You are currently viewing archive for January 2013
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Jim, Esther, Ed and I drove over to the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge. Jim and Esther pull a car with their motor home which Ed got to drive (Jim wanted a chauffeur). The NWR is about 10 miles away the way the crow flies and about 40 miles following the roads. You drive west to California then south crossing back into Arizona by driving over a bridge with the sign "Caution Use at Your Own Risk". We watched a large tractor drive over the bridge so we figured we'd be fine.

One of the main migratory birds that winter here are the Canada Goose. Really didn't need to drive to Arizona to see them.

This is a Burrowing Owl. The Burrowing Owl is becoming endangered as their habitat is easily destroyed. There is a program that relocates the owls moving them to a burrow made from a pail and drainage tube that is buried in the ground. In the wild, the owls use abandoned burrows made by prairie dogs, ground squirrels, etc.

The American Kestrel hovers when it is looking for prey.

Sandhill Cranes also winter here but not in the same numbers we saw at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico. A small number of snow geese also winter here but we didn't see any.


Interesting sign post.

We had been driving along the Colorado River through the refuge seeing only nature and then suddenly on the California side we see these beautiful homes.

A view of Cibola Lake at the end of the refuge.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
This morning we drove into to town to check out Rice Ranch, yet another flea market. Turned out there fewer vendors than we expected but we did manage to buy a few things --- but no rocks.

Rice Ranch market.

Today's adventure is to drive into the desert to look for an old stone chimney. It was not successful but Ed found a geocache and we saw the desert becoming alive.

About a week after a rain the desert starts to turn green. This ocotillo cactus was leafing ... I think it's the first time Ed and I have seen an ocotillo with leaves. Hoping we'll be here long enough to see the little red flowers.

Lots of little green plants are growing up through the rocks giving the desert a green glow.

The name of the cache was "Lone saguaro". Ed walking up the hill to find the cache.

Looking back down at the truck. John is the red dot standing near the larger blue dot (the truck). Carol is a dot near the right of the photo but can be easily mistaken for a plant.

Funky looking saguaro ... I'm sure there's an interesting story if only it could talk.

Golfing in the desert. Every day we see people out on the "golf course". Not sure how many holes there are.

20130202-20130130__MG_3797.JPG I've got your toy. Once again Zaph has stolen one of Caity's toys.

The brisket was wonderful ... so were the accompanying dishes. Definitely worth the wait.

2013/01/29: Trip to the Vet

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Last evening while Ed was cleaning Zaph's ears he noticed that the right ear was fat .... a hematoma. Last summer, Zaph's left ear had a hematoma and that was one of the signs of his low platelet count. We decided that a trip to the vet was in order. There is one veterinarian in La Paz County and luckily he is in Quartzsite. A phone call to the office indicated that it was a first come first service practice and patients were accepted till 11:15 am.

Have you ever read or seen any of the James Herriot stories? As soon as we walked into the veterinary office I felt like I had walked into a James Herriot story. Just about every chair in the waiting room was filled. There were big dogs, little dogs, dogs and cats in carriers and few larger dogs waiting their turn outside. The telephone kept ringing, people came in with interesting requests --- one woman came in with a stray she had picked up in Yuma wanting to know how to find the stray's owners (Quartzsite is 70 miles from Yuma .... don't thing anyone from down there is going to be looking for the dog in Quartzsite.) Ed and Zaph waited outside and chatted with a couple of other golden retriever owners while I sat inside and joined in the "inside" conversation. After waiting for two hours, the waiting room was finally emptying out and it was our turn. The vet quickly and efficiently took a blood sample (fastest yet) and sent us out of the room to wait while the sample was being run. A couple minutes later we were called back into the room .... ooops the vet had put the blood into the incorrect tube and he needed another sample. Took a couple of pokes this time.

Good news, Zaph's platelet count was fine and the rest of the blood work came back normal. Just a hematoma in his ear .... nothing to worry about.

