Southern Arizona Questions

Several questions came up during our wanderings in southern Arizona, like what is The Thing?   I noticed my first “The Thing?” billboard between Phoenix and Tucson about 40 years ago.   The more you travel around southern Arizona, the more billboards you see. (It is similar to the Wall Drug billboards across the northern US for those who have seen those.)

fullsizeoutput_43bfThe answer to the question was never important enough to actually drive there, but since we were in the vicinity – it was finally time!

fullsizeoutput_43c0Suffice it to say that The Thing is not the archeologic wonder they hint at it being but the whole experience was mildly entertaining for a tourist trap. (I’m not going to spoil the fun!)  We enjoyed our Blizzards at the attached Daily Queen a bit more but it was wasn’t a wasted half hour.

fullsizeoutput_43bdAnother question:  Why are there miles of train engines sitting out in the desert?

A Google search revealed that (as of 2016) there were 292 engines stored in the desert due to a weak coal market. Natural gas is cheaper and cleaner and there just isn’t the need to transport as much coal anymore.

fullsizeoutput_43d2Next question:  After we walk 1.2 miles to the lake, will there be sandhill cranes? The area around Willcox is the winter home for sandhill cranes from all over North America. We could hear them from our RV park in Willcox.

fullsizeoutput_43d3We went looking one morning, but there was no guarantee….

fullsizeoutput_43d4When we got to the viewing area, there were no sandhill cranes at the lake….Fortunately, after we walked the 1.2 miles back out, we met some people preparing to walk in. We were able to tell them the cranes weren’t there and they told us where they’d just seen some.

fullsizeoutput_43d7We saw about 40 cranes (instead of hundreds or thousands) but we were only about 100 yards from them, much closer than we’d have been from the viewing area!

fullsizeoutput_43d8The unanswerable question:   What happened to our calculator? Obviously this question has nothing to do with southern Arizona except that is where it died.

fullsizeoutput_43d1Randy brought this calculator home from Hewlett Packard to do evening work sometime in 1981 or 1982.   Our dog, Anna, chewed the corner of the calculator and cover so it couldn’t go back to HP. It became our home calculator for the next 36 or 37 years. Once I got used to HPs “reverse polish” way of doing calculations,  I never wanted to use a regular calculator again.   It was chewed up and battered but it worked.

The calculator survived the dog,  decades of me using 1/100 of its capability, and almost 4 years of temperature extremes in the trailer.   After a recent move, we found the calculator still in its regular storage place but dead with a cracked screen. So, the mystery is what happened to the calculator.   Unfortunately, that is a question we will never be able to answer.

The TBD question:  Do we have a major slide problem?  As we left Kartchner Caverns State Park and arrived in Willcox, our largest slide binded and bucked as it was going in and out.  Slide repairs usually require hoists and lifts and forklifts and all kinds of things Handy Randy doesn’t have in his bag of tricks.

fullsizeoutput_43c1He looked anyway and found some loose bolts and some sticking tape, nothing that seemed to warrant the problems we’d seen.   I found there was no one in Willcox able to work on something as major as a slide so searching out help in Mesa was our best bet.

After a pleasant few days in Willcox, the slide seemed to move fine but Randy still wanted to have it looked at in Mesa.  We found a company, RV Renovators,  willing to let us do a drive by on our way into town so they could see what was wrong.  That way they’d know what parts to order for the repair.  When they looked at it, watching it move in and out, they couldn’t see anything wrong with the slide.  No repair needed – and no charge!  Did Handy Randy fix the slide just by removing some sticking tape and tightening some bolts?   The answer to that question is still to be determined!


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“So God Awful Far Away From Everything”

With Randy growing up in Tucson, and with all the traipsing around we’ve done, there was still a part of Arizona we had neglected.  We finally went to the place that is “so God awful far away from everything.”  You’ll hear more about the woman who spoke those words later in the blog.  For now, know that we traveled to the southeast corner of Arizona, close to the borders with Mexico and New Mexico.

