Days 271 to 294 – Early Spring in Arizona

Six days in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Lake Mohave, AZ at the Willow Beach Marina and RV Park – what a great campground, desert-mountain scenic and right on the Colorado River!  Three days of ATVing (to the river near Lake Mohave, to the Mesa View, and to Horse Thief Canyon), one day of river rafting (with Black Canyon River Tours – from the Hoover Dam downstream to Willow Beach), and three days of relaxing for B&B.  For me, two days of swimming in the cold, crystal clear Colorado.  Despite the fact that it got up to 91 in the baking sun and winds picked up at 3PM, I loved it!

Willow Beach RV Park

Willow Beach to Lake Mohave

to Horse Thief Canyon

Colorado River Rafting

 

We got lucky!  Our first day in Kingman, AZ was sunny and relatively warm, so B&B took the Black Dog up to the Hualapai Mountain ATV Trails for a great ride (lots of streams and rocks).  Their plan was to go back the next day, but the weather changed – cold, overcast, windy, damp, and snowy for the next two days.  C’est La Vie (I speak and understand many languages)!  The Blake Ranch RV Park was OK for me; a good-sized dog park, some trees, and plenty of places to walk and sniff.

Hualapai Mountain ATV Trails

 

More ATVing at the Alto Pits in Prescott, AZ where the actual trails are restricted to ATVs 50” or less in width.  Well, Mr. Big decided to buy the Black Dog (a Polaris RZR 900) because it is only 50” wide and (theoretically)  would therefore be able to go on (the many) width-restricted trails.  Surprise – it’s 50” at the bottom, but the addition of the roof adds about 4” to the width at the top.  Needless to say, they had issues – and on one tight trail the roof smashed into the same tree twice – going in and going out!  The poor Black Dog is no longer new and shiny!  The Fairgrounds RV Park was not for me, but it was the only place around.  I did however really enjoy our walk around the town square (and the stop for lunch) in Historical Prescott.  The Boss is weird – all the quaint jewelry stores with unique, southwestern earrings and bracelets and she buys MORE books (and not even new ones).  Mr. Big says that I am just like her, but I’ld go for the glitter!

the Alto Pits

 

Camp Verde, AZ at Distant Drums RV Resort.  “Who designs these places?” Mr. Big asks.  Once again our site is sloped to the extent that our back wheels are off the ground – NFG!   However, two days of ATVing on various Camp Verde Trails and two days of visiting the nearby National Monuments at Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot (both ancient indian cliff-dwelling sites) almost made up for a crummy site.  I say almost because although the ATV trails took B&B through the beautiful desert-in-bloom, one trail also had several cattle gates that were very short and high-domed; ultimately the Black Dog got stuck on one and the skid plate was ripped halfway off!  What a drag (hah hah)!  No more ATving for a while….

Pretty Flowers and Killer Cattle Gates on the Camp Verde Trails

Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot National Monuments

 

In Williams, AZ we stayed the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park.  While B&B took the train (on the luxury dome car) to the Grand Canyon, I was bathed in luxury at the Dog Hotel!  It was wonderful!  Apparently the food and drinks served on the train and lunch at the El Tovar were excellent, because the Boss didn’t need to eat for a whole day afterwards (and she passed out for two hours when they returned).  She did have the energy to complain about the weather on the South Rim – mostly cloudy and on the chilly side.

the Grand Canyon Railway and South Rim

 

Our final stop in Arizona (for a while) was Springerville – at the Casa Malpais RV Park – where it was all about Atving in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest.  The Boss was disappointed in the Maverick ATV TrailPowell Mountain Loop; incredibly dusty, not very scenic, all torn up from some kind of construction, and not challenging.  The Saffel Canyon OHV Area was, on the other hand, great fun – until Mr. Big tried to drive on a snow-covered trail.  The day was warm and sunny and the snow was mostly gone, but on this one section of the trail it was an 18” wet-pack and the Black Dog got hung up (wheels 6” off the ground) half way through!  Out came the shovel, but it would have taken hours to shovel free, so out came the winch.  Luckily, Mr. Big had an extra 25’ tow-rope and he was able to find a tree within range on which to hook up, and they were able to pull themselves out.  After turning around, the Boss found a way back through the trees that circumvented the snow-covered trail, but she took a huge slow-motion fall on a slippery log.  Why doesn’t this sound like so much fun to me???  They were both laughing when they got home, so I guess all is well.

