Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Friday, March 27, 2015

February and March
Snowbirding Locations

I've been snowbirding for almost 2 months now; at my mid-point. I left Fall City the first week of February, a month later than planned (after recovering from the flu, a reaction to the shingles vaccine, and the Seahawk's Superbowl loss).

I migrated down I-5, overnighting in Canyonville, OR and Gustine, CA before landing in Southern California.  The next couple of days was a whirlwind and a joy as I hopped from Tustin, Anaheim, Murietta, and Cathedral City to visit, breakfast, laugh, have dinner, get hugs, do technology, watch softball, and just have fun spending time with friends and family. Then I was off for some serious snowbirding in the desert southwest.

Ehrenberg sunset on Valentine's Day.   XXOXOO for John :)  

First, I spent almost 3 weeks in the back country of Ehrenberg, AZ (BLM land). Here I got to see a few good vandwelling friends again, and meet some new folks too. But, mostly I just enjoyed the quiet and warmth of the desert. The closest camp to mine was about 50 yards, the furthest about 300.

Sunset through a dust storm, Ehrenberg, AZ (end of February)  

After Ehrenberg, I made a quick trip further south to Los Algodones, MX for some cheap meds and vanilla extract.  There was a storm brewing and I didn't want to be caught in the desert back country, so decided to spend the night at Yuma's Mittry Lake (BLM land) until the roads dried up.  I really enjoyed the dramatic skies and wildlife. But, it rained very little.

Great White Egrets roosting below my campsite at Mittry Lake.
Not a great photo, but a great memory.  By sundown, the snags were
full of about 20 egrets.   (3/1/15)  

My friend Sunny was in Apache Junction, AZ again this year; so, I was glad to meet up with her for a few days. We toured Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West and drove The Apache Trail. I highly recommend both activities.

The entrance area to Taliesin West gives a sense of the
architect's aesthetic throughout the complex. (3/4/15)  

Spire designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as
part of a proposed state capitol complex
designed in the 1950's.  (3/4/15)  

Last rays of sunlight on the Superstition Mountains,
as taken from the Goldfield Ghost Town. (3/4/15)  

Canyon Lake on The Apache Trail.  (3/5/15)  

Tortilla Flat, AZ Saloon on The Apache Trail.  Here you have a
seat at the bar in a real saddle (Sunny) or ride bare back on a
carved horse''s butt (Suanne).  (3/5/15)

Layers in the rock as seen on The Apache Trail. Amazing!  (3/5/15)  

Some dirt road sections of The Apache Trail in the distance, with
ocotillo ready to burst into bloom in the foreground.  (3/5/15)

The dam on Theodore Roosevelt Lake.  The Apache Trail. (3/5/15)  

From there, I went to the Cave Creek Ranger District Office for Tonto National Forest and inquired about dispersed camping. The ranger eagerly pointed out various options, including one that didn't require a permit (free) -- Mesquite Campground – that's the option I chose. The drive to the campground was beautiful among rock formations and saguaro cacti, partially paved and partially a graded dirt road. I selected a small campsite right next to the Verde River, in the middle of a Mesquite forest. After 10 days of soaking in this beauty, I decided to meet up with some friends again.

Campsites at the Mesquite Campground had fire rings and tables.
Here I'm relaxing while viewing the fast-flowing
and muddy Verde River. (3/7/15)  
A few days later, they turned down the water flow from the reservoir up river.
You can see on the trees below how high the water was, and it's still muddy.   

Soon the river was down to a trickle, and clear.  (3/13/15)  

Saguaro Cactus Forest across Horseshoe Reseviour, about
2 miles upstream (by road) from my campsite.  (3/13/15)  
At sunset a storm rolled through, making the scene look
more like Halloween than Spring time.  (3/13/15)  

Once I got back onto the Internet, I found that my friends were going to move to cooler weather in a few days. So, rather than back track and spend time in 90 degree heat, I spent a few nights at Agua Fria National Monument (BLM land). Here it was cooler and on the way to the Prescott National Forest location where I'd hoped to meet up with folks.

Leaving Agua Fria as storm clouds were gathering.  (3/18/15)  

With another storm brewing, I didn't want to be stuck in the back country of Agua Fria until it dried out. So, I decided to see if I could find my friends in the Prescott NF before the roads became impassable. Based on directions from a couple of years ago, I found them just after they had arrived themselves. Good thing; it poured that night and into the next day.

A look down the road from my current camp site in the
Prescott National Forest.  (3/22/15)   
Now, after 10 days, I'm loving the weather – 70's during the day and low 40's at night. It's a juniper forest, with prickly pear cacti, grasses, and other plants that I can't identify. My friends have camped here before and tell me we'll have a wild flower bloom next month. Already I've noticed some color – purples, yellows, and the reds/oranges of the Indian Paintbrush. It's here that I'm writing this blog.

Preview of some wildflowers.  Dainty yellow things next
to my camp.  (3/22/15)  


  1. It sounds like you've really been enjoying yourself! I was expecting more details about long term camping in the Prius. What is the longest you've stayed in one spot? Are you finding that you still drive every day? Enquiring minds want to know!

    1. Hey Cyndi, Will put more of that detail in another post. But, to answer your questions: longest = 3 weeks in Ehrenberg, but I expect to be in Prescott NF for longer than that; I rarely drive except to do laundry/shopping and get water (avg. every 10 days once I set up camp). More detail to follow ... stay tuned ...

  2. I enjoy reading your blog, but also, as I am planning a solo trip from Fl to Ca in a van, taking some good tips and encouragement from your blog as well.

    1. I'm glad you find this info useful. That does my heart good. Enjoy your trip and safe travels.

  3. Nice representative photos. They give me the mood of the place. I second above motions! Love to see a photo of your campsite! Every 10 days or so, do you pack up totally before going on market run -- assuming nobody is nearby to watch your stuff? And generally, how have you ideas worked out?

    1. Hi Gayle. Thanks for reading my blog. When I go into town, I'll typically just put my kitchen items in the tent. I do the same when I go to bed. Generally, my ideas have worked as planned. I'm just not sure if I'd bring a shade umbrella again. I just published another post about my camp set up that may answer your questions even better. Suanne


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