Sonny Bono Salton Sea Wildlife refuge

So back to the Salton Sea story…… (see previous blog) in 1905, the Colorado River drained into the Salton see area for 2 years before they were able fix the area of the river.  Wintering waterfowl began flocking to the sea almost immediately, and before long, the area proved to be a major stopover destination for migrating birds. “Shown to have a greater diversity of avian species than that of the Florida Everglades, the Salton Sea is a vital habitat for more than 400 species of birds making it a one of North America’s premier birding locations.”  We decided prior to going there to give ourselves a new camera (?? christmas present)  So we took LOTS of pictures.   We “snuck up” on several birds attempting the perfect picture, and then while sorting out something with my camera in the car afterwards a HUGE heron flew within a few feet of our car (no time for a picture)

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“The Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1930 at the southern end of the sea. Less than 1,800 of its original 37,600 acres remain manageable due to shoreline flooding. [1] In 1998, the refuge was renamed the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge to commemorate congressman and former celebrity showman Bono who was an early champion of Salton Sea remediation efforts.”

We went to the information centre, and it was quite interesting. She told us that the bird population that actually comes to the refuge has changed in recent years.  The salinity of the sea increases by about 3% per year, and very few fish can tolerate the concentration of salt. Apparently, though the sea has been a great fishing area for a long time, non one has actually caught fish there in the past 2 years, at least that they knew of.dsc00635

There are tales of boating several years ago, on a  calm day, you could look down into the water at the town that exists, where the salt mine was.  The OTHER really interesting boating story, is that because the lake sits ~260 feet below sea level, and with the increased salinity of the water, boats engines apparently perform much better.  So boats go much faster than they would elsewhere. So they had to initiate boating speed laws. We went down to the boat launch. As you can see there is no water for the first mile out from the launch.  The lake level is dropping all the time, and it sounds like it will eventually disappear again some day.dsc00601

In 1998 the sea was named after Sonny Bono. Part of the Salton Sea was in Bono’s congressional district, and cleaning up the lake became one of the issues he championed during his two terms in Congress. Bono’s death has created bipartisan support for the cleanup project.  It does seem that the area needs a new champion though.

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So we are now almost to Oregon, we DID spend a few days in Ventura visiting with some friends we have not seen in years. Irene and Ken.  Also (not pictured here) Cindy and Paul.  We gave them a little concert of our newer songs. Who says you cannot have a party in a motorhome.:) 🙂 so wonderful to be with friends.

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Much Love

Janet, and Ken and Tucker.

 

“..another seasons promise in the ground” SRogers

This gardening year is drawing to a close and this years wandering aimlessly’s season is just opening up. We have about 4500 garlic in the ground.  We had to create new beds this year, as garlic needs a 3 year crop rotation. So we needed to create about 1000 square feet of new bedding. img_3645

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We took out a lot of raspberries to make more room for garlic. We got 4 loads of donkey manure from the Donkey refuge https://turtlevalleydonkeyrefuge.com.  What a great place, check out the pictures.  We decided this year to be extremely generous with our manure, so each bed got nice and thick (3 year aged) manure.  WE WANT BIG GARLIC next year.

We then put KRAFT paper on top of the beds, (the paper is to keep down the weeds),and then put fresh wood chips down on top.  We had to cut down a few Fir trees this year that were too close to our house (fire concerns) and we got all the limbs chipped, hence the fresh wood chips.img_3651

Then we were “gifted” a load of leaves from our neighbour, who usually burns them. We convinced him that we could make MUCH better use out of them by tucking our garlic under them for the winter. (we did NOT tell him that composting leaves is better for the environment as well)img_3650

PRESTO….  covering up all the garlic beds with a thick layer of leaves. NOW the garlic is ready for the winter. Some years we get a hard frost, and the ground freezes, before it snows, which is not good for the garlic. So all of what we have done here is to provide some insulation. The garlic is technically under 8 inches of stuff, much  less likely to freeze down there. In the spring when it starts to warm, we will move a lot of this “mulch” away from the garlic so it will not make them too wet.

Of course I need to keep track of which type of garlic is where…. this is my complex record keeping “program”.img_3662

 

Another new process we have started this year, out of sheer desperation for controlling weeds, is to use the thick landscape fabric on top of the ground with the plans to move it when we want to “rotate crops”  My theory is that the “carcasses” of the  weeds and plants under the fabric, die and then compost in place.  So when we move the fabric the soil will be enriched and weed free. So everything that is not planted is covered.img_3643

We have also been working on Motorhome, “customizing” it.   For the past year, we have been largely camping in places without hookups, essentially going solar. SOOO we have not used the large convection/microwave since we put in the stove/oven.  Sadly I did not get a very good “before” picture, but this is picture of the stove/oven with the convection microwave above it.

