The other worlds around us

Tuesday, February 6 

The crew and I are having a grand time exploring Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in southern Arizona.

After eating breakfast, making preparations for the day, and working on the blog, we board the Perfect Tow Vehicle and rumble down one of the many dirt roads in the refuge.

As one of the refuge’s brochures points out, a slow-moving or parked vehicle is an excellent blind for watching wildlife.

As we mosey down our road in the PTV . . . .

Suddenly a javelina jumps out of the tall grass and crosses in front of us!

I grab the camera, but before I can stick my hand out the window, the first javelina is gone and a second one disappears right behind the first.

Now I know for sure that the many hoof tracks we see around here belong to javelina. Man, those things are big!  

This excursion turns into a scenic tour of the vegetation near our camp.

Maybe you can help with the identification of these plants.

They remind me of century plants I saw in Florida.  That was a long time ago.

“Gosh, they’re all over the place!”

“Pretty weird, eh, guys?  Only a couple minutes and our world has changed.”

“We’ll get out and walk in a little bit.  I promise.”

Before putting the PTV in drive, I lean out my window and point the camera upward.

Just for the fun of it!

“Okay, let’s see what’s up ahead.”

In about a quarter-mile we enter yet another world.

Whereas the grasses in the photos above and around our campsite are a pale tan, here the grass is gold.  Huge swaths of gold . . . gorgeous!

(The photo above and the next ones of this area were taken with a long zoom.  My panoramic shots didn’t come out well.  I cropped these shots out of those.  The zoom and cropping create a painted quality that I think is pretty neat)!

“Okay, this is a good place to get out and walk around.”

Reggie and Roger wiggle and squirm on the passenger seat.

I trot around the PTV to let them out on the tether.  I’m excited about the photo possibilities.

We walk a short distance . . .  

Oh, there’s a deer!  

The deer is hardly more than a speck from where we stand.  Well, I’m standing.  Reggie and Roger are pulling this way and that.

“Hold still a minute!  I need to get this photo!”

I don’t know if the golden grass is native to Altar Valley or if it was introduced as a food source for wildlife.  Unlike the pale tan grass, the golden grass is loaded with seeds.  If you look closely at the foreground of the next pic, you can see the stalks of seeds.

At the present time, rain is in the forecast!

I do hope it rains!  When Bridget, Reggie and I camped here in February of 2016, wildflowers were in bloom and a great many birds had arrived.  I’ll never forget the Vermillion Flycatchers.  I haven’t see any this year.

On the road again, we come around a bend and . . .

“What the heck is that?”

Bright yellow globes the size of softballs hang from the branches of a mesquite!

What? Did someone decorate that tree?  That is very weird.

I pull up to the tree, park, and get out for a closer look.

No, that’s not plastic.  That’s some kind of fruit!

Why hasn’t it been pecked by birds or eaten by other wildlife?  This is a mesquite tree.  Is it the fruit of a vine?

I take a close-up photo while standing in the brush.

I don’t hang around to inspect further, being uneasy about what might be near my legs and annoyed with my presence!

In the previous post I included a photo of a cactus.

It looked like a barrel cactus to me.  Readers said yes, it’s an elongated barrel cactus.

Interestingly, as one reader informs us, the cactus has another name — Compass Cactus. It was given that name because it grows in the shade of a mesquite and bends toward the southern sky.

Compass Cactus… I like that!

I set out to see if it does point south.

I find a very tall specimen.  This one is about five feet tall and has a distinct bend.

Yes, it’s pointing south!

As for our walk, we find several great campsites which I’ll share in an upcoming post.

See what I mean about having a grand time?

I haven’t shown the half of what the crew and I have been doing the past few days.  This is the kind of living that I crave.  My happiest moments are in the natural world, shared with my precious crew.

Even when they go insane on a peaceful stroll . . . .

Talk about other worlds . . . . What planet did these two gremlins come from!


NOTE:  Thanks to those who identified the plants in this post. The plants that have the tall stalk are yuccas.  (They aren’t century plants, as I originally thought.)  The mystery fruit is coyote melon, also known as buffalo balls.  