Saffel Mountain OHV

Next it’s back to New Mexico!  Summer is coming and I think it will be a hot one, so stay cool!  Your friend, Buster.

 

Day 271 – Three months spent cruising the southwest, tying to keep warm!

New Mexico…

Las Cruces, NM (aka the “city of crosses”) seems bigger and better each time we visit, and we always stay at the KOA on the hill because the “view” sites do offer great views at sunrise and sunset, and I really like the dog park.  This year B&B discovered the very-close-by old town of Mesilla where they shopped like tourists and had a delicious lunch at the renowned La Posta restaurant. We didn’t stay too long as the Boss was frothing at the bit to get to Rodeo and set up her telescope.

The drive south from Interstate 10 to Rodeo, NM was very scenic and interesting; lots of beautiful snow-capped mountains and Border Patrol Agents.  We were stopped, but not boarded – Mr. Big’s charm must have been very convincing!   Our go-to place in Rodeo is Rusty’s RV Park where birders and astronomers (even very amateur ones, like the Boss) are catered to.  We were assigned a site where three-quarters of the night sky, west to south, was visible for viewing (the Chiricahua Mountains blocked out the southwestern horizon).  The Boss was in heaven; a neighboring night-sky enthusiast gave her some tips about aligning her telescope (a Celestron Nexstar 6SE) and would stroll over every now and then to see how she was doing.  While she spent her nights touring the Solar System and beyond, he spent his imaging deep-sky objects (and most of his days processing the photos).  Her new buddy agreed that “we” needed a bigger telescope and he also debunked the theory that the Boss’s telescope mount would not support her camera!  Now she’s looking to buy the essentials to start taking pictures through her telescope – thanks, pal.  On our next to last night, while Mr. Big slept in his nice warm bed, the Boss and I got up at about 3am and went out into the freezing dark to see Jupiter and its moons.  She claims it was awesome – I slept through it all!  On those days when we were not too tired (from all the nighttime activities) we drove into the mountains, looked at some real estate for sale, had lunch at our favorite Portal Café (in nearby Portal, AZ), and visited the Chiricahua Museum.  All three of us like it here very much!

Arizona…

Back in Arizona we stopped at the Valley of the Sun RV Resort in Marana, AZ to do some ATVing.  Well, it was evidently worth the stop as B&B spent two days at the Charouleau Gap on trails that challenged Mr. Big’s driving skills – the Boss is still talking about “the wall”.

Next was a week back in Apache Junction, AZ at the KOA.  While there, the Boss met up with her long-lost cousin, Christian Benton, and his lovely family and also with fellow Pot-Holers Marcus and Joan Mundt.  We took the truck up into the Tonto National Forest and followed the Apache Trail to Lake Roosevelt (great scenery mostly spoiled by high-tension wires), and on another day B&B atv’ed the Four Peaks Trail System.  In neighboring Mesa, AZ the Boss was thrilled to see a school named after John C. Fremont, the “Pathfinder” (and Governor of Arizona from 1878 to 1881) and husband to her 2nd cousin 5X removed, Jesse Ann Benton (daughter of Senator Thomas Hart Benton) – I’m beginning to think she is related to everyone!

Several years ago we had driven through Wickenburg, AZ and thought that it was a nice western town, so we decided to stop there for a week –  especially since there was plenty of ATVing in the surrounding BLM lands.  We stayed at the Horspitality Horse Boarding and RV Park and had a grand old time.  I loved all the smells and all the horses, and I must say that they all liked me.  Access to the ATV trails was right out the back gate, behind a training ring, so B&B went out at least three times.  The best ride was with a group of 10 – they went out to the “China Wall”, a 30-mile ride that took about 3 hours.  It was on this ride that Mr. Big decided to have the suspension on the Black Dog adjusted (to make it ride higher off the ground) – they almost didn’t make it over some really big rocks!

On our one day in Salome, AZ (at the Black Rock RV Village), B&B took the ATV out into the Eagle Tail Wilderness to see an old mine.  They never did make it to the mine, but they did stumble upon a magnificent Big Horn Sheep, standing atop his mountain.  Wish I had been there, I would have shown him who’s King!

