Thursday, January 30, 2014

1/30 Buckskin Mountain State Park

I have slowly been exploring the Colorado River south of Lake Mead.  Last week was at Big Bend of the Colorado River, and then at Lake Havasu State Park.  Now I am about 30 miles south of Lake Havasu City and taking it very easy. 

What has surprised me is that from Mead south through at least Parker, Arizona, the river is one long (165 miles) jet boat racetrack.  The river runs initially south along the border of Nevada and Arizona, and then along the border of California and Arizona.  Every few miles there is another marina and boat launch.  There are also tons of mobile home parks and RV campgrounds.  It seems like a lot of the mobile home parks are used only a few times a year, much like cottages are in Michigan.

I am used to the Colorado as it is in the state of Colorado--full of rocks and rapids and perfect for rafts and kayaks.  Along this stretch, there are three dams that break up the length and hold back water--Hoover Dam, Davis Dam, and Parker Dam.  Not sure what is south of here, but probably more dams.  The result is a wide, deep river perfect for racing about with huge and very noisy engines!!

Here is my campsite along the river in this state park.  It is very pleasant here during the week where there are fewer boats.  I can imagine it will be very noisy on weekends.

 
Here is the upstream view of the river:

And the downstream view.  You can see a mobile home park and a campground across the river in California, both much more crowded than the state park I am staying in.

Temps here have been in the low 70s, with nights in the low 50s.  (Air conditioning during the day and my electric heater at night!)  However, this is among the hottest places in Arizona, so in the summer it can get to be 120 in the daytime.  You can reserve one of these covered picnic areas along the river.  Each comes with an electrical hookup and restrooms are nearby.
 
This is the other side of the picnic shelters.  The water is very clear and there is a bit of a beach for swimming.

 
I decided to take one of the trails up to the bench at the top of the ridge behind the campground.  Not a bad trail, but steep.  It was a little hazy or cloudy today, so the sun was not too bright and hot.

This is a longer, two-mile loop trail with a bridge over the highway for hikers. 



Nice view of the campground from the ridge. 

Tomorrow, I head for Phoenix! 
 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

1/25 Lake Havasu State Park

I much prefer staying in state and national parks because you get a much larger camping spot and view, pay less generally, and end up with a lot more privacy than the commercial campgrounds where you are packed in like the proverbial sardines in a can. Here is my campsite with a view of Lake Havasu:



I did some bike riding around town to run errands, but it was recommended to me that I cross the London Bridge and ride the bike trail on the "island." This photo was taken from the bridge.


Lake Havasu City has grown tremendously in the past 30 years.  There is about every chain store you could want, as well as lots of new and old subdivisions.  It is really filling up the valley.

Nice bike and walking trail around the island.  Bikes go clockwise and walkers go counterclockwise.
 
Here are some views of the lake from the bike trail.



Do you see the dune buggies driving along the gravel beside the lake?  It looks like they can ride a long way along the gravel.
 
 
Here is how they got down there. 
 
I have a couple more days here and then on to another state park a bit south of here. 

1/22 Big Bend of the Colorado State Park

This is going to be one of my favorite places to camp.  This state park is located about 20 miles north of Needles, California, and about 50 miles south of Lake Mead.  It is quiet, has full hookups, good cell service, is inexpensive, and has the biggest camping sites I have ever seen!

 
Nice covered picnic table, also.

Here is one of the bigger empty sites. They also have some back-in sites, and some are a little smaller, but all are very large.  The size of the spaces and how far they are apart makes it quieter and provides privacy.  Also, the road is not tremendously busy, and is a few hundred feet away.

There is no view of the river from campsites because of the shrubbery, but it is a reasonable walk down to the day use area where you can look across to Bullhead City and Fort Mohave which is slightly south.  There are a lot of very expensive homes along the river on the other side.

This is the day use beach, but since at least today they were releasing large amounts of water from Lake Mead, the current was very fast and dangerous.  No one was around, in any case.

