave - purveyors of OutsideOurBubble.com.
Friendly folks!  And Dave had a great post in December about removing scratches from your RV.
The OOBerfest area was a large circle with a need to park beyond the circle.  Turns out of the 114, there were only 80 some that showed up.
80 plus rigs is still a large gathering and quite a testament to OOB's following.  Each year the event grows.

Over the past few months we had been in touch with friends from out Habitat for Humanity build in Sioux Falls SD.  Scott and Carole indicated they would be in Quartzsite so I got in touch with them.  Turns out they were parked about 500 yards from us!  That was a surprise!  We went over and chatted with them before the sun went down and saw new additions to their RV "Ripley".
On Friday, we went for breakfast with Scott and Carole at a local restaurant before they headed with a caravan of Xcapers to Mexico.

After a late breakfast we wandered around a big flea market for a few minutes before our lunch date with Bill and Kathy at Silly Al's Pizza.  We also met Ken and Kate, and Mike and Suzanne who are in Q camping with Bill and Kathy.
After lunch, we went found the RV Show tent area and located the Blue Ox maintenance set up area. At RV shows around the country, Blue Ox does standard maintenance and repair on their tow bars for a reasonable fee ($35).  The key is to get in line early so I didn't have to hunt around for it in the dark on Saturday morning.

On the south side of the RV Show tent, there is a row of canopies including a large presence of Redlands RV and Truck with 5 or 6 booths.  Four years ago when we were in Quartzsite, the Tiffin group had Redlands RV and Truck out to our campsite for a short presentation.  At the time, I remember they said, "...Koni shocks are the best $1000 you can spend on your RV".  They were right and a couple of years we had Bay Diesel install those shocks.  The ride is phenomenal and we have never regretted that investment.

Next to the Redlands booth was the Blue Ox booth.  Mission accomplished.  We found it, scoped out where to park early in the morning.

After that,  we found some Class C's that were open in one of the RV sales lots.
We may be in the market for one in a couple of years so its fun to see "what if...".

Our friends from lunch described where they were located in the desert east of town in the BLM area.  It took some doing to find them out in the boonies.  We kept missing the yellow boot hanging on the mesquite bush which was our direction indicator clue in the desert :).  I guess this was like a geocache adventure only with less clues.

With a couple of cell phone calls and more directions, "Across the second wash to where you see the flag on the Winnebago, etc" we found our friends and their campsite.  After a short visit, we returned to our own campsite on the other side of town.

We built a small campfire and took in the beautiful weather and nice evening.
We had dinner of Cornish game hens went well with the color-filled sunset.  The great view of the setting sun changed over the course of 30 minutes.

The next morning I was motivated to get over to the Blue Ox and get in line for service.  I know that there are a lot of early birds so I wanted to get their soon enough to get the tow bar back the same day.

Sure enough, I left the campsite at 6:15, had no problem finding a parking place and was in line at 6:40.  No one knew exactly when they were going to open up but it turned out to be 9:00 AM.  One guy had dropped his off earlier that me and Robert.  Robert was sitting there in the dark and I didn't even see him!  I jumped out of my shoes when he said, "Good morning!".  He was number 2.  I was number 3 in line.

I had bought a piece of luggage in Tucson at a thrift store for $2.61 that had wheels so I didn't have to lug the towbar around.
After I removed the tow bar from the back of the Roadrunner, I put two bands of pink duct tape on it to identify mine from the many other tow bars that were going to get worked on.  The tape worked great.  The wheeled luggage was adequate but not great.  Bigger wheels would have been better times but in most place it rolled along fine.  I was only about 200 yards from the booth when I dropped it off.
The line was long by the time they opened up at 9:00 am.  
Next, it was over to the RV Show.  We did a quick walk through of the vendor tables to see if we could find something we couldn't do without.  Or if there was anything new that was interesting.
It was very crowded in places and other places it was not too bad.
These guys were selling a bean bag set up.  We stopped and looked at a couple of LED light set ups.
One for the lights in the bays, and another over the front door that had a motion detection capability.  We didn't have the old bulb from the bay lights, so didn't want to guess.  And we thought we could probably find the light on Amazon when we get ready to replace it.

We also saw a BOGO offer from the guy selling yellow handled rug and floor foam/rubber sweeper.  The same one we bought four years ago!
It was still selling strong.  I think we used it twice before we got rid of it.
We did the complete loop and up and down the aisles and didn't see anything else that caught our attention and made it over to the Cinnamon Roll stand.
I have been waiting for this for years.  In 2014 when we were here and the experience had me quickly claiming it was "The World's Best Cinnamon Roll".  I had never had a better one anywhere.
This time I made a bad life choice and chose the plain one instead of the version with icing.  Should have gone with the icing.  We found a spot at the small picnic table with two couples from Utah and had a nice chat.  And had the cinnamon rolls for lunch.

