Posts Tagged ‘camping’

Time for bed in Somoto Canyon

31st August 2011 by Paul
Camp in Smoto Canyon

Camp in Somoto Canyon

There is no sensation of air at all.  It is utterly still and the temperature is the same as my body. It’s as if all the air has disappeared, the only clue that this is not the case is that I am still breathing.

I’m standing next to our truck, but its faint outline is only just distinguishable against the night sky. Overhead, the sky is ink black, and dotted with a billion stars winking against the thin smudge of the Milky Way.

As my eyes grow more accustomed to the dark, I can just make out the tops of the trees and the crests of the hills that surround us.   Beneath the ragged horizon there is the occasional blink of light as fireflies signal their presence to would-be mates.

But whilst the night is thin on visuals, it’s as if the volume has been turned up on our world.  All around me there is the rhythmic rasp of cicadas.  Occasionally a frog croaks somewhere off near the river, like a creaky door needing oil.  Moths and other unseen insects buzz around my head, attracted by my breath, their tinny sounds approaching and receding like tiny motorcycles buzzing by at high speed. 

Camp in Somoto Canyon

Camp in Somoto Canyon

We are camped at a fork in the river, and so from my left I can hear the gentle rippling sounds of slow moving water against the gentle banks, whilst from my right, there is a more hurried and unsettled rush of water foaming and boiling over small rapids.  Somewhere a fish breaks surface with a splash.

In the near distance a small herd of unseen cows are grazing, and I can just hear the feint rhythm of their chewing and the repetitive tearing of grass from its roots.  And closer, but still unseen, the hooves of a horse, or maybe two, slowly crunch their way to new grazing.  Far off,  a pair of dogs bark – a short lived exchange of aggression, which soon stills.

Suddenly a mule signals its presence in the canyon – its braying sounds like a bellows being worked hard with a rude leak.

I smile.

It’s time for bed in God’s country.

We’ve arrived in Mexico

4th May 2011 by Helen

Another one of them veritable cascades of blogs about to follow (dated according to when they happened).  But just in case you don’t want to read them all – here’s the summary.

After a quiet couple of final days in Texas (blog titles: Heading out; Our final day in America) we crossed the border into Mexico on Easter Monday.  It was a bit of a dash away from the border, as this is where most of the ‘troubles’ are at present.

The last week has been a bit of a cultural week for us.  We spent a couple of days at Real de Catorce (blog titles: Arrival in Mexico; An old Mexican town; Chicken broth), a lovely old silver mining town but probably better known now as a tourist spot and its role as a film set.  Then we spent a day at San Miguel de Allende which was the seat of the uprising and independence movement in 1810.  After that we headed out to the pyramids just north east of Mexico City.  We spent a couple of days in this area because we discovered the local town Tecamac was just starting a week long celebration with lots of amazing displays of local dancing and music, street vendors selling food, and lots of other stuff going on.   More detail and photos in the blogs for those days.

The advice we have been given is to stick to the towns and main roads and not to travel at night.  We have largely heeded that advice.  But that has meant that wild camping has not really been possible and so we have reverted to the habit of Siberia and been camping among the trucks in the truck parks.  No-one seems to think it odd to see a little Land Rover with a tent on the roof in a truck park and it’s been an easy little routine.  The trucks around us make lots of noise with reversing alarms, air brakes, running engines, generators, coming and going generally.  Of course, as usual, I pretty much sleep through all this.  Paul has found the answer in ear plugs!!

I have also discovered an amazing (new to me) crisp flavour – chilli and lime – the lime flavour is really strong and yanks the saliva from your saliva glands ready to spray your burning tongue from the chilli.  Really works and very tasty.

We both suffered from the effects of some ingestion that disagreed with us.  Paul took delight in making me eat chicken broth in my recovery – a memory of childhood illness and subsequent torture he suffered.  I tell him it’s nothing compared to the dry toast and cornflour mixed in milk my mother inflicted on me as a child, to pleas of “do I have to eat any more?”!!  I think I had the worse deal.

A storm in the desert

12th April 2011 by Helen

After staying with Paul & Jean in Tucson, we are heading east again towards our border crossing in Mexico.

The news for the last couple of days has amazed us.  It was reported that due to the government not being able to agree aspects of the budget the government would ‘shut down’ from midnight on Friday (9th April).  This means that all Interstate Rest Areas, State Park campsites (both of which affect us), and all other deemed non-essential government provisions will close until agreement has been reached.  This includes scientific research as well as certain public amenities (Rest Areas) will cease or close at least temporarily.  As far as I could gather, some services such as refuse collection would continue.  It also means that the workers in the affected services, including the military, will have their pay delayed.  The politicians of course will still get their pay on time.  As usual it seems that the poorer members of society are the ones most likely to suffer!!  Businesses will not be directly affected initially, although if such a situation goes on for too long then the whole country will be affected in various ways.  The whole thing is largely beyond our comprehension.  At least in the illogicality of it.  I suppose delaying paying the poorer members of the community means the money stays in the bank and earns a bit more interest for longer, while those who have to borrow to pay the rent etc will in effect be subsidising the country.  As usual it’s political football.  With an election round the corner and only a narrow majority at present, any gains are to be fought for hard.

Anyway, our plans to move on to a State campsite on Friday was put in doubt by the threat of a shutdown and so we opted for the safe alternative of an RV park.  It turned out that the shutdown was averted at the last minute, but in theory we could have been turfed off our campsite at midnight when the shutdown took effect!  And we didn’t fancy that!!

We have used a few of the KOA’s since we have been in the US (should have bought a membership card, it would have been cheaper).  Each one has been very different.  The first, in Flagstaff, was small, friendly, well maintained, with all the facilities we needed.  The culture was one of enjoying outdoor pursuits (near to Moab, Sedona, etc, that’s hardly surprising).  In Needles, we found a poker and bingo culture (in gambling Nevada, also not particularly surprising).  Sadly Petaluma, while having beautifully kept grounds, was not overly friendly and the amenities were all locked up by tea time.  I wonder has the local San Francicoans would like to be compared to that – pretty on the outside with little substance.  I’m not qualified to comment, so won’t.  Costanoa was opulent, like its central/southern Californian surroundings.  As if to prove a growing theory, we reached Lordsburg, set in the middle of what appeared to be a very run down area, with boarded up buildings and rough ground.  The KOA itself appeared to be a large car park with little going for it in the way of attractive appearance, rather like it’s surroundings.  We decided we didn’t want to even stop to see if the amenities were any good, and drove on. 

We found a little supermarket in the small town of Lordsburg and were amazed at how much cheaper the total bill was compared to what we expected.

We ended up at Silver Springs.  It’s very pretty here, but at over 6,300 feet has been much colder than we had begun to relish in the Arizona desert.  Sleeping bags have come back out again, along with the winter pyjamas.  A storm blew threw on Saturday afternoon and, with gusting around 30 mph, we decided to take the lower room tent down, which reduced the buffeting a bit.  Fortunately the worst of the storm blew past where we are staying and we were able to put the lower room back on and sleep in the roof tent as usual.  Over the next couple of days the sun has come out again in full force and we have been enjoying the warmth again.

We were delighted to be able to watch a tiny humming bird feeding just outside the office window, and next to our tent is an amazing cactus covered in seed pods from the last flowering.  Very pretty.