Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Southwestern Sojourn - Day 18: Kofa National Wildlife Refuge: Palm Canyon and Uraling on the Old Yuma Road

Saturday, Dec 15.

By 10 AM it had warmed into to low 50s here in Quartzsite with a promise of a high of 71 degrees Fahrenheit.  So Scarlett and I headed out, first into town to gas up and then south on AZ Highway 95 for 18 miles to the Palm Canyon entrance to the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.

It's six miles or so to the end of the road inside Palm Canyon and I counted 25 camper units of one size of another, no Class As but I saw spaces where even such large RVs would fit easily.

4G LTE was available each time I tested for it.

Since I'd done the hike to the top of Palm Canyon's trail and seen the Palm Trees in question last year; I instead hiked to the south side of the canyon but didn't really see much in the way of scenery.

Gearing back up, I took pictures as Scarlett and I rode away from the Canyon Walls and rock formations.

 The rocks and peaks that make up the outer 
walls of Palm Canyon

 Nearby peaks and hills with blue shadings

 More farther views of the rock formations which
make up and are near Palm Canyon

After leaving the Wildlife Refuge, I headed north on AZ Hwy 95 a few miles and pulled off the road to capture these images of nearby mountains:

 I love the pointy peaks on these mountains that
are within the Kofa Refuge

Next I drove Scarlett west on what is known as Old Yuma Road.  It crosses the small mountain range and you can reach I-10 again according to Google Maps.  I didn't take it all the way through though; it got pretty steep at times and I was running out of daylight.

 That's Cunningham Mountain with its telecom towers

 Heading back east towards AZ Hwy 95 and Quartzsite

I found and took a small detour which led me up a nearby hill, which turns out, is called Beer Hill by someone.  The last bit was steep and had to be attacked aggressively with the throttle to make it past a couple of small rock shelves.

I descended from Beer Hill with no issues, and got back on Old Yuma Road heading eastbound once more:

 One last look at Cunningham Mountain.

Got back to the La Posa South BLM campsite in time for the below sunset shot.
It wasn't much of a sunset at all as you can see, not a cloud within view of the camp.

A good day of trail riding by Scarlett, who did great.  Nice warm weather, sunny skies, a small breeze to keep things cool, it made for a great day of riding.

It's supposed to be the same tomorrow! 

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Southwestern Sojurn - Day 17: Fiery Sunrise and the Quartzsite Museum

Sunsetwx had forecasted good Sunrise conditions for this morning.  I woke even before my alarmat 6:15AM and leisurely made coffee while awaiting the pre-dawn color show.

I'm glad to report sunsetwx got this one right.

After work, with the weather remaining overcast and cool, I went to check out the Quartzsite Museum in town.  It's a little place, filled with your typical pioneer day and later paraphenalia of life in the southwest.

The building is the old stagecoach stop, now surrounded by a brick outer wall to protect the delicate dirt/mud walls.  You can see the original wall as you enter.

It's a neat museum but its obviously sustained by volunteers and visitor contributions so no flashy displays or exhibits.  I was there mainly to seek more on the US Army's brief dalliance with the use of camels as transportation animals back before the civil war.

The story is basically centered on the man who was hired to herd these unusual animals for the US Army of the time:  Philip Tedro was his name but he goes into history as Hi Jolly, the name he was known by.  More details here:  LINK

 I'm a fan of old time maps, note what they used
to call the area now known as Texas

 Camel Bells!
I guess stealth wasn't one of the objectives


 Camel Saddle

 Hi Jolly's grave and monument at the
Hi Jolly Town Cemetery

I next explored the BLM area bordered by Dome Rock Road to the west of Quartzsite.  Pretty open spaces as well but with nearby hills and small mountains for scenery.  Decent 4G cellular signal was evident.

Returning to the La Posa South LTVA, I went past my usual turn to my campsite and kept going south on FR 0059 as it left the LTVA behind.

Several miles of dirt track later, I got slightly turned around and lost for a bit but finally oriented myself by finding Cunningham Mountain.  Keeping it on my left, I finally found the track back to the La Posa South LTVA with 30 minutes or so of daylight to spare!

