Spring Has Not Sprung in the GWN

The tired trio hobbled across the border back into “Oh Canada” on March 27th, one day before we would have been deported by Uncle Sam. Did you ever notice that Uncle Sam’s initials are U.S. Coincidence I think not!! A little off topic but it could be the effects of the cold arctic air blowing through my ears as we unhitched on the old homestead. Regardless, it is nice to be back home for a six months and with DD going back to work part time (3 days per week) on April 2nd the Captain will not have to seek solace so often in the inconspicuous, but well used “cone of silence”.

We have been pretty busy since getting back with setting up for the summer and visiting friends. Last night we spent the evening with Bouncy Bernice and Fearless Frank with the entertainment being provided by the inexhaustible antics of the Salt (Ellie) and Pepper (Sophie) poodles as they chased, wrestled and chewed on each other for almost 3 hours. These 2 kids are just 3 weeks apart in age and pretty much the same size.

We have paid a couple of visits to our ailing friend Normie who is just home from the hospital after major surgery and might be just a bit grumpier than before, although some would argue that there’s no way he could never ever get any grumpier. Pauline deserves a medal for looking after the old guy and I’m sure he’ll reward her with something extravagant when he finally recovers??? Right Normie.

In the last few days before we crossed the border we were happy to receive phone calls from Hawk and the Red Fox. These two kids spent the winter in different locales. Hawk camped in Florida and enjoyed the heat and time for writing while Red Fox endured numerous shopping trips despite the many nor’easters in Newberry Port, NJ that tried to keep her shut in. Good luck in keeping this girl down.

Also chatted a few times with best buds LLL and BBB and GG who are making preparations (except GG) for their trip to Germany this summer which also includes a “romantic” cruise on the Mediterranean. Gee Larry, you’re such a darling. You must owe BBB for something to do this!! DD and BBB also started making plans for another trip to Newfoundland in 2020. Sheeesh.

LLL reports that most of the desert denizens have left the Imperial Dam LTVA with the exception of our Drummondville friends Andre and Danielle. All our other LTVA friends (Dirty Dog Dave/Jezebel Jeannine, Roland the Rockin Raconteur/Amorous Arlette, Peppermint Patty/Billy Goat, Steve/Madelyn, Chris/Von, Sandy/Jerry and of course Steverino) are either home or are on their way home. Hope to see you all next fall.

So back to the script. After leaving Stewart’s Point we still didn’t know what our itinerary was and with only about 6 days left we decided to do a quick drive through Saint George to Page and up through Monument Valley to Moab, across to Salt Lake City and north to Pendleton with a final overnight stop in Omak WA.

our last sunsets at Stewart’s Point

heading up the Virgin Gorge toward Saint George

Page – Lone Rock Page

Our 2nd overnight stop after Stewart’s Point was at Lone Rock Beach just outside of Page AZ. Camping on the beach here was one of the Captain’s bucket list events. According to many free camping web sites this stop was a no brainer even though there was a $10.00 BLM fee. Well the Captain should have been a little more diligent in his research because this is now part of the Lake Powell National Recreation Area and in addition to the $25.00 entrance fee there was also a $14.00 per night camping fee. Gee only $39.00 bucks for dry camping on the beach. What a deal. So like good honest Canadian kids we coughed up and paid up. We think it was highly unlikely that most of the other campers paid as there was no one at the gate and no one came to check to see if we had paid. Regardless, is was a beautiful (but crowded) spot to camp and we only got the Eagle 5 slightly stuck in the sand once so DD only had one major flip out the whole time.

on the road to Page. DD claims this boat is shipped rock

there it is, the Lone Rock

beach bums

Ellie tracks in the sand according to

beach bunnies???

Lake Powell

sunset at Lake Powell

Monument Valley and Moab

We drove from Page to Moab in one day. Very difficult to describe the incredible rock formations in Monument Valley. As the weather was cold and windy we didn’t make too many pit stops for pictures so most of the ones posted here are from inside the truck so DD wasn’t able to get the professional results to which our readers have become accustomed.