Meanwhile, back at the trailer John had put a brisket on the smoker. Brisket for dinner tomorrow ... six hours of smoking, followed by 12 hours in the roaster at 200F, followed by eight hours resting. Better be tasty.

2013/01/28: Exploring

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today we decided to check out a few more items from the "things to see around Quartzsite book.

The front building is a cabin and the back building is the workshop .... the workshop probably had at least twice the floor space of the cabin.

If you look carefully at the two buildings you can see a difference in the construction. The corners, base, window and door edges are all done in white quartz. Sparkles away when the sun hits it.

After a little geocaching in the area of the cabin, we drove toward a second cabin. The instructions were interesting .... get on the highway and drive west, between mileage marker 11 and 10 watch for a turnoff just past the cut in the rock .... as the traffic speed is 70mph don't slow down and create an accident. Happily, we found a gap in the traffic so we could slow down and pull off. The road was bumpy and went through a wash and continued to bump as it started uphill. Rereading the instructions indicated that we still had quite a way to go and given the deteriorating road conditions we turned back. A few photos of a falling down cabin wasn't worth the risk of damaging the truck.

Back to the highway driving west. Only 10 miles to Blyth, California so that was our next stop. Blyth is bigger than Quartzsite but no Walmart and no Dairy Queen.

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today is the last day of the QIA Gem and Mineral Show. QIA is the Quartzsite Improvement Association and this show only allows vendors whose merchandise is at least 75% minerals or gems. Being the last day it was actually quiet so you could take your time to look at the merchandise and even talk to the vendors. We chatted with one fellow who is from Alaska. A lot of his work is done using walrus bone. Another fellow is from Reno. When I looked at his business card, I noticed a Phd after his name --- he was a doctor of psychology then he became an architect and finally when he retired he started working with gems and designing jewelry.

Zaph enjoyed his shopping trip even though he didn't find his jewel studded color. He did manage to get a lot of attention.

Zaph wasn't sure about this young lady .... she was wearing boots --- how undignified.

After the show we decided to do a little geo-caching and exploring. Out by Tyson wash are these Indian petroglyphs.

Zaph and I enjoyed the view from the top of the cliffs.

Zaph was much braver than me .... he stop by the edge of the cliff.

The other side of the wash had another outcrop of rocks. Here we found some Indian grinding stones.

Ed was fascinated by the clouds. He said he also saw lightning and the weather confirmed thunderstorms in Yuma about 60 miles to the south.

2013/01/26: Rainy Day

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Including last evenings rain, Quartzsite has received more than it's monthly average rainfall. Zaph's water bowl ended up with about an inch of rain water in it, while the "official" weather indicated .77 of an inch --- still enough to beat the monthly average of .58 of an inch.

Locals have told us that the desert will be all green in a week. Many of the cacti type plants lose their leaves to conserve moisture in the plant. After a rain the plants will leaf again.

The minerals in the rocks are more visible when they are wet. A rock in the RV park.

The rain had stopped and we thought we'd go into town to check out the mineral and gem show .... by time we got there it was raining again. As we were in town already, a trip to the dairy queen became the destination followed by a drive. An old mine on Q mountain.

2013/01/25: Shopping

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Quartzsite has a couple of small grocery stores. The couple of times we stopped in we found that the choices were very limited and the prices were high. When you think about it, probably makes sense as there is a huge influx of people in the area. The nearest Walmart is a little over 40 miles from Quartzsite in the town of Parker, so we decided that we would make the trek north and restock our refrigerators. We were happy to find a Safeway across the road from the Walmart. Again, the stores looked like they had been pillaged and plundered and again we should have expected it. Given the traffic going back and forth from Quartzsite to Parker we weren't the only people thinking better deals were to be had in Parker.

The trip was successful as we enjoyed a pretty good lunch at the Crossroads Cafe and purchased everything on our grocery list plus a number of things not on the list. The most amazing part is everything we purchased fit in the refrigerator and cupboards.

