Back In The Desert And Lovin’ It

Ok, it’s only been three days since our last post, so why are we adding more ones and zeros to the digital universe so soon? Firstly, the good news (well secondly and thirdly, it’s all good news…) our dear granddaughter, Georgia, got a special Boxing Day gift this year – the successful surgical removal of her appendix!  And she is now resting at home, doing great – yeah Georgia! What a Christmas surprise for her, her sister, Isabella, and dear parents, Kevin & Valerie, with a whole lot of stress release now that it’s all over.

A view from Lake Havasu State Park of the man-made lake, with the mountains behind.

As noted in our last post, Betty & I spent most of Christmas week at Lake Havasu State Park. Within the park is a beautiful little garden where all the native Arizona plants and trees are labelled, for easy reference. On Christmas day we enjoyed a peaceful walk through the park, and up a small hill to a great view of Lake Havasu, the nearby community, and the mountains beyond.

Betty & Charlie pass a Jumping Cholla in this charming little garden.
Prickly Pear, Saguaro, and Organ Pipe Cactus were all featured in this garden.
Here’s a bigger prickly pear – common throughout Arizona.
Various forms of the Mesquite tree are also common throughout Arizona.
Betty & Charlie enjoy the view from the hill overlooking the park’s garden.
On the centre left of the pic, you will see Betty & Charlie making their way down the steep path to the botanical garden.
Pic of another great sunset on Christmas day, taken from our campground at Lake Havasu City, Arizona

On the drive back to Quartzsite yesterday, we passed the magnificent Emerald Canyon Golf Course, north of Parker, Arizona. Labelled “The Jewel in the Desert” this 18 hole course, overlooking the Colorado River, features brilliant green tee boxes, fairways and greens, all nestled into a rugged, otherwise arid landscape. Truly spectacular!

Such an odd sight to see: A gorgeous, lush course in the middle of a desert!
An Emerald Canyon Golf Course fairway. I would love to play this course with brother-in-law Jack, and son Andrew, and promise not to drive over Andrew with the golf cart again. lol
View from my spot at the driving range: How could one not feel mellow?
Looking down the driving range tee spots, on a not-too-busy day. The mountain range is lit up by the sun in the background.

Having purchased a new set of clubs in Florida last winter, and having taken golf lessons last spring, I was very aware of the “use it or lose it” effect: If you don’t develop muscle and mental memory, it’s difficult to stay in the swing of things.

One of the course putting greens. My ball found the hole much more often than usual. Another practice green is designed for chipping.

We didn’t have time to pull in for a round of 18 or even 9 holes on this fabulous course, but were able to take a couple of hours for Betty to set up her sewing machine in the parking lot, while I knocked out a few buckets of balls on the amazingly beautiful driving range.

Another breathtaking view of the driving range. One normally doesn’t see this much grass in Arizona!

So we are back in the same desert spot in Quartzsite we vacated on Monday, and are now setting up for a longer stay. I’m sure there will be many more stories to tell about this magical place, but wanted to get this post up before the accumulated pictures got out of hand.

Just another sunset last night, over the hills beyond our campsite in the desert.

While the common image of a desert is of a barren, desolate space, so far Betty & I have experienced the warm embrace of neighbours in our corner of the La Posa West Long Term Visitor Area. Yes, we’re back in the desert and lovin’ it!


Two wylie cayotes were carved into stumps in the Lake Havasu State Park garden.
We think they were after this roadrunner, which we captured on our drive through Lake Havasu City. BEEP, BEEP!
So this isn’t the roadrunner or coyote on our grill. It’s our non-traditional Christmas dinner of two inch thick Edes Meat Market rib eye steak, potatoes, and asparagus. Cheers!

Merry Christmas From Lake Havasu!

A Christmas selfie from Betty, Charlie & Graham to you, with love.

Well this is different. For the first time in 40 years Betty & I are celebrating Christmas without our family. It is also the first Christmas where we are sitting outside in the Arizona sun, without a hint of snow in the air or on the ground. Like the character Tevye in “Fidler On The Roof” we are a family steeped in tradition, and are definitely not accustomed to breaking all those customs. This is very different!

Our Lake Havasu State Park campsite (#11) is $35./night for 50 amp service & water. The lakeside campground is within the city limits.

Yes, we enjoyed some FaceTime with our family a couple of days ago, while they joined together for the traditional Chinese food pre-Christmas meal. And Betty & I did get our annual FaceTime with the Queen today, as she delivered her Christmas message. (Note to our kids, in case you missed it: I saved a copy on our VCR, so you can see it when you come down to Phoenix for a belated Christmas celebration next month. lol)

We are as close to London Bridge today as the Queen was, back in the day – when the bridge was actually in London… The bridge is decorated for the season, but we haven’t seen it lit up at night yet.

