Yippee Skippy! It has been several years since we have been able to do a "Spring Break". Finally, we are on our way with, not one but THREE Vanagons. Yep, we be a convoy of Three Vanagons heading to the Vast Wilderness scratch that, I mean..., in search of Birds. Yep, for the first time the leader, that would be me, has had to take a back seat to "Birders" or, as I call 'em, the "Fowl People". Yep, Ed and Suzanne and Pete and Mary have been studying and reading and mapping birding hot-spots for months and even years and by god, that is where we are going. We have approximately just over three weeks to find..., birds!
But first we find windmills on the east side of Tehachapi. More than the last time we did Spring Break.
And then, there it is, our good ol' desert dog Sarah's grave site and water dish with a doggie ball still in place.
We circle the Vanagons, actually, just two Vanagons at this point. We will meet Ed and Suzanne and the third Vanagon in Goffs, CA tomorrow.
Morning of the second day at Sarah's grave site.
By the afternoon of the second day we arrive in Goffs.
We now be three!!
Two evenings of camping, gawking, Petanquing, bicycle riding and hiking and we are ready to roll.
During my bike ride out the Landfair Highway I found this young rattlesnake who was quite aggressive. I hope he/she lives long enough to mellow out.
I had to pause for a photo op but I didn't ride very far on HWY 66.
Our Spring Break timing is great! The desert is starting to bloom!
Time to roll.
Being nervous about leaving the great state of Californie we stop and top off our gas tanks before heading into the remote wilderness of Arizona!
We soon cross over the Colorado River, enter Arizona and discover gas is $335.9 per gallon!!
Oh well, this is how we learn things. Onward.
Nearing, but avoiding Tucson, we finally find a place to circle the wagons. Red Rock Mine!
Actually in and amongst the ruins of the former Hotel!
In the morning the weather is perfect to test my homemade rocket!! I had built this one for Spring Break 2013 but my Vanagon had trouble and by the time the mechanic figured out what was wrong with it, Spring Break 2013 was over!
So, this rocket had been waiting in my garage for a year. I wasn't sure if it would go or not; maybe the solid propellant motors got damp. Maybe all three wouldn't fire at once. Well, only one way to find out.
I had a mini video camera in the nose to record the flight. By golly, it exceeded all expectations.
Here's the un-edited video. I didn't edit it because the mini-video camera captured the whole thing!!
Shadows of Ed and I turning on the video camera and taping the nose cone together.
Count-down and launch.
Apogee and coast.
Puff of the secondary explosion and the tumble of the nose cone.
Spinning on the parachute risers.
Quick views of the campsite and Vanagons.
Landing in the sticker bushes.
Ed retrieves the nose cone and is seen in shadow with the parachute trailing behind!!
I arrive and we untapped the nose cone and I shut off the video camera!
Now on to important things like assemblying the sun shade!!
Ah! That's better.
We stayed two nights, walked and gawked two days. Above is part of the former Sasco mine.
Not to mention Petanque in the late afternoon.
But enough. Onward!
Wait! Stop!! A bird!!!
Eventually we arrived at the Arizona-Senora Desert State Museum. It turns out to be a very interesting out-door museum with captive birds!! And a lot more. Check out the link.
Off to a Mexican Restaurant and then, beat feet for our spot for the night somewhere out there in the Vast Wilderness.
Sunrise on our "Stealth Camp!" Nearby I discover a sign that has been ripped out of the ground for some reason.
That gets the wimmin a bit excited but, no matter, we are soon off to one of the birding spots the Fowl People have on their map, Boggs campground in Medera Canyon State Park.
It turns out that Boggs Campground in Medera Canyon is full but the camp host tells us there is over-flow camping back down on Proctor Road; it is a dry camp but good enough for us!
In the morning Lolli does sausage and eggs while the Fowl People go on up to the lodge.
When they return Suzanne has bought a hummingbird feeder and hangs it up nearby. Boom! The little guys are on it! The Fowl People have also discovered two campsites have become availble so we toss stuff into the Vanagons and move up to real picnic tables, running water and pit toilets.
We take turns doing dinner and washing dishes each evening. This is Lolli's spread for Tacos!
In the morning Pete and Mary go off for a "Power Walk".
I go for a bike ride and discover bicycling riding at 5,000 feet is a lot different than sea level!! But I did get a photo of the post-bloom fruit on a barrel cactus!!
Medera Canyon is a great spot and we stay two more nights. Campsites are $5.00 each!!
We even have an evening fire (Free firewood!) while Ed goes off for his first "Night GeoCache"
Here is the Gealey and McKinley Vanagons in the camp site just below ours.