We visited the Chiricahua National Monument, established in 1924.

fullsizeoutput_43efThe area is a geologic four corners.  Four ecosystems meet in the Chiricahua Mountains including the Chihuahuan Desert, The Sonoran Desert, The Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Madre Mountains.

fullsizeoutput_43e6Geologists call the area a sky island because it is an isolated mountain range surrounded by a grassland sea. Created by volcanic ash, continental lift, water, ice and erosion, the pinnacles are beautiful! The Chiricahua Apache called the mountain pinnacles “standing up rocks.”

fullsizeoutput_43fdThe Chiricahua Apache lived in the area for hundreds of years. They mostly avoided the Spaniards but bitter warfare erupted with the Mexicans when they owned Apache native lands.


The United States acquired the land by means of the 1854 Gadsden Purchase with intent to facilitate shipping by constructing a deep southern transcontinental railroad route. The purchase also reconciled border issues with Mexico.

The Apache were a roaming people. The Chiricahua band, led by Cochise, lived peaceably with their white neighbors. P1140613

These Apache homes were easy to recreate when it was time to move on.

John Butterfield established an Overland Mail Route that went through Apache Pass.  It operated for three years, ending as the Civil War began.


These are the remains of the Butterfield Stage Stop at Apache Pass.


A portion of the 2800 mile Butterfield route remains.  In three years the Overland Mail group was attacked by Apache only once and the mail was late only three times.


The Apache and stage station operators shared the only consistent fresh water spring in the area.

fullsizeoutput_43c9In an 1861 incident known as The Bascom Affair, brash young Lt. Bascom was sent to the Apache Pass area to rescue a Mexican boy and return some stolen cattle. He mistakenly believed Cochise responsible and held him and his party hostage until the boy and cattle were to be returned. Cochise escaped but others in his party were subsequently killed.  The incident sparked open warfare for eleven years.

In 1862, the Apache ambushed troops which led to the establishment of Ft. Bowie. It served as a hub for military campaigns between 1862 and 1886.


Cochise made peace with the white men in 1872 and negotiated a reservation that included Chiricahua Apache traditional homelands.fullsizeoutput_4400

No photographs of Cochise exists, but this formation is thought to be Cochise at rest in his native land.

After Cochise’ death, young Apache men grew discontent on the reservation which lead to the rise of Geronimo. Geronimo and his followers finally surrendered in 1886, and were held at Ft. Bowie before being taken into exile in Florida.   Ft. Bowie was decommissioned in 1894.


We walked into what remains at Ft. Bowie after meeting a ranger for a 1.5 mile hike and tour through Apache Pass.


fullsizeoutput_43ceThere are remains of many of the buildings, some with a limestone covering to prevent further deterioration.


fullsizeoutput_43e5Better preserved is the former home of a young Swedish American soldier from Ft. Bowie, Neil Ericcson and his wife Emma. After his service, Neil and his wife moved the short distance into the mountains.   They raised three daughters on their land eventually starting a guest house so people could enjoy the “Wonderland of Rocks.”


fullsizeoutput_43e2Their eldest daughter Lillian and her husband Ed Riggs eventually became the guest keepers.  Lillian named it  FarAway Ranch because it was ‘so God awful far away from everywhere.’


The nearby Stafford Cabin, built in 1880, was purchased and renovated for additional guest quarters.


It was “God awful far away”, but there was still a swimming pool!


Ed Riggs was instrumental in the area becoming a national monument in 1924.


The CCC were here during the 1930’s and built roads and trails.

fullsizeoutput_43e3We weren’t able to go inside the guest house as tours are available only on weekends but that is just incentive to go back someday!  There is a trail called Echo Pass we plan to explore (Elko wasn’t allowed) so we’ll do that too.  Having waited so long to visit the Land of Standing Rocks the first time, we aren’t likely to wait so long again.