Then we took our time and wandered around the outdoor flea market.  We came across this gentlemen who made walking sticks and knives.  Pam was interested how he made his walking sticks since she also makes them.
We found one large tent that had a few game trophies including these couple of bison.  They were selling well at $999 for the small and $1499 for the larger one.  I think it would be pretty scary to hang in the mountain cabin or where ever one puts these things.
We also found a nice sweatshirt for Pam here.  
To finish up our busy day we went over to La Mesa RV.  They were prepping for a visit from Bob Tiffin on Monday and repositioning the Tiffin line of RV including the new Wayfarer Class C and a couple of VanLeigh 5th wheels his grandson and son are behind (Vilano and Beacon models)
The visitor center, known for feeding customers free breakfasts and lunches had a free soda fountain and popcorn.  That is always a nice touch!

Outside, we made our way over to the row of Class C's and looked at half a dozen.  We probably need something at least 30 feet so that narrowed our search.
We are just getting started on this search and have no hurry.  We are still a couple of years out of doing the downsizing thing, if we even do it then.  We'll see, but there is no sense of urgency to move forward on this -- just a curiosity at this point and a 'maybe' down the road.

We also walked through a Winnebago Grand Tour and an American Coach.  Interesting but not our style.

We drove back over to our Plamosa Road area and saw friends Art and Gerri who are also attending the OOBerfest.  It was fun to catch up with them.  They have a similar Tiffin model only bigger.  We've known them since our first trip to Quartzsite in 2010.

Having done pretty much all we wanted to do in Quartzsite, we decided to leave a couple of days earlier than we'd planned and head west past Yuma.  We got up and finished packing up and went over to the RV Pit to dump our tanks before we drove south to I-8 toward Yuma.  We ended up west of Yuma and loved the drive.

We found "The Pearl of the Desert" (Naval Air Facility at El Centro) to be exactly that.  Nice campground with open sky and plenty of sunshine.
On weekends the chow hall is open to retirees so we went there for dinner.  More to see what it was like vs trying to get a great meal.  The food was fine, leftover meat, rice, carrots and peas, salad bar, coffee and yogurt ice cream for desert for under $5.  Its a small base and reminded me of what it was like 40 years ago at some of the places we were stationed.

The campground is friendly and we have full hookups for and sewer for $22.  That's a recap of our time in Quartzsite this year.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!



Monday, January 15, 2018

Deadwood Trails in the Cactus Forest

We love to hike.  Fortunately there are many ways to do it.  We fit into the recreational, casual category.  We enjoy getting out and taking a easy walk through different places.  It helps us appreciate nature and gives us some badly needed exercise.

I couldn't wait to get over to our nearest National Park (we are at Davis-Monthan AFB campground) and take a hike through the desert.
Pam put together some sandwiches, we got some water bottles and our walking sticks and made our way over to Saguaro East.  We have been on these trails every time we have visited Tucson.

This particular one was the Mica View trail that is hard-packed and disability accessible.  Not sure that is a word but wheelchairs can roll on this portion.
 We went down that the path for a while,  found a joining trail and continued on.
I found myself stopping and say, "Wow -- look at this view!"  Its not like I had never seen the desert or cacti before.  Or this was the first time we'd been hiking on a beautiful, warm, calm day in the desert.  The first trail we took was aptly named the Mica View.
This huge one Saguaro was really something to look at.

From their we joined up with the Cactus Forest trail.  We have been out here on previous visits to Tucson but I have never really stopped and thought about "Cactus Forest".  I don't know who coined that term but it is quite remarkable.  And this area has a lot of big Saguaros which are magnificent all by themselves, let alone in the midst of hundreds of other ones.
A couple of days later, we returned and went on another hike a little later in the day on some different trails:  Shantz, Pink Hill and Loma Verde Wash.  This time we went after lunch in the heat of the day. It was mid-70's.  It was beautiful and hot.

This time I noticed the wood ribs of decayed cactus that were scattered near the trail.  



There were lots of dead and decaying wood from the cactus near the trail.  And this gem in the middle of a young green tree, and an old dead one.  All kinds of variations of life among the cactus and desert trees.

I guess I was most impressed with the 'wood' laying around the once used to be Cholla or Saguaro cacti.  This one was in a class by itself.
We didn't go on a long hike, but long enough for us until we get more miles under our feet and used to the heat.

From here later this morning we go up the road to Catalina State Park.  Hopefully we can hike some more of those trails again.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!