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


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???


By stubbs99

Kings of the Castle

Well I am sure everyone is wondering what lame excuse the Captain will come up with this time for being so tardy in getting a new blog posted. Wonder no more cause here it is. Ever since returning from Tucson after Christmas the internet signal here in the LTVA has been dismal at best. Sure its fine between 6 and 7 in the morning and after 10 at night but any other time of the day it is sloth-like to nonexistent. Additionally, CC has been testing out 3 different laptops for the job and has finally decided on a Dell 13.3 inch 2 in 1 model. So no more excuses, here is the latest and greatest from the sunny south.

With the exception of about 10 days around Christmas the weather has been 10 degrees (F) above normal (today 85) with below average winds so no complaints on the weather front given the cold and snow the folks at home have been getting. Finding some shade to relax in is sometimes the toughest part of the day. Ha Ha.

sunrise and


a rare rainbow

and rarer eclipse of the moon

Another unusual happening here is the level of the reservoir. For the past few weeks the water level has been the lowest we can remember ever seeing. It is so low, it is below the outtake pump level. No one seems to know for sure why but it could be related to work being done on the dam power plant.

The second half of the Desert Domino Challenge has surprisingly seen the girls jump out to a 5 – 2 lead. To avoid a collapse and more losses before the end of the 2nd half the girls have suggested they may simply not play any more games to ensure victory. The old “quit while your ahead strategy” while effective, is hardly sportsmanlike and any defaulting would result in the boys being handed the Cup.

Ellie joins the Girls Team

GG and EE take a break from the game to play on the couch

Miss EE has had a challenging month with another visit to the groomer for a real close shave. She has also become a full time walker on our Sunday morning lake hikes and has successfully managed the full route 5 weeks in a row.

EE’s new doo

and scarecrow ears

Happy New Years

Our first event of the New Year was a hike up Telegraph Pass Mountain at 7:30 am on January 1st. We were joined this year for the 2.5 mile hike up the mountain by our friends from Campbell River Pat and Bill Koss. EE beat GGs first attempt record by make the complete assent unaided. Of course GG was only 2 months old at the time and EE was 8 months but hey they were still both in the under 1 Year Old category. Just joking GG.

EE and the Captain with different modes of prep for the hike

starting the climb

time for a short break – Pat, Bill, BBB, LLL and GG

at the summit

GG too tired to stand on her own, not EE

views from the top

The Captain started the New Year by extending the distance of his weekly around the lake runs by 1, 2 and then 3 miles and has gasped his way to 3 – 8 milers, 1 – 9 miler and finally a 10 miler. It has been about 40 years since the Captain was crazy enough to attempt this kind of stuff and one never knows if the insanity will last??

Weekly Hikes

DD and CC continue to alternate in partaking of the weekly group hikes with the exception of our last hike (February 1st) when EE was deemed fit enough to join us. On 1 of the hikes, the Captain of course, forgot the camera therefore I can provide no photographic verification of this outing. On all of our hikes in January over 25 stalwarts were somehow convinced to go along despite the unorthodox leadership of Slippery Steve aka Steverino. The hikes were as follows:

Fish Camp

DD represented the Cowells on this hike (5 miles return) which runs across a few ridges to an alleged fish camp on the shores of the Colorado River.

DD looking for her shadowy friends

and found a few

on the trail out

the Lost Canuck at the Fish Camp

heading home

Rebecca poses for her hike verification photo

the old face in the rocks rock

Little Grand Canyon

This 6 mile hike was the one for which the Captain forgot the camera. It probably made no difference however as the group foolishly followed the Captain off in the wrong direction and we never did find the little Grand Canyon.

