February 2, 2020 Tucson AZ

I planned to have an easy day in Tucson before watching the superbowl.  But the game was pretty late so I looked for something to do early in the day.  

Since I was on an airbase it seemed appropriate.to visit the the Pima Air Museum which has the second largest collection of airplanes in the world.  On the way I drove by the boneyard.  Davis-Monthan Air Force Base where I am staying is where the US stores aircraft that are not currently being used but not ready to be scrapped.  Some are being held in reserve in case they are needed in the future.  Some are being stored for possible sale to other countries Air Forces, and some are being harvested for spare parts for similar aircraft.  There are thousands of aircraft stored here in the desert and it is quite a site.  The storage area is referred to as the boneyard.

Some of the thousands of aircraft in the “boneyard” next to the campground.

The Pima Museum was very impressive, I spent about three hours wandering thru the exhibitions looking at both military and commercial aircraft.  There were some interesting experimental planes, and some classics.  The WWII exhibits were especially impressive.  If you like planes or just like mechanical things I highly recommend the Pima Museum.

A cool strategic bomber from the late 1940’s at the Pima Air Museum.

My last adventure for the day was to try to find an ATM from my bank.  It took two tries  and about 10 miles of driving to find one.  Scout would not fit into the drive thru so I parked and was walking up to use it when a car sped around me and cut in to beat me to the machine.  Then they spent about five minutes getting ready to deposit checks while I cooled my heals in the sun standing behind them.  The guy did not even have the guts to make eye contact with me while I waited for them to complete there complicated transaction from the comfort of their car.

Today is my day for jerks, as my neighbor at the campground is apparently using his truck engine as his generator to power his RV, so every hour he runs his truck for 15 minutes right outside the door of my RV even when I am sitting outside watching the Super Bowl.  On top of that the team I was rooting for in the Super Bowl lost.  Tucson so far has been my least favorite stop on the trip.

February 1, 2020 Ajo AZ

With great reluctance I left Organ Pipe.  I decided to head towards Tucson to do some much needed shopping, and to be somewhere that I could get TV to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday.

As I was leaving I debated whether to stop in the town of Ajo as it was about 20 miles out of the way.  In the early 1980’s my sister lived in Ajo as she had married a guy from there.  I remember visiting her and thinking it was the most remote place on earth, a dusty company town that was dominated by a gigantic copper mine.  At the time the copper mine there was supposed to be the largest in the world.  The mine closed in the 1990’s and given how remote it was I wondered what state the town would be in. 

A mission style church across from the main square of Ajo.

I am glad I decided to visit as the town had much more character than I remembered and actually seemed to be thriving. It is one of the oldest settlements in Arizona having been founded in 1854, one year after the land was purchased from Mexico.  The town is centered on a typical Spanish style town square, common in Mexico and New Mexico.  It is small but very well preserved and charming.

The town square with a very nice Christmas Tree even though it is February 1st, I guess why waste a good Christmas tree on just Christmas!  

Since the mine closed it looks like the town has become a small artists colony.  Since it was Saturday there was a small farmers market with local artists, and some baked goods, but not a lot of farm produce.  There is also a antique and art store around the corner from the square that was interesting.

The entrance to the antique market in Ajo.

Next to the antique store was a sign saying do not miss the artists ally, so I turned down to check it out.  There were some interesting wall murals down the ally, and I ended up spending about 20 minutes walking the ally even though it was only 30 yards long.

Another mural from the artists ally.

Finally it was time to head out to Tucson.  As I was crossing the Tohono O’Odham Reservation which is the second largest Reservation in the US there was a surprising amount of traffic.  It turns out this weekend is the annual tribal rodeo and festival.  I passed the rodeo grounds and was tempted to stop for the day but pressed on instead.

I spent the rest of the day in one of the busiest Costcos I have ever seen, and the military grocery at the Air Force Base in Tucson.  Tonight I am parked on the Air Force Base dry camping.

