After being home now for over a week, mostly indoors waiting for our Spring to arrive, I’ve had plenty of time to think back on our latest little road trip. I’ve been wanting to experience the Southwestern desert for quite a few years, but the better half wasn’t sure she wanted any part of it. With much coaxing, along with threatening to leave her behind, she got on board. You know that last part is correct, right?
Our first desert experience was at Kartchner Caverns state park, and it was a real treat. We used it as a base for exploring all the local area and had a wonderful time there.
A couple of nights in Tucson for supplies and the Super Bowl, then on to Quartzite. You can’t imagine the excitement I felt as we topped a rise and there they were. Little white trailers scattered around. Dome Rock in the background. GrandJan waving us in to park nearby. I immediately knew I was off the hook as Wanda went around meeting old friends from our previous travels.
With the Casita set up in what I believe was the premiere site of the entire area, looking East down the entire length and breath of our little gathering, I was a happy camper. Enjoying the sights and smells of the real desert for the first time, listening to the chatter of friends as they sat outside enjoying the mild temperatures and beautiful sunset. Sure, there was the distant hum of traffic on I-10 a mile or so away, but it couldn’t take away from the experience. We had a fantastic five days and nights there, reliving old stories of journey’s together, hiking the desert, sharing the campfire with new friends, and just enjoying life with like minded individuals.
Borrego Springs seemed to be an out of the way detour, but it was another place I wanted to see with my own eyes. I’m so glad we took the detour. A great little town, just large enough to meet all your needs. It has whatever type of camping you may want within just a few miles of each other. Full hookup, state park boondock with water and dump available, or BLM. Lots of hiking trails, and of course the sculptures.
Our destination from Borrego Springs was Death Valley, with a stop along the way at Jumbo Rocks in Joshua Tree NP for a couple of days. Joshua Tree felt bitterly cold after being in Borrego Springs. There was a stiff North wind blowing and we felt we would not enjoy our stay there. We kept driving and were about to enter the Mohave National Preserve. As we crossed I-15 we pulled over to the side of the road and checked for a cell phone signal. I knew I wanted to see the town of Kelso, but didn’t know what camping options were available. I was able to get a phone number off the internet and called. A nice lady commenced telling all about the great campgrounds that I had my choice of. It was only after I told her we were going to Kelso that she became quiet for a few seconds. She then informed me that there were no campgrounds in that area of the preserve. BUT, if we didn’t mind boon docking, she could put me onto a couple or three backcountry sites with a fire ring. That was the key to boon docking in the preserve. Established sites only. It took a little looking, but we found what was to be my favorite site of the entire trip. Down a little gravel road, near Kelso Dunes, not a soul in sight. Only the sound of distant airplanes and a few birds singing. Apparently we had a neighbor somewhere down the road as a vehicle passed by shortly before dark.
It became quite cold as the sun set, but we built a warm fire and watched the stars come out, one by one. Coyotes howled and Sally hunkered down deeper in her chair. We sat out until we couldn’t stand the cold any more. Fired up the furnace and climbed into bed. Never a thought as to being miles from nowhere and all alone. The coldest night of the trip, and the furnace ran quite often through the night.
Death Valley was somewhat of a disappointment. I’m not sure what I wanted it to be, but it didn’t fit my imagination. Maybe it was the hazy air conditions the three days we were there. I don’t know if it was dust, air pollution, or a combination of the two. Either way, the views were greatly diminished. The area of Furnace Creek was much more crowded than I expected. With that said, it was well worth visiting the area just to visit Scottie’s Castle. To see such a place in the rugged desert mountains, along with learning the history behind it; and Scotty, was a real treat.
The Lake Mead Recreational Area was a place I could visit again. Really nice campgrounds for dry camping, with views of Lake Mead. Five bucks a night, thirty day limit, before you have to move to the campground up or down the lake from where you are. Convenient to Boulder City or Henderson for supplies. Lots of hiking, biking, or water sports if that’s your choice.
From there it turned into a mad dash toward home. It wasn’t planned that way, but a storm was brewing. We weren’t sure if we should run or not, but we did. Looking back, and after reading posts of friends from the area, I think we made the correct choice. High winds, snow, sleet, hail; all in Southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. We hadn’t prepared for that.
It is supposed to be 70 degrees again tomorrow. That from a low of 24 last night. We will begin preparing the Casita for a short trip to Baton Rouge. Wanda has a dulcimer workshop there beginning Thursday. Sally and I are going to tour some of the Cajun Country. Then back home Saturday afternoon, unpack, repack, and head for the Green Eggs and Ham rally near Camden, Alabama on Sunday. Ain’t life FUN???