For details and links, join us in the comments section! — Sue


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115 Responses to The other worlds around us

  1. Calvin Rittenhouse says:

    Super post! I’ll admit knowing almost nothing about any of that flora and fauna, and I look forward to other blogorinos sharing what they know.

    • rvsueandcrew says:


      As for the flora and fauna, we’re learning together. I’m confident a blogorino will help us.

  2. Pat in Rochester says:

    Thank you for showing me a warm world today!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      My pleasure to do so, Pat. I imagine it’s quite “brisk” in Rochester today. . . .

    • Pat in Rochester says:

      I think that’s a coyote melon.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Coyote melon. Sounds interesting. I’ll look it up and try to figure out if it’s what I saw. Thanks, Pat.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Yes, it is coyote melon. Good job, Pat!

          “Though large and attractive, the flower of the coyote melon is not to be smelled. The fragrance, or should I say stench, is unpleasant and attracts more flies than humans. Presumably, the odor attracts flies so that some may inadvertently pollinate the flowers.

          “Even more impressive than the flower is the large fruit mentioned earlier. Following pollination, the ovary of the female flower swells into a surprisingly large, orange-sized sphere. (Each coyote melon plant is monoecious meaning the plant has some male flowers and some female flowers. Most species of flowering plants are hermaphroditic meaning each flower has both male and female parts.)

          “The fruits are, at first, green with pale white lines but then turn yellow, and finally pale orange-brown as they dry out. Although the seeds enclosed in the fruit can be eaten, the fruit itself has a bitter, acrid taste and is, therefore, considered inedible. . . .

          ” . . . there is at least one record of a very old plant with an underground root that had swollen to a weight of 100 pounds.” —

          This article shows the melon when green: “Coyote Melon — The Living Desert

  3. Hi all, please go back to the last post and my comment at the bottom, this new post just came as I was commenting,,

  4. Bud (N E Washington) says:

    Those are yuccas and gourds.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Bud,

      Yuccas! Yes, I remember now, someone told me that a while back. Thank you.

      Gourds? I wonder what kind .. . .

  5. Piper n Rusty, KY says:

    Nice post and photos,,,

    Hi all from 1st day back home from the VAMC LOUISVILLE,,, ok , the Heart Cat found “No” Blockage problems in my System, the only things is that I have a weak heart and a Valve that doesn’t close all the way, a leaky valve, A Fib and I’ve been retaining water, but the meds I’m taking should remedy that and I need to “NOT” STRESS on nothing. I’m trying not to,,

    Other than that, I’m doing ok and Piper is so happy to be at my side once again and doesn’t wish to leave it,, Last night I came home 5 hours after the procedure and slept good for the 1st time in 8 days. Thank you all for your prayers and wishes ,,,, Rusty n Piper

    • rvsueandcrew says:


      What good news that you’re home again with Piper and you’re able to get a good night’s sleep! I’m glad you have something to keep you from retaining water and that you have no blockages. Whew! Thanks for keeping us informed. As a blogorino mentioned under the previous post, a lot of people care about you. 🙂

    • Diann in MT says:

      Welcome back, Rusty! Glad you made it through what seems like a big ordeal.

    • Stephanie Turner OR says:

      Missed seeing you post Rusty. So glad you now know what you have to work with and how best to stay healthy. I’m sure Piper was beside herself without you. My best wishes for your health and hope you will be back up to speed shortly.

    • Barb in Florida says:

      Great news, Rusty! My get-well wishes got lost the other day. Glad for you and Piper that you are home. Feel better every day.

    • Teri Live Oak Fl says:

      Good to hear from you Rusty. Glad all worked out well and you are home with Piper.

    • Calvin Rittenhouse says:

      I’m glad you’re home and getting better! Now to work on not stressing.

    • ApplegirlNY says:

      Excellent news, Rusty, and yes, don’t worry about anything. Just give that Piper lots of love. Thanks for checking in. We’ll all continue to pray for you.

      • Barbara (Nashville) says:

        Glad all turned out okay and you are back home with Lady Piper. Hope all stays well for you.

    • weather says:

      Rusty, I’m so glad you are home again with Piper and your family! Probably you were given advise by the doctors about how best to take care of yourself after they diagnosed the problems you mentioned, and will do what you need to. I’ll continue praying for you to keep feeling better.

