Tuesday, January 30, 2018

1/30 Lake Pleasant Regional Park

Maricopa County, the county where Phoenix is located and well-known for its infamous sheriff, has several county-owned parks.  I am at one of them, Lake Pleasant, located northeast of Phoenix.  I have been here before, and it is one of my favorites in this part of the country.  It has all the things I like in a campground:  gorgeous view, excellent Verizon signal, and paved sites with water and electric.  The only thing it lacks is a laundomat, but I have enough clothes for a few more days.

It is also in the Sonoran Desert, so you get a lot of the big cacti, like these saguaro.  There are more on the entrance road than in the campground, but it is still the ultimate western landscape.

  This is my prime site.  It pays to make your reservations very early!

It can be very hot here, as high as 120 degrees F, so the camp hosts get covered sites.  Camp hosts are unpaid volunteers who get a free campsite for a period of time in exchange for doing maintenance and making sure campers behave.  

They have a brand-new visitor center since i was here four years ago.  
My favorite part of this regional park!  This is why I am getting 5 bars of Verizon data with my mobile hotspot. 

There is also a walking trail to the visitor center, but it is uphill. 

View of the dam from the visitor center.  The thing sticking out is the water intake tower.  Water from the lake goes to Phoenix mostly during the summer.

I had ridden my bike to the visitor center, so back down the road to the campground.

Nice view of the lake.  This was taken on Sunday, so it was very busy. Check out the group of little sailboats.

Guess the sailboats are not that little! 

Today, I decided to hike down the short trail to a small viewpoint below.  Trail was not bad.

Since this little point is on a hill, it makes a good place for a lookout.  Obviously, there was not a lake here 1,000 years ago, but it would still have been the top of a hill overlooking a large valley with a river flowing through it.  Probably farms on the land below, as well, as they could have used the river water to irrigate their crops.

View across to another campground and the boat launch ramp.  These campsites are low so do not have the views that my campground has, but it is more convenient for boaters.

Looking back up to my motorhome. It it just to the left of center at the top. I have large chocks on two wheels, by the way! 

A close-up view!  The only problem with hiking downhill is that you have to hike uphill on the way back.  Whew.

Beautiful lake!  And today, it was 80 degrees out! 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

1/25 Lake Havasu State Park, AZ

I am only here for four nights, but I am impressed by how much better the park looks than it did when I was here four years ago.  Back then, the roads were crumbling and the campground was kind of scruffy.  They have put in new roads, removed a lot of brush and spread clean gravel, and brought in a lot of sand for a really nice beach.  

I had a lot of work to do, so I really only went out bike riding one day.  I did take a few hours off on the third day to find a shopping center and get a hair cut, plus pick up some groceries, and get a propane refill.  

The campground may look like just a lot of dirt, but the gravel has been raked and does not track in or blow around, so it is a big improvement.  

This is part of the new beach.  The water here comes down from Lake Mead, so it is cold and very clean.  Lake Havasu is really just a wide spot in the Colorado River, held back by the Parker Dam.  There were a lot of boats of all sizes and kayaks on the lake.

Yes, this is the famous London Bridge that the developer of the island in the lake bought as a tourist attraction.  It is not the taller Tower Bridge, and there have been a lot of London Bridges in London over the centuries, but this is certainly one of them.  The bridge is only a couple of miles down from the campground and accessible via a good bike trail. 

The island is a nice place for a bike ride because there are at least 15 miles of bike trails there.  The intention is for this island to be developed with homes, shops, and condos, but progress is slow, so most of it is just desert.   You can see some of the development here.

This is looking back at the town of Lake Havasu City. 

Lots of real estate offices on the island. 

And a lot of dry, desert, as well. 

I was looking for a rest room and found this beach on the north end of the island. 


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

1/22 Leaving Willow Beach Campground

I left Willow Beach Campground today, and while I was really looking forward to getting back into reliable internet access and cell phone range, I did hate to leave.  However, the best part of moving around like I do is that there is always something to look forward to in the next campground.  (Have you ever been without a cell phone, or any kind of phone for that matter, for ten days?  It has been frustrating because there are some things I really, really needed my phone to do.)  

