A Healing Place

“Take her to Arizona,” doctors advised first my parents and then my husband, as if going to the desert was some magic remedy for all that ailed me.  Might as well have told me to go to the moon, the possibility of such a journey always just beyond our reach.  Until my husband found a way, deciding to drive me across country in a home on wheels.

Dry air, warm days and cool nights proved to be exactly the elixir the doctors had promised.  Absent the allergens of home, I was able to forgo the anti-histamines, and inhalers that my system had become so dependent upon.  I discovered renewed energy, gained strength, and felt hopeful for recovery. We were there for five weeks.

This year we’re going for three months.  Three months to revitalize my body.  Imagine the possibilities.

Desert days shine blue,
arid temperatures heal –
breathing made easy.

(Submitted for Twenty Four’s 50 word Thursday.  Image provided as part of the challenge.)

Lens-Artists: Big Can Be Beautiful

Beautiful are the large rock sculptures of Joshua Tree National Park.

TontoCanyon

The large canyons in Arizona are also beautiful, although I’m too afraid of heights to get any closer than this.

Ahinga2

This snake bird, or anhinga is quite a remarkable, big bird.

big bubble

My granddaughter and I think big is best when it comes to bubbles.

(For Lens-Artists Challenge: Big Can Be Beautiful.)

Photo a Week: From the Back

As the weather turns here, and our aging bodies start to complain, we find ourselves dreaming of warmer climates.  Arizona is the state that calls to me.  I decided to revisit my pictures from last year for this challenge.

Horseback riders follow the river’s edge in search of the wild horses.

resting

Coon’s Bluff, where these photos are taken, is one of favourite spots.  Ric hates having his picture taken, so I capture him from behind.  He is my cherished husband – so I figure it’s my right.

stallview

Another favoured spot to explore in Arizona is the Water Ranch at Gilbert.  This Common Poorwill took up residence in the bathroom while we were there, and I decided to use the stall behind it – just in case it woke up and caught me indisposed.

All going well, we’ll be back in Arizona this winter.

(Submitted for Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge:  from the back)

Photo A Week: Water

Water, I confess, holds me in its spell –
I would follow it across the land
from the Oregon coast, and ocean swell
to the Arizona rivers, oh so grand:

Coon's

Set me by a waterfall and I will swoon,
mesmerized by such awesome power,
even deafened by its thunderous boom,
I could watch the motion hour upon hour.

rocksinfalls

When travel is done, and I’ve come home to roost,
I hope that the scenery will be tranquil and calm,
for there is not a mood that water can’t boost –
undeniably, it is Nature’s medicinal balm.

calm before

(For Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge: water.  Featured image is Oregon coast; Arizona shot is Salt River at Coon’s Bluff;  the waterfall is Englishman’s River, Vancouver Island; and the tranquil scene was taken recently at the Watson Mill along the Rideau river, Manotick, Ontario. All photos are my personal collection.)

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Fences

Fences? My first reaction was that I avoid fences in my photography, and now that we’ve moved into a neighbourhood without them, I will not be able to participate.  Then, I revisited old photographs, and what do you know?  Fences!

The featured image is a garden gate at the Butchart Botanical Gardens in Victoria, B.C. The sign says ‘Private’ which is a disappointment.  There is something so alluring about a garden gate.

VJinrainforest

Further up the island is the Cathedral Grove.  The fences here are to keep visitors on the path and protect the wildlife.  I hardly noticed the rails as the eye is drawn upward.

PatioAZ

Eclectic fencing converts this parking lot into an intimate patio for pub-goers in Apache Junction, AZ.

While looking for fences, I came across this photograph, taken in Joshua Tree RV Park, California.  It even inspired a poem:

Fences

(Thank you to Leya for hosting this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Fences.)

 

Bill Williams River

Flycatcher BWriverJust outside the visitor centre for Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge is a well manicured and paved walkway that leads down to the water with several covered stops along the way.  The day we decided to visit was quite warm, and as I still haven’t quite recovered from Sedona’s excursions, I was happy to take it easy.

We arrived mid-day and were immediately welcomed by a flash of yellow under wings.  I followed the bird for a bit until he landed in a bush and happily posed for this picture.  (I’m assuming he’s a flycatcher, and would be pleased if someone could let me know.)

Anna'shummA hummingbird sat in a nearby bush and was equally undisturbed by my presence.  As the sun was behind me, this made for an excellent look at the bright, gem-like iridescence of the bird, whom I believe to be an Anna’s Hummingbird.

