Peaceful Easy Feeling

We arrived at Quartzite in the late afternoon on Wednesday.  We are camping on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, which means that we can camp for 14 days for free, and then we have to move.  It is like Crown Land in Canada, but freer and more usable.

We had planned to leave Yuma on Tuesday, but we got a windstorm (sandstorm) followed by rain. Yes, rain!  It will probably be one of the few showers we will see down here.  As a result, we decided not to leave for Quartzite until Wednesday. The rain means the desert will bloom in a few days!


Saguaro and teddy bear cholla

The desert is spectacular!  I can’t get enough saguaro cacti. However, the desert is thorny. Everywhere. I’m always watching where the dogs step because there are prickers growing all over the ground. Not to mention all the thorns grabbing at your legs from the sides. The plant life has to protect itself some way. It’s a tough life waiting for rain a few times per year. Even with the thorns, needles, and pickers, the beauty is unmatched.

The desert floor is like pavement. The rocks are flat (Yes, there are some big sharp ones too. Remember everything is sharp here.).  However, the flat rocks have a smooth shiny patina from years of weathering. It is so smooth and flat that you don’t need to worry about finding a level site.  It’s almost as smooth as pavement.  Then, there are washes which are like gullies formed to carry away the rainwater.

After enjoying a glorious sunset, we were treated to a billion stars all around. Nature at its finest.

And the best sleep ever.

The wash behind our camp:
Flat level site:    

What are the poor people doing?


Enjoying the billion stars all around: 

The desert is cold for little old ladies

Tru, Reece, and Tonto:

The Elite Iditarod Team

Donna Dee used to race sled dogs, but now she has a Pomerian, a Border Collie, and a Standard poodle, so what do you do?  Hitch them up and go!

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She has even taken Poppy on a trial run.  Poppy actually did fairly well considering she is very afraid of bikes, but she trusts Donna.  Donna had her on a training leash next to the trike.

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Too bad Reece got cut out of this picture:IMG_6337

Doesn’t Poppy look smart in a sled dog harness?

Moon Howl

January 1 was the full-moon, so we had a bonfire and hotdog roast.  They do this every month in the park.  It’s called the Moon Howl.  Before the fire was ready for roasting wieners, Donna Dee took her dogs out for run.

Here is Tonto, the Pomeranian, howling at the moon.  He’s such a little ham.

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Waiting for the sun to set and the moon to rise:

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Don made the fire-pit out of a washing machine tub, and then mounted it on a lawnmower base.  Such fun!IMG_6293IMG_6291IMG_6301

 

Morning Walks

We have irrigation canals around the RV park.  The berm is well-groomed for people to walk or bike.  People really have to be careful about cleaning up after their dogs, although many do not.  No poop can get into these irrigation canals.  If you wonder how e-coli gets onto our lettuce, that’s how.

This is the park on the other side of the canal from Yuma Mesa RV Park, where we are staying.  I love the big saguaro cactus.  It’s a pretty park, but it doesn’t have a pool, hot tub, shuffleboard, etc.

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Most days, we just take Daisy and Poppy on our morning walk, but on the odd day, we ask Donna Dee if Tru & Reece can come with us.IMG_6232

Tru is a Border Collie.  She’s an old girl, but you’d never know it.  She’s very frisky and would play fetch until she died.  She really does have OCD, so you have to control her fetch games.  She is also an Olympic Cuddler like Poppy.  Paul wants to steal her.IMG_6220

Reece is a Standard Poodle.  He is such a handsome boy!  Yes, I want to steal him.  I keep whispering in his big ears that he should hop in the Chinook when we leave.  In the meantime, we’ll keep playing with these two precious dogs.  Donna rescued Reece and has really brought him out of his shell.  He didn’t have a good early life, but he’s livin’ the life now!  Some evenings, Donna will come over and spend some time visiting in the Chinook.  She will bring one of the dogs, so we get more time with them.IMG_6219

One day, we crossed the main road and walked along another canal berm.  As we approached a date palm grove, we thought we might be near my Aunty Candice and Uncle Gunner’s place, and sure enough, we were!  That day, we also had Reece and Tru with us.  We were all pretty hot, so we got refreshed on my aunt and uncle’s porch.  What a great walk that was!  We were so surprised that it only took 35 minutes to walk there.  Of course, Tru found a lovely display of pinecones in a bowl and tried to entice my uncle to play fetch with her!  What a girl!