January 31, 2020 Organ Pipe Cactus NM

I slept in a little this morning before heading out to explore some more of the Monument.  As I was walking around I saw a European camper with Netherlands plates.  I asked them how they liked traveling in the US and they said they were enjoying it tremendously and were looking for ways to come every year.  I told them about our van in France and it started a long conversation about how we arranged things in Europe, and they asked questions about purchasing here in the US, as they are thinking about buying an American RV.  It was an interesting conversation, and I learned about some places they really enjoyed in Europe to add to our future travels.

The campground tucked into the desert at Organ Pipe.

I spent the day doing a couple of drives along the other two scenic roads.  These roads were interesting as they showed different environments in the Sonora.  One was dominated by Saguaro cactuses.  The other was a road that paralleled the Mexican border for 14 miles to a small natural pond fed by springs.  The road was heavily traveled by construction equipment as they are building a section of the wall here.

Trumps Folly, a scar on the Sonoran Desert and a scar on the American Soul.

I returned to the campsite which is one of the best I have seen in the Park Service and is very well managed by the rangers.  There are a couple of trails that leave from the campground so I walked the desert view trail and enjoyed the expansive views, and the quiet that you get when you are far away from civilization.  The Park Service had put out very interesting plaques describing how the native American and early European settlers used different plants for medicine and to produce household goods.   This place is special, the views are incredible, often the only sound you here is the wind, and both the day and night skies are pristine.  

A Saguaro forest on the desert view trail.

When I returned to Scout for the evening I ran into Harry and Erna and we spent some more time over a couple of beers talking about traveling in North America and Europe.  I also said good bye to John and Yvette my neighbors with the Tiger and thanked them for their advice on the blog.

Once again I finished up my day by attending another ranger talk.  Tomorrow I am reluctantly off to civilization as the food cupboard is bare.

January 30, 2020 Organ Pipe Cactus NM

The plan for today was to drive the Ajo Mountain Road and hike a couple of the trails along the road.  I woke up about 6 am and thought I would go out and watch the sunrise after I made my morning coffee.  I made my way to the top of a hill and enjoyed the quiet of the desert morning.  The sky was crystal clear which made for a pretty but not spectacular sun rise.  I ended up wandering up into the desert and ended up with a nice walk while enjoying my coffee.

I tried a little artistic shot of an Organ Pipe at sunrise, but I miss the real photographer in the family.

After returning to Scout and puttering around for awhile I bought another day for the campground before taking off for the drive.  The Ajo Mountain loop is a 21 mile gravel road up into the Ajo’s.  Both hikes are near the base of the mountains. One is called Arch trail and is an easy 3 mile out and back, though I never did see the Arch.  The other trail is two trails that connect to lead you to an overview that gives you views into Mexico, and back towards Ajo.  When I got to this trail I was feeling a little lazy so I decided to hike the flat part and skip the 1000 foot climb to the overlook.  I was able to follow two Park Service Rangers out looking at plant life.

Two nice examples of the namesake cactus of the park.

The park is being significantly impacted by the current government immigration policy.  A large portion of the wall is being built across the valley floor at the base of the Monument.  

These signs are abundant in the park.

It was early afternoon when I returned to the campground for lunch.  I was planning one more short hike from the campground for the afternoon, but instead I ended up talking to my neighbor John for a couple of hours about Tiger ownership, military experience, and blogs.  John and Yvette’s blog is www.theturtleandthetiger.com, it is their adventures full timing in a Tiger around the US.  

This bird was singing up a storm when I went by.

Before I realized it it was dinner time and time for me to do my evening catch up with Ton.  I ended the day with another interesting Ranger Talk on how nocturnal animals navigate in low light.  The Ranger talks are one of my favorite things about the parks, and the young men and women who share their passion for the parks and nature always gives me a warm feeling.

January 29, 2020 Organ Pipe Cactus NM

Today I reached the target for the trip.  When I was looking for places to go both Ton and Dylan my son said that I should visit Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.  So I am here now, and I am really glad they recommended this place.

