Category: Camping


Dawn at the Dog Park, Quartzsite, AZ

I was going to title this blog, Two Bitches in Heat at the RTR!

I’m a dog breeder and can say things like that!  I mean the title literally. First one and then the other of my Lagotto Romagnolo girls came in Season. Jean-Beans came in over two months late. If she’d managed a few weeks earlier I’d have skadoodled 1,200 miles north to Port Angeles to visit her “boyfriend” and gone truffle hunting along the way.  But, Ms Jeana delayed long enough that to breed her would annul the remainder of my year. Breeding from a reputable breeder is a careful and loving activity, not done in haste or without time to nurture, socialize and teach the pups. What to do, what to do?  I’d wanted to attend the RTR (Rubber Tramp Rendezvous) since its inception. I’d conversed with Bob Wells on Plenty of Fish but never met having been distanced from my Joylon who then died; life is complicated.  Cheap RV Living: How to live or Travel in a Car, Van or RV – and Love it!!

Some years back, I drove to Quartzsite, The Rock Capital of the World, and failed to find gold, valuable ore or the off-road location of the RTR. I looked at all the stuff for sale in and around The Big Tent as I’ve done on other occasions; in the Winter there’s a large collection of almost anything you can think of with the Sell-A-Rama, the Outdoor Market Center, the Rock & Gem Show, the Arts  & Crafts Fair, and the RV Show.  One could shop for days or weeks or longer if they were so inclined!

On that trip my eyes were hazy, I could barely see with milky floaty stuff, little dots, a black circle and shifting blurs amid stabbing headaches and anxiety; I’d given up trying to find the RTR with a wretched mood unable to interpret directions that made no sense, driving the long way home all that night. I swore I was done with this group of nomads . . . . but the RTR has grown. There is a Women’s RTR now too, it was in a tiny spot called Bouse, AZ. I thought about attending that but I did not. 

Starting to explore the “streets of the RTR campground.

It was actually last January when I determined I really did want to join the RTR, learn about solar, how to find locations for Boondocking, maybe meet some people. Last year here in Southern California smoke cloaked our lungs from the Thomas Fire burning 281,893 acres from Ventura up to Goleta, then nature demonstrated her even more fierce catastrophic abilities in a debris flow hitting the newly burned area in Montecito; boulders at 100 mph slicing homes into pieces, taking lives, depositing mud along with the massive obstructions that had to hauled away, shutting down the 101. The way around was laborious, I stayed to offer help, I didn’t make it out of town.

 

This time deciding reluctantly to push breeding Jeana until her next season and having been unable to breed my darling Olympia months prior due to political pressures in the dog-world leaving me sad and sans income, I forlornly with growing agitation starting packing my rig, bogged down and slow.  At last I took Jackson, my intact boy, to my mother’s and the next day around 10 am headed south to Arizona. I’d read that the Women’s RTR was expecting 500 to 1,000 people and the regular RTR from 8 to 10,000! I DON’T DO CROWDS!

Be not afraid, we would have lots of room, it would be all good. Bob and friends posted detailed videos on how to get to the RTR and how we introverts and non-crowd, independent type people should come. That the RTR was for us and we would be okay. I made it to Quartzite the day I started, arriving in the dark and TIRED. I hadn’t eaten that day. Several times I drove to what I thought was free dispersed camping in the dark as indicated by one of my apps only to find a shutdown kiosk for Long Term Visitor Camping. You pay $40 to stay 2 weeks. Or $180 for a permit that allows you to stay from August through April.  With the Government closed the kiosk was closed but the signs said to pay. It wasn’t a lot of money, I was CONFUSED, tired, irritable and driving in circles, did I mention I hadn’t eaten, of course I’d fed and walked my dogs. I was eager to admit defeat, there was precedent, I couldn’t find this thing in the middle of nowhere and Quartzsite wasn’t making sense to me, maybe it was best to go home. Why was I doing this with dogs in Season, was I crazy?

I slipped into one of those commercial RV sardine type RV Parks, my space in-between 2 other campervans  which had attracted me (there were only 3 spots available in the Park.) Ugh, it was directly under a big tall super ridiculous BRIGHT spotlight. I plugged in and turned on my tiny electric heater. I shunned the bathhouse, the Wi-Fi and the pet area. I hated this Park, only my spot had this nascent light. No one was afoot, my neighbors never arrived, the rigs must have been stored and waiting for the upcoming explosion of activity when Quartzite turns into a magical calling for RVers.  Turns out there are a ton of RV Parks here and if you are not paying daily rates some are only $1,200 for the entire year or $180 for the season.