Other Creatures, Great and Small

There is a dead tree near our park, and every morning the vultures perch on it and warm their wings.  It was a little disconcerting the first time I walked by, but they kept to themselves and didn’t look twice at Daisy.

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There are also citrus fruit groves and other crops.  Check out this field:IMG_6254IMG_6250IMG_6255

The day before I walked by, they were so wooly.  The next morning, I remembered my camera, but during the evening, they lost their coats!  As I approached, they came running over.

These sheep are from Montana.  It is cheaper for farmers to send their sheep south than to buy feed for them for the winter.  They get moved from field to field.  They can clear a field in a couple of days, and they add much needed nutrients.  Lucky sheep!  Who wouldn’t want to spend their winters in Arizona?

 

La Vie en Rose . . . Then, We Blew our Top!

We left Saskatoon on December 11.  It was about 34F (1C), but in a couple of hours it had climbed to 43F (6C).  The little Chinook was living up to its reputation of being a snow melter!  Before we had reached Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park, all the snow was gone.  The roads were dry the whole way to Lethbridge, AB.  Driving this late in the season is a surreal experience.  It looked like fall, but the sun was low and glaring.  Just past Medicine Hat, we were both blinded by the sun and neither of us saw a big wood pallet on the highway.   Eek!  We ran over it.  What a lot of noise!  Paul pulled over when it was safe, but there didn’t appear to be damage.  After a few more miles, he pulled over again, just to be sure.  We think all is well.

Lethbridge is a gorgeous city with coulees all around.  Unfortunately, it is also incredibly windy.  It certainly lived up to its reputation again.  I barely slept.  The wind was so noisy.  It sounded like it wanted to break in.  We’ve experienced plough winds before when camping, so I am cautious.  Lots of small branches came down, but nothing major.  Phew.

The sunrise was spectacular. La vie en rose?


  

What a lovely pink morning!  It was already 45F (7C) by the time we left. It must have been the Chinook.

We crossed into the US at Coutts AB – Sweetgrass MT.  I had special International Health Certificates for the girls, but the guard did not ask for them.  He also didn’t ask to see their food.  It was a pleasant crossing, and the Duty Free shop had excellent prices, so we stocked the liquor cabinet (basically, it’s crammed where it fits — space is at a premium).  4L for $49.

The wind stayed with us all day.  Paul was exhausted keeping the Chinook going straight.  We pulled into the rest stop past Shelby MT.  What a treat that was!  It was a new facility.  Outside, there was a street sweeper cleaning the parking lot.  Inside, there was a wall of doors — each one leading to a private WC, complete with toilet, sink, and a little strap-in chair to hold small children while mom took care of business.  However, upon our arrival, the air conditioner shroud blew off!  We had just got out of the vehicle when the wind took it sailing!  Thank goodness we weren’t on the highway.  Fortunately, I had seen an RV dealer right where we pulled off, so $200 US later, we have a new shroud.


Poppy wore her Thunder Shirt most of the way.  I think she had a breakthrough this time.  She was still so nervous, but she left us for a while and climbed up on our backpacks and pillows and hunkered down for a few hours.


  

Too bad the last picture is blurry, but she almost looks happy up on the back of the sofa, wedged between the Thermarest mattress, pillow, and sheepskin.  Maybe she’ll almost start enjoying the ride.  We can hope.

We are staying the night in Helena MT.  It’s surprising how many campgrounds stay open year round.  We have hot showers and electricity.  Life is good.