Da Boys at Da Beach

That’s us, “da boys”, or so we’re called by some very dear friends. And we’re here at “da beach”, that’s the beach at Lake Havasu. We moved Sunday from our boondocking spot in Craggy Wash just north of Lake Havasu City and came here to the state park, which is pretty much right in town and on the lake.


Our camp at water’s edge.

We were here last year at this same time for Bluegrass on the Beach. This year, Teresa and Nollind are volunteers, so we were able to set up camp on Sunday, and got a spot right here on the water. It’s a nice change from the desert, water life instead of desert life. Boats instead of ATVs. Kayakers as opposed to cyclists.


Even the dogs get out on the water.

It’s also a very different kind of camping from what we’re used to. Craggy Wash was already closer quarters than Quartzsite or Wickenburg, but now that things have filled in here at the state park, we are shoulder to shoulder. Sunday we almost had the place to ourselves, Monday the ticket holders started rolling in and today, it is getting very cozy.



But I don’t mind. It gives me plenty to watch when I’m lying outside … or not. Something about the sound of the water keeps lulling me to sleep, that gentle lap of waves on the shore, the put-put of a boat going by in the no-wake zone of the canal, the faint sound of someone playing a banjo in a campsite somewhere. Well, faint until about half an hour ago when the main stage started up.


Imagine the sound of waves lapping at the shore.

It’s okay though, I like music, and even though I’m more of a classical kind of guy, this old-timey, acoustic, foot-stompin’ stuff is alright … for a few days once or twice a year. Teresa and Nollind play too, but not all day, and without the barrage of instrumentation. Just guitar and bass. But, even when they play, I tend to go up in the bedroom. They try not to take it personally but I have been accused of being a critic.


Maybe a good spot for some quiet?


What’s really great about being here at the beach is the beach. There’s a bunch of it that’s off limits to dogs and other pets, but Teresa has scoped out all of the dog-friendly spots and we visit one of them at least once/day. We can get in the water right from camp but it drops off quite steeply and I’m not the swimmer or bank climber I used to be. The flat of the beach suits me just fine. And there’s just something about getting my feet wet and drinking from a fresh body of water that is soothing to my old canine soul.


The beach near the boat launch.

Chico’s been out and about quite a lot more than I have, exploring some of the beaches that are too far for me. And yesterday he got a walk into town and some time on a patio that he wouldn’t shut up about the rest of the day. I know he doesn’t do it to gloat, he was just excited. There was food involved after all. Anyway, I won’t steal his thunder. I’ll leave him to tell you his fish and chips story.


The beach along the canal.

Teresa and Nollind have headed off to the music area for the start of the festival … oh, and there it is, that distinctive sound of bluegrass. I don’t expect to see a lot of them these next few days but, as long as they leave the back windows open so I can hear the water on the shore, I’m a happy napper … or, I mean, camper.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!”

Rock, Cactus, Sunset

Unlike camping in an RV park or campground, out in the desert, there are no numbered spaces with set boundaries. It’s nice to have the freedom to put our house where we want, but it also means a lot of variables and choices. And, with our double-trailer rig, an old dog, and a woman who loves a view, you’ll see it can be quite a process to select a space.

Nollind gets first say on whether or not a spot works. Can we get in? And, the more important, can we get out? Even out here in the open desert, there are obstacles to manoeuvre around like trees, cactus, other campers, sudden elevation changes (aka washes and hills), and rocks. It’s not like one big parking lot out here. Well … in some places it’s actually quite a lot like a big parking lot.


Our current camp spot at Dome Rock.

Once that’s settled, is the area level enough? The trailer can be easily adjusted front to back but side to side requires blocks on one side or digging on the other. Up at Wickenburg where the ground is softer, we dug down on the high side. Here at Quartzsite where everything is rock, we added our fancy red levellers. But, if a spot is too far off level, it just doesn’t work.


I sleep so much better when the couch is level.

Next … Is there cell service? Because Teresa and Nollind still run a business, do contract work, and spend time volunteering for things back home, they do need to be available by phone and internet. And, of course, we dogs need to be able to post our blog every week. Wickenburg was borderline, but we made do for the two and half weeks.

Then we start getting into aesthetics. Noise. Is the space far enough from a road and further yet from a highway? Is the space far enough from other campers and do the neighbours have solar power or generators? Hondas and Yamahas are tolerable. Champion generators are to be avoided at all cost.


Enjoying a quiet spot with lots of elbow room.

Dust. Is the camping spot upwind of where other campers will be travelling? Being on the south side of a dusty road around here is pretty much guaranteed to have you breathing dirt.

Surface. Is the ground friendly enough to build a patio on or is it filled with large or sharp rocks?


Enjoying our Dome Rock patio.

View. Is there a view to the sunset and, preferably, the sunrise? Are there hills or mountains nearby? I don’t care much about this stuff but it’s important to Teresa.


Wickenburg sunrise.

Vegetation. Are there saguaro, ocotillo, or palo verde trees? These are the good ones. Are there cholla cactus? These are the not-so-good ones that are known to attack the feet and legs of unfortunate dogs (and people sometimes too … Sue).

And this year there’s a whole other level of site choosing. Me! They’ve always considered us dogs but, this year, with my ramp and my bum leg and my enjoyment of lying around outside, I’ve moved way up the priority list. This spot we’re in right now at Dome Rock? Chosen largely because of me.


I can’t walk very far anymore, but I sure enjoy my time outdoors.


It’s tough to find a spot around Quartzsite that isn’t rocky, and it’s tough for me to walk on rocks this year, so quite a lot of effort and driving of dusty roads went into finding a good spot. In the end, we came back to Dome Rock, but in a different location. This time we set up next to a big, wide, sandy wash with multiple roads and trails through it. Perfect.


Walking the wash near camp.

The times it’s easiest to select a spot is when someone else does it for you, but this is a rare occurrence. It happened once last year and once again this trip and both times were orchestrated by the same people — Sue and Leon. Last year it was this terrific spot at Ogilby Road down near Yuma, and this year they invited us to camp next to them at Scaddan Wash by Quartzsite. All we had to do was roll in, manoeuvre until we were mostly level, throw down the anchor, and join in the festivities. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! I can’t believe I just said that. I’ve been spending too much time with Chico.


Me, smack in the middle of the morning visit. That’s Sue, Keith, and Leon on the far side.

We’re here at Dome Rock for at least a few more days, maybe a week, maybe closer to two. Once we dig ourselves into a spot, it can be hard to get us out.