I was pretty low on fuel so the plan was to find a gas station before I left Yuma.  I plugged the Monument into Greta and she gave me a different route than I took yesterday but I figured there would be a gas station on the way.  The route took me through an extensive agricultural area in the desert.  I learned why the Proving Grounds tested bridges in the desert as the Colorado River runs thru Yuma.  The agricultural area is a result of tapping the river water.

The green of the fields against the desert mountains was jarring.

I ended up on the Interstate without gas and I really needed gas so I got off at the first available fuel.  When I pulled up to the pump they were really gouging so I put in enough to get me to the exit from the freeway.  A little further up the freeway I saw fuel at a reasonable price so I filled up.  With the fuel problem solved I headed on down to the Monument.

The drive thru the back country was pretty quiet, with no towns for about 70 miles until I came into the old mining town of Ajo.  My family has a connection with Ajo as my sister lived there for a few years.  On the way out I plan on stopping to check it out.

The drive into the monument is lined with all types of cactuses not just the Organ Pipes that the monument is named after.  On arrival I was a little worried about campground availability so I headed up there but there was plenty of room and the Ranger told me I could pick any spot that had a green card on it.  As I was driving in I saw another Tiger like ours which is pretty rare.  The spot next to it was empty so there are two Tigers parked side by side.  The couple is from Massachusetts  and they are full timing in their Tiger.

Scout parked up next to a large Saguaro cactus.

Once I settled in and finished lunch I decided to head for the visitors center along a walking trail where I got an introduction to all of the different types of cactus in the Sonora desert.

There are four types of cactus in this photo if you look carefully.

They were giving a Ranger talk when I got to the visitors center so I caught the end of it.  After I consulted with one of the volunteers and made a plan for the next couple of days I headed back to Scout to prepare dinner.  After dinner I spoke to my other neighbors who are also from the west side of Portland and finished the day with another Ranger talk on coyotes.

A flowering barrel cactus.

January 28, 2020 Yuma AZ

Today turned into a shopping day.  I wanted to swing by a couple of military bases to pick up some food and stuff.  Yuma has both an Army testing area, and a Marine Corps Air Station.  

I started at the Army base as they have a RV camp and I needed to dump and get some water.  While I was in there I asked about availability and they said they had only one spot available so I moved on to the Marines.  

After a run thru their stores it was early afternoon and I had to decide what to do.  I had a couple of options there is a National Wildlife Refuge in the area so I headed over to their headquarters to look at the option.  The nearest place I could camp was about 90 minutes away.  I checked the next option which was to head on to Organ Pipe National Monument and that was over 2 hours away.  I decided to call the Army to see if they still had that spot and they did so I headed over there for the night.

The base does ordnance testing, is the sight of the armed forces High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) parachuting school, which is done by special operations, and interestingly the place where they test bridging equipment despite the fact that it is in the middle of the Sonora Desert.  

A WWII Sherman tank on display at Yuma Proving Grounds.

At the base entrance they have an interesting display of old armor and artillery that I stopped in to take a look at.  This place was a major training area during WWII with three infantry divisions going thru here before heading to Europe.  I wandered thru the old equipment for a while.  Included in the display was an example of the howitzer that I worked on during my first two years in the Marines.

The M101 105mm howitzer that I operated during my first two years in the Marines.

By the campground they had an interesting display of a land train concept that was trialed at this base during the early 1960’s.  The concept was to have a train that did not run on rails and was capable of going across country off of roads.  The thinking was that this would allow for flexible logistics.  The train consisted of a command unit, two power units, and 10 wagons.  The entire thing was over 500 feet long.  They tested it here for 3 years before abandoning the concept.

The command unit of the land train.  The back includes quarters for 6 people.  The wheels are over 10 feet tall.

January 27, 2020 Quartzite AZ

I wanted to swing by Quartzite AZ which is an interesting part of the RV culture.  In the winter the town of 5000 year round residents swells to as many as 500,000 people as RV’s by the thousands descend on the town to enjoy cheap sunshine and parking.

I took my time leaving in the morning as I wanted the rush hour traffic in Las Vegas to settle before setting off.  The drive was an uneventful 200 miles thru the Mojave desert.  While the landscape was desert there are subtle differences.  The valleys between the mountains are generally much wider, and on this drive the sage brush is gone and you begin to see various types of cactus.  I really enjoy driving thru the desert as you realize how harsh and tough an environment it is.