    • Geri in the FL panhandle! says:

      YAY! That is good news Rusty! So glad you got a good report. Now we can all start praying for you to have a strong heart and no leaky valves! I really believe strongly in the power of prayer and you had a lot of blogerino’s saying prayers for you!
      Welcome home! Give Piper a big hug from us!

    • ValGal (westernWA) says:

      Glad to hear the news, Rusty! I hope you can get some rest and feel better soon!

    • Krystina says:

      Oh HAPPY day Rusty! Happy to hear the great news.

  6. Diann in MT says:

    Awesome photos, Sue. I especially like the deer. I love deer.
    Anyway, I am plowing my way through Thoreau’s Walden. A lot of his philosophy reminds me of the life you lead. Basically, you live in your own truth. A truth based on the reality of things and the acceptance that the world is always changing, wonderfully!
    Continue, Intrepid Independent Woman! :>)))

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Wow! Thank you, Diann.

      I read Walden when I was in high school and, as the saying goes, “it spoke to me.” I should’ve listened and followed what I was told.

      Oh well, better late than never (boy, I’m just bursting with cliches to day!)…

      Enjoy Thoreau… 🙂

      • Diann in MT says:

        Jeeze. You would have built a cabin from scratch, swam in a pond, and ate bread all the time. Not to mention enduring the New England winters. No. You made the right choice! LOL

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      BTW, Diann… “A truth based on the reality of things and the acceptance that the world is always changing, wonderfully.”

      Quite a statement! 🙂

      • Diann in MT says:

        A paraphrase of some of his reflections in the first chapter.

        Personally, I think Thoreau should be introduced to gifted high school kids, but later revisited after experiencing some life. Good day!

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I agree. That’s true with a lot of books we read when young.

          • Kathy from MI says:

            You both “hit the nail on the head” (another good ole saying). Over the years I’ve reread some of the literature initially introduced to my in high school. Thanks goodness. Grapes of Wrath and Tale of Two Cities come to mind immediately as required reading that I definitely enjoyed then but didn’t fully digest and comprehend until much later upon a re-read.

            • Diann in MT says:

              Good for you in revisiting those classics. I taught them as best I could, and I really respected the kids who didn’t complain too much. Then, again, I had fun with the kids who complained all the time. LOL

            • rvsueandcrew says:

              You remind me of something regarding Grapes of Wrath. I read it in high school. Then in a college course almost 40 years later it was an assignment. I read it again and wrote the required paper (Got an A, not bragging here . . . An A is low-hanging fruit in college. The standard for writing is stunningly low in our dumbed-down educational institutions, plus it helps to be 30+ years older than one’s classmates!).

              In between both readings, I saw the movie, one of my favorites.

    • Calvin Rittenhouse says:

      Walden is one of the very few books I’ve read more than once. If I recall correctly, I’ve read it three times at different stages of my life.

      • Diann in MT says:

        I am reading it in a Kindle version, but I am convinced I will purchase a hard copy to keep handy. A lot of wisdom about a lot of aspects of life.

    • ApplegirlNY says:

      Walden. So wonderful. Read it in high school. Had a strong impact on me. I still revisit it from time to time. It wasn’t required reading at the time, although it should have been.

      I think when I went to high school, in the 70’s, no where near enough time was spent reading the classics that I think every educated person should have under their belt. I know we couldn’t have read it all, but there should have been more. My favorite books were ones referred to me by my mom, an avid reader.

  7. Hi Sue and crew, we had those same plants on our land near Bisbee and also called them century plants. Compass cactus, I like that name. Glad you and the crew are having fun. We are leaving Darby Well today, will stop at Hickiwan Rv park in Why for a couple of days. Then head to Casa Grande, ugh heat, to meet up with family coming in for spring break.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Lisa,

      I guess century plants and yuccas are the same…. I hope you like it at Hickiwan. I think blogorino Ed has stayed there, and other blogorinos as well.

      Safe travels…

      • Fred says:

        A century plant is an agave, not a yucca. Yuccas bloom many times, but the century plant blooms only once before dying. The pictures look like a species of yucca.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Aha! An interesting twist! I will look into this. I may have to revise the addendum to this post. Thank you, Fred!

