Friday, February 18, 2022

Las Cienegas National Conservation Area - Hot Well Dunes - and back (pain)!

 We'd spent a week or so camped in a beautiful spot under some big old Oak trees that Hailey could climb, but it was getting time to depart for greener pastures.  But my back had other ideas!  Didn't really do anything to it, but after a long hike in the loose sand of the wash, something back there was upset.  After a day or so it was so bad that I could barely roll over in bed, or stand up, or bend over, or put shoes on!  Luckily, I was able to get into my truck, and with the seat heater on my back, off we went into Tucson to get some back meds.  What I expected was to visit a pharmacy, get some muscle relaxant, and head back to camp.  But it was not to be.  Google led me to a couple of places - urgent care type centers - at one they assured me that the 'pharmacy' out front would be open shortly.  But that turned out to be a table and chair out front - with a lady who did not show up on time anyway.  I could barely walk, but with the help of my hiking stick, made it back to my truck and a 'real' pharmacy.  Staff directed me to the very back of the store where the 'back' medications supposedly were, but there was nothing but a couple of herbal remedies.  (I think Canadian pharmacies have more options for non prescription muscle relaxants?)  I sat uncomfortably for a 1/2 hour, waiting for the pharmacist to show up, but he was no help at all - without a prescription!  So then it was off to another pharmacy, that apparently had an 'urgent care' facility, where perhaps I could get the required prescription.  I hobbled in, only occasionally yelling in pain, but the reception desk was empty.  Eventually, I got directed to a computer screen, and started to enter countless screens of my personal details to start the sign-in process.  Of course, the system does not expect anyone from outside the US, so I have to fake a US state and zip code!  Eventually, staff must have heard me moaning, or swearing, and came out and informed me that there were no available appointments anyway!


After another drive around town, I found another urgent care place.  Because of covid concerns, I had to stand outside, filling out a form (with a sterile pen) saying that I had no symptoms, etc, then scan a QR code, and go through the whole thing again on my phone before going inside.  After a mere 4 hour wait (luckily, I was able to wait in my truck), I got in, got an injection, and a prescription at the nearby pharmacy in a Target store!  Even though it was in the same complex, I wasn't sure I could walk that far, so drove over - very, very tempted to park in the disabled parking :-)  After standing in line for a half hour at the pharmacy - only letting out the occasional yelp from pain, while clinging onto shelving, the pharmacist informed me that they did not have in stock what I was prescribed !  They promised it would be in, in three days!!  So then, I drove, hobbled, and moaned back to the urgent care place, where the physician was able to make the desired changes to the prescription.  Back to stand in line again at Target!  So - the trip into Tucson that I expected would take an hour at most, took all day before I was able to drive back to camp.  While I certainly was not up to moving, I was able to roll my propane tank over to the rig and install it.

After several days of inactivity, and a two-day pack-up procedure, we were finally able to pull up stakes and get gone.  Thinking that a nice long warm soak might be good for my ailing back, we turned east onto the I-10, with Hot Well Dunes, outdoor hotsprings in our sights.

Every time I go to Hot Well Dunes, I am driven out by the ATV people it seems, so I know not to show up on a weekends, when they tend to accumulate.  It was quiet when we arrived, and due to my back, I did not unhook or set anything up other than my solar.  I managed one good late afternoon soak in the pools, but didn't take any photos!  The next morning at 8AM, a whole bunch of ATV's showed up, and moved in right beside me, and started to crank the tunes.  I'm guessing the stereo system in the one side-by-side was worth more than my 5th wheel?  If that wasn't bad enough, the little kids got on their mini-quads and commenced racing round and round and around the campsite, through my spot, raising dust.  There was no way Hailey wanted to go outside and be run down, nor did I, so we did the only sensible thing, and pulled out.  I know this is a designated off-road area, so I can't really complain about them showing up, but why have them operating right beside the hot pools?  I think the BLM should do their best to separate the two user groups.  Since the pools can't be moved, ...

 Looks like the town of Bowie has seen better days.  I imagine the downfall began like it has in many small US towns when the Interstate detoured around them.