I arrived around lunch time and the town was busy, but I missed the biggest week of the year by one day.  Once a year there is a RV show under a giant tent in the desert that is supposed to be the biggest in the country.  During that week an estimated 500,000 people attend the show.  Thousands of RV’s park in the BLM land surrounding the town.  Today driving from Las Vegas to Quartzite I easily passed a couple of hundred RV’s heading home from Quartzite.

I did a quick driving tour of the town and then headed over to the giant tent as there were a lot vendors set up there even though the show was over.  I ended up in a giant flea market.  I walked over to see the giant tent and imagined 500,000 people swarming it last week.  I took a turn thru the flea market but could not find anything I needed so I decided to head out of town.  

One of several vendor areas like giant flea markets around Quartzite.  The theme is RV’s, Americana, and Seniors.

When I got to Scout I realized that Arizona is on Mountain Time in the winter so it was an hour later than I thought so I decided to find a place locally.  Leaving town I saw a BLM office surrounded by several hundred RV’s so I pulled in there.  When I went in the office they told me it would be $40 for a week, I asked if they had a nightly fee, but it was one week or nothing for this site.  As I was walking out the volunteer told me that if I went up the road five miles I would see a bunch of RV’s parked on BLM land and that site was free for up to 14 days.  So tonight I am parked up with several hundred other RV’s for free about 7 miles from Quartzite.

Scout on his free site courtesy of the BLM.

February 2, 2020 Tucson AZ

I planned to have an easy day in Tucson before watching the superbowl.  But the game was pretty late so I looked for something to do early in the day.  

Since I was on an airbase it seemed appropriate.to visit the the Pima Air Museum which has the second largest collection of airplanes in the world.  On the way I drove by the boneyard.  Davis-Monthan Air Force Base where I am staying is where the US stores aircraft that are not currently being used but not ready to be scrapped.  Some are being held in reserve in case they are needed in the future.  Some are being stored for possible sale to other countries Air Forces, and some are being harvested for spare parts for similar aircraft.  There are thousands of aircraft stored here in the desert and it is quite a site.  The storage area is referred to as the boneyard.

Some of the thousands of aircraft in the “boneyard” next to the campground.

The Pima Museum was very impressive, I spent about three hours wandering thru the exhibitions looking at both military and commercial aircraft.  There were some interesting experimental planes, and some classics.  The WWII exhibits were especially impressive.  If you like planes or just like mechanical things I highly recommend the Pima Museum.

A cool strategic bomber from the late 1940’s at the Pima Air Museum.

My last adventure for the day was to try to find an ATM from my bank.  It took two tries  and about 10 miles of driving to find one.  Scout would not fit into the drive thru so I parked and was walking up to use it when a car sped around me and cut in to beat me to the machine.  Then they spent about five minutes getting ready to deposit checks while I cooled my heals in the sun standing behind them.  The guy did not even have the guts to make eye contact with me while I waited for them to complete their complicated transaction from the comfort of their car.

Today is my day for jerks, as my neighbor at the campground is apparently using his truck engine as his generator to power his RV, so every hour he runs his truck for 15 minutes right outside the door of my RV even when I am sitting outside watching the Super Bowl.  On top of that the team I was rooting for in the Super Bowl lost.  Tucson so far has been my least favorite stop on the trip.

February 1, 2020 Ajo AZ

With great reluctance I left Organ Pipe.  I decided to head towards Tucson to do some much needed shopping, and to be somewhere that I could get TV to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday.

As I was leaving I debated whether to stop in the town of Ajo as it was about 20 miles out of the way.  In the early 1980’s my sister lived in Ajo as she had married a guy from there.  I remember visiting her and thinking it was the most remote place on earth, a dusty company town that was dominated by a gigantic copper mine.  At the time the copper mine there was supposed to be the largest in the world.  The mine closed in the 1990’s and given how remote it was I wondered what state the town would be in. 

