Thursday, December 24, 2009

Quartzsite, AZ – Camp #1

December 24, 2009 – Jan. 24, 2010

Dec 24, 2009, I arrived in Quartzsite, AZ and found Sandy and his delightful family, who with their three kids, were spending Christmas in the desert.

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  Photo with Socks hung with care.

Being totally unprepared for gift-giving, I had to rush to town for 3 giant chocolate bars and 3 little Quartzsite trinkets. 

December 25, 2009 - spent Christmas Day with Sandy and his family and his daughter-in-law made one really great Christmas meal.  They came all the way from Canada for this.

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Christmas gifts from my brother and sister-in-law had no tree to go under, so I put them under my bike.   After Sandy's family left, we moved farther off Highway 95 to a spot I thought would give us more solitude.  There may be no such thing in Quartzsite.  We sat up camp and awaited other vandwellers. Gary from Washington state was the first to arrive on his way to FL. 

2009_12_27_quartzsite3_ 011 Only he could fit a homemade kayak into a Scion and still be able to sleep and cook in there too. He is amazing. 

2010_01_01_Quart 003 Steve arrived after Gary departed.  Too bad.

 

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2009_12_28_quart_ 017 Strange things seen... rock art, big burl cut off tree,???

2010_01_01_Quart 002Steve went to town on his motorcycle and I dog-sat with Tori.  Poor lonely Tori waiting for Steve to return... she sat just like that for over an hour. 

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Once in a Blue Moon – A good day to die!

December 31, 2009 - New Year's eve campfire was bittersweet, with my ex-husband's death that morning. I only learned about his death an hour before the campfire.  I knew he was terminal, but after being divorced for over 30 years, I didn't think it would hit me so hard.  Sad was the fact that we are only going to have one grandson, and he never would get to see him or hold him.

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Me having "The Perfect Living Space" (I still think Laurie stacked the deck)  Blue Moon, New Years Eve ham and cabbage... assures prosperity for the new year????

We planned a campfire and I made Ham and Cabbage.  There is this thing called Hogmanay... where flame and fire symbolize the bringing of light of knowledge from one year to the next year.  Lighting the way to next uncharted century.  Putting the past behind you and the darkness of the past and carrying forward the scared flame of hope and enlightenment, and in this day a fresh new year, burning away the old to make way for the new.  How very apropos?

2010_01_08_quart_ 016 Today, I climbed a mountain.

2010_01_08_quart_ 017 Steve and I  went to Crystal Mountain to hunt for Crystals.  I climbed a mountain!!!  This is on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge and a great boondocking site.  I'd like to return and stay there at length... even though the road is very washboardy.  The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1939 and is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  664,300 acres of pristine desert environment and is home to the unique desert bighorn sheep and the California fan palm, the only native palm in Arizona.  Other notable wildlife species found in the area include white-winged dove, desert tortoise, and desert kit fox.  A wide variety of plant life is found throughout the refuge.  KOFA comes for "King of Arizona Mine".

We are camping on BLM Lands on lands specified for Dispersed Camping.  Dispersed camping is allowed on Public Lands in Arizona for no more than a period of 14 days within any period of 28 consecutive days.  Camping on public lands away from developed recreation facilities is referred to a "dispersed camping."  Most of the remainder of public lands in Arizona are open to dispersed camping, as long as such use does not conflict with other authorized uses or occurs in areas posted "closed to camping," or in some way adversely affects wildlife species or natural resources. www.blm.gov/az

Places I'd like to visit in the future:  Burro Creak, northwest of Wickenburg, AZ. offers shade, refreshing water, and the chance to find obsidian and other choice rocks.  They had a very bad flood there about the time I was thinking of going, so it will have to wait.  For information on this visit www.az.blm.gov.

Some other things to see in Quartzsite:

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Hi Jolly Cemetery and Camel-Drivers Monument. 

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Red Jasper outcrop near Brenda AZ (walking stick and shoe).