The overcast skies prevented any kind of a sunset viewing; in spite of Sunsetwx's predictions for one.  Oh well, mustn't get to too greedy about such thiungs.  Another good sunrise is forecasted for tomorro morning, we shall see.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Southwestern Sojourn - Day 16: Crystal Hill and Cunningham Mountain

Thursday, Dec 13.

Not much of a sunrise for today:

After work, I rode out to Crystal Hill, which is within the Kofa Wildlife Refuge Area to the south of Quartzsite, AZ.

The hill is known to "rockhounds" as a place to search for quartz crystals apparently, I did see many of such crystals but had no inclination to bring any home.

I took AZ Hwy 95 south for a few miles, and turned east at the turn for Crystal Hill.  After a few miles, you reach a welcome sign for the Kofa Wildlife Refuge and once past, you're in land where you can camp apparently.

I saw several truck campers and cars in the camping area at the base of what I thought was Crystal Hill.  Nice flat spots, good 4G LTE coverage, and it's free, what's not to like?  Sure, it's 9 miles from the highway on a dirt road with sometimes lots of loose rocks but doable if you take it slow.

I parked Scarlett and climbed to the top of what I thought was Crystal Hill, not a bad set of views from the top, here's the one I liked best:

 Nice view of an LTVA to the north of
Crystal Hill.

A view of the hills, the one on the left is
the one I climbed, the one on the right is
actually Crystal Hill!  Oh well.

I retraced my route back to the highway, along the way I stopped for a picture of Cunningham Mountain.  

 Teddybear Cholla near where I parked Scarlett
for the shot below:

 Cunningham Mountain, see the trail leading to it's base?

I could see a trail across the highway as I reached it, that seemed to lead to the base of Cunningham Mountain.  Of course, I had to find out!  A bit over 9km or almost 5 miles later, I was standing near the base of the mountain!  Nice road too.

Had some minor turns, some deep sand which caused me to get bogged down.  But, a quick engagement of 2WD and walking alongside the rig, I got her out of the loose stuff easily enough.

On the way back, I'd power on through that same patch of loose sand with 2WD with no issues.  Gotta love it.

Made it back to camp after going into Quartzsite to get some more groceries and gas for Scarlett.  Got UDF'ed by a Quebec resident driving an old Land Rover, I actually lusted over his truck for a bit while he peppered me with questions about the Ural.  Yves was his name, he's staying with his dog at the La Posa West LTVA nearby.

 The campsite I picked had this rock circle made by
previous campers I guess.  Some people must get pretty
bored at times just hanging out in the desert.

Tonight's sunset was completely cloudless so nothing to write home about if you know what I mean.  So I went for "artsy".

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Southwestern Sojourn - Day 14 & 15 Travel Days

Dec 11

Didn't do any riding, just broke camp and left the Gunsite Wash BLM area near Why AZ and headed north on AZ Hwy 85.

Filled up the propane tank (6.7 gal) in a gas station in Ajo, AZ and then just motored up to I-10 to head west towards Quartzsite.  I didn't go all the way there, as I decided to stop at a RV park called Snowbirds West, located to the north of the junction of I-10 and exit 69.  Not much else there, though apparently the area is named Centennial.

The RV park is very "rustic".  Nice pads but no electric hookup, no sewer hookups (though there is a dump location), but there was a water source at each pull-through spot.

One minor thing, no water.  At least none until they turned on the camp generator at 4PM through 6PM daily.  Then the water flowed and I filled up the fresh water tank, filtering the water through a water filter.

During the time the generator is running, you can also luxuriate in a hot shower that is included in the camping fee.  No coins required.

There was a washer/dryer available, sort of, there's a signup for its use and I was second, ended up delaying laundry day to another day.

The shower was nice though.  The weather was temperate and it was pleasant walking back to the URRV afterwards from the nearby shower building.

Mellow place, full of snow birds who stay there all winter.

Price was right for my campsite: $8.

Had a pretty good sunset, you'll not I didn't even bother unloading Scarlett from the trailer as I was just overnighting at this spot.

Dec 12

Broke camp and rolled out the RV park early and arrived at the La Posa South LTVA or Long Term Visitor Area for BLM camping.  Not exactly free though as you pay for access to dump stations, water, garbage dumpsters.  I paid the $40 for a 14 day stay.  You can stay September 15th to April 15th (a total of 7 months) for $180.

