Sunday, January 29, 2012

Taking a Run to the Border

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At the rally last weekend, Steve from Tucson recommended I take a trip to explore Patagonia Lake State Park about 70 miles south of Tucson near the Mexican border.  What a great idea!

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I was able to reserve a nice paved site with hookups overlooking the lake and after finishing up work each day, Millie would get a walk down to the boat ramp at the lagoon to go swimming.  She was in full approval of this park!

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The lagoon has an interesting arched footbridge that we walked over and happened to get a cool shot of a family on their fishing boat as they passed beneath us:
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On Saturday, we headed out to explore the dirt Forest Service roads that lace the Patagonia Mountains just east of Nogales along the Mexican border.

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The mountains in the distance are in Mexico!

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Of course, lots of Border Patrol agents on these roads as well.  No illegals spotted today!

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It was a perfect “hang your head out the window” sunny day for Millie!

The last couple of miles before the actual border, the mountains recede into an interesting grassy savannah that almost looks a bit like Africa (except we’ve got cattle and horses instead of safari animals!)

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We drove west into the town of Nogales (Arizona side) to get gas and see the actual border crossing, but didn’t have enough time or nerve to cross today.
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Instead, we headed back to the Lake for a sunset paddle in our Sea Eagle FastTrack kayak.  Lots of interesting birds on the lake, but I only had my point-n-shoot so didn’t get zoomed in as much as I wanted.

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A great relaxing weekend was had by all!

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekend in Quartzsite

When I thought I’d be spending the winter in Chicago, one of my biggest regrets was not being able to attend the annual View-Navion Rally at Quartzsite.  It was a fun rally last year in a really unique place (the town of Quartzsite becomes the third largest city in Arizona during the month of January each year due to all the RVs that converge there for rallies and the RV show & flea markets).

So, when I learned I’d be working in Tucson, a weekend trip to Quartzsite was a must!  But first, I had to make a pit stop to the Mercedes dealer in Tucson to get the View’s oil changed.  Incredible place—not only free wifi, free beverages and snacks, and comfy chairs in the waiting room but large picture windows overlooking the shop which, itself, featured spotless white floors.

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I seriously wondered if the mechanics there ever got grease on their hands!  With all these amenities, I thought for sure I’d be “paying” for it with the repair bill, but surprisingly, the cost here was $75 less than my Dodge dealer had been charging me in Chicago!  Wow!

We arrived to Quartzsite after dark and, thankfully, saw the same rally signs as last year pointing our way to the gathering of View and Navions.  The next morning revealed a spectacular Quartzsite sky:

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And our View parked on a nice level spot in the desert with about 30 other Views and Navions!

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My blogging friend Evelyn and her husband Steve (of Travels with Evelyn and Steve)  arrived and parked their View, Tulip, next to us
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I took them out for a quick little offroad drive in the Tracker to Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, a few miles south of Quartzsite.  They live in Colorado and are considering getting a Tracker of their own.

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In the evening, we had a nice impromptu wine and cheese party around the campfire and enjoyed yet another gorgeous sky at sunset:

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The next day, Evelyn, Steve and I walked up to the RV show and flea markets to check out the latest infomercial and RVing gadgetry. The only thing I ended up buying was a $3 Coke (yikes!), but Evelyn and Steve found a few good deals on RV items they were needing.

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By afternoon, winds began to blow the slow dust into a heavy-duty dust storm, so the evening campfire had to be cancelled as everyone rode out the winds inside their rigs.

I took advantage of the calm and sunny weather the next morning to head back to Kofa NWR to drive the Queen Canyon 4WD trail and look for big horn sheep.  This trail was about 15 miles south of Quartzsite and a nice easy ride with gorgeous views (but, unfortunately, no big horn sheep were spotted).

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Back at the rally, I got a parting shot of Evelyn, Steve, and their dog Molly in front of Tulip.  Note on the side all the country flags of where they’ve been with their View!  Tulip was certainly the “most traveled” motorhome there!

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It was great fun finally getting to spend time with them in-person!

I also enjoyed meeting a few other WinnieViews blog readers including Ed from California, and Steve from Tucson.  The weekend was over far too quickly and I really had wished I could have stayed a few more weeks.  Guess there’s always next year!   Thanks to Byron for putting together such a fun rally!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

First weekend in Tucson

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I setup camp for the weekend at my favorite place in the Tucson area, Gilbert Ray Campground on the west edge of town in the Tucson Mountain Park.  Just love the Sonoran desert here:

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Even though the sun struggled to come out on Saturday, I wanted to get the Tracker back onto a nice off-road trail somewhere, so I headed off to the trail called the “Back way to Mt. Lemmon”

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It started out as a pretty fun little trail, but after a few miles, I saw a sign saying that the top 5 miles of the trail were now closed for winter (making it impossible to reach the summit and the paved road that leads back into the city), so I had to turn around and head back down.

We spent the rest of the weekend investigating potential RV parks nearby my client’s office.  None of them ended up thrilling me all that much, so I decided to go with “Plan B” and stay at a nice pet-friendly hotel during the week.  Millie is thrilled to have a King sized bed to stretch out on!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Beautiful Birds of Bosque

I loved the few hours I spent at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge last winter (and got some great photos that day), so I was eager to return again this year.  I had hopes of spending more time there this time, but had too many work obligations to tend to, so could only spare a couple hours away one afternoon.  What an afternoon it turned out to be though!  Again, some wonderfully photogenic birds greeted my camera lens.

The snow geese crowded themselves together again on a pond just outside the refuge road.
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Hoping someone can tell me what kind of hawk this is—sure was a pretty one!

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Next up, were the signature Sandhill Cranes that Bosque is known for.  There again did not seem to be huge numbers of them here (mid-January is a bit past their peak), but there were plenty of them strutting around waiting for their photos to be taken!

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I then stopped at the duck pond to get a few shots.  I recognized the Mallards, but couldn’t quite identify the others.  Judy Bell—can you help?

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Another incredible day at Bosque!

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