Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dances with Coyotes

This was a morning of uniqueness.  I woke feeling very congested from spending two full days in the lapidary shop and even though I wore a mask, my COPD is acting up.  So, slept in, and then drove out to a wilderness desert area and walked (and picked up rocks, of course).  After about an hour I headed back to the van.  Got almost there when a coyote began yapping.   So, I turned… tried to spot it… walked to the side a bit and finally caught a glimpse of it with the sun sparkling of it’s light tan coat.   It keep yapping at me… so I yapped back.  It yapped, I yapped.   I imitated it.  It imitated me.  I began walking toward it in hopes of getting a better photo.



It kept glancing off to it’s right… as if talking or warning a youngster.  “Stay there… stay hidden!”  We kept yapping at each other and I kept getting closer.  This went on for nearly 30 minutes.  Finally, it turned and looked over it’s shoulder as if saying “I’ll be back, you stay put, stay hidden!”  Then it slowly walked off to it’s left… and down along the wash.  I kept walking to the spot it had been sitting all that time… and there was the youngster.  Mind you, I didn’t get very close before it forgot about it’s parent’s instructions and lopped off in the opposite direction from the parent.  So, I turned and walked back toward the van. 


When I got to the same spot where I heard the first one… the second one began yapping at me.  My dialog with the first one was long enough, that I could distinctly tell the difference in the way the second one sounded.   I yapped back a couple times, but didn’t want to confuse it… so I became silent and kept going toward my van.



As if that experience wasn’t special enough, I then found this strange cactus.  I don’t know what made this thing all rippled, but very odd indeed.  What a special morning.   It was noon by then and all I did today was “dance with coyotes” and admire a cactus (oh, and pick up rocks, of course). 

Oh, though not a favorite topic for some… saw one more curious thing.  I’ve seen this before, but can’t help wondering why they do it.  Pooping on a rock!???


A volcanic rock with a bowl in it.  And there it was.


In the bowl!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Quartzsite, AZ–winter home 2011-12–Part Two


Quartzsite 2011

My camp at B-10 Campground in Quartzsite
(with GG’s grey van on his stop-over visit).


GG showing me his new catamaran kayak… under his bed.

Nov. 13, 2011 – I fled my camp this afternoon, after an increasing number of smokers moved into my area.  Last night, while sitting in my van working on the computer the smell of weed was so strong, I nearly got high. 


Smoker to the left of me (smoking?).

Today, I learned another smoker and drinker is moving in next to me tomorrow.  He was even registering drunk.  Staggering even.  And last night two more dogs moved in across from me… and they barked often at the little dog next to me. 


Smokers to the right of me (just ciggy smoke).

And Steve… the Lawn Mower Guy played his radio or CDs all night.  It was my kind of music, but I’m unaccustomed to listening to music after I fall asleep.  It woke me up about five times during the night.


Smoker in front of me.

The nights are getting very long… it’s dark by 6pm so I go to sleep… and by 11pm I’ve had all the sleep I want.  Then what???  There is nothing to do.  I can’t run lights.  I’m not much of a reader.  And then last night it rained the better part of the night and usually that makes me sleep like a log.  This morning the tent was wet (it was set up so I  had a place to put stuff while sorting through the trailer and downsizing more) and not for camping, but I’m tired of stuff getting wet… so today I dried it all out and loaded it back up.  I feel disgusted.


O.K. the dammed dog is as cute as can be.

So, I ran away from home.  Drove a short way outside of town to the west… and just went off road.  I don’t know if I’m in a BLM area or not but looked like people have been camping here.  I’m hoping to spend the night, let my lungs and nose clear up… and my brain quiet down.  Just the hour or so I’ve been out of town… has made me realize I cannot stay at B-10 or anyplace in town.  I need space.  I need peace and quiet at night.  I can’t even imagine what it will be like when the B-10 Campground fills up it’s 173 sites, with only a couple dozen filled now.


Another smoker next to the Lawn Mower Guy.
And in front of him will be more smokers (and drinkers) as of tomorrow.

The owner/managers are sweet as can be… but…..  free coffee daily and free donuts on Sat. a.m. is not enough to keep Swankie trapped. 

