December 30, 2016 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

My Campsite at Imperial Dam LTVA
My Campsite at Imperial Dam LTVA

First Two Weeks at the Imperial Dam LTVA

It’s been a while since the last post and that’s because there really is very little to post about. After my two week stay just south of Quartzite, I drove down Route 95 for about an hour and  cut across the Yuma Proving Grounds to the Imperial Dam Long Term Visitors Area ( LTVA ) and paid my $40 for a 14 day stay. You have two fee options here, $180 for a 5 month permit or $40 for a 14 day permit. The fee covers your use of a top notch water fill and waste dump area, as well as trash dumpsters located at several locations within the boundaries of the LTVA.

There are a lot of folks scattered all around this very large area, but you can usually find a spot with a reasonable amount of privacy if that is what you are looking for. There are no utilities provided here, but there are rest rooms ( only near the main checkin area ), that I have never checked out so I have no idea what they may be like, and there also is a ” Liberry ” here where you can trade out paperbacks, and there is an amazing selection of books in that small repurposed Airstream.

One of the Neighbors
One of the Neighbors

Very, very quiet in the spot I found and I am doing a lot of reading, working on producing my BluRay slide shows, and even doing a little painting. With Yuma, Arizona, only about 20 miles away, I am also taking advantage of this location to get some long put off projects done, such as replacing my rear slide out topper fabric and installing some window awnings.

Sunshine is plentiful and in the first two weeks here, I have only had to run my Honda 2000 generator twice, my solar system keeping up nicely with my daily electrical needs.

Sam on Hummingbird Watch Duty
Sam on Hummingbird Watch Duty

I have set up my hummingbird feeders so I can monitor them through the front windshield, and though I do have takers here, a pair of Costas and 3 or 4 Annas, there just isn’t enough constant activity to bother getting serious about any hummingbird photography. Sam has picked up a new bird watching hobby though.

Sam
Sam Enjoying Her New Pastime
Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird

I found these ” test tube ”  hummingbird feeders online and thought they would work great for hummingbird photo setups, but wasn’t sure how the hummingbirds would receive them. Turns out, they prefer these to the much larger traditional feeders I have. I bought a large syringe at Quartzite that I use to fill them and with the limited number of hummers here, I only have to fill them once a day.

Desert Tray-full
Desert Tray-full

I also set up a tray feeder on the side of the RV near a large spreading ( unknown to me ) desert tree. Traffic to it has grown steadily in the week I have had it out there, a large flock of house finches, a couple different sparrows…

Eurasian-collared and Mourning Doves
Eurasian-collared and Mourning Doves

… mourning and collared doves, gila and ladder back woodpecker …

Sage Thrasher
Sage Thrasher

… plus a few others I haven’t identified ( I think this is a Sage Thrasher, a new bird for me ), but nothing terribly colorful or interesting enough to set up the photo gear, yet enough activity to enjoy watching. So, essentially, I am just goofing off, accomplishing nothing, and enjoying the peace and quiet of the desert while living very inexpensively, saving up to pay for this next year’s traveling ( maybe another Alaska trip ? ).

So, unless something exciting comes along, it probably will only be a couple of posts a month until I leave the desert in March. Hope everyone is having a Happy Holiday Season!

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May 4, 2016 Ute Lake State Park, New Mexico

Roadside Wildflowers
Roadside Wildflowers

Waiting on Weather, Planning for the Summer

I had a pleasant surprise waiting for me when I arrived at Ute Lake State Park here in Logan. Having no internet at Conchas Lake S. P. I came here to take advantage of a fairly strong internet signal for my Verizon JetPac, but was amazed to find a workable, actually useable WiFi system in the campground! Today, after a week in this campground, I reupped for another five days so I could maybe finalize summer reservations through the Colorado mountains. Plus the mountains just north of here where I am headed next, had a little snow dumped on them over the last few days, so I am going to delay moving up in elevation for a few more days.

I had no idea how tedious and difficult, and expensive it was going to be to try and find a way to spend time in the cool upper elevations of Colorado this summer. My eyes are going buggy, being glued to the internet for 6 or 8 hours a day attempting to find places to camp on this trip through the Rockies. Everything is expensive, as in $50 or $60 night for private campgrounds, even $35 night for Colorado State Park campgrounds, most of which seem to be booked solid anyhow. I would love to be able to boondock in National Forest campgrounds or on BLM land, but that is always an adventure if you are not familiar with the area, and I have never really spent any time in Colorado.

Anyone out there that has any advice on camping in Colorado, I would be thrilled to hear from you.