Where we stopped is just a small portion of this large refuge, better seen by kayak or canoe as there is a large marshy area accessible only by watercraft.  Docks were set up along the walkway for fishing, so this is not just a birding sanctuary.

2grebesA large party of waterfowl were gathered across the river from us, among them this pair of Clark’s grebes.  Even from a distance, these lovely birds have a distinct appearance.

Several lizards scrambled about our feet, and warning signs were up to watch for snakes, but we didn’t have any untoward encounters.  We did, however, see a rather large, rectangular, beetle which was interesting.

birdsanctuary.pngIf I hadn’t been so tired – with so much more we wanted to see – I might have done nothing more than sit and ponder the water, the mountains, the sky and the lulling contrasting colours of this Arizona paradise.

Lake Havasu City, Arizona

coloradoblueAlong the Colorado, an hour or so north of Quartzsite, is the city of Lake Havasu, home to the London Bridge (yes, the British one).

“I seem to remember a story about this bridge,” I tell Ric.  “Something about how when they bought it they thought they were getting the Tower Bridge.”

The London bridge is a long expanse of bridge that we drove over twice before realizing it.  It’s that unremarkable, and yet, Lake Havasu has made the most of it, with signs announcing its presence and a whole resort built up around it.  Good for them.

ParkerDamnviewThe city, however, does not need a claim to fame:  it has water, and mountains, and screams:  I want to live here!  In fact, Ric asked me to look up the cost of real estate.

The first night we arrived, it was just before sunset and we were tired, but the drive up was spectacular so we decided to return.

“Let’s cruise along the California side,” Ric suggested.  “We can cross back over at Parker Damn, and then head up.”

So we took the long route, through a lot of very barren and desolate desert areas, until just before the damn, where we rejoined the Colorado river and the spectacular views.

greetingpartySigns all along warned us about burros on the roadway and requested that we not feed them.  As promised, there they were, clearly begging for forbidden snacks.  Apparently people can’t read because these cute critters set up a greeting party in anticipation.

The colour of the Colorado river is shockingly blue.   Ric says it is because the source of the water is glacial.  I’ll have to trust him on that one.

BuffleheadLake Havasu has a natural area, but it was further north, so we decided not to do it.  Instead we found a lovely rotary park and sat there with the ducks and the sounds of children playing around us and watched the sunset.

What a glorious day.

Oh, and we might have visited a Riparian bird sanctuary on the way too, but more about that tomorrow.

(Featured picture is a Lake Havasu City sunset.  First photo is the lake by day, followed by the view of the Colorado from Parker Damn.  The burros are self-explanatory, and the Buffleheads are swimming at the rotary park as the sun went down.)

RV-Able: Quartzsite

lookingahead“I want to spend a night in the middle of the desert under a blanket of stars.”

My husband’s request unnerves me.  I am ok with living in the RV, hooked up to all amenities, but the idea of spending a night off the grid, in the middle of who knows where does not appeal to my practicing princess self.

“Find something you’d be comfortable with then.”

So I book us into the Black Rock Rv Resort in Salome, just fourteen miles outside of Quartzsite.  It’s a beautiful spot nestled in amongst the black mountains and backing onto BLM land with hiking and off-road trails.  The people here are friendly and our site is a 100 foot long pull through, so there is plenty of room to stretch out.  At $38 a night, it seems like a bargain.

We arrive early afternoon and after setting up, head to the ‘famous’ town of Quartzsite.  I say this tongue-in-cheek, because I know nothing about the town, having left all the major planning to Ric.

“You’ll love it,” our new neighbours tell me.  “Although most of the exhibitors have pulled out by now.”

Exhibitors? I wonder.  What is this place?

“There’s a naked book store,” Ric tells me as we approach the town.

Surely, he’s pulling my leg.

It is apparent by the number of RVs and RV related businesses that this is some kind of mecca.  All along the highway there are areas designating for boon docking, with a sporadic array of RVs parked haphazardly.  Boon docking is basically free or has a minimal charge of a couple of dollars.  Campers must be self-reliant.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

On our way to find a restaurant that looks reasonable, we pass many shops selling rocks and gems, or jewelry, and other undefined bargains.  The place definitely has character.

In the Three Times Family restaurant, the waitress throws down the menus and asks if we’re ready to order.  When I point out that we’ve only just arrived, she huffs off and then makes us wait before taking our order.

“Are the taco shells corn or wheat?”  I ask.

“As far as I’m concerned the only way to do tacos is with corn.”

“I’ll have those then.  I need to be gluten-free.”

