March 26 - 29, 2014
Wednesday, March 26
Finish: S. Of Lake Havasu City, AZ
Left Tucson for Western Arizona. This was the maiden voyage for our 'Home on Wheels, V 3.0'. This is our third Chevy Express 1500 Cargo van since 1997. Strong winds were forecasted along our route. By noon, as we approached Gila Bend, AZ, along I-8, 20 mph steady winds with strong gusts were in full force. We cut up to I-10 on N AZ 85, then west to Exit 1, near the Arizona/California border. We turned north onto Rt 1 heading through Ehrenberg. Just north of there we stopped to explore the remains of mine structures at La Paz, AZ
Mineral remains at La Paz
Continuing north on Rt. 1, towards Parker, we came to Poston, AZ. This was the site of three relocation camps during WWII for US citizens of Japanese descent.
We continued north through Parker, AZ to Cattail Cove State Park, south of Lake Havasu City. We have camped here before, enjoyable because it is far enough off the highway and down in a gully - out of strong winds today. Lots of Gambel's Quail wandering around. This campground is very well maintained including an excellent cactus garden with tags identifying a wide variety of trees and plants.
A pair of Mallard visitors to our campsite
Thursday, March 27
Start: Cattail Cove SP, S. of Lake Havasu City, AZ
Finish: Overton, NV
On our way through Lake Havasu City we found a letterbox dedicated to kayaking, popular on the lake. Another letterbox was found as we came through Kingman; this box was one of fifteen planted around the state, one in each of the counties.
Our goal today was Valley of Fire State Park near Overton, NV. The drive along Northshore Dr. in Lake Mead National Recreation Area to the state park is spectacular.lots of Colorado River geology on display.
Besides taking our van on its maiden voyage we were exploring some little known Arizona history. We just recently learned that during the mid-1800s while a territory, Arizona included land that is now Clark County, NV. It is referred to as The Lost County. The original county seats are now within Lake Mead NRA; Callville and St. Thomas. Both covered with the lake, however with the recent drought, part of St. Thomas is exposed.
While at Valley of Fire we hiked the White Dome trail, a fairly easy 1.25 mile loop trail. The first part is the steepest, down a series of sandstone steps. At the base of the canyon is the remnant of a wall used as part of a movie set. Lots of people were returning up the steep steps as we came down, causing some bottlenecks. We continued around the loop and found that section of trail to be exceptionally nice, and less crowded. The scenery along the trail is beyond words.
White Dome Trail
Beavertail cactus along the trail
We left the park and headed towards Overton. There is a BLM camping outside of town, Poverty Point, that is free. It is what we call dispersed camping with no basic services, restrooms or picnic table. We continued up the road to another free camping area provided by the Nevada Division of Wildlife Management. It has about 8 semi-developed sites; nice private sites with a ramada, picnic table, grill and fire ring. A restroom is within walking distance, inside the wildlife gates. We did not get one of the developed sites, but camped in an open area at the end of the campground. We did not see or hear, but were told by a camper that there was a flock of wild turkeys nesting in a cottonwood nearby.
Friday, March 28
Start: Overton, NV
Finish: Lee's Ferry, AZ
Nice quiet night, until 6:00 AM when the trash truck emptied the dumpsters in the campground. Why do they always make the campground the first stop of the day? We went into Overton for breakfast at the local cafe, Sugar's. Tasty, with big portions!
We picked up I-15 heading back to Arizona through the gorgeous Virgin River Gorge. Besides the natural beauty, the engineering feat of building the interstate through the area is to be appreciated.
After getting gas in St. George we went back into Arizona on UT 9, then UT 59 to AZ 389. We stopped at Pipe Springs National Monument. This site preserves an area inhabited, as early as 300 BCE, by various Native American tribes up to Mormon settlers. It is the site of a significant spring which flows through the Winsor Castle structure, built by Mormon pioneers. Excellent interpretative signs guide you through the grounds. A tour of the castle by park rangers is offered every half hour.
Continuing on across Northern AZ we picked up 89A in Fredonia. Next stop was Jacob Lake Inn for our standard bakery treat. We had not been through here when the road down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon was closed, so we weren't sure if they had their scrumptious bakery goods all year. To our delight they had several trays of cookies! No one should pass this location without enjoying their home-baked goodies.
Jacob Lake Inn
The severe drought was evident as we drove across the Kaibab Plateau - very small patches of snow along the road when there should have been drifts along the roadway.
We ended the day at Lee's Ferry campground. At 3,000 ft elevation this is a great Spring or Fall spot to camp, it can be very hot in the Summer. It was perfect this Spring afternoon, probably upper 60s and almost no breeze. We enjoyed watching the lizards, ground squirrels and birds around the campsite while listening to the Colorado River, down below, roll by.
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Saturday, March 29
Start: Lee's Ferry, AZ
Finish: Tucson, AZ
Breakfast in camp then down 89A to 89 and Flagstaff by noon. We found a couple of letterboxes in town before enjoying lunch at Lumberyard Brewing.
View from table inside Lumberyard Brewing
Down I-17 to I-10 and home. Van report - retrofit worked well.
Old Spanish National Historic Trail
Fredonia, AZ @ Pipe Springs National Monument
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Lake Mead NRA
Pipe Springs National Monument
Grand Canyon- Parashant National Mounment
- Arizona Strip @ Pipe Springs NM
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Grand Canyon National Park
Tuweep, AZ @ Pipe Springs NM
@ Lee's Ferry
Vermillion Cliffs National Monument
@ Lee's Ferry
8 found; 4 drive-bys, 4 short hikes
40 states, plus 5 Canadian Provinces
All, but 2 states seen in Arizona
Golden- mantled Ground Squirrel
Frogs - heard, but not seen