Category Archives: 2013 Winter in the Southwest Caravan

Jan. 20 to 26 – Yuma, Palm Desert, Bakersfield to Home

After Tucson we decided to leave the caravan and head home. The caravan was heading north into New Mexico and the weather was forecast to get a lot colder.  My knee was not happy with cold weather and we decided to go to Palm Desert which was forecast to be in the mid 80’s.

Our route back to Fremont: A-Tucson, AZ, B-Yuma,AZ, C-Bakersfield, CA, D-Fremont, CA

Route Home

We haven’t had an Ace shot recently; her he is in the backseat of the truck using the arm rest as a chin rest.DSCF9160

We started out going through the Sonoran desert with many  saguaro cacti.DSCF9136

Beautiful mountains in the distance.

DSCF9150We stayed overnight in a transient slot in the Desert Paradise RV Resort – not very exciting, but we were only there overnight.

DSCF9172Across from our slot was a beautiful vintage trailerDSCF9173

The next morning we were back on the road heading back to California – an Agricultural Check Point soon after entering California

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We passed by the Salton Sea.DSCF9190

In Palm Desert we stayed at the Emerald Desert RV Resort – this really was a resort, beautifully landscaped with multiple pools. Bocce Ball Courts, clubhouse and driving ranges.  We are seriously thinking about going back next year during the rainy season.
DSCF9208There was a second Airstream parked next to our rig.DSCF9209We stayed in Palm Desert for 4 days and then we were back on the road again … this time to Bakersfield. A Joshua Tree on the way out of Palm Desert. As I have mentioned before, I love Joshua trees  🙂DSCF9226Our route took us through the Tehachapi Mountains

DSCF9259When we dropped back into the valley around Bakersfield we were surrounded by fog, beautiful buy hazardous to drive through.DSCF9264Once more we stayed at the Orange Grove RV Park. mostly because Mark wanted more of their oranges.DSCF9266The next morning we picked up HWY 5 and returned to Fremont.

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Jan. 18 – Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

The highlight of our time in Tucson was the visit to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.  I was incredibly lucky that another couple has a mobile cart with them and loaned it to me to visit the museum.  Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of me in it. 😦

At the entrance to the Museum was a ASDM docent giving a demonstration talk with the help of a raptor.

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Here’s a close up of the handsome bird …

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Here we are entering the museum, passing a Saguaro and it’s nurse plant.DSCF9062

More cactiDSCF9066

We were soon at the museum’s walk-in aviary, you walked through a mesh curtain and you are inside a huge aviary full of different species of birds.DSCF9072

Among the tree branches were bird nests, made with whatever the parent birds could find.DSCF9088

Nearby was another docent with a Barn Owl, a really beautiful bird.DSCF9076

Display of Bighorn SheepDSCF9097One thing I did not expect a desert museum was an Aquarium, but new Warden Aquarium opened in January, 2013. A full understanding of the Sonoran Desert region isn’t possible without recognizing the importance of the freshwater rivers that flow through it and the Sea of Cortez which are critical to this desert’s status as the lushest desert on earth.DSCF9105

Out of the Aquarium, so of our caravan members taking a break.DSCF9090On the way back to the fairgrounds we passed some decorative overpasses.

overpassThat evening we had a memorable dinner at Carusso’s Italian Restaurant which has served Tucson since the 1930’s … yum Sign

Jan. 17 – to Tucson, AZ

This is a bit late (May), I was trying to get the Caravan blog done before my knee replacement surgery and didn’t quite make it.  😦  So, I’m going to try and remember what we did last January and get this finished before we begin our next trip.

Here is the route we took from Hickiwan Trails RV Park in Why to the Pima County Fairgrounds RV Campground in Tucson. Almost all through the Sonoran desert.

Why to Tucson

Here we are with the small group of RV’s we began our trip with leaving the RV Park.DSCF9003

Driving down the West Tucson Ajo toward Tuscon

DSCF9011AZ route 86 through the Sonoran desert was fined with Saguaro cacti. It was a beautiful drive.

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More beautiful desert scenery.DSCF9037A windmill in the desert.

DSCF9024 We had to cross Tucson to get to the Pima County Fairground RV Park.  It is in the outskirts of Tucson.

Tucson

We finally arrived at the Pima County Fairgrounds RV Park. A windy, dry place. It was a pretty unpleasant place to stay and I don’t have any photos of it.

Jan. 15 – Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Lets start this post with the Ace photo of the day. Here he is using one of the sofa cushions as a chin rest.  He does love his chin rests 🙂

Ace

The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is one of my favorite excursions of this caravan.  This park is dedicated to the Sonoran desert.

