Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hiking the Desert Around Yuma, Arizona

While here in Yuma we were lucky to meet Steve, a Master Naturalist, who offered to take a group from the RV park where we are staying on a guided hike on the Painted Desert Trail in the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge located just north of here:
Our fearless. and very knowledgable, leader:
When he retired, Steve went back to school to become a naturalist and conducts hikes like this on a volunteer basis. A very interesting man - we meet so many interesting people living this lifestyle.

We started out walking up a wash between the mountains:
A wash is an area or channel that is created when flooding occurs in the desert. This part of the desert was formed many millions of years ago by volcanic activity. The different colours in the rock are caused by the lava hardening at different rates.
Volcanic Rock Mountains
The narrow rock column in the photo below is a lava tower. It was formed when lava shot out of a vent in the volcano and cooled and hardend very quickly and plugged the vent.
We climbed up the mountains with a running commentary by Steve:
Which wasn't easy with such diverse levels of hiking skills (Steve is in the centre of this group). He did a great job.

Eventually we reached the two peaks you see at the upper right in the photo above:
And up and over we went.

At the top
And down the other side
Do you see the little people down in the wash?
All in all a great morning.

A few days later we learned the rangers in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in the Kofa Mountains were conducting a moonlight hike on the night of the full moon:
Kofa Mountains in the distance
It was dark, of course, and my camera does not take good pictures a night so I will just add a couple:
It was a rare cloudy night in the desert but the moon did peek in and out of the clouds.

The park emloyee who conducted the hike did an excellent job telling us about the wildlife and plants in the desert.
But mostly we just walked for about 2 miles and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the desert at night.

At the end of the hike I learned that Bill and Ann, Kofa Wilderness hosts, were at the back of our hiking group. I've read so much about them on several blogs, most frequently on the The Bayfield Bunch and RV Sue, and felt like I already knew them so I introduced myself and spent a few minutes chatting with them. They conduct hikes in the Kofa Refuge every Saturday and we planned to head up there the following Saturday to join them. Unfortunately I got a cold that lingered and lingered so we missed that opportunity and we are leaving Yuma shortly so it is an opportunity lost for now. Perhaps another year.

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

What Were we Thinking???

We are currently staying at the Cocopah RV and Golf Resort in Yuma, Arizona. Very close to an area where a lot of bloggers I follow boondock for the winter. We would like to boondock in the desert but realize that we are not equipped to do so and have a lot to learn before we do more than spend a night at Walmart.

This was made very clear to us when we took a drive out to the desert to our west where we knew a lot of RVers park.

The area is beautiful. And looks exactly how one pictures a desert to look:
We saw lots of RVs scattered around the desert and there was a choice of two exits from the interstate we could take - Sidewinder Rd or Ogilby Rd. Ogilby Rd seemed more familiar to me so we chose that. It was a big mistake:
Ogilby Rd ended at a dirt road leading to the boondocking area all right but it was the wrong way to go. We could see the boondockers up ahead of us:
The red x marks the boondocking spot
So Arch decided to see if he could walk over and get help.

Not a good idea as distances are very deceptive in the Desert and it was hot. So he returned to the car and we called Good Sam Roadside Assistance - whom we highly recommend. They were speedy, helpful and kept checking to be sure we were OK. We were not very far off the interstate:
The red x marks the interstate
However the tow truck driver was a little concerned that he may not be able to get in to pull us out with his truck. While he and Arch were discussing all this on the phone help arrived

The man driving this jeep, a school teacher from San Diego, was out hunting for geocaches in the desert and noticed our situation. He did not have a tow chain but he and Arch improvised one from a nylon belt:
And then he hopped in the jeep and pulled. And pulled:
To no avail:
That is sand, not smoke, behind the jeep
So it is time to try the winch
Thank goodness!! It is working:
And finally we are high and on solid ground:
The end result: Arch and the man who helped us had a great time playing in the sand. Me, not so much. And we have added a jeep to our "must haves" before we boondock in the desert.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Recipe for Indian Fry Bread Tacos

Today, for the first time, I tried an Indian fry bread taco.

It is a food with an interesting history.

Indian fry bread is traditional to the Navajo, and comes with a story of great pain and suffering.

The Navajo lived from the earth as their ancestors had for hundreds of years. They also raised livestock to feed their family. The Navajo homeland was bordered by the four sacred mountains, from northeastern Arizona, western New Mexico, southern Utah and southern Colorado.

The Navajo traded with the Spanish, Mexican, Pueblos, Apache, Comanche, and even the early American pioneers. Around 1846, large numbers of pioneers moved into the area and the cavalry came with them. This is when troubles began. After many battles and skrimishes with the Navajo, in September 1863, Kit Carson was dispatched into Navajo land to retrieve a surrender. When no Navajo came to meet with him, he ordered the burning of the land. Attempts were made to starve out the Navajo and many were captured. Hundreds starved on the 300 mile walk to prision and more would die later in the crowded conditions. Navajo were eventually placed with the Apache, often under very difficult living conditions. Camps were meant for 4,000 to 5,000 people often contained over 9,000 people and supplies were meager. The government supplied lard, flour, salt, sugar, baking powder or yeast, and powdered milk for food.

Fry bread came from these few foods provided during the 4 years of captivity. Since that time, it has become common food at most all PowWows of numerous tribes. Here is the basic recipe:


1 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup water
Vegetable oil for frying


Sift the flour, salt, powdered milk, and baking powder into a large bowl. Pour the water over the flour mixture all at once and stir the dough with a fork until it starts to form one big clump.

Flour your hands well. Using your hands, begin to mix the dough, trying to get all the flour into the mixture to form a ball. Mix well but do not knead. Kneading it will make the fry bread heavy when cooked. The inside of the dough ball should still be sticky after it is formed, while the outside will be well floured.

