Thursday, April 9, 2020

Greetings from Quarantine

It was recently brought to my attention that my last blog post was way back...
just shortly after leaving Las Vegas.

So much water has gone under the bridge since those days it seems
hard to believe that it really was not all that long ago.

I think when I look back upon my blog in years to come, that posts before this one
might be "before the pandemic" and this one and those to follow are "after".

Only time will answer that, and I hope that I am wrong.

But since I left you hanging in limbo,  let's bring you up to date, shall we?

After 6 days of boodocking at the Lone Tree BLM area, we headed about 90 miles
south back to our old haunts outside of Quartzsite.

This time we tried something a bit different and found some empty desert at the
Hi-Jolly BLM area.

Normally during the show - it is way too crowded here since it is closer to town.
But since the show was over we were able to find a nice spot
next to a wash with green trees off on our driver side.

Quartzsite Hi-Jolly
A paraglider flying in and out provided us with a visual diversion.

We spent two nights at Hi-Jolly, had a nice visit from Stan & Marilyn, and then
were back on the road for a 3 hour trip to Lake Roosevelt east of Phoenix.

Enroute we stopped at Costco in Scottsdale to provision.

The route up into the Superstition Mountains on Az 87 is quite pretty.

Az 87 
Dropping down into the Tonto Basin we headed south on Az 188 and
crossed over the Lake Roosevelt Bridge.

We passed Jim & Kristi along the way and they took the photo of us
crossing the bridge below.

Soon we were parked in the USFS Windy Hill Campground on Lake Roosevelt.

Windy Hill Campground, Lake Roosevelt
Since our last time here, they have changed to a screwy systems of
reservations and double fee sites.

Without going into details - they new system is confusing, cumbersome, and
eliminates about 1/2 of the sites that they call "doubles"
It seems they took a site, put two picnic tables on it and now charge twice
the normal rate and do not offer the Senior Pass discount on it.

Not sure what the forest service is thinking but if their objective was to
eliminate about 70% of the paying winter customers....
Mission accomplished.

We stayed about 10 days and had the entire campground to ourselves the whole time.

Below looking at our group parked in Chipmunk loop:

On the left side is Kate/Me, Jim/Kristi, then Ron/Maxine.

On the right:  Kevin/Bobbi  then Rob/Pat

Windy Hill Chipmunk Loop Lake Roosevelt
I got up early and enjoyed a quiet sunrise and moonset.

The days fell into a predictable pattern.
Every morning we took a couple of mile walk

Afternoons were happy hours outside in the sun.

Or inside if too chilly

Happy Hour at Ron & Maxines Bus
 One afternoon we headed across the road to the Tonto National Monument
and their cliff dwellings.

The spring poppies were putting on a great show!

Tonto National Monument

Our 10 days flew by and at the end of the month we had to head home.
It was time to start thinking about getting ready for our trip to England as we would be
gone for about 7 months or so.

Arriving home we had lots of appointments scheduled.
Physicals, dentists, etc etc.

We fell into our "at home rhythm"

Morning hikes around Dove Mountain...
And all sorts of wildlife encounters:

Several days we had a herd of Javelinas blocking the trail.
A quick shout or two at them gets them moving out of the way.

Sunsets every evening.

Always nice - always different.

The warmth is bringing the reptiles back out.
Below is our first Gila Monster of the season.

More Javelinas on the trail.

And Rotisserie Chicken on the New Grill.

The flowers are starting to bloom in the backyard

Mexican Bird of Paradise
The heaving pruning that I did when we first got home seems to have made
all the plants very happy and they've come back with a vengeance.

We've had two rattlesnakes block our way.
This one was on the road as we were walking up the shoulder.

Another one on the trail.

The Ocotillo are starting to bloom.

Sometime about a week after we got back home, it became evident that this Coronavirus
thing was going to be a bit of a problem.

We started to cancel all of our appointments so as to keep ourselves healthy, still holding onto
the hope that it would blow by and we'd be able to continue with our plans.

As the days moved on and cruise lines started to "pause" operations it became
evident that it was only a matter of time before I plans went down the tubes, so I
shifted to a plan to stay safe at home.

Needless to say - Cunard cancelled our April 25 sailing and we are hunkered down
at home in Arizona.

Fortunately I moved early and we are provisioned well and keeping safe and healthy.

So my days have been filled recently with cancelling all the plans that made up our trip.

Its sad to know that this years plan is over, 
but I can't dwell on it as there are many people
who have much bigger problems than ours.

As for the future...  Who knows.   
We're taking it day by day as I am sure you are too.

We have plans for next summer to try and make it to England again.
We are already booked on the Queen Mary 2 for April 2021, and so if we dont
have the same problems next spring perhaps we can pick up where we left off this year.

Meanwhile...  let's see what the next few weeks and months bring.
Perhaps we can salvage something of this summer yet.