Here is what one online reviewer said about them:

this is the nicest place and very clean, We keep coming back year after year. The manager is super nice. Can"t wait to get back there. We really feel quite safe here and we have a great time. Try it you’ll like it as much as we do.

November 12, 2010 by cooky joiner in Choctaw, OK

I really do like those people, but it’s an untenable situation that’s just not going to work for me. I am considering putting an ad in the paper saying “senior would like night security work in exchange for 35’ parking spot”… you never know.  I want to keep my daytime hrs free for rock club activities… or else the whole point of coming here will be lost.


My first 4x4 outing with the rock club members,
and guess what, no one smoked.  Is that amazing or what?


The first rock I cut and polished in Quartzsite.


Second rock I cut and polished in Quartzsite.  This one I won as a slab of rock at my first Gem and Mineral Club Meeting.

Three more days until payday… and I will be gassing up and making a run to stock up on supplies and meds.  Then I’ll settle into the first two-week spot, unless they insist I pay for the whole month of November like I agreed.  Yes, they let me move in free because I didn’t have the money to pay up front… and I agree to pay them a full month on 11/16.  Very nice of them.  But I can’t stay.  If I have to pay for the month, I’ll use it as a place to store the trailer and take showers and do laundry and get free coffee and donuts… and that’s all.  I may not even be able to sleep there once I am surrounded by cig. smoke (and other kinds of smoke) and drunks!   Yuk, phooey.

So, I ran away from home… and when I got to the “wilderness” I could not hold an internet signal long enough to get my blog finished and uploaded.  But it was nice out there and quiet.


West of Quartzsite a couple miles.

So I drove back into town, put $10 of gas in the van at the Pilot Truck Stop ($3.39 gal), and drove out by the Courthouse… where there is this large tree – the Great Tree of Arizona.  I followed the trail and I wasn’t alone… I don’t know what these little quail are called, but they make this sweet chirping sound.  There is a lot to see around here… attractions.



So, finally came to the 1,050 year old tree, I guess… the trail ended there, but it looked like a green mesquite tree to me and not much different than others in the area.  Maybe I didn’t go far enough, but the trail ended???  Nope… searching on Google Images… this is the tree.


I am going to try to stay as close in to town as I can… so I can ride my bike… but that might not work out well either???  Oh, whoa is me!  Why can’t this be easy?


Maybe tomorrow will get better than this???!!!!   A vandweller I met in Deming NM said he may be heading this way.  That would mean it will get better.  I wish there was at least one other vandweller here… that I could find.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Quartzsite, AZ–winter home 2011-12.


The last SwankieWheel Bead… given out on this leg of the journey.  Must order more.


Parked beside the Rio Grande River in Truth or Consequences… ready to head to AZ, knowing there was a lot more to see in NM.


One of the more interesting sites leaving NM heading to AZ is around the Hatch, NM area… lots of chile pepper business.  As summer cools down, the Village of Hatch heats up. Labor Day weekend heralds the annual Hatch Chile Festival, a two-day celebration of our world-famous crop. The festival attracts over 30,000 visitors from all over the United States, including such notables as the Food Network and the BBC. Festival goers can sample famed chile recipes, watch the crowning of the chile festival queen, or toss a horseshoe in celebration of our most famous crop. The event also features chile ristra contests, artisan and food booths, and a carnival. Visit our events page.

10/19-Almost to AZ. Hippy hooray. Quartzsite, AZ here I come.



Beginning to see the mountains off to the west… feels like “going home.’”  I’m also fascinated by “highway art”… o.k. call me nuts.  But the southwest really does have some interesting highway art.  These later mountains are even looking familiar.


On the way from AZ border I saw pecan trees and cotton fields… two products, being a midwest kid, I never knew grew in AZ.  Interesting.



And now the big cactus are starting to appear.  Love them.

Tonight, I arrived in Quartzsite AZ! 


Wow... two years I've been gone from here... and since then have kayaked 37 states, AZ being my 3rd state. Now to scout around town for a place to park tonight. Photos and blog update to follow in a few days.

  • Hi Jolly Camp area
    • Crescent moon, howling coyotes, and shooting stars... doesn't get any better than that, until tomorrow.


