Gladlee of Guernsey

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America 2012 Page 3 (and UK) -  November/December


31st Oct - 2nd November - Cottonwood Springs, Joshua Tree National Park, California.

Drinks by the fire Unusual butterfly

Our third visit to the Joshua Tree National Park. And always well worth it. This time we are staying in the southern end of the park as we are sort of "just passing through". We have stayed in this campground before, on our own and also when Linda and Seamus visited us nearly three years ago. We do our favourite hike up to the Mastadon Gold Mine and then the following day do a new walk down the river bed from the Springs. This leads us to a bit of history in what was called the "Little Chilcoot Pass". The original was in Alaska during the gold rush there but this one is a mini version where a "road" was built in the late 1800's to help the local gold miners move equipment through the mountains. The original road, though damaged is still clearly visible. One other thing is that we have a Coyote in our campground who seems to like walking about 10 feet away from our site. Talk about up close and personal with the wildlife!!

3rd - 4th November - Salton Sea, HQ, California

White (and Brown) Pelicans Black-necked Stilt

As could be expected by anyone that knows what we have done before we have to visit the Salton Sea. This is a major bird migration route so for Julie is an absolute "must". So, we travel 40 miles and come from 3000 feet to 253 feet below sea level. A real low point on our adventure - so to speak!!! We find that all the various campgrounds that are part of the Salton Sea State Park are open (as of 1st November) so our plan is to spend a "few" days between the various sites. There are huge numbers of white pelicans here and also a few brown pelicans plus lots of others too numerous to mention. Watch this space for more details as we travel south through the various campgrounds of the Park.

5th November - Mecca Beach, Salton Sea.

Yes we have moved on - exactly 1 mile "down the road" to the next of the Salton Sea campgrounds. We had actually already walked between the two to check it out. Apart from being closer to the beach it was pretty much the same as the HQ. Oh yes - must mention that we have had Hummingbirds at the feeder Julie puts out. They are incredible.

Harvey at Mecca Beach "The Beach" made up of fish bones and barnacles!

6th/7th November - Salt Creek, Salton Sea.

Another long trip - this time a whole five miles to the next campsite. Salt Creek is basically a "primitive" site so there are no niceties at all. We are however right on the beach. One good thing for Julie was a "first spot" of a new bird, the Snowy Plover. Apparently the west coasts answer to the Piping Plover on the east coast. We also do a fairly good hike to Bat Cave Buttes which is about a four mile round trip. Not a bat to be seen. Nor any bat cars, Alfreds or anything else related to bats.

Anna's Hummingbird Snowy Plover

Our morning view from inside the RV Evening light on a White Pelican

8th November - Wister Unit, Salton Sea.

This time a truly long drive - 18 miles - to the last of the Salton Sea sites. This one is a bit different though. It is actually a hunters site that we can use for $5 per day which makes it a nice cheap option. Especially as there is no hunting allowed on the day we are there. The hunting consists of shooting Doves, Ducks and Coots. (anyone know how to cook Coot?) The sea is not anywhere near the campground but can be reached if you walk far enough. I suppose that can be said about anywhere really!

And we are camping here!! Snow Geese coming in for the night

9th November - Weist Lake, Nr Brawley, California

This place is part of the Imperial County Park system and we know that we can get water and electricity here as we have previously stayed here. The place has gone downhill though and we are only going to do one night instead of the planned two. Also the weather is really not nice today so anywhere is OK that is not too far to go - 20 miles. This is one of those places that are good for replenishing the batteries and not much else.

10th - 12th November - Oxbow Campground, Cibola National Wildlife Refuge (possibly Arizona?)

TomTom is not always right!! (the darker blue is the Colorado River) Oxbow Campground, Cibola NWR

One of our old favorites'. We are actually in a campground that should be in California (west bank of the Colorado River) though it seems that the campground is actually in Arizona. Not a great problem except for an hour time difference between the two. Anyway, despite our TomTom (GPS) trying to put us into the river we camp within about six feet of the river and have spectacular views. The actual wildlife refuge is about 6 miles away so we head off in the RV for a pleasant drive round the place - there is an actual driving route round it. Lots of birds to be seen including the Sandhill Cranes, Harriers, Sharp Shinned Hawk plus plus.