It started raining on the drive back to Quartzsite. This is the first rain we really seen since we arrived in Yuma on the 15th of December. Average rainfall for January in Quartzsite is around a half inch, so hopefully this will be the rainfall for the month.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Carol and I took Esther into Quartzsite this morning to show her some of our favorite rock stores and to buy more pendants ..... I have a dozen pendants now hmmmm, wonder if I have enough yet.

This afternoon Ed and I drove out of town to see the Quartzsite Rock Alignment and Intaglios. The area north of Quartzsite was used as training ground for General Patton's troops during WWII. Rocks were laid out in the desert spelling the word Quartzsite followed by an arrow pointing towards the town.

Look closely at the photo and you'll see the first few letters of Quartzsite.

Zaph wasn't impressed with the rock alignment .... maybe that has to do with the fact that he can't read.

A bit further down the road is the Bouse Fisherman Intaglio. It is the outline of a fisherman drawn on the desert floor by ancient Indians, some think it depicts the creation of the Colorado River. We're told that it's better viewed from the air but we didn't have that option.

20130126-20130124__MG_3600 outlined.jpg
This is the same photo as above with lines drawn by Ed to better show the drawing.

Zaph was pretty proud of himself as he helped Ed to find two geocaches --- one by the alignment and one by the intaglios.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Laundry day .... now that was an adventure. The laundry at the RV park consists of two washers and two dryers, so Carol and I decided to cart our laundry into Quartzsite. First sign of how busy the laundry-mat was the parking lot ... luckily someone pulled out so were able to park. Luckily again, I was able to find three washers together then a fourth one freed up; Carol was happy to find six washers in one row. Then it was time to dry the clothes and we realized our luck had run out. Eventually, our wet clothes found its way into dryers. You couldn't walk away from the dryers because you were either waiting for another dryer to open up or you were expected to either add more money or take your clothes out as soon as the dryer finished but you weren't suppose to stand near the dryers because aisle was to be kept clear due to fire regulations. A bit frustrating, but the clothes did get dried, folded and put back into the truck.

Jim and Esther,friends from Oleander Acres, arrived at the RV park today. They weren't sure how to find the park so Carol and I drove out to the highway, led them to the park and showed them where to park their motor home... that was fun. In honor of their arrival the boys smoked chicken pieces ...

not only did the look good they tasted good

Sunrise this morning. It did clear up and we had a beautiful warm sunny day.

2013/01/22: Four Wheeling

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
When we were visiting Lorna on Saturday she asked if we would be interested in going "on a ride" with a group from her park. Of course, the answer was yes. Lorna's son organized a ride where there were free seats in a couple of Polaris Rzrs. For once I didn't have any problems getting Ed up and going at 7:15 am (I know that's not early for most people but it is for Ed). The group met at Lorna's RV park, loaded the quads and razors, and drove about 20 miles to the start of the trail.

We drove through the town of Hope .... thought this sign was a little different than the normal "thank you for visiting sign".

The trip took us up into the hills giving us amazing views.

This group of riders likes to initiate each new rider with "eating of the cactus" ritual. First Terry burned the Cholla cactus to rid it of it's needles. (The fire doesn't actually kill the cactus as they have seen the cacti with new growth the year after it had been burned.) Then he picked a section of cactus and using a knife dug a piece out of the section.

Here I am, chewing on a piece. To me, it tasted a little bitter like really green celery plus it was a little slimy. Apparently, desert survival training teaches people how to eat Cholla cactus. Ed had to eat a piece as well.

Joyce and I scooting along in Joyce's razor.

There were 2 quads, 8 razors and 18 people in our convoy. Here we had stopped to look at the graveyard associated with one the closed mines.

We stopped at a mine where there were a number of remains of buildings. All that remained of this house were the steps and the fireplace / chimney.

Another building at the mine site.

One funky saguaro cactus.


By the end of the day we were all pretty tired. The ride had lasted a little longer than planned as Terry zigged when he should have zagged leading us into a couple of dead ends and circled us around one time. The tired and dirty group stopped at a Mexican restaurant for Taco Tuesday --- ground beef tacos were a dollar a piece. Not bad, dinner for two was only $7 plus tax and tip.