          • Fred says:

            After a little more looking on the internet I think it is a yucca elata, sometimes called a soaptree

            • rvsueandcrew says:

              I appreciate your interest in this. I guess it is used to make soap? (You don’t have to answer that.)

            • weather says:

              According to an article I found – “Native American Soap Plants You Can Still Find and Use Today”,
              the tender growing tips or leaves of a coyote melon plant (what they called Buffalo gourd plants) can be rubbed in water to produce a frothy green lather to clean a person or clothes. They caution readers mentioning some skin is irritated by the rigid spines/hairs covering the leaves.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Well, all I had to do was search “Images for Yucca Plants” and “Images for Century Plants.”

          You are correct, Fred. I will fix the note at the bottom of this post. Thanks again!

          • Geri in the FL panhandle! says:

            While I was spending time on the Navajo Reservation, I actually watched yucca being made ready to use as shampoo! I loved it! It made my hair very shiny!

  8. Peggy says:

    We just got home from spending a little over two months in southern New Mexico and those “balls” are called “Buffalo Gourds” there.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      hee-hee…. I get it. 🙂

    • Kathy from MI says:

      Hi Peggy and all!

      I’m hoping to travel from MI to the AZ area in March sometime. Trying to “plan” a route. I don’t seem to remember many other blogorinos mention camping/boondocking in southern NM. Would you be able to recommend stops or boondocking sites through that state?

      Thanks, in advence.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Kathy… I’ll see what I can come up with.

        Blogorinos: What stops or boondocking sites in New Mexico do you recommend for Kathy when she travels from Michigan in March?

        • Geri in the FL panhandle! says:

          As part of the Elephant Butte State Park system, there is a smaller boondocking park right on the Rio Grande River near Truth or Consequences NM! I have directions to it on my old blog, I will see if I can find it and repost it here.

          • Kathy from MI says:

            Great….I found Truth or Con. on the map and will see what you find for directions, Geri! Any further help from you all will be greatly appreciated. The planning is so fun..

            • Geri in the FL panhandle! says:

              I found the directions on my old blog, but can’t figure out how to cut and paste what you need here. If you want to do the research Kathy here is my blog address:
              Do a search for Truth or Consequences NM. There should be a subtitle: Our Hometown T or C NM.
              Its a long blog, full of photos of T or C. About 3/4 down I posted photos of the campground. Then in the comments someone asked for directions. I gave very specific directions to the campground! Gonna be a bit of work on your part, but everything you need is there.

        • Ed says:

          This link will show the locations of RV Parks that I have stayed at in NM. The southern ones will still be a little cold in March especially those around Silver City because of the elevation.

          If you click on a push pin you will get a pop-up map that shows the driving route that I used to reach that camp. If you click on Journal at the top of the pop-up it will take you to my blog posting the day that I arrived at that camp.

          Have a good trip!

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          City of Rocks campground may be a good choice. I’ve never camped there but I’ve heard people like it (SE of Silver City, NW of Deming).

          It is in southwestern NM which means you’d be positioned to flee to southern AZ (lower elevation) if March is too cold there.

        • Nivrapa in AZ says:

          Kathy, camping is southern NM may be limited in the winter because of the elevation of 6K feet or better. Many NF campgrounds do not open until April/May.

          The state Parks in southern NM remain open all year and are nice parks for camping. City of Rocks is a really unique experience, well worth the stop and I recommend it. In general, the NM state parks make for nice stops that are not expensive.

          Aguirre Springs is near Las Cruces and quite the find. Rigs larger than 23′ are not recommended due to the steep, winding road leading into the campground. Sites are large, level, and offer fantastic views of the Organ Mountains. It’s a BLM site and is clean, generally quiet, and safe. Shelters over the tables, fire pits, bathrooms, and central water (if it hasn’t been turned off for the winter) are available. Camp hosts are on site and the rangers drive through several times a day. It’s close to White Sands National Monument and a day trip there is fun. Aguirre Springs is one of the nicest campgrounds you’ll find in NM and a real bargain for $7/nite.