13th - 14th November, Mayflower County Park, Blythe, California.

A new place for us and even though it is fairly busy it is a very peaceful park. We also have electricity, water and WiFi so it is a major catch up time for us. Again though we are very close to the Colorado River and it is a fairly wild section with lovely sand banks in the river. Again lots of birds for Julie including lots of Vermillion Flycatchers and a Coopers Hawk. Also we manage to get unlimited hot showers - always a luxury. We are getting close to our departure date now so lots of organizing being done.

Cooper's Hawk at Mayflower Vermillion Flycatcher

15th - 17th November - Saddle Mountain BLM

Saguaro Cactus - Young Normal

Saguaro Cactus - Adult Normal

Saguaro Cactus - "Grandad"!!!

We have headed over towards Phoenix now and are using a free site owned by the BLM. As you can see from the GPS picture below we are a "little bit" off road. A rough track lead to the perfect camping spot - any further and Harvey would not have made it - and we spent three days in solitude in the middle of nowhere - It seems like "the middle of nowhere" keeps following us!!

No roads lead to our destination!

But it is beautiful

18th - 19th November Saddle Mountain RV Park, Tonopah, Az

Back to our old haunt. This place is a commercial RV park and we spent a month here three years ago. This is where we spent New Years Eve - say no more!!! Full hookup (electricity, water, WiFi and sewage dump) means that we can get everything cleaned and sorted in preparation for putting Harvey into Storage in Phoenix ready for our flight back to the UK on Tuesday 20th. Ron is staying away from the Table Tennis this time to avoid a repetition of the back problems caused last time.

20th November - 10th December - In the UK

A late evening flight back to the UK found us arriving in a cold and dreary Heathrow on the afternoon of the 21st. No problems with immigration or car rental and we are in Wellingborough by mid afternoon. A fairly quick turnaround saw us heading off  to Kessingland to see Helen and the family for a couple of days. Really nice time with all the grand kids even though it did try to snow. Back to Wellingborough for a few days before heading to Wakefield to help in the celebrations for Yvonne and Dermot's Ruby Wedding Anniversary - yes 40 years!!! Molly accompanied us for this trip but drove herself as we were heading from Wakefield directly up to Aberdeen to see Katie, Dave and David and of course the latest addition to the family - Jack.

Molly, Ron, Yvonne, Dermot and Sioban (Dermot's sister) Yvonne and Dermot's Ruby Wedding Anniversary

The Table The 'youngsters' doing shots

Jack proved to be the star of the visit - a real looker and well behaved to boot. Not bad for six months old. Really quite bad weather in and around Aberdeen with snow and ice making things a little difficult - and hellish cold of course. The drive back down to Wellingborough could have been done without - 10 hours driving because of the bad road conditions in Scotland and the NE of England. But, safely made it back for a few days rest, apart from shopping and walking round Summer Leys the local bird watching point that is.

Ron and Jack (Step-grandson) Katie and Jack with David and Dave

At the time of writing we are just getting packed up ready to head back to the warmer climes of Arizona but first have a final visit to do - Iris, Benjamin and Flipper at their new house in Tonbridge. All we need now is someone to move to the west country and we will have the whole country covered for our irregular visits!!

11th December - Phoenix 

Left a cold Heathrow on our flight back to Phoenix arriving early evening to fairly mild weather. An overnight at the local Days Inn as our storage place was closed until the morning.

12th December - Apache Wal*Mart

A day of doing things!! Camping World first to give Harvey an oil change plus buy one or two things. Then on to Walmart in Mesa (east Phoenix) to top up with all the foods we had let run down. We left buying fresh meats etc until we found a different supermarket as the quality is usually better. Onwards to our planned overnight which was to be Walmart at Apache Junction but then just short of it lo and behold - Safeway. More shopping. That finished we finished up at the Walmart of choice for a freebie overnight stop. 