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The Tale of Two Caves

We enjoy caves and tour them whenever possible. We have a good understanding of stalactites (hang tight from the ceiling) and stalagmites (grow from the ground), columns, drapery, flowstone and bacon. We know about bat guano and white nose syndrome. We’re into caves!

fullsizeoutput_43b6There are two show caves in southern Arizona with very different stories.  Colossal cave is  large with thirty nine miles of natural tunnels. It took two years to map the two miles of complex passages that are fully explored.

fullsizeoutput_43b7The cave was “discovered” in 1879, but artifacts indicate that it was long ago used by prehistoric peoples.  The cave’s colorful history began in 1887 when it was a hideout for bank robbers and then bandits in the 1920s.

An early owner of the cave also owned a local hotel. For decades hotel guests were invited to visit the cave and break off stalactites as souvenirs.  Sigh….

P1140540We were sad to see the damage done to Colossal Cave.  Nearly every stalactite was broken off.  The cave has been dry for many years so there is no new growth.


Looking up into the broken stalactites.

The tour guide pointed out that a positive aspect of the destruction is that we can see the age rings of the stalactites, and know the damage that can happen when a fragile cave environment is subject to human interference.


A stalagmite that has been rubbed and handled.

Thankfully, a more responsible owner, Frank Schmidt,  began protection efforts  for Colossal Cave in the 1920s.  He led tours for many years.


In honor of the CCC

Four hundred members of the Civilian Conservation Corps worked in Colossal Cave from 1934 – 1938.  They installed the hand rails and footpaths that are still in use today to guide visitors safely through the cave. The sadness we felt at the damage to Colossal Cave formations was offset by the impressive work of the CCC.

P1140556Our tour guide said the CCC also installed new cave formations “stalag-lights” to enhance a visitor’s trip through the cave.

The second cave open to visitors in southern Arizona has a completely different story. The cave that would become Kartchner Caverns was discovered by two University of Arizona students in 1974, Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts. They were amateur cavers intrigued by the geology of the area. They found a sinkhole with a grapefruit size hole that was “breathing”. They dug the whole a little bigger and squeezed their way in, traveling about 400 feet.



For four years they explored the cave believing they were on BLM land. They desperately wanted to protect the cave from damage so kept its existence secret.


Learning they were actually on private land, they approached the owners with a slideshow of pictures taken in this cave and pictures from other caves that were not protected. Landowners James and Lois Kartchner, he a former science teacher and school superintendent, shared the vision of protecting the cave.


It took 10 more years of secrecy, only informing need to know Arizona legislators, for the state to purchase the land which would become Kartchner Caverns State Park.

Once the purchase became common knowledge, guards were hired to protect the cave. The state supported almost four years of scientific study to learn everything possible about the cave’s ecosystem.

P1140478There was no evidence of human visitation and very little evidence of animal trespass. Eighty thousand year old bones from a single Shasta ground sloth were found and identified. A full adult coyote skeleton from more recent times was also found.


The cave appeared to have been a closed environment for hundreds of thousands of years. The caverns were (and continue to be)  “wet” with pristine, growing formations.

The challenge for the park system was (and is) to maintain the ecosystem but still allow visitation. A trail system was developed over several years using strategies to minimize impact to the cave itself.


Electric powered hand tools were used to make cave trails. No gas powered machinery was ever used. One of the two caverns was (and still is) closed six months each year to accommodate the seasonal bat population.

There are strict protocols for visiting the cave – age restrictions, no cameras, no backpacks, no food or water – all designed to protect the cave ecosystem.  (The pictures of Kartchner cave formations in this blog are all from the internet.)

A visitor walks through a series of four air-tight doors and a mister to enter (and exit) the cave so as not to disrupt natural pressures, temperatures and humidity levels. These are constantly monitored and tours may be reduced in size or eliminated to maintain the cave’s equilibrium. We were told it is one of the most protected “show caves” in the world.

After seeing what can happen if a cave is not protected, we were very impressed with the work and commitment the Arizona State Park system extends to Kartchner Caverns. Every cave we see in the future will be compared to these caverns for their beauty and protection.


And we are not alone.  Lots of people are impressed with Kartchner Caverns!