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Ken has taken it out, and created a beautiful motorhome “pantry”.  Which holds an amazing about of stuff.  He does such beautiful work 🙂 img_1034

Ken has also been working hard to make sure that nothing goes wrong with the motorhome, here checking the tires…..lubing what needed lubing to keep us on the road.

Of note, check out the beautiful deck he built this summer, then we wanted an awning, so he went to Craigs list and found an awning perfect for our house….50$.  Now we can sit out on our deck, and pretend we are in a French Cafe. 🙂

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Our “other” new feature this year is the jeep wrangler we are now towing.

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Now we are down in Kelowna in the pouring rain, which is always the way we spend the first days of camping each fall.  Fortunate to have Josh, our son, looking after the house for the winter.    Much love to all who choose to follow us, and our obsessive life.  Janet

 

The long ways home…..

On our way home now, in fact I can see Canada from where I am sitting (at the border) We have had a great time in Oregon. Started out with 2 nights at Cape Blanco, one of our favourite spots for looking for beach agates.  We walk down from the Cape Blanco campground and walk the two miles to the Elk River.IMG_2965

We things have changed a LOT. Good news, and Bad news. The Elk River mouth is MUCH closer to cape Blanco than it used to be, an enormous amount of erosion and it appears that much of the bank has disappeared from when we were there last year.

The banks behind Ken in this picture used to extend to where he is in this picture.

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The BAD news is that (our guess) the soil from there high ridges came down and covered up all the agates. We only found a few with 3 days of searching.

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We had great fun and Tucker is looking so nice after his major swim in that river in northern California (mentioned in the last BLOG)

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We ran into a few “fellow” “Canadians” there.  They decided that they would not be heading home QUITE yet.

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NOW as well as bean sprouts we are also growing Pea sprouts. GREAT in tomato sauce on pasta

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We spent a few days in Bandon, where we used to live. We used to have pizza parties at our house when we lived in Bandon, we have a large living room and invited everyone over after political rallies etc. When we moved away, my great friend Gail, has graciously offered her home for these great get togethers.I had intended to go around and take pictures of all the wonderful friends who came out to listen to a few of our songs, hear our rock stories and just visit and share the love.  I miss all of these people so much after we moved away.  There is something very special about people who will take to the streets for a common cause, and I hold my commonality with these folks very dear in my heart. Women in Black, Usual suspects, Bandonistas, Fine Women are just a few of the names we went through back then.  MAN -OH- Man I DO love these folks.

But we are on a bit of a schedule, looking for a window of opportunity to get this motorhome home. British Columbia has had a HUGE dump of snow, and today (Saturday) appears to be the best time to try to get home without any snow…..besides.. we have just ran out of homegrown Raspberry jam.

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It is currently 2 degrees Celsius which is about 29 Fahrenheit. and So I will close from here, for now

Much Love to all

janet

Quartzsite

Quartzsite is our short term destination. It is in Arizona, just a few miles from the California border. It is at the crossroads of highway 10 and  HWY 95. The population is 3600 people and it is often the hottest place in the USA in the summer time.

The winter is when all the action takes place there though. The population at any one time in the winter is 250,000 and they get 1.5 million visitors a year.

The weather is one attraction, but there is no way a town that small can host that many people. The key is that there are hundreds of miles of flat BLM land surrounding Quartzite and the “boondocking” or dry camping capital of the US. As one guy at a solar place told us last year “the only place where someone spends 300,000 on a motor home to go camping for free in the desert.”  We have been boon docking for 6 weeks now and are not sure we want to camp alongside that many people, after all part of the reason we do this is for the wide open spaces we get.

Back to the OTHER reason we are attracted to QuartzSite….ROCKS.

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Now is not the greatest time to be in Quartzite, so we just spent part of a day there and then left, there are a few rock shops open now, but the shows begin in January. THIS IS VARIETIES of quartz… I think.  HUGE.

During January, there are 3 major shows, that draw in sellers and buyers from all over the world.  Rocks and things made with rocks … jewellery and apparently many very unusual things. We have not been in Quartzite in January, so  will likely have much more to tell after we have been.  That and likely LOTS of pictures. What we hope to do is to learn more about the rocks we find, how to recognize them and how to work with them. We have some lapidary equipment at home, and each rock is dealt with a little differently.

