Friday, December 7, 2012

Sophie's Flat Trailhead, Wickenburg, Arizona

usbackroads destination--Sophie's Flat Trailhead, Wickenburg, Arizona

The reason for today's trip to Wickenburg was to fix the KEY FOB from hell.  The truck is at 35820 miles so I called up Dodge to make they knew I still had a problem with KEY FOB.   They told me to head for the Dodge dealer in Wickenburg and make sure he enters it into Chrysler's national computer system.

I am a great fan of Arizona weather in winter.  There is nothing like sitting outside typing this blog in 75 degree weather in early December.  I guess I am not a desert rat.

At first, I thought it was just that I did not understand the desert.  Having a degree in Forestry means that you can pretty much figure out how landscapes function be they forested or grass.  However, desert landscapes have always been difficult for me to decipher.  Seems parts of the landscapes respond to elevation and others to soils.   So I have bought some books on desert ecology and hopefully will be getting a better understanding of the various deserts in the southwest and their vegetation.

For right now, the weather is the draw.  Susie likes the desert sunsets.  I must admit that they do put the mountain sunsets to shame.   Every once in awhile you get a spectacular mountain sunset, but it seems to be a daily event in the desert.

Just east of Wickenburg, just a few miles out of town is a trailhead on BLM that allows overnight camping.  The name is Sophie's Flat.  The trails in the area are interesting.  There is a very large area for camping that will fit just about any size RV.  The access road is paved except for the last mile or so.

It looks the area is popular with various trail users including horseback riders.  You might have some company on weekends.

The area also hosts a small astronomy group on the new moon weekends.  They set up in the day use area by the SST (Sweet Smelling Toilet) provided by BLM.

Nice area well worth spending some time exploring and very close to the town of Wickenburg.

Just outside of town at the rodeo grounds there is dry camping available for $5/night with a seven day limit.  There is no charge for camping on Sophie's Flat Trailhead and I assume the 14 day  national BLM limit applies.

Here are some pictures of the camping area at the rodeo grounds.

As always, click on the picture to enlarge.  You might even be able to read the regulations on the sign!

Book Read:  Joe DiMaggio by Richard Ben Cramer.  A book about Joe Dimaggio's life.  Much more than a baseball book.  The baseball portions are here because baseball was so much a part of his life.  So it is worth reading if your not a baseball fan.  The most interesting parts to me were the early years in San Francisco and the chapters that covered his relationship with Marilyn Monroe.  Not the type of book that you cannot put down once you start, but interesting enough that you will finish it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Davis Camp Park, Bullhead City, Arizona

Davis Camp Park, Bullhead City, Arizona

UPDATE March 16, 2013

We stopped here again for a two night stay before heading farther north.  Same campground, a little more crowded and showing a bit more sign of wear.

I did make it to the bicycle trail on the other side of the river.  Take the sidewalk back into town.  At the first stoplight....cross and then head into Laughlin on the south side of the bridge.   There is no sidewalk or path on the north side of the bridge.  In Laughlin, go down the main drag and you will see a parking area and restroom on the west side of the road.  That blue colored overpass is the bike trail to Davis Dam overlook.  The trail is about 2.5 miles and worth the easy bike ride.

Keeping with the 4 hour and 200 mile rule we left Newberry Springs and headed for Katherine's Landing inside of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  There is a campground up from Lake Mohave.   I worked for the National Park Service on Lake Mohave the summer of 1977 and winter of 1978 before transferring to the Forest Service.  If we are around southern Nevada I always try and stop in to see how the area has changed.

We took Highway 95 and headed toward Searchlight, Nevada my work station in 1977 and home of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Please read the previous post on the weird residents of the Mohave Desert.  It hasn't changed.

Highway 95 in California has the railroad crossing from hell.  The road sign merely announces BUMP ahead.   It is more like a bucking bronco than a bump.  Here is what the rear of the 5th wheel looked after the "bump".  Like the table top sitting on the battery?

Damage except to the table was minor.  Got lucky on that one.  Happiness is seeing the California state line in your rear view mirror.    I remember when California was the rich state and Nevada the poor relative.  Not any soon as you cross the roads into Nevada you feel like your crossing from the third to first world.

The idea to camp at a National Park Service campground was subject to change.  The whole rig is 47 feet long and it is hard to find a NPS spur that long.  So we made the trip around the campground and headed back to Davis Camp Park which is run by Mohave County.

Here we did get a pull-through site with complete hook-ups for $25.  The park was a pleasant surprise the only downside being the traffic noise from the adjacent highway.  There is a LOT of traffic in Bullhead City.

