January 5, 2016

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SCR_0001January 5, 2016
After our week of paid camping in New Orleans we headed back west. Two and half days of driving and two nights in rest areas we found ourselves at Organ Pipe National Monument. Lots cacti and birds to see here. Also the temperature swing is almost crazy. Lows at night below freezing and highs in the mid 70s. The day starts with long sleeves and hoodies, by noon the hoodies are put away, an hour later short sleeves are called for. When the sun goes down it starts to cool so the process of warm clothes reverses. With the cold night time temperatures we are very happy to have a nice furnace to keep the chill off.
Here we met some old friends, people we’ve camped here with in the past. Made some new friends. I drug out the dulcimer for a couple afternoon practice sessions and received a few nice complements along with a couple of visits, all positive.
Not to let ham radio fall by the way side, I had a couple contacts on VHF while traveling and met several hams here at Organ Cactus National Monument. This is the 100th Anniversary of the National Park System and ARRL not to be outdone has set of a program honoring that 100 years. It goes on all year.
One changes since the last time were here is at the visitor’s center there’s free WiFi, but it’s not much better than what we encountered in Bayou Segnette Campground in LA. I managed to get my email and that’s about it. I’m writing this on Saturday January 2, 2016 , Sunday or Monday we’ll be in town and I’ll stop at the Library to post this. I’ll also see if I can add some pictures too.
It looks like the pictures will have to wait a bit longer. Rains kind of slowed the picture taking down. Yes, it’s the past two days. I guess I brought it on, the trailer and the truck needed a bath so they one, next day it rained. But, on the bright side the desert has a sweet pleasant smell in the rain. It’s not raining hard, it’s what is called “a soft winter rain” unlike the hard summer rains (thunderstorms in the summer). Everything is getting green and we’re running around in long sleeve T shirts today.

I finally got a couple pictures to show. The first one is an old plantation/museum we visited. The next one is our campsite at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Third one down is a cardinal that was at our Bayou Segnette Camp, the last is female cardianl.

December 10 through December 22 2015

Here we are at Padre Island National Sea Shore near Corpus Christi, Texas. It was quite a trip to get here. We left Oregon on December 10 and found rain most of the way. We picked up a real heavy rain storm in New Mexico which we managed to stay under until we got to Texas. Then here it got really foggy and misty, by that time a lot of our belongs was wet. A couple days of sun shine and all is well. Nights were spent 3 in rest areas and 1 in a WalMart parking lot before we got to Padre Island. It was a long drive and were quite glad to land for a few days.

Here on the island things are now going well.   Anne has been taking a daily walk on the beach, and I’ve been walking circuits around the campground.   Getting better little by little.   The birds have been fun to watch, a Great Blue Heron seems to have a nest in one of the beach dunes since (s)he hangs around that dune much of the time. One Pelican likes to wade in the surf and just stand there like a little old man.

The island is an island with a bridge going over the inland water way to island.   The main campground is on the Gulf side of island, so we look out on the Gulf of Mexico from our trailer. There’s 5 oil platforms visible, one barely during the day, but it lights up at night. The other four are dark at night.

Sunday we leave for a Texas State park for about 3 nights before heading on the New Orleans.   The majority of our travels don’t involve reservations, however this time the New Orleans (Actually West Wego) seems to be best with reservations.

I’m not sure when I’ll post this. I might not manage until New Orleans, free wifi in the campground there.

As promised we didn’t get internet until we got to New Orleans area.   The trip was a rain soaker.  More water than we knew what to do with, we didn’t see a lot of the scenery because of the rain.  Our plan was to go part way and stay in a Texas State park for 2 or 3 nights before going on to New Orleans.  Our New Orleans reservation starts tomorrow the 23.   After getting registered at the Texas State Park went to set up and settle for a couple rainy days.  It didn’t quite work our that way.   That was worst campground I’ve ever seen.  They laid macadam on the ground without bothering to level the pads.   There was just no way to get the trailer level.   Back to the registration booth we go and get our money back ($90 for 3 nights).  Off we went towards New Orleans.  We found a truck stop in LA and stayed for one night for free.   Big difference between $30 a night and free.