A mission style church across from the main square of Ajo.

I am glad I decided to visit as the town had much more character than I remembered and actually seemed to be thriving. It is one of the oldest settlements in Arizona having been founded in 1854, one year after the land was purchased from Mexico.  The town is centered on a typical Spanish style town square, common in Mexico and New Mexico.  It is small but very well preserved and charming.

The town square with a very nice Christmas Tree even though it is February 1st, I guess why waste a good Christmas tree on just Christmas! 

Since the mine closed it looks like the town has become a small artists colony.  Since it was Saturday there was a small farmers market with local artists, and some baked goods, but not a lot of farm produce.  There is also a antique and art store around the corner from the square that was interesting.

The entrance to the antique market in Ajo.

Next to the antique store was a sign saying do not miss the artists ally, so I turned down to check it out.  There were some interesting wall murals down the ally, and I ended up spending about 20 minutes walking the ally even though it was only 30 yards long.

A mural from the artists ally.

Finally it was time to head out to Tucson.  As I was crossing the Tohono O’Odham Reservation which is the second largest Reservation in the US there was a surprising amount of traffic.  It turns out this weekend is the annual tribal rodeo and festival.  I passed the rodeo grounds and was tempted to stop for the day but pressed on instead.

I spent the rest of the day in one of the busiest Costcos I have ever seen, and the military grocery at the Air Force Base in Tucson.  Tonight I am parked on the Air Force Base dry camping.

January 31, 2020 Organ Pipe Cactus NM

I slept in a little this morning before heading out to explore some more of the Monument.  As I was walking around I saw a European camper with Netherlands plates.  I asked them how they liked traveling in the US and they said they were enjoying it tremendously and were looking for ways to come every year.  I told them about our van in France and it started a long conversation about how we arranged things in Europe, and they asked questions about purchasing here in the US, as they are thinking about buying an American RV.  It was an interesting conversation, and I learned about some places they really enjoyed in Europe to add to our future travels.

The campground tucked into the desert at Organ Pipe.

I spent the day doing a couple of drives along the other two scenic roads.  These roads were interesting as they showed different environments in the Sonora.  One was dominated by Saguaro cactuses.  The other was a road that paralleled the Mexican border for 14 miles to a small natural pond fed by springs.  The road was heavily traveled by construction equipment as they are building a section of the wall here.

Trumps Folly, a scar on the Sonoran Desert and a scar on the American Soul.

I returned to the campsite which is one of the best I have seen in the Park Service and is very well managed by the rangers.  There are a couple of trails that leave from the campground so I walked the desert view trail and enjoyed the expansive views, and the quiet that you get when you are far away from civilization.  The Park Service had put out very interesting plaques describing how the native American and early European settlers used different plants for medicine and to produce household goods.   This place is special, the views are incredible, often the only sound you here is the wind, and both the day and night skies are pristine.  

A Saguaro forest on the desert view trail.

When I returned to Scout for the evening I ran into Harry and Erna and we spent some more time over a couple of beers talking about traveling in North America and Europe.  I also said good bye to John and Yvette my neighbors with the Tiger and thanked them for their advice on the blog.

Once again I finished up my day by attending another ranger talk.  Tomorrow I am reluctantly off to civilization as the food cupboard is bare.

January 30, 2020 Organ Pipe Cactus NM

The plan for today was to drive the Ajo Mountain Road and hike a couple of the trails along the road.  I woke up about 6 am and thought I would go out and watch the sunrise after I made my morning coffee.  I made my way to the top of a hill and enjoyed the quiet of the desert morning.  The sky was crystal clear which made for a pretty but not spectacular sun rise.  I ended up wandering up into the desert and ended up with a nice walk while enjoying my coffee.

I tried a little artistic shot of an Organ Pipe at sunrise, but I miss the real photographer in the family.

