In the Valley of Fire, a Nevada State Park
The November’s “Blahs” hit our hometown last fall but good luck that we already knew we would be escaping to more moderate climes, to be found in the deserts of Arizona and California.. And soon after we crossed the Mohave it all began again for us when we stopped for a short stay near Lake Havasu City’s Craggy Wash, a BLM little piece of heaven.
A must once in the area is to hit a good store to buy what many other snowbirds are buying. Miller (“Best Ice”) and Busch (“Natural Ice”) both have these in 30-packs, very reasonably priced. This one can costs less than 47 cents, is quite refreshing when served cold. Other libations are similarly easy on the wallet, devoid of many taxes that some areas insist that people pay out.
Then a week at an RV park on the Colorado River near Parker, Arizona, preceded a couple of weeks camped in the desert near Quartzsite, and then, thanks to Les, an old friend from Kamloops, B.C., whom we met on the road here, we found another gem in the desert, near the small town of Bouse.
Les, on a hike in the Bouse hills.
Hiking in the hills near Bouse, Arizona
Later in the winter of adventure, we endured a month in the Fountain of Youth and its wonderful hot pools and a Christmas gathering of old friends. Sorry, “endured” is far from the correct word for our stay. When its the third year there, they are indeed doing something right!
That restful area prepared us for a return to Arizona, some Casino camping, and a short stay at Wellton, located east of Yuma. There we caught up with some hometown friends, Terry and Joanie, and we did a jaunt east from there to another casino, the Desert Diamond Casino, located just a little south of Tucson.
The desert golf course, to be found near some forward-thinking areas, are free to use, but beware of chasing your ball into a snake’s den. A big help in avoiding the putting problem that desert rocks impart, is a rule that once inside a large circle around the flag, there is no longer a rule to go ahead with that rock-strewn “green.” You are free to tee off again on the next hole. Should you get your ball into the cup, though, one may subtract one stroke from your score. Our friend Eric, on a course in Quartzsite, shot a ball directly into the cup off the tee. His score there became a big fat zero.
Nearby the Desert Diamond Casino, a few miles south of Tucson, we spent a few days camped with Les and Barb and Joe and Bev. There is a large open pit copper mine very close by that ran tours of their operation, at a small fee, which certainly made for an interesting way to pass an afternoon. The green boulder on display below near the entrance to their visitor’s area is exactly the kind of ore they look for in a giant pit on their property. They stop digging and blastiing downward when they reach ground water, do core sampling to point their direction into the best ground. It was interesting to find out how they deal with the ore, pummeling it with different sized iron balls, until it attains the physical form of powder. From there it goes into a frothy bath which the copper ore adheres to, enabling it to be further concentrated. To reach the final stage of becoming absolutely pure copper, this ore is shipped to Texas for final refinement. The gift shop right at the main entrance was a hit with the gals. The copper items, by their shine, had been to Texas.
At the copper mine to begin our tour.
Touring the State Park at Tubac, just south of the open pit mine, was interesting. It included a very old church in the State Park which maintains it- but only to the level of condition it was in when the park was created. This allows visitors to see back in time and perhaps visualize the way things were two or three hundreds of years ago. The bullet holes, the empty spaces on the walls where semi prescious items had once rested, were part of the way of preservation have been done. It was here from Tubac that the Spannish made the first trek by land, to San Fransico, California. This now, also most forgotten area, would perhaps have been the Tucson City of today except for the railway going through Tucson instead of Tubac.
We all cruised back to Bouse to camp again up the hill from town. The Parker 425 was coming up soon. Joining us for that were Terry and Joanie and Doug and Aggie.
Canadians camped for the Parker 425 off road race,
The spring trainng baseball games, described in an earlier post, took us back to the more south-central area of Arizona, to a RV Park in Goodyear, to the west of Phoenix proper. Drew and Pat, whom we met at a park in Wellton, were already there, enjoying the fine golf courses in the region, but were also interested in the baseball. From Prince George, British Columbia, they had grown up in the same Fraser Valley area as did I. Pat was from the same town, but was about half a generation younger, but knew my younger brothers. We enjoyed watching baseball with them and on our final day there in Goodyear, we watched the final game of the Canadian Mens Curling Championship, the Briar. We had the Canadian sattelite feed from Shaw Direct, Drew had the “bigger” screen tv. Fellow nearby campers from Saskatchewan, who had once curled at a very high level of skill joined us, thus we were all a bunch of curlers camped for the afternoon under awning, tarps ans sun shades in the midst of Rv’er who had never heard of the game until they might have seen it if they had watched recent Winter Olympics.
After more time at the area near Yuma known as Kool Korners, the move was on to head north, slowly at first to enjoy the warmth of the region, and then a final but cold, rapid trip to the Canadian border. This route home did not include the California roads we had travelled south on, instead we used a shorter route through Nevada, Oregon and Washington travelling west through the Snoqualmie Pass and back on Interstate 5. But in the interim, a week at La Paz County RV near Parker, the casino town of Laughlin, NV and the Avi Casino were next on the slower leg of the trip, before we set out on just a slightly longer part of the trip north with a stop at Stewarts Landing on the shores of Lake Meade, about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Ten minutes’ drive away is the Nevada State Park called “The Valley of Fire.” Its mountainous vistas are spectacular with their colours in the rock showing various shades of pink and red. The weather was getting warmer, hitting afternoon highs of 90 degrees F., and the cooling water in the huge reservoir was beckoning to us to take a dip. We stayed four days at Stewarts Landing. Doug and Sharlene left for Utah and then Alberta, after our third day, Eric and Gerri followed us, and we said goodbye to Ted and Stella who were a day behind us. We later met up with Eric and Gerri a final time, at Pendelton, OR. We were all bound for different parts of British Columbia. The morning we left we escaped an angry wind, got fuel and propane in Overton, and pushed on to the north. That day, after passing over a 7300 foot pass, we spent the night in the Nevada town of Ely, where we awoke to falling snow.
Our final stop on this third winter’s odessey, as we headed north, had been to see the famous Valley of Fire. By then it was April 7th, the weather still fine, but getting warmer as the sun climbed higher each day. Some of these areas may be almost unbearable in the blaze of the summer months, but at this time of the year, very nice indeed. We only spent four days, but enjoyed all we saw. Twice we swam in Lake Meade, but even as we did there were no doubt some slight pangs of homesickness as all in the group were now, finally, on our way home to the north country, Ted and Stella, Eric and Gerri, and Doug and Sharlene, us.
Last day in the warm south
- Marguerite with Dexter and Bella
Back in the Vancouver area on April 14th, we found blossom were everywhere, but it seemed cold. Hockey was still on our minds as the NHL team Canucks, who had become the best team in the league for the second year running, began again the quest for a first Stanley Cup, after their loss last year to Boston. But this time was not to be. Both Canucks and the Champion Bruins lost in the first round of playoffs. Soon B.C. Ferries would help get us home, and we landed at Saltery Bay and droveback into our own neighbourhood, the noted Canadian Heritage area of Powell River, The Townsite. Our lawn was overgrown, an annual event. The banana palms had died to the ground because, for the first time, we’d not protected them. (But, by summer there were 15 new bananas growing.) Our two windmill palms had weathered the winters storms, one stood nearly 25 feet high, still embraced by holiday lighting wires that only get turned on for special ocasions, but never for Christmas holidays unless our good friend, Steve, decides it necessary. The winter trip had total motorhome milage of 5,115, or 8,184 kilometres; many more on our Tracker towed car.