McDowell Mountain: April 4-9, 2023


Site 74, E.I. Rowland Campground at McDowell Mountain Regional Park

Once Buckeye was in our rearview mirror everything became wonderful again. Driving into McDowell Mountain Regional Park the super bloom was impressive. This was our third visit. It’s a wonderful campground. It’s on our top ten list: spacious sites, plenty of room between neighbors, electric and water, which means no annoying generators, free showers, and mountain biking trails from the campground.

It’s just a good vibe. Out of the 76 sites, I bet 73 of them were mountain bikers. It’s always smart to chat up fellow mountain bikers, and of course, Amelia is great at it. We got a couple of tips from riders about the Fraesfield and Brown’s Ranch Trailheads located in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. It’s a mass of land adjacent to the regional park and offers trails that are more technical. We spent two days exploring that area.

The highlight, quite possibly the biggest highlight of our 10 years of Airstreaming, was seeing a Gila Monster! What an amazing, beautiful, and intricately patterned reptile. A sighting is pretty rare since they spend 90 percent of their lives below ground. The only time they come out is for food and love! It’s the only venomous lizard in the United States. It’s nothing like the little lizards you might have running around in your backyard. They can grow to more than 20 inches long and have a girth of two plus inches. Lucky Amelia rode right up to one and watched it waddle away like an alligator.


Gila Monster


Here’s the other pic of this orange and black beauty.

Again, lucky Amelia, or perhaps unlucky, had two close encounters with a Mojave Rattlesnake. The first time, she was out in front on a ride, came ripping around the corner to greet the rattler relaxing in the sun in the middle of the single track trail. She slammed on her brakes. It was a debate on who was more scared, her or the rattler. She got a pure shot of adrenaline. The snake instantly coiled up and started rattling. It took a few minutes for it to calm down and wiggle off the trail.

The other encounter occurred at our campsite. I was out doing laps around the campground checking out the other riders and their bikes. Amelia was sitting under the awning reading while this Mojave nonchalantly slithered through our campsite. It was three feet from her and almost turned onto our mat! She was quick enough to get a video if it. And on our last day of biking we had a Bobcat sighting. Typically all you get is a fleeting glimpse, this time we had a long look. What a beautiful creature.

Here’s the rattlesnake video


The hills were ablaze in Brittlebush.


Arizona Lupine was everywhere.


I didn’t know this, do not pick up a Desert Tortoise.


Full moon rise over Four Peaks


Desert Rock Pea


Desert Broomrape, this little guy is about three inches tall.


Purple Owl’s Clover


My favorite sign to see!


Singlespeed and Saguaro


My wife is a rockhound! Riding rock is definitely her happy place. While on the trail she seeks it out.


This cute little flower is called Stinknet. It’s an invasive species.


White Desert Globemallow


We only saw one little spot with white Arizona Lupine mixed in with the violet ones


White Tackstem


Per usual, we’re wrapping it up with a stunning sunset.

All in all, it was a terrific five days, and our last Spring Break. As of this posting Amelia has 37 school days until retirement!

That’s it, we’re moving to Buckeye! April 3, 2023

Just kidding!

Buckeye is growing like gangbusters, outpacing the infrastructure, and therefore congested as all hell. Throw in a strong wind, the sun becomes muted and the sky turns an icky brown. The air quality index shoots above 200 and we were dragging the Airstream through this mess.

All these factors made me announce to Amelia, “That’s it, we’re moving to Buckeye!” That became my mantra, and trust me, I repeated it over and over for hours. It’s a wonder I’m still married.

This begs an answer to the obvious question, of all the fascinating places in Arizona, what in the hell were we doing in Buckeye?

The short answer: it was San Diego State’s fault. They were in the NCAA Tournament, and they kept on winning. But I’ll start at the beginning.

The first leg of our trip was to be four nights in Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Friday thru Monday. The Aztecs were in the Final Four and their game was Saturday afternoon. This had all the makings of a problem because we were camping in the middle of nowhere. But lucky us, Amelia befriended our boondocking neighbors. Nice folk from Alaska, they had Dish TV, and he was a huge college basketball fan. So they invited us over to watch the game. The guy had never met someone like me. I didn’t sit for one second. I just paced the entire game. With 0.6 seconds left, Lamont Butler sank the game winner. Everyone on the I-95 between Yuma and Quartzsite probably heard us yelling, “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!”


Oh my God!

The final game was to be Monday night and our Alaskan friends were leaving Monday morning. We had a predicament on our hands. Out of all the crappy options to view the game, Buckeye seemed the best. There was a Walmart parking lot across the street from a sports bar. Unfortunately, it was a complete shit show. No way could it hold our combined length of 46 feet. “That’s it, we’re moving to Buckeye!”

We got on the Google machine and it said a place called the Leaf Verde RV Resort with 377 sites was two miles away. At this point cost wasn’t an issue, we just needed a place to stay. We pulled into the “resort” only to be slapped in the face by a No Vacancy sign. “That’s it, we’re moving to Buckeye!”

We were running out of options, so we went into the office and Amelia did the talking. Hallelujah! They still had a spot or two.

The resort was a microcosm of Buckeye. We are thankful for our night at Leaf Verde, but we are never moving to Buckeye. And in case you didn’t know, the Aztecs lost the final game. The superstitious side of me wants to blame that on Buckeye.

BTW, King Road in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is awesome.



Our view at Leaf Verde RV Resort


For years we’ve been driving past the Imperial Sand Dunes National Recreation Area. Typically it’s packed with the OHV folk, this day, not so much. We had lunch then played on the dunes.



Amelia is that spec at the top. The dunes are 40 miles long and avevage 5 miles wide. It’s the largest mass of sand dunes in California. The original name was Algodones Dunes.



My artsy pic

Followers around my age will get a big kick out of this! While researching the dunes, I discovered the opening sequence of the TV series Kung Fu was filmed there. I absolutely loved that show. Check out the YouTube clip below.



This place is huge, 665,400 acres. Back in the day there were a lot of mining operations. Kofa is an acronym for King of America mines.


A nice morning walk in a wash behind our spot.



You’ve got to have a view from your dining table, right?



The famous spiral labyrinth. No one knows who made it. And no one knows what it was made for.



There were way more flowers than we were expecting, especially on the Palm Canyon hike. This one was a first for us, a Yellow Nightshade Groundcherry.



Desert Star


Rock Daisy, look closely it’s actually quite different than the Desert Star.


Ghost Flower


Lobed Fleabane


A Desert Blister Beetle orgy



The obligatory Saguaro pic



Our great boondocking spot