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