          Here’s hoping for good travel weather and some amazing views on your trip.—Audrey

      • When I was in NM last fall I camped at several state parks. You might look at those to see if any would be along your route. Some are at higher elevations and may still have winter weather in March, but lower elevations may work.

      • chas anderson says:

        I have stayed at City of Rocks,Leasburg Dam and Pancho Villa State Parks.Will be staying at Panch Villa again in 2 weeks.

        If you need a quick stop overnight near El Paso the Sunland Park casino parking lot is available near the highway to El Paso .

        There are also spots available in some public lands between Las Cruscrs and Alamagordo near White Sands NP.

      • JazzLover says:

        Kathy, there are a number of natural hot springs in Truth or Consequences. I visited one of them, name now forgotten, back some 21 years ago and I’d go back just to do it again. Just googled them and the numbers have tripled since I was there. Treat yourself, you won’t regret it. It is also a neat little town with some nice pottery shops.

  9. Li says:

    Coyote melon…that’s something new to me. Great photos and very interesting about the Compass Cactus. Thanks.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Li. When Ed told us that name, I was anxious to go find a Compass Cactus. I saw several, all pointing south.

  10. Becky in NJ says:

    Do those melons grow from a vine that climbs the tree?
    A few years ago my neighbor threw some Halloween pumpkins into their chicken yard for the chickens to eat. The next summer they discovered a big pumpkin hanging in the branches of a tree in the area! Everyone was cautious about walking under that big hanging pumpkin, in case it broke loose!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Funny anecdote, Becky. Sounds very “Charlie Brown.” 🙂

      I don’t know if the melon vine climbed the tree or not. I guess it did!

  11. Renee still in Idaho says:

    Wow. I learned quite a bit from this posting and the floral and fauna there in the desert. What a fascinating place to visit. I love camping at places with a lot of wildlife.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m glad you found this post informative, Renee. About wildlife…. I enjoy seeing the roadrunners which I see crossing the road, of course. Lots of them at the refuge.

      • Renee still in Idaho says:

        What sound do they make? “Beep-beep”?

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I wish I knew, Renee. Whenever I see one, either I’m behind the wheel of the PTV or it is silent. They are curious critters. At two camps — Roosevelt Lake and Las Vegas Bay — a roadrunner visited our campsite. The one at Roosevelt Lake arrived around 6 p.m. every day, like clockwork.

  12. ApplegirlNY says:

    Buffalo Balls…. I don’t even know what to say to that. LOL

  13. Lee J in Northern California says:

    Many years ago, like maybe 60?, we had a family stay with us in Carlsbad, New Mexico. They were stranded by a car breakdown, my dad was the garage owner that was repairing it,so brought them home with him! The young man was named Otho Wingo, along with his mother and a lady friend….Otho was a college professor back east somewhere….they were fascinated by the flora and fauna. My sister and I took Otho on a walk to see the country outside Carlsbad. He loved everything, took millions of photos, looked things up in a small book he had…
    Reading your post today reminded me of that long ago trek with a nice young man that made me see my home with fresh eyes.. thank you!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Dr. Otho Wingo died February 5,2015. Reading his obituary, it’s apparent he was an intelligent man with great curiosity. Thank you, Lee, for introducing us to him with your story from long ago.

    • Kathy from MI says:

      Wow, what a great story from your past! A memorable moment in time.

  14. Jolene/Iowa says:

    Interesting post and comments! I learned things I didn’t know. Another Walden reader here, loved it!

  15. Barbara (Nashville) says:

    This was a great post. The golden grasses with the contrasting trees is just beautiful.
    I was actually watching a re-run of Bob Ross’ paintings on NPT today and he had painted a very similar painting with the golden grass in this episode. I enjoyed learning about the different plant life in the areaas well.
    I love all of the bloggers commenting on the classics. I go back periodically to read some of those that were required in high school. Really want to try re-reading “Catcher in the Rye.” For some reason it seemed so confusing in high school.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Isn’t it great when blogorinos participate and share knowledge and experiences? I get a double benefit– the enjoyment of reading the comments and the enhancement of my blog.

      I’m pleased you liked this post, Barbara.

