Onward to a new camp at the edge of the Orocopia Wilderness, California

Wednesday, November 6

1-DSC01375I like a camp where there are many different places to walk and explore without hiking miles away.  Today the crew and I walk a road until it comes to a wash.

1-DSC01344The greatest variety of plants grows along a wash.

1-DSC01368This is our last long walk before leaving the Sawtooth Canyon area.  I want us settled into a new camp before the weekend comes.

1-DSC01355It’s a pleasant walk, mainly because Spike doesn’t veer off on another path so I have to chase after him.  The three of us walk together as a group.

1-DSC01363Later, in the afternoon, a man stops by our campsite.  He looks to be in his fifties, and he’s wearing a backpack.  I saw him this morning as he passed by on his way up the road. We  had exchanged friendly waves.

1-DSC01370 I’m sitting in my camp chair reading a book when he comes by.

Bridget and Spike race out to greet him, barking like fools.  He squats down and gives them the attention they seek.  Then he walks over and begins to talk.

He’s a very talkative guy, so I listen.

1-DSC01349He tells me he’s from Lake Placid, New York, where he works on the family dairy farm, ever since the plant that employed him for eighteen years closed.

“It seemed like a good time for a cross-country road trip,” he says.

1-DSC01332 He likes to write poetry (which he recites for me) and song lyrics, and also to hike.  He wants to hike in every one of the continental states and only has three more to go . . . in the Pacific Northwest.

He stops occasionally to say he’s talking too much and then continues.

1-DSC01345A lot of his stays have been in rest stops or WalMart parking lots.  He sleeps in his truck with a camper shell on the back.  He’s been camping the past few nights over at the Sawtooth Canyon Campground, but tonight he’s going to try camping over on this side of the highway.

1-DSC01334I explain the OHV situation to him, mentioning that we will leave in the morning to avoid them.

1-DSC01335The sun dips low in the sky and the air begins to cool.  We wish each other well and he continues down the lane toward his truck.  We never did exchange names.

Thursday, November 7

The day begins with coffee and a lively discussion in the comments section of this blog.  If you read my posts and skip the comments section (see small print “comments” at the end of the post.), you miss out on a lot!

I break camp and we head south on Highway 247.

We cross Lucerne Valley, driving toward the San Bernadino Mountains, and then we turn southeastward at the town of Lucerne Valley.  The desert stretches out for many miles as we move across Johnson Valley.

Highway 247 connects with Highway 62.

This is a busy area leading up to and through the town of Yucca Valley.  We pass strip malls, one after the other.  The only stop I make is for gas at $3.45 a gallon.

Next is the stretch through Moronga Valley and beyond to Interstate 10.

We ascend and descend several 8% grades in second gear.  I turn on the flashers when our speed drops to 40-45 mph.  I only have to tap the brakes a few times on these long downward grades.

The interstate east through the Palm Springs to Indio area is not fun.

Fortunately the traffic isn’t heavy on the eight lanes which gradually become four.  By this time I’m ready to stop.  I pull into a rest area and walk the crew.  Then I make a turkey sandwich to eat before we get back on the interstate.  I share a slice of turkey with Bridget and Spike, much to their joy.

We get off interstate 10 at exit 168.

If you go north from that exit, you come to the south entrance of Joshua Tree State Park.  We go south onto Box Canyon Road.  A few miles into the desert I find a small loop road and park.  We walk the loop and find a level spot a short distance from where we’re parked in the next photo.

1-DSC01378We could continue another six miles or so and enter the canyon.  I’m sure there are more picturesque campsites there.  However, today I’m looking for convenience.  We’re only going to stay over one night.

1-DSC01381In the canyon I might not get good internet signal.  Here I can see a cell tower on a mountaintop.

The crew and I walk around our camp and then settle down for a drink and rest.

1-DSC01380I doze in my anti-gravity chair, half-listening for traffic on the nearby r0ad. Border patrol races by.  I can see the interstate from our camp (photo below), but I can’t hear it.

Beyond the interstate are the Cottonwood Mountains.  The photo also shows the first ocotillo plant I’ve seen this fall.

1-DSC01376The next photo shows our view in the other direction, to the south.  Those are the Orocopia Mountains.

1-DSC01377In the morning we will get back on interstate 10 and continue eastward to Arizona!




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64 Responses to Onward to a new camp at the edge of the Orocopia Wilderness, California

  1. EmilyO of NM says:

    Aww, warmth and the pleasantries of the desert.