There's actually a lot of RVs in the area and even in my vicinity, just not that close as there's plenty of space to give each other room.

I'm not going to stay here the whole 14 days, I'm meeting up with Martha and Patrick on the 23rd in Las Vegas.  

Spent the rest of the day working and just relaxing.

Near sunset, I drove down AZ 95 south towards the Kofa Wildlife Refuge but stopped way short of its entrance to Palm Canyon.  

Instead, I found a forest road headed towards the hills and rock formations visible from the highway, to the east.

Somewhere near Crystal Hill
which I hope to explore a path to, tomorrow

Last bit of Sunset back at the La Posa South LTVA

Got back to the LTVA as it darkened and missed a turn or two to get back to my campsite but found it with no major issues.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Southwestern Sojourn - Day 13: Organ Pipe Cactus Nat'l Monument's North and South Puerto Blanco Drives, and a peek into Mexico

Solid overcast today, not much in terms of lighting but temperatures were in the mid to high 60s Fahrenheit so no complaints here.

Woke to a pretty glorious sunrise:

After finishing with work for the day, I rode down to the Visitor Center of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, got another map and then rode the loop comprised of the North Puerto Blanco and South Puesto Blanco drives.

This loop is much longer than the Ajo Mountain Drive and I recommend the Ajo Mountain Drive over this one if you've only got time and inclination for one loop.

The Puerto Blanco loop basically goes around the range of hills crowned by Pinkley Peak:

 Pinkley Peak

 This Saguaro Cactus reminded of 
"El Tenedor del Diablo" from the
movie: "Romancing the Stone"

I did park Scarlett at the trailhead to Dripping Springs, thinking it'd be cool to see water in the desert.  It was just over a mile in and some light rock climbing, not bad at all.

Trouble is, while plenty of evidence of water's presence, didn't see any free flowing or collected water.

 Lots of cave like openings that I imagine were carved 
out by water flow over the centuries.
 A view back towards the road from Dripping Springs

 Lots of cave like openings that didn't go very far in.

I continued on after returning to Scarlett, the overcast skies and temperate weather keeping things nice and cool.  The road from Dripping Springs Trailhead could get very rocky and twisty at times but nothing insurmountable by Scarlett.  

I would stop Scarlett at the few stops along the way, to let the engine cool down and me to take pictures.

 Lucky #13, it's a signal station where you can
push a button and summon help.  Nice thing
for the Park Service to set up eh?

Next stop was Bonita Springs where there was a pit toilet for use.  I think it's been a while since the windmill pictured below pumped up any water for use here.

The rest of the riding was just packed dirt road with mostly loose rocks laying in patches that urged one to slow down at times.  Then I got to the turnoff to South Puerto Blanco Drive and that was sandy at times!

I think at one point they used an old river bed as part of the road because it was some pretty deep and loose sand; even thought about engaging 2WD at times but made it through just fine.

This road borders the international border with Mexico.  There was of course miles of fence lines.  Brown for the USA side and White for the Mexican side.  Mexico's Highway 2 runs right parallel to the border here.

 Yep, that mountain range is in Mexico
Disappointingly, my Peakfinder app didnt show names

 Mexican Highway sign visible from the US side

 If you dare to cross the border here, you can get a
coffee in Mexico!

 The trail alongside the fencing is for Border Patrol
vehicles as they patrol the fence line.

 Finally made it to AZ 85 and back onto pavement!

I rode south the one remaining mile to the border and gassed Scarlett up there in the small town of Lukeville.  There's even an RV park there, called Gringo Pass.

 The Lukeville Port of Entry into Mexico

From the border it was less than 30 miles back to the BLM campsite.  I took a slight detour to check out a primitive campground but there was no signal there for my phone, so not usable to me.  It's right at the base of Mount Ajo though, so not bad of a location.

As I neared the northern edge of the monument
I could see a nice view of the Ajo Peaks so I stopped
a bit short of the US Border Patrol checkpoint
for this shot.

I think my time here at the Gunsite Wash BLM area has come to and end, time to move on and see what's around Gila Bend I think.