Meanwhile - stay safe everyone.
Stay healthy.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Las Vegas and beyond

In my last update we had just arrived in Las Vegas.
Our primary reason for coming here was to see Rob & Pats Daughter compete
in The Las Vegas Shoot.

The Shoot is a major archery tournament with competitors from all over the world
competing for both the prize money and bragging rights.
Over 4,000 competitors were here!
The Venue at the Southpoint Hotel and Casino spanned half a dozen
halls and arenas with several hundred archers competing at one time in each hall.

This was our first time ever attending an archery competition and it was quite
a new experience.

First was the hundreds of people walking about the hotel carrying bows and arrows.

Archers in the Southpoint Hotel & Casino

The nex thing that I noticed was the sound.   
With dozens of arrows hitting the targets each second, the constant "thud" "thud" "thud" 
of the arrows striking their targets sounded like a massive pillow fight.

R&P's Daughter Amanda is quite the expert.
Although she was not happy with her results - she was quite amazing.
Racking up 14 bulleyes and scores that would make most bow hunters jealous!

Amanda takes aim at The Las Vegas Shoot

Each archer shoots 3 arrows per round.
10 rounds per match.
In between each round the archers move up to the targets and score their neighbors target.

Archers scoring the targets
Below - another of the competitions taking place.
There is no difference between Professional & Amateur - Man or woman.
Everyone competes in the same competition - highest score winning.

No stop in Las Vegas would be complete without a visit to our favorite Doodlewash
in the whole world...
The Barking dogs self wash.

R&P brought Oliva along so we had a rub a dub - 3 doodles in the tub party!

Olivia gets dried

Lucy getting soaped

Lucy discusses the situation with me
One day Rob & I took a drive north to Overton to check out a possible
boondocking location for future reference.

Along the way - driving thru the Lake Mead National Recreation Area we passed by
a hot spring in the desert and stopped to check it out.

Below - the view from the springs back towards Lake Mead in the distance

Of course when in Vegas - one must visit the strip and the hotels.
Even if you are a non-gambler like us - this town has a magical quality
that really comes out at night.

Its a gigantic Disneyland.

Excalibur Hotel

New York New York Hotel

Paris Hotel
Kate poses inside Bellagio Hotel where they had a Chinese New Year Display

Bellagio Chinese New Year arrangements
We arrived just in time to see the water show at Mandalay Bay.
Its fun to see in the day - but at night it's really special!

Here is a video of the water show that I took.

They say that all good things must come to and end but I don't believe that...
I believe that all good things change to new good things, and following that
belief - on Monday we said Adios Las Vegas and were back on the road.

Our next stop was at the Lone Tree BLM Dispersed Camping area.
We are parked on top of a bluff with decent views in all directions.

Lone Tree BLM
We are parked at the far end, center, in the above picture.
Rob & Pat are parked next to us creating our own little protected area.

About 15 miles from Lake Havasu - it was a good location for us to stay while
we took in the annual "Winter Blast"

The Winter Blast is basically a trade show for vendors of fireworks.
All of those fancy fireworks shows that you see on July 4th have their origins at shows
like this were vendors from around the world come and show off their newest and greatest.

The show covers 4 days - Thursday thru Sunday.
Saturday is the largest demonstration.
Thursday was pretty much a dud and Friday was a great show.

Two of the shells from Friday Night.
Below these shells cascaded down like a waterfall.
The colors must have hung in the air for 40 seconds.

Havasu Winter Blast 2020   Friday night

The shell below looked like a grove of Palm Trees.

Havasu Winter Blast 2020   Friday night
On Saturday night we were back to our carefully selected viewing position and so
were the crowds.   While the previous 2 days had been busy - Saturday was a in a whole
different class.

The desert washes on the east side of the road was loaded with RV's and people
of all shapes and sizes.

Getting ready for the show

From dusk till about 7:30 the "amateurs" have the show.
Members of the Western Pyrotechnic Association who are not professional
fireworks makers - but still have skill in creating these rockets - have a go at
showing off their own creations.

"Amateur" fireworks display
As you can see above - some are quite unique and beautiful.

Also - there are some "Duds"
Just before the photo below - there was a large explosion in the launch area.
A huge boom, and mushroom cloud rose up.

A few minutes later - the below fireball erupted.
My assumption was the boom was a dud that just exploded rather than taking off,
and the fireball below was a second that also failed to take flight.

A dud explodes on the launch site
The WPA takes great pains to create a safe environment, and the rockets are lauched
remotely - so I assume there was no danger from these failed rockets.

Later - the professional show resumed:

Beautiful firework at Havasu Winter Blast
Some of the shells were multiple rockets with numerous blasts from each.

Havasu Winter Blast - Multiple

Soon the show was over and we headed home.
The event is well worth attending, and should you find yourself in the area during
mid February I'd recommend it highly.

Just leave the Doodles at home!

Today we hit the road again for a short ride to Quartzsite and a more quiet location.
Then in a few days we'll hook up with the gang up in the mountains at
Lake Roosevelt.