So, since I keep telling my friends and fellow campers how gorgeous this place is and how nice the campground sites are, I thought I would post some last photos.  The first will be some of the random, empty sites around the campground, starting with the handicap site I had next to the restroom because that's where the new router was located:

Even the non-handicap sites were very large and paved, with full hookups.  I paid only $17.50 for my site because I get a federal senior discount and because I made my reservations before they raised the prices.  Costs will now be $50 for non-seniors and $25 for seniors or with a federal disabled pass.  If you are a U.S. citizen and over 62 or disabled, these are lifetime passes that are really a fantastic deal because you get into all federal recreation areas completely free and you get a 50% discount on most camping. 

Here are some more sites. 

 The campground is located on a slope quite a ways from the river and the marina, and the marina is where the offices are located.  So if you need something, you have go head down this very steep road.  Since I have no car, I had to do it several times on my electric bike, riding both brakes all the way down. 

This is a different road than the one you use to get to the marina, but it also goes through a canyon, so you can see the loose gravel that they have had to move out of the way after the recent rain.  But at least this road ends at the campground and ranger's home, so it gets less use than the main road, which is really crumbling.  But they really need one of those rotary brush machines to get the rest of the gravel off--tough on a bike. 
This is part-way down with a closer view of the river.

This was the same place as in the photo above, but looking back up towards the campground.  I had to use my pedals to help the electric motor coming back up, but I made it without having to get off and walking up. 

Gorgeous view of the Black Canyon of the Colorado River.  The road to the right, by the way, goes to a viewpoint and picnic area for day use people. 

This is the view looking downstream. 

And this is a view of the marina and the rental boats. 
Another view of the marina, but looking upstream.  Hoover Dam is about 12 miles upstream, but you can get only within a mile of it in a private boat.  There is a raft trip I want to take when I come back here in March and when it is warmer.  http://www.blackcanyonadventures.com/black-canyon-raft-tour


Thursday, January 18, 2018

1/18 Gambel's Quail

I love these little guys, but they are very fast and always seem to be going somewhere.  Unlike the legendary Wiley Coyote who in real life is silent as he races through the desert, these guys are always in flocks and constantly talk to one another.  You can hear them coming with their "mip-mip  mip-mip-mip" sounds.  I think they are mostly calling to one another so they can stay together.  (Don't miss my quail story at the end.)

Anyway, I was sitting in my recliner inside my motorhome, when I heard their cheeping, so I jumped up and grabbed my camera.  

First, you need to understand that it is VERY hard to get a photo of a quail.  You have to be very stealthy and also fast.  This is a photo of where a quail used to be, with me hiding behind my slide.  

Gotchya!!  You can tell this is a female by her smaller topknot and paler colors on her head. 

And this is a male, identified by the darker and more defined colors on his head and the slightly larger topknot. They really are pretty birds. 

And this is how they usually look--definitely a bird in a hurry!  I have never seen one fly, but they really can run fast, especially if they are trying to keep up with their group. 

Confession: Rather than chase birds all day, I reached into my storage compartment and grabbed a couple of handfuls of bird seed that I accidentally dropped.  Made all the difference.  (Honestly, I really never feed the animals, but I figure this was pretty harmless since they are seed-eaters.)

Pretty bird and good view of his topknot. 

Check out the corn kernel in his beak. 

Where did he get that seed? 

Edge of my campsite, looking towards restroom and shower building.  There are also a couple of washers and dryers, so I did five loads of laundry when I got here.  Good thing I carry a LOT of clothes as things were getting pretty desperate. 

OK, now for my quail story.  I always visit the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix when I am in the area.  It is on top of a hill and along with the planted cactus and shrubs, there are natural areas around it, so there are always visiting roadrunners, quail, and other birds.

Last time I was there, I did not see any quail, so I asked one of the docents.  She said to check the cafeteria and that the birds would be back in the exhibits after lunch.  The cafeteria?!?!?

She was right.  These normally very shy birds had learned that the large outside eating area next to the cafeteria was a great place for crumbs.  There must have been 50 of them scurrying around underneath tables looking for food!  And when the lunch rush was finished, they did indeed leave the eating area and head back to the cactus beds.  Smart birds.