    • Kathy from MI says:

      My high school reading of “Grapes Of Wrath” turned me into a lifelong Steinbeck fan. It led me to “Travels With Charlie”, which I read in my twenties and it fueled my lifelong desire to travel this great country just as Steinbeck did. It was his only work of non-fiction and written shortly before he died. I stopped in at the Steinbeck Center in Salinas on my only cross country road trip 2 years ago with my daughter and got to see Rocinante (the camper JS had built for his cross country adventure). Wow!!!

      I’m going to look up Bob Ross, Barbara. You are right!…I loved this post and all of it’s comments. Such good food for the soul.

      • Calvin Rittenhouse says:

        The other book I remember reading more than once (besides Walden) is Travels with Charlie. My approach to travel comes from that. It’s not about tourism; it’s about seeing places and meeting people.

  16. Diann in MT says:

    Sweet 4 point mule deer and his doe. This photo is my background on the PC now. Thanks, Sue.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Ooh, the focus is so bad on that one. Oh well, I’m happy you like it! I’m using the one of the deer walking away for my screensaver. 🙂

  17. Joe in TN says:

    Hi Sue

    I’m hopeful that you’ll get a camera on a javelina on one of your treks with the crew. Would love to see one in the wild. Maybe you could get Roger to pose with one LOL! Love your new camp and thanks for the deer pics. Have a great weekend.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Joe . . . I hope you are enjoying your weekend.

      It was a treat to see those two javelina, even though it was only for a second or two. They look prehistoric! Yeah, I’d love to post my own javelina pics. 🙂

    • chas anderson says:

      The campground at Big Bend NP has a field where a herd of javelina graze every day.I had seen them fleetingly many times but I got the chance to observe them for hours at a time at close quarters.

      Very interesting.They are not pigs but are an example of two different species adopting similar charcteristics in the evolutionary process.Convergent evolution?

  18. Don in Alaska says:

    The Arizona- Sonora Desert Museum is located just west of Tucson, and not far from the famous movie location of Old Tucson. The facility offers a wonderful way to spend a day or even a week, learning more about the unique desert of SoAZ and Northern Mexico.

    The link below is an offering (just one of many) on the grasses and grasslands found in Alter Valley and the Arva Valley to the North published by the A-SDM staff.

    Sadly, over pumping of ground water by Tucson for decades (prior to CAP water being delivered) has radically parts of the Arva Valley eco-system. Where Sue is staying is an area that avoided this near disaster, and so the photos are especially welcome.

    I spent many days in my youth wandering the grounds and strongly recommend making a must see item if you will be in the Tucson area.

    As a note to Sue, the Mexican Jaguar is known to range the area in and around Alter Valley.

    The gloden greass of the valley is home to a maasive number birds –
    “Last of the blue Baboquivari Mountains, home of Iitoi, the Tohono O’odham creator god, lies the sprawling Altar Valley, a 610,000-acre paradise of Sonoran Desert grassland.

    Only part of it is protected. The Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, at just more than 117,000 acres, covers a southern swath of the Altar, trying to safeguard its grasslands, its wetlands, its wildlife and its wealth of birds. One year, somebody counted 320 different bird species within the refuge boundaries.”

    The Refuge is an indescribably beautiful place, more so if you are able to visit after the monsoons.

    Once more Sue – I thank you for the photos. They are a reminder of the time I spent camping in the area – and falling in love with the bird life found there….

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thank you very much, Don! The refuge gives out a bird list for people to use to check off what they find. I don’t think this is the best time of year for birds, maybe partly because of the weather. I’m surprised by how few I’ve seen.

      I learned a lot from those links. I did a search for Mexican Jaguar and the images that came up– WOW! What a gorgeous animal!

    • Linda in NC says:

      Also Gilbert Ray Campground is a convenient place to camp near Old Tucson and the Museum.

  19. Diann in MT says:

    Don in Alaska. I was curious about jaguars. Thanks for your update. I know that mountain lions around here are secretive and not aggressive. Perhaps the jaguars you mention may have the same habits.

  20. Barbara from Camano Island says:

    What a wonderful post! All the descriptions by Sue and then all the fun and informative conversation by everyone.