I think Ed had a great time as he is researching razors on the Internet and trying to figure out what we would need to do to enable us to take a razor on our trips.

2013/01/21: Rock Hunting

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Since we arrived in Quartzsite, Carol has been wanting to find a piece of white quartz to take home, so we decided that today is the day to go in search of white quartz. The map of the Kofa NWR showed a spot called Crystal Hill that had the notation of "collection area". We decided that this was the place to go. The road into the area was gravel and in pretty good shape. Several cars passed us heading out as we were driving in. We knew he had arrived when we save a couple of trailers parked below a hill --- a sign helped as well.

Carol and I heading off "rock hunting". We left the dogs and the boys at the truck to fend for themselves. As I didn't take a camera and couldn't see the screen to take cell phone photos there are no pictures of the areas we explored. The first hill we climbed was full of purplish and greenish rocks though we did see small bits of quartz. Another hill over and we found some small (and I mean tiny) bits of crystal where someone had cut into a section of the rock. Another hill over and we found a spot where several cuts had been made into the rock and eureka!!! there was a number of pieces of quartz on the ground in the size we were looking for. By the way there was good cell phone coverage out there .... received a call while I was looking for crystal.

Now that's the way to collect solar energy for your RV.

Ed and Zaph found this windmill that pump water into a tank. We're guessing that the water is for the wild mountain sheep.

Zaph just having a great time.

John, Zaph and Cait enjoying the view.

Looks like this saguaro is growing out of the rock.

2013/01/20: RV Show

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Off to the RV show today. Ed and I are toying around with the idea of downsizing the trailer, so we were hoping to see a number of the smaller trailers at the RV show. Unfortunately, 99 per cent of the trailers at the show were large and many of them larger than the one we currently have. Ed finds ours a bit of a challenge to park as a lot of RV parks and recreation areas were designed to take smaller trailers, so I can't image what it would be like to park of these new trailers. The interiors of the large trailers are amazing ... it would certainly be comfortable living in one of them.

The smallest trailer we saw at the RV show. Ed could stand up straight in the middle section of the trailer where the floor was lowered. To have a shower he would have to sit on the toilet.

The second smallest trailer at the RV show was classed as a 21 foot long trailer. The manufactured did a really nice job of packing a lot of functionality into a smallish space.

Someone had a bit of imagination when erecting the water dispensers. I think these are used to fill the water trucks that deliver water to the RVs park on BLM land.

Not the most exciting sunset I've ever seen but I still thought this one was pretty. From my vantage point of the kitchen table I could see more of the mountains.

2013/01/19: An Old Friend

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
In the fall I heard that an old friend from Oleander Acres in Texas had purchased a park model trailer in Brenda about 10 miles east of Quartzsite. This morning Ed, Zaph and I drove to Brenda and had a very nice visit with Lorna. Her son and daughter-in-law have been going to this park for a number of years and they talked Lorna into joining. She's happy that she did. She doesn't know what she does all day, but she's busy, she's happy and she's tired at bedtime.

When we returned to the RV park we went to the park's craft show where I proceeded to buy two more pendants. All the dependents are different stones of different colours ... think I'm working on one buying a pendant to match every outfit I have with me.

Today was also "smoking" day .... ribs were on the menu and as usual they were excellent.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today was a shopping day and we shopped till we dropped. Again, pretty much everything you could image was for sale. Carol and I spent a lot of time looking at rocks and jewelery containing rocks, purchasing a couple of pendants. John and Ed enjoyed the tool and gadgets shops and purchased a few items.

Zaph just enjoyed all of the attention and petting he received. As his mom forgot his collapsible water bowl, his mom bought him a small plastic water bowl and several bottles of water.

Part of the fun of shopping at these markets is people watching. I think this bus and the people that worked out of it were some of the most interesting people at the market. A small bus parked beside the "interesting" bus had Ontario license plates ....