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We drove down HWY 85 toward the Mexican border to the park , driving through some really spectacular desert country. OrganPipeSign

The entrance to the park.

Do you know the difference between a National Park and a National Monument?

A National Monument  is created by the President of the United States without the approval of Congress. National parks, on the other hand, are typically created by Congress. National monuments receive less funding and afford fewer protections to wildlife than national parks.

KrisEggleVisitorCenterWe started our visit at the Kris Eggle Visitor Center.

eggleKris Eggle was a National Park Ranger who was shot and killed in the line of duty at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, on August 9, 2002 while pursuing members of a drug cartel hit squad who fled into the United States after committing a string of murders in Mexico.

One of the exhibits in the Visitor’s Center that interested me was of the nest of a desert pack rat.RatsNest

After touring the Visitor’s Center, Mark and I took a leisurely walk a 0.1 mile nature trail behind the Center. With my poor knee that was about as far as I could walk 😦  As you can tell from the photo, it was cold, beautiful, but cold!DixieAtPark

ViewNext, we got back into the big black truck and did the AJo Mountain Drive. “It is a 21 mile, mostly gravel road usually passable by normal passenger car. RVs over 24 feet are prohibited, due to the twisting and dipping nature of the road.”  I would not want to be in a passenger car let alone an RV doing this road, it’s really rough.

RoadThe Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was established in 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and protects most of the national habitat  of the Organ Pipe Cactus within the United States. The Pipe Organ Cactus grows only in the Sonoran Desert. While commonly found in the southern sections of the Sonoran Desert, these cacti are rare north of the U.S.-Mexico border but have adapted to life in the Monument. The Monument only experiences a few frosty nights a year, allowing the cacti to stay warm and flourish like their Mexican kin.

TSaguaroshe Saguaro cactus is a desert icon.

It is the tallest and largest cactus in the United States. They can live to be 200 years old.  They flower for the first time around 65 years of age and produce their first arms around 90. Cacti living where water is more abundant grow faster. Cacti living in valley flats, where water is scarce, can live their whole lives and never have the resources to support arm growth.

A saguaro is entirely dependent on location and rainfall, as well as the ability of its shallow roots to suck up as much rain as possible to store in its spongy flesh.

Flowers appear in May and June when the desert it at its hottest and driest. The nectar is the only moisture in town, attracting pollinators like birds and bats.  The fruits ripen in July, in time for many animals to eat the delicious red fruits and transport thousands of seeds to new homes.  When the seeds are spread and the monsoon rains begin, the seeds with a lot of luck can then grow into new saguaro.

nurse plantBaby saguaros need protection from the sun and frost and from animal predators. Paloverde trees and mesquite trees often offer a young saguaro a safe place.  These trees are called “nurse plants” because they protect the growing cactus. Unfortunately for the nurse plant, when the cactus grows up it ofter kills its protector by taking most of the rain water with its shallow and complex root system.

Desert3 Ocotillo in dry times resemble long spiny sticks.  Once the rain comes they grow dark green leaves in a spiral pattern around their branches. Brilliant orange-red flowers bloom at the ends of the stems and these flowers attract hummingbirds to pollinate the plant. The nectar found within each flower is crucial to the hummingbird’s survival during its long migration. This mutually beneficial relationship is an example of adaptation to te desert environment.

Cholla CactusThe Cholla cactus – the joints of the plant are biologically designed to detach as an animal is walking by within its spiny reach.  The spines are barbed and hook into the coat or flest of the passer-by and the cholla joint is transported to a new location.

teddybear_chollaTeddy Bear Cholla gets it name because they look fuzzy and cute, but look carefully and you’ll see millions of tiny hooked spines genetically designed to attach to anything that gets too close.

Packrats will take the cholla joints to make a very protective nest called a midden.RockThe drive took us close to a natural rock arch in the Arch Canyon.

The Ajo Mountain Drive is a 21-mile, one-way loop.  At the end we were back across from the visitor’s center and we began the drive back to Why.  BorderCheckPoint

Along the way we passed through a Border Patrol Checkstop. On the way to the Monument, driving toward the border, we were waved thru.   But, we were stopped on the way back to Why … just for a moment; they asked us where we where from and where we were going and let us through.  Checking

There was a van infront of us and they spent more time looking it over.

Because we were near the Mexican border most of the way from Desert Hot Springs to Why we had seen many Border Agents. But, when we arrived in Arizona the number of agents and checkpoints increased dramatically.

We were soon back in Why and Ace was once more out in search of burro poop.

Jan. 14 – Desert Hot Springs, CA to Why, AZ

We got an early start on our journey to Why, AZ because it was an approximately 5 hour trip. Here is the route we took.ToWhy

As we continued south, we were soon close to the Mexican border.  There was a buffer zone between the road and the border.  That’s the white barrier next to the road.