We called the LA State Campground where we had reservations.   Our reserved site was empty.   We arrived around noon and found it still empty.    For the two extra night the fee was $40, still better than $60 for Texas.   Plus the pads are level or close to it and free WiFi is included along with free laundry, and showers.    I think I will avoid Texas State Parks.

We’ve been in contact with our 2 girls that are vacationing in New Orleans and have made plans for Christmas with them and a trip to a plantation.   Hopefully the rain will subside enough for some good pictures.

That it for this time.

P.S.  A little garland and a small string of battery powered LED Christmas lights makes the trailer a bit festive.

 

Death Valley 2015

We were greeted at Death Valley by some friends we’d met a few years ago. Happy reunion time.   Another member of the group showed a couple days later. The Mountain Dulcimers came out the first evening and little music was made.

A few days later Batdude, aka Bruce and his wife showed up. This was their first time camping in Death Valley. Bruce had worked in Death Valley many years ago.

The mountains had snow and we had some rain that bought the snow level down even farther.   The rain did wonders for flowers. We were there for about a month, there was some trees that were bare when we got there and were quite green when we left.   We didn’t do all things we wanted to so I guess we’ll just have to go back again.

The temperature was in mid 60s when we arrived and mid 90s when we left. The hot temperatures came on so fast I didn’t have time change with temperature so I suffered in the afternoon. We decided it was getting too hot and were about to leave when we were invited to a 50th wedding anniversary party for one of host couples. We stayed around for that then left the next morning. I think I’ll let the pictures do the rest of talking.

Salts left after water evaporated
Salts left after water evaporated
Anne at the rim Ubehebe Crater
Anne at the rim Ubehebe Crater
Byron at the rim Ubehebe Crater
Byron at the rim Ubehebe Crater
Artists pallet area,  Picture doesn't do it justice
Artists pallet area, Picture doesn’t do it justice
The rain brought the flowers.
The rain brought the flowers.
Desert five spot flower, one of the more rare flowers.
Desert five spot flower, one of the more rare flowers.
Moon over the mountains
Moon over the mountains
Two Scamps and a ham radio with solar panel
Two Scamps and a ham radio with solar panel
Our camp from a distance.
Our camp from a distance.
Desert Gold, this plant was quite prolific.
Desert Gold, this plant was quite prolific.
Byron standing on the board walk at Salt Creek, we were watch 1/2" fish (pup fish)
Byron standing on the board walk at Salt Creek, we were watch 1/2″ fish (pup fish)
This Tree was just sticks when we arrived.
This Tree was just sticks when we arrived.
Snow on the Panament Mountains
Snow on the Panament Mountains

Boulder Beach campground NV.

After 20+ days we decided it was time to move on. We headed for Boulder City and Boulder Beach campground on Lake Mead.   The campground is about 5 miles from Hoover Dam. In years past the water has been quite low, this time it was even lower. Half of the campground has recently been rebuilt with hard surface RV pads. There is no hookups. We arrived pretty early in the day so went about the things we wanted to get done in Bounder City, NV and Henderson, NV. We had expected to spend two nights getting every thing done after the first night. We completed it all by about 4:00 pm.   With all the helicopter noise going from morning to night we decided it time to move on to Death Valley.

Our campsite at Boulder Beach on Lake Mead.
Our campsite at Boulder Beach on Lake Mead.

Katherine Landing, AZ.

Next stop Katherine Landing campground in the Lake Mead Recreation Area.   This is close to Bullhead City, AZ and across the Colorado River from Laughlin, NV.

