Joshua Tree NP, CA

We headed from Salton Sea to Joshua Tree National Park and because of the size of our trailer, we spent 4 nights boondocking outside the southern park entrance  It was spectacular!!  At this point I would have to say that the Joshua Tree has to have the most beautiful rock formations that I have seen so far.  Breath taking!!!  We did a few of the hikes in Joshua Tree.  We got to see the Joshua Tree’s and it’s wonderful vegetation.  We saw rock climbers and the camping (for smaller RV’s) is spectacular!!  You camp right in the rocks and these rocks are massive!!!! Joshua Tree State Park is surrounded by mountains as well as the Mojave and Colorado Desert.  The sunsets were amazing as well as the star studded nights.  We could see right in front of our trailer the Orocopia Mountains and we were within one mile of Camp Young which was where General Patton trained one million soldiers to fight in WWII. (J)

 

 

Cottonwood Spring is the campground near the southern park entrance. We hiked  from the area of the spring up to mastodon Peak and then circled back. The black and white picture is an infra-red image taken with a converted Nikon 5700. In the one picture taken from the top of the peak Salton Sea can be seen in the distance.

 

A 4×4 trail and short hike gets us to the Desert Queen Mine.

 

We drove to the northern area of the park and hiked Skull Rock area. Up here was where we found the Joshua trees.

(S)

 

Salton Sea, CA

We arrived at Salton Sea State Recreational Area and camped at the northern most location after checking out the first two areas. The wind was too high to make the parking area at the first one comfortable and the space for our RV was limited at the second. At the third we were in the camping loop and took two spots which was fine with the rangers.

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The beach material here seems to be mostly fish bones with plenty of fish that have yet to become beach.

We took a drive up and around the other side of the sea and out to Borrego Springs. Some beautiful scenery out that way and the town is very nice. We checked out the boondocking area east of town for future stays.

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The art installation outside of town has some huge pieces. They are spread out north of town.

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With the wind the sand was blowing across the roads. Better than being at home with snow blowing across the roads though.

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Saw an old fellow wheel into town and park his rig before going into the Mexican restaurant for some food.

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We drove through Salton City on the way back but I didn’t find any of the abandoned and dilapidated buildings that I’ve seen pictures of. This grocery store and old gas station are near North Shore.

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We stayed for two nights here and then headed north-east along Box Canyon Rd towards Joshua Tree National Park.

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Considering how dry and desert like this area is there are lush date palm farms on the outskirts of the Sultan Sea.  The dates are available fresh for purchase and date shakes are amazing!!!    Beautiful!!!!

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(S)

El Centro, CA

We travelled to El Centro, CA on Jan 27 after our stay in Quartzsite, AZ to meet up with some friends. My brother and his wife had gone the day before.

Our route was out past Blythe and south on 78. The initial irrigated fields changed to open desert in short order. We eventually found ourselves cutting through the middle of the Imperial Sand Dunes RA. Of course we had to pull off into the scenic view area so we could play in the dunes.

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Just your basic RV park with normal amenities. Was introduced to the game of pickle ball during our stay here. We also did a day trip over to Holtville and checked out the LTVA on the east side of town. A nice little town and they were having a BBQ & Carrot festival that weekend but we didn’t get back over for that.

El Centro is the Navy’s Blue Angels practice area so the jets were overhead every day. A great opportunity to generate a few hundred images of jets flying overhead.

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From the start of this trip to each new sighting or adventure, I kept thinking, “things can’t get more beautiful than this”. Then with each new experience I think, this was better then the last. If has been absolutely breathtaking from start to…not finished yet!!

We stayed at Sunbeam RV Park for 4 nights before heading up along the east side of the Salton Sea.