After returning to Scout and puttering around for awhile I bought another day for the campground before taking off for the drive.  The Ajo Mountain loop is a 21 mile gravel road up into the Ajo’s.  Both hikes are near the base of the mountains. One is called Arch trail and is an easy 3 mile out and back, though I never did see the Arch.  The other trail is two trails that connect to lead you to an overview that gives you views into Mexico, and back towards Ajo.  When I got to this trail I was feeling a little lazy so I decided to hike the flat part and skip the 1000 foot climb to the overlook.  I was able to follow two Park Service Rangers out looking at plant life.

Two nice examples of the namesake cactus of the park.

The park is being significantly impacted by the current government immigration policy.  A large portion of the wall is being built across the valley floor at the base of the Monument.  

These signs are abundant in the park.

It was early afternoon when I returned to the campground for lunch.  I was planning one more short hike from the campground for the afternoon, but instead I ended up talking to my neighbor John for a couple of hours about Tiger ownership, military experience, and blogs.  John and Yvette’s blog is www.theturtleandthetiger.com, it is their adventures full timing in a Tiger around the US.  

This bird was singing up a storm when I went by.

Before I realized it it was dinner time and time for me to do my evening catch up with Ton.  I ended the day with another interesting Ranger Talk on how nocturnal animals navigate in low light.  The Ranger talks are one of my favorite things about the parks, and the young men and women who share their passion for the parks and nature always gives me a warm feeling.

January 29, 2020 Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Today I reached the target for the trip.  When I was looking for places to go both Ton and Dylan my son said that I should visit Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.  So I am here now, and I am really glad they recommended this place.

I was pretty low on fuel so the plan was to find a gas station before I left Yuma.  I plugged the Monument into Greta and she gave me a different route than I took yesterday but I figured there would be a gas station on the way.  The route took me through an extensive agricultural area in the desert.  I learned why the Proving Grounds tested bridges in the desert as the Colorado River runs thru Yuma.  The agricultural area is a result of tapping the river water.

The green of the fields against the desert mountains was jarring.

I ended up on the Interstate without gas and I really needed gas so I got off at the first available fuel.  When I pulled up to the pump they were really gouging so I put in enough to get me to the exit from the freeway.  A little further up the freeway I saw fuel at a reasonable price so I filled up.  With the fuel problem solved i headed on down to the Monument.

The drive thru the back country was pretty quiet, with no towns for about 70 miles until I came into the old mining town of Ajo.  My family has a connection with Ajo as my sister lived there for a few years.  On the way out I plan on stopping to check it out.

The drive into the monument is lined with all types of cactuses not just the Organ Pipes that the monument is named after.  On arrival I was a little worried about campground availability so I headed up there but there was plenty of room and the Ranger told me I could pick any spot that had a green card on it.  As I was driving in I saw another Tiger like ours which is pretty rare.  The spot next to it was empty so there are two Tigers parked side by side.  The couple is from Massachusetts  and they are full timing in their Tiger.

Scout parked up next to a large Saguaro cactus.

Once I settled in and finished lunch I decided to head for the visitors center along a walking trail where I got an introduction to all of the different types of cactus in the Sonora desert.

There are four types of cactus in this photo if you look carefully.

They were giving a Ranger talk when I got to the visitors center so I caught the end of it.  After I consulted with one of the volunteers and made a plan for the next couple of days I headed back to Scout to prepare dinner.  After dinner I spoke to my other neighbors who are also from the west side of Portland and finished the day with another Ranger talk on coyotes.

A flowering barrel cactus.

January 28, 2020 Yuma AZ

Today turned into a shopping day.  I wanted to swing by a couple of military bases to pick up some food and stuff.  Yuma has both an Army testing area, and a Marine Corps Air Station.  

I started at the Army base as they have a RV camp and I needed to dump and get some water.  While I was in there I asked about availability and they said they had only one spot available so I moved on to the Marines.  

After a run thru there stores it was early afternoon and I had to decide what to do.  I had a couple of options there is a National Wildlife Refuge in the area so I headed over to their headquarters to look at the option.  The nearest place I could camp was about 90 minutes away.  I checked the next option which was to head on to Organ Pipe National Monument and that was over 2 hours away.  I decided to call the Army to see if they still had that spot and they did so I headed over there for the night.

