Saturday, February 3, 2018

Photos From January 2018

Cibola National Wildlife Refuge - Cibola, AZ

I can't wait to go back here again.  We had someone hiking in front of us that was a little loud, and although they saw lots of other birds and animals, those same birds and animals had retreated by the time we got there, 2 minutes later. (Insert sad face here)

Quartzsite, AZ

Quartzsite is an experience in and of itself.  Come January, there is a huge gathering of RV fanatics and rock hounds that take over the small town.  There are big tents with all sorts of vendors.  I read that more than 2 million people descend on this area during January and February.  I think the year-round population is somewhere in the 2000 range.  Quartzsite is an experience every RVer should try, at least once.  The first time we went was in the middle of the Big RV Show, and it was overwhelming.  This year, we went just as the rock and gem people were starting, and the RV show was two weeks away.  If you are an introvert like me, this is definitely more doable.

Below is the monument to "Hi Jolly" a camel driver hired by the US Army to lead an experiment in using camels in desert situations.  The experiment largely failed because the other pack animals used by the US Army, mules, donkeys, etc, were frightened of the large camels.

Vendors and more vendors

Tucson, AZ
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum - The hummingbirds were nesting.
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum - Hummingbird Exhibit

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum - Hummingbird Exhibit

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
Catalina State Park

Catalina State Park-Cardinal

Catalina State Park-Gila Woodpecker

Catalina State Park-Coyote

Catalina State Park - Verdin

Catalina State Park - Roadrunner

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum - Wolf Exhibit

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum - Mule Deer

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum - Burrowing Owl

Thursday, February 1, 2018

RV Park Mini-Reviews - January 2018

We wrapped up our stay at Thousand Trails Wilderness Lakes in Menifee, CA.  This park will be on my repeat list for sure.  It's laid back.  Sites are generous in size.  Good shopping is close by.  Husband likes the pool tournaments.  Plenty to do and see should I care to venture away from the rig. And best of all, friends nearby!

River Breeze RV - Ehrenburg, AZ:  This is one of my favorite parks.  It is conveniently located and well maintained.  It is right on the river.  There is an even distribution of long term residents and monthly/weekly transients.  They have a clubhouse type room, a laundromat, boat ramp, and good management.  The only drawback is the lack of shopping.  You do need to go into Blythe, CA for groceries, and even in Blythe, there isn't much of anything.  We drove out to the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, and did a run to Quartzsite to check things out.

River Breeze RV Resort - Ehrenburg, AZ

Cibola National Wildlife Refuge - Cibola, AZ

Cibola National Wildlife Refuge - Cibola, AZ

Cibola National Wildlife Refuge-Cibola, AZ

Boondockers in Quarztsite, AZ before the big rush of the annual RV shows

Pioneer RV Park - Wellton, AZ:  This is a 55+ park, well kept with lots of activities.  I would guess that 75% are long term/extended stay residents.  It is about 20 miles east of Yuma, on I-8.  There is one small grocery for essentials in Wellton, otherwise the main shopping is in Yuma.  It's an easy drive, although on the return, you have to go through the Border Guard check point each time.  It's no big deal and we were waved through most of the time, but you never know how long the line will be in front of you.  My other complaint was the train noise and whistles.  Nothing the park could have done, but if you are a light sleeper, it can be annoying.  If you choose to stay in Yuma, then you deal with the noise from the airport or I-8, as most RV parks are either in the flight path or bordering on the freeway.  There is a great Fry's store in the Foothills area of Yuma, and a more than decent Walmart.  Lots of good restaurants.  A regular type mall in west Yuma was appealing.  We found a small portable humidifier that uses simple plastic water bottles at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  This was a godsend as I was zapping everything I touched with all this dry weather. Our primary reason for stopping in Yuma was to see some good friends who spend their winters in Yuma.  We had also intended to go to Los Algodones, Mexico for some dental work, but unfortunately that didn't happen - chalk it up to poor planning on our part.  While in Yuma, the only other excursion we did was a visit to the West Wetlands Park.  I had hoped for some photos in the butterfly and hummingbird gardens, and along the trails.  This has not been my trip for wildlife photos so far.....other than water fowl.

