Friday, February 28, 2014


Windy. Dusty. Gritty. Cloudy. 86 degrees. Raindrops. Dump Day. Groceries. Showers. Laundry. New boondocking site. Thunderstorms forecast for tonight, but we're set up now, and ready for anything! Here's a stormy view from our new site:
This is out one of the Chinook's windows, but the views are great all around, and some of the mountains are quite striking!

Thursday, February 27, 2014


A fellow traveler along the trail
One of the most popular hikes here at KofA is the Palm Canyon hike - a 7-mile drive over an unpaved road, and then a steep and rocky, although very well trodden and marked, 1/2 mile foot trail. You begin at the base of a narrow canyon between peaks, and reach a small elevated spot with a sign that points upwards. And there they are! Palm Trees! Almost hiding (in shadows most of the time) high above you in a tiny slot. These trees (some of them 20' around) are not native to Arizona, and no one is quite sure exactly how they arrived here. The moister, shadier hidden canyon microclimate has nurtured them; not sure how old they are. Some think that they survived from a time when the climate was totally different, some think they came in by birds or animals. We were lucky enough to catch a few rays of sun on the grouping when we reached the slot!
The trailhead, beginning of the canyon

This is a view from inside the canyon, looking back towards the trailhead
The Palms are just above the middle of the photo, in the cleft between the two hugest peaks
Here's a closer shot - they're at the top left
Tucked away, hidden mostly by shadows, in a place they don't really belong...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


A quiet day of rest, doing taxes, and seeking out a new site for camping. The National Wildlife Refuge only allows campers/hunters (yes, hunters!! Seems kinda cruel/appalling to have a wildlife refuge that allows people to come in and shoot at the wildlife...) to stay for 14 days, so we went looking for some nearby BLM land to camp on. We found a great site about 5 miles away, tucked neatly between some rocky hills and picturesque mountain ranges. If the weather holds, we'll stay in this area for awhile, but we still have a few days before we need to "move along."

Monday, February 24, 2014


The weather is amazingly changeable here! It started out sunny, but somehow, over coffee and extended deep and fascinating (to us) discussion, we got a very late start on the day. By the time we had hiked about an hour away from our campsite (a scrambly, steep climb up and around the mountain right behind our site, which finally opened up into a lovely valley fed by multiple dramatic washes) the dark clouds had rolled in. Once returned, I took up residence in a camp chair and read 19th century literature (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - T.V.'s "Elementary" and "Sherlock" are okay, but nothing beats the originals!) for awhile, until the sun shone brightly again, and beyond then. A day well spent, indeed.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


From the "there's a first time for everything" file: Today we took showers at a laundromat. Really. Quartzsite, Arizona is a town made by, of, and for RVers. We'd heard that they even had a laundromat with showers, so we went to see for ourselves. Every showering convenience is provided: for $6.00 you get loads of hot water (twenty minute limit), a towel and washcloth, and soap. Best twelve bucks we've spent in a while!

Saturday, February 22, 2014


We took the road up to King of Arizona (KofA, hence the name of this wildlife refuge) Mine, and did some hiking out to a smaller mine site. Darell is turning into an inveterate rock climber, and we scaled an awesome dry water tank slope as far as we could (safely) climb.
He's like Spiderman! Only without the tights!
The view down
The view to the left, where we stopped for a snack before we descended back to the mine site
We rested for a bit on huge boulders, taking in the massive vistas before heading back to the jeep.
The tiny (in the photo, anyway) square peak along the furthest ridge is Castle Dome, the highest peak in this area (where we were yesterday)
The view to the left (from my same perch) includes KofA Butte, at the left of the far ridge (and our next stop for hiking)
We next drove out the (very 4-wheel-drive-y) KofA Butte road and hiked up a rocky wash looking for more water tanks. The rocky cliffs, ridges, mountains, and outcroppings were some of the scariest-looking I've ever seen. They're jagged. They're dark. They're pocked, and shattered, and carved out by the elements. Some look like monsters or animals; one looked like Darth Vader. We scrambled up one rocky wash where the rocks and boulders just kept getting bigger, the trees gnarlier, and if there had been a soundtrack, the music would have been ominous indeed. Above this scene a huge cave loomed - I was pretty convinced that a pterodactyl was going to come flying out. Or a big bat, at least. Or, more likely, a hungry mountain lion was happy that two big morsels were walking right in for dinner. Darell wanted to keep climbing. I told him I'd wait below and watch for glowing eyes. As foreboding as it all was, the sandy bottom of the main wash was full of red and yellow blooming shrubs, we saw at least 5 different butterflies, a hummingbird, and 2 chipmunks, and we heard the comforting, constant buzz of bees on blossoms. And we ate peanut butter sandwiches sitting on a smooth white rock. Things aren't quite so scary when you're eating peanut butter sandwiches.