 

When no one’s around however you can make up any story you like. I left the RV Park before dawn, took the dogs to a city park with no grass, gave them breakfast and a walk, found an empty dog park and threw the ball for Olympia. Next I filled the gas tank and bought some last minute food supplies, including some perfect fat oranges (the type I can never find in my home town) and extra water at the Roadrunner Market. The sun was up and I could see! Wow! I watched Bob’s detailed videos on how to get to the RTR on my cellphone, plugged in the coordinates and I was off back over the torn up road I’d grumbled over the night before. Later people were telling that if you went about 40 mph it smoothed the road out; ha-ha in my LT Daisy her contents would be flung into a leaky wreck on the floor with broken latches, a stinky mess and terrified dogs.  It is rather funny when something does fall into the isle, my Mason who rides shotgun on the passenger seat gives me the look and sorta points with his nose…  hey look, it’s happened again, is it something eatable?

I let the torn rough, pitted, bumpy, loud pockmarked pavement with it’s deep potholes dictate LT’s wayfinding, it was fine. Once you turn onto the dirt its better. This morning I was not intimidated, I was curious. Life doesn’t stop when you turn 65, humans are meant for movement, challenges and action, three of my four dogs agreed!!! My boy Jackson is a wimp when it comes to rough roads, he hates them, but he wasn’t here with us.

In daylight, I saw there’s plenty of land to camp on for free.  One barely needed directions with the stream of rigs headed across the crappy road. I cried with a flooding joy as I approached the RTR seeing van campers and little B’s just like my LT Daisy, more than I’d ever seen, just like me! It was love! It was majestic, like the opening scene in an epic movie. I enjoyed that feeling as I arrived moving across the desert road, the big dip and the curve . . . I’d made it to the alternative world at Scaddan Wash! I could tell, from the calm organized, yet directionless, non dogmatic volunteers helping everyone settle in, we were free here. We would be respected and we were welcome. There were a few rules, mostly courtesy and safety. Did I want day parking near the stage, or, one of the volunteers said, we just opened up that area off to the right, down that road, past the main event area, its prime and quiet and not crowded. I did that. Found a picturesque spot, no one near, parked with my double doors to the desert, grabbed the dogs and hoofed the newly bulldozed temporary road to the meeting area.

Heard the last 30 min of the morning session; people were gathered, sitting in their camp chairs, standing in the sun. A senior kinda crowd, some young, a lot not so young. A warm ambiance, welcoming, a delight of being out here on a patch of unspoiled desert. Each brings everything they need, food, water, shelter, pets, art, music, bikes, firewood, their vehicles, a few porta potties were provided fro those in tents and one large trash dumpster which quickly had too much in it. Everything in also goes out, you don’t leave trash, poop, junk or anything else. There was sound equipment for the stage, info booths where you could get a name button, a little burning van made of stiff cardboard for the last day, a large bulletin board with index cards and push pins for us to post as we wished and a free area where you could place an item you didn’t need and/or take an item you did need; all nearly sorted. And yes, everything was FREE! Bob, at one of the lectures said the setup for the camp cost him $20,000, but it was at no charge to us, donations happily accepted but it was his gift to us fellow nomads and wanta be nomads.

 

I stayed longer than I expected. After that horrible night in the town of Quartzite I wasn’t expecting the RTR to be fun but right away I met my new tribe, special people that I can’t wait to connect with again! How did that happen!  I joined them several nights at our campfire, laughing, chatting, connecting, even a marshmallow roasting contest …  OMG. I haven’t laughed like that since well, since before Jolyon became ill, since before I lost Forrest.

 

There was exploration, beauty, drama, learning and seeing cool stuff, a lot of walking and carrying my fold up camp chair back and forth, meeting great people, telling about my dogs, discovering people I really liked and loved and others I was neutral about. Several guys crushed on me, I hadn’t expected that at all!

I did require a bit of rescuing a few times or I thought I did.  One of my neighbors attempted to take apart the furnace on my rig as it was blowing only cold air in the 40 deg night. He explained how he was a mechanic who lived on a farm, his rig for the RTR was his car where he sat most of the time in the passenger seat reading his books, smoking handmade cig’s, drinking a beer, hitting on his medical marijuana and preparing vegan meals on his outside grill and cast iron pan. He had health problems, I heard his life story, It’s was different life, not expected.  Working on my rig seemed to give him purpose, he at one point said he’d wanted to impress me but he couldn’t fix it. Then my bed which is also a couch wouldn’t go back down again…  I was bad with these hours, uncomfortable with what was being done to my LT Daisy and now, no heat and no bed!!!  I almost went home  right then in the beginning of the night, miserable but my other neighbor on the other side of me talked me out of it along with a call to my mom, no sense driving right into a flooding California storm. One of my admirers who was crushing on me offered to house me and my dogs for the night, keep us all warm; I declined.  I turned on the van’s engine for 2 hours as the heating pad for Mason had totally drained my house battery, then my bed went down and I had some heat! I took to idling the engine after that for about 20 min each night to warm it up before getting under the covers.

 

I clicked with an amazing woman I met, she impressed me; I stopped to talk to her as she’d posted a big sign on her rig saying she had no friends and where she’ was from. She’d flown across the country, rented a small Class C, think this was her first RV experience. She wanted to learn about the van camper lifestyle and she did! I found her inquisitive, buoyant and outgoing, she’s part of my tribe now, one of those I can’t wait to see again and it was there I found my campfire group, such cool people; traveled, wise, fun, friendly and filled with loving kindness.