The base does ordnance testing, is the sight of the armed forces High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) parachuting school, which is done by special operations, and interestingly the place where they test bridging equipment despite the fact that it is in the middle of the Sonora Desert.  

A WWII Sherman tank on display at Yuma Proving Grounds.

At the base entrance they have an interesting display of old armor and artillery that I stopped in to take a look at.  This place was a major training area during WWII with three infantry divisions going thru here before heading to Europe.  I wandered thru the old equipment for a while.  Included in the display was an example of the howitzer that I worked on during my first two years in the Marines.

The M101 105mm howitzer that I operated during my first two years in the Marines.

By the campground they had an interesting display of a land train concept that was trialed at this base during the early 1960’s.  The concept was to have a train that did not run on rails and was capable of going across country off of roads.  The thinking was that this would allow for flexible logistics.  The train consisted of a command unit, two power units, and 10 wagons.  The entire thing was over 500 feet long.  They tested it here for 3 years before abandoning the concept.

The command unit of the land train.  The back includes quarters for 6 people.  The wheels are over 10 feet tall.

January 27, 2020 Quartzite AZ

I wanted to swing by Quartzite AZ which is an interesting part of the RV culture.  In the winter the town of 5000 year round residents swells to as many as 500,000 people as RV’s by the thousands descend on the town to enjoy cheap sunshine and parking.

I took my time leaving in the morning as I wanted the rush hour traffic in Las Vegas to settle before setting off.  The drive was an uneventful 200 miles thru the Mojave desert.  While the landscape was desert there are subtle differences.  The valleys between the mountains are generally much wider, and on this drive the sage brush is gone and you begin to see various types of cactus.  I really enjoy driving thru the desert as you realize how harsh and tough an environment it is.

I arrived around lunch time and the town was busy, but I missed the biggest week of the year by one day.  Once a year there is a RV show under a giant tent in the desert that is supposed to be the biggest in the country.  During that week an estimated 500,000 people attend the show.  Thousands of RV’s park in the BLM land surrounding the town.  Today driving from Las Vegas to Quartzite I easily passed a couple of hundred RV’s heading home from Quartzite.

I did a quick driving tour of the town and then headed over to the giant tent as there were a lot vendors set up there even though the show was over.  I ended up in a giant flea market.  I walked over to see the giant tent and imagined 500,000 people swarming it last week.  I took a turn thru the flea market but could not find anything I needed so I decided to head out of town.  

One of several vendor areas like giant flea markets around Quartzite.  The theme is RV’s, Americana, and Seniors.

When I got to Scout I realized that Arizona is on Mountain Time in the winter so it was an hour later than I thought so I decided to find a place locally.  Leaving town I saw a BLM office surrounded by several hundred RV’s so I pulled in there.  When I went in the office they told me it would be $40 for a week, I asked if they had a nightly fee, but it was one week or nothing for this site.  As I was walking out the volunteer told me that if I went up the road five miles I would see a bunch of RV’s parked on BLM land and that site was free for up to 14 days.  So tonight I am parked up with several hundred other RV’s for free about 7 miles from Quartzite.

Scout on his free site courtesy of the BLM.

October 28, 2017 Grand Canyon NP

These gals were hanging out at the RV dump station.  They were there both days.

We started out the day by switching campgrounds.  Last night we had the luxury of a full service campground in the park.  But that spot was only available for the day so we had to switch to a dry spot for the second night.  Temperatures are supposed to be in the high 30’s so it will test the cold weather adaptation of Noi and Dang.

After getting settled for the day we took the bus out to Hermits Rest and worked our way back to the village.  A lot of the smoke had blown out of the park, and it was as clear as any of our visits there.  Of course everyone, (but Ron) took a lot of pictures.

The Colorado River.

As the day wore on we split up, Dang and Noi went for sunset.  Ron and Ton opted to head back to the village for a while, and went back to the truck early to prepare for dinner.

These flowers are all over the desert this time of the year.  Ton really likes them.

It was a very long day but worth the time and effort.

