Saturday, February 1, 2014

Back On The River Again (not the Road Again)

My apologies to my followers, I have been remiss in keeping up my kayaking adventures, by being sidetracked by Quartzsite, dental work and my need to help a friend who lost everything Christmas night in a fire.  I put aside my own goals of saving or earning money for my Hawaii paddle to help him instead.  But let’s catch up now.


You may remember that I won a solar oven in a photo contest held by Sun Ovens International, Inc.… and I got a lot of you to vote for my photo with the promise I would then raffle off the old sun oven at the Winter RTR (Rubber Tramp Rendezvous).  I was going to put the proceeds toward kayaking Hawaii, the last of the 50 states, for my 70th birthday in May 2014.  I was moved instead to help the friend who lost everything in the fire.  I held the raffle as planned and was able to raise a bit of money to help him out.  It felt good to be able to do that.

More info on friend Doug Begley’s web site -

Now I am not sure I can financially swing going to Hawaii this year, but I have faith and believe in good Karma, and besides those closest to me that love me the most all say “You ARE going to Hawaii.” 

In January, I was off to Mexico to get this darned tooth fixed.  First hurt the tooth when I feel in Monterey CA back in 2007 and took a bite out of the sidewalk.  That one and others broken, along with my nose, jaw, and lip.  Broke two new crowns off then.  Have spent thousands of dollars on my mouth since that fall.


Had that fixed, then kayaking in IL (Sept 2011 – Lake Shelbyville), I broke one of those crowns off and had to have a root canal, and temp crown.  Last winter I had a perm crown put on in Mexico and in November 2013, that one broke off.  So that called for an extraction and an implant.  On the recommendation of a friend, I went to see Dr. Sabas Magana Ambriz in Los Algodones, B.C. Mexico.


I was met at the border by Manuel who escorted me to the dentist office and none of the annoying little street vendors and beggars even looked at me.  DO NOT GO TO THIS DENTIST.


Five days later I walked away with the tooth pulled, the implant put right in immediately afterwards, and the small temp bridge tooth placed in my mouth.  I was happy with his work at that time. BUT…

Now, November 2014, I realize this was a big mistake.  I returned to him in September 2014 to get the completed work done, paid him the balance due before the work was completed, only to have him botch the job, my final crown and abutment falling out two days after the work was done.  I trusted this guy, and the person who referred him.  And all I have is a tooth in a box.  I’m out $1,000 or more, considering the gas for making several 200 mile round trips to Mexico.  He promised me a full refund a month ago, but so far has not given me one dollar.  He wanted me to return and give him a 3rd chance at fixing it right.  Not happening.

His brother, Ruben, works at the P.O. in Quartzsite.  He has promised to help me get the money back.  He has told his brother to refund me all the money.  Since they are not keeping that agreement with me, I must warn everyone NOT to go to this dentist. (edited in Nov. 2014)

So NOW, it was time to have some fun and to get back on the water.  I needed my water fix.  After a couple of days of rest and scouting out the area around Imperial Dam, I had a plan.  Hooray.


Looking Eastward from the Squaw Lake Day Use Area. Those are American Coots on the water.


After the tooth was pulled, I rested near the camps of my friends, Doug Begley and Rachel Smith... and later in the day scouted places to kayak in the area. Found this Squaw Lake between the Senator Wash Reservoir and the Imperial Dam. Decided to wait another day to kayak.  Nice areas in the Imperial Dam LTVA.  Lots more exploring to do.


Whenever I find a motley group of ducks or geese, I feel right at home, like this is where I belong... and there they were... some looked like regular Mallards, some like mixed up crosses between a domestic duck and a Mallard and one had a strange topknot.


Regular looking Mallards.


The Motley Crew... I just love them.  More on the motley birds of my past.


I told you... he had a strange top knot!!


Don’t you love the color?


Way up on the hillside overlooking Squaw Lake were these rock formations. There are really very large.


The Day Use Area at Squaw Lake, note the shadow in the lower left of the photo, that's Old SwankieWheels with the kayak on top. (I did not plan this photo, just a happy accident)


I stayed to enjoy the beautiful sunset and then moved to a place to camp for the night with the intent of returning to launch very early in the morning.


Got underway about 7am next morning.


Here I am approaching the exit from Squaw Lake onto the Colorado River. Exciting, I have never kayaked the Colorado River and was actually somewhat afraid to do it. I love the way the mountains look off to the East.