In Moab (not too much free camping here) we unknowingly crashed a gathering of the Escapee RV Club being held on the old Moab Municipal Airport site. Despite our lack of credentials we were able to convince them to let us camp the night with the proviso that DD would keep any conversations to a minimum of 73 minutes per person. I think BBB and LLL know what I mean.

beginning of drive through Monument Valley

looks like a face in the rock??

down to Bluff

Top Hat 1

Top Hat 2

should have brought the roller blades

EE doesn’t seem to be taking it all in

The scenery as we left Moab was quite different than Monument Valley but just as spectacular. This is definitely on our list for return and longer visit.

its still winter in the mountains

not sure what the building blocks represent

this out of place tree is actually a cell tower

heading toward Salina UT on I70

Pendelton

We spent 3 nights at Camp Walmart (Centerville UT, Jerome ID and Caldwell ID) on our way to Pendelton. At the Walmart in Caldwell we had a most interesting neighbour. See photo below.

our neighbour brought his buddy out of the camper for a breath of fresh air

We spent 2 nights at the Wildhorse Casino outside of Pendelton waiting for the weather to clear up before moving on. Both the Captain and surprisingly DD came up empty at the slots but we were rewarded with a visit from a couple of friends from the desert. Fred and Reba dropped by for a visit and brought pizza. Can’t complain about that. Next time through, we’ll return the visit and favour. Seems like we know a lot of folks from a lot of different places.  One of the best benfits of being on the road.

So that’s it for now kids as we sit here in Vernon waiting for spring to arrive so we can get on with our summer activities. Tonight the temperature is expected to be -4C which is about 25F. Oh well it’s only been officially spring now for 10 days and the ice still hasn’t melted off Swan Lake.

By stubbs99

No (Valley of) Fire, No Hurry, No Worry

This is day 25 since leaving Imperial Dam and despite putting over 1500 km on the odometer we are only a miserly 550 km north from our starting point. So only another 2000 km to go provided we keep on the straight and narrow which isn’t necessarily in the current plan?? At this rate we won’t be home until the summer solstice!! At least it might be warm by then??

The other quirky thing about this trip is that we really haven’t done much of anything in the way of hiking/biking etc. but it hasn’t been without some interesting stops and untoward events.

Gambling on Tucson

Back to Tucson for a week to visit DDs sister Jeneen and hubby Pat and the unexpected arrival of DDs brother Jody and spouse Donna. With the exception of the Captain, the gang managed a hike around Little Cat Mountain just on the outskirts of Tucson Estates which is in the park where Pat and Jeneen are renting for the winter. We also enjoyed another dinner at Franks Arena and apparently from all reports from the omnivores the heavily laden meat pizza was excellent.

Pat hard at work in the kitchen

a hummingbird in its nest beside the condo

and a woodpecker

Jeneen, Donna, Jody, EE and DD on the hike

looking back at Tucson Estates from the trail

Jeneen and EE pose for their picture

The 6 of us ventured out to the Casino Del Sol for an evening of tempting Lady Luck. Well the evening was just about over minutes after entering the smoky gambling hall as CC with his usual flourish managed to lose his $20.00 in mere minutes. No one else fared much better, although DD was up by 5, and as we slinked toward the exit Pat suggested we all chip in a dollar and play one of the dollar machines. So 6 bucks 6 chances, no problem. DD of course goes first and wins big (5 dollars) 5 more rolls and nothing. Time to cash out, but DD insists we move our fortune into the next machine over. DD rolls first and nothing. Jeneen rolls next and nothing. We are now down to 3 big ones and you know who isn’t getting another shot, right the Captain, so Donna goes next and when the lights start flashing and sirens wail and we have a winner. Not a BIG win mind you, but a cool $100.00 which more than covered the earlier loses. DD grabs the chit and heads to the Cashier before anyone has an opportunity to think the unthinkable and suggest we reinvest.

From the Casino, CC and DD move across town to Catalina State Park for a couple of days to dump, fill up and clean up before getting back on the road and hitting a few BLMs that we haven’t been to before. And as reminder that winter isn’t necessarily over, even in the south, we woke up on our first morning at the park to see the local Catalina hills around us covered in snow. Yikes. Fortunately, it was gone the next day, so we convinced ourselves it was probably just a bad dream.

snow on the Catalina hills

BLMings

Over the next 17 nights we stayed in 4 different BLM dispersed camping areas between Tucson and Las Vegas. 3 of the 4 were good to excellent with just 1 getting a thumbs down. In chronological order here they are:

Saddle Mountain

Located about 100 km west of Phoenix and well off Interstate 10 near Tonopah. We spent 3 nights here. Not too crowded but some traffic noise from the local highway running by the BLM but very dark and quiet at night. Great for walks, hikes and biking. We didn’t camp too far in off the highway because of DDs sketchy roads issue. No pictures of Saddle Mountain for verification of our stay here due to technical difficulties.