  2. Kristine barr says:

    Dang it sue, I was in Joshua tree park yesterday and I didn’t see you. Got some beautiful cactus photos though. I’m going home tomorrow. You probably passed me in rancho mirage on your way to Indio.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Kristine,

      We didn’t go through Joshua Tree National Park. We went through it last year at this time. I hope to make our next visit to the park during springtime to see the desert flowers.

  3. Ladybug says:

    I used to hate the interstate out of Indio for one reason….the wind! I can’t count how many times there were wind storms when I went through there.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Ladybug,

      I saw several signs warning of wind and dust. Our timing was good. No wind. In fact, most of the windmills at Desert Hot Springs were absolutely still.

  4. Tawanda says:

    It is all so beautiful, love that desert we spent a few yrs living with my granparents in the out skirts of Joshua Tree, a wonderful time of our youth.
    Awesome pix…

  5. Another Reader says:

    Any portion of I-10 from Indio to the Pacific Ocean is an unpleasant drive. I might have stayed on 62 at least to the Park entrance, or maybe all the way across to Arizona 95.

    Worse than the wind between Indio and Blythe are the monsoon thunderstorms. Nothing like lightning strikes all around with trucks passing in the left lane at 70 mph plus and a couple of inches of water on the road.

    Stay out of Phoenix/Avondale this weekend – NASCAR is in town!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Another Reader,

      I may take that route another year. No chance of us going to Phoenix. Not much boondocking in that town!

      • Alan Rabe says:

        Not true, just past Cave creek/Carefree just north of town up into Bloody Basin there are all kinds of places for boondocking, there is even a nice campground. But still I wouldn’t want to get within 50 miles of PHX and I lived there for 10 years, so I should know.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Well, not exactly downtown Phoenix is what I meant.

          I’ve seen Bloody Basin. I drove through there last spring. It’s a handy place to camp but at the time it was full of campers.

  6. Cinandjules (temp in CA) says:

    Home is wherever you park it!

    Bridget is so adorable staring at you…..or was she waiting for her slice of turkey?

    Enjoy your evening!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cinandjules,

      I said something similar to Bridget when I was loving her up soon after I set up camp here. She came into the BLT and pranced around on the bed. I play-wrestled with her, saying, “See, Bridge? No matter where we go, we’re always home!”

  7. We’re headed to CA tomorrow a.m…will be in Joshua Park over the weekend I think. Odd isn’t it…that we’re all so close and yet so far away from each other.

  8. AZ Jim says:

    I am very disappointed at no answer to the mystery of the rock garden. Now, we’ll never know. I can tell you are tired, maybe you’ll be able to find a nice quiet spot in AZ to re energize. Drive carefully Sue. Hi to the crew.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Jim,

      I can tell when my writing isn’t up to par… Someone tells me I’m tired. LOL!

      I’m not tired. Early this morning the crew and I took a long walk in a wash before coming back for breakfast and coffee. We’re back in the land of palo verde and ironwood trees . . . and we must be getting close to Quartzsite, given all the white rocks on the ground.

      Sorry to disappoint you about the mysterious animal in the rocks. I got involved with breaking camp yesterday morning and took off without thinking about it.

      • Connie & Mugsy (MN/AZ) says:

        I looked at the picture and I don’t think it was anything but the rock. Up in the right area of the picture there is more rock of the same beige color. I have no idea how close you were to this, but if that bit was alive, I bet it would have moved and attracted either your or the crew’s attention.

        But… we won’t know unless you camp there again next year and manage to hit the same light…

  9. Dorothy says:

    About time you get to Arizona Sue. I have been enjoying your travels down 395. If I go back north that way, I will be sure to check out the Alabama hills area.

    Give Spike and Bridget a hug for me. I was petting a neat black lab named Sproket the other day and every time I touched him a cloud of dust would billow out! He had been having fun rolling in the dust. Good way to keep fleas off.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Dorothy,

      I don’t know if there are any fleas around here. I haven’t seen a flea on Bridget or Spike since we left Georgia. If there were any, Spike would be happy to use that treatment, I’m sure!

