Sunday, May 27, 2012
SATURDAY, MAY 26
Katie and I left the Sam’s Club parking lot early this morning (Saturday). I wanted to find a place we could stay through Tuesday without having to move. Looking at my Atlas, Joshua Tree National Park (the southern entrance at Cottonwood Spring) wasn’t too far away. First we drove through some small towns and entered Box Canyon Road in Mecca, CA. We drove past the agricultural area into the actual canyons, which are a BLM area, I think.
I haven’t been in an area like this before, the landscape was pretty barren, and I think you can just pull off the side of the road into one of the open areas and park for 14 days. The only problem is that, even though this is a holiday weekend, there was no one there. I passed two empty cars, probably hikers, and then further on, another two cars back by the hills. That was it.
I didn’t want to camp in an area where there were no RVers, so I continued on, crossed Highway 10, and kept going until I reached the Cottonwood Visitor Center. This is a “United States Department of the Interior National Park Service” area, and my Senior pass got me in free, with half price on the campsite, which is $15 (or $7.50/night for me). The closest campground is one-half mile behind the Visitor’s Center. These campsites are level, paved parking areas with a picnic table and barbecue. There is a restroom with water, fresh water faucets every few campsites, and a dump/fresh water station nearby. It was almost empty, there are 62 sites, and I’d say maybe 20 at the most were taken when I got here this morning. The Ranger I talked to when I checked in said she was surprised, she thought they would be crowded this weekend.
Cottonwood Spring is a typical desert landscape with lots of different kinds of cactus, bushes, flowering plants, very interesting terrain. There are lots of birds, and when we got settled and were walking down to the pay station, I saw a chipmunk, lizard and a couple of big jackrabbits. I can see Katie and I taking a lot of good walks here. It’s all flat, there are lots of trails, but dogs have to say within 100 feet of the roads, so we will stay on the paved roads. That’s fine with me.
Our camp site:
View out our kitchen window
(Can you see the two tables behind our site? When we got here, they were empty, but by Sunday morning, there were lots more people in the campground, and the space got smaller and the noise got louder.)
The other campgrounds are 30 miles down the road, into the areas where the Joshua Trees are. I’m sure there's more going on there this weekend. Those are the North and West Entrance Stations off Highway 62, where they have a bunch of campgrounds. I just headed out this morning in this general direction, and ended up at the Cottonwood Spring Campground, which was good because it is quiet and has the only dump station in the park, which I’ll use when I leave.
The only problem is that I don’t have a Verizon signal here, at least in my campsite, so I can’t get on-line or receive phone calls, so I won’t be able to communicate with my doctor. I’ve paid for four days, through Tuesday night, so on Wednesday morning, I’ll head back to where I can get a Verizon signal to see if I have a message from the doctor. Then I will have a plan.
When I checked in at the Visitor’s Center, I looked at the books offered for sale. I’ve been looking for a Sibley Field Guide to Birds, Western North America (thanks for the suggestion, Judy!) and there is was! I bought it, and the first bird I saw here was a Black Throated Sparrow. Very pretty bird. So, along with my Birds of Arizona Field Guide, I’m in pretty good shape when I want to identify the birds I see. Sometimes I’m too lazy, but I feel like I’ve learned something new when I do find one in my books. Here he is:
There are three young foreign men across the street from me. The first thing one did is walk through my site, right by my door, around The Palms, checking out my site. He continued through other sites, and went back to his. Later when Katie and I took our walk, I asked him if he lost something. He said, no, he was just looking for firewood. 1. Don’t walk around in other people’s campsites. 2. Do NOT collect anything in this desert. Bring in your own firewood. Those are the posted regs.
Later they got out their football and the wood gatherer stood right in front of The Palms to catch and throw the ball. He was not a good football catcher, but luckily the ball hasn’t hit The Palms.
There are Blacktailed Jackrabbits here, too - I've seen quite a few of them, but they keep moving, so by the time my camera is pointed at them, they are gone or behind a bush. They're big, and have long legs. They seem to move slow, but considering I haven't caught one yet for a good shot, I guess they're faster than they seem.
Some random empty sites - it seems like all the sites are good, but if they were all filled, it would be pretty close.
Pull alongside site
SUNDAY, MAY 27
It was nice and cool last night.
Katie, all covered up.
I learned something new last night and this morning. I like campgrounds with RVs, not tents. There was a group of young men behind us - they were very active yesterday playing catch with their football, too - but they were far enough from The Palms that I wasn't worried about them. As soon as it got dark, they got loud. I finally fell asleep, then woke up around midnight and they were still at it. Then I couldn't fall back asleep.
RVers seem to be in their rigs after "quiet time," or they are just quieter. Maybe it's because a lot of us are older and talk quietly outside. But tent campers don't have anywhere to go, their voices seem louder and so their conversations carry to the other campsites.
I finally fell asleep, and was awakened again before 6 a.m. to the sound of male voices and laughter, and the slap of a football as it was being caught. Over and over again. Jeez!
I finally got up, heated my water tank and washed my hair, emptied the garbage, refilled my gallon water jug, got ready and left. I paid for four days and only stayed one, so I didn't feel bad not paying the $5 for the dump station, which I used on our way out. I also filled the fresh water tank.
Due to the lack of a Verizon signal, I don't think I'll be back, unless I want to be without my phone and the Internet. But... if that wouldn't bother you, it is really a beautiful area. Next time I'm in an out-of-the-way area, I'm going to check for phone service before I pay. I don't like being out of touch for more than a day, and not having a phone signal in an emergency isn't good when you're alone.
So I'm parked in the BLM area right near the 10, where I have a good signal. I wanted to check on the other test result, and it's not back yet. Rats again! I'll have to wait until Tuesday for that one. I think I'll head back to a Casino where I can wait; it will be quieter, there will be no football, and I'll have a good Verizon signal.
It's hard to admit, but I'd rather have all my conveniences than a beautiful view.
From me and Katie, enjoy your Sunday! :)
Posted by Barbara D at 10:08 AM