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Two Terrific Arizona State Parks

For years we have considered Oregon State Parks to be the gold standard of state parks.  We learned last winter that Arizona parks are also stellar.  This month we visited two more terrific Arizona state parks.

Our first was Picacho Peak State Park, near Casa Grande. There is a whole Civil War battle aspect to the park that we just didn’t get to. We were too busy socializing and getting our new satellite dish to work.

fullsizeoutput_4396We spent about three hours trying to get our new system up and working. The manual doesn’t match the current receiver interface and our “lesson” with the installer went awry when he couldn’t get the joey to work.   Many thanks to our friend Dave in Yuma who answered lots of phone calls when our installer Charlie wouldn’t.  We would intermittently get TV but the satellites wouldn’t lock in.  It was a good thing Randy had sold our portable satellite at the park in Yuma or we might have gone back to it!

In frustration we turned it off, had dinner, decided to try again, and everything worked. We now believe that all we have to do is point the dish at the satellites (with the help of our phone apps) verify that the receiver is getting input and watch tv. This receiver doesn’t seem to go through all of the gyrations that our previous one did.

fullsizeoutput_4397It was good to be done with the satellite system because we had socializing to do! We met Jean and Jess while volunteering at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park in May and this was the second time we’ve seen them since.

Over the next few days we were able to spend time with Beth and Art, Rick and Diana, and Ron and Iris. These are all friends we’ve met since we went on the road in June 2014. We’ve know Beth for 3 years but everyone else we met this last year. We heard that living on the road can be this social but this was the first time we really experienced it. Of course, everyone being in Arizona for the winter helps!

fullsizeoutput_439cIt was nice to be in the Arizona desert again and I hiked around a bit at ground level.


fullsizeoutput_439dRandy hiked to the top of Picacho Peak – of course he did!

fullsizeoutput_439eAnd then we had another visitor! Boise friend Mike, now from Bullhead City, met us at Picacho Peak on his way to Tucson to pick up his new motorhome! The next day we were to meet him again at Kartchner Caverns State Park near Benson.

fullsizeoutput_43a2But first we had to set the satellite back up again. Because we were now willing to have the system work without our full understanding, it only took 30 minutes. That’s better!

Mike arrived and we got to check out the new rig! Randy spent some time going through systems with Mike and helping him with a shopping list. fullsizeoutput_43a7The next morning Mike headed home and we started exploring.

fullsizeoutput_43b3We went to Gammon’s Gulch, a movie set near Benson.  The builder and owner, Jay, has quite a history in the film industry. He acted as an extra at age five and grew up in the industry because of his father’s work. Now 70+, he has a 10 acre set that he mostly built himself.


Every western town needs a jail.


And a mine.


Jay and his wife will fine tune the shelves in the store based on the year the movie is set in.

They charge $500 a day for full access to Gammon’s Gulch compared to $3000 a day at Old Tucson.  They have hosted many movies, TV shows and music videos since 1988.

Tours are $8 per person and by appointment only.  Jay gives the tours personally and has a story for every building, every prop, and every actor he’s ever worked with.


fullsizeoutput_43acThis chandelier was from the 1995 Sharon Stone movie (whom he likes very much)  “The Quick and the Dead.”

fullsizeoutput_43b4The saloon, one of the few buildings Jay didn’t build, was created and left by a movie crew . It is movable.  We enjoyed our Gammon’s Gulch visit a lot.

We also enjoyed our visit to the park namesake Kartchner Cavern but I’m going to save that for the next blog post. Suffice it to say that it may be the best cave, with the best story, we’ve ever had the pleasure to be in – and we’ve been in quite a few.


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The Most Unlikely of Things

P1030160We spent 10 days at one of our favorite RV Parks, Fortuna de Oro, in Yuma, Arizona. Most people wouldn’t consider it a garden spot for travel but Yuma is exceptionally popular this year because of hurricane damage in Texas and Florida.  To give Yuma its due, it is a garden spot for lettuce.  Nearly all lettuce eaten in the U.S. November -through March comes from Yuma.