Here we needed to get some domestic things done, oil change on the truck, hair cut, grocery shopping, laundry, propane tank filled, etc. etc.   The only thing out of ordinary was the hair cut. We had got our hair cut in little place a couple years ago so we knew that we’d have some short hair when we left. Since it was pretty cheap I told the nice lady to go ahead and trim up my beard. When got through my beard was less than ¼” long.   I was beginning to wonder is Anne was ever going to stop laughing.   (It eventually grew back out).

Had a lot of good conversations with fellow snow birders. One guy had even seen one of my YouTube clips, that was cool. I did a little entertaining by making noise with the Mountain Dulcimer.   I also put an antenna up and made a couple contacts (ham radio).

We took a few day trips, one of most memorable or forgettable was to Grand Canyon Caverns.   We declined to pay to fee to go into that hole in the ground. The pictures didn’t look like much. There was a few old cars outside. An old pickup with buck teeth with tow hook made to look like Mader from Cars. A VW painted like Herbie.

Coyotes visited and a family of Burros hung around the access road. When I stopped for the burros because I wasn’t sure they wouldn’t run out if from of me, they came running up to window looking for a hand out. They didn’t get any from us.

Mader
Mader
sad looking Metropolitan
sad looking Metropolitan
Herbie and friends
Herbie and friends
Telephone Pole Cove Lake Mohave
Telephone Pole Cove Lake Mohave
Anne at Telephone Pole Cove on Lake Mohave
Anne at Telephone Pole Cove on Lake Mohave

Organ Pipe National Monument

Our travels for 2015 started on December 26, 2014.   After the kids, grandkids, and us had our little Christmas party we did a little clean up and finished packing the trailer and the truck.   Off to bed with visions of traveling swirling in our head we settle down.   Awoke early in the morning, at least early for us. Put the last of the stuff in, turned off the water heater, turned the heat way down, turned off the water and made sure all the windows and doors were locked. Set the alarm and off we drove.   Breakfast was about 100 miles away.

The first night was somewhere in California at a rest area. The second night was in Arizona again at a rest area.   The second night wasn’t as cold as the first.   We drove into Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in time for lunch.   We picked out our spot, the same spot we had two years ago, and settled in for nice long stay.

The desert was green, and pretty. No flowers yet, but still green.

Now for some stories from this stay.   We walked quite a bit, and saw a lot of birds.   The community of Why, AZ if just outside the Monument, with a border check point in between.  There’s a little Café in Why that we decided to go to for breakfast one morning.   The border patrol likes to ask questions that might be considered unconstitutional. The first question is usually “Where are you going?”.   Not having had my morning coffee I responded with where were headed, “Why”. To my surprise the border patrol person answered with “Why Why?” To which I responded with “Why”. He started laughing and sent us on our way.   Breakfast was good.

There’s a few Chain Cholla Cactus around. These guys are said that if you get too close they’ll jump out leave you with ball of spins attached to you. I believe it since I got too close to one and stuck to my shirt. Anne was able to pull it off without getting stuck.   A few days later we this dog howl, it was a howl of pain, I know he managed to get too close to Cholla. Apparently he stepped on one of the spine balls then tried to bite it off his foot. Now he’s got spins in his foot and inside his mouth. Luckily the guy next to us was a retired veterinarian and off he went to the rescue. The dog was wiener dog, so he was quite small.   The spins were effectively removed and all was well.

I was kind of surprised to find a number of people traveling in the US from Australia and Germany.   One of the German travelers camped next to us. I was outside making noise with my Mountain Dulcimer and out he comes with Guitar.   His English wasn’t so good and my German didn’t exist, but we did manage to make a little music together.

Below are some pictures from Organ Cactus National Monument.

 

Curved Beak Thrasher
Curved Beak Thrasher
Cactus Wren
Cactus Wren
Large Saguaro Cactus with Anne Looking up.
Large Saguaro Cactus with Anne Looking up.
The old guy and his Mountain Dulcimer
The old guy and his Mountain Dulcimer
The truck and trailer behind bushes and cactus
The truck and trailer behind bushes and cactus
Saguaro Cactus
Saguaro Cactus
The green desert
The green desert