4titude packed and waiting in my carport. I had more visibility thru the inside rear view mirror than this foto looks like I would have.
October 26, 2018, Friday
Leaving town, 4titude and I made a stop at Sprouts to buy a couple of fresh food items. Bobbi called as we were approaching the grocery store. I used 4titude’s Bluetooth to answer my fone and we chatted. Her historical fiction book of the early days of the arboretum and associated things will soon be ready for me, and others, to read and to write comments for the book’s jacket. Then it will head for printing and the gift shop at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.
At 9 AM, errand completed, I headed out for Buckskin State Park. I forgot to note the odometer reading. Later, at Exit 122 the odometer read 67,601. On the return trip I noted the readings from Exit 122 back to the condo. That distance was 25 miles. 67,601 minus 25 = 67,576, the odometer reading when I left home.
Getting on I-10 from 7th Avenue is difficult and hazardous. At best it is possible to move two lanes left immediately after entering I-10 so you can remain on I-10 heading west. If you have only middling luck you will end up on I-17 north and have to work your way back to I-10. At worst….
I took Thomas Avenue west to 67th Avenue and pulled into a parking lot on the SW corner of the intersection. There, still excited at the thought that Bobbi’s book will be ready soon, I set the Toyota’s Navigator to Joshua Tree National Park, then returned to I-10 west and cruised with the heavy traffic. After a while I remembered I was not headed as far as Joshua Tree today.
When I stopped for gas I deleted the Joshua Tree route and set the Navigator for Buckskin Mountain State Park. The Navigator’s voice’s instructions this day were impeccable. Also, the Navigator has a little box with a handy arrow and the mileage to the next turn or major intersection. That feature was very useful because it told me which lane I wanted to be in.
I passed a gold-colored early 1940s or late 1930s Chevy pickup pulling a small 1950s white and hot pink camping trailer. I wished I could take a picture of it.
I left I-10 and turned north on Arizona 95. At a couple places on AZ 95 I crossed a set of wide white stripes that fool the cattle into thinking the set-up is a metal cattle guard with empty areas between bars.
A sign at the edge of Parker claimed the elevation of the town was 417 feet. (The elevation at my condo is approximately 1,100 feet.) I passed through Parker and continued north on AZ 95. The scenery was wild and chopped up with various desert peaks and ridges with colored layers. Plants added various shades of green and the Lake Havasu portion of the Colorado River provided an occasional bright blue strip.
At 12:30 noon 4titude and I arrived at camp site 5 in Buckskin Mountain State Park, on the Arizona side of Lake Havasu.
I set the tent up, washed its sandy door zipper with a wet rag, then poured water over the net door so it would stretch. The net had shrunk in dry heat and I had not been able to close the door for well over a year. After the water treatment the two zippers resisted starting, but once moving they moved easily. Until I unzipped them to fill Agnes with gear after the doorway had dried. Then, when I tried to zip the door again the zippers resisted, and when they finally moved, the zipper behind the moving part parted company. So I was to have no screen door during this trip.
Foto of the last time Agnes’ door was zipped. Site 5, Buckskin Mountain SP.
I crossed my fingers and hoped no scorpions or centipedes would wander in and decide to warm up against my body during the night. Scorpion stings are not much worse than bee stings for me, but the pain of a centipede bite ranges up there with a rattlesnake bite, altho maybe it doesn’t last as long. One night in Aravaipa Canyon a centipede crawled in my sleeping bag while I was asleep and bedded on the calf of my left leg. The creature wasn’t happy when I shifted position and it bit me. My leg swelled to three times its normal size and the very painful chemical burn inside my blood vessels lasted about 24 hours. Of torture. The swelling took weeks to go away, and more weeks passed before my leg was completely healed.
The east edge of my camp site on Ranger Drive was about 120 feet from the Colorado River’s Lake Havasu bank. There was one site, #11, directly between me and the river, but it was empty.
I was glad to see other tents in the campground. This small piece of the camp ground seemed to have been intended only for tents and small RVs. Most sites in the extended campground did not have flat spaces for tents, but people put up some tents somehow.
After a couple of hours a woman parked in site 6 and told me my tent was in her tent area. I had set my tent in the only flat spot nearest my parking area. I emptied my tent, then I stopped a man who was a park volunteer. We decided that if we moved my picnic table I could put my tent in that flat area. The muscular man on the other side of my camp site saw me trying to lift one end of the heavy metal table and rushed over. He and the volunteer moved the table, then helped me drag Agnes, and the tarp under her, to the new flat spot.
I later chatted briefly with the muscular man and his vape-smoking wife. They had been to The Desert Bar spring of this year and told me a little about it. Parking was no problem around noon but by late afternoon the parking area would be overflowing.
Lots of children, lots of bicycles, several dogs, lots of tents, even more RVs, lots of noisy boats. Also, a roped off swimming area along the edge of Lake Havasu. Wonderful place to relax if you don’t need quiet (I didn’t).
