Thursday, October 30, 2014

Boondocking with friends in Quartzsite Arizona…


Quartzite and California 015We reluctantly left the blue waters of Lake Havasu and continued our trek toward San Diego where we will stay for the months of November and December. We had a last minute change of plans once we discovered some of our RV friends  we met at Betty’s RV Park in Abbeville, LA were staying down in Quartzite. Therefore we altered our route to head south to what is known as the boondocking capital of the RV world.

Quartzite and California 016We pulled into town and found our friends just east of town comfortably tucked into the Mojave Desert with a nice scenic backdrop of some beautiful desert mountains. We don’t really do a lot of boondocking because Sharon is a night owl and requires more power than our two batteries fully charged will offer her. But for our friends we made an exception and when we pulled up hugs and handshakes were prevalent as we greeted our friends Dan, Merlene, Jim and Cookie…

We had never been to Quartzsite even though we currently are planning to attend the big event there around the 20th of January. I must admit I thought the area would be a bit bleaker but the desert is nice in this part of the state and I happily saw a few of my favorite saguaro cacti. Throw in hearing the “gargle” of the cactus wren, seeing the occasional quail and woodpecker.... life for me was good in the desert. I walked around in the desert and may have discovered why the town got its name… there are pieces of quartz everywhere!!!

Quartzite and California 014That evening we all sat around to catch up on what everyone had been up to and had a lot of laughs about happenings in the past. Dan even made a call to Betty at Betty’s RV Park to let her know we were having a mini Betty’s reunion in the desert just in time for Happy Hour!!! What absolute fun it was to visit with our friends and even though we only stayed one night we thoroughly enjoyed their company and look forward to our next impromptu encounter somewhere along the roads of the USA… Yep, this RV’ing lifestyle is grand indeed…

Monday, October 27, 2014

Boat Ride, Birthday and Hiking the Mountain Crack…

We traveled just three miles south into Lake Havasu City to yet another Passport America Park, Campbell Cove Resort. It is a nice little park with great views overlooking Lake Havasu. After setting up and cranking up the A/C, the temperatures were in the low 90’s, so we decided to head over to London Bridge to catch the ferry over to the Indian Casino across the lake into California.

We had no intention of gambling but simply wanted to enjoy the best deal in town… the $2.00 per person round trip ferry boat ride across Lake Havasu. Leaving Lake Havasu City we saw RV’s camped all along the banks of the lake on both sides. The boat ride took about 15 minutes and docked near the casino. We walked in to check out the little casino which does have great views from the bar but we weren’t intrigued enough to stay. We re-boarded the ferry and took the return leg back across to Lake Havasu City. We decided to walk along the lakefront and go across the London Bridge and back.  We felt it was a nice way to kill a few hours and we really enjoyed the ferry ride.…

The next day was Sharon’s birthday so I made her breakfast of choice – Whole Grain Huckleberry Pancakes from the frozen Huckleberries we picked in Montana. After breakfast we relaxed at home and then made her a birthday lunch of another favorite, Kale, Sausage and Chick Peas with the last of our Texas Slovacek sausage. Yummy!

After lunch we headed over to near Sara Park on the south side of town as I found the perfect birthday hike for Sharon. This just under 5 mile hike included some mild canyoneering through what is called the Crack in the Mountiain. We parked in Sara Park close to the gate near the Special Activities Recreation Area .  We started on the trail which basically followed the dry wash down the canyon. We occasionally switched over to the red trail which seemed to help us stay out of the harder to walk in sandy and loose gravel in the wash more than the yellow trail did.

After about a mile walking or slogging through the dry wash we started to notice the canyon walls becoming closer together and taller. The rocks in this part of the trail were very interesting and the geology was as well. Next as the canyon walls got closer and closer, we ambled down and over boulders into a series of dry falls through the crack in the mountain. Then we encountered the “seven-foot dry fall” which is more like 10 feet. I slid down it as the surface is much like a slide. The only caution was to make sure my footing landed on a couple of rocks below in such a way as not turn an ankle.

Sharon being more apprehensive required some assistance from me to ensure a much softer landing. Some basic canyoneering skills were taught to her and then she was able to handle everything else the crack had to offer. At the 1.4 mile marker we exited the crack and continued on down the trail to the 2.3 mile marker. Not knowing how far the lake was we opted to turn around at this point only to find out later we were just a tenth of a mile from the shoreline!

Near the 1.6 mile marker we ventured out of the wash to climb to what I was sure to be the blue trail (and it was). The blue trail bypasses going back up the canyon  so we took this trail as I was unsure if we could easily get back up the ten foot slide. This trail climbed in elevation as we scrambled along the hillside.  We were glad we decided to return on this trail since it offered some great views of the lake as well as the canyon from above.  We reconnected to the dry wash some 6/10’s of a mile from the parking lot at the trailhead.

Getting back to the car it was nearly 5:00 pm so we headed off to College Street Brewery for some nice crafted beers to fully celebrate Sharon’s birthday. We went back to the RV where I made her requested birthday dinner of Chicken Fajitas. While cooking we were treated to one of the best sunsets we have seen since full timing… a perfect ending to a perfect day!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Laughlin NV and then Lake Havasu City AZ..


imageWe left the Cal-Nev-Ari RV Park in Cal-Nev-Ari, Nevada and drove a very short drive over to Laughlin, Nevada where we boondocked in the parking lot at the Pioneer Casino. I pulled into our spot and we were so level I didn’t even use the levelers. We went inside to register the RV (at their request so security would be aware of us and where they issued a tag to display in the RV window). The only requirement is you have to sign up for a player’s card which was no problem for us. So free camping meant we freed up a small amount of money to play a little video poker and even better, when we signed up for the Pioneer Casino Player Card we were each given $5.00 in free play credits..

20141023_172326We toured the casinos and played a little video poker at a few of them but spent most of our gambling time at the Pioneer Casino since we were camping in their lot. We had the most luck there as well as we actually made small profit… Free beer, free camping and we won enough to pay for all the tips with a little left over! Well we tried to leave Pioneer Casino some money like we did we the casinos in Las Vegas but it just didn’t happen.

We only stayed one night in Laughlin but enjoyed walking along the riverfront. They have a path imagethat followed along the river although at some points on the trail you have to go in and out of some of the casinos to stay on it. The next morning I woke up and walked the river again to watch the sunrise. After Sharon woke up we went over to the Edgewood Casino since she won some comp dollars when signing up as a new member so we basically had free breakfast as well (it did cost a bit over a buck).

The next day we took another short drive down to Lake Havasu City where we pulled into a Passport America Park called Havasu Falls RV Park.  Although it was mostly concrete and gravel it offerred some great views of Lake Havasu. We were only in this park overnight as one night is their Passport America limit. With the $25/night on the PPA rate we didn't want to stay another night at full price.

We didn’t really do much our first day in Lake Havasu but we did make time to walk along the Bridgewater Channel to see the biggest attraction to Lake Havasu, the London Bridge. This bridge isn’t a replica as it is the actual bridge formerly located in London. In 1968 the founder of Lake Havasu, Robert McCulloch purchased the bridge for $2.46 million dollars. He then had it relocated in Lake Havasu block by block as each one was numbered before the bridge was disassembled to make reassembly in Lake Havasu a snap. The historic London Bridge now spans the  Bridgewater Channel between Lake Havasu and Thompson Bay.

Another novelty here is that Lake Havasu City is home to more lighthouses than any other city in America. There are 1/3 scale replicas of lighthouses from all over the place and were built to the original lighthouse specifications. There are currently 23 lighthouses that can be seen along the shores in both Arizona and California. A complete list can be found here.

Lake Havasu City was founded in 1963 making it a young city.  At an elevation of some 250 feet above sea level and the fact that it boasts over 300 days of sunshine per year it has become a huge retirement location making this young town a town for the oldies…We saw a very lively group of some retirees and veterans sporting their Red Shirt Friday T-shirts while taking every seat available at the bar at a local brewery we found called College Street Brewery.  They looked like a really fun group and lent a lot of positive energy to this popular brewpub and restaurant.  Sharon had a delicious Pumpkin Stout and I had an very nice IPA .  We both enjoyed our beer and the ambiance of this brewery.

Today we will leave Havasu Falls RV Park and drive 3 whole miles to another Passport America Park, Campbell Cove Resort,.  We hadn't found it previously but happily discovered with their PA rate we will be able to stay a bit longer here..

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Christmas Pass and Grapevine Canyon Hike…

It was just a short 70 mile drive south from Las Vegas to our next destination, Cal-Nev-Ari RV Park in Cal-Nev-Ari, Nevada.  We discussed what an interesting name for a town it was and in reading about it we discovered that the town was created in the mid-1960s by a couple who acquired a section of land from the U.S. government (640 acres) and then began to develop an airport based community. Today, the Kidwell Airport and a bustling town of about 250 people along with a market and a casino call this area home. Why are we here? Well I wanted to visit here for three reasons… One I don’t like to travel far, two it is only $11.00 for full hook ups with Passport America and three, there is a cool hike I wanted to do nearby.


The park itself is a typical desert park with dirt/gravel sites but has mostly pull through sites which are quite spacious. There is also nice views afar of some desert mountains making this a quiet peaceful place to park on the cheap for a day or two. Once we set up and ate lunch we planned our route to our hike in the Grapevine Canyon near Laughlin Nevada.