January 2015

We came to Fortuna originally because cousin Audrey had her winter home here. We spent a day with her and committed to a month the next winter. Audrey passed away before we could be here together, but she left us with an unlikely Fortuna legacy of our own.


Randy and I really enjoy music and happy hour around the pool!

Like Audrey, we have made good friends here. We met our Canadian friends, Linda, Dave, Catie and Gordon during our first stay at Fortuna and enjoy their company each time we meet up.

fullsizeoutput_4374We also see Wisconsin friends, Myron and Peggy, each time we come. It was at their home in Wisconsin that we survived the storm of our lifetime (hopefully).    That blog is here:  Wisconsin: We Earned Our Map Sticker!

My history in Yuma goes way back as my family moved to Yuma Proving Ground the summer I graduated from high school (1977).  From there I attended Northern Arizona University, met Randy and rarely thought of Yuma for 35 years.  As unlikely as it would have seemed, we now go to Yuma regularly.

fullsizeoutput_4378Randy and I went back to the the old stomping grounds, Yuma Proving Ground, to look around and go to the Heritage Center Museum.


The old headquarters building is now a museum.

YPG started during WWII with a mission to train and equip America’s military including men, munitions, artillery, vehicles and more.   That mission continues.


Military canines and their handlers train here.  NASA also uses YPG because equipment has to work anywhere and every where.

Yuma Proving Ground is one of the largest military bases in the world covering 1,307 square miles of southwest Arizona.  We had to undergo a background check before we entered the gate.  Although things have changed in 40 years, I knew where to find our old house.


Our old house looked rough….one of very few of the old houses still standing.

The military policeman living next door came to see why I was taking pictures and told us that the older houses are being condemned as people move out. Our house is now being used for storage pending demolition.

Back at Fortuna de Oro we made a most unlikely decision. We have had a portable DISH satellite since 2008 and it worked well until it died this summer.


This new portable satellite just didn’t work as well as our old one.

We have had two portable units since then and neither was as robust as our original. Either would have been fine for occasional use but we live with satellite TV everyday and want it to work without drama.

fullsizeoutput_437dWe made the most unlikely decision to go to a larger, heavier, 3-LMB tripod model – enticed by a more stable signal (my priority) and more simultaneous viewing and recording options (Randy’s priority).  Purposely choosing larger and heavier is most unlikely while living in an RV!

fullsizeoutput_437fOur installer, Charlie, had the new satellite dish up and the Hopper working in the living room very quickly. Progress came to a halt when the wireless Joey in the bedroom failed to sync up. Charlie spent the whole day troubleshooting unsuccessfully.  He talked to five or six DISH support people and left very frustrated.

After Charlie left, I noticed we were missing some channels on our sports package and called DISH to figure that out. I happened to speak with someone who determined our Hopper was one update behind so she pushed that through.  Our missing channels appeared and  I asked if that might also be our Joey problem.  She and Randy worked through the Joey installation and it worked!   What an unlikely event that I would be the one to call DISH about something else and happen to get the only person at DISH who recognized that the Hopper update, initiated by Charlier earlier in the day, had failed.  Randy left a message for Charlie and he came by the next morning to hear all about it.

After years of only being able to watch/record one event at a time on only one TV, we now have three watching/recording options and get the satellite feed on both TVs.  This is glamping not camping!

We had one other event in Yuma but it can’t really be considered unlikely!  We met fellow RVers in person that we had only previously “met” on-line.  RVers have a social network called RVillage and Cheryl and I connected on the site when we were both near Sequim, Washington.  We didn’t or couldn’t arrange a get together but have followed each others blogs since.  Several months and many miles later, we were in the same vicinity again.

P1140447We enjoyed brunch with David and Cheryl, authors of Landmark Adventures at   Socializing with other blogging RVers isn’t at all unlikely, and it sure is fun!