    Thanks to everyone for the encouraging comments about my buying a van. I did it!! But it is not the easiest thing doing it across borders. Lots of going in and out of the buildings declaring cash, filling out forms and then bringing the van back over sweating though questions concerning the paperwork we had. But now just have to get it registered here. I am exhausted. And a little scared about the enormity of doing such a big thing. Now to figure out about getting wifi, do I get solar, etc. one step at a time.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You should be very proud of yourself, Barbara! Congratulations!

      • Barbara (Nashville) says:

        Congrats Barbara. Glad you have gotten this step behind you and can’t wait to read about your upgrades and changes. Have fun making it your own.

        • Barb in Florida says:

          I had to comment for a triple-Barbara! Congratulations, so happy & excited for you. Are either of you Barbara Ann?

          • Barb in Florida says:

            I usually ask the Barbaras I meet if they are an Ann. A lot of the time they are. Alot are Barbara Jean. I’ve only met one Barbara Gertrude. I hadn’t met many older than me until we moved to Wisconsin. The real estate agent was a Barb. My new nextdoor neighbor was a Barb. The lady that sold me the homeowner’s insurance was also a Barbara. The kicker was when I took the kids to the school to register, I was telling the office ladies my Barb encounters and the lady behind the desk said “Well, before I was married I had your exact name” Blew me away. Never met so many in my life and all in such a short time. Moved to FL, met my neighbor, introduced herself & I told her it was my mom’s name, my name’s Barb. She laughed and said it was HER mom’s name:)

            • rvsueandcrew says:

              That is so funny, Barb! Especially the moms and daughters with the same names reversed… I wondered why you asked about Ann…. Now I know.

              I wonder why so many of our age are named Barbara or Susan.

              Barbara Stanwyck and Susan Hayward perhaps?

            • Barb in Florida says:

              It’s outta order but, my sister’s name is Susan! Could be because of the actresses of the time. My sister teased me about the song Barbara Ann by the Beach Boys until I teased her about A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash.

            • rvsueandcrew says:

              Oh yeah, and then there was Runaround Sue and Wake Up, Little Susie…. 🙂

  21. ValGal (westernWA) says:

    The vegetation in different microclimates is delightful. What fun! Those golden grasses are gorgeous and what bizarre “melons”. This is a special camp for sure. I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself so much.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thank you for the nice note, ValGal. I enjoy hearing from you!

    • Sue CleanerGreenerVegas (Hutchinson, KS) says:

      For Sue songs, how about “Miss Sue, Miss Sue, Miss Sue from Alabama, Sitting in a rocker, eating Betty Crocker, watching the world go by….Ahhh ahhh!” That is NOT Sue’s idea of retirement, is it?! 🙂 Those days wandering in Nature are about as close as you can get to peaceful Paradise on Earth, Sue. Enjoy!

  22. Ramona says:

    Sue and Crew, I am really enjoying your travels! I am getting closer and closer to choosing a Casita and will probably purchase by the end of the year. I’ve just had a hitch placed on my van, so little by little, change is happening. Your blog has inspired me! I’m touring a Casita the end of this month to get a feel for it. Other TT I have looked at are disappointinly shoddy. I haven’t toured an Airstream, but since my budget is limited, they’re not a viable option. Do you have a post about interior modifications, or ideas for making a small space more functional? I would be full timing it with my dog, so any dog ideas would be great too.

    Thanks for all the work that I know goes into your blog. It’s a great place to land at the end of a busy day! 😊

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Ramona,

      Congratulations on moving yourself closer to your dream!

      About “interior modifications” to the BLT. The interior of our home has evolved over the years. The way it is set up now works very well for me as a solo traveler.

      Along the door side I have three large cabinets each having three deep drawers. These contain clothing (3 drawers), kitchen stuff (3 drawers), maps and atlases (a drawer full!), electronics, and health/first aid/miscellaneous items. On the sink side of the BLT I have my bed which is narrow but the crew and I have learned to be comfortable on it.

      A Wave 3 heater is mounted on the channel near the floor opposite my bed:

      November 2011… “Catalytic Heater Installation” (I decided against the furnace option when ordering.)

      April 2012 ….”A look inside our Casita

      January 2014 ….”What does Barbie have to do with new curtains for a Casita travel trailer?”

