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!

High Maintenance Mutt

I know I’ve not been the easiest dog to live with—anxieties, fussy eating habits, a fierce independent streak, and a bad leg—but now, I hate to admit it, I’ve officially become high maintenance. And, although I appreciate everything they do, I’m starting to feel a bit awkward about Teresa & Nollind planning the trip around me and my needs.

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A low-maintenance moment.

 

They’ve always been play-it-by-ear, go-where-the-road-takes-us kind of travellers … until this year. This year, every move we make has to be considered as follows:

  1. Is there room and ability to put out a ten-foot ramp? A camp spot on a slope, a camp spot with a bush in front of it, or a camp spot in a parking lot or RV park are just not options this year.

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    Room for my ramp. Check.

  2. Is there reasonable footing for me to walk on? I’ve always had issues with the rocky ground in parts of the desert but, until this year, they just put boots on me. Now, with my mobility issues, the boots add just enough weight and awkwardness to tire my arthritic leg more quickly.

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    Plomosa Road north of Quartzsite where we stayed just two nights. Quiet, plenty of space, but too many rocks for this old dog.

  3. Is there a vet nearby? I have intravenous injections every couple of weeks so we can’t wander too far from an available veterinarian. Although, I’d be quite happy to give up the regular stab in the neck.

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    My vet in Blythe, California,just a short drive from Quartzsite.

  4. Is it somewhere we can stay long term? My drugs are a huge help on moving days, but travel still takes it out of me. Teresa referred to me as a “noodle” after our latest travel day. Noodle… not something I aspire to.

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    After our latest travel day. I guess I kind of see the “noodle” thing.

  5. Is the temperature moderate? My black coat has always been an issue on hot, sunny days, but, as I get older, I have less and less ability to deal with temperature extremes. I wilt in the heat and shiver as soon as it’s a bit cool.
  6. Can I be off leash? I’m very good about staying in camp and I love to just lie on the mat or under the trailer but, in some places, it’s just not allowed. Other places, people and their dogs are too close and I’m constantly inclined to wander over and visit. And I’ve just never done very well with being tied. There’s that fiercely independent thing.

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    Enjoying my off-leash freedom at Plomosa Road.

Number six is part of the reason we’ve come here to Wickenburg for a couple of weeks. During the last half of January, Quartzsite fills with RVers. There are always a bunch of flea markets around Quartzsite, but during the last half of January are the rock & gem shows, a swap meet they call Sell-A-Rama, and a huge RV show. The town, the RV parks, and even the desert fills with people. The area at Dome Rock where we’d been staying had rigs rolling in every day.

So, here we are, camped on State Trust Land near Vulture Peak. We’ve been here before, and it’s a favourite for walking and, last year, became a favourite for riding. There are trails and mining roads all over the backcountry.

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Home for the next couple of weeks.

 

I won’t be exploring very far afield this year, but that’s okay, there are plenty of sandy trails near the trailer that have easy terrain for me. And this area has a lot more wildlife than Quartzsite so many interesting things to see and smell along the trails. We even hear coyotes singing at night sometimes.

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Sandy wash walk near our Wickenburg camp.

 

As for being high maintenance, I guess I’ll just have to get used to the idea and be thankful I have people who are willing to accommodate the new me. I have to admit, they don’t seem to be suffering.

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The faces of suffering? I don’t think so.