13th - 15th December - Schoolhouse Campground, Roosevelt Lake

Nothing needs to be said does it?

Lake Roosevelt with very little water and a boat ramp that is high and dry

After nearly three years we return to Roosevelt Lake and the Schoolhouse Campground. We stay here for three days and for 60 hours of this (two and a half days) it does nothing but rain!! Bear in mind we are in Arizona - the desert state. However, a look at the above photograph will show that the rain is fairly necessary. We estimated that the lake was about 40 - 50 foot below normal level. While here we had a "pet" Northern Cardinal (bright red bird) who chomped his way through a good bit of Julie's bird feeder.

16th - 19th December - Windy Hill, Roosevelt Lake

Harvey at Windy Hill Campground The Javelina

On to another of the sites at Roosevelt Lake where we had stayed before. The weather had brightened up although it did remain quite cold with morning temperatures sometimes below freezing. This time it was the turn of the Gila Woodpecker to have a go at the feeder - only it got it wrong a bit as it was feeding from the Hummingbird feeder. Also visits most days by Javelinas (Havelinas) - a form of wild boar but maybe only half the size. We never fail to be surprised by the variety of wildlife that we manage to see.

20th December - Globe Wal*Mart

A short trip to the town of Globe (a copper mining town) to do a bit of shopping at both Walmart and Safeway; conveniently located right next to each other. We also both did our Christmas shopping here - a whole US$20 each to be spent on little surprises for each other. Again, another freebie over-nighting at the Walmart.

21st - 28th December - Roper Lake State Park

Roper Lake State Park The Road Runner

Another return - this time to Roper Lake. We will be here for Christmas as we have power and water at the site. It is also a very pretty site with some nice walks/hikes. Oh - did I mention it also has a hot tub filled by a natural hot spring. And hot showers. And lots of birdlife. Heaven.

Christmas Day

Our presents and cards Christmas Lunch

A wonderful day. A morning hike around the lake followed by mulled wine (with a tot of rum). A real traditional Christmas dinner; Turkey, roasters, sprouts, carrots, stuffing, cranberry and lots of gravy on the top. After a brief respite a visit to the hot tub to soak in the natural hot springs. Met a nice family who were checking the place out and invited them back to the RV that evening for a drink or two. A nice end to a nice day.

Boxing Day

Us in the hot spring Snowy Egret

Another walk around the lake in the morning and a visit to the office to extend our stay by one day. The place we were heading to after here is forecast to be at -10 deg C so we are passing on that. On the way back to the RV we spot a Great Horned Owl. They were supposed to have gone when the Rangers chopped down some trees but one of them at least has returned to view his territory.

29th December 2012 - 1st January 2013 -Wells Fargo RV Park, Tombstone

Crystal Palace Saloon Big Nose Kates Saloon

The O.K. Corral...(the actual site) ...and the Gunfight

Having spent the night of the 29th in the Benson Walmart car park we moved on to Tombstone for the New Years Eve period. Lots of fun here doing the tourist bit which is unusual for us. Our first night and we are drinking at the Crystal Palace Saloon and you just never know who you are going to meet!!! Our first conversation is with an English guy who is actually working at the Saloon. He used to be Tommy Steel's drummer. For those of you who weren't around in the 60's Tommy Steel was a bit of a "soft Rocker" whose most famous song (at least that we can remember) was "Little White Bull" which we think came from a film. Then as the evening progressed we manage to be drinking with the owner of a Brewery in Tucson - not far from here. His beer is selling in the Saloon and after a couple of these a hangover is inevitable. The beer is 9.2% abv. Bear in mind we have had many other beers besides these killers. The other weak beers were called "Kilt Lifters" and were only 6% abv. Oh by the way - if you are reading this Kate there is no similarity with the Saloon named in the photograph at all!!! A real nice break from the normal for us.



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