 
I headed upriver in my RV to check out Davis Dam.  Unfortunately, it was not possible to drive up to the top, and it was too far to walk, so I could not see the lake on the other side.  That is on my list for next time I come this way.  In any case, you can see the large, mostly earthen dam in this photo.  To the far right, you can see a corner of the powerhouse and spillway.  I pulled into the very pleasant park to the right so I could take some photos.

Water was pouring out of all of the spillways today because of the drought in California.
 
 

I am always a bit surprised at how they put covers on playgrounds in Nevada and Arizona! If you look beyond the playground, you can see the motorhome under a metal roof.  This park has two volunteer caretakers who live in motorhomes.  For volunteering, they each get a covered camping pad with full hookups and a very lovely view!  Nice place to picnic if you come to this area.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

1/19 Joshua Tree National Park to Nevada

Joshua Tree National Park is located in one of the driest parts of the United States.  The mountains and the drive in, however, are beautiful.
 
I even had a Joshua Tree in my Friday night's campground in Black Rock campground.  I had forgotten about MLKs birthday being a three-day weekend, so the place was packed with families and I was lucky to get a spot even for one night.

The next night I ended up in Cottonwood Campground on the far south end of the park. I had been planning on spending two nights here, but this morning discovered my vehicle battery was acting up again and was dead.  Something seems to be pulling power when I am camping without an electric hookup.  Normally, my coach battery should power everything, not the vehicle battery.  I tried my emergency start that works with the generator, but even that took 20 minutes of generator power to get it working.  Need to get it checked since it is still under warranty.
 

Last time I was here, I had missed walking through the cholla garden.  These plants are sometimes called jumping cholla because the pods stick to your clothing if you brush past them.  Animals cover them great distance and start new "gardens."

Here is a close-up of one plant.  They are also sometimes called "teddy bear" cholla because they look so fuzzy and cuddly.  Cuddling them, however, is NOT recommended!


This one is a cholla but is a pencil cholla because the stems are so thin.  They have equally prickly thorns, however, so no hugging this one either.

And finally, a Joshua tree!

Because I did not want to press my luck with my vehicle battery, I headed east and north to Nevada and Lake Havasu where I knew there were lots of campgrounds with electric hookups.  More really dry desert, this one with salt pans.  I could not get a picture because there was no place to stop or pull over, but someone had pushed up great rows of dirt to collect water and produce salt.  I have no idea where they get the water, but apparently at least in the past someone had been trying to produce salt.

Shoulders of the roads were very soft sand, so no pulling over with my heavy vehicle.  There was not even cell service here if I had needed to call road service, and no gas stations from Twenty-Nine Palms for 90 miles northeast along this road!!  There were occasional cars, however.

The different minerals in these mountains apparently cause these different colors.  Not sure what minerals these were, but I thought this was interesting. 

And another very long and very straight road.
 

Friday, January 17, 2014

1/16 More Crystal Cove State Park

I always realize later that I have missed taking some photos.  In this case, it is the beautiful, very wide and paved bike path in this park.  It is several miles long and very well kept up.  It did give me an opportunity to get down to the beach and take more photos, in any case.

Found this small flock of sanderlings on the beach.

Don't know what this bird was, but is was all by itself and smaller than the sanderlings.  Also had a shorter beak.  Very shy.

It was low tide, so there were tide pools.  There are very strict park rules about removing or even touching animals or plants in tide pools.  You could carefully wade out, assuming you had the right shoes and were not afraid to balance on rocks.  Obviously, none of those criteria fit me so I stayed on shore.

Beach looks beautiful at low tide.

The large black lump in the upper right of this photo is a California sea lion.  It was not in the mood to pose for my camera, unfortunately.


A fishing boat below me as I was standing on the bluff.  I have no idea what they were trying to catch.

This is Catalina Island in the haze.  The yellow color leads me to believe this is LA smog, but some people said it was smoke from a fire.

View of the beach from the bluff.