In the meantime, we truly miss this traditional time with each of our kids and grandkids, especially our dear granddaughter, Georgia, who had to spend a very non-traditional Christmas eve night and part of Christmas day in Winnipeg’s Children’s Hospital as she prepares for surgery to have her appendix removed tomorrow! Here’s expecting another great story to tell about a very memorable Christmas, and a most unique Boxing Day present!

We saw Santa hanging out on one of the poles in downtown Lake Havasu City. Given the absence of snow, it was definitely NOT the North Pole. lol

While the Christmas carols we sang at church on Sunday were traditional, the church itself was far from it. We were still on BLM land at Quartzsite, with very few structures in the desert. On Sundays, the picnic shelter doubles as a church, and it was in that outdoor space that we sang “Oh Come All Ye Faithfull” and other favourites, led by a cowboy preacher in the appropriate hat and boots.

Heavily laden orange tree, decorated Christmas tree, two palm trees and a cactus: Not a Winnipeg scene.

 We have no room for a Christmas tree in our motorhome, and Christmas decorations are few and far between, except for the ornaments we passed on this Lake Havasu City tree, which was next to a fully loaded orange tree, which was in front of two palm trees and a thriving cactus. You don’t see that every day in Winnipeg. lol 

Another view of that front-yard orange tree in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

Yes, this is all very different. But the reason for the season remains the same. We hope to be reunited with our family again on FaceTime later today, and pray that we and you can enjoy a very happy Christmas and wonder-filled new year!  

A nutcracker salutes as we pass by on McCullough Drive in Lake Havasu City yesterday.


O come, all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant
O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem
Come and behold Him
Born the King of Angels!

O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

O come, all ye faithful
O come, all ye faithful
O come, all ye faithful to Bethlehem
O come, all ye faithful
O come, all ye faithful
O come, all ye faithful to Bethlehem

Oh, sing, choirs of angels
Sing in exultation
Oh, come, oh come ye to Bethlehem
Come and behold Him
Born the King of Angels

O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
Christ the Lord…”

After a day of unusual grey skies and drizzle, the clouds have rolled away to reveal dramatic mountains across the lake from our campsite. A true masterpiece!

Quirky Quartzsite – Off The Beatnik Path

Some one-of-a-kind places just defy easy description. Yesterday Betty & I returned to one of them. Quartzsite, Arizona is a most quirky community that has to be seen and felt to be believed. We came for two weeks on the first leg of our overlandish odyssey, and decided that we should try a longer stay, now that we have solar panels and lithium batteries to keep us powered up in the desert. It became a major destination for the current leg of our adventure. Arriving yesterday, we are still getting acclimatized again, and have much, much more to experience in this off-the-beatnik-path wonderland. But I thought I’d provide another brief introduction.

As we pulled into one of the long-term visitor areas, a sweet couple of volunteers greeted us and provided a map, long-term camping brochure, visitor guide, and permit that allows us to camp on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land until April 15, 2020 for a total of $180. So if one were to stay here for the full 7 months a year, that works out to less than $1./day!
The campground hosts attached stickers to our car and motorhome that allow us to dump our waste tanks and refill our freshwater at no extra charge.
The campground host attached stickers to our car and motorhome that allow us to dump our waste tanks, refill our freshwater and use the dumpsters as needed (Betty would say PRN. lol) at no extra charge.
We pulled off the road and parked in the desert among this scrub yesterday. There are large & small holes in the ground everywhere, but we’re just not sure who’s living there yet…
Here is a view of our “campsite” from a different angle. There are many, many acres of BLM land on which to park, relax & enjoy the fresh air and spectacular views.
Betty took Charlie for an early morning walk, before the sun got too hot. Even though we watched tv last night, left lights on inside & out all night, and made coffee this morning (with freshly burr-ground beans, of course), our batteries returned to 100% charged before noon. No generator required!
These are some fellow long-term campers, in a more congested section of long-term visitor BLM land, just south of Quartzsite, Arizona.
We took a drive today to some of the free camping areas on BLM land around Quartzsite. This one to the west is called “Dome Rock”. No assigned parking: Just choose your preferred view.
Most people have at least one solar panel. This camper has at least 9 large panels to keep his coach energized!
At Quartzsite, RVs come in all shapes and sizes. Here’s another combination.
Hey ass – get off the road! Betty & I encountered a number of wild donkeys before we left Lake Pleasant. At Quartzsite, one also never quite knows what you are about to see in this quirky community. More later…


Most Pleasant Lake Pleasant

“Stay, ah just a little bit longer…”

Just one of the 360 degree views at our Gilbert Ray site.

