Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Sue and Mo at Harris Beach
Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Thursday, February 15, 2024

02-15-2024 Home Again Home Again

Sunset on the Kofa Mountains is a nice memory 

Sitting at my desk at the moment listening to the rain on the windows.  It has been raining for a few days now, so very much needed and yet it can still get a bit tiresome.  I am grateful for the time Mo and I had in mostly warm sunshine in the southern deserts this winter.  It is all about the timing.  This year we were lucky as we crossed the passes on I-5 toward home.  There was snow all around us, but nothing on the roads and the skies over Southern Oregon were a gorgeous blue last Thursday when we returned. We even had a couple of sunny days to enjoy before the rain started.

Coming home was especially sweet since daughter Deborah decided that she would stay with us until the weekend before she packed up her "stuff" to take back home after spending most of her time at Sunset House while we were gone.  It was wonderful coming home to a warm, clean, and cozy house, without a single worry about anything that may have gone wrong while we were traveling. 

Once we arrived home, Mo and I unloaded the MoHo in record time, and by the time Deborah got home from work I had some hot soup ready for supper for the three of us to share.  I am so glad that Deb is willing to housesit for us.

Our boondock site near Palm Canyon Road in Kofa NWR

Last week, after four days in Tucson, we traveled west on Interstate 8 toward Yuma and then north on Highway 95 between Yuma and Quartzsite to spend a couple of quiet nights in the wonderful desert landscape in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.  Mo and I have visited Kofa in the past, but have never attempted to boondock there.  This time, however, we had some help from our friend Gaelyn, who has a special spot near Palm Canyon Road.  Gaelyn agreed to wait for us at the intersection of Highway 95 and Palm Canyon Road and then lead us to a perfect site with a nice fire ring, an unobstructed view of the Kofa Mountains, and plenty of level places to park our rigs.

Gaelyn parked a respectable distance away from us, but not so far that we couldn't enjoy morning coffee and conversation, and evening visits by the campfire.  Mo loves to build campfires, and she purchased some firewood at the base in Tucson just in case we could have one.  Sure enough, on BLM land just on the edge of the refuge, campfires are allowed in existing fire rings.

Our days were relaxed and the warm air was perfect for afternoon naps, some reading, and a little card playing before we cooked supper and then enjoyed the fire with Gaelyn.  We shared dinners before the campfire. Gaelyn prepared dinner the first night and I made dinner the second night. The nights were perfect as well, getting down to the mid-40s for comfy sleeping.

It was great talking with Gaelyn in person, with time to hear the stories of her recent life changes since her truck and camper burned last fall.  Despite the awful loss from the fire, the outcome has been rather positive, and she has made a great group of new friends and has a nice upgraded rig to make her life a bit easier than it has been.  

Leaving Kofa and driving north through Quartzsite toward Parker, we traveled west toward Needles and Barstow on I-40.  It was a long day from Arizona across the desert to Tehachapi, but we had reservations at the small park we found last winter.  

The rain across the desert was heavy throughout most of the day, but the roads were in good shape and we didn't have any problems despite the dire warnings coming to our phones.

We slept well in the quiet park, and the sound of the rain on the roof throughout the night was soothing.  The worst of the Atmospheric River passed through California on Sunday and Monday, and by Tuesday, when we crossed the pass on Highway 58 the clouds lifted and we could see all the way across the Great Valley of the San Joaquin River. 

It isn't often we are treated to clean, clear skies on this part of our drive through California and this time the skies were spectacular.

We pulled into Flag City RV Park in Lodi just after 3 in the afternoon, and to our surprise, the park was emptier than we had ever seen it.  Only a couple more rigs showed up by evening.  

It might have been the severe storm weather that kept people off the road, or possibly there aren't as many people as there used to be. 

We enjoyed a chicken parmesan supper at home in our own cozy space.  No need to go out when I still have some great stuff in the freezer.  I planned fairly well this time around for our month on the road and we returned home with just enough food left in the fridge and freezer.  

We planned two nights in Lodi, with a full day to take our time enjoying one of our favorite locations to buy wine.  We both love good Old Vine Zinfandel and Lodi, California, is the best place in the country for old vines and great wine.  