UT to NV – In Transit

November 13, 2009 to December 24, 2009

11/13-A Vandweller sent me this message: Did I ever tell you that you were the inspiration that got me involved with vandwellers in the first place? I was looking at YouTube videos of the OR coast, longing to return to the west coast and came across the one where someone was interviewing you in your van and the solution to my upcoming situation clicked. I said to myself that's what I've always wanted to do, just didn't know that I could. You mentioned vandwellers on the video, and I started there and here I am. Among some of the best people I've ever met in person or on line in my whole life. And you continue to inspire me as I read all your posts and your blog. So thanks again.

Charlene gets a big smile for being my inspiration :)

Smiles 4 everyone:)

Wow, that was pretty neat. It was written by GranmaHugaBaby… who finally caught up with me in Quartzsite.  She is delightful and I am humbled.

November 19, 2009 – I got to my brother Jim's in Vegas.
-stayed and did his genealogy, scanned family photos, and did his wife's genealogy also.  Pretty neat to be able to sit in my van in someone’s driveway and be a genealogist.  That has been my dream for years… and it worked very well.

December 24, 2009 - Had breakfast with my half-brother, Dan, before leaving Vegas. I had scanned some family photos for him and burned a CD for him... and wanted to return his photos.

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But a few days earlier we had driven out to Red Rock Canyon and visitors we taking photos of the snowmen someone had made rather than the rocks or the canyon.  I found that hilarious. It was a nice visit and I got to meet his granddaughter. 

2009_12_25_download_Q_AZ_ 097 Then I headed to Quartzsite, AZ where Vandwellers were gathering.  Alone on the road at Christmas time/eve, some would find depressing but I found it delightfully freeing.  I began noticing things that reminded me of Christmas."  Little lambs grazing in the fields, palm trees in the desert.

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I found places between Lake Havasu City and Quartzsite where I'd like to paddle one day.  I don't how why I didn't go back and do it this trip (kicking myself - but I had already paddled AZ so lacked motivation).  In Lake Havasu, I felt the London Bridge was a joke.  I always thought the London Bridge (that was always falling down) was the big red one with the clock tower.  NO... not so.  Boring.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Zion Park and St. George, UT

EIGHT STATE PADDLED

Thu, October 29, 2009

I intended to paddle the Great Salt Lake… around Antelope Island but when I got to that area is was very windy, cold, and threat of snow.  At some points the visibility on the road was pretty bad… so I kept driving with the hope of staying ahead of the snow.  (I can always hope.)

2009_10_26_slc_stgeo 025 The rain and snow caught me near Salt Lake City.

So I didn’t stop there but kept on driving in hopes of getting ahead of it.  I pushed on hard toward St. George.  Tried to spend a night in a truck stop, but the weather was worrying me so… I kept driving.

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Someone here had also mentioned Quail Creek Reservoir near St. George and  I will plan on going there.  It was warm today, but another storm is coming in.  Spankie and friend, were surprised to find us at another body of water and this time, I told him he had to go with me.

2009_11_02-to-zion 036 It was a beautiful day.  Sky clear.  Water cold.

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On the far shore was a duck family.  A Muscovy duck crossed with a Mallard and their mottle offspring.  Knew another such duck family back in Monterey, CA.  What a curiosity.

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2009_11_02-to-zion 055 Spankie says “If I go down, this black round thing is going with me.”

I was pleased to have paddled my Eight State, though I wish it had been a bigger more challenging paddle.

I spent a few days then just exploring St. George, UT.  I really like that town.  Found a Petroglyph Park….2009_11_02-to-zion 005

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After resting a couple days, I headed out toward Zion Park with the intent in camping along the Verde River on some BLM land.  That didn’t turn out so well for SwankieWheels.  Not looking so swankie now.

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Tow truck driver did damage to my hitch and my wiring, but I found a good shop in town that did good work at a very reasonable price.

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I then went on to spent about a week in Zion Park… hiked… a lot.  Took photos.  Rested.  Got annoyed by RVers opening and closing door almost constantly, smoke from campfires gave me breathing problems… decided I needed to move on.

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I bought some dry pants today... and plan on being warmer and dryer on my next paddle.  I'm hanging out at Wal-Mart at night (up against a wall for protection from the wind)... and connecting at Staples during the day.  I slept till 1pm today.