2013/01/17: Palm Canyon

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
We are dependent on the Internet at the RV park as our Virgin mobile stick does not work in this area. When the park Internet is running it is really good but it, unfortunately, is down a fair bit of the time. This will make updating the blog a little more challenging as if my procrastination wasn't enough.

Palm Canyon can be found in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. The road out to the canyon is gravel but appears to be maintained so it was an easy drive. It's about a 1/2 mile hike through rocky uphill terrain to get to the view point of the canyon.

This is what you see from the view point. High in the canyon are palm trees. No one knows how old the trees are as palm trees don't have rings, but know as old trees die there are young trees to replace them.

A zoomed view of the palm trees.

Zaph came for the hike and as he couldn't scramble over the rocks, Zaph and I stayed at the view point while Ed tried to climb to the palms. He got about half way up when he ran into a vertical wall .... this photo was his view. Found out from some folks we met on our hike down that he should climb the canyon on the right side where he had chosen the left.

The hike down to the parking area.

On the drive into the canyon, we stopped and took this photo of the mountains.

Looking the other directions we saw what look like lava cones.

On the drive out of the park we saw a sign for Kofa Queen Canyon. As it was still early we decided to drive out to the canyon. After the first mile we realized that we were on a four wheel drive road that wasn't in very good condition, luckily our truck is a four wheel drive. Ed was having a good time so he decided to continue the drive. The saguaro cactus was growing in the middle of the bush. In another fifty years or so the saguaro will be much taller and may have arms while the bush will be long gone. The bush will have done its job as a saguaro nurse maid.

A view near the Kofa Queen canyon. As we approached the canyon we could see a bit of white, perhaps the roof of a small building. As we got closer we realized the white was part of a truck. Turns out a fellow from BC was camping out by the canyon. He drives into Quartzsite once a week for supplies, otherwise he enjoys the peace and quiet of the canyon. He said he has been doing this for several years.

2013/01/16: Quartzsite

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
I think the population of Quartzsite is less than 5,000 people, except in the winter when all the snowbirds arrive. One article I read indicates that a million people will pass through Quartzsite in a year and this year Ed and I are two of those people.

Along with the people come vendors of all sorts including clothes, antiques, rocks, jewelery, RVs, groceries, restaurants, entertainment and so on. In a booklet we picked up, there are 12 market shows listed. Some last only a few days where others go on all season. On top of that there are a number of flea markets. Also, there are a number of things to see --- a couple of National Wildlife Areas, a few ghost towns, petroglyphs, intaglios, museums and a desert bar that is only open on weekends. I'm picturing this month just zooming by with a day of shopping followed by a day of sightseeing followed by a day of shopping and so on. A couple of days of rest will have to get thrown into the mix so we can do some "smoking" as well as laundry and cleaning.

Today was a drive around Quartzsite to familiarize ourselves with the area and then some shopping. One flea market down .... lots more to do.


Rocks, rocks everywhere. All sizes, all shapes, raw ones, cut ones and even polished ones.

Ed and I have been discussing changing our trailer ... John thought we might like this one ---- NOT.

2013/01/15: Moving Day

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
I missed posting this photo from a couple of days ago. When I opened the blinds I saw this amazing sunrise, so I ran outside in my housecoat and took a photo of it.

Moving day is upon us. As it will only take about an hour and a half to drive to the Quartzsite we are not in a hurry, especially as it is cold out there …. Around freezing with a cold north wind. There was time to walk the dogs and take some photos of the park before we packed up.

La Paz Valley RV park is in the desert about 6 miles south of Quartzsite. We booked this park, sight unseen and as it was a very good price my expectations were low --- I was thinking it was a parking lot with services. Happily, my expectations were exceeded. The park is gravel but the roadway in is paved (that was a big bonus as its 2 miles in from the highway). The sites are delimited by rocks, white quartz, black rocks, pink rocks, etc, there are several cactus gardens plus there is a clubhouse. The laundry room only has 2 washers and dryers so Carol and I will be making the trek into town to do laundry, but its nice that there are a couple of washers and dryers in case we need to do an emergency load.