Big River

Located approximately 6 miles west of Parker AZ, but in California. We spent 4 nights here. Probably even better than Saddle Mountain as there was less traffic noise from the nearby highway and once again extremely quiet at night. Warm temperatures and very light winds while here which allowed us to sit around a wonderful fire one evening.

campfire night for the girls

The only mishap while here was a dumb ass move by the Captain. While out for his regular 5 mile morning run one fine morning the Captain let himself become distracted while running down a rough gravel road. This failure to adequately observe the road ahead resulted in the Captain tripping over a rock and crashing head first onto the gravel road. Can you say road rash. Fortunately DD and EE were out for walk as CC staggered home with blood pouring down his face, leg and hands. A quick cleanup and he was as good as new??

 

Government Wash (Lake Mead NRA)

Located about 25 miles east of North Las Vegas. We spent 1 night here. Our first real BLM disappointment. Although camping here provides a nice view of Lake Mead, a nice view doesn’t compensate for the negatives in our humble opinion. Most of the camping spots were in graded pullouts on a very dusty, busy road. Fishermen with their boats drive by at excessive speeds with little regard for the dust being kicked up and spewed on the campers as they hurry their way to the boat launch. Perhaps the hurry is needed to get to the lake before the water level drops to a point where the fish are forced to move to another body of water. We also determined that there must be a local bylaw that prohibits dog owners from bending and scooping. Nice to look at but in reality it’s the shits.

Stewarts’s Point (Lake Mead NRA)

Located near the north end of the NRA about 15 miles south of Overton.  We have stayed here for 9 nights now. Fairly close to Government Wash as the crow flies but miles apart as a place to stay. A really underutilized BLM. Since we have been here there has not been over 15 units at any given time and for about half the time it has been like we are the only ones around. Very peaceful with no traffic noise and incredible views of Lake Mead. Even the one pit toilet is always clean and usable. Would be tough to find a better spot than this especially at $20.00 for a week that allows you to dump and get water at nearby Echo Bay Campground.

views form our campsite

While out on one of our walks around the BLM we came across a unique “rock garden” created by some unknown campers. These folks definitely had lots of time on their hands but sure did some incredible work here.

EE thinks she’s a rock hound

doesn’t look like all that much from here, but

We also found it interesting that almost everywhere we walked here the ground was covered in seashells. Where we camped was likely under water when the lake was at its highest level (100 feet higher) in 1983.

Our original plan was to go to Valley of Fire (about 5 miles away) for a few days but a drive there one morning found it to be completely full. Although we could have hung around and got a site we both looked at each other and agreed that it was “really” crowded so we felt good about returning to Stewart’s Point for a few more days. We did have one major issue while here. No it wasn’t a DD issue but an Eagle 5 issue. DD had been saying she could hear a clunking noise when we first start to roll or go over very rough roads. CC finally crawled under the rig and found one of the leaf spring hangers had sheared completely off. We limped into Overton with the rig and had Cal from Cals Auto repair weld on a new hanger for us. Cal and his brother Charles are a couple of “older hands” at fixing just about anything dragged in and in a couple of hours had us back on the road. The bill was a more than reasonable $165.00 which I’m sure would have been double or triple at an authorized RV Shop. Would recommend these guys without hesitation.

the broken hanger

We are heading out from Stewart’s Point tomorrow morning (March 19th) and heading up towards St. George Utah to pick up supplies at Costco. We still haven’t made a final decision on our route north. Still planning on going to Page, AZ and up through Monument Valley to Moab but depends on the weather and time. We have to cross the border on or before March 28th.

By stubbs99

February Fun & Froggies

Another winter season at Imperial Dam LTVA has now come and gone for the Captain, Debbie Dewdrops and new family member Eccentric Ellie. We left the LTVA at bit earlier than normal this year so we could spend some time in Tucson visiting DD’s sister Jeneen and hubby Pat. We are also hoping the weather will cooperate so we can do a bit of touring up towards Monument Valley on our way home but a current cold spell may put a damper on this plan. Only time will tell at this point. Our target date to return to Canada is March 28th.

will miss these colouful skies for sure

EEs spruced up for the jouney home

So without further ado the following is a roundup of some of our last few weeks in the desert.

The Valentines Day Brunch

BBB and LLL hosted a Valentines Day brunch for a group of their and Gypsy’s closest winter compatriots. With the exception of the somewhat overpowering olfactory assault experienced by DD and CC from the smell of frying bacon our hosts more than outdid themselves in winning our hearts with their breakfast bonanza.

noon is a little early apparently for Kurly Kathy

LLL and DD work the inside kitchen

while BBB toils under the watchful eye of Steverino

Greg, Billy Goat and LLL chow down

while CC presides over the outside table with KK, Fred and Reba

LLL the coffee serving wench extraordinaire

Pat and Steverino at the buffet table

no comment form CC

LLL and CCC chat about dish pan hands

while the girls play outside

On thing for sure is that these two girls are going to miss each others company and play times until November 2018, but then again not sure EE is going to miss having GG push her into the burro poop.