On our evacuation route, we stopped in Willcox and decided to make use of the time to do some laundry, though still barely able to walk.  Two washing machines - took a total of 32 quarters!  Why doesn't the US make use of their dollar coins?  They exist, I've seen them!  Back in Canada with our $2 coins, this would have taken 4 coins total!

After getting all laundered up we headed back west, looking for a new camp spot.  Campendium showed some great looking spots up Middlemarch road, just out of Tombstone, but the first 1/4 mile of unrelenting washboard had us making a U-turn faster than Roadrunner chased by Wiley Coyote!  Speaking of roadrunners, I've still only seen 1-2 of them this entire winter so far.  Not sure if they are getting scarce, or if we are just camping and traveling in the wrong spots this year?  And coyotes!  There must be hundreds around here, judging by the constant howling at night, and the plentiful droppings on the roads and trails.  But despite hiking, biking and driving on trails and lots of time with the binolculars, I've seen zero live coyotes in the last couple of months.  Perhaps they are hunted here regularly?

Hailey is getting a bit concerned about her future food supply!  There seems to be an ongoing shortage of cat food all over; the worst we've seen are these empty cat food shelves at a local Walmart!  There seems to be a shortage of lizards and voles in this area for her to catch as well.  Luckily, there were still quite a few 40-can cases of food, so she won't be going hungry for a while!


We found a temporary spot for the night, but again didn't unhook or set up.  It was a bit close to a main road, and the sign on the pond said it was for endangered species.  Not sure what species it was protecting, but we moved on anyways.  Never want to scare an endangered salamander or keep the Pronghorn from their water source!

So, we ended up on a low hilltiop on some BLM land, a mile or two from the nearest neighbours, and with a great 360 degree view.  Completely exposed to the wind, but no shortage of solar!

We had some bullies as neighbours, though.  Check out the video below!

On the bright side, the sore back seems to have cured itself mostly, with the help of the administered medications!  I can pretty much  forget about it now, but kept some of the meds, just in case it returns.  I've been putting miles on the bike again, and really enjoying all the trails and old roads around here.

I'm not usually that regular of a blogger, but this time around I had a few more excuses than usual.  As well as my back getting in the way for a while, my almost brand-new laptop decided it no longer wanted to boot up.  And conveniently, none of the usual options to recover or restore would work!

Luckily, I had just updated my backup (old) laptop, so I wasn't completely off line.  I took the crashed one into the Sierra Vista Best Buy.  (on Sunday nothing else was open), and they ran some checks on it for free, and told me that likely one of my hard drives was failing!  I could not leave it there, but took it into a Best Buy in Tucson the next day.  They managed to restore most of it for a princely sum, saying it was just some problem with Windows 11 drivers, so they returned it to Windows 10.  But in the process, I lost some of my favourite photo programs, and had to re-configure a lot of other things, while remembering passwords for various programs, and convincing Microsoft, banks, email programs that it was really me trying to get into my accounts.  Whew.  Finally almost back up to speed.  When will I dare to upgrade to Win 11 again?  This time, I'll make sure I have a bootable recovery drive handy!

Next time - a visit to Chiricahua National Monument!


  1. Glad you found cat food, hope your back pain stays away -Mary

  2. Well that sounded like a day where you couldn't win for losing. If it doesn't rain it pours eh. Nice pictures of Hailey. Hopefully your back won't tweak out on you again. I had that happen once in my VW camper in Algonquin Park. Like you I had to seek out a pharmacy, load myself up on pain killers and head for home. Looks like the winter season will soon begin it's slow slide into Spring and all you snowbirds will be flocking off and heading north for Canada. I'm wondering if you have noticed any big differences this year compared to other years. Other than that, take care of that back.........

    1. Well, finally read your blog, as I got a notice. Boy, your back was really facked! And all the hoops you had to jump through were ridiculous! Oh, well, makes for good stories around the campfire (of which we should be having a few with you soon!). Hailey looks to be enjoying herself and was in better shape than you for a change! Take care!