Davis Camp Park is a old town housing the government workers that built Davis Dam.  And you can ride you bicycle right up to the base of Davis Dam.

It seems Mohave County has been having an adventure cleaning up the campground from year round residents.   Things are looking better, but a few RV's are "interesting".   Here is the link for their website:  Davis Camp Park.

It is a great place for riding a bicycle.  Here are some of the views around the RV portion.

Portions are a little rough, but the good design of the original town site still comes through.  You can even rent some of the original government housing as a vacation home.  For Susie, the concept of government housing being a vacation home was hard to understand.  Check out the web site and see if you want to pretend to be a government engineer!!  Monthly rates start at $800.

We did ride our electric bicycles into Bullhead City for a quick dinner at Panda Express and learned that Sam's Club will let you buy alcohol, pharmacy products, and eat at the cafe without membership.  So we made an "emergency" wine purchase.  But be warned...Sam's Club does not take VISA.  They were more than happy to take an Andrew Jackson and Lincoln for the wine.

There is a bike path on the Nevada side of the border, but we did not have the time to ride from Davis Dam south.   Its there, but there does not seem to be much information on the web.

We would stay here again.  If you do not need sewer hook-ups RV-A is the quietest and would be our first choice.  For full hook-ups RV-D is a nice area as are the riverfront sites in RV-B.

We stayed in RV-C and would NOT do that again.

Would we come back?  Absolutely.  Check out the picture on the top of the blog.  Crystal clear water, warm temperatures and great places to ride a bicycle plus your next to Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Book read:  Scorpions for Breakfast by Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona.  This her book on 
SB 1070 passed in Arizona.   Well written book and as a result easy to read.  If your interested in SB 1070 from Arizona's perspective well recommended.  If your not interested in SB 1070 give this one a pass.  Guess its appropriate to read now that we are in Arizona.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Newberry Mountain RV Park, Newberry Springs, California

usbackroads destination--Newberry Mountain RV Park, Newberry Springs, California

One of the disadvantages to going to the University of California at Berkeley is that people seem to think that all the weird people in world live there.  Well, that is not true.  All the really weird people in the world live in the Mohave Desert.   More on this later.

Holding fast to our 4 hour and 200 mile rule means a stop somewhere along I-40.  We looked into finding a location just off the freeway, but decided to help the local economy in Newberry Springs by stopping for the night at the local RV park.

So the towns claim to fame is a German movie set in Newberry Springs.  Susie even remembers watching it on NetFlix.  So here are the important details:  Bagdad Cafe.  The cafe is open from 7:00am to 7:00pm so hardly the party place in town.  My ride down Route 66 which is the road through town featured barking dogs and a couple that gave chase.  The dogs were surprised to see this old man outrun them on his mountain bike.  I suspect they did not notice the battery hanging off the back.

The RV park is trying real hard to make your stay pleasant and comfortable.  For that, they deserve a nights lodging.  The spurs are rather short, but have all the hookups.  Cable TV reception was rather spotty.  You would probably do better raising the antenna.

We did not try the wi-fi, but Susie's IPHONE provided great 3G service as a hot spot. So far this trip it has worked much better than last year.  Must be all those folks switching to 4g and free up bandwidth on the 3g network.

The one drawback to the park is I-40.  You do get to hear the traffic noise.  The town and neighboring areas are decorated in typical desert landscaping and accessories.

Here is a picture of the campground.  Lots of room, we had only one other RV pull in during the night.

We did get the site with the only picnic table.

The RV park does have a very small pool.

And a caboose!!  Well, worth looking inside.  Now there was a boring job.

The real attraction at the park are the two ponds.  The water is pumped from the Mohave aquifer into the two ponds.  The local ducks appreciate it and the story is that the ponds are stocked with catfish.

Now getting to the weird people in the Mohave Desert.  I lived in the Mohave Desert for just less than six months.  Ah, the people living in Berkeley were quite normal in comparison.

So that pond in the first picture.  The picture does not do the water justice.  It was taken late in the day, so the brilliant glacier blue bordering on aqua does not show well.  It put all the glacier fed lakes I have seen in my day to shame.

So I had to ask "Is there copper in the water or some other chemical that causes that aqua blue color". No, the answer was much simpler than that.  Seems the owner found a large supply of non-toxic blue coloring.  So he decided to color his ponds.

Berkeley is normal compared to the Mohave Desert and its residents.

Book Read:  Wild...from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.  I am a sucker for hiking books.  This one is about a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail by a novice hiker.  Really more a story about her relationship with her mother who died suddenly at age 50.   Decent read, more about a relationship than hiking.  Probably more of "chick" book, but the hiking stuff kept me going!