Saturday, December 21, 2019

Short visit to Saddle Mountain area

Note: Attempting a blog post again using LiveWriter, to see if is working again?
Nope, it didn't work :-(  Unlike the past '400' error this time, it didn't even seem to try.  About 1/2 second and it timed out with no error messages or any feedback! Everything copied over to Blogger to try again.

After spending about a week at Burro Creek, north of Wickenburg, Az, we moved down to an old regular spot, Saddle Mountain near Tonopah.
It is a very scenic spot with good cell service, and there are lots of possible camp spots.  Unfortunately, it seems to have become quite popular, and the available choices this time were more limited.
But, we found a spot along a small wash between a pair of distant neighbours.

As luck would have it, the sun rose behind Saddle Mountain itself, and set behind the mountain we were parked beside, leaving limited hours of sunlight, specially at this time of year.
Hailey apparently had a visitor come by to see her!  A neighbouring camper had a cat, but I’m not sure if this was it?

I’ve always wanted to see what was on the back side of Saddle Mountain, so because of the relatively crowded conditions here (for me), I spent a couple days exploring the backside.  I drove through from the Harquahala Valley side first, and found a good supply of firewood.  I also ran into a guy who was missing a blue-tick hound.  He’d been chasing a mountain lion with his hounds and one had gone missing …  I managed to circumnavigate the mountain, coming out near the Palo Verde nuclear power generating station – largest in the US, I think I read.  I assume that accounted for the multiple ‘air raid’ sirens scattered through the area.
I did find one pretty tempting spot not too far from pavement back there, but there was just not enough cell service to survive!  Maybe if I had a booster or could attach an antenna to my Mobley, but not this time.

Even more neighbours kept arriving, and it started to feel even more crowded, but at least everyone there had solar, so it remained thankfully quiet.
Nevertheless, it was time to get gone, so we packed up and headed back Quartzsite way.  We moved into our usual area of late, south of town, but picked an even more remote spot this time.  It is very quiet, very peaceful, and the weather is so far cooperating, if a bit on the cool side.  And of course, there is great AT&T signal here.


Lots of room here for Al & Kelly, if they can find a suitable rig!  Or even Wandering Willy, who seems to be skulking around the Ogilby Rd area with Jean & Skip.  And a little bird told me that John & Brenda have escaped the latest round of storms and highway closures in southern Alberta and BC, and are due to arrive in the general area any day now!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Quartzsite to Wikieup, and Blogger screws up again!

 So, I had this post (or a very similar one @#%^&*) done a few days ago, all ready to go live. I aimed it at the internet, but it must have missed and is now no doubt sailing past Mercury or Pluto!  And Blogger happily nuked the draft version, requiring a start from scratch again.  Not a happy blogger here!  I hope it works better this time, or you won't be reading this.)

We were camped south of Quartzsite for about two weeks.  Part of the time, we were on the edge of the big storm that dumped feet of snow in northern Arizona, and lots of rain elsewhere.  Other than some overcast days and a few periods of rain, the flash flood warnings didn't pan out.

During the nicer days, we explored a few of the back roads in the area.  On Google Earth, there appeared to be a couple of isolated buildings way out in the desert.  We went to check it out and found that it was actually a wildlife watering facility.

We've found a few of these in the past, in this general area.  They have a large rain collection system, and a covered reservoir area leading to a small water trough. From the air photos, these look like buildings!  We didn't find any obvious wildlife tracks in the area since the rains.

In Quartzsite, we discovered a recycling bin! Yay.  Unlike most, that only want aluminum cans, this one collected newspaper, cardboard, and even plastic milk jugs! It was full to overflowing, but at least I got to donate some of my stash.  If you're looking for it, it's on E Quail St, in front of the Public Works compound, just behind the library.
I noticed a rather weird worn spot on one of my trailer tires when setting up.  Weird, because it was only on one part of the circumference - the rest of the tread all looking fine.  Luckily, I had spotted it while still parking, because when I stopped, the worn area was completely hidden.  So, the next day I jacked up the rig and took it off and had the tire shop in town swap it for my spare, which just happens to match the wear on the rest of the tires.  Tire guy said it had 'separated', and was going to throw it out, but I had him put it back on the spare rim, where it will suffice as a spare till the next tire replacement.  I've had tire shops in the past refuse to inflate a 'damaged' tire, either for liability reasons, or more likely an attempt to sell a new tire.