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Lake Havasu Buzz

We enjoyed our stay near Lake Havasu last spring and documented it in the post Arizona: Done and Done. We enjoyed hiking amongst the desert wild flowers, learning about Parker Dam and motoring along the Colorado River.  Of particular interest was the London Bridge!


Yes, THE London Bridge.

We enjoyed our stay so much that we have had a bit of a buzz since about whether this could be a permanent landing spot for us. So, we are here again on our way south.


We have enjoyed our campsite view of the lake!


Elko liked the dog beach but it was a little chilly for us to be interested in getting in.


We visited the Lake Havasu Museum of History.

There were exhibits about native peoples and wildlife.  There was information about the Colorado River and the decisions made to capture and distribute its water. But the exhibits that really caught our interest were the ones about the history of Lake Havasu City and the buzz to grow the town.


Picture from a museum exhibit.

As with so many things, the story starts during WWII. The Army Air Force established airfields for training pilots and crews of USAAF fighters and bombers. Seven sites (creatively named sites one through seven) were built along the Colorado River with Site Six located at Lake Havasu.

Site Six was also used for rest and relaxation by Army Air Force personnel. When WWII ended, the military closed the landing field but planned to continue to use the facility for recreation. However, in an odd bit of irony and patriotism, the military found that the property was privately owned. They had assumed it was state land but it was  really owned by Corinne and Victor Spratt of Needles, California. The Spratts had allowed the military to use their land without comment because it was needed for the war effort. Ironically, the Spratts hadn’t charged the Army Air Force a fee for occupying their land but the military asked them for a token amount to pay for the improvements. The Spratts eventually developed a small resort on Site Six.

A dozen years later, in 1958, Robert McCulloch happened upon the area while looking for a place to test his company’s outboard motors. He purchased most of the Spratt land.


But McCulloch didn’t stop there. He decided to create a city in the middle of nowhere and needed to create a buzz. What better way than to buy the London Bridge,  which he did in 1967. He teamed up with Bud Graham, who had previously worked with Walt Disney, and made it happen.




The bridge arrived in Lake Havasu and was reassembled across the narrow part of the peninsula using existing sand to support the arches.

fullsizeoutput_435aWhen dredging under and around the bridge was complete, the peninsula was an island utilizing the London Bridge for access.

With their new focal point ready, McCulloch needed to to build and populate the city. He offered incentives to businesses to establish themselves in Lake Havasu.  McCulloch moved his chain saw manufacturing plant to Lake Havasu.


The Saw that Built a City

During 1970s winters McCullough advertised his desert city in newspapers to those in the east and midwest. When interest was expressed, they received a follow up visit from a salesman offering a free trip to Lake Havasu. McCulloch even provided free air travel on one of his own airplanes. Who could turn down that buzz?

Years later, retirees and tourists are still drawn to Lake Havasu City and its mild winter weather. Although summers are hot, so is the opportunity for water sports. The London Bridge is still a major draw and others have added to the buzz.

fullsizeoutput_435dTo improve safety on the lake, and to create additional buzz, the Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club installed and maintains 26 lighthouses in the vicinity. Lake Havasu has more lighthouses than any other city in the country.  Lighthouses on the west side of the lake are replicas of famous west coast lighthouses and those on the east side are east coast replicas. Lighthouses on the island are replicas from those on the great lakes.


The East Quoddy Lighthouse original is in New Brunswick, Canada.

Another source of  buzz is the casino across the lake!  We were more motivated by the cheap way to get on the water than the casino but we enjoyed our evening.


We had appetizers and drinks in the lounge (a more typical buzz), dinner in the dining room and a very brief visit to the slots!  Randy lost $5 in two minutes and we still had 15 minutes to wait for the shuttle.   I put in my $5, bet $1 and pushed the button.   Lights and sounds went off like crazy! At the end of all the hubbub, I won $11.70 (to go with my remaining $4). It seemed like a great time to cash in and grab the shuttle home.


Randy’s cash out voucher was some less than mine – for once!  


Lake Havasu City – What’s the Buzz?


