A Little Train Watching and Some Reading

Tuesday March 24th 2020

Once again I misunderstood the weather forecast. Today was another great day very similar to yesterday. The high temperature was in the mid seventies with lots of sun and not to much wind. The cooler cloudier weather in the forecast is later in the week.

I got a slow start to the day, but with nothing planned it played into a nice lazy day. I spent the day reading interspersed with a couple of walks around the RV park. The TV is on all the time, but I’ve stopped listening to most of the virus coverage. The conflicting information and the focus on the negative needs to be taken in small doses. I watch the first few minutes of the local and national evening news to get an update, then go back to entertainment broadcasts.

Train with double high containers heading east outside the RV park wall.

This park is in the classic RV park location. It’s between the Interstate highway and the train tracks. At my request my site is located well away from the highway. It turns out to be closer to the train tracks. During the day you don’t really notice either the highway or the trains. I’ve looked out my window a couple of times to be surprised by a passing train a few hundred yards away. At night it’s another story. The truck traffic on Interstate 10 is a steady coming and going noise from both directions. Every now and then the trains join the noise symphony. Loud train whistles for the grade crossings announce the arrival of each train. The rumbling noise of the train moving along the tracks is even accompany by actual vibration inside my RV home. All of this is more of a diversion than an annoyance. It is interesting to listen to as I wait for sleep to arrive.

Working on Next Winters Reservations

Monday March 23rd 2020

Today’s weather was nearly perfect. It was a bright sunny day with a light breeze. The temperature reached the mid seventies. The forecast for the rest of the week is not as good. Highs only in the sixties are possible the next few days.

For the second day in a row I was up before 5AM. Despite the uncertainty of my immediate travel plans, I’m still working on reservations for next winter in Florida. Yesterday morning I tried to reserve one of 4 available campsites at one of the popular Florida state parks for the end of February without success. This morning there was only one available site at that park so I attempted to reserve a site at another state park nearby. This one had three available sites, but is usually less popular. I struck out again. When I pushed the enter key at 5AM, it came back with “no inventory available”.

It looks like there will be more sites to choose from later in the week at both state parks. Once I get a reservation for two weeks at one of the parks, I’ll work on filling in the gap from my last reservation. I will probably need to reserve an RV site at a commercial campground away from the coasts. Making and juggling reservations is my least favorite activity associated with this life style. On a positive note, I did manage to cancel and get a full refund from the state Arizona for my next two week stay at the Dead Horse Ranch State park near Cottonwood that I’m not going to use.

After my failed attempt at making a reservation for next winter I went back to bed. Once I did get up, my day wasn’t very interesting. I took a couple of walks around the RV park and spent most of the day reading an Ebook with the TV on for background noise.

Settling in for the long wait

Sunday March 22nd 2020

There was a high layer of clouds that filtered and blocked the sun today. It kept the temperature in the low seventies. Overall a very nice weather day.

Cactus in bloom.

I worked on getting settled in for a long stay as a I wait out the COVID-19 virus social disruption. Hopefully nothing will require me to move until at least the middle of May. It is that level of certainty about were I will be parked that caused me to stop traveling and settle here for awhile. I’ve got the tires that face the sun covered, my bicycle locked to the ladder on the back of my RV home and have got the inside setup for a long stay.

Many of the winter residents of this park have returned home. Most of the people still here are full time travelers like me or people who have decided to stay until things stabilize a bit. After I make the general assumption that most of the South Dakota, Texas and Florida license tags belong to full time RVers there are plenty of people from other states and provinces a long way away. The people across the street are from New York and down the road a bit is an RV from Alaska. It looks like about half the three hundred and fifty sites are occupied.

All of the buildings and recreation facilities are closed. The planned activities and events have been canceled. The only open areas are the office and the laundry. I’m not sure what I think about using the laundry. My dirty clothes are accumulating, but I wonder about laundry facilities in good times. Right now I’m going to watch how busy the laundry gets before I make up my mind. There is a reason I carry too many clothes.

Travel Interruption

Saturday March 21st 2020

Today I pulled the plug on my current travel plans. I’ve taken a site at an RV park in Eloy Arizona for the next two months. It is the same park I spent the month of March in during 2017. It is about an hour south of Phoenix along Interstate 10 south of Casa Grande Arizona.

Site 48 at the Silverado RV Resort in Eloy AZ.

My decision was driven by a desire to be ahead of the ever changing restrictions imposed by the government to fight the COVID-19 virus. I’ve been watching the news with respect to my next month of destinations closely. I probably would have been OK at my next stop at the Dead Horse Ranch State Park near Cottonwood AZ. This state currently seems committed to keeping the parks open for camping, but it could change at any moment. My options in the Cottonwood and Sedona area are not as plentiful as in Phoenix and points south, so it would be a risk.

My second stop in April was a week at the Grand Canyon. The park is still open, but the buildings and exhibits aren’t. The bus transportation has been stopped, but car traffic has not been opened into all areas of the national park. The Trailer Village campground is only open to fully self contained RVs with existing reservations. I meet the criteria, but who knows how long the current condition will apply.