  10. Gayle says:

    Reread yesterday’s rousing posts! What a party! Just want to add: Ted & I were camping near a city, not pulling a trailer, me driving my minivan. He had chest pains in middle of night. We wasted life-and-death time searching in the dark for my keys, turning the minivan around, wondering which way out, and clearing a path for my vehicle. He was fine, but wow, we learned our lesson. Keys always around my neck, flashlight on driver’s seat, flip the minivan to face out (like the firefighters do), path clear, all exits noted. Plan for safety first before dithering over whether it’s the man or woman who does this or that!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Gayle,

      Yes, it’s always a good thing to know where the keys are. I have two hooks inside the BLT, right next to the door frame. I keep the PTV key chain and the BLT key chain there. It’s a good spot because I can grab them without having to go inside.

      I’m glad your husband is fine. That must’ve been terrifying for both of you.

      • Crystal says:

        Sue, that’s exactly where we keep our keys to both the vehicle and the trailer, and for the same reasons. I also have a vehicle key hidden on the outside (sorta/kinda) of the trailer. It’s in a watertight bag as well as in a box. I had to dig it out once, so I’m glad it rides there.

  11. Gaelyn says:

    Welcome back to AZ.

  12. Love the cactus photos….. red spiny ones…. beautiful! I really have learned to love cacti! Be careful tho…. the jumping cholla will love you right back! Ocotillo is one of my favorite, they were particularly beautiful this year in NM… the red blooms seemed to last for months! YaY for entering AZ today! Looking forward to seeing Ajo!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Geri,

      There are several of those “red spiny” cacti in the Sawtooth Canyon area. I only saw two cholla plants there. I don’t see any around our new camp, although in Joshua Tree NP there is one humongous cholla garden.

  13. Pam Wright says:

    Loving the desert photos!! Keep the cactus photos coming.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Pam,

      You know there will be more cactus photos! No rivers or lakes to distract the photographer . . .

  14. Hi Sue…great photos! In all my years of fulltimemin’..I never traveled that stretch…I will..Thank You for sharing a wonderful part of CA.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, shutterbugshea,

      You’re welcome. I’m surprised you never drove this way. It’s a popular corridor for a trek southward in search of warm sunshine. It’s good you didn’t! Now you have a special treat ahead of you . . .

  15. Cheryl Ann says:

    Ah, now you are in our neck of the woods! I take it you aren’t going into the park for the 3 day weekend? Where will you stay? I’m always so anxious to catch up on your adventures! Have a great weekend, wherever you are, Sue! And, yes, get some rest. I actually have 4 days WK (without kids)! We have a training day on Tuesday!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cheryl Ann,

      I’d tell you where we will camp tonight, but I honestly don’t know myself! It’s pretty certain where I’ll sleep though. 🙂

      The crew and I slept very well here along Box Canyon Road. I was surprised at the complete silence. Very nice.

      Enjoy your four days WK!

  16. Mindy Reed says:

    Stunning photos as usual, I love the variety of plant life that you have so wonderfully photographed. You’ve hit another one out of the park for an overnite stay!

    Here in NE GA the leaves are finally starting to turn and fall, last night it was finally cool. I’m a cool weather person (not frigid cold) and can no longer deal with the heat and horrific humidity here. So we are going into our very short winter that I can finally spend lots of time outside!

    Enjoy your beautiful scenery even if it’s for one night only, I’m sure the next stop around the corner will be just as dramatic!

    PS…Hope your ear is back to normal after having it near chewed off with the guy jawin’ on.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Mindy,

      You would love the low humidity of the West. It’s one of my favorite things here, especially after the humid summers of Georgia. Enjoy your winter retreat!

      Yes, that fellow is a compulsive talker. He knew he was talking too much but he couldn’t stop himself. I feel sorry for people who have that problem. I listened and listened until he wore himself down, like a bouncing ball finally coming to rest.

      I think the reason he wanted to camp near me was because the campground had emptied out. He would do well to spend a few months in the desert, listening to the silence.

      • Connie & Mugsy (MN/AZ) says:

        He had likely been on his own too much… and just needed to talk to someone. It was polite and generous of you to listen…

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Every story he told about meeting someone he said they talked for hours. This definitely was compulsive talking. There’s a driven quality to it.

  17. John SIMMONDS says:

    I have been following your blog recently and note that your dogs are free to wander in the desert. I would love to have my Golden Retriever wander as well when we are in the desert but am afraid of poisonous snakes and spiders, particularly in warm weather. His nose goes under every bush and log he can find. How have you trained your dogs to be careful and avoid those areas?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, John,

      Your concern is valid. I’d love to take credit for the crew’s good behavior, but I can’t. I never trained them how to behave in the desert.

      Your Golden Retriever may need some conditioning. I don’t know. Rat terriers do not generally run in great leaps and bounds like some of the bigger breeds do, so I imagine critters are aware of them as they approach.