After a few days of less than wonderful sunshine, it was time to pull out the little Honda 2000, and give it it's monthly exercise.  Don't want that gas to get too stale!
Visitors come by almost every night ...

My spot south of Quartzsite uses a different AT&T tower than the townsfolk and the thousands of LTVA campers during the big show, so when the service there slows to a crawl, mine is still plenty fast.  Loving my $20/month unlimited data plan!

Hailey is always really good about sticking around camp, but even so, I try to watch her carefully.  Inevitably, once in a while she disappears, despite the orange bell she wears when outside.  Mild panic accompanies the search of the area, till as usual, she is found close by, utilizing her camoflage colours to blend in as she soaks up the sun!

After about 2 weeks at Quartzsite it was time to move on.  After some serious debate, we decided to head northeast up Hwy 93 to the Wikieup, Az area.  A short section of I-10, followed by hwy 60 found us in Wickenburg where Safeway and Maverik helped us top off the gas, groceries and cat food.  Then, it was northbound, to 'our' spot just overlooking the cute little Burro Creek campground.  It's very nice little BLM campground, right on the riverbank, complete with water and RV dump, but it suffers a bit on the cell service because of it's location in the deep valley.
 The road to my spot is, how shall we say, challenging.  It's on an unmaintained section of old highway, that erodes more with every rainfall!  But it's scenic, and suits me fine. 
Campground lower left, me upper right!

On a hike back into the hills I came across a group of wild burros, and some Bighorn sheep.

One of the reasons to visit Burro Creek and the Wikieup area is its proximity to Kaiser Hot springs.  I have visited these springs deep in a wash several times before.  There was a very rough 4x4 road that would get you fairly close, but to me it seemed easier and more pleasant to park under the big bridges on the highway and hike down the wash.

Along the wash is the entrance to an old mine.

Further in I began to see tracks.  BIG TRACKS!

Then I heard beeping, as in heavy equipment beeping, and sure enough, there was a big loader gouging it's way down the wash, pushing boulders aside and filling in the holes to make a crude road.

I made it to the hot pool, luckily undamaged, but there were large signs just before it forbidding entry, claiming it was private land and that 'exploration' was underway.  I suspect you could still go there after hours or on a weekend for a soak!  Maybe the exploration will end and a few good floods will return the wash to being vehicle free?
I gave BLM a call to check on its status, and, after explaining to them where Kaiser Hot spring was (!), they said that they would check up on it, but if it was on private land there was little they could do.

Another day I went for a drive on Seventeen Mile road, checking it out for possible camp spots, and to see where it went.

 There were only a few good looking camp spots along the road, but most were more suitable for a truck camper or other small rig, and a wash soon after leaving the highway was full of soft deep sand which might challenge some vehicles.
The road is fairly rugged, and steep in places, and I suspect very few cyclists attempt it, but I'm pretty sure the ones that do won't be cuaght off guard (pardon the pun) by a cattle guard sneaking up on them? 


After about 13 miles (!) Seventeen Mile road joins Signal road as it curls back towards the highway, through more developed and private lands.  
Then we came to one of the signs I usually ignore, saying 'Do Not Enter When Flooded'!  But the road was clearly flooded, to an undetermined depth, by quite fast current.  I could not see any fresh tracks across it, and saw some large ominous round boulders under water at the edge.

 I waited a while to see if anyone else crossed, but no one came.  So it was time to turn around and try an alternate route.

 Unfortunately, the alternate crossing looked even worse, and it was a long way to dry ground on the far bank.

So, there was nothing to do but turn around a re-trace our route the way we had come.  Not a problem as the road was in pretty good condition, and quite scenic.

 These twin bridges along highway 93 (eventually to become Interstate 11) overlook Burro Creek campground.

 Before leaving the area, I thought it would be interesting to send the UAV on a short flight under the bridges.

After this, we headed off to Saddle Mountain, but that will be the next post.