If you’re a regular visitor to our little piece of cyberspace, you’ve noticed that there aren’t as many posts appearing as last year. I guess it’s true what they say. You try to see everything the first year. By the second year, you want to make sure the trip is worth it before you go to all the trouble of packing, hooking and towing.
We landed in Quartzsite on November 16, and Pete hasn’t left the LTVA since. There are several reasons for this, a major one being the weather.
El Niño has paid us all a visit again this year, and the temperatures are running 5 to 15 degrees below seasonal average, making for somewhat cool days (around 60-65F/15-18C), nights close to freezing and more rain since we landed than we saw for the entire season last year. It’s raining as I’m writing this, and has been doing so since yesterday afternoon.
Water, Water Everywhere
Getting around today will be tricky due to filling washes and flash flooding. This is because the desert floor is so compacted, rain does not generally soak in. Instead it runs off, seeking the lowest place, which is usually a wash.
These work similar to a river system. Small washes run into bigger washes, and the bigger washes combine to make large ones. The large ones get named, just like a river. Right now we’re in the Tyson Wash LTVA, named for the large wash that runs along the back edge of the area. It goes on for miles, and can be over 10 feet deep and several hundred feet wide in areas.
Weather aside, there are other reasons we’re not moving around too much. Gas prices are higher than last year as well, although to be fair, they’ve been falling as of late. We travel to Parker (40 miles) or Yuma (80 miles) to do our shopping, a couple of times to Phoenix (130 miles) for new glasses, but otherwise, we’ve been sticking close to home.
We’re still doing renovations to Pete. We’ve removed the couch we weren’t using, and replaced it with more cupboards and about 4 feet of countertop. This makes it so much easier to cook, now that I have a workspace. We’ve removed the bunkbeds from the back room and added shelves for more storage. As I’m writing this, Mike’s tearing the useless vanity sink (it’s too small and too tight to get into) out of the bathroom. The vanity cupboard will be re-used as a new cabinet in the kitchen, the sink will be tossed, and the washing machine will be installed where the sink sat.
We’ve also been spending time on the computer, searching for work camping jobs for next summer. We’ve decided not to return to the east coast for now, but instead head for southern Alberta or B.C. There are more opportunities there for work camping, and it cuts our gas and distance by more than half, from 3200 miles to 1500. We’ve had a few nibbles from prospective employers, but nothing solid yet. Fingers crossed.
But out of all the reasons for staying put, Mike’s Christmas present probably has more to do with Hank and Pete getting a break than anything else.
Ruby is a 2003 Honda Foreman Rubicon 500. When we brought her home, there was only 1400 miles on her. That number has changed somewhat. Thanks to Ruby, we now have access to fully explore the La Paz Valley and beyond. And we have.
There are literally hundreds of miles of trails criss-crossing the desert, and some of the best hidden gems are accessible only by these trails. Some are basically graded dirt roads, others are not much more than goat paths, but the views are gorgeous and the trip is always interesting. Here are a few shots from where we’ve been.
One major thing she has opened up for us is the Arizona Peace Trail. Similar to our Trans Canada Trail at home, the AZPT is a large loop of connecting trails in western Arizona. Currently it’s over 600 miles, and when completed will be 750 miles, connecting Bullhead City to Yuma. Once finished, it will be one of the longest signed and mapped OHV trail systems in the US.
Also, in Arizona, Ruby is street legal, complete with Arizona plates and her own insurance. So if you need gas, run out of milk, or just want to see what’s going on in town, you simply hop on and go. This feels rather strange to me, cruising around town among the cars and transports, almost like I’m getting away with something wicked.
Helmets are not mandatory unless you’re under 18. The only thing we had to add (besides registration and insurance) was a whip with a flag to make others aware of us, especially in traffic or coming out of a deep wash. The flag can be anything, as long as it’s visible. So we’ve decided to show off a little Canuck pride, and added the Maple Leaf, along with a New Brunswick flag. What it also does is start conversations, since it seems like about half of the campers down here are folks from home.
A Change of Heart
I have to admit, Ruby was bought for Mike. I felt so bad about him leaving Buddy at home this year, but Buddy is such a big bike and not made for desert driving. I can’t say I was terribly excited about the idea of bringing home a 4-wheeler. I’ve never been one for rough roads and getting knocked about. I also thought I’d probably be a grass widow with him gone on the quad all the time. But he enjoys riding so much, I couldn’t say no.
But heaven help me, Ruby has won me over. She’s so stable and sure-footed, far more comfortable than I’d imagined. I even get to drive every now and again. And the places she’s showed us, these wonderful views and interesting sites that were so close by, but we either had no way to visit, or didn’t know about them at all.
So, even though it seems like we’re staying put, we’re really not. Every day is still a new adventure. It’s just a smaller rig that gets us there.
Next time: Box canyons, stone cabins and Herring Chokers.
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