There's an empty site between John and Carol's trailer and ours as we are awaiting the arrival of Esther and Jim, another couple we met at Oleander Acres. Esther and Jim are also spending this season traveling.

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Brrr.... it's cold today. Made it to about 50 F but with the cold north wind it felt a lot colder. As it is Ed's birthday he got to decide what we were doing today and he picked going to the movies (happy about that because of the weather). The movie of choice was The Hobbit. It was a pretty good movie though we didn't realize that it is being done in three parts and this movie is just the first part.

Outback was Ed's choice for dinner --- something about wanting a good steak. John and Carol (Michigan) joined us for a wonderful dinner.


We're heading to Quartzsite tomorrow morning. The park we are staying at is 6 miles south of Quartzsite .... out in the dessert. So, not sure what our Internet access will be like, hopefully we'll have some.

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The Imperial National Wildlife Refuge protects wildlife habitat along 30 miles of the lower Colorado River in Arizona and California. The Refuge is about 40 miles north of Yuma with the drive taking you through a section of the Proving Grounds.

Not sure what this plane is but it looked interesting and was parked near the road in the proving grounds.

Following the road once you are inside the NWR takes you to a number of points that give you views of the Colorado River. We were told that the water level is down this winter as a number of sand bars are visible. Another stop along the road is the Painted Desert Trail.

The one and a third mile painted desert trail takes you through some amazing country.

I couldn't convince Ed to carry one of the big colorful rocks to truck.... I thought it would look great in my garden at home.

Taking a rest break. Even though the air is cool, the sun is quite warm.

This natural column of rock, called a hoodoo, was created by water eroding from several directions.

Wildlife, such as black-tailed jackrabbits and western whiptail lizards are plentiful. Desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, coyotes and burros also live out here. In dry weather these larger animals head to the river for water.


The trail gets it's name from the colored rock you see as you hike in the area. The colors were created by 20-30 million year-old volcanic activity.


A view of the Colorado River.

Ed has been fascinated by aerostat balloons flying in sky around Yuma. Though this aerostat balloon was far in the distance, being on the ground it was much easier to see than the ones in the sky. The helium-filled aerostat balloons hover at 15,000 feet and are focused on one thing: low-flying airplanes. Six-aerostat balloons form a radar fence along the southern United States watching for drugs being flown across the international border.

The Phainopepla are a year round resident of the Yuma area.

Meers Point on Martinez Lake is a popular fishing spot. This lake is a popular spot for trailers as well as a number of beautiful homes.

2013/01/11: Martha's Garden

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
We received an email from friends telling us we should stop in at Martha's Gardens. Martha's Garden is a date farm and restaurant specializing in date shakes. When we were out picking up dog food for our fearless leader, we decided to stop at Martha's Garden. As Ed doesn't like dates we didn't try the date shake.

There were a lot of palm trees.

and dates for sale in the store.

In case your wondering this is how dates grown.

2013/01/10: Waves

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Last visit to the Arizona market today. Seems like we're doing a lot of "lasts" lately, but I guess that's what you do when you are getting ready to move to another location. Zaph wouldn't miss a trip to the market as he gets a lot of attention there and as expected he did get a lot of pets.

Had thought about doing a bike ride this afternoon but as soon as I saw "wind warning" on the weather forecast I backed out.

The wind was strong enough to create eastward bound waves on the canal. Normally, the water flows to the west. The lack of visibility was caused not by clouds but by dirt in the air.

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Castle Dome Mine and Ghost town can be found within the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. Castle Dome contains the longest-working mine in Arizona. It was operated from 1862 to 1979. Silver and lead were the main metals mined in this area. After bumping and bouncing down a five mile gravel road (at least it was shorter than yesterday) we arrived at the museum. The museum is privately owned by a couple who moved the existing Castle Dome buildings to their site before the NWR tore down the buildings. Each year more buildings and artifacts are added to the museum.

Castle Dome peak is the highest point of the Castle Dome Mountains. The peak is 3,776 feet high.