Cut the dough into four (4) pieces. Using your floured hands, shape, stretch, pat, and form a disk of about 5 to 7 inches in diameter. Don’t worry about it being round.

Put about 1 inch of vegetable oil in a deep heavy pot or cast iron skillet, and heat to about 350 degrees F. You can check if you oil is hot enough by either dropping a small piece of dough in the hot oil and seeing if it begins to fry, or by dipping the end of a wooden spoon in and seeing if that bubbles.

Take the formed dough and gently place it into the oil, being careful not to splatter the hot oil. Press down on the dough as it fries so the top is submersed into the hot oil. Fry until brown, and then flip to fry the other side. Each side will take approximately 3 to 4 minutes to cook. Place the cooked fry bread on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

The fry bread can be kept warm in a 200 degree F. oven for up to 1 hour. They refrigerate well and can be reheated in a 350 degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

There are several different ways to eat and serve Indian fry bread.:
  1. Eat them as they come out of the fryer
  2. Mix softened butter and honey together and spread it on top
  3. Sprinkle with a cinnamon sugar mixture
  4. Sift powdered sugar on top

Make an Indian taco (that is what I had) by stacking with your favorite taco ingredients

1 pound lean ground meat (beef, lamb, venison or pork) - leave out for vetetarian
1 medium onion, diced
4 cooked fry breads
1 small head iceberg lettuce, shredded
3 tomatoes, diced
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 (3-ounce) can diced green chilis drained
sour cream and salsa(optional)

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, brown ground meat and onions until cooked; remove from heat.
Place fry bread on separate plates. Layer ground meat, lettuce, tomatoes, Cheddar cheese, and green chiles onto top of each fry bread. serve with sour cream and salsa, if desired, and either roll up or serve open-faced with a fork.

Makes 4 servings.


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Friday, February 14, 2014

The City That Outboard Motors Built

The reservoir created by the construction of the Parker Dam on the Colorado River has nearly 450 miles of shoreline and was filled to its capacity of 211 billion gallons in 1940-1942. And there it sat.
Parker Dam
Until 1963 when Robert McCulloch, owner of McCulloch Motors, was flying over Lake Havasu looking for a place to test his outboard engines. He thought that the land surrounding Lake Havasu had great potential for an emerging city. Lake Havasu City was established on September 30, 1963. and incorporated in 1978.

McCulloch and developer C.V. Wood joined efforts and founded what would be a thriving community. C.V. Wood had previously designed the Disneyland amusement park in Anaheim, California. After four years, a total of 16,520 acres were acquired and prepared for lease.

McCulloch move the plant building chain saws and outboard motors to Lake Havasu City thus creating an incentive for people to move to his new city and employment for many. But he and Mr Wood realized the city would need more than one industry if it was to grow and develop.

In 1968 a solution was found in the form of a unique tourist attraction. The city of London, Enland was replacing the famed London Bridge. McCulloch purchased the bridge for 2.5 million dollars, had it disassembled, all the pieces marked and numbered as to their location and transported to the US and reassembled in Lake Havasu City for a further 7 million dollars. It officially opened in 1971.

The bridge now crosses a 930 ft (280 m) long man-made canal that leads from Lake Havasu on the Colorado River around an island and back out to the river.

The Canal
Around the island and back to the river
Today Lake Havasu City is an active destination for a wide range of people. During the spring months, the community is joined by university students during spring break. March to September are the prime months on Lake Havasu. The city is also home to the International World Jet Ski Final Races, multiple professional fishing tournaments, custom boat regattas, the Western Winter Blast pyrotechnics convention (which draws many RVers) and many other events.

During the winter months, the community is joined by retirees from colder regions of the US and Canada. During this period, multiple events are held on McCulloch Boulevard.

As you enter the area where the bridge is you pass through the Gates of the city of London:
 And into the city of London:
To walk across the bridge you must walk up many steps:

And enter the bridge:
And cross while heading this warning sign:

After exploring the attractions around the bridge we headed back to Quartzsite via this National Back Country Scenic Byway.
And scenic it was:
Not long into the drive we came upon this sign:
And soon after we saw our first wild burros:
There are a lot of RV parks along the Colorado River and thus the reason for the development of this golf course, I expect.
I think you would call it a desert links course:
Below is the first hole. Check out the tee box in the lower right corner of the picture
A great drive. We arrived back at the Adventure Bus in Quatzsite just in time to watch to watch a very boring Super Bowl Game.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

RVer Heaven- Quartzsite, Arizona

Quartzsite is a small (population 3300) desert town in Arizona on the border with California. Interstate 10 runs through town and most people rush by on the way between Phoenix and Los Angeles. Except in January and February. Especially the last two weeks in January. When hundreds of thousands of of RVers descend on the town for annual RV rallies and a big RV show.

We planned to be there the last week in January for the geocashing rally but life got in the way and we did not make it until Feb 1st. As a result we missed the "big show".  But there was still a lot happening when we were there.

Many people boondock in the desert:
Lots of boondockers in the desert
While others, like us, stay at the many RV parks in and around the town:
Pretty cool bus renovation
Quartzsite, because of it's laid back atmosphere and low cost of living (other than in January and February) attracts a lot of characters. This gentleman seemed to know everyone in town and was happy to pose for a picture:
 And, even thought the big show was over there were still lots of vendor booths selling everything you can imagine:
jewelry and jewelry-making supplies
Products to support our RV lifestyle
So this is where all those wild western hats I see RVers wear come from!
What's a party without ice cream!
And beer
All in all a pretty interesting spot and well worth a stop if you are passing through in January or February.

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