After the Grand Canyon I was heading to Monument Valley on the Navajo Indian Nation. All access to Navajo tourist attractions has been suspended. I still have a viable campsite in the middle of the area, but what I could see would be very limited. I also understand the cell phone access and internet are not good at the campground. I’m not sure this is the time to be that disconnected.

The next stop was going to be at the Glen Canyon Lake Powell National Recreation Area. Once again the campground is open, but buildings are closed and tours aren’t running. The government and health officials in nearby Page Arizona have started to raise concerns about all the tourists in the area. Similar concerns last week by Moab Utah officials was followed a couple of days later by public and private campgrounds and hotels being ordered to close. This is probably a counter measure to the large number of people heading for Arches and Canyon Lands National Parks both of which remain open to a limited extent.

At the beginning of May I was planning to visit Zion National Park again. The campground is not the issue since my plan was to stay in Hurricane UT a couple of dozen miles west of the park. The problem is they’ve shut the buses down in the park, so it is one big traffic jam.

The next significant stop on my travel plan is Yellowstone NP at the end of May. I still hope to make that one, but time will tell. For now, I’ve got a site in a good size RV park that should be isolated from the changing government requirements intended to keep the health care system from getting overloaded.

Short Hike Before the Clouds Returned

Friday March 20th 2020

The day began sunny and cool. The temperature managed to reach the high sixties before a layer of clouds arrived to slow the increasing warmth. It also managed to obscure any chance at a sunset.

All of my days this week have begun with the President’s task force briefing on the TV. It’s on at 9AM in this time zone. In so many ways it is a depressing start to the day. They provide one or two new pieces of information and over an hour of low value “discussion”. Not long after they get finished the 11AM local news come on and repeats the information with a twist based on the “discussion”. I’m not sure if the reporters are committed to providing information or providing tabloid level sensationalized “news”. As I said, I find it depressing.

To get away from the TV, I took another short hike today. There were fewer people on the trails, but the day use area of the state park still had lots of cars. Perhaps many people were on different trails. The wildflowers are still pretty, but the yellow brittle bush blossoms are starting to fade. The mount of yellow is going down.

There was a great deal of turnover in the campground today. Most people stop here for one to three days. They are from all over the United States and Canada. Tonight there was even a foreign language speaking family in a rental motorhome on a site nearby. I don’t know if they are US residents, stranded travelers or something else. They just stood out as unusual in these times. One aspect of social distancing in the campground is that conversations between campers are getting more limited and are taking place at closer shouting distance than conversation distance. I’ve exchange hellos with a few neighbors, but not much else.

The Day After the Storm

Thursday March 19th 2020

Yesterday’s storm continued into the night. Eventually the wind let up, but light rain continued off and on into the morning. The trails and little washes in the area showed the signs of heavy runoff. In the metro Phoenix area many instances of downed trees and flooding were reported. To the north in the Flagstaff area more than half a foot of snow fell. By noon the sun was peaking through scattered clouds.

Some snow is visible on the mountains to the north.

The temperature just barely broke the sixty degree mark today. I bundled up to go out and explore the campground. At first I had to stay on the paved roads, but by late afternoon the trails were dry enough to walk on without doing the long jump over puddles every few feet. There were a lot of bird out late today. The wind was gentle enough that the birds voices could be heard clearly. I managed to get a few pictures of them, but I still haven’t gotten any pictures of the Cactus Wrens going into the nests in the big saguaros.

The rabbits in this park seem to be very skittish. I see them on just about every walk, but they don’t stand still long enough to pose for a picture. Usually, they are running for cover before I’m thirty feet away. Tonight I got one that was a little more photogenic. I was within twenty feet when it stopped and watched me play statue. At least I got a picture.

By the end of the day three was a nice sunset. I keep trying to find new places to take sunset pictures. It is a bit of a game to get a different cactus in the foreground of the pictures.

Tonight’s sunset.

No Sunset Pictures Tonight

Wednesday March 18th 2020

It was mostly cloudy this morning, but that was the best it as going to be. The cloud cover steadily increased and the temperature dropped. Shortly after the noon hour the rain arrived. It started with a thunderstorm before before becoming a steady rain with lots of wind. There was no pretty sunset to take pictures of today.

I managed to get a little exercise before the rain began. I walked through my camping loop, then across the desert trail to one of the other loops and back again. It was cool enough that I needed my hoodie to stay warm in the breeze. The rest of the day was spent inside my RV home. The wind caused the slide out room toppers to rattle and the whole rig to shake. I had to keep the volume on the TV cranked. TV watching along with some cooking and some eating made up the remainder of the day.

The storm system is forecast to linger for another day. By tomorrow afternoon it may be back to partly cloudy, but I’m not holding my breath. I don’t think I’ll get another chance at a sunset picture until Friday or so. At least it is the six to ten inches of snow falling at the higher altitude near Flagstaff AZ.