(S)

Quartzsite, AZ

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Through out the planning for our trip, the one place we wanted to head was to Quartsite, Arizona to the biggest RV Sale and boondocking on the border of Arizona and California. The Show ran from January 16th – 24th.  I was very worried about boondocking as I had never done it before and had no idea what to expect. My first sight of Quartzsite took my breath away. I had never seen so many RV’s in one area at the same time. You could see them in the distance as you travelled closer to Quartzsite along Interstate 10. It didn’t matter which way you looked, they were everywhere. We found a government site with Pete and Patricia just outside of Quartzsite. Camping was for free for 14 days on the government land. It was amazing and I immediately loved it. We explored the RV show which was home to many RV Vendor’s and the surrounding flea market. Quartzsite does not have a big grocery store so we had to go into Blythe, California to stock up on supplies. The show ended on Sunday, January 24th and I am so glad we decided to see it and be apart of it. The cactus’s at this point had changed and we were seeing the big saguaro cactus’s. Very cool!!!  Pete and Patricia left a couple of days before us to head to El Centro and we stayed to explore the vendor’s outside of the RV show as well as Quartzsite and the surrounding area.   There was an easy hike we took to Palm Canyon Trail, is a short hike and takes you near a stand of unique California fan palms, we were told they are the only native palm trees in Arizona. The palms were in the side of the canyon.  It was very beautiful!

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Boon docking in the desert!!!

 

 

Benson,AZ

On Friday, January 15th we headed out of Carlsbad heading to Benson Arizona to Kartchner Cavern’s State Park. We decided to carry on north on Highway 285 to Artesia and then take Highway 82 to Alamogordo and then 70 to Las Cruces which would bring us back to Interstate 10 heading into Arizona and Benson. We thought this would be the short route back to Interstate 10. We did not realize that we would be traveling through Lincoln National Forest, which was beautiful but we would be gradually travelling up Alamo Peak with elevations of 9,260 ft. We passed through many seasons and in Cloudcroft, a lovely little town, they were skiing with lots of snow!!   We did have to take a break and Steve replaced a part on our truck on the side of the road.  One of the benefits with travelling with a mechanic!!  We knew the next 16 miles were going to be slow a we travelled downhill into Alamogordo. The engine breaks on our truck worked very well!!!! We passed White Sands National Park and saw the sand dunes and continued on Interstate 10 to Benson and Kartchner Cavern’s State Park. We stayed for one night but did not visit the living caverns at Kartchners.

We read in a blog about a one week $50.00 stay at SKG Co Op for non Escapes members in Benson and that is where we headed and stayed there for one week. It was beautiful with friendly people and an amazing surrounding area to explore.

We took Highway 80 into historic Tombstone which is a western city, that I absolutely loved. It had cowboys, the OK Coral Saloon, saloon girls and horse pulled wagon’s. You could pay extra to see a gun fight at the OK Corral and it’s museum.

From Tombstone we headed into Bisbee. A lovely town set on the side of Dragoon Mountains and rated the number one place to live in the USA. It is a free-spirited place with a thriving arts/music/hospitality scene’s with many antique and art shops. In it’s glory days it was a thriving silver and copper mining town.

We had a selection of their beer at the Old Bisbee Brewing Company which is a micro brewery on Review Alley. it was wonderful and the staff where very helpful in filling us in on the different brews. From Bisbee we went East to Highway 191 looking for these amazing rocks we had seen from Interstate 10 on our way into Bisbee. We found them near Dragoon at another reproduction of a Western Saloon which was also a camp ground.

The next day we went back to Bisbee and took the Queen’s Mine Tour outfitted in hard hat’s, miner’s headlamp and yellow slicker, the Queen’s Mine was known as the richest copper mine in history. The best part was our tour, was our guide who was 82 years old and a former employee of the mine, actually the last employee to leave the mine. He was wonderful and answered every question with first hand knowledge, it was so interesting and the bonus was the train ride into the mine.