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OH and I put this one in here for Tucker…. his goals are very different from ours. Imagine if HE was writing this blog. 🙂

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So for now, we left Quartzite and found some great places to camp 30 miles north east, with the plans to rent a car for a month, and camp out of town and travel in with the car.

We are thinking seriously about getting a tow vehicle, but it will be much more complicated and expensive getting one here, so we thought we would just get the rental for this year and decide when we get home, what to do.

I thought I would include a cute little story about our christmas day dinner.  Years ago when we first moved to Bandon Oregon, we had some friends over for supper and made something sort of fancy with Scallops.  The recipe was from a cooking light magazine and it was delicious.  I loved cooking light recipes and so over the years I collected the magazines and then the annual books.  I had them all. Finally they became an online entity, and eventually I was just looking up my recipes online so gave away all the books.

Well it turns out that you can no longer GET recipes from 1997 online. So Ken and I set out to try to remember all that was in that recipe. It is always funny how things come to you in the middle of the night. One night after letting Tucker out during the night he came back and said “Asparagus”…… and then ” I think there was asparagus in that recipe”. So we gradually pieced together that there was also lemon rind… and juice…..etc.

So we made the dinner for boxing day, and took all the pictures like they do on recipe blogs. So here it is.

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First you roll the scallops in corn starch,  then heat  up olive oil in pan,  fry them for about 3 minutes on each side, then remove from pan.

Add 3/4 cup of white wine, then the lemon juice, rind, CHILI PUREE (we used 1/4 cup of our homemade tomato sauce)   and asparagus. x about 5 minutes, then add the scallops to the dish. Heat x 1 minute or so.

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then serve over rice.

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my lousy selfie…… I still feel that there might have been something else in the dish, but it was still great. Now if only I could find a 1997 cooking light magazine.

 

Much love and Happy New YEAR

janet

 

 

Ghost town in Nevada….

We have been on the road for almost 3 weeks now. We have only paid for a campground 3 nights now.  They usually cost about 40-45 a night, so about 1300-1400 a month. I guess we avoid them partially because of the cost, partially because we are to the point that we do not need them, ( we are getting by just fine on our solar power,  our 100 gallon water tank, propane for the stove, and a generator when all else fails(rare) ), but mostly because of the gorgeous spots we get to camp…… and the wild life..

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Not a great shot, but there is a coyote there, and Tucker is barking like crazy about it.

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…. and the burros. Strong winds, and I just missed a few of them rolling around in the sand kicking up the dust.

We have had several days of strong winds, COLD winds.  It has been interesting having our son Josh taking geography this term, learning how weather systems form. It seems as though the dreadful winds we have been experiencing through West Nevada, is in effect a high pressure system associated with the Santa Ana winds that  fuel the fires in Southern California.  The western part of Nevada, into California is called the “great west basin” . Here is an excerpt I found in Wikipedia.

“The Santa Anas are katabatic winds—Greek for “flowing downhill”, arising in higher altitudes and blowing down towards sea level.[4] Santa Ana winds originate from high-pressure airmasses over the Great Basin and upper Mojave Desert. Any low-pressure area over the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of California, can change the stability of the Great Basin High, causing a pressure gradient that turns the synoptic scale winds southward down the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada and into the Southern California region.[5] Cool, dry air flows outward in a clockwise spiral from the high pressure center. This cool, dry airmass sweeps across the deserts of eastern California toward the coast, and encounters the towering Transverse Ranges, which separate coastal Southern California from the deserts. The airmass, flowing from high pressure in the Great Basin to a low pressure center off the coast, takes the path of least resistance by channeling through the mountain passes to the lower coastal elevations, as the low pressure area off the coast pulls the airmass offshore.”

So yesterday was the first day we have noted a lessening of the winds, and the news said also that the Santa Ana winds had decreased.  So perhaps they will cool down and we will warm up.

One of the places we explored was Rhyolite, a ghost town from the gold boom.  It was dreadfully windy there, so we thought if we climbed closer to the mountains we might get out of the wind….. and we did.

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If you look at the spot up near the V,  we got out of the wind there 🙂

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…and this is the view from there. The flat part is Death Valley, and California in the distance.

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The entire valley is riddled with mining shafts like this one.

Gold was discovered here in 1905, and in 2 years it was a town of 12,000 people. It had banks, newspapers, gambling halls (of course gambling halls, it is Nevada..) … and even an Opera house.  3 Railroads had lines built into Rhyolite, but by 1911 the ores had begun to play out. Too bad they did not have RVs back then…… they could have just moved on to the next bonanza 🙂 .

