We’ve Been Boarded!

It was bound to happen. When you’re always parked out in nature, sooner or later nature is going to move in. And, on top of that, here at Craggy Wash, a lot of people don’t seem to be following the golden rule of camping — pack it in, pack it out — which leads to more critters being attracted to the camping area.

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Craggy Wash campsite.

I’m a pretty good hunter, caught fifteen gophers last year, so I’m embarrassed to admit I slept right through the intruder. I noticed the strange smell in the trailer on Wednesday morning but I assumed it was something blowing in off the desert.

3d Pirate mouse with cutlassAnyway, there it was all over the counter and in the drawers … the evidence. Aaarrr … we had been boarded. A rodent had been in our house, sampling from the fruit bowl, walking around in the dishes, leaving a trail of droppings as it went. It was probably just a mouse, but a big one based on the size of the pellets it left behind. For his sake, I hope the little pirate has moved on as Nollind has laid out a trifecta of rodent repellent and killer.

Me, I slept with one eye open on Wednesday night and, as a result, was a bit tired for our long walk day yesterday. Long walk day comes every second day when T and Nollind take Logan and me for our usual morning walk and then take me for a second, longer adventure.

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Keeping watch.

 

For yesterday morning’s long walk we drove to a place called Castle Rock at the north end of Lake Havasu and hiked along the cliffs above the marshy area where Lake Havasu becomes the Colorado River. I was dragging by the time we reached the top of the first sandy hill, envying Logan who was no doubt lying on his couch back at camp. But, after a rest stop to enjoy the view, I got my second wind and led the hike the rest of the way.

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Getting my second wind.

We came up here to Lake Havasu City when we left Quartzsite last Friday. I would have been happy to stay on and continue to explore the washes of Dome Rock BLM but our fourteen days were almost up and it was time to move on.

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Dome Rock wash walk.

Sadly, I didn’t get my trip to Beer Belly’s. T and Nollind did go one more time, but it was at the end of a ride to Dripping Spring that would have been too long and hot for me. I’m okay with it. There will be other dog-friendly bars and patios, and I’m sure we’ll be back at Q one day.

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Apparently, the chairs inside are smaller, but this one would be perfect for me (with a boost). No more spilling out!

The weather has turned cooler which has meant a little less time hanging outside at this camp. In fact, one day T and Nollind didn’t leave the trailer other than to take us for a walk. If you ask me, they’ve gotten soft, and I’m a little worried how they’re going to fare back home in Alberta. Okay, mostly I’m worried I’ll never get outdoors! But, they have more clothes there, warm clothes, so that should help. I might even willingly don a jacket (yes, you read that right) if the temps are still below freezing. I’ve shed my warm undercoat over the course of the winter.

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Chilly morning walk at Craggy Wash.

Anyway, I’ve gotten way off track from the pirate story. So I’ll just wrap this up with a, “Yo ho ho, ye landlubbers and scallywags! This son of a biscuit eater’s got to get back to the poop deck and give that freebooter the old heave-ho! Aaaarrrr!”

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Wickenburg … Wow!

It was an eventful eighteen days in Wickenburg, even for us dogs who stayed home for the local dining, art shows, and horse events that T and Nollind enjoyed.

This was our fourth time visiting Wickenburg, and our third time camping in the area. I think it was love at first sight for T—the cactus, the mountains, the horses. It’s only an hour and a half from Quartzsite but the 1200 feet of elevation gain makes a big difference to what grows. This means lots of Saguaro and other types of cactus, more trees, and even grass sometimes, although this year it was very dry.

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The desert near Vulture Peak.

 

And then there’s that horse thing of T’s. She enjoys being away from the seven-day-a-week responsibility of the horses, but I know she misses them, and Wickenburg is chock full of horses and horse people, most of them snowbirds just like us.

02-chico-wickenburg-onmatThis year, we were there for a horse-oriented purpose too, but without the actual horses. T’s new book, all about a Vancouver journalist who inherits her grandfather’s horse ranch in Alberta, has a major horse focus so she thought Wickenburg would be the perfect place to finish the first draft of the book. Turns out, she was right! She wrapped that up last Sunday.

The walking was fantastic, even the short Logie walks. After eighteen days, we were still finding new trails to explore from camp, most of them sandy and easy walking for my old friend. He loved it. And built himself this great den that he’ll probably tell you about at some point. I have to say, it was one of his best.

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Den under construction.

We had a huge amount of freedom around camp. In fact, Logan stayed outside most of the morning, and sometimes all afternoon, just hanging out in the sun, under the trailer, or in his den. He was one happy camper.

Nollind spent a bunch of time at the Starbucks in the Safeway about four miles from camp. You see, as great a place as it was for T to write her novel, it wasn’t so great for Nollind’s work that required internet. Cell reception, at least for T and Nollind’s service provider, is terrible at the Vulture Peak camping area. He tried a few in-camp solutions but finally gave in and drove to the Safeway every morning.

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Looking for a cell signal.

Evenings were sunset and campfire time almost every day, even when it was chilly for a few days. I’ve really come to appreciate a good sunset, especially from the comfort (and warmth) of my camp chair and serape.