Exploring Tuscon

On Wednesday we took a drive into Tucson and visited downtown Tuscson again sampling beer at a local Brewery called “Thunder Canyon Brewery” It was awesome and the service was great. We were able to walk out with a souvenir beer glass. We toured 4th Street down to the museum of art into the Presidio district. Were we saw some old spanish architecture. From there was travelled by the aircraft boneyard to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. It was eerily beautiful with it’s miles and miles of airplanes, but so sad that all those planes, and all the money put into these planes, looking at their final resting place. We spent hours in the Pima Air and Space Museum with A10’s flying over our heads. We met up with Peter and Patricia the next day and made plans to head to Quartsite on Friday.

IMG_5110      Pima Air and Space Museum

IMG_4974      Aircraft Boneyard

 

 

Carlsbad, NM

We left Big Bend on January 13th heading for Carlsbad, New Mexico. On our way out of Big Bend we had problems with the truck and our check engine light came on. We made our way to Marathon and stopped there to check the readings on the truck. It was reading that the “MAP” sensor was malfunctioning. We headed from Marathon to Fort Stockton, Texas to a Ford Dealer to see about a new part. Steve was able to reset the problem and we headed north of Carlsbad on Hwy. 285 to Brantley Lake State Park where we checked in for two nights at $14.00 per night. It was a lovely park overlooking Brantley Lake. Nice big sites with a cement eating area. Obviously this area had got a lot of snow in the past week or so because of it’s high elevations and El Nino as there was snow on the ground in spots. Yet the weather was lovely with readings in the low to mid teens.

Brantley Lake State Park

We were up and on our way to the Carlsbad Caverns just outside of Carlsbad in the Guadalupe Mountains by 9:30 the next morning. The entrance fee for the National Park was $20.00 for both of us. After checking their website we were aware that the elevators taking you back to the surface were broken so we would be exploring the caves by walking down and walking back up the 750 foot descent. The hidden treasure and beauty of the more than 119 caves all formed by sulphuric acid dissolving the surrounding limestone leaving behind caverns of all sizes was magnificent and a must see. It took us more than 3 hours to explore the cave, the descent was not too bad but the climb up was difficult. Lots of breaks were needed and make sure you have lots of water!!!

Carlsbad was an amazing stop on our journey!!

 

 

Big Bend NP, TX

We left Seminole Canyon State Park heading to Big Bend National Park which was named for the huge sweeping curve of the Rio Grande River. Marathon was the turning point to Big Bend National Park.  Pete and Patricia were joining us at the park and had stayed in a different park in Comstock overnight. It cost $25.00 to enter Big Bend and then cost $42.00 for the three nights we were planning on staying. It was dry camping in the Rio Grande Village as there was no hydro or water hook up. This was the first time in our trip we would use our generator. Big Bend is huge spanning 800,000 acres of Texas scenic beauty combined with the Rio Grande Rivers, the Chihuahuan Desert and a breathtaking mountain range, the Chisos, spanning it’s border. It is a majestic land with it’s vast beauty and it’s sunrises and sunsets were magical as it played with colour on the mountain ranges and painted the sky. One of our many explorations was the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail which offers some of the best bird watching in the region to watch a spectacular sunset. Pete and Patricia have a Jeep Rangler and we explored Big Bend on back roads through Old Ore Trail which took you into the heart of Big Bend and it’s mountains. The following day we took a winding back road called River Road East to the Mariscal Mine where they used to mine quick silver mercury. After exploring the mine we continued our exploration of the area taking a “not maintained” road called Black Gap and Glenn Spring Road with heart stopping windy roads, rocky trails and drop off’s that had the palms of your hand’s sweating, and your heart beating wildly as you held on tightly, hoping you were going to make it through this windy, unmaintained road. We did, but it was not for the faint of heart!!! During our stay at Big Bend, we saw deer, javelina’s, coyote’s and were told that cougars also were spotted in this park. Our last stop from our “heart pumping” back road adventure was to the hot springs trail located just before our camp ground. A natural hot spring pool located on the side of the Rio Grande River was an amazing treat after a day of four wheeling!! Perfect end to the day.