Yes, I am a happy camper (erhhh Kayaker)... and love the new temporary tooth bridge I got in Mexico, and under all that is my first implant, busy healing.  More about kayaking this area.


When I got on the river, I decided to paddle toward the Imperial Dam (south) a little ways, until I saw this sign and as I was trying to get a photo, I felt the currents pulling me... and so I didn't get the shot before the grasses got in the way, then I was busy regaining control of the kayak to turn it around and head away from there. THAT sign needs to be much larger so you can read if before you get that close. I never was able to read the smaller words… I was too busy.


Heading north now, and away from the Treacherous Currents sign... I began to feel like I was paddling up the Nile River.


During the entire paddle, a few motor boats went by, sending small wakes toward me, but nothing that impressed my kayak. Piece of cake.


Once before, when kayaking out into the Puget Sound to find Glass Beach, I had this feeling come over me... like, ahha, yes, this is where I belong, on the water. I love the feeling of peace and serenity that I get on still water like this. I feel my mind clearing as I paddle along.

This is the way a Palm tree naturally looks, not the skinny trimmed trunks you see in urban areas. And wait... there is something sticking out of it on the right side. Paddle closer Swankie.


Look at that! And he just sat there and watched me. Someone posted on FB here that it is a Red-Tailed Hawk. He was certainly beautiful and I watched him a long time. Nice perch, huh? sticking out of the palm frons like that.


I found a rock shoreline, and pulled in between the reeds and the rock and had an orange for breakfast. I sat there thinking of the Nile again, like this is were baby Moses would have been found. I have not idea why that thought came to mind, I'm not as especially religious.


There is the rock and I was pulled off into the reeds on the left side of photo. I walked to the top of the rock... it is white with salt, and beyond the crest is a nice level place to camp and totally private. Room back there for a couple of kayaks to be out of view... and I can see staying there for a couple nights sometime.


Buoy says “All Backwater” “NO WAKE”

I continued up river about a mile, and took a couple of side inlets... one in to a nice little round pond area... nice just to spend the day in there floating around and fishing???? I fantasize a lot on the water.


Went up this a little ways and realized there was no outlet on the other end... at least not within a mile, so I returned to begin making my way back. I crossed back and forth across the river from CA to AZ to CA to AZ. Kinda a fun silly thing to do.



The passageway back to the river.


Sorry the lens is dirty, but the small lower black dot is a helicopter that flew over me, twice... the second time very low. I guess they patrol the river. I waved.


I loved this group of Palm trees, four clustered tightly together in the in the middle it looked like there was a smaller one growing up, sheltered and protected by the mature trees..



After about three hours, I returned to Squaw Lake, and all the squawking little American Coots.


They seem to be displaying mating behavior and chasing one another and making a lot of noise. I have not observed that before with Coots.


This one was carrying a twig to shore.


This bad boy was really acting out.   American Coots can make a wide variety of noises, from grunting to clucking, as a means of communication, between each other and to threatening predators. There are two times a coot will splash: during mating season to attract attention and to discourage predators. American Coots also use their good sense of vision to communicate.   Well, it’s not mating season, so I don’t know what is going on!


And after my paddle, I had a nice long hot shower at the Restroom/Bathhouse there for $1.50. I drove to the military base and got a snack and then on back to Quartzsite and my Home Camp. News on the radio called for high winds and rain, so I quickly took my tent and canopy down, and put away all things cloth so I don't have to deal with wet stuff. I will have to pull it all back out and fold things up and pack them away properly, but at least they will be dry when I do. And when I finished, I turned to see this sunset.


Wow, what a day this has been, I kayaked the Colorado River, and returned to camp to begin breaking camp and then got rewarded with this awesome sunset. It has been a totally glorious and divine day for me. And having about six Gigabytes of internet to use up in the next two days, I watched all the January episodes of Revolution and two of the Blacklist. When I finally dozed off, it was one of the best night's rest I have had... the worry gone about the tooth, and I kayaked a River this day. It just can't get any better than that until tomorrow.


There it is, my SwankieKayak in the setting sun of the Arizona Desert.


Did you ever see anything so beautiful. The lights of Quartzsite in the background, on the West end of town.

New Goal… kayak from Ehrenberg, AZ (at I-10 near the AZ/CA border down to Squaw Lake.  My Bucket List grows longer.

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.