As Betty & I traverse the continent on this overlandish odyssey, it can be accurately noted that we are continuing to learn as we go. Prior to our departure in December, 2017, I mapped out a 5-year plan that would take us to 48 states and 10 provinces, keeping us at moderate temperatures throughout the journey. We are now at the end of our second year, having already visited 37 states and 6 provinces. It is definitely time to slow down!

The road north from our campground lead through Saguaro National Park – an amazing cactus forest.

Our return visit to Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson was planned as a 2 day stop, rather than 3, but the Maricopa County web site for Lake Pleasant campgrounds near Phoenix didn’t allow for next day booking, and site A56 at the Tucson area park was as stunning as we remembered it from our earlier visit, so we stayed a little bit longer.

Cacti of all shapes and sizes bordered our route.

And our stay at Lake Pleasant was to be 3 days, rather than 5. While our first site (#139) in Desert Tortoise Campground was a large spot in a small cul-de-sac jutting out into the lake, the parking pad was steeply sloped and it was impossible to level our coach.

#139 at Lake Pleasant was a beautiful site, with a far from level parking area.

After a nice visit with our neighbours from Bracebridge, Ontario, Betty & I scouted other sites, and found a beautiful spot in Roadrunner Campground (#23). We set up and realized that it has one of the most amazing views of any campsite so far!

Betty & Charlie sit before a dramatic view of Lake Pleasant.

So we’ve booked it for another couple of days at $32./night, including water, 50 amp service, a solid picnic table & shelter, and a fire ring – And you can’t beat that view!

We are enjoying a most pleasant stay in site #23 of Roadrunner Campground.

We are learning to be more fluid in our travel planning, and to sit back and enjoy the great spots and fine weather when we find them. Here’s hoping that your journey through life can also have its most pleasant moments, and you can stay in them just a little bit longer.

Shouldn’t we stay just a little bit longer?


“Stay, ah just a little bit longer,
Please, please, please, please, please,
Tell me that you’re going to

Now your Daddy don’t mind,
And your Mommy don’t mind,
If we have another dance, yeah,
Just one more, one more time.

Oh won’t you stay, just a little bit longer,
Please let me hear you say that you will
Say you will..”

Songwriter: Cedric Allen Williams

Another sunset – time to go… Cheers!

Return To The Big Frickin Cactus

One of the sensational sentinels overlooking our site (#A56 at Gilbert Ray, near Tucson, Arizona).

If you remember back to Betty’s daily exclamation at Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson Mountain Park (March 2018), there were a lot of very tall dramatic cacti keeping watch around our motorhome. Well, we’re back in Tucson, and in fact parked again in site A56 beside the same supersized succulent: A frickin big cactus! 

The same supersized succulent beside our bedroom window that caused Betty’s exclamations early last year.

Our westward journey from Monahans Sandhills State Park included overnight stops in El Paso, Texas and Wilcox, Arizona, with some awesome scenery along Interstate 10 through New Mexico. Rather than driving straight to Tucson, we veered south to the old wild west town of Tombstone, site of the shoot-out at the OK Corral and tons of western memorabilia.   

We met Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and his brothers on the main street of Tombstone, before their infamous shoot-out in the Ok Corral.

Tombstone had been a silver mining town, but tourism now appears its major industry. A number of blocks are dedicated to western wear, western jewellery, saloons, gun fights, and all things glorifying the old wild west. Coach rides are available up and down the dusty streets.

Doc Holliday shoots at the “bad guy” cowboys in this re-enactment.

Betty & I watched a re-enactment of the gunfight at the OK Corral, along with a film and animated set depicting the history of the town. We took a stroll down the board sidewalks and peeked into a few shops. Fortunately, as full-timers in a tiny house, we were not tempted to add any bric-a-brac or other mementos to our current collection.

Betty goes buggy in Tombstone.
…and takes a fast ride. That’s no bull!

We drove the long way around to Tucson, intending to stay on BLM land to the west of the city. Arriving at dusk, we took our life (and our home on wheels) in our hands, driving off-road into a large tract of land dotted with RVs of all shapes and sizes. Following a dirt path through the scrub brush, we came to a small clearing that appeared perfect for our motorhome and Smart. This was to be our free home base for the next couple of days!

We took a stroll down Tombstone’s dusty main street yesterday.

Shortly after pulling in, a lady drove up and warned us that the spot where we had parked was a spongy patch of burnt orange clay (She had a technical term for the type of clay, but we had never heard of it). If we stayed, we might find our rig sinking down to the point where a tow truck would be needed to get us out. Just getting into the site was a very risky proposition, and getting out seemed like it could be even more treacherous, with a steep bank that was partly eroded by a recent rain.  We just had to laugh at our improbable situation as I gunned the motor to extricate us from the potential quagmire. 