      Spike does stick his nose in places I wish he wouldn’t, but not frequently. Ironically, he was bitten twice, not in the desert, but in Georgia. I don’t know what bit him either time. The vet didn’t know. Spike’s face swelled up terribly.

      Contrary to what the previous post and its comments may lead you to believe, we don’t play around on rock piles where snakes are most likely to be out sunning themselves.

      As for cactus thorns, one incident with cholla seems to have taught both Bridget and Spike to watch where they step.

      Thank you for following my blog and welcome!

      • Crystal says:

        I remember thinking the same thing, but I do recall that you carry a snake-bite kit. Maybe it’s for humans and not k9s, but I think that’s a very important thing to have on-board. When I travel with my dog(s), I try to print info on local vet facilities, although I have not been west. I suppose you move too much for that, though. It is a fear that something will happen and I have no idea where to turn for help in a panic.

  18. kgdan says:

    After meandering south from Yakima valley have landed in Bullhead City, AZ. for a bit. Have been following you on the blog as we travel and have passed thru several of the locales you have visited recently. Maybe will catch sight of you somewhere while we are in the sw for the winter.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, kgdan,

      I’ve never been to the Bullhead City area. So maybe we’ll pass through one of YOUR locales. 🙂

  19. Terri D From Texas says:

    Hi All,
    The Rattlesnake vaccine goes a long way toward peace of mind. It also works on other poisonous snakes. It gives small dogs time to even get to the vet when they are bitten! The vaccine is fairly inexpensive now.

  20. AZ Jim says:

    At least this year you aren’t apparently going to “slab city”….I hope. You’re writing is up to snuff but you had been going and going like the Energizer rabbit so I assumed (yes I know what that means) you might be due a rest…..

  21. Rick Morgan says:

    10 is indeed “Not Fun”. Last year, traveling your same route we were hit with a large piece of wood that flew off a landscaping truck. Luckily no injuries except $1500 in damage to our little Honda Fit.

    Thankfully, this year we made to to Sam’s without incident.

    Safe Travels…

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Rick,

      What a heart-stopper! The same thing happened to my father when I was a kid in the back seat. We were on the Jersey Turnpike (concrete barrier separates you from oncoming traffic. Even then, everyone drove like they were insane.) A piece of plywood came off a truck and landed across the windshield. Dad was in the left lane, and, with my mother screaming, he managed to stay in the lane and away from the concrete barrier until the plywood blew off. Not something I’ll ever forget!

      The worst driving I’ve seen since living “on the road” was performed by the folks on I-10 around Indio. People are nuts.

  22. Lynne says:

    I never take I10, preferring to take the road that goes through Joshua Tree instead. If a Senior pass you don’t have to pay. Once you exit JT if you cross I 10 on Box Canyon Road there are some beautiful places to camp within the rocks. Box Canyon continues to Mecca. Check it out if you haven’t passed it yet. Also I have often taken 62 east instead and that is a nice lonesome road. It comes to 95 and then your nearly in AZ.

    • Lynne says:

      Well that was stupid. I didn’t finish reading. LOL

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Caught ya! That’s okay. I’m happy you wanted to comment, Lynne.

        I didn’t go as far as the boulders. Maybe I will the next time I’m in that area. I found an easy in-easy out spot that suited us fine for an overnight.

        Joshua Tree is a wonderful park. However that last half of the trip south through it is a bit tedious. I didn’t feel like going through there again during the same time of year as we did last year.

  23. Nan says:

    You mentioned the Ocotillo and my heart gave a huge jump! Ooooo so ready for cacti!

  24. Eileen P. says:

    Assuming you’re back in Arizona…welcome back!
    Eileen in Phoenix

  25. Nice and tranquil at least until the monsters arrive on the weekend. Enjoy Arizona, Sue. I finished “The Drifter,” by William W. Johnston and enjoyed it. I’ll definitely read another one or 20 of his books!

  26. Lacombe, Serge says:

    I now this guy… did he mentioned his momma used to say: “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” He a was a little talkative too… and today happened to be on your path. His name is Gump, … Forrest Gump. Now you know his name.

    This Frenchie, again.


  27. Kent says:

    Hi Sue!
    You beat us to AZ by 3 days.We just left Death (to the internet) Valley and are resting nearby. Feels good huh? Love the Ocatillo pix. Looking forward to seeing them again. Going to meander down the Colorado river.

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