Friday, February 21, 2014


This was the view from the huge, flat, sun-drenched rock where I rested while Darell explored higher up the mountain
A long drive on bumpy roads, and then an off-trail hike for a quiet picnic lunch next to some huge mountains reminded me that we are back in cactus country. And you know what that means: more close-up photos of barrel and cholla cacti!
I've never seen such a clump of barrel cactus - they're usually solo!

This beauty was right near where I rested, high up on the mountainside - they seem to like the high slopes
The spines look other-worldly, close-up

This cholla looks yellowish, which they do when the sun hits them straight on
And this snowier version is when the sun hits at an angle

This looks like a great new hairstyle!

And here's the clump in its context - it lives on a flat area below a mountainside, near other chollas and saguaro cacti

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Today we took the jeep out to the nearest point of interest - at the end of the road (literally!), there are a couple of signs that describe "Water Tanks" and the wildlife that use them. Water tanks are rocky crevices and/or hollowed out areas of rock that collect water when storms send water flowing down the solid rock mountains. Some of the pools are so deep or large that water stays there year round, and bighorn sheep, deer, coyotes, foxes, rabbits, birds, insects, and even frogs gravitate to these pools for survival in this otherwise harsh landscape. Swaths of green shrubs and trees, as well as flowering plants surround the tanks and fill the cracks and crevices that feed the water holes.

 We followed the narrow trail past the signs into the rocky, mountain-y terrain ahead, and before long came to the first tank. From the map we learned that its name is Horse Tank, but there are no signs or other information about it.

Sometimes, they've added small concrete dams to channel more water into the tank to benefit the wildlife
 We saw several more tanks as we hiked, but we're not sure how they correspond to the names on the map, as the trail was at times quite indistinct, and we did a lot of rock scrambling - great vistas! Darell hiked a bit on his own, and saw one we're pretty sure is the "Arch Tank" on the map, and I spent some time near what looked like might be the "Grey Tanks" (not to be confused with RV wastewater tanks!).

This one had a little beach in front of it!
 We saw a shrub that we hadn't seen before; I call it "firework flower"

 More tanks:
I sat by this tank for a long time, watching a big frog that was watching me. There were also huge tadpoles swimming around in it!
This tank was just below (down slope) of the tank I sat beside.
We've barely scratched the surface of the water tank viewing available here at the Refuge - we'll be seeking out more!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


We're here at Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona, a refuge for Bighorn Sheep, tortoise, and many other species. We got in a bit late and have just taken down the chairs, set up the table, and poured the wine.
There should be loads of hiking trails and jeep roads to explore, and the internet connection is good, so more posting soon!

Monday, February 17, 2014


We drove the Railroad Canyon Road out to its end, and then hiked up Marcus Wash. It was a lovely trail, spotted with burgeoning wildflowers and a few blooming cacti. We took an offshoot wash up and away from the main trail, and hiked over tall peaks and down the wild burro trails that criss-cross many of the hills and mountains here, back down into the wash for our return trip to the jeep.
Me, before coffee

Darell, channeling his inner feral donkey
 Some wildflowers and cactus blooms:

And after all the wild burro droppings we'd seen and stepped around, and all the distant braying that proved the beasts existed, we finally saw one way up on a mountain - he fades right into the background, so he was very hard to photograph...almost like a "Where's Waldo" picture - can you see him?