Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Mark of a Good Camper

EDITED on 12/28/12 to include photographs.

It seems nearly forever since I last posted a blog. That's how long it has been since I've had reliable internet access. And, my card reader isn't reading so no new photos right now.

Since we were at El Capitan State Park, we've been to three additional places. After El Capitan we parked the Beast at Dockweiler RV Park, which is just a blink south of Dockweiler State Beach. Dockweiler State Beach is situated at the end of the east-west runways of LAX. We saw lots of jets taking off from LAX. Surprisingly, the noise was unobtrusive to us. 

Our daughter, Susanna, and son-in-law Terry, flew down to LA for their friend's, Sharon, graduation party. Sharon earned her Master's degree. Congratulation, Sharon! We met for breakfast/brunch at a cute restaurant in Manhattan Beach called Four Daughters Kitchen. Afterwards we hung out at the Beast hoping we could enjoy the beach and ocean waves, but, alas, it was not to be. The weather did not cooperate. Wind and rain prevailed. We joined Sharon's family for a wonderful dinner, however, and the following day was Sharon's graduation party.

We headed south to Santee, which is east-northeast of San Diego, and stayed at Santee Lakes RV Park. We stayed indoors for the first couple days because of rain, but what a lovely place! They have seven lakes, a few of which are stocked with fish, one in which you can rent paddle boats and cruise around small islands that attract an assortment of birds such as white pelicans, mallards, wood ducks, snowy egrets, white and blue herons, coots and cormorants, another that has floating cabins for rent, and some meant for day use. The RV park area was clean and had many grassy areas with covered picnic tables. There is a community center, a teen center for the local youth to use after school, and a large and clean laundry room for registered campers. It is a place to which I'd definitely go back. We spent 8 days there and left on Christmas Eve. Rob's brother, Chip, sister-in-law, Chris, and niece, Heather, arrived on Saturday before Christmas, so at least we had family with us leading up to Christmas day.

After Santee, we headed to Imperial Sand Dunes. We originally planned to stay in the dunes for three nights, but it ended up only two. We arrived on Christmas Eve. There were reports of heavy wind, which isn't good when driving a large motorhome, nor is it good for the paint in a sandy area. We stopped at a rest stop hoping to out-wait the wind. I called ahead to a WalMart in El Centro, CA, to find out if they allowed RVs to overnight in their lot. We were given the green light, but upon arriving we found out that they didn't want any RVs in their lot that night because they would be closed on Christmas day. So, on we drove to the dunes. I'm glad we did because the wind had diminished to acceptable levels. We arrived after dark and ended up parked about 150 feet from and parallel to another motorhome. 

The next day, which was Christmas, our neighbor's dog came for a visit. Angie is a sweet, yellow lab for whom I started throwing a stick, which then led to us meeting Mark and Jeannine. We hit it off and pretty much spent the rest of the day and evening with them. They have a four-wheel, off-road vehicle and that is generally the reason why most people go there, and Mark gave us a ride over and around the dunes. That was fun!! 

In the evening we lit a cozy campfire and Mark and Jeannine joined us for some lively conversation. We learned that they live in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, have a glass business and specialize in repairing RV windows. We will be staying at Lake Havasu in a couple of weeks and plan to call them to spend a day on the lake if the weather permits or, at least, go out to dinner. How fun is that? But, alas, they had to leave the next day to take care of business.

We were supposed to stay another night, but the wind was picking up and lots of other folks with their trailers, fifth-wheels and motorhomes were populating the area. If Mark and Jeannine had stayed another day, we would have as well, but Rob decided he'd had enough of dry-camping. I called ahead to our next stop in Quartzsite, Arizona, to see if they could take us a day early and we were told to come on in. About two hours later, we were checking in. And they have WiFi!!! So here I am, finally able to update my blog and feel, at least a little bit, connected to the rest of the world (as I know it). We will be here for two weeks and look forward to exploring this place that attracts so many snow-birds.

I titled this post "The Mark of a Good Camper" because of what I observed at the sand dunes. (I wonder if all my daughters still remember the rest of the expression). The camping areas of the dunes are acres of flat, packed sand and hundreds, if not thousands, of dune-buggying, off-roading campers inhabit the place throughout the year, along with food, wood, ice, T-shirt and supply vendors. There are places away from the camping areas among the ever-changing rise and falls of the dunes in which folks gather and party into the night. The sense of freedom from interference from—well, anybody—is liberating and just plain fun. But, with that self-same freedom comes responsibility. Freedom comes with a price. And the price of freedom in the sand dunes should be, in my opinion, to make sure you leave the place in the same or better condition than you found it. I saw plastic bottles, candy wrappers, plastic bags, cigarette butts, etc, etc, etc, all over the place. When Mark took us for our ride through the dunes, there were even broken, glass bottles. Stupid, selfish people left an abundance of evidence of their visit to the dunes to the detriment of all. It was sad. So, please always remember that the next person to pass through where you passed is as equally important as yourself, and your generosity to them is most evident in the lack of just that: evidence. The sacred beauty of our natural habitats is a gift to all of us. Please respect it.


Unidentified type of duck at Santee Lakes

Handsome Wood Duck. I was obsessed with capturing shots of this beauty.

Male Wood Duck surrounded by Coots.

Lucky shot.

Pretty little female Wood Duck

We were feeding the birds a mix of healthy food that the general store sells at $1 per bag. Such a deal to have all these creatures flock to you.

The Cormorants perched in the barrens trees.

I called this 'Bird Island' as it is the place that all the species of birds congregated.

The view of the main camping area from a sand dune peak at Imperial Sand Dunes.

A young man enjoying the dunes first thing in the morning. That's the Beast on the left.
Rob enjoying his cigar and reading while I'm out exploring.

The dunes taken while on our ride with Mark.

Meet our new friends Jeannine, Mark and Angie the yellow lab. Their granddaughter, Breezy, is in the back seat but you can't really see her. Cute little tyke.

The sun is getting low.

Rob collecting tinder for our campfire.

Here's to a lovely evening.

There's nothing like the smell of a campfire.
The nearly full moon and a few stars.


  1. Verizon has a mifi device (personal wifi hotspot) that is pretty good for traveling internet access (where you can get Verizon signal). Should work more often (and better) than relying on the various spots for internet. but has a monthly to it... Hebe has one for work, it is pretty cool.

  2. Love the Blog, enjoyed the Chat! Doug and Michelle ( two spaces down @ Qz )

  3. Love the photos and you are right... that is a BEAST!!!!! you could get lost in that! LOL