More of Zion:

Until Nov. 4th, I won't be using my air card (watched too many videos) and will have to find Wi-Fi hot spots to log on.  I have used my air card for a few seconds when I couldn't get Wi-Fi... just to get directions.  Drove around town a bit today so am oriented pretty good now.

11/10 I bought the RoadPro Stove and have it sitting between the two front seats on a box... wedged in so it can't move.  I can take photos if that is of interest to people.  So far I have baked bread, heated up frozen dinners, heated up canned soups and beans, and just hot water for cocoa and hot cereal.  Seems anything is possible.  I'm going to soak some rice and then see how it cooks up.  I think with the addition of a dehydrator, I could live/cook/eat pretty cheaply on the road.

Here are picks of bacon and eggs I fixed one morning:

But food spoilage is a problem.  I can't eat a whole loaf of bread before molds, so I have set up my cooler again to keep bread in it.  I think I might have to check into getting a 12v fridge like Bob Wells.  I don't like messing with the melted ice and food getting wet.

Was curious about Colorado City, AZ after all the new casts about the polygamist colonies… so decided to go drive around there.  Very interesting indeed… and kind of creepy.

2009_11_19 062I asked these Mormon boys if I could take a photo and they politely replied “If you want to!” (like why would you, but o.k.).

Then I happened upon this Mormon Park and there were no “No Trespassing” signs, so I explored.  Parked over my the maintenance area for the night and no one even came by.  Stars were very bright and there were suppose to be comets at 1am… but I was fast asleep and the wind was howling… I wasn’t come out of the van.  I left early the next morning without seeing anyone.

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At the end of the canyon…

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Misc. Photos around Colorado City, AZ.

Next heading to NV and hope to paddle Lake Mead and check in with some family there.

Monday, November 2, 2009

8th State: UT - Quail Creek State Park (11/02/09)

Warning:
2009_11_02-to-zion 053Quail Creek Reservoir  State Park, UT 
This is a very long blog post… just trying to catch up.  I hope readers don’t find it too dull.
10/25/09 Next place I will kayak will be UT.  Not going to CO this late in the year.  Also, drove up toward the Tetons, but won't kayak WY this year either.  Later, I'll be in CA, AZ, NV for most of the winter.  Sad news, my ex is probably dying and my youngest son flew back East to spend time with him.  Is there something wrong with me… feeling guilty because I’m on the road having a ton of fun?

But, I'm having a good time, though being cold is not high on my list.  I can't enjoy being outside in this weather.  So, I do computer stuff, but wonder if I should just spend about a week, just on my back.  My glut isn't healing.  I may look for a doctor this week.  Also having trouble with my left eye and may try to find an eye doctor to check it out for me. I wacked my hair off today.  The back of my neck just wouldn't stop itching, and I was shedding everywhere.  It's so much lighter now... and I love it.  And I think I've gained a bit from lack of exercise.  I have to do better at moving with the seasons.
2009_10_26_slc_stgeo 044 Trying to out run/drive the snow
that is chasing me.
10/27/09 Got to Salt Lake City and snow is on the ground.  It caught me – the storm. Spent the night at Hill AFB.
     
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I intended to paddle the Great Salt Lake… around Antelope Island but when I got to that area is was very windy, cold, and threat of snow.  At some points the visibility on the road was pretty bad… so I kept driving with the hope of staying ahead of the snow.  (I can always hope.)

