From the desert to the forest with a THING in between

We headed out of Tucscon bright and early on Sat morning (well, noonish), with a well-stocked fridge after stopping at Whole Foods for a monster stock-up. We were ready to get a little remote again after a week of the city and urban camping.

We made the required stop at THE THING as we crossed Arizona. The last time I was there was with my MIL Cheryl almost ten years ago, on another grand road trip adventure (two of us RV’ing across the desert all the way to Texas in Sept with no air conditioning – and she still talks to me!).

Jesse is underwhelmed by THE THING

Jesse is underwhelmed by THE THING

Heading into New Mexico, we’ve set up camp in beautiful Gila National Forest. We took off today for a bit of local exploring, and went to visit City of Rocks back in the desert. The rocks were amazing, estimated 30 million year old formation, and the hike was fun though the winds kicked up part way through.

Dan and Jesse on the rocks

Dan and Jesse on the rocks

More rocks

More rocks

 

Yep, more rocks!

Yep, more rocks

When we got back to the forest camp, I took Jesse for another hike (spoiled pooch, who, her???) while Dan worked on setting up our data needs for the week. And now I’m set for work from the national forest!

 

Agua Caliente hike in Tucson

Before heading out at Tucson we managed to find a great hike up in the mountains. Not hard to do considering that it is surrounded by three different ranges. We felt like we hit the jackpot with this one, at Agua Caliente. It is a small trailhead off of a residential street and just came upon via web research.

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Tucson

We packed up on Sat and said goodbye to the beautiful Colorado river. We spent the night near Gila Bend, in the desert, and managed to arrive in the area as the desert exploded into bloom. Yellows, purples, reds, oranges: the variety of color made the landscape come alive.

We went hiking through a wash (dry river bed) that ran for miles, and while I was trying to get over general snake-skittishness – locals were talking about it being a ‘snakey year’ – Jesse was busy sticking her nose in every random hole and chasing rabbits through the brush.  We enjoyed a bonfire with our neighbor Bill, a 3-tour Vietnam veteran and Huey pilot, and got a great dose of history beneath the stars.

While at the river, I started gelling my thoughts on my thesis project, and then promptly met an inspiring woman who gave me some focus on my direction. Bill then also gave me suggestions and insight on my project. I can see that the people that I meet while on the road are going to provide a lot of guidance and refinement on my approach to this project. And I managed to squeeze in a couple of photo sessions 🙂

We arrived in Tucson and are situated in the Monthan-Davis AFB, which has a camp facility but is better described as a fancy KOA. They’re not real big on the idea of roughing it, but the facility is very clean, has a dog park with agility course, and best of all, it’s just a few minutes from downtown Tucson. I did find a cool park to go roaming yesterday, and it’s pretty interesting to mosey through the paths and come across helicopters and planes presented like statues. Here’s an H3.

Helicopters in the park

Helicopters in the park

We headed out for our first night on the town since starting on this adventure, explored the downtown area, and had a fab dinner at a pooch-friendly restaurant (Cup Cafe – delicious). What a fun night!

Be kind mural downtown Tucson

Be kind mural downtown Tucson

Tomorrow we head out hiking after work, and then we’ll be heading out at the end of the week into the Gila National Forest. Happy adventuring! And here are some words of wisdom to take with us on our travels.

Be kind

Be kind

On the Banks of the Colorado River

We arrived Friday night and quickly decided that we wanted to enjoy the million-dollar view of camping right by the bank of the Colorado River. The only ‘gotcha’ – no hook-ups. We decided it was time to test our ability to rely on solar power, and it definitely helps that we have access to move to a hook-up facility in the campsite, if we aren’t able to support charging all of our various devices. And a kindly ranger offered to charge phones for me if needed.

Camping on the banks of the  Colorado River

Camping on the banks of the Colorado River

In preparation for our off-grid work-week, Dan got up on the roof and cleaned the solar panels. They’ve been weird to work with, where it shows 100%, then drops to 70%, back up to 100% and back and forth. So far, the biggest draw on the inverter seems to have been my coffee-maker. No coffee during the week! 🙂

Dan cleaning the solar panels

Dan cleaning the solar panels

After the solar panels, Dan got on a DIY kick and took the various parts of my already-DIY-desk and reconfigured it into a paddle-board cart. So I know have a standup desk/paddleboard cart. I wonder how many different uses we’ll make out of this configuration by the end of the year? One thing that I’m learning, as we’ve downsized from 4 bedroom house to “700 cubic feet” as Dan likes to call our 22 foot palace, AKA Beasite, is that anything that can take on multiple purposes increases in value. Of course, I was doubly pleased as paddleboard carts are selling for $130 in REI, so it appealed to my sense of cheapness, too 🙂

Dan makes a paddleboard cart

Dan makes a paddleboard cart

And then I spent a lovely time paddleboarding on the Colarado River, my first experience on a river. Wow, that current is strong!

We finished up the weekend with a Sunday afternoon hike into the desert to check out the Blythe Intaglios. These were amazing to see, and really gave a sense, out in the middle of the desert on a very hot afternoon (90+), of the peoples who have come before and created life out of the heat and the stone and the sand. Then back to our oasis to get ready for the off-grid work-week.

Blythe Intaglios

Blythe Intaglios (sideways, I know)

 

 

 

 

Paddling on the river

Found this great camp by the Colorado river. If you need hookups, meh, you’re stuck in a field with a bunch of RVs. No hookup? Just us, alone, on the banks of the river. Bah electricity, bring on the solar panels!

Jesse checking out the Colorado river

Jesse checking out the Colorado river

 

 

Puddingstone Lake

While more like an RV resort than regional park (they really really prize their green grass), this made a good transition spot for us, and a last chance to visit with family, do dinners and even a campfire one night. So glad to spend some time with Eva, Daniel and our two fab nieces, Madi and Haillie!

The time change even let me grab an after-work paddleboard one evening, and the hiking/biking trails are A-1. Feeling a lot like summer’s on the way.

Evening paddleboard

Evening paddleboard

We’re Celebrating

Our first month on the road and we’ve had some adventures, some weather, good times with family, and lots of learning and fun. We’re having a great time, and are grateful that we were able to make it work with jobs, house rental, etc.

Here’s to many more!

Backtracking

We revisited our site that we evacuated on Friday morning. That is our road that went to our campsite that’s relocated onto the beach! Along with a bunch of pipes, cables, and other debris. I’m very glad we decided to skedaddle when we did. In hindsight, a very good decision.

Our road relocates to the beach

Our road relocates to the beach

New view of the road out

New view of the road out

Dan and his dad surveying the damage

Dan and his dad surveying the damage

Storm and More Storm

Day three of the epic ‘drenching California’ storm, and we’ve been evacuated from our new campsite, as well. We’ve decided to take to the really high road, and are spending the night inland. Dan spent hours this afternoon at Home Depot getting the items to iron out the rough edges ( 🙂 ) and I scored gold with a Whole Foods run. More gold at the end of the rainbow… Tomorrow, back to the coast and hope the weather cooperates. Dan’s dad and step-mom are going to join us, too.

Happy Saturday!