The one building that is still standing is oddly the Kelly’s bottle house, made entirely of bottles.

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I believe this was the school.

There was also “the panic of 1907”  which saw the stock markets fall 50%, so there was much less money to invest in mining, yet another factor in the demise of Rhyolite.  Interesting to read about Charles Schwab as a major investor in this.

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seeing the remains of this building I was wondering if the bars were to keep someone in (jail), or keep someone out (bank). Turns out it was the former.

And we can hardly have a day with out something going wrong with the motorhome, and this is what our motorhome looks like when the hood is up…. the engine is under the bed, and some spring dohicky broke off that keeps the engine from over revving or something like that. Ken managed to gerry rig it back to being hooked up again and all was good.

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and Tucker now has booties, now that we are into the cactus. So we do not have to use pliers to get the thorns out of his paws.

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Where we stayed last night………

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So that is where Ken and Tucker and I are now

Much love

 

 

 

A life in a day….

We have been camping out in the desert for about 6 weeks now, a few nights in campgrounds and a few nights with friends outside of Phoenix. It really is the most laid back trip we have ever had. We have been back and forth across the border of California and Arizona a lot and have been near the border a lot. So rather than change our clocks over and over, we just decided to pick a time zone and stick with it.  We like Arizona time.

Our motorhome is showing some signs of abuse, with us trying to get to places we likely should not get into.  I love to see the smirks on peoples faces as they drive by us in their 4×4 vehicles, out in the middle of nowhere. We can usually see civilization from where we camp, but are usually 2-3 miles or more away from it. Tonite I can see the highway and trains 2 miles from here.  Deserts are like that.

We found that the campgrounds usually had very poor internet, so are relying on our AT&T cards. We have found that it is a pretty good deal, 10$ for a GB.  We can buy the refill cards in the grocery stores. We are not streaming anything (and have turned off automatic stream) and are able to work on the blog, check email, news, and although these days we are trying to avoid it, Facebook. 🙂  So it is costing us 40-50 dollars a month for internet.  We fill up water and dump sani at stations after every 4-5 days out.  Our only issue is garbage, which we have very little of…..  We use all cardboard boxes to fill with rocks, 🙂   not really but some.  We bury all out compost out in the desert.

We often stay at the same places a few days and cover on average 60 miles every few days driving. We walk between 3-5 miles a day looking for rocks, and some days biking (one day we biked 17 miles, half up hill in sand. was not part of the plan)

When we get back we set up our table scrub off our rocks to find which ones are keepers and which ones are not.  We smash some to make sure.  🙂   We now have several reference books to help us ID stuff.

We have wine, stoned wheat thins, and watch the sun sets. (or suns set)    We have wonderful gourmet dinners, and some days leftovers of gourmet dinners.  Then we play crib. Ken usually beats me, but last night we tried out a different deck of cards and I started winning.   Nice days. OH and reading lots of books.

These are Chalcedony Roses.  Essentially the same stuff that make up Agates, with out the lines (bands) . We have some pink ones and some white as well…..They will tumble up beautifully, when we get back to our tumbler.

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This is a geode. We see them everywhere here.  We have yet to find an unopened one though we have smashed a lot of ordinary rocks to see if there were geodes.

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This is a rockhound.img_1506

This is an agate with some opal in it, with part of a geode???

img_1514This is jasper/agate that has formed within a seam (the space between two rocks layers).  I should add that these are my interpretations

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larger chalcedony rose wth an agate geode.

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This is an agate geode with some amethyst ? centrally, and some copper minerals around the edges??

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I am not totally sure what this is, but every piece of it looked like hunks of wood, but they were completely very fragile crystals.

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I know this looks like a hunk of rotten beef… it is rather complex and will take cutting etc to bring out the full beauty.  I am hoping my friend the gemologist will add to this and I will edit this then.

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This is an amethyst geode with some…?opal, chrysocolla  around it.

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We think that this is a jasper/agate with central brown jasper and some opal around the edges.

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an agate.

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Well it is 7:30, ARIZONA time…….

Through the desert in a house with no name

We have definitely stayed at some extremely cool spots thus far. I have been trying to take pictures of each of the places.

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This was actually in a park, but no services, Valley of fire state park. wonderful red rock formations. Indian writing on wall. Just outside of Vegas.img_1779

This was next to where we had camped. WAY up a road in Nevada where a blue quartz mine was. We walked all the way up to the mine and looked all over to find that we really did not LIKE blue quartz. Funny how that works, but the view was worth the climb.