Border

Soon we crossed into Arizona and continued traveling east.Arizona

HighwayTo get to Why we left HWY 8 to take HWY 85 south toward the Mexican Border. Driving across desolate desert terrain.

Why is a tiny rural community in Pima County, AZ. It is and due north of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona. It is approximately 30 miles north of the Mexican border.

800px-Why,_ArizonaThe unusual city name comes from the fact that the two major highways, State Routes 85 and 86, originally intersected in a Y-intersection. At the time of its naming, Arizona law required all city names to have at least three letters, so the town’s founders named the town “Why” as opposed to simply calling it “Y.” he Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) later removed the old Y-intersection for traffic safety reasons and built the two highways in a conventional T-intersection south of the original intersection.  Why

We stayed at the Hickiwan Trails RV Park. Here is Mark and Ace checking out the park.

P3100120This is also the park where Ace discovered  that burro poop is something to worth searching for.  I spent the rest of our stay dragging him away from burro poop.  I didn’t see any of the wild poop producing burros, but I found this photo at RV Parking.com

Jan. 12, 2013 – Palm Springs Follies

We began the day we visited the Palm Spring Follies with a relaxing morning. Here is Ace after Mark left his seat for a second.  The pup really likes that nice warm spot. AcePillow

Marylin


Marylin_back

We parked near Forever Marilyn, a giant statue of Marilyn Monroe designed by Seward Johnson. The statue is a representative of one of the most famous images of Monroe, taken from 1955 film The Seven Year Itch. The statue is located in downtown Palm Springs on the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way where she will be on display through June 2013.

Plaza

The show is held in the Plaza Theater at 128 South Palm Canyon Drive just steps away from the giant statue.

The Plaza Theater opened on December 12, 1936 with the premiere of Camille staring Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor. The Plaza Theatre remained active for many years, finally becoming dormant in 1989. It was at this time that television producer, Riff Markowitz, decided to renovate the cinema and create a “Broadway-caliber celebration of the music, dance, and comedy of the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s with a cast old enough to have lived it!

The Fabulous Palm Springs FolliesRiff Markowitz , the Follies Man, that irascible, unpredictable and fearless social satirist who serves as ringmaster at every Follies performance.

The Follies include venerated guest stars and international vaudeville acts join the Follies’ world-renowned line of Long-Legged Lovelies and Follies Gentlemen, all ranging in age from 54 to 83. I could not take photos inside the theater, but I have combed the internet for photos showing portions of the show.

Theme50s

The theme of this year’s show was “Dance to the Music”, highlighting music and dance of the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. Now here is what you have been waiting to see, the Follies’ world-renowned line of Long-Legged Lovelies, who range in age from 58 to 78!Pink    dancer 3dancers

christieLou Christie was the guest star for our visit.  Lou Christie is a singer songwriter who’s career began in the 60’s with “The Gypsy Cried“. “Two Faces Have I” was Christie’s next big hit featuring his stratospheric falsetto. Then, his #1 multi-million selling “Lightnin’ Strikes,” forever embedded him into America’s musical consciousness. His chart-topping success continued with two more million selling hits, “Rhapsody In The Rain” and “I’m Gonna Make You Mine.” Rhapsody’s success was fueled by the fact that it was the first song banned on the radio due to its suggestive lyrics.

usaThe show ended with a red, white and blue finale.

Jan.10, 2013 – on to Desert Hot Springs

Our route from Joshua Tree to Desert Hot Springs.

DesertHotSprings

Wind, wind, wind … the night before we left Joshua Tree, there were high wind advisories and the trailer rock and rolled all night.  The wind was still blowing the next morning, but Airstreams are aerodynamic and the wind just rolls over them. So we were soon on our way to  Sam’s Family RV Resort in Desert Hot Springs.

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Caravanning out of Joshua Tree Lake RV Park on our way to Desert Hot Springs.

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On the road behind an Airstream Motorhome

DSCF8659Ace normally travels in a doggy car seat in the rear seat of the truck.  He is secured to the seat with a strap that clips onto the seat belt.  On every long trip we have taken at some point he realizes that the strap is long enough that he can jump our od the doggy seat and sit looking pathetic in the center of the rear seat.  He then moves into my lap. After this every time we put him in the doggy seat he climbs out and ends up in my lap.  One very happy Westie. 🙂

DSCF8805Pulling into Sam’s Family RV Park in Desert Hot Springs.

DSCF8808All parked and settled in for the next few days. BikeMark

Mark takes his short wheel base recumbent bike when we travel. Here he is riding around the RV park.