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All Over the Map


Yahtzee with Paula and Mike!

Activities during our last week in Mesquite have been all over the map! We had more fun with Boise friends Mike and Paula, a history lesson, met RV celebrities and enjoyed a camel experience!

fullsizeoutput_4318I traveled back in time and back to St. George to visit Brigham Young’s Winter Home. Brigham Young was born in Vermont, raised in New York, and eventually traveled with his followers to the area now known as Salt Lake. He not only lived all over the map but expanded the map when he coordinated the establishment of more than 400 communities. One of those communities was St. George where he was one of the first “snowbirds” spending winters in this home-office from 1873 until his death in 1877.

As a historic sight for the LDS church, it is meticulously maintained and available for free tours.

fullsizeoutput_4315All of the available wood for construction and furniture making was pine. Craftsmen painted pine to resemble other woods such as oak, maple, mahogany and walnut. There were many examples of this in finish work and furnishings throughout the house.

fullsizeoutput_4317This was Brigham Young’s chest of drawers. He traveled frequently because of church and territory responsibilities and this chest went with him. The drawers were removed for loading and travel and put back into place on arrival. No need for a trunk!

fullsizeoutput_432cWe went the other direction (again) to Las Vegas and had lunch with the RV Navigators, Ken and Martha. We have listened to their very popular RV Navigator podcast (10,000 downloads monthly) for many years and have always enjoyed their banter. They travel extensively all over the map by RV, cruise ship and other modes and share their experiences with listeners. We hit it off splendidly and hope to join them on an adventure someday – maybe the Galapagos Islands in 2019.


Back in the Mesquite area we rode camels!

fullsizeoutput_433bThe Camel Safari farm encompasses 176 acres and has 31 camels of two types. Dromedary camels, from Africa and Arabia, have one hump. The endangered Bactrian camel, from central Asia, has two. Contrary to popular opinion,  humps do not hold water. Humps store fat which can be converted to nutrition in times when food and water is scarce.  It is also wrong to assume camels like to spit.   They regurgitate their food as a defense mechanism. Get out of my face or ugly stuff is coming your way!

fullsizeoutput_4332This is Barton, the camel Randy rode. He was very vocal and Randy imagined him complaining about having to carry a load today.



fullsizeoutput_4339After our ride, the camels started peeing, and peeing… Although we were only in the peeing vicinity for about 5 minutes, we were told they can maintain the flow for 15 minutes. And when one starts, the next one starts and so on.

Camels can drink up to five gallons of water a minute and rehydrate faster than any other mammal. They usually require water every 10 days but can be trained to go longer. We are happy to say that all the camels on the farm seemed to have good access to food and water.

Adult bactrian camels weigh up to 2200 pounds and their shoulders stand 7 feet in height.  Dromedary are slightly smaller.

fullsizeoutput_433aCamel feet have two toes with nails, but do not have hooves. The foot is divided into halves, covered by a thick protective sole and joined by webbing. The foot spreads and flattens to avoid sinking in soft sand.

fullsizeoutput_433eLlamas and alpacas also have two toes and are in the camel family. These alpacas also live on the farm with a variety of other interesting residents.


This is a z-donk, part zebra, part donkey!

fullsizeoutput_4344There were a number of armadillos we could meet and touch. This small four band armadillo can virtually roll up in a ball for sleep or defense. The armadillo boys and girls are housed separately as they multiply prolifically and the farm doesn’t want to be responsible for armadillos taking up residency in southern Nevada.

fullsizeoutput_433dThis is Ambien, a two toed sloth who was very active during our visit. Ambien does everything upside down except urinate.   She lived in a small pen in her previous home but can now be inside or outside depending on the weather and her whim.

We were impressed by the care and concern the owner and workers at Camel Safari had for all their animals. There were several they had acquired from less fortunate situations  and are now able to enjoy a better life.

We are always amazed at the unexpected things we find here and there in our travels. Who would have thought there would be camels near Mesquite, Nevada! We really enjoyed our visit and learning about animals from all over the map!


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