Day 9 - February 6, 1998 - Milepost 1337 - Senator Wash, CA
(BF). Desert boondocking is a new experience for us; it makes us rethink our electrical requirements. Almost all of the hundreds of RVs sharing our campground are equipped with multiple solar panels to run their TVs and lights. For heat they use portable propane burners that don't require electrical fans. And as a last resort, portable generators provide additional energy. Appliances that demand too much power, e.g., microwave ovens, are rarely used. Most RVers we talked to arrive in September or October and stay all winter in their self-contained vehicles without ever plugging into land power.
At mid morning Shari packs our lunch and we take off on our mountain bikes for a ride through the desert. We head in the direction of last night's sunset over a distant hill. On a gravel road sufficiently cleared of the bigger rocks, the first 3 miles just get us across the expansive campground. After we pass the last camper, a hermit well isolated from others, the road gets rougher and traverses several arroyos. The surrounding desert is scattered with large sharply angled rocks whose exposed surfaces are coated with desert varnish, charred the color of stones circling a campfire. Octillo, some flowering, lift their thorned tendrils skyward, towering over our heads. The recent rains have given green leaves to the otherwise cactus like limbs. Today's weather is a comfortable blend of a hot dry Arizona sun and a compensating cool dry breeze. Only the echoed whistles of unseen Rock Wrens break the stillness of the desert noon. A Yuma Antelope Squirrel scurries across a dry arroyo ducking between the bordering boulders and a single Anna's Hummingbird can be heard far off, but everything else is quiet and hauntingly beautiful. We turn to see the path we have taken and all hints of civilization have dipped behind folded hills. Like frozen waves on a crashing desert beach, ridge upon barren ridge each slightly darker than the one before it recede until they meet the tallest, 25 miles distant.
(SF). I bake some layer bars, using the oven this morning; just to warm up RTENT you understand and not to taste the gooey chocolate, butterscotch and coconut on top of the rich crust and filling. The day is another million-dollar day and soon the sun will warm up the land and the people. We pack a lunch and pedal west. After 45 minutes covering I guess five or so miles, I take a break and get off the bike. As I turn around, I gasp with awe and surprise at the scene before me. I had not realized we were going uphill and steadily climbing since it was so gradual. I see the lake in the valley below framed by the mountains and our little RV village. Where is my camera when I need it? The gravel road we travel turns into a rocky path and I am forced to walk the bike. After a block or so the road picks up again. This happens repeatedly until the road really seems to get zippered into a path at the edge of a gully. It is no longer any fun to walk my bike over the rocky parts no matter how pretty the scenery. We find a "soft" rock to sit upon and eat our lunch serenaded by the various songs from a choir of Rock Wrens. After returning, I walk over to our neighbors RV across the road intending to discuss her membership in Coast to Coast. I find that her brother-in-law was taken to the emergency room during the night and a massive tumor was found on his brain. They are packing their things and pulling out to be at the hospital with the family, waiting and praying for good news and not thinking about the bad possibilities. His first year of experiencing the thrill of boon docking is cut short by the sickness. I say a little prayer to God, thanking Him for blessing Bert and me with health and the ability to enjoy the freedom from the responsibilities of work. I make another promise to enjoy each day as it comes.
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