December 24, 2014 A Tough Moving Day

Quartzsite sunrise
Quartzsite sunrise

Quartzsite down to Imperial Dam LTVA

Vapor trails from the many commercial planes headed east toward Phoenix provide a different look at sunrise this morning. These sunrise shots were taken with the rugged mountains of The KOFA NWR providing stark contrast to the colorful morning sky.

Quartzsite sunrise
Quartzsite sunrise

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Quartzsite sunrise
Quartzsite sunrise

After taking my morning dose of sunrise shots, I started packing things away and getting the motorhome ready to travel. As much as I hate to leave this spot, I must continue south for some even better opportunities at bird photography as well as to check out new places.

Female Costa hummingbird
Female Costa hummingbird

Being ready to go by 9AM, I couldn’t resist the temptation to spend a last hour or so shooting hummers in the morning light before traveling.

Costa's hummingbird
Costa’s hummingbird
Costa's hummingbird
Costa’s hummingbird

This spot has really whetted my appetite for more and better opportunities to work on my hummingbird photography. I have planned to eventually make my way to Sierra Vista this winter where I have had the pleasure of shooting hummingbirds at Beatty’s Orchards in the past, before I had my 600mm lens.

Verdin
Verdin

This little guy, not much bigger than the hummingbirds, made an appearance this morning just as I was getting ready to leave. This is a Verdin, a common bird here in the desert my bird book tells me, and this is a first for me.

 I ‘m Dreaming of a Smoky Christmas

Actually, I’d prefer it weren’t. The trip down Route 95 to the Yuma Proving Grounds and in to the Imperial Dam LTVA ( Long Term Visitor’s Area ) is only 60 or so miles and I figured I only needed a couple of hours to make it down there by noon. About 20 miles north of the Imperial Dam Road I couldn’t help but notice a large plume of black smoke coming from somewhere in the vicinity of where I figured I was headed. It became larger and darker the farther south I drove.

Around 11 AM I turned west off Route 95 and headed in towards the Yuma Proving Grounds and directly into the source of the smoke. This can’t be good! And, sure enough, about 7 miles in from Route 95, with my final destination just 2 miles away, there it is, a patrolman stopping traffic in front of me, his patrol car parked across the road blocking the way into the Imperial Dam LTVA. He tells me this is a “controlled burn ” and they can’t let anyone pass ( the Yuma paper the next day said it was a wildfire ). I explained that I was pulling a Toad and couldn’t just turn around on the 2 lane road and am unable to back up with the Toad  attached. There was a small dirt parking area just across the bridge behind his patrol car where it looked like I might have a chance to make a U-turn if he would allow me to do so. Since there were other vehicles stacking up behind me, he reluctantly decided he would let me give it a try, and I was able, just barely, to make my U-turn and head back the 7 miles to Route 95.

Now I have to ask, why, if it was a controlled burn, would it not have occurred to officials to place a person, or at least a sign, seven miles back at the intersection, so that people wouldn’t have to drive in and be turned around. This road closure wasn’t just a half hour thing, this was an all day and night thing. Why don’t our government officials ever act in a way that least inconveniences citizens instead of figuring out the most inconvenient method to proceed with most of the time.

To add insult to injury, the ” detour “, for me at least, added 50 miles and two hours to my trip, where I was just 2 miles short of my destination, and included driving into the city of Yuma, and battling the last minute rush traffic of late Christmas shoppers in my motorhome with the Prius in tow.

Imperial Dam LTVA

The LTVA is poorly signed and difficult for a first timer to really figure out. Being Christmas Eve, the ” office ” trailer was closed and the Campground Host, when I finally found his spot, was off duty, and the only self pay station, didn’t even mention the concept of an LTVA and had a fee of $20/night, as opposed to $40 for two weeks, or $180 for six months, that are the published rates for the LTVA. So, frustrated, I decided on taking the criminal approach and proceeded on in and found a spot to set up camp, gand will go back to pay the Campground Host at the first opportunity.

My first impressions of this place are a little disappointing, it compares very unfavorably with the last campsite south of Quartzsite, and the thick acrid smoke enveloping the area certainly doesn’t help. But I plan to hang out here a few weeks and explore the area a little before moving on. More on the LTVA in the next post.

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