After leaving Lake Casitas we did get a good spot in Tapo Canyon of the Simi Valley. It was a pretty tiny campground, but really nice. It was almost at the end of a road up the canyon, so it was really quiet and the Canyons were beautiful and green. The weather was decent, but there was no convenient hiking or biking trails leaving directly from the campground. We had only planned on a couple of nights, but stayed two extra just because we liked it. One reason we stayed there was to go to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. We had never been to one and don’t let the name fool you, it is really more of a museum or historical information center all about Ronald Reagan’s life and the things he did while in office. It was interesting and we got to go on Air Force One. Also, the views from the back window looking out at the valley were amazing. At the campground we were also really close to town and it was easy to go shopping. We found our favorite grocery store (Aldi) and we spent time at Home depot where we bought some herbs to start our potted herb garden of Basil, Rosemary, Cilantro and Thai basil. It was a nice stay, but nothing terribly eventful happened except for getting out of the rain. Well, we did have an unexpected visitor that just wouldn’t go away…7 O’clock Charlie. He was a little mouse who would pop out and run around the camper between 7 and 8 pm every night. He freaked Kat out because she was afraid he would run up her legs. He feasted on apples, tortillas and some chocolate biscuits (cookies). He traveled to Tapo Canyon from Lake Casitas and was with us for 3 days and then, well, you know what we had to do…Sorry Charlie!
From there we had two stops before we got to Phoenix. From Tapo we headed to La Quinta, California which is just past Palm Springs. We cruised past LA with no major traffic, but the roads were pretty messed up and bumpy. We also neglected to check the weather and about half way through it got super rainy and I could barely see. It was not a nice drive, but when we arrived it was just a sprinkle, so it turned out ok. We camped at Lake Cahuilla. Not much of a lake since it is a man made reservoir, but a good place to camp. There are 91 sites for RV’s and an equestrian camp area, along with a primitive camping area. The primitive area was really popular with tenters and RV’s too. In the primitive area you pull up right next to the water, but you have no hookups. They looked like nice spots for a few nights. I really like the desert and being next to a lake with mountains and palm trees all around you is just beautiful. There are some good hiking trails around and we did get in a nice 6 mile hike one morning. We got a little sunburned on that hike because we forgot what the sun was like and didn’t put on any sunscreen. It was a good hiking trail through the hills and desert and we saw a beautiful big horned sheep on the way back. We also took a day to go to Palm Springs and have lunch even though we had both been there for work trade shows in the past. Visiting nice places like that is much more fun when you don’t have to work! The campground was packed with Canadian campers who winter in the area or further south and we met a very nice couple who we enjoyed sharing stories with one evening. They pointed us to our next campground in Quartzsite, AZ.
We just had to go to Quartzsite before getting to Phoenix because not only was it perfect for our driving distance limit of about 120 miles, but it is known as an RV mecca. It wasn’t even peak season for Rvers, but I have never even imagined seeing so many RV’s! It was amazing. We were excited for being there even though we were showing up at the end of the season and also to get our first BLM camping experience under our belts. BLM lands are free camping with no organized sites, you just drive into the designated land area and park wherever. We stayed in the Scaddan Wash section. We really like that remote camping. It was very nice to just park in an open area and have no nearby neighbors. We could see other campers around, but not many and no one was very close. The desert was really beautiful after all the recent rain and the stars at night were incredible and so were the sunsets. I can’t say it was super quiet because we were about 1 1/2 miles from Interstate 10 and you can hear the hum of traffic all day and night. I still wonder why traffic noise always seems louder at night? There has to be a reason.
We were only there two nights and the first was uneventful. The second day we went into town and did some shopping/looking around, got fueled up and went back to camp. There is a lot to buy at the flea market tents if you are into flea market stuff and there are lots of places to buy all types of rocks. It makes sense why it is named Quartzsite. After lunch I went for a bike ride on the trails into the desert and enjoyed the views and quiet of the desert then when I got back we decided to go to the bookstore, but instead I talked Kat into going to a little local outdoor bar…Beer Belly’s. We had gone by there earlier in the day and it looked interesting, but when we went back later it was jamming! The place was packed, there was a band and some interesting people dancing and flashing body parts. We showed up just in time.
The desert gets cold as soon as the sun goes down and we figured it would be a great time to use our firewood up so we don’t keep dragging it around with us. It was easy to gather up some sticks to get it started and we had a nice fire going for quite awhile. That all came to an end when I was sitting outside letting it burn out and a coyote started “talking” super close by. Well, that wasn’t the scariest part of our night because barely 10 minutes later someone was knocking on our door. We are in the middle of nowhere with no neighbors….what the heck? We had gotten good advice from our friends Breck and Cheri earlier on in our trip to NOT answer the door. This was some guy saying he was our neighbor, but was lost. I told him the road was just to the right of us and follow it to the highway. Then he asked for water and said he would back up 10 feet if I would give him some. I had turned the outside light on and Kat was looking out the window. She didn’t think he even had shoes on and had a beer bottle in his hand. The area is very rocky and you would be in a lot of pain walking with no shoes! I told him I would call the ranger and get him some help and they would bring water and at that he said he was leaving. Hmmmm…. very fishy and I am really glad we didn’t open the door. Who knows what could have happened. We did hear an ATV driving around after that, so maybe he found someone to help him find his camp? We hope he was ok in the end if he really was lost. Thanks Breck and Cheri for having that conversation and giving us that advice! I didn’t think I would sleep well that night, but I did and we woke up ok. Nothing was disturbed outside and no sign of our “neighbor”.
Next Stop Phoenix!!