The layered views around Tucson are truly amazing!

Thanks to our guardian angel, we moved on to solid ground at Gilbert Ray Campground, as it was then too dark to scout out other free parking. Even though we don’t need the 30 amp electrical service that comes with our site, the $20./ night charge is worth it for the amazing views provided at the site. 

Betty & Charlie relax in the afternoon sun.

Betty went for a hike on one of the many trails through Tucson Mountain Park, and I couldn’t stop taking pictures of one great big frickin cactus after another. We still have a couple more days here before heading north to Phoenix, but with so many pics of the perfectly prickly stuff, I just needed to put up a post.

Many, many succulent sentinels mark the path to our campsite at this Tucson area campground.


Wyatt Earp and his brothers blast away during the gunfight at the OK Corral.
Another view of Tombstone’s main street.
Walter Brennan was one of the many Hollywood stars to get in on the act.
As usual, Betty checks the post prior to publishing, as Charlie rests at her feet.
At dusk, our flowers sit on the picnic table, with a dramatic backdrop.
Ok, the sun is finally setting, so it’s time to end this post. Cheers!

Westward Ho

“Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas
With Waylon and Willie and the boys
This successful life we’re livin’
Got us feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys
Between Hank Williams’ pain songs and
Newberry’s train songs and Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain
Out in Luckenbach, Texas ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain.”

Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas. If you can find it…

Ok, Waylon Jennings sang a catchy tune that made Betty & I look for this small town near picturesque Fredericksburg, Texas. When we arrived at our Harvest Host destination – the Messina Hof Winery – we asked the staff for directions. Turns out the road we took from San Antonio through Texas Hill Country passed by Luckenbach, so I guess we blinked and missed it. lol

Betty chats with other visitors to one of Fredericksburg’s wineries.

Since travelling far enough south to avoid the cold that seemed to chase us all the way from Canada, Betty & I are now westward ho, to our winter destination in Arizona.

One last day on the beach before our journey westward.

After taking one last visit to the beaches of North Padre Island and Mustang Island, we headed inland to San Antonio, where we had an appointment at Iron Horse RV to repair the leak in our fresh water tank, and replace our now-destroyed microwave oven.

We spent a couple of days and nights with the kind folk at Iron Horse RV, in San Antonio, while they worked on our coach.

It turned out the leak was just a matter of tightening a loose connection – no parts required. Yeah! But our microwave was another story. The old oven had won the battle when Betty & I tried to remove it, but it was no match for Iron Horse super technician, Tony, who removed it and replaced it with a new more energy efficient convection/ microwave/ grill that looks like it has always been there. No small feat for this odd-sized space! Tony was also able to seal up an unnecessary vent that did nothing but channel cold air into our coach whenever the temperature outside dropped.

Our new microwave/ convection/ grill oven looks like it’s always been there!

There are a number of wineries in Texas Hill Country, and Betty & I were able to sample and purchase a selection of Messina Hof Winery tasty offerings, before crashing for the night in their parking lot.

The Messina Hof Winery participates in the Harvest Host program, so we had a quiet night in their lot after sampling a variety of local Texas wines.
From Corpus Christi westward to El Paso, we have passed beaches, plains, hill country, mountains, plateaus and an odd assortment of bumps on the earth.

We marvelled at the wide range of terrain as we travelled west, with the next night spent in a dirt lot adjacent to the Fort Stockton Walmart. For the last couple of days we have been thoroughly enjoying camping in the dunes of Monahans Sandhills State Park, but are now headed west toward El Paso.

Our campsite (#21) at Monahans Sandhills State Park, was surrounded by fine grain sand dunes. It included 50 amp service, water, a picnic table & shelter for $15./ night.
A family enjoys sledding down one of the many hills. They look like snow sleds, but that’s not snow!…
While it was not windy at Monahans Sandhills State Park, the fine sand shifted enough each night to capture fresh tracks from a wide range of insects, reptiles, and animals.

As we head west, this may be our last day in the everything’s bigger state of Texas. It’s been a great adventure so far, and there ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain.

The main street of Fredericksburg, a suburb of Luckenbach (lol).


We didn’t stay in Fredericksburg for the Christmas parade that night, but some people had their chairs ready for it early in the day.
You need to angle park your pick-up truck on the main street of Fredericksburg, a town populated by German immigrants.
We had picked up some flowers, and finally got our sign out at Monahans Sandhills State Park. Cheers and Westward Ho!