The actual town of Castle Dome was spread out across several miles and included at least 5 bars.


Each of the restored buildings are filled with artifacts that would have been found in the building.


Across the road from the town site is the mining area. A lot of mines are simply holes in the ground, with the deepest being around 200 feet.

Ed wanted to talk to this fellow about insurance (he's a Gecko). OK, we watch far too much television.

This bathtub belonged to some ladies of the night. They carried the tub along with them to the different mining towns they visited.

We were walking through the "garden" where the plants had signs indicating what they were. Had to laugh when we saw this one.

One of the saloons had bottles cemented together to form sidelights around the door.


Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Picacho State Recreation Area (in California) is 32 miles from the RV park we are staying in. The first 14 miles flew by on paved roads, the last 18 unpaved miles were a different story. After 45 minutes of bumping and bouncing along the gravel road we arrived at the state recreation area. The views were pretty amazing when we drove through the mountainous area though we were taken aback when we came upon the razor wire fence. Turned out the fence was around the Picacho Gold Mine.

The recreation area is a winter and spring haven for campers, anglers, hikers and those who love a desert environment. The Colorado River is one boarder of the rec area allowing people an alternate route in. We saw a couple of boats parked at the docks.

Around 1862 a young prospector discovered gold in the hard rock surrounding Picacho Peak. By 1890 a successful, large-scale gold mining operation was booming. At the turn of the 20th century, steam-powered paddlewheel boats traveling the Lower Colorado River delivered mining supplies and passengers to a growing town. We hiked the trail to the mill sites.

Zaph enjoying a rest break while Ed and I explored the mill sites.

The ruins of the lower mill site.


The Imperial Dam created the Imperial Reservoir as well as a number of lakes. Taylor Lake is a short drive from the main campground.

An interesting rock formation on the hike into Red Rock Canyon.

Red Rock Canyon is aptly named. The red rocks glow in the sunlight.

There is alternate driving route to exit the recreation area. As it involved four wheel drive roads, we opted to bounce and bump out on the two wheel drive we drove in on. Ed says the truck in trailer hauling configuration accentuates all of the bumps --- a lighter truck with less air in the tires would have made a nicer ride.

2013/01/07: Mexico one last time

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
This morning was errand time, this afternoon one last trip to Mexico. As we had explored Mexico fairly well during our first visit, this was more of a gorilla raid. John and Carol picked up Revolution for Cait, we picked up one more piece of metal art and of course we all bought a bottle.

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
California John and Carol with Barry are on the left, Michigan John and Carol with Caity are on the right.

Cookie time ... it's amazing how good everyone can be when there's cookies around.

It took a few minutes for Barry and Caity to get to know each other. They finally determined the rules and settled down nose to nose.

California John and Carol joined us in a walk in the West Wetlands park. Ed and John took a moment out to look for a geocache.

I was impressed with the children's playground --- just think of all of the games you could play in a castle.

Palo Verde blooms.

2013/01/05: Showing off Yuma

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Our tour guide skills were put to the test today as we drove around Yuma showing John and Carol (California that is) the sites. The highlights were the bridge to no where, the sand dunes, Tumco historic mine, the old downtown area, pivot point and picking lettuce (you had to have known that was coming).

Tumco is an abandoned gold mining town and is one of the earliest gold mining areas in California. Over 200,000 ounces of gold was taken from the mines in the area.

There's not much left of the town, but these leaching tanks that were built in the early 1900s.


Old downtown Yuma. It was a small downtown, only a couple of blocks long, but there are some impressive buildings.

and some nice fountains. Downtown is now home to a couple of art galleries, a theater, several restaurants and a few businesses. In case your wondering these last two photos are "fused". Ed sets his camera to shoot a series of photos (3 or 5) with slightly different exposures. The photos are fused together to eliminate differences in lighting.

2013/01/04: Visitors

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The RV park had a chicken fried steak breakfast this morning for $3.50. As I've never eaten chicken fried steak and the price was right, we gave it a try. The chicken fried steak was actually pretty good but I don't think there was an actual steak in it, more like some kind of ground meat (probably beef).