2009_10_26_slc_stgeo 053
So I didn’t stop there but kept on driving in hopes of getting ahead of it.  I pushed on hard toward St. George.  Tried to spend a night in a truck stop, but the weather was worrying me so… I kept driving.
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Spankie (the van monkey) and SwankieWheels (the van) are kicking my butt and hollering drive, Granny, drive. SwankieWheels woke up this morning under a blanket of white stuff????? The wind is trying to blow us off the road. Spankie dove under the covers and says he's staying there until I find warmer air and less wind. The idea of a UT paddle went bye-bye when the flakes began falling on me. Now I am really heading south. Yuk, phooey!!! 
Signed:  Charlene (one who doesn't like driving in a blizzard)
10/28/09 Careful???? Careful!!!! Signs keep saying go 75-80 mph. Hump! I accidentally got up to 80  mph once, and it scared me so bad I had to take a break. I am SO careful out there! It has me worn out. Now in St. George, UT and resting. Have blown my gas budget driving such a long distance in such a short time. That was not my plan. Now, thinking of buying "dry" kayaking pants and doing a UT paddle even if I have to just put the boat in, paddle in a small circle and get out again. All this gas money and I can't paddle UT because of weather????  Not setting well with me.
So, I trying to straighten things up, secure trailer contents better, replaced windshield wipers this morning (drivers side stopped working in all the slush), saw an eye doctor at Wal-Mart today about my left eye acting up (surgery site is o.k.) and got meds for the irritation. Now to catch up on blogging.
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My sister, dressed up for Halloween.
Yes, technology is great. My sister, two years older, is as dumb about technology as I am smart. She called me today to tell me she bought a house in FL and will be moving back there, again. She asked me if I wanted the address so I could Google it, then said, “Wait a minute, I ‘minimized’ it (the browser).” I almost fell over... it's been years of trying to show her about using computers... and now she is even speaking the language.  "MIMIMIZE," I shouted.  It was only a few weeks ago that she  finally got on Facebook. This is huge, folks, huge. Maybe this IS going to be a good day... I needed one after all that driving.
10/31/09 A fellow vandweller wrote: “You are also very close to Zion NP. I know a great boondocking spot close to the entrance right on the Virgin river. Lots of big cottonwoods that should be in fall colors right now. The shuttles into the Park close on Nov. 1st so you can drive into the park. Might be the perfect time/place to just sit and not spend money.”  I thought that sounded really good… so I’m going there.
2009_11_02-to-zion 031 The Virgin River – BLM Land
Someone on Vandwellers had also mentioned Quail Creek Reservoir near St. George and I plan on going there.  It was warm today, but another storm is coming. 
2009_11_02-to-zion 036 Spankie and friend, were surprised to find us at another body of water and this time, I told him he had to go with me.
11/02/09 Today, I paddled Quail Creek Reservoir in the morning.  It was very small and I went all over it.  Wonder how I can even count it… it was so small.  Did see some very interesting hybrid ducks… cross between a white domestic duck and Mallard.
2009_11_02-to-zion 039 On the far shore was a duck family.  A Muscovy duck crossed with a Mallard and their mottle offspring.  Knew another such duck family back in Monterey, CA.  What a curiosity.
Quail Creek State Park provides excellent year-round camping, picnicking, boating, and trout and bass fishing in sunny southwest Utah. The park is three miles east of the Interstate 15 Hurricane exit on State Route 9. Facilities include 23 campsites, modern rest rooms, fish cleaning station and two covered group-use pavilions.
2009_11_02-to-zion 055 Spankie says “If I go down, this black
round thing is going with me.”
I was pleased to have paddled my Eight State, though I wish it had been a bigger more challenging paddle.
2009_11_02-to-zion 045 I spent a few days then just exploring St. George, UT.  I really like that town.  Found a Petroglyph Park….
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Headed toward Zion planning to camp along the Virgin River on some BLM land.  That didn’t turn out so well for SwankieWheels, sunk right up to the axel in deep soft sand. 
2009_11_02-to-zion 034 Not looking so ‘swankie’ now. Got stuck in sand, between the Virgin River and Hwy 9 about 12 miles west of Zion Nat. Park.  Tow truck should be here in 30 min.  This is the place I mentioned above.  Nice, except for the 3ft of sand.  I'll go on to the Zion park campground tonight so I can wash off all the sand from trying to dig myself out.
Uggggg.
2009_11_02-to-zion 025 All's well.  Not really, but I am safe in Zion park.  The tow truck driver did some damage to my hitch... and wiring, but all works.  I'm pissed about that.  He bent one of the safety chain hooks so bad I can't use it.  But he said to take it someplace to get it fixed and he will pay for it. I'm not moving this trailer until the 6th now.  I'm going to study the park, bike where I can... and unload my trailer and fix things.  This has been a strenuous day.  But UT is paddled.
