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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I’m Alright

Geez … and now Chico is writing sad, poor Logan, blog posts. Two Minus One. How tragic was that? Teresa even got a message from a blog reader who saw the title but couldn’t get into the post. He wanted to make sure I was okay.

That’s it! No more! Enough! I won’t have it! I refuse to be like that old guy everyone avoids because they know he’s going to rattle on for hours about how his back aches when the weather changes, his gout gives him grief when he drinks anything that tastes good, and his arthritis keeps him up at night!

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Weather changes can be refreshing.

Our blog is starting to feel like watching a drunk guy driving a snowmobile. We all know there’s going to be a wreck it’s just a matter of when and how bad it’s going to be. (I may have borrowed this analogy from one of Teresa’s life experiences.)

So, for those of you hanging on to see what’s going to happen, I’ll just skip right to the end. I’m not getting out of this alive! But you knew that already. None of us do. It’s just likely, but not written in stone, that I’m going to check out ahead of most of you.

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But I still look awesome. Right?

The upside of all of the recent doom and gloom about my health is that, according to averages, my life account was drained a year ago. The Border Collie lives an average of 13.5 years, the Labrador Retriever 12.5, which puts a mix like me right at 13 years as a life expectancy. So, the way I see it, everything after 13 is gravy (yum). Well, happy birthday to me, I turn 14 in a few days—or possibly yesterday, or it could have been last week. Somewhere around now anyway.

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Advantages of my age – no longer expected to stand for my bath. Aaaahhhh….

I won’t ignore the topic altogether. Like, for example, I’ll tell you about any new meds that are particularly fun, like my latest painkiller that I’d probably get rolled for if I walked down the wrong city street.

I’ll generally keep you updated on my progress through the gravy days of my life. And, I’ll be sure to let you know if I’ve spotted a bridge with a big rainbow over it, or possibly a bright light I’m feeling pulled toward. But, other than that, I’m changing my theme tune.

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The only bright light I’m headed toward these days … the sun reflecting off of Sid.

Goodbye Mozart …

hello Kenny Loggins!

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.