I met a couple that had just completed ecological upgrades on their home in Paradise CA when the fire destroyed everything they had, all they had left was their trailer, a truck and their van and their bright spirits.  I talked to a lot of campers with their dogs, a couple from Canada with a Great West on a Sprinter van, that’s a rare rig now.  My dogs and i would hike the temporary “city” chatting with friendly rough looking men that I’d not otherwise approach, couples, families, groups of friends, solo women. Campers were in tents, sleeping in their SUV’s or small cars, topnotch rigs completely outfitted for the backwoods and desert survival along with homemade rigs.  Vans, scooters, bicycles and motorcycles were everywhere, van-campers and other Class B’s old and new, I saw a red Travado on the Promaster with a cool add-on zip up room (yep still dreaming about a upgrade to my good ol’ Daisy.. shhhh) Class C’s, popups, trailers, Class A’s and hippy buses small and large. I wanted to walk the entire encampment but it was impossible, folks crammed in close on designed communities and streets but were also stretched into the canyon as far as they could drive.  I ambled talking to the musicians, the artists, the builders, the survivalists, the women and answering a lot of questions about my pack of canines.

Once I figured out my CA clock was an hour off of Arizona time I attended almost all of the three times a day seminars held at the main stage, dragging my camp chair and the dogs with me. My girls in were snappy to other canines, they can be like that even when not in Heat but they are so cute and they adore humans so it turned out okay.

I will be implementing new things I’ve learned.   There were a plethora of activities posted on the bulletin board some I tried to get to, but generally I was too busy, or in the case of the very early morning dog walk and mediation it was too cold!  I woke before dawn everyday (and yes, for those that want to know, I stay up late too) but waited until the sun  peaked before getting out of my covers. I’d bundle Mason in a cocoon since we had no heat, he liked that, I think he had more blankets than me, the Lagotto girls of course were happy as stars. Mason won a lot of hearts and warmed many happy laps.

 

 

The RTR filled my heart. My new tribe suggested I give a seminar next year on how to travel with pets, maybe I will do that.

I never got out my paints or books, I didn’t expect there to be so much to do as I’m not one who generally stays put in one place for long. I cooked delicious meals, kept my rig as clean as one could in the middle of the desert with star filled midnight potty walks and carrying Mason who was not crazy about the hard sharp cold rocks under his paws.

 

I did have drama starting the evening before I left; it had begun to rain so instead of the campfire I decided to attempt the singles meeting (better to be called solo meeting,) I left the dogs and my chair in the van heading out with my big red umbrella.  It didn’t take long for me to tire of conversing around the large bonfire in the now pouring rain in the pitch darkness so I started back missing the company of my dogs. I’d walked this way so many times now, I could have done it blindfolded, but this time there was not one star to be seen, the temporary roadway-path could not be separated from non-roadway as it melted into the pelting rain. I passed my friends rigs, so I knew I was on course but I did not arrive at mine.  I couldn’t believe it so I  walked back to the main stage and started over, thinking how nuts that was. I did this several times, starting to get tired. What was going on? Finally I just stood in the rain with my failing flashlight, searching rig to rig; new people had come in and some had left but yet I still could not find my way.  An hour or so later I was sad, missing my dogs and trying not to panic, thinking that would not help. I saw a woman and I ran over, she lent me her headlamp, then disappeared into her rig, it didn’t help, then I spotted a young man, he told me not to worry, he’d trained as a rescuer and would help me. We walked back to the main stage in the rain and he stayed by side listening to my directions on where I parked, we walked that way as I’d done over and over hours earlier and bingo there it was!  When I’d found him I was across the flooded gully on the opposite side of camp; how in the world? My only explanation is UFO’s. Obviously I was transported for a quick chat by aliens, they wiped clean my memory and dropped me back on the route to my rig but they made a mistake and plopped me down on the wrong side. Obviously that’s what happened, right?

I’d seen objects with bright lights flying, zipping around and flashing in the air earlier that day; drones, industrial lasers, I’d assumed. I’d also seen even more bizarre unexplained lights doing impossible stunts. So later they came back and took me, right?  I was so happy to see my dogs calm and safe waiting for me!

Jeana was sick that night, she eats everything she sees so who knows what it was. She makes this barely audible whimper, not like my Jackson who is loud and dramatic, Jeana is so quiet.  I slipped on my Gore-tex boots, rain jacket and grabbed the red umbrella, there was a river under my rig! Uh-oh!  I’d parked on sand the last time I’d re-positioned (too long a story there) and not on the hard pack. I knew not to do that, but who knew it would rain for a solid 12 hours?  The weather apps didn’t say that. Jeana needed out a few times, and out we went popping into the deepening muddy stream, she loves the rain. In the morning my neighbor, who’d talked me into staying wanted to out, desperatly ranting about the rain and how all 8 to 10,000 souls of use were stuck now, it was a disaster, he said! The road out was flooded, we’d be trapped, forced into a REAL survivalist event. He was a ex-military type. Wow! I had no idea he’d be this way. I calmed him down the best I could, then went back in my rig to try to dry off a little. Just wait, I thought it’s the desert it will dry out or with all these well prepared types around someone could give him a tow. Instead he started up his van spinning those wheels hard, sinking to the axles.  Fortunately he stopped. Hmm, guess guys are not the calm ones are they?