The sun went to bed early, being fall, and I had to start using a headlamp for reading at 6:15. There were very few mosquitoes but I couldn’t keep the moths away. The moths were small and frequently would fly up my nose and make me sneeze over and over.
The sky was full of stars.
October 27, 2018, Saturday
The moon shone thru netting on the side of my tent and lit my face all night. I arose shortly before dawn broke (the sun lingers lazily in bed this time of year) and greeted the Big Dipper, but it and its friends soon faded away. Low temperature this morning was 600 F. Number six, from Tucson, agreed sixty degrees was chilly and required extra outer clothes.
I drank hot cocoa and read a book in peace. The moths were asleep. Because I am lactose-intolerant, this year I decided to go one better than half-and-half for the cocoa. I put about 2 tablespoons of cream in a cup of water and heated it to use with the hot cocoa mix. The resulting drink tasted as though it had been made with milk. To my delight, heated cream-water does not form a scum on top like heated milk does. Cream also does not spoil very rapidly, which was important because I did not bring an ice chest.
As the last blush of pink was leaving the few strips of clouds in the sky, birds began chirping and I noticed a rig in site eleven. When had it come in? A pop-out camper and a black SUV.
At 11 AM I set off for the day’s outing. I typed The Desert Bar into the Navigator but it didn’t know of any such place. Probably because the bar is accessed only by dirt mining roads.
I didn’t pay attention when exiting the park and I ended up going south on Riverside Drive instead of AZ95. Riverside Drive crossed Cienega Springs Road, which was the road I wanted, so I turned the corner. After a short ways Cienega Springs dead-ended into a high abutment of the recently-revised AZ 95. I returned to Riverside Drive, followed it to AZ 95, turned north and soon arrived at Cienega Springs where it left on the east side of highway 95.
A sign at the beginning of Cienega Springs Road stated the road was unmaintained (i.e., very rarely worked on), but the road had been graded recently because heavy rains a few weeks earlier had eroded it very badly. It was not the rutted, challenging road that was described on the Internet last year. In places, the freshly-graded road was already bumpy and washboarded.
Foto of scenery when driving from AZ95 to The Desert Bar.
My wayward drive took me only 45 minutes instead of the 60 minutes my neighbors said they had expended on the drive from the campground to The Desert Bar in April, and they had not taken any unnecessary side explorations.
After arriving at The Desert Bar AKA Nellie E. Saloon I wandered around for a while and took pictures.
The bar and first-built patios. Note that everything is powered by the extensive solar panels.
One of the two parking lots. 4titude is third vehicle from the right in the first row.
The entranceway takes visitors onto the second level. The sign on the left says “No drinking in parking lot.” The one on the right reads “No beverages entering or leaving.”
I was not allowed to bring into the bar compound my home-brewed iced tea or the water I had in my vehicle.
View from the back of the saloon compound.
Foto of Sylvia seated in The Lucky Rocking Chair made entirely of horseshoes.
At 12:30 I finally was thirsty so I bought a can of Coors Light and was given a plastic pint bottle of water. The beer was $3, the water was free, perhaps because of the numerous wrinkles on my face.
Newspaper clipping on wall of barroom. Caption reads “Eagle’s Nest Shaft at the Empire-Arizona Mine.” This is the area (much enlarged during mining) on which The Desert Bar is built.
A steeple that has nothing under it.
Out on one of the decks I found a shady table under an umbrella. Soon, a woman joined me and began chatting. She invited me to join her family at a nearby table in the shade. I did, and was taken under wing by a three-generation family. My befriender and her husband were parents-grandparents. Her daughter and son-in-law (handsome fellow!) were parents of a toddling 10-month-old boy and a 3-year-old girl. There were too many names and I soon forgot them all.
I took an hour sipping my beer so my blood level would be ultra-safe for driving home to Agnes. We chatted about this and that. The grandparents had a vacation home near Parker and came up frequently to both their house and The Desert Bar. Grandfather owned a plumbing business in Las Vegas but would be retiring soon and leaving the running of the business to his employees. Grandmother was looking forward to becoming an RVer.
At 1 PM a 3-person band began tuning up, then began playing mostly rock music, some of which was danceable.
We found a shady place on the level of the band and watched couples dance to the music.
Foto: Two women are dancing by themselves on the left; their husbands got tired and sat down. On the two right two females are dancing as a couple.
It looked like fun, but I can’t dance. As a teenager I took dancing lessons twice at Arthur Murray’s Dance Studio, and later friends tried to teach me but my brain could not comprehend. In those days, the first step in learning to waltz was to learn how to use which foot went where when making a box. That I learned. But stepping around a box does not get a person across a dance floor. I never could to get out of the box! Much less learn any other couples’ dances.
Grandmother went off to dance with granddaughter, and grandfather and I chatted. He said the owner of this bar complex will only say, “Good day,” if he says anything at all to customers. The bar is only open on weekends and the owner spends those days at his home several yards away from the saloon buildings. Grandfather said the owner wore black trousers and black shirt, and dyed his hair black and combed it back in a high pompadour. I had learned on The Desert Bar web site that the owner was 75 years old this year.