“I have no idea what that means,” she snarls.  “I eat whatever I feel like.”

Where have we landed? I wonder.

Despite the waitress’ attitude, the meal is excellent.

“So where do you want to go from here?” Ric asks me.

Browsing through the shops does not appeal to me, and it looks like that is most of what this town offers.  I pull out my cellphone and google points of interest in the area.

Colorado River“This place looks nice, but it’s over an hour away,” I say passing the phone to Ric.

“Right!  Let’s go there!”

Within minutes we see the waters of the Colorado river – deep blue against the cerulean sky.  The scenery is breathtaking.

“Just another postcard day!”

The sun is setting as we arrive at our destination, but now we know what we’ll be doing tomorrow.

Stay tuned.  Here’s a sneak peak.  LakeHavesu

Note:  I did not get any photos of Quartzsite, nor did we visit the naked bookstore.  Sorry to disappoint.

RV-Able: Packing Up

SaltriverbendToday’s a day of putting away and making sure that all lose things are secured – we head out tomorrow, all 61′ of us.  As usual, I am having mixed feelings.

For most of my life I dreamed of getting out of the mid-sized Ontario town where I grew up.  I wanted to see the world, adventure, but life, it seemed, had a different plan for me. Now here I am, trekking across North America in a motor home!  I have to pinch myself to believe that it is true.

brightred“I would come back here,” Ric said yesterday, as we visited our favourite places for the last time.  “In fact when we are ready to settle, I’d think of buying a house here.”

I’m all for that.  The weather in Arizona is sublime and the dryness has been wonderful for my health.  Despite recent setbacks, I walked Coon’s Bluff yesterday without a walker (we’d forgotten it).  And I haven’t used my puffers for asthma since we’ve been here.

Mesquitewater The cactus wren is singing his creaky song outside my window, and the house finches are offering up their sweet melody, but I need to focus now on the next place.  Yesterday it was warm with clear blue skies and the birds were plentiful at the bluffs.  I stayed as long as I could, before saying my goodbyes.  It rained overnight and the clouds linger this morning, adding to my melancholy.

phoebeonrockEvery place we visit takes a piece of my heart, and I fill the hole with the sweetness of memories.

(Featured image is Superstition Mountain.  We have been staying in its foothills.  The other images are from Coon’s Bluff, along the Salt River.)

 

RV-Able: Boyce Thompson Arboretum

greentreeI envy the people who dedicate their lives to nature and spend their days immersed in the beauty of places such as Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  Located on Hwy 60, next to the old mining town of Superior, AZ, this is a lovely way to spend the day.

Naturally, we came to see the birds.  Ric, having just purchased a new lens for his camera, was anxious to give it a trial run.  I, not having recovered from Sedona, wasn’t feeling quite so ambitious.  Three bus loads of school children running noisily around the place made us wonder if we’d made the right choice.  We played dodge the children for a bit before finding a corner of the site that was undisturbed by boisterous ten-year-olds.

restingThe park is divided into different sections, honouring select natural habitats.  We started our tour along the Australian trail where huge eucalyptus trees graced the property.   Displays of Australian artifacts, including an outback shack, are scattered through the area, which seemed to be the most popular with the visiting students, so we moved on.

saguarogardenThe cactus gardens here are beautifully done, the walkways lined with rocks, and the feel of the desert well replicated.  Some of the cacti had blossomed, which attracted my lens, and the sheer variety of plants was interesting.  As with most of the nature reserves we’ve visited, there were plenty of benches set up along the way to rest and enjoy the views, so Ric sat while I wandered.

Ayerlk.pngAt the top of a hill we found the Lake Ayer trail, a lovely, quiet spot where we could sit and contemplate the water and mountains and the few waterfowl who graced our presence.

Just beyond the lake I found a shade and an abundance of bird life.   A small blue bird was rustling about in a bush when I arrived, but of course, as I hurried to set up my camera, he got away.  Another little bird caught my attention and as I turned I caught sight of a small, chipmunk-like creature, likely the Harris’ antelope squirrel.  It was also too quick for me.

malePhainoRic joined me and our cameras started clicking, trying to capture at least some of the prolific activity surrounding us.  I did capture a great shot of the phainopepla and the cardinal, but was really not feeling well enough to do much more.

Tired and hungry, we left the arboretum early, agreeing to come back after lunch.  Unfortunately, lunch did me in, so we did not manage to return.

Boyce Thompson does have a picnic area for those who want to lunch on site, and the fee for entry is $12.95 per person.  There is also an extensive gift shop, and plants for sale.