The Fowl People have talked to other birders in the campground and have decided to move to the next recommended hotspot, Patagonia!! Patagonia, Arizona..., that is! I elect to ride my bike from Medera Canyon down the highway to Green Valley, AZ.
I stop and smell the flower along the way and then...., get picked up by Lolli and then...,
Zoom, Zoom. The convoy covers some ground.
To end up under Mexican Blue Oaks off Harshaw Road just five miles from Patagonia.
Great birding right outside the sliding doors and also within driving distance doing day trips.
While the Fowl People are out walking and gawking I ride up to the Ghost Town of Harshaw
And back down to camp carefully coasting around this guy!
Cool evenings, more and more moon.
More birding and more bike riding. This time up to Harshaw and down to Patagonia.
Wi-fi. Lattes. All one could ask! All within the....
Oh yeah. We did have an unwanted guest show up during the wee hours. I like to sleep with the Vanagon Slider door open and I guess the wee critters are able to jump high enough to get in.
Anyway, a bit of peanut butter on the mouse trap I always carry in the Vanagon and, ten minutes after "Lights Out"..., Snap!!
Okay, enough Patagonia. Time to move on.
but wait..., "Stop"!! a bird!!
Okay, onward and this time in search of the Elegant Trogan. Sposed to be on on Fort Huachuca property. We drove out there and the Fowl People did their best but no joy.
Enought of that. Onward to Bisbee, AZ.
One thing I did see that perked my interest; this espresso machine on wheels!!
Actually, the people in the Museum told me it was a "machine for spraying Gunnite on the tunnel walls".
The Fowl People elected to spend a night in civilization at the Copper Queen Hotel. A bit rich for my taste and by golly, Lolli said she would be happy camping in the Vanagon. Now all I had to do was find a place to park for the night. So, we are driving away from Bisbee and heading towards the next birding hot spot when we happen upon the Geronimo Surrender Monument in a roadside rest area. Good enough!
In the morning, after looking at the map, I elect to ride to the next birding site, Portal, AZ.
All I have to do is ride out of Arizona into New Mexico and then back into Arizona!
And then up to Portal. Actually only about 18 miles of riding.
Into some amazing country!!
Awesome, in fact! We find enough campsites at Sunny Flats campground; picnic tables, running water and pit toilets!! Again, perfect.
Ed and I go geocaching and finally find it. The hit was to look for something that doesn't belong.
Well, a yellow rock amongst the gray and red rocks didn't look right!
Sure enough! Bingo!
We wound up staying four nights. The Fowl People finally found their Trogan. A pair!
I did a very difficult 18 mile loop on my bicycle.
It was kumbya every night. Well, not really but it was just perfect in all respects. 45 degrees at night. 80~85 during the day.
Birds, Bicycling, Geocache and a nice store just down the hill with Wi-Fi!!
Pete and Lolli even played Petanque in the parking lot.
Finally, our last breakfast together.
Spring Break 2014 is winding down.
I make fun of Fowl People but I must say, they definitely know where to camp. You just go where the birds are!! And the birds are up in beautiful canyons where there is shade and running water and quiet people who quietly walk around looking through binoculars!!
So Pete and Mary took off for Utah and Ed and Suzanne took off for Nevada and Lolli and I headed towards home.
We stopped for lunch in one town and I spotted these signs on the entry door. I guess you can't have your gun in an exposed holster; you need to keep it out of sight in your purse or pocket. Cornhole Tourney? I'm not even going to speculate how that game got that name!
Along the way we stopped to look at some ruins. Too late in the day to walk up there but telephoto worked pretty good.
We had picked out Tonto State Park as a destination for the night and when we got there, it was closed. So, we rattled on a bit farther until we spotted a old road heading off into the trees. Sure enough. There's our spot for the night!! In the morning we got up and drove on just a bit further to Pine, Arizona where we had Eggs Bennie and coffee! Perfect!
Prescott to Wikieup on old HWY 94 was a real treat. It reminded me of the highways we use to vacation on when I was a kid.
And then the long slog up Nevada on Hwy 95!
And the smog capital of Nevada, Las Vegas!
But soon it was time to start looking for our spot for the night. The turn-off towards Tocupa and a few extra miles to get away from highway noise worked just fine!
Next morning we rolled on into Tonopah
and on and on and on. We finally turned off and headed towards Benton and Mono Lake.
Presto! We found our spot for the night near the Boundary Mountain!
The moon finally achieved fullness!
Another day of driving got us to HWY 50, up and over and to a stealth camp up Wrights Lake Road just west of Strawberry!
We went for a walk and spotted these.
We are very happy with the new LED lights I put in the kitchen of the Vanagon.
Down into Sacramento and on towards home. I can see we have a lot of mail to catch up on!!