California…

Needles, CA… Hmm, a pirate’s cove on the Colorado River?  Very strange, but we had fun.  Our site in Pirate Cove Resort was on a peninsula in the river; a sandy, shady enclave shared with two other motorhomes. I got to frolic in the water and the grownups got to go ATVing on the Resort’s designated trails.

We had the Calico Ghost Town RV Park in Yermo, CA to ourselves.  After pulling into our site, setting up, and having lunch, Mr. Big began to read the literature we were given – only to find out that we were not to wash with, wash our dishes or clothes with, brush our teeth with, or drink – the water!  No wonder no one else was there!  I didn’t die, but I was sure was worried.  Thank goodness we had a full tank of our own fresh water and plenty of bottled water to drink.  That same afternoon, I had to go to the Vet – my paws were hurting like crazy – so we drove to nearby Barstow, CA to the Isa Companion Animal Clinic, a practice owned and operated by a harried-looking Cuban man, Dr. Haroon, DMV.  He and his staff took very good care of me (although I couldn’t understand a word anyone was saying) and sent me home with a bandaged back right paw, antibiotics, steroid pills, a paw-bathing solution, a spray for my paws, an anti-bacterial cream for my pads, and a cone on my head!  All this (for 12 days) because I picked up an infection in my paws in Wickenburg, AZ – no more horses for me!!!  The next day, while I was sleeping, B&B hit the Calico Ghost Town OHV Trail to Mule Canyon. An enjoyable ride, they said – like being on the surface of the moon.

Nevada…

Next was three days of much needed R&R at the Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort in Las Vegas, NV and then on to the Preferred RV Resort in Pahrump, NV where, on their first ATV snow adventure (navigating Wheeler’s Pass), the Black Dog suffers a hole in its radiator.  B&B hiked about two miles back to the main drag where, luck of the Irish, a white pickup was just passing by.  Hitching a ride back (five miles) to the loading zone where our truck was parked they lucked out again when a couple, in their ATV, agreed to follow B&B back to the abandoned Black Dog and tow it out to the main drag.  At that point, all that was left to do was to get the ATV up onto our truck – thank goodness for the winch and superior load-up skills of the Boss!

Gee, no ATVing in Amargosa Valley, NV!  So we day-tripped to Death Valley (where it was 91 degrees – 20 degrees hotter than anywhere else!) on one day and Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge on another. It was pleasant enough where we stayed, at the Longstreet Casino and RV Park (five miles from the California border) – the Casino food was good – but I need some green grass!

Death Valley

Ash Meadows

Back to Las Vegas, NV to get the ATV repaired.  This time we stayed at the Hitching Post RV Park, across town from where we were last.  The lure of the Casinos eventually got to the Boss, but she managed to walk away a few dollars ahead, so everyone was happy.  I hate Las Vegas!

Well, back to my nap – hope you enjoy my ramblings!

Your friend, Buster.

Day 210 – Adios Texas

We left Port Aransas in the cold, dense fog, passed through Castroville where it was sweating hot, spent two nights on the Rio Frio River in Concan, where it was freezing cold, and finally emerged in Del Rio, where it was 80°, sunny, and clear. I emerged with an infection in both ears, caused by perpetual moisture! Fourteen days of washes and ointments and pills – yech!  The only redeeming factor was the wonderful staff at the Del Rio Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital; they were all very friendly and gave me lots of love (and treats). In Del Rio the Boss spilled a glass of red wine on her laptop, rendering it in operable – the way she cried and moaned you would think it was her whose ears were aching; what a baby! I know she hates sharing Mr. Big’s laptop, but he has warned her many times about the dangers of drinking and computing…

We spent an overnight at the picturesque Marathon Motel and RV Park in Marathon where the grounds were interesting and the sunset was incredible (actually, I am color blind so I only know this because of the oohs and aahs) then ambled down to the Rio Grande Village RV Park for a week in Big Bend National Park.

at the Marathon Motel…

Big Bend is home to magnificent vistas, rugged mountains, extraordinary rock formations, hiking-trails galore, and the Rio-Grande River (which serves as a natural boundary with Mexico). On our first night B&B (in search of a sunset) took a hike on the nature trail that looped around the adjacent primitive campground – leaving me (thank the dog gods) behind in the air-conditioned Enterprise. The next day we spent six hours on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, making all the requisite stops for photo-ops and scenic wonders. I had a good time but was exhausted by the time we got home. I also was allowed to make the trips to Boquillas Canyon (where we saw banditos making illegal-to-buy trinkets on the Mexico side of the Rio Grande), the Hot Springs, and Dagger Flats. All in all, B&B liked Big Bend – especially the sunrises, rainbows, sunsets, and moonrises.