Painted Desert

CC was on this hike just outside of Martinez Lake, an hour’s drive from the LTVA.  Although CC did remember to bring the camera, remembering to use it is another matter. By the time CC remembered it was his job to take pictures, the 4.5 mile was just about over. I did get some nice pictures of a few rocks though, so there.

the Captains art deco rocks collection

LLL is just enthralled with the hike as you can clearly see

a small arch at the end of the hike

Dated Rock

Finally CC, DD and EE set out as a family for the Dated Rock hike. By now the weather was getting notably hotter and by the time the hike ended at noon everyone was glad to see the end of it. Unfortunately for this hike neither of our two esteemed leaders (Steverino and Lost Canuck) were in attendance so leadership was co-opted by the Captain and his sidekick Billy Goat. Despite losing one hiker and getting just a bit off track we jointly declared the hike a success. Even EE managed the trek with only a few lifts across washes.

EE definitely not the lead dog on this hike

aw look the whole family at the dated rock

Backcountry Bikes

Steverino and the Captain continued their Tuesday morning bicycle assaults on the backcountry however this month the backcountry seemed to win. We did have several really good rides but on 3 occasions flat tires cut them short. And of course, the flat tires were on CC’s bike. CC insists on riding on crappy old tires but has finally pried open the wallet and splurged on some new rubber.

One of CC’s flats came at a fairly remote location after we had ridden about 14 miles to a communications tower high above the LTVA. Steverino went ahead for help and CC slogged along for 5 miles with bike in tow until help in the form of DD in the truck arrived to save the day.

Dog Burn

As Slobber Jaws didn’t make it south this winter there is no Official LTVA Dog Burn. Our Missouri friends Dirty Dog Dave and Jezebel Jeannine took it upon themselves to rectify this and put on their own Dog Burn for our “neighborhood”. In all about 40 locals showed up to enjoy their hospitality and enjoy the get together. Despite JJ’s assurances that no real dogs would be sacrificed to the god Canine we felt it best to leave EE at home for this “ceremony”.

JJ had no idea who half of these people were

JJ (left) preparing the dogs for the fire while LLL, BBB, RRR, AA and the Captain leave her to it

Amorous Arlette and Roland the Rockin Raconteur

Really girls

Kings of the Castle Dome Climb

Now to the piece de resistance! The now, world renowned, Former Feckless Five (CC, Lucky Lonesome Larry, Billy Goat, Jake the Snake and Steverino) in search of a worthy challenge, got together and plotted to conquer the majestic but imposing Castle Dome. This would be a new adventure for Billy Goat and Jake the Snake, who would undoubtedly rely on the experience and bravery of the former conquerers of the Dome to ensure their safety and success.

The FFF headed out before daylight for the hour plus drive to the trailhead. Forty five minutes later the FFF left the wash and began tackling the 1600 foot ascent. In surely what will be recorded as a herculean effort the FFF in an astonishing short (105 minutes not including rest stops) time perched upon the summit. The total hike one way is 3 miles with a vertical from the trailhead of just over 2000 feet. The more dangerous climb, down because of the loose scree, was accomplished in the same time as the hike in. Fortunately, the winds were light and it wasn’t overly hot which made the trek all that more enjoyable. We all enjoyed the fantastic views from the summit.

the distant Dome

heading up out of the wash

looking back away from the Dome trail

Steverino and LLL share a Kodak moment

Billy Goat leading the charge

getting higher

and a little bit closer

and steeper

Steverino still seems fresh at the halfway point

but wait til he meets this skree field

looking out from the base of the thumb

start of the final few hundred feet above the thumb

looking back and down at the thumb

and still going up

to the summit

Steverino sitting on top of the world (sort of)

Jake phones wife Vicky and waves like she really can see him, not a chance Jake

looking down at an active gold mine (center of picture)

one hell of a view

heading back down to the thumb

imperative to step carefully here boys

All in all the FFF were thrilled with their accomplishment and are now looking for further challenges before things get too hot.

The End is Near

For this year anyway. In less than 3 weeks (February 21st) we will be packing up and heading east to Tucson to visit DDs sister Jeenen and hubby Pat for a week before once again heading north to the GWN.

By stubbs99