Cheryl in Ohio (birdwatcher) asked what it was like out here… the BLM lands.  Wide open spaces.  These photos are all taken from my camping spot in Hi Jolly area.  Desert Asphalt is just a lot of flat open rock area… tarnished by the desert varnish.  Kinda moon-scapish.  Hard to explain.  But it looks just like these photos. 


My campsite.  Some days it’s too hot to stay in the van and do anything, so I pitched my tent.  Ended up putting the recliner inside the tent to escape the flies.  Perfect place to rest read and cool off, especially under the shade of this tree… a rare find.


Another odd vehicle spotted in the area.


Camped along the edge of a wash.  No water anywhere.  Just grand open spaces and so far, few campers.  There are literally hundreds of rvs and campers here by January.


Desert asphalt.


Volcanic rocks.


Old stumps…


And look, a snake… can you see it?



I walked all around him taking photos, and as long as I was looking straight at him, he didn’t move, but the second I glanced away… poof, he was gone.  Don’t know what kind he was.

Looks like:  Glossy Snake

A medium-sized (up to 1,055 mm or 42" in total length) snake with numerous dark-edged, tan, golden brown, or olive-gray blotches on a tan, light cream, pinkish, or gray background. Specimens from far western Arizona often have faded or washed-out looking pattern. The belly is plain pale gray. The pupils are round. This snake's smooth and shiny scales distinguishing it from the similar looking Gophersnake which has keeled dorsal scales. The similar looking Nightsnake has vertically elliptical pupils.

Borrowed from Arizona Leisure Vacation Guide.



Coyotes come through camp every night, or early morning… and while walking I found places that looked like gathering spots… usually soft duff from plants… dust to roll in, pieces of a dish they had carried off and chewed on.  Later I found this hole in the bank… someone’s home?



Camp is sweet.  I’m resting, reading and just clearing my head.  Boy, have I done a lot of stuff and I didn’t even know until this week that I was really tired.  I managed to get my high school web site updated… after loosing all my work when my hard drive died a couple months ago.  Beyond that, I’m resting and reading – American Nomads by Richard Grant.  My tent is delightful… no bugs inside… lots of fresh air and I can look through the top and watch the branches and birds.  Sweet.


One interesting yard in town is decorated with glass bottles.  There is no explaining some people’s taste???

Yesterday, I drove around Quartzsite looking for a place in close to camp.  HA!   One dry camping place wants $5 a night… and you are enclosed in a small chain link fence… like you were in jail.  The fancy R.V. places, this one right next to the Laundromat is $300.00 per month.  The long term BLM places are either $180 for the season (you can use any of the BLM places for that fee) or $80 a month. But where I am is free and limited to a 14 days stay, but no host is on duty and no one is policing the place.  So my plan for now is to stay put here until they run me out or someone annoying moves in too close.  There is already one RVer with the loudest generator I ever heard about a city block away from me and I have to close the van up and turn on a CD to drown him out until he shuts down about 9pm.  I may end up just staying mobile rather than being tired down to have a camp “set up.”  There is no such thing in town as a small nook or cranny you could just squeeze into.  I had hoped to be close in town to save on gas, but all property is fenced off with at least chain link fences, walls or ? whatever… so that doesn’t happen.  Just shows you how many people are trying to do exactly what I am trying to do.

Rocks: I thought that things geared up with the Gem and Mineral Club about Oct. 1 and was feeling a little frantic on the road knowing I would be arriving late due to root canal and finances, but when I finally got here… there was no one in sight, nothing posted about meetings, nothing!  Finally, yesterday, I found a person at the Quartzsite Roadrunners Gem and Mineral Club in town and learned they were having a meeting at 2pm that day.   First meeting was last Thursday. Went and even won a couple door prizes.  Only two new members (me and one other woman) in a whole room full of men and women my age and older. Guess I’m not the only crazy person on earth who loves rocks.  Learned all about the club, the field trips and the 4x4 trips.  Want to go on all of them, but my van won’t go some of those places so I’ll have to arrange a ride with others.  CB radio is required for each vehicle.  I have no CB.

Another area where I have camped is the Plomosa Road 14-Day Camping area.

Activities begin on Monday, November 1st.  Geez, I was early instead of late.  That’s different.

Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
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? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.