Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Did You Hear The Coyotes Last Night?

It was after bedtime and Bea was already halfways in dreamland, when I heard the familiar yapping and howling of a bunch of coyotes not too far from our trailer. By then the moon had come out behind the clouds and it gave me that very special feeling of being in close proximity to nature. There are coyotes on Campobello Island as well, but we never see or hear them. Here, in the southern desert, these animals are so much more present. In fact we have seen a single coyote many times under our walks with Dixie. And once, we walked along the canal, Dixie found one sleeping in the bushes and chased him up. Luckily, Dixie has no interest in pursuit, so she is more than willing to turn around and come back to us. Besides, she is bigger than the coyotes around here.

Free in the desert

Now, that day temperatures have been rising for about a week, we can find other desert creatures as well, most often tiny small lizards. They are so incredibly fast that whenever Dixie sees one it is already gone before she gets her snout anywhere near it. Of course, we are getting a bit leary about Dixie finding a rattle snake. As even night temps are now above 10C (50F) snakes can be expected to be around in the open after dark or hiding in the shade of a creosote bush during hot day hours.

Fresh green in the desert

So yes, that's the other side of being near nature. We know it and we have spent many winters in this desert environment. 

We enjoy daily walks and are meeting wonderful people with similar interests.

Our plan for the next month includes a stay at the Cibola Wild Life Refuge, Quartzsite, the Wild-West town of Oatman and Petrified Forest Nat'l Park. Being back home at around April 15 would be sufficient to start work in the garden. Are we looking forward to a delightful warm northern summer? You bet we are!

And when someone has a birthday we gotta have a party about it

No lack of cakes here

A large birthday crowd gathered

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Adventurous Tuesday

It was time to get a refill of propane and gas for the van. Since both items are considerably cheaper in Arizona than in California, we had decided to take a drive to Yuma. Because of it was a beautiful blue-sky day, we ventured on and took a trip to Martinez Lake and the Imperial Nat'l Wildlife Refuge, an area we had never seen before.

A few miles north of the East Entrance to the Yuma Proving Grounds, the Martinez Lake Rd turns west off Hwy 95.

The road is of excellent standard all the way to the Imperial Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. 


The Imperial Nat'l Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941 to protect habitat for a variety of migratory birds and other wildlife. It encompasses 30 miles of the lower Colorado River  in Arizona and California, including the last unchannelized section before the river enters Mexico. The river and its associated backwater lakes and wetlands are a green oasis, contrasting with the surrounding desert mountains.

The Visitor Center exhibits offers great insight into the biodiversity of the area. Unfortunately, the fellow who was staffing the center had no interest in speaking to the visitors. He prefered to look into his Smart Phone, while several people were walking through the center. My guess is that he is a non-motivated volunteer.

Spring has come to the desert

Outside of the building they had 3 desert tortoises which could be observed from a walkway.

There is also a covered picnic area with benches where we ate our lunch.

Waiting for a handout

Afterwards we followed the Red Cloud Mine Rd. west into the desert mountains. Three view points can be accessed by vehicle. The last one, called 'Ironwood View' also marks the ending of the maintained road. For further travel a 4x4 high-clearance vehicle is recommended. We parked at Ironwood View and hiked down the 4x4 road until we reached a hilltop with truly magnificent views. It might be possible to continue on the dirt road with a 2WD, but it would probably depend on weather conditions. And we saw several bigger rocks in the middle of the road. 

The Red Cloud Mine

Since 1877, the Red Cloud Mine has produced the highest quality Wulfenite specimens in the world. For a fee people can search and collect beautiful gems in the mine.

The different ground colors of the area are mesmerizing and the rock formations astounding. 

But the sun was burning down on us and even though temps were not predicted to reach 70F, it was very hot in the sun. 

Anything more to eat here?

Our van was parked on the top of a hill and we had to hike back up. Almost reaching the van I looked at Dixie and got concerned that this was too much of a strain for her. Once we had her back in the van she drank some water and started to relax. The whole hike had not been more than a 1km (0.6miles) one way, but it is easy to underestimate the body's need for water.

Leaving the Wildlife area, we explored the old village of Martinez Lake. Originally, a fishing village in the fifties, it turned into a vacation spot, when the waters of the Colorado declined. We were not impressed about Martinez Lake Village. The entire area seems to lack planning. In between houses (they were all vacant) old crappy trailers had been set up. The whole place looked like a slum. Some people had built nice quite large homes, but the neighbourhood witnessed about decay and abondonment. The little marina was mostly empty, except a few old decrepit boats, one being a destroyed still floating houseboat. 

The Colorado River is supposed to be at the foot of these mountains

American Irony

Saturday, February 10, 2024

The Carrot Capital Of The USA

 Do you like carrots? Carrots are said to be very healthy for us. Regardless, I like carrots. And so do the residents of Holtville California. In fact, they love them so much that they created their very own Carrot Festival.

And they have celebrated it for 77 years. Carrots are growing here in large fields in the Imperial Valley, and they are harvested now in february.

Today, on february 11 at 10am the annual parade started going down Main St. and of course, we had to go see it.

We found parking near Main St. and took our chairs to set them up together with hundreds of others along the curb.

Unfortunately it turned out to be a very cold wind and the sun was constantly seeking to hide behins a nasty dark grey cloud. I was not dressed for this and was longing for my fur-clad winter jacket. This has never been so cold before. 

Now, the parade lasted almost 2 hours and by the time it was over, we had only one thought - getting back in the van and turn up the heater!

Color Guard

But watching the carrot parade and it's spectators is always a fun thing to do while staying here. During this weekend the town is also sporting a big fair event, which I blogged about last year.

Thousands are lining Main St.

Mexican dancers


Three strong Ladies

We were wondering whether these girls were getting cold

Holtville was founded by Swiss settlers. The name Leimgruber stands for the Swiss heritage on a day like today.
Left: The carrot majesties of former years and right: 
Her Majesty the 2024 Carrot Princess