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This was on the ROUTE 66, a very old little shop called Cold springs. We camped further out in the desert the night before, but the lady who ran the shop told us to stay there the next night, as the guy who usually did security was gone.  Really a cool little museum. Here is link for more info http://azrt66.com/cool-springs/

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To get any further on this road to Oatman was too risky for a long vehicle, so we stayed at cool springs.

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We have to date managed 5 days  in a row with no services, and have found that if you google RV dumps, you can find places where you just pay a fee of 10-20 bucks to sani dump and add fresh water.

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Not all days have been totally perfect. Days like yesterday, the rockhounding book said that the “area” was 10.3 miles down a dirt road, and that all vehicles could make it. Said that there were soft areas, but that you should just keep moving. Well we have some to learn that “all vehicles” does not necessarily mean a 35 foot Motorhome.  There are a few questions that go through our minds as we move one down these roads. One is….. I wonder if there will be a place to turn this rig around?  Another is “I wonder if the AAA has limits to where they will go to haul out a motorhome?    yet another question we wondered a few days ago was…. ” I wonder if Chains would work as well in sand as they do in snow”

WE are not at all sure if we are being as kind to our motorhome as it has been to us . After the bind we got into yesterday, we have vowed that we WILL Look closer on Google earth.dsc_0737

This was just outside Parker Arizona, … actually closer to Earp California.  Not the greatest picture, but definitely a spot we will go back to.  6 miles from town and sitting above looking out a mountains all around.

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also one of the most dramatic sunsets I believe I have ever seen. Oh and sunrise as well.

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We are now on the California side of Lake Havasu.  Total wilderness, looking across the lake at a large city.  After my last blog several people encouraged us NOT to head home too soon, as it is much colder.  We WILL however slowly wind our way north now, and hope for better weather for those north of us.

BLM camping in Arizona, and cool rocks.

I have to say we are having the time of our lives down here. I had always questioned the whole snowbird thing, go south, somewhere hot, play golf and hang around a swimming pool. Besides, I really hate the heat anyways. This year to avoid the dreadful storms along the Oregon coast that we experienced last year, we decided to go inland a bit, then a bit more and suddenly found ourselves down in Arizona.  Last year we stuck to the coast to avoid the freezing temps, our RV is older and not set up for really cold temps. This year the weather was good in early November, so we cautiously went down through Nevada, closely watching temperatures and elevations.  We took 95, which  runs down a long valley with mountains on both sides. Essentially high desert. We did not spend as much time as we would have liked to, as we were trying to stay ahead of a storm that was bringing colder weather. (Perhaps next year we will hit this area earlier).  Arizona is lower in elevation, and further south, and so warmer.  Even where we are (near Quartzite) it gets down close to freezing at night.

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We have also been staying out in the desert on BLM land. It is free and the views cannot be beat. Most of Nevada and Arizona are public land, and we have an APP, that shows is where BLM land is. Also signage usually indicates where private land is.  We are self sustained, with 3 solar panels and an inverter to convert the power to ac power. SO if our water tank is full, we can actually spend several days out in the desert quite comfortably.

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I had never really understood the beauty of the desert, but I realize it is more than something a picture can take. I am not even sure I can describe it in words. I guess it is one of those “you had to be there” things.  I would have to say “solitude” would enter into the descriptive terms.

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What has led us out here, has been the search of rocks, but we still love the days even when we find nothing.  We have “THE BOOKS”, rockhounding in _______.  You can get one for each state (and province by the way).  They give descriptions of places to find certain “gems”.  Then they describe how to get there. Usually they are at best vague, and at worst misleading. HOWEVER that just adds to the fun. I am up every morning studying the books, and have 3 different map types on my iPad. Oddly enough, often the RV camping app has the best maps.  Oh and google earth as well.

So I start with a place that is interesting, then I have to figure out if we can get there. Our RV is not a 4 wheel drive, although we do get as far away from the main roads as we can. THEN WE WALK, or cycle to get to the designated places that most people take ATVs or 4 wheel drives. WE GET MORE EXERCISE, and find more rocks on the way  TO the designated places.

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We likely also see more of the wild burros when walking. They were apparently let loose by  prospectors who had run into bad times or other issues….and they have multiplied out in the desert over the many years. I wish I could get a better picture of them.

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There is so much about all of this type of travel that I have found hard to find the info I wanted, so thought I would write a bit about it.

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The sun has just come over the nearest hill, so I had better get to the books and plan today out.