11/04/09 Drove over to Virgin, UT on Rt. 9.  Lots of curves and a long claustrophobic-type tunnel. 
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3:30pm back in Campground.  Treated myself to lunch at the Lodge.  This place is wearing me out.  I think my meds (antibiotics for an infection/rash under my left arm) are making me feel tired.
AAA had sent a tow truck out... and the driver had to use a wench to pull the van and trailer out, separately.  He did some damage to one of my safety chains, to some of the wiring, and to the tongue itself.  I was so mad, but had to get out.  He said to get the chain fixed... have whoever does it call him, gave me his card... and he would put it on his charge card.  The wiring I can fix... but I am still pissed.  It got me so anxious I increased my anti-depressant today... and will keep it that way for awhile.  I'm going to have to stay on hard surfaces at least until I get rid of all the paper and books in the trailer.
Anyway... the AAA membership has paid for itself. I'm enjoying Zion Park.  Would like to do more long hikes, but honestly don't feel up to it. I want to sleep.
11/06/09 Hiked up to the Emerald Pools in Zion.  Wow.  What’s wow?  The fact that I could do it.  It was a strenuous climb and took me a couple hours.  But I did it. 
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“Emerald Pools is one of Zion's sweetest signature trails. Generously endowed with breathtaking scenery, this trail is one that children and adults alike will have fun hiking. Waterfalls, pools and a dazzling display of monoliths create the Emerald Pools Trail System. “
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Neighbor camper is of American Indian descent… and was proud to show me his pickup-camper.
Also drove to Colorado City, AZ and Hildale, UT – curious about the Mormon community from all the news on t.v. and because an ad in the paper I saw for “tours.”  They stared at me a lot… but no one said anything to me. 
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I asked these Mormon boys if I could take a photo and they politely replied “If you want to!” (like why would you, but o.k.).
Then I happened upon this Mormon Park and there were no “No Trespassing” signs, so I explored. 
2009_11_19 059Parked over my the maintenance area for the night and no one even came by.  Stars were very bright and there were suppose to be comets at 1am… but I was fast asleep and the wind was howling… I wasn’t coming out of the van.  I left early the next morning without seeing anyone.
11/07/09 Don't worry about the relatives. God gave them to us, and though I love them all, thank heavens we can pick our friends. I consider the Yahoo Vandwellers and Vantramps groups my TRUE family, because I don't have to explain myself to any of them.
Some people have a home base, I never did. And never had the resources to afford a place of my own, or even a nice apartment. However, I am a survivor... most Vandwellers are. I figured I could keep batting my head against the wall trying to earn enough to have a decent place to live and then still being barely able to meet expenses, and nothing left to ever do anything. I choose to do things instead and give up the idea of a brick and mortar dwelling.
I have mixed feelings out here... sometimes apprehensive and lonely??? Me lonely? That is foreign to me. Sometimes very relaxed as I am today. Last night I slept pretty well (meaning I could breath)... parked in a large grocery store parking lot at a higher elevation than I had been at for the past two weeks( meaning up out of the inversion zone). That was nice. The five nights before that I was in a campground in Zion Nat. Park... and had to close the van up early in the evening to escape the smoke from fires, and at times I thought some pot smoke. And the noise in the campground was unreal... the sound of RV doors opening and closing constantly-all night. And in Zion... at night the winds pick up and are really unnerving. So, most likely in the future, I will avoid campgrounds. But I'm lucky in that I have no parents to bug me and my kids couldn't care less what I do.... so long as I don't burden them. So, that's freedom I guess. I'm still perplexed by the feelings of anxiety I experienced in Zion. The only time while I was there that I didn't feel that way was when I was off hiking alone. Then, I felt myself.
11/09/09 Snow Canyon State Park, a driving tour. $3.
“Snow Canyon is tucked away in the hills west of St George, close to the transition between the Color Country of southwest Utah and the rather more barren Basin and Range landscape that persists all the way across Nevada. To one side of the canyon lie the Red Mountains, while a few miles away are the White Hills, and eroded sandstone rocks of both colors make up the cliffs at either side of the valley, while an even greater contrast is provided by a large mass of black lava, which originated from a cluster of volcanoes just beyond. The lava, plus associated cinder cones and caves are the main points of interest of what is a particularly colorful, scenic and little-visited location.”