The Dominos Debacles

As reported in my last blog post the girls were ahead in the 2nd half of the Desert Dominos Challenge and had threatened to not partake in any further matches to prevent the boys from making a historic comeback. Alas it was not to be and the girls managed to squeak to a narrow 7 to 3 victory to take the 2nd half title which still left them in a 1 to 1 tie with the boys for the season. Tsk tsk. The boys were however “crowned” as champions

On another domino front CC and Dirty Dog Dave (of Missouri fame) absolutely destroyed the girls, DD and Jezebel Jeannine by routing them 3 to 0. The 3 games didn’t seem to last quite as long as the litany of excuses from the girls we were entreated to after the games ended.

JJ must be commended however as she and DDD did provide us with Doggy Daycare one evening so we could go out to dinner with LLL and BBB.

EE at Jeannine’s Doggy Daycare

JJ and DDD seem kinda happy that EE has finally gone home

The Oggorfians Strike Back

Two of DDs sisters Jeneen and Maureen (let’s just call them the “eens”) made a very long one day return trek from Tucson for a visit. Jeneen accompanied DD to her ukulele jam session while CC and EE took Maureen on a 4.5 mile hike through a couple of nearby slot canyons.

DD and the “eens” Maureen on left and Jeneen on right

CC and Maureen compare winter tans

The Weekly Hikes

Western Ridge

The Former Feckless Five hiking group added a 6th member (Howard the Duck) and scaled the 1200 vertical foot ridge at the west end of the LTVA. Although not quite the challenge of Castle Dome the boulder strewn surface of the ridge presented plenty of opportunities for twisted ankles and broken hiking poles.

about halfway up the ridge

Billy Goat resting a little further up at the top

still climbing

okay looks like we made it

Jake the Snake, LLL, Billy Goat, Howard the Duck with Steverino on the right

some curious rocks up here

looking down to the LTVA with the reservoir in the background

The Turquoise Mine

DD and sidekick EE enjoyed a Steverino led hike out to the old turquoise mine along with 27 other hearty hikers. This annual hike is a pleasant desert trek on mostly level ground which probably explains the large number of hikers.

hiking through washes

looking back at the LTVA

looks like the gang is all here

lunch stop and photo op

Steverino guards the old stone cabin, but why

that is the question

Natural Bridge

The natural bridge hike is another annual favourite with a few more challenges than the turquoise mine hike including a return through the V slot canyons in Imperial Wash. CC, DD, EE covered the 5 mile hike along with a group of 14 others.

below the bridge

EE as the lead dog

CC and EE on the bridge

heading back down the wash

CC the slot canyon greeter

EE checking her rear view mirror

winding our way down

EE finds a dry watering hole

looks like there is no way out

CC explores for an escape route

EE home after the hike

The Back Country Bikes

Steverino and the Captain could only manage one final backcountry ride in February however we got in a good one that covered over 18 miles and took us out Ferguson road to the top of Wolf Canyon, down through the canyon to the reservoir, then on to Kripple Kreek. Past Kripple Kreek we headed west to Coyote Ridge and on to the 727 before making in back to the LTVA. A pretty good 3 hour ride to end the season and for once both of us made the ride relatively unscathed.

coming off Ferguson Road

heading down Wolf Canyon

no road signs out here

Steverino spies a downed cyclist???

the water is so low in the reservoir the out take can be seen

heading up the 727

Etcetera Etcetera Etc.

Seems like I could go on and on but I won’t. Thanks goodness!, I can hear you say, so here are some pictures of a few of our last month’s activities as reported from the parking lot of the Casino del Sol in Tucson. But before I do I must say that this has to be the busiest RV parking lot we have ever been in. In the past when we have been here there were probably 10 to 12 RVs, but this time there are close to 100 units which dwarfs the 50 plus rigs we encountered at the Walmart in Whitehorse a few years ago.

this shows just on small section of the parking lot

fireworks at YPG 75th Anniversary form about a mile away

Vidie of the fireworks

DDs catches Buster performing at her last Sunday Jam session

Roland the Rockin Raconteur and Amorous Arlette also kick one out

CC and DD at Wheezys for dinner with

yes you guessed it… the former Klingons BBB and LLL

also enjoying our last campfire of the season

DD claims she sees a face in the fire???

Really????

By stubbs99