The route we chose to take was the Christmas Tree Pass Road about 2.5 miles south of the park. True to its name there were several trees all along the road decorated with garlands and ornaments. This dirt road requires four wheel drive and high clearance according to the website but it sounded like it would be okay for our four wheel drive CRV with only average clearance. I once owned a nice 1974 Jeep CJ-5 and drove a lot in the back country so with my experience I hoped it would be a passable road.

Christmas Tree Pass Road is 16.5 miles long and loops over to highway 163 just out side of Laughlin. For the first 6 to 7 miles the road was in excellent condition. Then the next mile or two, while still in good shape,  required a slower speed to navigate through. Then we entered a very scenic stretch of the Lake Mead Recreation Area but the road became a little sketchy where we had to drive even slower while paying attention to the high rocks and ruts as well as some deeper sandy spots. We continued on knowing we could always turn back if needed.

The desert landscape along this part of the road was really cool as the rock outcroppings here were really scenic. We stopped several times to take photos and to take in the beauty of this desert landscape. About two miles short of 163 we turned off on a spur road to Grapevine Canyon. Less than a tenth of a mile down  the road we found the trailhead to the canyon.

This turned out to be a short hike for us but allowed us time to explore the mouth of the canyon to immerse in the petroglyphs reported to be in the area. About a 1/3 of a mile down the deep sandy creek bottom we found the canyon entrance. Wow… there were a lot of petroglyphs here. Mostly those of the type which are hard to discern what the artist had intended to draw. However, I was on a mission to find a stone with some petroglyphs of big horn sheep that I had read about prior to our visit. To see the petroglyphs on the photos below simply click on the image to enlarge it.

It took some rock scrambling but we did eventually find the large stone with the big horn sheep etched into them and it was really, really cool! I imagined myself in the time these petroglyphs were drawn trying to put myself into that slice of history and tried to visualize what the artist may have been thinking at the time. Yes I know that this may have been drawn by early native American graffiti artists or by those under the influence of hallucinogens such as Jimsonweed or Peyote but nonetheless I found it enjoyable to revert back in time and wonder...

Sharon, although also glad to see the petroglyphs spent more time amongst the various species of yucca and cacti. She asked me to identify what she found and most I could identify for her but some were ones we will have to research later. We found some extremely colorful insects and quite an interesting butterfly along the trail. I later identified the above butterfly as the Great Purple Hairstreak, quite a beauty…

Before we knew it, we had spent a couple of hours just enjoying such a short hike.  I am glad we decided to come here as we both had a great day in the desert…

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Having Fun in Sin City, Las Vegas, NV…

We have enjoyed our time here in Las Vegas. The last time we were here we spent most of our time on the strip since we were camped only a few miles away from the Mandalay Bay Casino. This time we are staying near the Main Street Station Casino in the older downtown area which has offered a completely different vibe.


20141017_215716The obvious draw to the older downtown area is a nighttime light show called the Fremont Experience. The hourly light show along with people watching always makes for a fun evening. There are many characters dressed up in everything from cupid, transformers, Disney icons and we even saw Mr. T. Of course since this is Vegas there are some more unsavory characters as well.This is one of the few remaining free shows in Las Vegas as the casinos have fallen on hard times with gambling now pretty much legal in most of the USA. The big news here in Las Vegas is that Caesers Entertainment may declare bankruptcy if it can’t work out a deal with its creditors as they are in deep debt.


We also found a fun walk called The History of Downtown Vegas which is a walk in the older part of Las Vegas. We had fun finding such gems as the bar in Golden Gate Casino where Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. drank during the Rat Pack days and even a bathroom in the Main Street Station which has urinals mounted to an actual section of the Berlin Wall! We really recommend this free walking tour as a fun way to get a feel of the history of old downtown Las Vegas.


We also spent one afternoon and evening on the strip since a friend of ours from our past let us know she and her husband were at the Mandalay Bay for a conference. We met them at Mandalay Bay over a few cold beverages and had a blast catching up with our friend Patty and finally getting to know her husband better. Hopefully we will be able to stop and visit them in Texas the next time we pass through the state.

I downloaded the free walking tour for the strip but since the strip is much newer and we have spent a considerable time on the strip before this, taking tour was of little interest to us. So we decided instead to revisit all the casinos that we enjoyed on our last visit such as New York-New York, Paris, Venetian, Mirage, Flamingo and the Excaliber. We did very little gambling and I think by the end of the day we had lost about $8.00. However, we were comp’ed several glasses of wine which more than made up for our losses in our opinion and it was nice sitting down at the bar to rest a bit since the walking the strip meant we walked several miles…

We extended one more day here since we still have some chores to do before moving on… Next up for us will be a short stay near Laughlin, Nevada near the California Nevada border…