I  gave him some time and tried calming him down again.  I told him that surely with all these people here at the RTR there would be many able to tow him out.  I don’t think he believed me but sure enough the next neighbor down one more from us pulled out his  SUV and towed him out, the mud was like butter, so soft. We all cheered! I asked that same neighbor to help me get my rig back onto the hard pack. He wanted me to try driving out so I stuffed mats under the wheels, put my rig into first gear, lightly tried the accelerator and immediately sunk. He towed me out too and yep more cheering! I gave him a big happy hug!  And Lesson To Self…. try remembering the stuff you know about saftey!

Some people called AAA. AAA refused to come out, we were not after all on a public or even a private roadway. Seminars were cancelled that day as the broadcast equipment could not be set up.  I thought that was a mistake, people needed a group meeting to talk about the rain and the sinking sand. I was sure it would dry out. I left around 2 or 3 pm, that afternoon, it was still raining even though the rain was supposed to have ended by then. I wanted to stay, I was really HAPPY but I was cold and Mason was having achy limbs. When he’s especially cold or challenged by rough surface his right front leg bends and he limps. I’d stayed longer than I’d imagined I would.  Likely there were people here would could fix the furnace, the frig, the leaking valve to the toilet and help me with solar but it was time to head out. My new RTR clan told me next time there was trouble to call them and they’d think of something, we hung out as i said goodbye.  I loved them. I really did not expect that.

I took off over the flooded dirt road following a slow line of others, we all made it. the rain and wind on the interstate was strong but the moment I crossed the CA border it stopped and the sun came out. That night I camped at Chiriaco Summit free dry camp behind the General Patton Museum just before the I-10 descends into Indio. There are about 20 sites, easy and flat, not far from Joshua Tree. Right now with the government shutdown we heard that Joshua trees are being cut down and destroyed at  the National Park, I suggested we send a few thousand of us rubber tramps to put a stop to that. What’s wrong with people!

I talked to a long distance bike rider at the campground, gave him some of my food as he was a bit stranded recovering from an injury and waiting for his friend. His setup is perfect, there’s room in his tent as needed for his bike and all his gear. He says he rides over 20,000 miles a year and is off to China to ride soon. Amazing.

 

Thank you to Bob Wells, his team of volunteers, the seminar speakers, to the people creating and attending the RTR. There is a growing light in all the darkness when people give and share.  I heard criticisms of the RTR, but you know what, there’s no need to be there if you don’t want to be, go to Burning Man where you can pay; camp in the desert on your own.  If you don’t like a few rules, that’s fine, you don’t need to be there, make your own way.

https://www.cheaprvliving.com/rtr/

 

https://www.desertmuseum.org/books/nhsd_geologic_origin.php

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Uncle Ross

My Grandfather on my mother’s side got around, he had more than one family which used to confuse me when I was little. As a result I had two uncles around the same age as my brother and me which I definitely thought was cool.  One year on a family meetup we snuck away from the adults. It was Summer of Love and we were in our teen years. We took the bus to Haight-Asbury, the streets were overflowing with long-haired flower children, tie-died feathered barefoot kissers,  pretty acid bubbles floating through the air, smooth skin star gazers gifting love and peace to everyone amid rays of crystal rainbows and joy, a scene I’ll never forget.

Ross lives in Santa Cruz and works at the Community Print Collective; I’d stopped at a campground near Watsonville, Pinto Lake County Recreation Area. The campsite/park was bustling with families and small kids. Being “little” (the LT is only 19′) I was given the parking spot in front near the lake so I stayed. There was no hot water for showers, supposedly PG&E was repairing the lines and would be done soon but I was told the same story in the morning…  word for word. I didn’t see anyone doing any work. I walked towards the lake area:  Polluted! Contact with the water was to be avoided! What a shame, little kids were fishing, yuck!

Pinto Lake, Warnings! DSC00212

There wasn’t much else to do other than give Olympia an impromptu bath after she rolled in some muck so I headed back out in the RV. . .  found another entrance to the Park about a mile or so away, almost missed it. Hiking trails, a fishing pier, large ball fields, playground, picnic areas and nature trails, there’s a sign saying to watch out for runners and disc throwers, apparently they play disc golf and although I didn’t know to look for the area, the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared at this park. The lake is very pretty. I was the only non-Hispanic person so it was no surprise that the bathrooms had signs only in Spanish….  something about putting the paper in the water bowl before flushing…..  geesh! The park was a canopy of activity; ball games, runners, walkers, picnickers and disc players. The dogs liked it too.