In Big Bend National Park…

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On the Nature Walk

the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Boquillas Canyon and the Hot Springs

Dagger Flat Auto Trail

Early Morning, Rainbows, Sunset, and Moonrises

Terlingua was next, with a visit to the old Terlingua Ghost Town and its renowned “Porch” and Starlight Theatre. We had a great patio-lunch at a nearby restaurant; the food was good (I got tidbits), but the company was better – all the waiters had dogs (one I think was a wolf) that were allowed to roam free and be friendly with the patrons! But Having missed the 51st Annual Terlingua International Championship Chili Cookoff, I was actually rather bored… the ghost town itself was deserted!

Finally we arrived at Fort Davis (our last major stop in Texas), a beautiful and historic town high in the mountains of West Texas and home to the McDonald Observatory and the Davis Mountains State Park. The Boss was so excited – she had made reservations to attend the Star Party that was scheduled to take place on our first night there – but the bad weather that had been following us around the country ruined everything; it was freezing cold and totally overcast – no stars visible at all! Fighting off her disappointment, the following morning they drove up to the Observatory to inquire if there were any openings that evening for the 82” telescope special viewing session (astronomers sometimes wait for months to use this telescope), but unfortunately it was totally booked (14 persons). So, what else was there to do but shop??? New hoodies all around!

While staying in the State Park I took some great walks, but didn’t see any mountain lions (the ranger said I might) and we made the Skyline Drive trip several times. The Boss was very upset that no matter where we camp, we always get stuck next to some city slickers that insist on having bright spotlights on their motorhomes – lights that shine right into the windows of the Enterprise and/or light up the night sky, really blocking out the inky darkness, milkyway, constellations, and stars. And I have to agree with her – what are they afraid of?

 

 

Anyway, once again, Adios Texas; we won’t be back on this trip!

Day 188 – Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas – Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve

Mostly overnights and one-day stays describes our travels between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Not so much fun for me (or anyone else for that matter) – days were spent driving and nights in not-so-wonderful RV parks.  But once we got to our “destinations” how things changed!

We spent six great days in “destination” Apache Junction at the Arizonian RV Resort where the Superstition Mountains loomed out our back door. B&B went ATVing (right from our site) several times in the neighboring Arizona Trust Lands and Gold Canyon and made a day trip out to Box Canyon in the Florence Coke Ovens. I liked the RV park – there were plenty of friendly dogs to smell and it was large enough for a different long walk every day.

Gold Canyon…

Florence Coke Ovens and the Box Canyon…

 

Not a “destination”, but three horrible days were spent in Tucson, Arizona – horrible because I was dragged to PetSmart and forced to get a bath and a haircut and then spent two days recovering!  The Boss, however, had a good time playing at night with her new camera… 

I don't need no stinkin' bath!
I don’t need no stinkin’ bath!
On the only clear night
On the only clear night

 

Onwards to New Mexico. While driving from Lordsburg to Carlsbad we had to pass through a) the Guadalupe Mountains in Texas where we had our first (but not last) taste of winter – ice and snow covering twisty mountain roads and b) the not-so-lovely city of El Paso with its scary wall. I heard they eat dogs there…

In the Guadalupe National Mountains…

 

We then made tracks to Grapevine, Texas to spend time with Mr. Big’s sister and brother-in-law, Phyllis and Richard. I remembered their house from our last visit, and barged right in when we arrived – being careful not to knock down the Christmas Tree or swipe any of the knick-knacks with my tail. Richard became my new best friend – he generously shared his ham dinner with me and snuck me treats that I had never had before. He must feed his motorcycle the same way – it’s almost as big as I! B&B loved Grapevine; it was decorated to the hilt for Christmas and had lots of restaurants and “boutiques” for holiday tourists (like the Boss who bought herself yet another cowboy shirt). We stayed at The Vineyards, Grapevine’s beautiful municipal RV park (which had been under 20 feet of water two years before) and all agreed that it was the best municipal park e-v-e-r!

