Mojave Snowbird Trip – Wet Desert

The forecast couldn’t make its mind up over the last few days, would there be rain, when, maybe…

It did start to rain at sunset on the 14th and rained lightly on and off all night, I awoke to a very different desert

Foggy Sonoran Desert

The rain got harder as the morning went on, judging by the amount in the cup holders of the cooler we got about 3/4″ (great rain gauge!)

View from the caravan door after the fog cleared.
My ditch scheme worked quite well.
Perhaps I should have extended the ditches a little further.

The rain slowed down later in the afternoon so it was time to go for a walk.

Quite a lot of water about and some nice little streams flowing, Biff seemed bemused by it all and sat down several times requiring a biscuit to move again.
You could almost hear the desert plants sucking up the moisture.
Some nice flowers about

The rain stopped while we were walking and by sunset the desert had returned to sunshine, we are promised sun and a high of 68F tomorrow.

Mojave Snowbird Trip – Colorado River

I was having a lazy day but Biff has a way of letting me know he’s ready to do something

The camping web sites mention numerous places to camp right by the Colorado River but also talk about homeless people and litter, I thought I’d take a look anyway. We drove down the Arizona side of the Colorado River south for about 15 miles. There were quite a lot of places to camp and almost no people, the first few sites at the north end nearest Blythe had some glass and other litter but a few miles downstream they were fine. They were not as interesting as the desert sites though because the ground was covered with brush and a lot of dead trees. The Arizona side of the river is not farmed at all but the California side has continuous farms growing cotton and lettuce.

Colorado River, looking upstream, North.
Colorado River looking upstream from the Cibola Bridge, there are several parks on the California side as well as the farms.

Mojave Snowbird Trip – Dome Rock Road

Biff had an easy morning.

I decided to head over to Quartzsite to check out the scene but Biff needed walking first so I stopped at another potential camping area, Dome Rock Road. There was nothing special about the camping there and the phone signal was weak so I crossed that one off my list. We found a canyon on the north side of the interstate and after driving up it a way took to our feets.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Saguaro cactus skeleton before.

We walked up the canyon for about a mile and half, passing many mine claims, there were a couple of people working claims at the bottom of the canyon, I assume they are looking for gold.

Saguaro – over 70 years old since it has arms.
This Ocotillo had all red leaves, presumably they are about to fall.
The top of the canyon was a pass into the next valley west, it looked quite green, in a desert sort of way.

As I was walking back down the canyon I looked around at the slopes, they were covered in cholla cacti, not a Joshua Tree in site. At that point I began to realize that I was actually in the Sonoran Desert rather than the Mojave, oops. Saguaro and Ocotillo are more common in the Sonoran and the absence of Joshua Trees is a giveaway.

Looking east down the canyon, not a Joshua Tree to be seen.
A Chain Cholla just about to flower, don’t think I’ve seen that before either.

After the hike I drove into Quartzsite, the traffic was backed up on the freeway ramp and then it started to rain, so I just drove through town and back to camp. There are going to be too many people in Quartzsite for me!

Less crowded back at camp.
Biff found a dead Ocotillo which proved resistant to shredding but he carried it for about a mile.

Mojave Snowbird Trip – Ehrenberg Day One

I didn’t get moved along by the CHP and the truck traffic on US95 wasn’t loud enough to disturb my sleep, or Biff’s, though it would have to be a parade of 747s to do that! A quick 80 miles south got me to Blythe, California and another mile across the Colorado River into Arizona. There are a number of boondocking sites and a nice state park on the river but the free places have a reputation for occupation by homeless people and criminal activity and the state park is $40/night. I had watched a video of somebody finding a camp spot on the Ehrenberg-Cibola Road and it looked good. It’s a wide open barren place for sure with a lot of campers, but there is so much space that I would estimate the distance between each rig averages 400-500 feet, certainly that is how close the nearest rig to The Caravan is. It was 65F when we arrived, it felt much hotter.

Biff explored the sunny side, on the shady side there is an area of sand (dust) which will be more comfortable for him.
The view from the Caravan door, looking north pretty much, long way to the nearest rigs over there.
View to the east from The Caravan
To the south of the camp spot is a shallow wash that is home to many ocatillo, this one has leaves and flowers.
Ocatillo flowers
There are quite a few plants flowering, they have to get it over early in the year as it can reach 120F here in the summer.
Biff and I walked a couple of miles south of camp which is up on top of the lighter bank in the middle, we are about a half mile back from the edge.
We were treated to a beautiful sunset. The shaded area in the middle is the shadow of The Caravan, the sun was right on the horizon behind us.

I’m not sure how long we will stay here, certainly over the weekend, perhaps for 10 days. Sadly the Verizon phone signal is not that great, AT&T is good but I don’t have as much data on that plan, I need to be able to stream Luton Town’s games!

Mojave Snowbird Trip – Chemehuevi Mountains

The what mountains? Amazing how many unknown places there are down here in the Mojave, I stopped on a gravel patch next to US95 and discovered these!

It was so nice at Sand Mine Road this morning I had a hard time leaving and almost stayed another day, but I have a couple of weeks and can get further south with that much time so off I went. The drive through Lake Mead National Recreation Area is fantastic, if you like barren rocky desert with rocky mountains, which I do. I definitely need to get back there and explore a lot more. My intended destination was the Dead Mountains, the BLM web site showed a single camp site north of the wilderness area along a dirt road. What they didn’t say is that the road is really a narrow sandy two track unsuitable for The Caravan. I pushed on trying to find another boondocking spot but there was nothing close, I ended up continuing on south of Needles on US95 and pulled over in the gravel spot.

Biff and I went for a short walk around camp to see what could be found, I found cactus and succulents, he had other interests…

This barrel cactus was about 3 feet tall, no cactus in Wayne County gets that tall (because of the cold)
Biff’s interests were more edible than mine , though he buried this one for later. He also picked up a cactus skeleton and somewhat bemused by it.
A very healthy Ocotillo, about 15 feet tall with the central canes being about 2″ wide.
Ocotillos only get their leaves after a rainfall though they can keep them quite a long time. Most of the time they look like dead sticks standing up in the desert.
The ‘deadly’ Cholla, the pieces jump off and attach themselves firmly to whatever they touch, it is very painful to remove them.
I believe that the little ‘crown’ in the middle of the picture is where the last fruit was, but it could also be the beginning of a flower (experts?)
Some cactus just love rock gardens, these two were about 9″ tall.
Even the normally bedraggled creosote bushes were putting on a show.