Hiking Around Pinto Lake, Watsonville with Olympia nad Mason Pinto Lake, Watsonville with Olympia and Mason

Pinto Lake County Park

To my delight when I returned to my camp Uncle Ross had left a voice mail, soon he was on his way to visit. We spent several hours in peace (all the little kids and other day time visitors had been told it was time to go and the gate locked.) Ross and I sat on my green camp chairs in front of the LT watching the lake in the dusk and into the dark.  I think this was the first time I had company, my mother’s little folding table from the ARVO (the cabin cruiser the family had when I was a kid) holding our mugs of tea, the dogs frisking about and finally settling inside as we talked . .. serious and very interesting talk about autism, Alzheimer’s, research and exercise in auditory training, sounds and perception and of course dogs and families. I was happy. I was happy for the connection to my uncle, happy for the birds and sounds of the lake, happy for the freedom of the LT, happy for my happy dogs that enjoy traveling with me.

My camp spot at Pinto Lake

My camp spot at Pinto Lake

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Pinto Lake Reflection

Tranquility ( Hajime Mizoguchi )

 

RV Fiberglass Repair

Should get the LT back next week. Here’s a shot of the last night camping before I headed back to Santa Barbara. This was at a marina not too far from Stockton, River Point Landing Marina Resort on the San Joaquin River. I paid for a premium spot right on the water. I had wanted to camp deeper into the delta but the wind was out this world. Even when I landed at the marina I thought we’d be blown into the brink. I checked the weather and it said the wind would die off at 7 pm…. fat chance I thought but oddly at 7:02 pm the wind died. I was amazed and spent a peaceful night playing with dogs and watching the river.

In the morning after a nice walk I tarried considering staying a bit longer… at 9 am the wind started at 10 am it was nearly a gale. I drove home with heavy wind warnings posted along my entire route. At one point the wind was so strong I could barely open the van doors to let the dogs out for a potty break… we only went a few feet with the air pressure generated force bending me over and spooking the dogs. I didn’t stop again.

Last Night

The view out my RV window

The view out my RV window

I choose Quality RV, the mobile RV Service to repair the damage done to the body of my Leisure Travel. So far am happy, Gabriel put my mind at ease. He picked up my little LT and drove it to his shop in Camarillo. AAA okayed the insurance work. Poor little baby has some nasty scratches.

Damage is along the driver side to the battery door and along the wheel. the fiberglass is flaky along the cracks.

Damage is along the driver side to the battery door and along the wheel. the fiberglass is flaky along the cracks.

Fix me.... fix me...  when it happened it seemed worse than it actually is. Still it's a big job to repair.

Fix me…. fix me… when it happened it seemed worse than it actually is. Still it’s a big job to repair.

Traveling with dogs can be a blast, they have a great time, they’re wonderful sentries and companions, fun loving, eager, joyful…. but it’s hard on the human. For the first time ever I didn’t stop at Harbin Hot Springs or Sierraville or any of the hotsprings that I love. A few days soaking would have been bliss. No dogs is the standard policy. No dogs may be left in one’s vehicle, no dogs unattended, no dogs on trails, no dogs in parks, no dogs in buildings, no dogs…… No on-location (safe and clean) kenneling, dog sitting, pet area, etc, etc, is offered and to make it worse dog napping is on the rise. California used to be a friendly place. I remember friendly dogs at Harbin, cute mutts on hiking trails, well behaved dogs in stores sheltered from heat exhaustion welcomed with a pat and a biscuit. Having once been a public sector servant I know that these policies are passed to provide the same requirement to all. They can’t say, no bad dogs, they can’t ask for self-enforcement of common courtesy instead they levy fines, restrictions, they mar the scenery with dozens of sings that must be paid for and maintained. Nature must be pristine, sculpted and controlled, unchanging so everyone gets to see the same thing.

It’s doubtful all this regulation will curtail the flippancy of non-caring humans, and even though dogs can read simple signs and words most don’t know how. The non-caring, non-stewarding human doesn’t give a holler about the results of their passage. Where’s the sign that says, no cigarette butts on this trail, you will be fined $100 for each butt, DNA testing enforced. How about no radios and TVs at campgrounds? No smoke plume campfires? No yelling and screaming, no cigar toking, no trash and plastic left in the fire pit, no revving super-sized trucks with all the lights blazing especially at 3 am, no unsupervised kids pawing everything in sight, no gunshots, no human waste piles, trash piles…. you get the idea. Most folks and their dogs are great. Isn’t it time we collectively ask the troublemakers to get with program and respect the land! Aren’t you tired of all the trash, violence, pillage and disregard for one another and for our environs? What happened to the Litter Bug, kindness towards strangers and leave a place better than you found it? Why pick on dogs, especially weary travelers, visitors and tourists with dogs? It’s time to be respectful, teach your dog good manners, teach each other and have them yourself or soon the next sign I expect to see is NO HUMANS.