Finally, I was hungry and excused myself. Grandmother had told me that food at Ruperto’s Mexican restaurant in Parker was far superior to the burgers and hot dogs at The Desert Bar. She gave me good directions for finding the place. Ruperto’s advertised that it was open 24 hours a day seven days a week. I bought two burritos. A burrito that cost only $4.90 couldn’t be very large, could it? It could. I ate one and one-half burritos and wrapped the rest up for the morrow’s breakfast. Grandmother had been right; the food was good.
Foto when driving from The Desert Bar back to AZ 95.
October 28, Sunday
Low temperature was 60 degrees.
I walked to the ranger station and asked if there was any rain expected with the thin cloud cover that was beginning to cover the park. The answer was negative. I picked up a brochure and noticed that near the building was an entrance for about 2 miles of looping trail.
Foto of display at the beginning of the Lightning Bolt Trail.
I walked back to my camp, put a lidded mug of water in my daypack, grabbed a hiking pole, and retraced my steps. I took some pictures at the trailhead then began walking up the steep trail.
Just below the top of the ridge there was a very narrow, steep portion of the path that had been eroded so that it was very narrow. Above and below the eroded portion were rock steps. On the right, the hillside was steep upwards. On the left, the hillside was an eroded gully that was extremely steep. From several yards below the steps I took a picture and thought about the situation. I decided I should not continue onwards. Not too many years ago I would have walked up those rock-slippery steps and across that short narrow section of trail while hiking by myself, but that was before the damage to the sciatic nerves of both legs began to affect my balance. I might have traversed that section of path successfully today, and again….
This portion of the campground where I was camped, or perhaps all of the park, had been protected from the prevailing winds these three days. Outside the park the air had been moderately to strongly windy. The lack of wind at camp made it easy for me to set up my tent the afternoon I arrived and easy to cook on my camp stoves each day. I was not accustomed to such heaven in camp.
This day I had on my menu to bake a dinner in my makeshift skillet oven. I measured flour into a bowl then went hunting for baking powder. I visualized my last sighting of the can; it was still sitting on a shelf in a kitchen cabinet. The recipe called for a large amount of baking powder and a small amount of baking soda. I measured out the small amount of baking soda, remembering what the biscuits felt and tasted like years ago when mother, in preparing dinner for out-of-town guests, had accidentally measured out baking soda instead of baking power. The biscuit recipe I was using for camping contained quite a bit of butter plus milk. To simulate milk I added some cream-and-water and “stirred” the dough.
Then I went looking for parchment paper on which to knead the dough and pat it out flat. I went through the SUV twice and found no box of parchment paper. I was surprised that I had removed it from the cooking utensils boxes after I returned from my trip this past June. I wrote a note to put parchment paper back in the larger utensil box that was partly empty. (Later, when I was unpacking at home I found the parchment paper box squirreled away in a bag of canned food.)
For the first time in my life I had added the correct amount of liquid to the biscuit dough and after I kneaded it lightly in the bowl the dough was no longer sticking to my fingers. I patted it out on an enamel plate and cut it into small pieces.
I added chopped deli ham and thinly sliced whites of green onions to the biscuit bites, poured it into a greased, round, metal cake pan and set the pan on a trivet in a preheated skillet. Put a lid on the skillet and looked at my watch. Hardly one minute later I remembered I was supposed to have shredded, or at least chopped finely, some cheddar cheese and mixed it in with the other ingredients. I went looking for the cheese to chop and spread on top of the “casserole” but found none. In visualizing the block of cheese the last place I remembered seeing it was in the refrigerator, and it apparently was still there. When packing, I thought I had read my lists and checked things carefully.
In half of the expected baking time I smelled burning biscuits so I turned the burner off. The dinner wasn’t bad. It was all right for hungry taste buds on a campout but would hardly have been edible at home. Without the cheese the taste was too bland. The biscuit bites were well-browned all over, from the undisciplined baking soda. They had an unusual flavor but did not taste of baking soda.
The temperature apparently rose to the low 90s again today.
Thin clouds finished pretty much covering the sky. They would have been worrisome if the weathercasters had not promised the clouds did not carry rain. The thin fluffs had all disappeared by soon after sunset and a dome of stars covered the park.
The night cooled off faster than the previous two evenings, but was still relatively warm. A promised cool front was starting to come our way. The warm, still evenings were appreciated. I could sit at the picnic table and look up at the stars every once in a while.
I was not the only forgetful camper. Sally, site 6, from Tucson, and her daughter and son-in-law from elsewhere, all forgot to bring a can opener. Sally borrowed mine.
Many campers in this area of the campground left today. Children had to go back to school. However, this area filled completely with RV replacements. Only site 6 and I were tent campers.
October 29, Monday
Clouds returned during the night. Even with them holding warmth close to earth, the temperature dropped to a low of 61 degrees. Just as the stars began fading I heard an owl start calling from across the narrow lake. Soon there was a pink blush on some of the thin, stringy clouds.
This was moving day.
In the near future this blog will resurface as Joshua Tree NP.