Once again we visited our favorite little winery, an unpretentious place called Klinker Brick.  We first discovered this winery three years ago and now whenever we pass through Lodi we try to purchase a few bottles of something good from them.  Even on a rainy day, the winery was pleasant.  I think possibly this particular winery might be a local gathering spot since everyone seemed to be chatting and to know each other.  

Fancy charcuterie isn't necessarily a big thing in Lodi, unlike our Applegate Valley wineries.  We were offered packaged cheese and crackers, but it was sufficient for our lunch.  After enjoying Klinker Brick for a time we decided to try another winery in the area that was recommended to us.

Harney Lane Vineyards had a gorgeous tasting room, and the gardens would have been very inviting if it weren't for the rain.  

We were happy to have a roaring fire, with real wood, not gas, and ordered a flight of red to share to try their wines.  The winery was lovely, the sommelier was knowledgeable and helpful, and the ambiance was delightful.  The wine, however, wasn't to our tastes and we didn't buy any.  I guess it is back to Klinker Brink when we return to Lodi.  We do love their wine.

Some of the zinfandel vines in Lodi are more than 120 years old

We left Lodi by 8:30 the next morning, driving north on 5 through Sacramento and then fueling in Dunnigan at the Pilot, where we usually get the best gas price, this time at $3.19 per gallon.  Dunnigan is a good place to fuel for us because a tank will then get us all the way home to Grants Pass where we no longer have to pay inflated California fuel prices.  I will say that prices this year were a bit higher than in Oregon, but nothing like it has been in past years when we have traveled in California.

Starting down the last pass on I-5 just an hour south of home

As I said when I first started writing, it was wonderful to be home, wonderful to know that Deborah would be sharing the evening with us, happy to listen to our stories.  

It is good to be home, to have the rain keeping us indoors, with time to relax and recuperate a bit before we start the spring cleanup outside.  

We both had to laugh a bit because Mattie gets a bit disturbed when we get back home after traveling.  She looks around and seems a little bit lost.  All is well by the next morning, and with her routine snuggle time, she is happy as can be.  I am also happy to have my comfy recliner and my warm slippers and a dog in my lap.


  1. I worried about you guys and the California storms--glad to read my worry was for naught! I thinks it's so cool that you have the best relationships with your adult children! Your photos of KOFA made me think maybe we should take a little trip.

    1. Kofa is a great place, Janna.  Good for boondocking if you don't mind a bit of gravel.  If you would rather, you can boondock near Quartzsite and then just take the 4 wheelers into the area as long as you stay on the roads.  It really is quite beautiful.  It is more crowded in January during the Big Tent, but Gaelyn said that things really thinned out after the show is over in early February. Sorry for the worrying thing.  I knew I should have posted sooner.  We were extra lucky with the bad rainstorms and managed to miss the worst of it

  2. Love the desert -- most of it, but home again, home again is always a good feeling. I know it was nice to have Deb housesit for you while you were away. Maybe catch you guys the next time around.

    1. Yes, we will cross paths again for sure, Nickie. Lots of years behind us, do you ever think about how many years we have communicated, and how many times we have managed to actual enjoy good times together? Lots of them. Makes me smile inside to think of it.

  3. I can so sympathize with days of rain. But so glad you had mostly good weather for your traveling. Though the driving rain picture and most of the day sounds ugly. One never knows.
    How lucky to have time with your daughter and her as your house sitter.

    Very envious of your lovely boondocking spot. And with Gaelyn the professional boondocker no less. I’m taking notes. That’s a wonderful picture of Mo tending the fire. Fun to see Mattie’s little face. Great picture of Gaelyn too. Thanks for posting them although the winter clothing gives me pause. LOL

    I am so happy to hear that this tragedy had a silver lining for Gaelyn.
    Really hope you are right in thinking that perhaps there aren’t as many people on the road as there have been. I’m shocked to see your gas price at $3.19 is 20 to 30 cents less than ours here. And you are calling that inflated. Oh my… Glad you are home safely and had such a good time. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    1. It would be fun if you ever make it west again, Sherry, but like I said before no kayaking water, half the number of birds and no alligators for sure. Glad you enjoyed reading about it though. If you ever do, I hope our paths can cross, maybe even in the Kofa.

  4. So glad our paths crossed once again and in one of my favorite places. Also glad your drive home wasn't terrible weather wise .


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