Not a stellar picture, but this was a sunrise shot from the back window of our rig while camping in Wellton, AZ

West Wetlands Park - Yuma AZ

Blue Heron at West Wetlands Park in Yuma

There is an RV park across the river from West Wetlands Park - looks like my kinda place to enjoy the morning coffee!

Butterfield RV Resort - Benson, AZ:  Let's start with the good - This has got to have been one of the cleanest, most well maintained parks we've ever been in.  The maintenance guys patrol the park all day, even taking time to sweep away stray gravel on the blacktopped roads.  The staff was fabulous.  There were plenty of activities.  I would guess there was a distribution of one-third full time residents in park models, one-third seasonal residents (there for the winter) and one-third weekly/monthly transients exploring the area.  They have an observatory onsite and offer free programs to guests each evening by the local astronomer, with a chance to look through the telescope.  We didn't get a chance to do this unfortunately (cloud cover one night, and temps in the 20s on the clear nights - and someone didn't bring his heavy coat on this trip) but our neighbors said it was wonderful, and they hoped to do it again before they left.  Another plus, at least in this bad flu season, was the hospital one block away.

The bad parts - and none of these should reflect on the park itself - there are train tracks two blocks away, and there must be a safety reason that the conductor blows the whistle multiple times when going through Benson.  It's bad enough during the day, but if you are a light sleeper, it is miserable.  The only grocery options are Safeway (next door to the park) and a small Walmart.  There is very little to do in Benson itself.  The Karshner Caverns have a Benson address, but they are actually closer to Sierra Vista.  We didn't get a chance to see the living caves because it was pretty cold while we were there, and there was the whole warm coat issue as mentioned above.  However, we will come back to do this as I've heard this is well worth it.  Like I said, there is really nothing in Benson - a golf course if you play but we don't.  We did drive to Tombstone (and saw a cheesy re-enactment of the Shoot Out at OK Corral.  We had lunch at Big Nosed Kate's Saloon.  We won't need to do either of those things again.  We drove done to Bisbee, mostly because I wanted to get a sense of the area as it is the setting of the Johanna Brady mystery series by J A Jance.  I wish we had allowed more time.  It wasn't at all what I expected.  A bit like a trip to Jerome, AZ but bigger.  Lots of shops, galleries, restaurants, which really is not our thing, but even the husband said we needed to come back and explore the area.  We stopped in Sierra Vista on the way back to Benson.  It makes a loop of sorts, taking Hwy 80 from Benson to Bisbee, and then Hwy 90 back through Sierra Vista.  There is major shopping in Sierra Vista (Frys, Target, Staples, etc) probably due to Fort Huachuca (US Army Intelligence base and school).  When we come back to explore the area, we will probably stay in Sierra Vista instead of Benson, and hope there are no issues with the train whistles there.

(Apparently, I did not take any pictures of the Butterfield RV Resort.  But there are pictures on their website - they cycle through photo at the top of the page.)

Boothill Cemetery

Boothill Cemetery
Tombstone, AZ
The Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday - Shoot Out at the OK Corral re-enactment
The Shoot Out re-enactment

Catalina State Park - Tucson, AZ: I love, love, love this park.  The sites are huge.  They do have water and electric only at their two main campgrounds - Section B has 50amp and Section A has 30amp, with dumpsites in the park.  The roads and sites are paved.  The restrooms and showers were very nice.  There is an overflow dry camping area as well.  We enjoyed hiking in the park, and just kicking back and relaxing.  There is great shopping in the area - anything you could want within about 10 miles.  Right across the highway is a good sized complex with restaurants, theaters, Walmart.  Groceries including Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Sprouts, Frys - all within 5 miles.  We will definitely return here.

Section B at Catalina State Park
A Coyote came to visit

Birding Trail at Catalina State Park

We didn't do much of anything while in Tucson, but we did go out to the Sonora Arizona Desert Museum.  The day we were was windy, and they did not have the Raptor Experience, so we will have to return.  I really enjoyed the hummingbird exhibit.  I will post pictures in a separate entry.

Stops planned in February - Phoenix, AZ.  Parker Dam, CA.  Wilderness Lakes/Menifee, CA.