My phone provides pleasure, especially via Tunein Pro radio, right now I’m listening to Folk Alley via my little pop up black portable speakers–I-Home–I think they are. Other favs, Sleepbot Environmental, Silent.li Nature Sounds, Misterium, Niryana Relaxation Radio, KCBX Public Radio, WKSU Classical, All Classical Portland. Most of these are for sleeping to kill the annoying wine in my bad ear, but they are for pleasure as well.

 My parking spot in the rain at Konocti Vista Casino, first night in Lake County

My parking spot in the rain at Konocti Vista Casino, first night in Lake County

Taking a walk around the Casino

Taking a walk around the Casino

My Note’s GPS is far better at finding and laying a trail via car or walking than my Garmin. My newish Garmin is a confused and wayward creature, I don’t recommend it although I loved my original one. The Note provides overview maps and specialty info. My e-mail is delivered as received, same for Facebook. I can watch movies, read a book, tell the time, count the stars or at least know what I’m seeing up there in the night. I can keep in touch, video and photograph what I see, draw a picture or pen a note. I can record fantastic bird and nature sounds. My Note will talk to me if I ask it to, it will sing to me in my own voice from one of the moments when no one was listening but my Note. Remember when one needed a daypack for all their stuff? All I need is my Note, a water bottle, a hat and my dogs. Oh and my wallet, which brings me back to the story of losing my wallet. How many of you have experienced precognition? If you have an explanation I want to know.

Comes cordis Olympia of Flying Curls Lagotto Romagnolo at the dog park

Comes cordis Olympia of Flying Curls Lagotto Romagnolo at the dog park


Flying Curls Mason at the dog park

Flying Curls Mason at the dog park

I had returned to a favored spot, the dog park at the Kelseyville County Park. Now this involves a pet peeve of mine; its women’s jeans pockets. Men’s pants have nice roomy pockets, front and back. Women’s have itsy-bitsy teeny weenie pockets, some pockets are even fake, oh how I hate those! How many road savvy, feet hiking, dog toting, camping, fixing, picture-taking, RV driving where other RVs don’t dare to go, women, have the space to carry a purse or need to with a nifty Note? So what’s wrong with pockets? One for the phone, one for the wallet, one for dog treats, one for pooper bags and I’m good to go. Why must they be so shallow?

I thought of leaving my wallet, it’s one of those Eagle Creek things, lot’s of stuff can go in there, I actually have a sort of purse, a green sling bag from Magellan’s Travel Supplies in which I keep my checkbook, camp cards and a few other things; my wallet and phone will fit in there if needed and I don’t want my too small pockets bulging…. ah hum… leaving my wallet in the LT was a good idea, I was thinking, but being the don’t trust anyone sort, my head plays the scene… while I’m off having fun, someone breaks into the LT, maybe they take my wallet, or maybe they take the van …. better have my phone, my dogs, my wallet and a jacket just in case. I was a Girl Scout, a leader of my troop and learned to Be Prepared. I’m skilled at worrying. My Mother taught me to think ahead. I doubt she ever thought I’d get it. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, I’m excellent at listening. I listen to what others don’t say out loud, I listen to the animals, to the wind, to the sound my feet make, to the dogs breathing, to the sound the stars make and more.

So, there I was in Lake County on a too tired day not understanding why an environment of such astounding beauty should be inhabited by communities of drugged out, smoking, beer drinking, trash heaping, badly groomed, overly poor, burned out humans. I’m gonna say beauty is learned thing. No I’ll change that, beauty is natural, but the senses can be so degraded that humans lose touch and start living in a collective illusion, often an ugly one.

My private world of water and birds at the lake, Lake County, CA

My private world of water and birds at the lake, Lake County, CA

So I had the feeling, actually a premonition, maybe you could call it a vision, that I would actually lose my wallet that day. I don’t pay too much attention to these things being a skeptic. I was considering what a silly idea losing my wallet was; I could leave it stashed in the LT but since I planned to do some meandering I decided my premonition was nothing more than a reflex from the panic of the last week; I’d be extra careful. After playing with the dogs I was tired headed to Clearlake State Park to spend the night, having earlier that day rejected a half-dozen so called RV Park/Resorts in Kelseyville and Lakeport that were run down Trailer Parks of the kind that we used say were trash camps, the one or two that looked nice were private, none seemed to have any offerings for an overnight guest in defiance of their welcoming signs. So, I rolled up to the State Park kiosk, surprised that this time there was a human in the booth rather than a note saying one should self-register, I’d been here the day I arrived but had gone to the Casino for their Internet access and plug-in power.

I tired to pay my entrance fee. No wallet! No panic either, this time I knew I’d lost it, I’d known I was going to after all. I pushed the LT over the rough roads, bump and grind ignoring the dogs look of pained “do you have to do that, Mom” look, as fast as I could. The young pole fishing couple in their blue 4×4 waved me over just as I arrived at the dog park, they were about to disappear. “We were gonna mail this to you,” he said. A few more moments they would have been gone.