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Sunset time.

There was, however, a bit of a hitch in our Wickenburg glory. I got sick. They think I might have picked up something at the dog wash place we went to in Surprise because I was sick a few days later. Monday was bath day, Wednesday I was feeling a bit off, and Thursday I was so hot I didn’t want to get off the floor and was barely able to eat my breakfast. Yes, of course, I still ate it. I wasn’t dead!

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Thursday morning with T’s bean bag from the freezer.

When they took me to the vet in Wickenburg I just lay on the floor in the waiting area until it was my turn. I think I really worried T and Nollind when a woman came in carrying a tray of food and I didn’t get up. That cool floor just felt too good.

Not a big surprise, I had a fever, but the x-rays and blood tests didn’t show up anything else of concern, like a foreign object lodged somewhere, or a life-threatening disease, so they pumped me full of fluids and sent me home with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Not sure just what worked but I was feeling somewhat better after only a day and, a week later, I am feeling 100% … other than this itchy skin. They think I also had a reaction to the shampoo at the dog bath place. I don’t think we’ll be going back there.

The good news is that I recovered in time for one last Wickenburg adventure. On Tuesday, I got my first big ride in Fang! I’ve ridden in Fang a few times but just to scout a campsite or shuttle Fang in or out of a camping area. But this was a real ride, for miles into the hills near Vulture Peak, destination, a trailhead and a one-hour hike up to a viewpoint.

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I don’t get a seat but my spot on the floor is pretty comfy with a great view out the side.

I was still a little draggy and the heat of the late morning was a challenge, but I wasn’t giving in and missing my big chance. I wasn’t afraid, I wasn’t uncomfortable and I’m pretty sure I scored myself a spot on future rides.

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View from the top.

We moved back to Quartzsite on Wednesday and are camping with our friends Sue and Leon until Sunday. Looks like it will be a few days of wieners, carrots, and hugs!

Two Minus One (Sometimes)

I knew it would come to this eventually. There have been hints for months now. A trip to the Strathmore Dog Park without Logan, an extra walk for just me here and there, but now it’s becoming the norm, doing things without my long-time buddy.

I don’t mind being an only dog on outings, I even got to sit in the front seat on one trip into Quartzsite, but I miss my wingman.  He’s been a good friend these past seven years, best dog friend I’ve ever had, maybe ever will.

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Heading into Quartzsite.

 

The first solo adventure was just over to Q Mountain in Quartzsite. It’s not a long hike, but it gets pretty steep, much tougher than Logan’s legs could manage. We were there together a few years ago and there was a 13-year-old dog doing the climb that we were all impressed with. At the time, I figured Logan would be matching that, and probably beating it! But I was wrong. His mountain climbing days are all but over.

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On top of Q Mountain.

 

The second solo outing was to Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. There’s a rock spiral that someone has created in the desert, what’s considered by some to be “desert graffiti”. I thought T and I were going to have to walk the entire labyrinth to get to the centre, but it had rained the day before so, when we got to the rings with mud, we cut across to the middle. If he’d been there, Logan wouldn’t have waited for the muddy part, he would have cut right to the centre with Nollind.

 

A little further up the same road is the trailhead for Palm Canyon. From the parking lot, it’s about a half mile uphill walk into the canyon where you can see the palms growing. Fan palms are the only palm tree variety that is native to Arizona and you don’t see them growing naturally in a lot of places. This was another hike we did a few years ago when Logan was just eleven. He aced it back then, was hardly tired by the end. A lot has changed in three years.

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Water stop on the Palm Canyon Trail.

 

Here at Wickenburg, there is a bunch of great hiking right from camp and in all directions. With Logan’s weakened condition, I was a little worried I wouldn’t get out to do much exploring but, every second day, after the morning’s half-hour walk with Logan, we drop him off at the trailer and continue on in another direction. The first day it was just a long walk through some washes. The second was a trip across the road to the gun range and up over the hill that’s there. And yesterday was the best yet. We climbed the hills to the east of us and could see the whole Wickenburg valley down below. Can’t wait to see where we might go tomorrow.

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Looking toward Wickenburg.

 

What’s good is that Logan doesn’t seem to mind too much. He’s tired by the time we get back from our first walk, ready for some couch time. He’s probably doing a little inner dance of joy when the trailer door closes with him on the comfortable side of it.

But it won’t be the same. T and Nollind are great but they miss the best part of our excursions … the smells! I’ll look up at them like, “Hey, check this out!” but they just carry on up the trail without even a making an effort to pick up the scent. Logan would have had his nose pushed right in there beside mine.

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The humans miss so much.

 

Back at the trailer, things are a lot like they always have been. Me and Loges, barking at intruders (like the two dogs that showed up in camp this morning), playing with squeaky toys, doing tricks for treats, hanging by the evening campfire, and napping on the floor.  And for that, I’m grateful. I see what’s happening, and I know I can’t stop it, so I’ll just savour every moment, every day, that we get to walk, or nap, side by side.

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Shared nap space.