October 27, 2017 Grand Canyon NP

Today Jeap had to return to Thailand so the morning was spent sending her off to the airport in Page AZ and picking up some groceries at Safeway.  After that we headed to the Grand Canyon. 

Though it is late in the season the park is still pretty packed.  We were able to get the last spot in the full service park so tonight we have electricity and water.  Tomorrow night Dang and Noi will experience their first night of dry camping, and the low is supposed to be around freezing so it should be an experience.

Spectacular as always.

There is a controlled burn going on in the national forest so it looks like conditions for pictures are going to be less than optimal unless we get some wind overnight.  Ron and Ton decided to take it easy, while Dang and Noi went out to take pictures.

October 26, 2017 Bryce Canyon NP

While Elephant did not move today, we all did.  When planning the trip Ron was very skeptical about visiting Bryce Canyon this time of year.  But, the weather the last 10 days has been spectacular, so we decided to take a 300 mile roundtrip to Bryce in a rental car.

Posing with Smokey the Bear.

Bryce is Ron’s second favorite National Park.  Because of the time crunch we limited ourselves to the Navajo trail, and sunrise and sunset point areas.  We also stopped in the Red Canyon as we entered the park.  As the weather was almost perfect it was another great day in Bryce Canyon.

The Hoodoos are spectacular at Bryce any time of the year.

Glen Canyon was also very beautiful even though we did not spend any appreciable time there.  Ton said that we need to come back and spend some more time in the future.

Sunset at Glen Canyon.

October 25, 2017 Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

An example of the shapes from Antelope Valley.

Today we visited Antelope Valley which is a poor mans The Wave.  Antelope Valley is a wash where at two points water is funneled into very narrow canyons that are almost caves. These flash floods make for an incredible variety of shapes and the light from the very narrow opening at the top adds spectacular colors.  It is mandatory to use a Navajo tour guide to enter the wash where the canyons are.  

Ron rode up front with our guide, and he gave him the history of the valley.  Up to 1997 it was virtually unknown and little visited. Two things happened around then that changed it to a heavily visited attraction under control of the Navajo.  In a great bit of marketing the Navajo invited National Geographic to do a photo shoot around then and when it was featured in the magazine the interest spiked considerably.  Then later in the year a guide entered the wash with 10 customers despite the gates being closed.  It turns out that while it was not raining in Page at the time, it was storming up in the mountains, and while they were in the canyon a flash flood swept thru and the only one that survived was the guide.

A shot of the entrance to the canyon at Antelope Valley.

Today they allow up to 70 people into the wash per hour, and it is run with military precision, as all of the tours are booked months in advance.  While they keep you moving and it is a little bit of a cattle call, it is very much worth doing if you are in the area.

May 20, 2016 Sedona AZ

Today was spent exploring some more around Sedona.  This time we did some drives out into the Red Rock Country.  Besides spending some time taking pictures of red rocks we drove out to an ancient Sinagua Indian site.  Unfortunately we arrived just as they were closing and were only able to catch the end of the petroglyph tour.  The short tour was fascinating and the Ranger from the Forest Service was knowledgeable.  

Typical Red Rock formation around Sedona.

We also visited Red Rock State Park.  We joined onto a tour that was in progress and it was ok.  Our impression of Arizona State Parks is that they are quite expensive and a little underwhelming given the cost.  I think we are spoiled with the Oregon State Park System that is relatively well funded by the State.

May 19, 2016 Signal AZ

Dang mentioned that she wanted to see Saguaro cactuses.  Ton and I were trying to figure out the best way to make that happen when we mentioned it to a couple of older gentlemen in the lobby they recommended we head to Signal Rd, near Wikeup AZ.  It was a bit farther than Ron wanted to drive but they were very enthusiastic.

The road sign pointing to Signal population 0.

While the drive was long it was worth it.  Signal road was a well maintained dirt road with tons of Yucca and Saguaro cactuses.  Dang and Ton were really happy yelling stop every mile or so to shoot some more pictures of cactuses.  Ton was able to show off the cactus identification skills she has honed in the last year.  The cactus were flowering after the rain so she was very happy.

A mother mule and her colt.