Camping at Clearlake State Park added to my study of the uncommonly seen species, the human male fisherman. At the State Park they come out into the open and are to be found everywhere! They are a noisy bunch but seem to be having a lot of fun. I walked all the paved roads from top to bottom, some 3 or 4 times as dogs are not allowed on the trails. On the upper roads, which had been barricaded from traffic I was completely alone save for my dogs, no fishermen, no campers, only me and the dogs. It was gorgeous. I found my favorite spot up there but it was closed for the winter.

I’d began my observation of the Human Male Fisher the previous night at Clearlake RV Resort; the first hour at the resort I spent raking dog poop and cigarette butts from the camp site I choose; my dogs were embarrassed, they hid under the LT until I’d cleaned the mess. I felt sorry an Australian Shepard mix tied outside a weathered trailer, never saw his owner, the dog was waiting until I went to sleep and tied up outside in the morning, don’t know if the piles were his but he had a sad lonely bark. I suspect I was the only “visitor” in the Resort; the others appeared to be semi-permanent. Only one resident was brave enough to check out the newcomer (me) other than one of the wilder young girls who asked a lot of questions. The man brought his dog, a cute but vicious little chihuahua over to poop while he tried to engage me in conversation. He was smoking and trying real hard to explain about his retirement and moving to Clearlake, I was polite but cold. I cleaned up his dog’s gifts after he left.

I loved my spot on the lip of the lake with no view of the campers far behind me. I laid out a nice clean big mat for the dogs and a few smaller ones to collect mud. We had a private paradise to ourselves. I left dogs off leash, Olympia played in the water, Mason and I watched the birds. I relaxed tossing the ball to Olympia, sitting in my green chair over a good dinner on Mom’s little nautical folding table. I felt like I was in a Disney Nature World, but it was real! Mergansers, plovers, mallards, greebe, coots, osprey: the feeding in turns… what expert fishers the birds are! The four guardian geese. The rituals, the crickets, squirrels, pond turtles, the bullfrogs, turkey vultures and hawks, the wind… it was rapture. The Resort was not so great, the wi-fi didn’t work, the shower took quarters so I didn’t bother, the store was closed, the pool and hot tub chained linked closed. I paid way too much to be doing my own cleaning but my spot had to be singularly the most vibrantly elegant bit of lakefront that I’ve experienced. I dreamed of having a place like that. I drew a picture, read my book, cooked a great meal, I was happy.

To my horror in the morning I made my first sighting of the human male fisher, they often came in pairs, in boats, looking very serious in special costumes and talkative among themselves at an hour long after the fish have retreated; what’s alarming is that they hunted for fish in the dirtiest part of the lake made even dirtier by the inhabitants of the resort… and I put all the blame on the humans here not the dogs. I dreaded what would happen if they caught a fish and took it to their wives for dinner…. mercury in the lake too. . . sick kids, sick mom and dad.

Keeping Guard over us

Keeping Guard over us

Clearlake 056

Clearlake 077

I think Clearlake needs to be repurposed as a naturalist habitat. I love all the organic farms. . .pears, peaches, apples, walnuts, grapes, herbs and figs, melons, berries, olives, pomegranates, lamas, flowers, free range pheasants, chickens, goats, wild turkeys, etc. but not the failure of the fishing economy and the collapse of tourism. The Lake is troubled, contaminated but she’s ancient and beautiful. It would be terrible to turn the borders into another Lake Tahoe where you have to pay for a view and the traffic is thicker than frozen butter. So if I won the lottery…. well who knows. Bed time now.
Clearlake

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Clearlake 054

This turned out to be a favored camping spot: River Reflections RV Park … could’ve, should’ve spent another night there but with the rain I went exploring as you already heard…. Oh yay yay Great camping spot with a view of the Feather River. Had our section to ourselves, peaceful and serene.

The Park had some sticky seed pods in the grass, Mason was suspicious, when something funny gets in his paws he gives me this look, like, you gotta be kidding, what, walk on the stuff, no way! But he’s little I can pick him up. I gave him a nice foot massage and all was forgiven.

On our last walk of the day we sat at the bottom of the boat loading ramp watching the birds.

On our last walk of the day we sat at the bottom of the boat loading ramp watching the birds.

night

Rain Outside Our Window

Rain Outside Our Window

Oh yeh….. and the dam – I would have liked a tour but I wasn’t finding anything that day. Maybe it was down the way too small and steep looking dirt / gravely and wet road that I didn’t dare take the LT on or maybe further up the hill or maybe on the other side… I was driving in loops and circles.

Oroville Dam from the road

Oroville Dam from the road

No Wi-Fi Here

I choose this spot for it’s location and the connection.  Have been enjoying the delight of the Lake. No signal, not surprised. I am right on the lake, the wind is howling. In the quiet spaces, lapping water, frogs, crickets…they start and stop, same with the wind. A glorious concert.

Am I imagining things in the darkness, has the water risen. It looks so close now, the lights on the walk out peir twinkle at me as if it was just us, the water and the lush of night.

The Power of Birds

I wrote this yesterday, but could not post as there was no Wi-Fi,   Tonight  it’s iffy…   will see..

Okay, no pictures tonight, not enough  bandwidth to load them…  but here’s the text…  photos to come. Oh, there’s one….more later.

As I sit at the bottom of the boat ramp at River Reflections RV Resort & Campground in Oroville CA,  tired dogs snuggled close, a rapid streak  fills the flickering of  first one eye then the next, replacing the uncomfortable tailings of ocular migraines and visual snow. It is a goodness only surpassed by the cacophony of dinner calls, territorial puckering, perhaps mating rituals; it is after all early spring. The whistles , hoots and calls of 5 or 7 or 10 species eradicates tinnitus. The noise of the birds is like a waterfall in sound. And again, another flash of bird power that feels so good to my eyes, shattering the stasis of torn nerves. I don’t know how they can fly so fast then seem to slow as l watch. I want to memorize them,  They are beauty and doctoring entwined. It is magic.  Today has been a feast, all this natural music. Earlier there were carpets of tiny flowers , purple butterflies, more fantastic bird songs and strange roads my GPS sends to test my mettle. I plugged in my desired location and was instructed in rather bad English. The road unexpectedly turned to gravel, oh heck, I thought, someone had told me the road was paved, this must be temporary  but it went on. I swore, knuckles clamped on the wheel it was time to turn around, give it up, I could not pass this way, yet I’d experienced before how I never see others making the journey I’m making only to arrive and find there is a crowd…  how did they get there! The road was too narrow to turn around. Who would find me and the dogs I wondered, I passed homes until they disappeared. This time just before I reached  my destination–Table Mountain Ecological Area–a ranch appeared, cars appeared and a cross-road… paved of course, with a double yellow line.  Oh! And all these folks were picnicking and walking dogs. Everyone happy, with the thunderclouds and dotted sun. Folks asked me about Olympia and joked about investigating the cow piles. I was glad I found it. Wildflowers jumping up and down.

Table Mountain Ecological Area

Table Mountain Ecological Area

Still earlier, I had driven into Chico from Paradise; Paradise I have decided is a delight to those living in Chico because of its stunning Pines. The town is filled with trees, Dogwoods, Maples I think, Willows maybe, I’m guessing since I don’t know, some of which were in bloom, white, others blazing pink amid the evergreens, a delight in contrast to the heat of Chico. Yet I was not taken with the town, it seems better suited for seclusion. I loved the off-road walkways walking with the dogs, didn’t see any residents on them. The Safeway was packed with men, maybe going fishing?  As one guy told me, this isn’t San Francisco you can’t expect to find those fancy foods here, my tastes for the natural organic stuff…. life here is more basic. Maybe it was just the day, I’ve never seen so many guys grocery shopping, l felt dwarfed standing in line with them.

Stopped at Bidwell Park in Chico, loved it! 3,670-acres! The dogs ran free, Olympia blasted into the pond, Mason in wonder…he seemed stunned, fascinated by such a place; didn’t love the speed bumps on the road in… those are tough in the LT. I took the road to the end. Dogs were permitted off leash on the hiking trails!!! That’s love. We played amid Pipevine Swallowtails, geese, herons, ducks, salamanders, and flurries of assorted  and noisy song birds with their accompanist insects.  I liked Chico,well, I loved the Park and therefore the town! The Natural Food store was yummy; tons of students. Then the challenging drive…my Garmin secretly laughs at me; those 4 by 4 trucks can’t get anything over on the LT. I could do it. Twisty, steep, gravely, no shoulders, bring it on. The reward was wildflowers and at my campsite more birds!!!!

Early this morning it rained, I felt relaxed, I almost never feel that way. I woke at 6:30 with the wind, then the rain came. I lazed in the Park for a few hours, took the dogs for a walk in-between showers but then I left. I might have stayed another day it the Park had Wi-Fi. Instead I went in search of a wildlife viewing area which I couldn’t find. Every turn I made was the wrong turn. I was frustrated so decided to head to Clear Lake State Park…  I stopped here and there, for a walk, near a river, or a downtown or a path.  Someone slide up next to my LT, maybe another camper, maybe a truck….  they left a long wound on my motorhome, sliced fibreglass badly all along the rear wheel and compartment and more. I was upset, then Olympia started in with her I want to play tennis ball sulkiness…. why did today turn out to be irritating and troublesome when yesterday was a delight?  The rain turned gray and muddy. I passed on the State Park, I passed on the nearby RV Park and am at the Casino…ho-humm, a parking lot, but it’s quiet. Patience  I need patience and please, please bring back those magical birds and butterflies and singing insects….

Awake at 3 am

Am in the town of Paradise, CA, it’s filled with trees. First night sleeping in the LT on this trip; there seems to be a bit of mold which has caused breathing trouble keeping me awake. Tomorrow will need to take out the contents from the overhead cabinets and treat them with a mold killer…  maybe a hot laundry too. On my way to Table Mountain to see the season’s wildflowers.