 

 

Still in Texas we passed through Waco (actually Elm Mott) where winter weather got us again; it was 20 degrees with a wind-chill of 04. Needless to say Mr. Big and I walked alone – the Boss would not leave the Enterprise!

Afterwards, we spent a few cold, overcast nights in Leander on the Bravos River (just outside of Austin) and then, “destination” San Antonio!

Looking forward to having Christmas Dinner on the Riverwalk, we parked the Enterprise at the Traveler’s World Carefree RV Resort, about two miles outside of the city. It was a good site; wide enough to be comfortable and long enough to unload the ATV and park it behind the rig. Best of all, it was directly across the way from the dog park which, incredibly, was made of astro-turf! I’ve never seen anything like it before, but it was easy on the paws… Too bad it was either too cold or too overcast to spend much time outdoors, but we walked, several times, along the San Antonio Riverwalk where it meanders past the RV Park (I wasn’t allowed downtown – too many people).   Christmas Eve Day B&B went to Market Square to eat, drink, and be merry and by Christmas Eve the Boss wasn’t feeling well (I wonder why???)  so, no special Christmas Dinner – for any of us.

On Christmas Monday we hopped into the truck and drove to Seguin, Texas where our ancestor Nathaniel Benton (1811 – 1872, 2nd cousin 5X removed) lived and served as a Texas Ranger. We visited the historical Magnolia Hotel and the Old Vaughan Cemetery where Nathaniel is buried and where the State of Texas has erected a memorial headstone in his honor. The town of Seguin was named after Juan Seguin who fought in the Texas Revolution with Sam Houston, defeating Santa Ana. Initially, he was at the Alamo but was ordered to ride to Houston’s camp and alert the army of the dire situation. After the battle he was ordered back to the Alamo to bury the dead, ensuring “Christian” burials.

On our last night in San Antonio, B&B did the Riverwalk in town. It turned out to be a good night – college football fans were out celebrating the upcoming Alamo Bowl and there was a pep rally and a “battle of the bands” going on. Tough not to get caught up in the excitement!

at Traveler’s World RV…

 

at the Market Square…

 

In Seguin…

 

On the Riverwalk…

 

And here we are in Port Aransas, Texas at the Pioneer Beach Resort where it’s cool and rainy with dense fog almost every morning. On the one morning (so far) with no fog there was a pretty sunrise over the Gulf and later in the day I got to run loose on the beach – everyone knows that’s my favorite activity! Tonight is New Year’s Eve – we’ll be making a run for fresh shrimp soon – I hope I can stay awake until at least 10pm!

One pretty sunrise…

Me on the beach…

 

Happy New Year to Everyone! Man’s best friend, Buster.

 

Day 150 – California, top to bottom…

In total we spent 40 days in California, zig-zagging from Crescent City all the way down to El Centro.

The offshore geography of Crescent City makes it unusually susceptible to tsunamis, and much of the city was destroyed by four tsunami waves generated by the Good Friday earthquake off Anchorage, Alaska in 1964. More recently, the city’s harbor suffered extensive damage and destruction due to tsunamis generated by the March 11, 2011 earthquake off Sendai, Japan. Thank goodness it only rained continuously for the two days we were there – we never even left the Hiouchi RV Park.

We spent three days in Eureka at the Shoreline RV Park. The weather was generally ugly and it poured down rain for a day and a half – no Victorian House Tours for the Boss.  But I got lucky… on the single sunny day we went out to Samoa Dunes where I got to play, off leash, on the beach and in the Pacific!

Samoa Dunes…

On to Redding where B&B took the Black Dog for a great ride in the Chappie Shasta ORV Area while I rested up and guarded the Motorhome in the Mountain Gate RV Park. We had been to Redding once before and liked the area with its accessibility to the Sacramento River, Mt. Shasta, and the Lake Shasta Dam – it’s very beautiful!

Chappie-Shasta ORV Area…