This hearty breakfast gave me the energy I needed as I was spending the day in the kitchen. California John and Carol were coming to visit and I wanted to prepare a couple of their favorite meals --- ratatouille crepes, cheese manicotti and of course a raspberry pie.

Michigan John and Carol joined California John and Carol, Ed and myself for a dinner of bean salad, ratatouille crepes, garlic bread and raspberry pie with whipped cream. Yum .... think everyone enjoyed the food and of course the company.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
From Wikipedia "The U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground is one of the largest military installations in the world. Situated in southwestern La Paz County and western Yuma County in southwestern Arizona, U.S., approximately 30 miles (48 km) north-east of the city of Yuma, the proving ground is used for testing military equipment and encompasses 1,307.8 square miles (3,387.2 km˛) in the northwestern Sonoran Desert."

Today we drove to the proving grounds then through the grounds to the Imperial Dam.

On the way to the proving grounds we stopped at the bridge to nowhere. In 1929 The McPhaul bridge was opened to traffic and for 40 years provided the only way over the Gila River for Yuma residents. The bridge was designed by Ralph Modjewski, well-known builder and mentor to Joseph B. Strauss, who would later design the Golden Gate Bridge in 1933.

Soon after driving into the Proving Grounds you see this tank and missile display.

At the main gates of military base is one of Ed's favourite gate markers, a helicopter on a stick.

The Heritage Center is on the base. Outside of the building is the Overland Train Mk II, a multi-car, rubber-tired, logistical cargo carrier for transporting military cargoes over adverse terrain when operating in the climactic extremes encountered in global re-supply operations. Inside are interesting displays giving the history of the Proving Grounds.

"The Imperial Dam is a concrete slab and buttress ogee weir structure across the California/Arizona border. Completed in the 1938, the dam retains the waters of the Colorado River into the Imperial Reservoir before desilting and diversion into the All-American Canal, the Gila River, and the Yuma Project aqueduct." again from Wikipedia.

One of the desilting ponds. We think the water flowing off the edge is going into the All-American Canal.

Caity found a hydrant just her size by one of the boat ramps.

Outside of the Proving Grounds is BLM land. For a small fee you can park your trailer for up to a year. You need to provide your own water, power and sewage. A lot (thousands) of people set up their rigs and spend the winter. Solar panels and wind turbines are a common site. Very few are in pretty lots like this one, but out in open areas of the desert.

We saw signs of the burros and finally saw the actual wild burros.

The vegetable picker machines has really caught our attention. This one was close to road so we stopped to have a good look and take a few photos. The machine was moving toward the road and reached the end of the rows. The wheels turn 90 degrees so they are parallel to the machine, the machine drives forward to next set of rows, the wheels turn 90 degrees so they are perpendicular to the machine and the machine drives slowly into the field. The machine continues to move slowly as the workers pick the crop. The first row of workers picked the lettuce, cut off extraneous leaves, put the lettuce in a plastic bag and placed it in a trough on the machine. The second row of workers closed the bag and packed the lettuce into the boxes. A conveyor belt moved the boxes to the back where a worker passed to the worker on the wagon.

A pretty view by the Laguna Dam.

Near the Laguna Dam is Swastika Bridge. This bridge was built in 1905 by the USRS (United States Reclamation Service). At this time the swastika symbol was a symbol of sun, fire and lightening.

2013/01/01: Happy New Year!!!

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Not sure what it means but I spent the morning of New Years day cleaning .... first the trailer then Zaph.

Not sure I can call it a quiet day as a house across the canal hosted a party starting in mid afternoon with a band (least we think it was a live band) and they were not quiet. Happily, by 9pm the volume was reduced, so we could sit in our trailer and actually hear the TV.

Ed and John slaved over the smoker so we enjoyed a smoked salmon dinner .... think it was better than our New Years eve dinner.

May 2013 be good to you.