February 25, 2015 Patagonia Lake State Park, Arizona

Patagonia Lake State Park
Patagonia Lake State Park

A Reluctant Return to Civilization

After four months of constant boon docking in the wide open spaces in the desert, I packed up camp around 10 AM and headed east to Patagonia Lake State Park, arriving at 1 PM and setting up on site #15 that, unfortunately, turned out to be nowhere near level, so much so that even with the hydraulic jacks, I remained uncomfortably leaning forward and tilting towards the lake.

Site #15 Patagonia Lake State Park
Site #15 Patagonia Lake State Park

If the site did not have electricity, I would have had to leave since there would have been no way I could run the frig on gas leaning this badly. The park really should identify defective sites such as this on their reservation website.

It really seems strange to have folks walking by right under your windows and vehicles passing within a few feet of your doorway after spending so much time boon docking. This is going to take some getting used to again as I see a lot more private and public campgrounds in my immediate future.

The campground seems relatively nice with water and 50 amp electricity, but the sites are way too close together and many are very uneven. The best thing I can say about the park is that they have a wonderful birding/hiking trail at the east end of the lake where one can get fairly close to a variety of water birds as well as those that like to inhabit the heavily forested shore of the lake.

Vermillion flycatcher
Vermillion flycatcher

This guy was found along the trail perched as usual, surveying his territory for breakfast on the wing. I spotted many small birds, warblers, kinglets, sparrows and more working the dense branches of the trees along the well travelled path through the woods and along the lake shore.

Mallards take off on Patagonia Lake
Mallards take off on Patagonia Lake

Walking along the heavily wood shore, you come across Cinammon teal, green and blue winged teal, mallards, northern pintails, gadwalls, rudy ducks, and more in the shallows near shore. With all the foot traffic on the trail, some of these ducks are quite approachable, others , not so much.

Desert waterfall
Desert waterfall

This certainly isn’t much as far as waterfalls go, probably about 3 feet high, but it seems odd to actually hear running water after months in the desert. This was taken while walking the trail along Sonoita Creek ( that feeds the lake ) on the northeast side of the park, while searching for, and never finding,  the elusive elegant trogon that inhabits this area. The walk along the creek, I probably followed it for a mile or so, is one of the ” birdiest” spots i have ever seen, but there were almost no birds to be seen or even heard on the two days I walked it. Must just be the timing, probably just a few weeks too early.

I took a drive north on Route 82 to the town of Patagonia and the Paton Center for Hummingbirds. This place is owned by the Tucson Audubon Society and is best known for sightings of the Violet Crowned hummingbird. There was no one there when I pulled in and very little in the way of birds either. It appeared a little run down and worse for wear, but that could be just the fact that it is still late winter here and everything is rather gray. There is a nice water feature here, that had no water, and many bird feeders scattered about the yard. I’ll have to return another time to see if there is any activity here.

Las Cienegas National Conservation Area

I continued north on 82 to check out the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area for boon docking campsites. There are two distinct camping areas here ( you can check out my Travel Maps link for more detail on this ), the Road Canyon site is a rather flat, nondescript pulloff area from the primary , newly reconstructed gravel road known as Yucca Road. There was just one camper there in a rather beatup, sketchy looking Casita trailer pulled by a really worn out pickup. Though there were suitable spots to camp here, the presence of only this one individual would discourage me from doing so.

The other spot is is known as Cienegas Camp best accessed off the east side of Route 83 by the Empire Ranch Road, a road that when I visited, was being newly paved. Going east about 3 miles on this road, you turn right on Yucca Road and look for a small sign on your right for this camping area. I drove in with the Prius and found 3 campers on the best of the maybe 5 sites available here. Very pretty grassland setting with lots of privacy. The two unoccupied site were possibly accessible with my rig but it would be tight, and I am not completely certain there is enough room to make a u-turn at the end of the drive in a big rig with a toad ( might be, but I couldn’t definitely say it could be done ). This small camping area had a very nice feel to it and I would definitely like to stay here if one of the nice sites happened to be open.

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December 22, 2014 Quartzsite, Arizona

Campsite south of Quartzsite
Campsite south of Quartzsite

Hummingbirds and a trip into KOFA NWR

Above is a shot of my new location at the Mile Marker 99 BLM 14 day stay area just south of Quartzsite on Route 95. I am really enjoying this spot, more than the other two 14 day BLM areas north of town. Very quiet, not that many neighbors, good hard surfaced, level campsites, and several minor washes that run through the site so there is a fair amount of vegetation here…

Costa's hummingbird
Costa’s hummingbird

…so that means there are hummingbirds here also. And yesterday I got serious about trying to get some decent shots and set up my feeder in the wash amongst the saguaros and small trees only a few feet from my door. By mounting my feeder quite low and shooting slightly down at the birds I was able to get the out of focus, uncluttered desert floor to serve as a non intrusive background for these shots.

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

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

These shots are all taken with my 600mm lens and I am positioned as close to the feeder as I can get and still be able to focus the 600 lens, about 15 feet.

Anna's hummingbird
Anna’s hummingbird
Female Anna's hummingbird
Female Anna’s hummingbird

Quite a bit of difference in the quality of these two shots, compared to the previous ones, once again taken through the windshield of the motorhome like the shots in the last post. I have no idea why, but the Anna’s hummingbirds only come to the feeder when it is on the front of the motorhome, while the Costa’s come to it wherever I put it.

Checking out KOFA NWR

Just a short distance from this campsite are two roads off Route 95 that go into the KOFA National Wildlife Management Area. The first one leads into the Crystal Hills area and I took the very dusty, very washboarded dirt road in about 7 miles hoping to find some desert bighorn sheep, the main highlight of this area. They claim to have a population of 700-800 sheep in the refuge, but the refuge is huge, and the odds of seeing sheep along the few roads in the refuge are still pretty small, and I did not beat the odds.

After jostling myself back out to Route 95, I drove 5 miles farther down the highway and headed back in to the refuge on MST & T Road, AKA Signal Hill Road. This dirt road was a little easier on the car until you reached the last mile or so where it ascends Signal Hill where you get a modest overlook of the desert, but still no bighorns. That last mile or so was tough sledding for my Prius, probably better suited for something with a little higher clearance. I sure do abuse this little car!

Quartzsite sunrise
Quartzsite sunrise

I close with another shot from this mornings sunrise. Just love this place!

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December 18 and 19, 2014 Quartzsite, Arizona

A Couple Short Moves Down the Road

Moved south a couple of miles on Route 95 to the La Posa 14 day stay area right off the east side of Route 95, only about three miles north of the center of town. I made this short jaunt to see if my blog posting problems could possibly be due to my 2 mile distance from the Verizon tower at my previous campsite, something I kind of doubt since I was showing 5 bars of 4G there as well as here at the new site. But I thought ( hoped and prayed ) I may as well try it and see since I am getting nowhere resolving this issue with Go Daddy, my blog host.

Finally gave in and called GoDaddy and they sold me a swap over to a new kind of server and they will do the switch for $100, since I was too intimidated by the “help” sheet they emailed me on how to move from one server to another. Hope this will be the solution ! ( it wasn’t )

With all the RV dealers in this little town, I figured this would be as good a spot as any to finally get my rear right leveling jack ( or solenoid ) repaired or replaced. I have been limping around from site to site with only 3 jacks lowering, so I have been carefully scrutinizing every site where I set up to make sure the right rear of the motorhome always has the high ground .So I made a 10 AM appointment at RV Lifestyles for tomorrow to hopefully get my right rear jack working again.

December 19, 2014

After replacing one rear solenoid ( one with the end handle snapped off by me when attempting to turn it while it had been frozen by corrosion, not the one for the non-working jack ) and the non-working jack’s 2 springs, they did manage to get it to work, albeit at a much slower speed than the others and with no guarantee that it would work for long. They also added hydraulic fluid to replace that which I had drained out to get the jack to retract last time I used it, plus all the fluid lost today in working on the system. The consensus was that the system was working all the time but the retraction springs had been worn out by what must be a bend jack that puts too much tension on the retraction springs. The system and the solenoid were actually working as they should all the time.

I hesitate to recommend any RV dealer for service, but I will say that this place at least treated me quite well as far as charging for their work. The RV was in their service bay for 4 hours and they worked on it intermittently as they were waiting for tech support calls from HWH as they tried several ways to go about getting it to work. I have had other places charge for every minute they had the unit in the bay whether they were actually working on it or not, but the owner here charged me for an hour’s time ( at $100/hr. ) where he could have gouged me for more if he chose to do so.

Picked up the RV around 4 PM, damage was $460, and moved back down Route 95 in town and into the Shady Lane RV Park for 2 nights of getting the batteries fully charged, Christmas cookies  baked, and a lot of laundry done, along with dumping tanks and refilling water. They have a December deal of $23/night, tax included, hard to beat.

Shady Lane RV Park in Quartzsite

Nice level pea stone site, no separation or greenery, sites tightly spaced though now in December I have no one right next to me. Good 30 amp power, water and sewer at each site. Very nice, very clean laundry, although they don’t unlock it until 8 AM, a big negative to early risers like me. Friendly, helpful staff, and you should be aware they do not take credit cards, cash or check only!

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December 15, 2014 Quartzsite, Arizona

Home, Sweet Home
Home, Sweet Home

 Pastel Sunrise and a trip to Blouse

Awoke this morning to a different, but very nice, pastel sunrise, rather than the usual brilliant, dramatic sunrise of the last few days.

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

Pastel sunrise
Pastel sunrise
Quartzsite sunrise
Quartzsite sunrise

Took a drive east on Plomosa Road to Blouse. Although the signed 14 day limit free camping area on Plomosa Road ends after the first three miles, there were people set up out in the desert not far after the 3 mile marker and lots of folks boondocking between MM 12 amd MM19 where signs did indicate 14 day limit camping. MM12 is just east of the summit of the small mountains as you head towards Blouse and this looks like a great get away from it all area to camp. I don’t know how strong a Verizon signal you might get out here, but it is very pretty desert.

The small town of Blouse has a little general store and a couple of cafes as well as a community park with campsites located around MM20, $14 for water and electric with a dump station, appears fairly well kept, though nothing special, but it would be hard to beat the price.

Returned to the RV and watched a couple of football games. Still having a bear of a time with pathetically slow uploads for the blog. Please stay tuned as someday it may get fixed and I will be able to resume posting on a regular basis again.

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