I have booked 2 weeks in Estes Park at Saint Mary Lake CG at the end of August through Labor Day and a couple weeks at Ridgeway State Park Campground in the middle of July. Have visited most of the National Forest campground sites, but they are always risky for larger motorhomes.

Ute Lake State Park, Logan, NM

Ute Lake State Park Campsite
Ute Lake State Park Campsite

This place has been a pleasant surprise in many ways. Without a doubt, the largest sites I have ever seen in a state park. I took the image above while standing at the start of the drive for the neighboring campsite, that’s not a road, it is the pull through site next door. Each site, and there are three rows of them, is at least 40 feet wide and close to a hundred feet long, with a picnic table on a concrete pad with overhead shelter. Even room for wildlife , as you can also see in the image above ( plenty of cottontails as well as jack rabbits ). Water and 30 amp electric at each site and a dump station at the park exit.

Ute Lake State Park Campsite
Ute Lake State Park Campsite

Nothing terribly glamorous about the campground, just a large open field, with minor views of the lake, but I have enjoyed my stay here and definitely would return again at this time of year. Very few people in the campground now, even over the weekend, so no need for reservations. Not a lot to see in the area, but it has been a great spot to get some computer work done.

The only major ding here is that the dogs are really having a tough time with the sand burs, or goatheads, they can’t go more than 5 or 6 feet in any direction and they are hopping on three legs until one of those three picks up another bur, then they are stopped in their tracks. And the little &%**%$ things are nasty to the guy that has to come to the dogs’ rescue and try and get these things out so they can do their business. They will be happy to leave here.

 

New Image Galleries Widget

On the right hand widget bar of this blog you will see a new widget titled ” Image Galleries “. I have had the chance to upload a few hundred images from my winter in Salineno, my Alaska trip, Hood Canal bald eagles, High Island rookery, and more over there. Check them out! Each gallery loads as thumbnails and when you click on a thumbnail, a larger, sharper version of the image comes up, and from there you can click through the rest of the gallery with the directional arrows.

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March 31, 2016 Brantley Lake State Park, New Mexico

Moonrise at Sunrise
Moonrise at Sunrise

Return to the Desert

So very nice to have cool nights and warm, dry, sunny days here in the desert. Quite a change of pace from the heat and humidity in Salineno this winter. This is the first sunrise I have seen since last November!

Departing Texas

Tuesday morning I Ieft Lady Bird Johnson Muni CG in Fredericksburg, Texas around 10 AM and drove north on Route 16 to Route 152 west in Llano, fully intending to stay at one of the two campgrounds I had checked out there earlier. But neither worked out, so, on the spur of the moment, and a little frustrated with my lack of success shooting spring wildflowers here, I decided to head west and shoot for New Mexico’s Brantley Lake State.Park, hoping to miss the high winds forecast for Wednesday afternoon.

Took Route 190 west instead of I-10 and enjoyed the decision, almost no traffic and a good, wide road all the way west to the junction with I-10.

I ended up making it to a picnic area about 12 miles short of Fort Stockton on I-10 and pulled in  there for the night. Didn’t get much sleep however, with strong winds rocking the motorhome all night.

Awoke early and had to wait for daylight next morning before heading out around 8 AM. Since I had a really strong internet signal at the roadside picnic area, I worked on the computer while waiting for the sun to come up. Filled up with gas at the Love’s in Fort Stockton ( easy in and out ) and headed north on Route 285 to Carlsbad, NM.

Route 285 was fairly good through most of Texas, gradually getting poorer and poorer in condition as it proceeded through oil country, and was in terrible shape, beaten to a pulp by the oil trucks, from the New Mexico border until you reached Carlsbad.

Brantley Lake State Park

Brantley Lake State Park, NM
Brantley Lake State Park, NM

What a pleasant surprise this place was ! I checked into Brantley Lake S.P. around noon and purchased a New Mexico annual camping pass for $225 and signed up for a week ( an additional  $4/night is charged for a site with electric and water ) on Site #148, one of 3 pullthroughs and the only one empty in the first come, first served area. All reserved sites were full and both sections were full not long after I pulled in.

Brantley Lake State Park, NM
Brantley Lake State Park, NM

Very nice site with water and 50 amp electric, covered concrete pavilion with picnic table and a raised grill. Paved pad and fairly level though some of the back in sites looked unlevel. Very strong Verizon signal on the jetpack. Pretty decent separation between sites. Overall, pleasant enough that I probably will stay my maximum of 14 nights to relax and get some odd jobs done on and in the motorhome.

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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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