      The way the BLT is set up now:

      March 2016 …. “Beauty and the Best Little Trailer: A Casita makeover

      • Ramona says:

        Great, thanks! Some good ideas there. I especially like the curtains. I’m thinking of a spirit deluxe, so it’s good to see how other floor plans can be tweaked. Planning on keeping the van as a “garage” for out of season clothes, bike, 40# bag of dog kibble, etc. I’m working (travel RN) and hoping to do this until I retire, then will just follow the sun. I’m concerned about Valley Fever, which I just learned is rampant in the desert Southwest. Have you had any issues with your dogs? It sounds pretty scary and is making me think twice about traveling in these areas….

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          No problem with Valley Fever. Since it comes from spores, my guess is it’s more easily contracted during the rainy season (summer) when RVers are out of the low desert areas.

          Keep in mind that news items almost always enlarge a situation far beyond the reality. To let Valley Fever determine where you go would be a mistake, in my opinion. The only time I think about or hear about VF is when someone comments on my blog. Go where you want and enjoy!

          My configuration with the big storage bins won’t work in a Spirit Deluxe, as you probably realize, due to the presence of the dinette. Everything’s a trade off. One has to determine what is more important to one’s daily life on the road. I don’t need a dinette because I have my own table to set up outside or I use the picnic table at a site.

          One minor but important note about storing dog kibble in your van. Unless you transfer it to a tightly closed container, expect to have rodents in your van. I learned the hard way! 🙂

          • Ramona says:

            Thanks for the tips! I’m from Florida and learned long ago to store EVERYTHING in airtight containers due Palmetto Bugs, which are roaches on steroids that can fly. 👎🏼

            I learned about VF from a veterinary site, so I think it’s reputable . They were NOT selling anything 😉 Their stats say 80-90 dogs are affected in that area, although a large percentage are asymptomatic as the lung tissue is able to successfully wall off the spores. The only way to get an accurate Dx is a skin test I believe. If symptomatic, treatment takes 12 months or more with antifungal Meds. Ouch.

          • Ed says:

            “Keep in mind that news items almost always enlarge a situation far beyond the reality.”

            Absolutely right! Dog bites man – so what. Man bites dog – News!

            The chances of getting Valley Fever are about .04% whereas the chances of getting the flu even if you have received the latest vaccine are 5%.

            “Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.”– Denis Waitley

        • JazzLover says:

          Ramona, do not know where you are getting your information about valley fever being rampant from, but as Sue stated is more in rainy season. I am in contact with a friend in Tucson on a weekly basis and she said they had a lot of flu this winter, not a word about valley fever. For what it’s worth.

  23. weather says:

    “…Huge swaths of gold-gorgeous!” , wow, it truly is! The photo beneath your writing that is just wonderful, I love the painted quality you gave it.

    Both the title of this post and the discussion of Thoreau and Walden brought to mind something he once said-One of his earliest memories was of looking through the stars to see if he could find God behind them. I know you see nature as His creation, too.

    While I was thinking about all of that I remembered my father having brought a blanket onto our lawn one night. As we stretched out and looked at the sky he pointed out the constellations so I’d learn how to find them. I know that was the beginning of my fascination with the moon and all that lights nighttime’s skies.

    So now I’m curious, do you know if you first discovered that you liked to walk in the woods by wandering and happenchance? Or do you remember someone else taking you through the woods before that?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, weather,

      How wonderful for you to have a father who would share the night sky with you like that. I was blessed with a loving father, too.

      I don’t remember anyone taking me through the woods. Both my parents appreciated the natural beauty of upstate NY. No doubt their conversations and reactions, such as oohing and aahing over autumn colors, my mother’s love of the Battenkill River near her family’s farm, and their interest in wildlife had an influence on me.

      I think more than anything I went to the woods a lot simply because I enjoyed being alone in peaceful, natural surroundings. To answer your question, yes, it was by wandering.

      Thank you for your comments on that golden photo. It’s my favorite of this batch. 🙂

  24. Rover Ronda (WA) says:

    Compass Cactus, very cool! 😎 and good to know if I ever get lost 😳

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I know! Like in the northeast where I grew up, everyone knew that moss grows on the north side of tree trunks. 🙂

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