11/10/09 2010_02_19_SLABS3_ 007 I bought the RoadPro Stove and have it sitting between the two front seats on a box... wedged in so it can't move.  So far I have baked bread, heated up frozen dinners, heated up canned soups and beans, and just hot water for cocoa and hot cereal.  Seems anything is possible.  I'm going to soak some rice and then see how it cooks up.  I think with the addition of a dehydrator, I could live/cook/eat pretty cheaply on the road.
Here are picks of bacon and eggs I fixed one morning:
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Bacon didn’t need refrigeration until after it was opened.
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These eggs were handy, but think I’ll go with fresh eggs in the future.
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I cut the bacon in small pieces so it would cook faster… and spread on paper towel to soak up the grease.
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Using an aluminum pan to line the stove with, I put the paper towel and bacon right in the pan.
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So then drove 30 mins or so, and the bacon was crispy.  I removed the paper towel.
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The stove sits between my front seats, or on the floor.  I’ve had no problem with it tipping over.
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Once the bacon was cooked, I just added the egg mixture and drove about another 20 min.
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Walla! Scrambled eggs and bacon (and a little ketchup, of course).  No muss, no fuss.
RoadPro Stove
11/12/09 I kayaked Utah as my 8th state... and have been stuck here since waiting for the next gas $ allotment to arrive. I've been in St. George.
2009_11_02-to-zion 002 Even if you aren’t a Mormon, you have to admit this Temple is beautiful.
I like it here a lot. Weather has been very good. Lots of sites and parks around to explore... friendly friendly town. Prices are good. Heard on the news today that UT was the #1 happiest state in the US. I think I could believe that. Also found out there are about four Family History Centers
here... and I have been busy scanning genealogy stuff to donate to them. Good thing to do while waiting for gas $.
I'm not in a rush to leave... but when I do... I'll mosey on down to Vegas... where I am hoping to see my brother (or two)... and maybe get a turkey dinner.  Catch up a bit on family.
After that I'll head on down to the Quartzsite, AZ and The Slabs, Niland, CA for the gatherings.
From there, I'll go back and visit Monterey, CA, check in with my doctors, paddle as a volunteer for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and then head north back to Wenatchee, WA to meet my newest grandchild who is due in March. It may be May or so before I get there.
Them's my plans and I maybe might otta stick to them. We’ll see… I have no firm plans.
11/13/09
2009_11_13_stgeo 003 Classic Country Band in front of grocery store.
11/16/09 I really enjoy St. George UT.  Sand Hollow Aquatic Center is a wonderful facility… and I swam and showered there several times.  I also like the fact that there are several Family History Centers  in town and genealogy classes all the time.
11/17/09
Jem Trailhead, UT (between Hurricane and Hilsdale UT)  Looks like a neat place to  hike  but I didn’t want to do it alone.
2009_11_19 047 “The J.E.M. Trail is found just west of the town of Virgin near Zion National Park. Named for trailblazers John, Ellen, and Mike, this trail offers high-speed desert cruising and a cliff-side ride along the Virgin River.
11/18/09 Visited Sand Hollow State Park, UT… fixed my trailer lights there.  Would be a good paddle I think.
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11/19/09 Back to St. George, UT where I had an appointment to get my trailer repaired from the damage done by the tow truck driver.  Goldstar Trailer Sales is a very trust-worthy business, friendly and extremely helpful. 
2009_11_19 006 In the afternoon… I drove on through Mesquite, NV to Las Vegas and to my brother, Jim’s home.  Looking forward to a nice visit with him and his wife, Marla. 
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My baby brother, Jim.
Also hope to see a half-brother, Dan while I’m there. Decided while I'm here, to scan family photos.  This is way cool.   Can sit in my van right there in his driveway and “do genealogy.”  I was able to trace some lines for him that I failed to find in the past.
  2009_12_25_download_Q_AZ_ 044 In 7th heaven otherwise... sitting in my brother's driveway doing scanning of family photos and doing their genealogy.  Doesn't get any better than this... and the rolling computer lab setup is working well.  My brother commented that he has never seen me so happy.  Thanks, Bro.

Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
Visit me on https://www.facebook.com/swankie.wheels. In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles in Spring 2017. In training now for the hike.

Followers: