Saturday, January 31, 2009

Casa Grande RV Resort, Casa Grande, Arizona

We're spending a week at the Casa Grande RV Resort (also know as Desert Shadows) under RPI. The park is pretty typical of the desert RV parks we've stayed - open sites with gravel in which to park your rig. Each site is quite large and offers a large concrete pad to place your chairs, tables, and accompanying "garden" items. (We have Bernie - our Welcome Bear.) The park is large, over 300 sites, with a swimming pool, hot tub, and patio area, a large and well-stocked library, an equally large laundry room with more than a dozen washers and dyers, a large card room with about 6 round tables, a billiards room with four tables, a decent sized exercise room with some cardio equipment and weight machines (in okay shape). There are two dog-walking areas where you can take your four-legged friend off-leash to romp, and tons of activities, ranging from pot lucks to bingo to cards to crafts to travel talks. The one issue with Casa Grande RV Resort - the wifi. This is our fourth Western Horizons resort that we've stayed under RPI, and except for Tall Chief in Washington, they all had wifi issues. In fact, at this park you cannot use the wifi between 7:00am-5:30pm, as it is used only by the employees during that time. Overall this seems like a nice park in which to stay as we explore the surrounding area of Casa Grande.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dining Adventures in Apache Junction, Arizona

We went to a lot of restaurants while spending the week in Apache Junction - most of which are chain restaurants, but nonetheless deserve mention.

Carrabba's Italian Grill ~ We had a nice dinner here with lots of garlic! This is a chain restaurant, but we had never gone to one before, until a few days ago. We enjoyed the food very much - the waitstaff was excellent and the food portions large and yummy! This is a large restaurant, which also has bar seating where you can watch the chefs in action. We would definitely go back to any Carrabba's Italian Grill again. (Italian is Suzanne's favorite. In fact, sounds good for tonight!) Oh, at this Carrabba's, on Wednesdays, they have $10 off any bottle of wine!

O'Sullivan's Sport's Bar ~ This was fun place, and not like many sports bars we've experienced where it was not smoky, crowded or loud,. There were televisions everywhere - every booth had their own TV! We went for Happy Hour - all appetizers at half-price and drinks (beer & wine) were $3 each (and nicely portioned). The appetizers were large-portioned and there were even some healthy ones available (i.e. a veggie plate). When we were there they had 30-cent chicken wings - another yum! This would be a great place to take in Sunday's Superbowl, Speaking of which, there is a definite excitement in the air here in Arizona as the Arizona Cardinals are getting ready to play in this year's Superbowl - should be fun to find a place at our next stop.

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse - We had a nice lunch here, with again, a great staff. (In fact, we have been very impressed with the service at all of the restaurants - must be something in the Apache Junction water............). They brew their own beer and the food was good. They call hamburgers "sliders" around here, and a nice lunch was a plate of their four small sliders - easily split between two people.

On the Border - This is a chain we also have in Oregon, but were in the mood for Mexican food and it was close. The margaritas were very good, as their salsa had a nice bite to it. We split fajitas and they were very good and not too oily. It was a good Mexican restaurant, but not as good as some of the "mom-and-pop" places we've found in our travels.

Hungry yet?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Apache Creek Golf Course, Apache Junction, Arizona

Apache Creek Golf Course is off Hwy 60 at exit 193 in Apache Junction. This is an 18 hole Par 71 Championship Course (I - Brad - haven’t played much so I’m not sure what this means) golf course that is open to the public. It offers a driving range, chipping and putting green, pro shop and bar/grill. This course is challenging for the less skilled player since there are large, hard, bare desert ground areas between most tees and greens, coupled with dry hard fairways, thus it made it difficult to hit the ball. The greens were very lush and nice, but uneven, which provide a fun challenge. The cost is $35 for each person, cart included.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Besh-Ba-Gowah Archaeological Park ~ Globe, Arizona

Besh-Ba-Gowah is an ancient pueblo ruin found in Globe, Arizona. We took I-60 east today to Besh-Ba-Gowah, about 60 miles from Apache Junction. The drive goes through desert terrain, and eventually winds through picturesque mountains as you climb to the town of Globe. Besh-Ba-Gowah is an archaeological site where remnants of the Hohokam and Salado Indians lived, in the years 900-1100 and 1225-1400, respectively. The Apache eventually lived here starting around 1600. Items such as pieces of clothing, jewelry and baskets were found at Besh-Ba-Gowah. Interestingly, the original pueblo was three stories – the first floor most likely used for storage, the second floor for some living, and the top, open floor for living and socialization.

The archaeological park consists of the ruins, also a museum with interesting artifacts that were excavated from the site, as well as an informative movie (10 minutes or so) that was good to watch before we toured the ruins, a small gift store, and an ethno-botanical garden that you can stroll at your leisure.

The admission to Besh-Ba-Gowah is $3/adult and $2/senior citizen, and they honor AAA with 25% discount. The park is somewhat accessible, there are a couple ladders if one wants to see the top stories of the pueblo.

If this is your type of thing, then you may want to take the drive to Globe to see the Besh-Ba-Gowah Archaeological Park, but it is a long drive if this sort of thing doesn’t peak your interest. For a longer day drive, you can continue to the Tonto National Monument, which is in Roosevelt, about a 45-minute drive from Globe.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona

Located in the hills of Papago Park in Phoenix Arizona is the Desert Botanical Garden. This is an amazing outdoor garden of succulents and cactus. Also as a major bonus until May 31, 2009, the garden is displaying The Nature of Glass exhibit by world renowned artist Dale Chihuly. This exhibit is placed throughout the garden and lit for nighttime views which were breathtaking. The Desert Botanical Garden has one main loop trail called the Desert Discovery Loop Trail with three major trails branching off of it:

  • Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail – this is a one mile loop where you learn how the people native to the Sonoran desert utilized the plants of the desert for shelter, food and ceremonial purposes.
  • Sonoran Desert Nature Loop Trail – this trail offers nice views of the surrounding mountain ranges as well as up close viewing of the native Sonoran Desert plants.
  • Desert Wildflower Loop Trail – on this trail you will learn about the insects and hummingbirds that are attracted to the desert plants of the region and the vital role they play.

We expected to spend couple hours covering all the loop trails but ended up spending five hours during the day, including having a good lunch the Ullman Terrace. We also returned that night to see the garden and the Chihuly glass lit at night. Truly Spectacular! This is an amazing desert botanical garden most definitely worth a visit if you are in the Phoenix area. The admissions fee is $15 for adults and $13.50 for seniors. AAA will get you 10% off and using your America Express card will get you a 15% discount, and all the trails/walks are wheelchair accessible. Be sure to checkout many more pictures of the botanical garden and the Chihuly exhibit – enjoy!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Meridian RV Resort, Apache Junction, Arizona

For the next week or so we will be staying at Meridian RV Resort in Apache Junction, Arizona. This is a private, age 55+ RV resort (over 200 sites), but they do allow a few RV’ers under 55 to stay, since legally they can allow up to 20% of their spots to be rented to those of us less than 55 years of age. Meridian RV Resort is easily accessible off Hwy 60 and is close to many area attractions, as well as major stores like Walmart, Home Depot and Costco. The resort itself is very well maintained. All the roads are paved with each site having a concrete patio and groomed pea-gravel for the rigs. Just like the well maintained grounds, Meridian RV Resort offers a beautiful and complete club house. It includes a private and well stocked library, a computer room with four guest computers, a large laundry room (12 washers and 12 dryers), billiards room, card room, general purpose room, and a beautiful pool and hot tub area that has views of the nearby mountain tops. Meridian RV Resort also has a complete exercise room with various machines and free weights. All these facilities are new and are well taken care of. It doesn’t stop there - Meridian RV Resort also provides many activities and events, a phone for free long-distance calls, two fenced and grassed dog parks with agility toys, and recycling. Also, the water pressure is great! (It’s the little things, ya know!) The downside to this park is that their free WIFI is not reliable. The more people who use it, the slower it gets - very early in the morning it is fast, but quickly becomes unusable, which is frustrating.

The Internet issues aside, this is a very nice park, and we look forward to our time here and it is definitely on our “come to again” list when we’re in the Apache Junction area. This will be a great base for all our upcoming adventures in Phoenix and the surrounding area.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Quartzsite, Arizona ~ Reflections

Today is a bit different of an entry ~ a bit more personal than usual.

When we decided to go to Quartzsite for a few days to experience THE Show, we had planned to boondock on our own for a few days. Yet a couple weeks ago we met two couples and they invited us to join their group of rigs in Quartzsite and camp with them. We were, quite honestly, a bit apprehensive about camping with a group of people we either barely knew or whom have never met, but we took a leap and joined their group. We are thrilled that we joined this wonderful group of people - we have been welcomed with open arms, have laughed and talked and shared stories, and truly feel that we have made new friends.

So we would like to say THANK YOU to our new friends for such a great time:

  • Sharon & Jim
  • Ethel & Manny
  • Shirley & Ron
  • Marti & Stan
  • Barb & John
  • Donna & Jim
  • Betty & Frank
  • Dolly & Paul
We also had the opportunity to (finally) meet Linda & Howard- they are full-time RV'ers who are our age (which is much younger than the norm). They have a wonderful website that we encourage you to check out: - it's full of great information about the fulltime lifestyle. We've "followed" them for years as they've shared their journey with the hope of someday meeting them face-to-face.

So to sum up our thoughts of Quartzsite ~ we'll definitely be back - not for the flea markets, but for the great people we have met here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Quartzsite, Arizona ~ Day 5

If you’re heading to Quartzsite this winter, here are some events to enjoy ~

  • Jan 16th – 25th ~ Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show at Tyson Wells

  • Jan 17th – 25th ~ Sports, Vacation & RV Show at the Big Tent

  • Jan 28th – Feb 1st ~ Hobby, Craft & Gem Show at the Big Tent

  • Jan 28th – Feb 1st -~ Rock & Roll Classic Car Show at the Big Tent

  • Feb 13th – 14th ~ Quilt Show at the Quartzsite Senior Center

  • Feb. 14th ~ ATV Parade at Town Park

  • Feb 28th ~ It’s Chillin’ in Quartzsite Chili Cook-off at Tyson Wells

Remember, there is great free camping on the BLM lands.

As always……….have fun!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quartzsite, Arizona ~ Day 4

East of the Big Tent and the Tyson Wells Swap meet, we explored a smaller market called Rice Ranch. This market contains vendors offering the typical flea market wares but also seems to have more RV supply vendors. There was one specific vendor that offers a very large selection of used and new parts - they had everything from ladders, light fixtures, electrical panels, plumbing items to chairs. This is the place to go for that RV part that you’ve been unable to find elsewhere. Also in this market are a couple of consignment shops that offer a wide range of items from cars, scooters to tools. This is where you might find that “gem” of an item and at a great price. And what’s a flea market market in Quartzsite without a few beading shops? Well, don’t worry - this market is no different. One in particular was a nice wholesale beading shop with a large selection.

And if you are feeling a little grimy from a day of shopping or from dry BLM camping, then across the street you will find the showers (they have a Laundromat too).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quartzsite, Arizona ~ Day 3

Every year, Quartzsite hosts a big RV show in January, with vendors showcasing anything and everything you’d ever need or want for your RV. In addition to all the merchandise, there were representatives from many campgrounds with special offers, RVs for sale, and of course, food, food, food! We spent many hours today meandering throughout the vendors, getting lots of free literature, learning a lot about things we need (and don’t need), and in general, having a good time.

Basically, there is a huge tent with three aisle of vendors, numbering in the hundreds. Outside of the Big Tent there were also vendors, as well as RVs for sale (both new and previously owned). In case you haven’t done enough browsing and shopping, all of this is located by Tyson Wells (which we went to a week or so ago).

Parking is tricky – there is some parking alongside Tyson Wells, but you can also find parking if you look down any dirt path – there seemed to be not much rhyme or reason to where you could park. Parking, as well as entrances to the RV Show is free, which is great since in the past we’ve paid upwards to $8 per person to go to our local RV Show, in addition to parking.

Overall, after hearing about the Big Tent and Quartzsite RV Show, it was actually smaller than we expected, and although there were many vendors with RV items for sale, we actually expected more, and not so much “flea market” items. We will check out another area tomorrow, across the street from Tyson Wells and the Big Tent, that we think may have more RV items.

Again, stay tuned………..

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Quartzsite, Arizona ~ Day 2

We are back in Quartzsite now for a few days to enjoy the RV show under the big tent. This time we are staying at Plomosa Road with some new friends – our rigs are in a big circle with the fire pit in the middle. Plomosa Road is the most northern BLM 14-limit free camping area in Quartzsite and quite popular as the dust is minimal since the main road is paved.

We’ll check out the Big Tent tomorrow & report back ~ stay tuned!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Yuma, Arizona Happenings, January – March

We must be on our way soon, but if you’re in the Yuma area anytime in the next couple of months, here’s a list of happenings around the area:

All Winter
Farmer’s Market ~ Historic Downtown – every Tuesday until the end of March (928) 343-1243


  • Jan. 23 & 24 ~ Desert Lily Quilt Show – Yuma Civic Center (928) 373-5040

  • Jan 23 – 25 ~ Yuma Lettuce Days Festival – live entertainment, agriculture & produce displays, farm machinery, arts & crafts, lettuce box derby, music & food – Historic Downtown Yuma (928 )782-5712

  • Jan. 30 & Feb 1 ~ Americana Art & Jewelry Show – Yuma Civic Center (928) 373-5040


  • Feb 7 ~ Yuma Doll Show – Yuma Civic Center (928) 373-5040

  • Feb 9 ~ Bodacious Red Hatters Convention - Yuma Civic Center (928) 373-5040

  • Feb 13 –15 ~ Fourteenth Annual Yuma Crossing River Daze Arts & Crafts Festival –includes Historic re-enactments in several locations - Historic Downtown Yuma (928)782-5712

  • Feb 13 – 15 ~Yuma Square Dance & Round Dance Festival - Yuma Civic Center (928) 373-5040


  • Mar 6 – 8 ~ Seventeenth Annual Midnight at the Oasis Festival – over 900 classic cars – from Model T’s to Muscle cars – all build before 1972. Food, kiddie rides, concerts on Friday & Saturday night, parade of classic cars on Friday afternoon – Desert Sun Stadium (928) 343-1715

  • Mar 13-15 ~ March Breezes Arts & Crafts Festival – arts & crafts & food booths - Historic Downtown Yuma (928)782-5712

  • Mar 31 – Apr. 5 ~Yuma County Fair – Family fun, food, rides, entertainment, 4H and FFA animals – Yuma County Fairgrounds (928) 726-4420

Have fun!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Los Algodones, Mexico

Los Algodones, Mexico is a small border town west of Yuma and south of Winterhaven, California. It’s been a dozen or more years since we’ve visited a border town, so we thought it was time to go again. To get to Los Algodones, off I-8, take exit #166, Algadones Road. Go south, onto the overpass, and in about a mile or so, you can park in a lot for $5, or park along the street for free. The street does have “No Parking” signs, but there were over 50 cars, trucks, and RVs parked along the street, and when we asked another couple if they’ve ever been ticketed or towed, they said not in the seven years they’ve been parking there, so we figured we’d be safe. It was about ½ mile walk into Mexico, and ya just walk right in.

Los Algodones is populated by dentists (many RV’ers go to Mexico for dental work as it’s less expensive than the US), pharmacies (you can bring a 3-month supply of non-controlled medications into the US without a prescription), eye doctors (however when we asked about contact lens prices, they were actually higher than Costco for Acuvue lenses), liquor stores, cigarette stores, and Mexican blankets, pottery and jewelry. One popular place was the shrimp taco stand – for the entire time we were in Algodones (about 1 ½ hours), there was a line of people. We weren’t hungry, but it definitely looked like the place to go!

So when it was time to leave (and we are terrible consumers – we didn’t buy anything! No dental/eye work needed, no Rx to fill, we have enough liquor with us to last quite a while, we don’t smoke, there’s no room in the rig for pottery, we don’t need more blankets since we plan to stay in sunny areas all winter……….) We got in the very, very long to get back into the United States - we stood for about an hour, which regulars to Los Algodones told us was actually a short line (benches and shade are provided since the wait can be 2 hours or more). After scanning our passports (you need your passport or a license & birth certificate), we walked back to the truck that had neither been towed or ticketed, and drove home.

All-in-all, compared to other border towns we’ve visited (when we lived in Texas), the merchants were very nice and not too pushy, the town was clean, and if you’re in the market for any of the above-mentioned items, you’d do quite well.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park, Yuma, Arizona

Today we visited the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park near the old downtown Yuma. This was the prison in this territory from 1876 to 1909. In its lifetime Yuma Territorial Prison held over 3000 prisoners including 39 women. The only original buildings and structures that are left are the guard tower, on your left as you first walk in, and some of the stone cells blocks. The guard tower was built on top the original stone water tank and provides views of the Colorado River basin and part of the prison grounds. Through the original sallyport (the large iron gates through which prisoners arrived) you will come to the site museum. This building has been reconstructed using adobe bricks so it matches the surrounding structures. This museum is small, but offers many exhibits containing photos of some of the more notorious prisoners as well as insights into prison life at the time. We also found some historic exhibits that had nothing to do with the prison, which was disappointing. Behind the museum are the remaining stone cells blocks that you can walk around and explore. There are a couple cells that you can go into to get a feel for how living with twelve other inmates in a tiny room with little air flow and no bathroom. All and all we were disappointed with experience. We were expecting to see more of the original buildings. They also allow smoking on the grounds which took away from our experience. If you are really interested in this kind of history, then this might be a place for you. If not, I would suggest using the $4 per person entrance fee for something else.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lutes Casino & Arizona Market Place, Yuma, Arizona

Lutes Casino – Old Downtown Yuma
Old downtown Yuma has very few open establishments and seems almost very deserted. However, once we opened the doors to Lutes Casino, we found everyone - it was wall-to-wall people, happily eating. Despite its name, this is not a casino but rather an old historic saloon with tons of memorabilia plastered all over the walls and ceiling. The lunch menu offers a large selection of typical bar sandwiches with healthy portions. Every time our waitress addressed us she referred to us as “my honeys” or “my babies”. This fit the ambiance and added to the character of this joint. Lute's also has a piano player (a human, not a self-playing piano) which also gives you that old west saloon feel. The food was good and the atmosphere was very different and unique. Definitely make this a stop if you are in Yuma, and don’t be surprised when you walk in and it’s packed. Oh, cash only is accepted here.

Arizona Market Place
This Arizona Market Place is a large, open air markets The over 600 vendors offer clothing, used books, antiques, jewelry, RV supplies, tools and much more . If you have been to one of these flea markets in this part of the country, then you will find nothing new at this one. What makes this one unique is that all the vendors are under long, permanent covers which provide shade for the entire market. This is a definite bonus. We didn’t witness any “swapping” going on, so I don’t understand why the locals refer to it as a swap meet. It’s probably buried in historic traditions. This market is open Thursdays through Sundays (9:00am-4:00pm) from October through April. The parking and entrance to the market is free.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Yuma Lakes & TWO great restaurants, Yuma, Arizona

Yuma Lakes is an RV Resort affiliated with the Colorado River Adventure (CRA), and we are here for a week or so under RPI. What’s interesting about Yuma Lakes is it’s also a KOA campground, so people (not us) buy (for a lot of money) a membership to CRA, yet it’s also a public park………….hmmmm……..

Yuma Lakes is a fairly large RV park – 544 full-service sites, all rather open with a few trees in some areas. There is a central activity center with a dining area where cards, bingo, etc.. . are played, a billiard room, small book exchange, free WiFi, and laundry. Behind the Activity Center is the pool and hot tub. There are also horseshoe pits, shuffleboard courts, and mini golf. Here’s the low-down: it’s a decent location to explore Yuma and the surrounding area (we like that it’s a bit north of town – less noise), but it’s not a great park –the bathrooms and buildings need a renovation, the “campground” is basically a gravel parking lot, and although pretty, the surrounding area is agriculture, which means crop-dusting planes flying overhead and farm machinery working at all hours

We got here yesterday, and after not eating our while in Ehrenberg last week, we’ve been making up for time lost!

Tacos Mi Rancho – We asked around and heard about this Mexican restaurant - it is a hole in the wall found on the corner of 4th Ave & 2nd St. We both had the lunch special of chicken enchiladas, and they were great! This is cash only, so when you go, be sure you bring a few bucks. If you’re new in town, just across the street is the Yuma Visitors Center – you can find tons of information about Yuma and Arizona and the staff was very nice.

Famous Dave’s BBQ – When Brad asked about a Mexican restaurant, the person then asked, “Do you like BBQ?” which is all Brad needed to hear. Famous Dave’s is in the Yuma Palms Mall and had some fabulous BBQ! Brad had the pulled pork and brisket, Suzanne had a pulled chicken sandwich – all were great. The side dishes we shared were also great, and the waitress had Suzanne pegged when she asked, “Did you save room for pecan pie?” Duh – yes! The best part – Famous Dave’s is a chain! We can go back again & again & again………..

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Road Runner BLM Camping, Quartzsite Arizona

Monday night we stayed overnight in the Road Runner section of the BLM's 14-day free dry-camping area south of Quartzsite off Hwy 95. We literally drove off the highway for about a half mile, pulled near a group of Saguaro cactus and setup camp. We found the main dirt road into this area in good shape and easy to travel on. Also, the hard packed desert pavement supported the rig well and kept the dust down to a minimum. To our surprise, we found dry-camping in this area to be very peaceful, quiet, secure, and clean (no trash blowing in the breeze despite the huge numbers of RVs). All the groups of RVs nearby were all respectful of the quiet hours and friendly. The only time it got loud was when we got a 3:00am wake-up call from a coyote right outside our RV howling to his friends. In addition, we’ve never seen stars more brilliant and bright. This is a wonderful place for star gazers.

As an added bonus, we were fortunate enough to spend some time with new friends Jim and Margie (here's their blog: who were also in the Quartzsite!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Free Camping in Quartzsite, Arizona

The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) offers many free camping opportunities (they call this “dispersed camping”) in the Quartzsite area, but you have to come prepared – it’s all boondocking (for you non-RVers, that means no hook-ups – no electricity, water or sewer). There are five short-term (you can stay a total of 14 days in a 28 day period, then you must move to a second camp more than 25 miles away) camping areas in Quartzsite:

Dome Rock Road – this is along I-10, 6 miles west of Quartzsite. Take the Dome Rock exit, and the camping area is south of the Frontage Road. You can see this campground from the highway (which may also mean that you can hear highway noise as well).

Scaddan Wash – also along I-10, 3.5 miles east of Quartzsite. Take exit 19 off I-10 and take the Frontage Road to the camping area. As with Dome Rock Road, you may hear some highway noise.

Plomosa Road – located 5.5 miles north of Quartzsite on Hwy 95, there is a Plomosa Road turnoff on the right (going north). Camping is found on both sides of Plomosa Road.

Hi Jolly – also on Hwy 95, Hi Jolly is 3 miles north of Quartzsite at mile marker 112. Take a right at the entrance.

Road Runner – five miles south of Quartzsite on Hwy 95, the turn to Road Runner is just past (going south) the 99 mile marker. Road Runner is adjacent to La Posa, the BLM’s LTVA (long term visitor area).

What is LTVA BLM camping? The BLM also offer long-term camping on public lands, but it is not free (although inexpensive). For $140 you can stay on any BLM land for as long as you want for the entire season (7 months). La Posa is the long-term option in Quartzsite if you want to stay on BLM land, and although you are still boondocking, there is access to trash, a dump/sani-station, potable water, and restrooms. Other long-term BLM camping opportunities are (all in California): Hot Spring, Tamarisk, Pilot Knob, Mule Mountain, Midland, and Imperial.

Here are some handy direction to camping on BLM land:

  1. Drive to a spot you like, perhaps next to a pretty cactus.
  2. Stop. Done. You’re camping! Have fun!!

Want more camping information? Check out the camping information provided by the Quartzsite Chamber of Commerce.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Blythe Intaglios, Blythe, California

Intaglios (pronounced "In-tal-yos”) are large figures made in the desert pavement by Native Americans thousands of years ago. These designs can be found throughout the deserts of the Southwest and Mexico. Archaeologists call them geoglyphys and they are made by scraping away the top dark colored desert pavement, thus exposing the light colored sand underneath to create the designs. The best known images are found north of Blythe, California and are known as the Giant Figures or Blythe Intaglios. In 1931, these Intaglios were discovered by a local pilot named George Palmer. There are three images north of Blythe - a man hunting, a man with open arms, and of a four-legged animal. There are other geometric patterns near each image, but much of the details have been lost over the years. Although these images are best seen from the air (probably not a shocker - neither of us has a pilot's license, so that wasn't an option....) we were very surprised when we walked out to each one and were able to see the figures quite well. It was fascinating to speculate the reasons why these Intaglios were built….symbols for the gods, ceremonial purposes, communication, or ?????

To see the Giant Figures, from Blythe, CA, take Hwy 95 fifteen miles north. Turn left on the dirt road which is marked by a sign that says Blythe Intaglios. Drive down the dirt road for 0.3 miles to the first turnout. Here you will see two (of the three) Intaglios fenced off, about 100 yards away. Another 0.2 of a mile down the road you will find another turnout. Here you will find the third image (See the Blythe Chamber of Commerce aerial photo and additional information). This is the largest and the most well preserved of the Blythe Intaglios. Enjoy! It was fascinating and a nice way to spend a few hours.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Quartzsite, Arizona ~ Day 1

Quartzsite, Arizona is a very small desert community (maybe a few thousand people) located in La Paz County 17 miles east of the California border on Interstate 10. Between the months of October and March this town and the surrounding area swells at times to upwards of over one million people, mainly snowbird RV’ers, Rock collectors and vendors. What’s the attraction? Well, it boils down to, sunny warm winter days, huge swap meets with a steady schedule of events and shows (i.e. RV, Gem, Car Shows), surrounding BLM land with camping for RVers, and several full service campgrounds around town if you don’t want to dry camp or boondock.

Throughout town there are many different swap meets to explore. If you want to hit them all be prepared for it will take you a couple of days. One of the largest swap meets in Quartzsite is Tyson Wells located south of Interstate 10 on W Kuehn Street and Hwy 95 south. You can’t miss all the vendor tents and awnings. This market has hundreds of vendors offering anything from kitchen items, beading supplies, handmade items, gems, jewelry, RV stuff to....... you name it they have. It was fun to walk around to not only see all the items for sale, but to also get a feel for the local somewhat quirky culture.

Another interest place to visit while in Quartzsite is the Readers Oasis Bookstore on the east side of town on Main Street. The nudist Paul Winer who owns this bookstore and walks around wearing nothing but a very small G-string. His bookstore has a huge selection of used books at good prices. He will also pose for pictures if asked.

We were very overwhelmed upon our first visit to Quartzsite, so we visited the Quartzsite Chamber of Commerce Information office on Main Street, on the right going west bound. This office is full of information and helpful staff to give you extra information about local attractions, places to eat or where to get needed supplies at the best prices. This helped us develop a plan of how we would explore this town and surrounding areas.

1. North of Quartzsite on Hwy 95 is a place called Pitstop - on the right (look for the large propane tanks with smiley faces). Here you will find the best propane prices in town as well as a place to fill your fresh water tank(s) and dump your gray/black tanks. They have a very friendly and helpful staff, so this is the place to go for these needs.
2. Gas and propane is significantly less in Quartzsite, Arizona versus Ehrenberg or Blythe, California.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Colorado River Oasis RV Park, Ehrenberg Arizona

Colorado River Oasis is an RPI park in Ehrenberg Arizona. It provides 165 full service sites that are large and level, 9 tent sites and a few little log cabins to rent. The park lies right on the banks of the Colorado River and provides a large paved boat ramp for launching ones favorite watercraft. There is also a well maintained heated pool and two hot tubs. In addition, Colorado River Oasis has a centrally located nice large club house used for meals, games and the occasional presentation. There is also an adjoining laundry room that includes a small sitting area where you can watch TV or work on a puzzle while you wait. The park also has a separate Activities Center that includes a library (not an exchange) with a great selection of books, a pool table and a separate room where crafts likes beading are offered (ask to see Suzanne’s anklet next time you see her). The park offers a pretty full schedule of activities each week and is an easy drive to the towns of Blythe, California and Quartzsite, Arizona.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Palm Springs Happenings, January - March, California

The Palm Springs area offers many more things than we were able to do while in the area – some of which do not start until after we leave. However, they sound like fun – and perhaps if you’re in the area in January - March, you can enjoy some of these:

Polo ~ starts in January
Did you know that Indio is considered the Polo capital of the west? On Sundays, starting in January, the grounds at the El Dorado Polo Club are open to the public so you can enjoy a polo match.

Art Under the Umbrellas ~ Jan 31, Feb 14 & April 11, 2009
Art Under the Umbrellas is held in Old Town LaQuinta on Main Street, between Washington and Calle Tampico, 10am-4pm. Over 60 artists are features, as well as craftspeople from all over the southwest. There is live music and wine tasting to add to your enjoyment.

Wine Music Series ~ Saturdays in February & March
The music is free, yet for $10 you can enjoy two glasses of wine and appetizers. This is held in Palm Desert on El Paseo Drive.

The Date Festival in Indio ~ mid-February
The Date Festival is held at the Indio Fairgrounds in the middle of February each year, and costs $8/ per person. The Date Festival includes entertainment, camel and ostrich races, a nightly Arabian pageant, bull riding pig races, and more!

Horse Show ~ late February – March
Hunter and jumper events are held at the HITS Horse Park in Thermal (take I-10 to CA86 spur south to Airport Blvd) and are free Wednesday – Saturdays (8am-5pm). Sundays cost $5 per person.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Day Trips from Palm Springs & Indio, California

We took many days trips we took while in the Desert Hot Springs/Palm Springs/Indio area ~ you might want to consider one or more of these when you’re in the area:

The Salton Sea, Sonny Bono Salton Sea Wildlife Refuse, Slab City and Salvation Mountain (all along Highway 111) ~ The Salton Sea is larger than Lake Tahoe and is easily accessible for water activities such as boating. We wouldn’t recommend swimming, though not due to its salinity levels (we’ve both swum in the Great Salt Lake and Brad in the Dead Sea), but because there were dead fish all over the beaches – it just didn’t make for an enjoyable day in the sun. Towards the south end of the Salton Sea is the Sonny Bono Salton Sea Wildlife Refuge which houses a variety of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish. On the other side of Hwy 111, is the road to Slab City, with its colorful array of people - some transient and some permanent who live “off the grid” and enjoy a unique way of life. Part of Slab City, of course, is Salvation Mountain created over 19 years of work by one man.

Joshua Tree National Park ~ Starting east of Indio on Highway 10, stop at the Cottonwood Visitors Center for some information about the park, get your park pass, and learn about any hikes or ranger programs that may interest you. The southern part of the park does not contain any of the grand Joshua Trees for which the park was named. As you drive north along the main road, the valley is quite dry and (we’re told) the best place for viewing spring wildflowers in March and April. The north end of the park is where you’ll find the Joshua trees and incredible rock piles – each artistic in its own way. Retuned to Palm Spring via Route 62 to I-10. (You’ll even go through a windmill farm along the way!) We wrote a lot about Joshua Tree – look to the right, under the Index, and click on Joshua Tree for more information about hikes, etc….)

Idyllwild ~ This was a great day trip as well, and is written about in depth in our previous post. On this drive you will see incredibly views of the Coachella Valley, horse farms, snow in winter, the San Jacinto Mountains, Lake Hemet, a quaint village, incredible views on the return to I-10 via 243. If you’ d like, you can extend your day by stopping at the Cabazon and Desert Hills Premium Outlets and shop!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Farmer's Markets in the Coachella Valley, California

As we travel various areas, we enjoy browsing and purchasing at local farmer’s markets. Here’s a list of some of the markets in the Coachella Valley ~ some of which we’ve gone to and others that we’ve simply heard about.

Every Wednesday & Saturday, 6-9pm in Indio ~ Fairgrounds in Indio
We went to this market on a Saturday evening and it cost 50-cents for admission per adult. The farmer’s market aspect was small (there were a lot of other items for sale, which you can read about here), but unique in the fact that there was a lot of produce that was popular in Mexico that we had never seen before.

Every Thursday, 6-9pm in Pam Springs ~ VillageFest
We went to VillageFest a couple times (read about it here) and enjoyed the evening both times. The farmer’s market here is on the medium-size and quite busy – they had a lot of local produce that was quite good.

Every Saturday & Sunday, 7am-2pm ~ Desert of the College Street Fair
This had a very small farmer’s market – a booth or two. We did enjoy our visit (read more about it - click here) to this street fair and recommend going at least once when you’re in the area, but for fruits & vegetables, you might want to try one of the other many markets in the area.

Every Saturday, 8am – 4pm ~ Cathedral City
We did not go to this farmer’s market, located on East Palm Drive (next to the McDonalds) in Cathedral City, but if you’re in the area it might be fun to check it out - it has new and old merchandise, farm produce and food.

Every Saturday, 8am - 12:30pm ~ Palm Springs
This is a certified organic farmer’s market located on 2300 Baristo Road. Local farmers and vendors showcase their fruits and vegetables.

Every Sunday, 8am – 12:30pm ~ La Quinta
If you miss the certified organic farmer’s market in Palm Spring on Saturday, you can get your organic produce at this market in La Quinta.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Great hikes in the Coachella Valley, California

The Coachella Valley offers a great variety of things to do, one of which is the vast hiking opportunities in this area.

Joshua Tree National Park has many hikes – both in the north part of the park and the south part. We went on some short, accessible hikes such as the Arch Rock hike through beautiful rock piles and the Hidden Valley hike through desert wash with beautiful views of area cacti and striking Joshua Tree forests.

Some longer hikes we took in Joshua Tree National Park included Fortynine Palm Oasis which leads hikers to a remote oasis and Mastadon Peak which offers hikers expansive views of the area.

Painted Canyon is where the unique Ladder Canyon hike is found and this is a fun hike for hikers of all ages. If climbing up and down ladders isn’t for you, then this area also offers some nice level walks along the canyon floors.

Thousand Palms Canyon is in the Coachella Valley Preserve and is a beautiful, somewhat accessible hike to a lush desert oasis. This is only one of many hikes in the Coachella Valley Preserve.

Two popular hikes we did not go to, but have heard good things about are the Indian Canyons and Tahquitz Canyon trails. Both are on reservation land and are a bit expensive for our taste (especially with so much free hiking in the area) – Indian Canyon costs $8/per person and Tahquitz Canyon is accessible only by ranger-led hikes and costs $12.50/per person.

Photos of Ladder Canyon, the Coachella Valley Preserve and the Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center (our post yesterday) have been posted ~ enjoy!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center, Indio, California

We had a fun and educational morning today at the Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center. The Wild Bird Center is a non-profit corporation for the rehabilitation of wild birds with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. When we arrived for the monthly bird walk led by a volunteer from the local Audubon Society, Linda the Executive Director of the Wild Bird Center, was examining a Coopers Hawk that had just been brought in by the local animal control.

The Wild Bird Center is located near a wetlands area and houses a number of wild birds, such as Great Horned Owls, American Kestrels, Red-tailed Hawks, Osprey, Quail, Raven and Doves, among others. As wild birds are brought into the center, Linda and her staff of volunteers (no one is a paid employee at the Wild Bird center) assess the bird’s health, take care of any medical needs if necessary, and make every effort possible to release the bird back to its native habitat. In fact yesterday Linda released a Vulture that she had rehabilitated from a non-life threatening gun shot wound to its leg. For the few birds that cannot be released, such as those too imprinted on humans to live in the wild or with a medical condition that make it impossible for the bird to thrive, they become educational ambassadors for their species by going into classrooms, being therapy birds, or fostering abandoned young birds until they are ready to leave the nest.

The center is open everyday from 9:00am-noon, and you can freely walk around inside the building where a few of the birds call home, as well as go in the back where there are more than a dozen large cages with birds that will soon be released. Adjacent to the Wild Bird Center is the wetlands with an accessible walking trail and two observation decks where you can get a birds-eye view (pun intended!) of the wetlands. On the first Saturday of most months (be sure to call first) at 8:00am the local Audubon Society offers a free 2-hour walk around the wetlands with birders who can help locate & identify the many birds that call the wetlands home ~ on our two hour walk this morning we saw 44 native birds! Be sure to bring binoculars and a camera. After the walk, Linda offers hot coffee, tea, cocoa and Brad’s favorite…………cinnamon rolls! It was nice to sit with the other birders and talk about what birds we saw, learn more about the rehabilitated birds, and to spend some time with Linda and learn about the past and future of the Wild Bird Centre.

This is an incredible opportunity to safely see some of these beautiful birds up-close. It is important to note that although the Wild Bird Center is free, it is run solely on private donations – they receive no government money or pay for what they do – so when you go – and you should go when you’re on the area because it was an inspirational place – please consider making a donation.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Idyllwild, California

Idyllwild is a quaint town high in the San Jacinto Mountains, about 40 miles from Palm Springs. A beautiful drive to Idyllwild starts on Route 74 which begins where Monterey Ave ends. Route 74 is a fun-to-drive, windy road with panoramic views of the Coachella Valley that eventually passes through Garner Valley, an area with many picturesque horse ranches. A bit further on Route 74 is Lake Hemet, a Forest Service area with facilities to enjoy a picnic or a nice walk along the lake.

Shortly after Lake Hemet, on Route 243 is Idyllwild - often snowy yet sunny in the winter. Idyllwild has shops of all types - some beautiful art galleries, others with crafty wares - one where you can create your own piece of pottery, a couple shops that sell homemade soaps, spiritual shops where you can get a psychic reading, clothing stores, a Nepalese paper and wool store, among others.....

Of course, there were lots of dining options, and we enjoyed a great lunch at the Red Kettle - Brad had a fantastic pastrami on rye, and Suzanne had a chicken Philly sandwich - sort of a Philly cheesesteak with chicken - we got the recipe to make these at home it was so good! The service was a bit slow, but we think it's because the place was absolutely packed with a line out the door - obviously the place to eat in Idyllwild!

After spending a few hours meandering and eating, the drive home continued along Route 243 which offered more fabulous views - this time of the mountains and valleys to the west. There was a lot of snow along the route (not on the road), and many of people were out sledding, making snowpeople and enjoying the sunny day. Route 243 ends at I-10, and the loop was completed. blog note:
As you can see, has a new header with some pictures of places we’ve been (from left to right: Bow Lake in Banff National Park, Charcoal Kilns in Death Valley National Park, the California Coastline). Some other changes/additions/moves:

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