Purple mountain majesties . . . desert and snow!

Look what the crew and I woke up to this morning!

What a difference elevation makes!

We’ve been enjoying sunny days in the 80s here in the desert in central Arizona.  I’m new to the desert, having grown up and lived my life east of the Mississippi.  The juxtaposition of desert sand and mountain snow looks very strange to my eyes!

An hour after this photo, dark clouds shroud the mountains.

Boy, did it rain last night! 

It’s the kind of rain one would expect in a rainforest, not a desert, at least according to me, being unfamiliar with the ways of the desert.  I can tell by the sound from the roof that the drops are large and coming down in sheets. 

Spike gets up from his bed and lets me know he wants to sleep with Bridget and me.  Spike hates rain because he associates it with thunder and lightning, the terrible monsters of his worst nightmares.  (Don’t ask me how I know this.  Spike does have awful nightmares.  He cries like a person.)

“Okay, baby boy.  Jump up.” 

He squeezes himself in between me and the wall.  Bridget is sweetly obliging, moving down into the crook behind my knees, while I wrap my arms around Spike.  Our combined body heat soon makes me throw off the quilt to cool off.  There is no thunder or lightning, only strong winds gently rocking our house.  Spike sleeps like a baby all night.  Bridget, not so much, but then she never sleeps soundly.

I wake up several times, becoming increasingly amazed at the non-stop downpour.

Gee, it’s a good thing we’re on high ground.  And the ground is hard-packed so we won’t sink in mud.  Hmmm . . . the road.  It’s already a challenge to pull a trailer over it.  And that wash . . . .  

I imagine myself calling the forest rangers to come out with their humongous white pick-ups to pull me out of the wash.  Spike’s barking and Bridget’s crying.  The wheels of the PTV are in sand up to the middle of the hubs.  Raging water appears, sweeps us away. . . .

You know how it goes in the middle of the night.   

Okay.  When the rain stops tomorrow, I’ll walk down the road and check it out.  That wash is about 15-20 feet wide.  I won’t walk into the wash.  I’ll just see what it looks like.  I have enough provisions to wait until the road and the wash dry out.  I’ll test it first with the PTV before attempting to pull the BLT across it.  Not to worry. 

So I go back to sleep.

It’s a cold morning in the 40s and the high for the day is predicted below 60.  We’re warm with the Wave3 catalytic heater going.  I’m using our second tank of propane.  If I’m not wasteful, we should be okay.  Warm weather is expected to come back here soon.

It’s kind of fun dealing with these challenges!  Really.  And you can’t beat the scenery.

What a beautiful sight!


P.S.  I’ll add an update here later today.

Out-of-pocket expenditures:
3/12/12 . . . $51.78 groceries, $13.99 dog food, $3.49 sundries
3/13/12 . . . $2.50 to dump tanks at Escapees’ North Ranch
3/14/12 . . . $0
3/15/12 . . . $0
3/16/12 . . . $0
3/17/12 . . . $0
3/18/12 . . . $0


It’s 1:30 Arizona time . . . 

We walk down the road that leads out to the highway.  Contrary to my expectation, the road looks good, actually better because sand was washed into some of the deep ruts.

The wash that has to be crossed in order to rejoin civilization shows the signs of water having passed through.  Now it’s not running any water. 

As we hurry home we’re caught in a shower of hail! 

I quickly unhook Bridget and Spike from their leashes so they can run home and take cover under the BLT.  You should see them go!  I try to keep up, but I can’t.  I’m laughing too hard at the sight of them and the hail pelting me, as well as the overall happy craziness of the day!

Time for a bowl of hot soup!

Stay warm!


About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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69 Responses to Purple mountain majesties . . . desert and snow!

  1. Sue Johnson says:

    Nothing like snow capped mountains !!! Here in the sierras we have lots of the white stuff this last week. I hope for your sake that it doesnt last long tho and that you have enought supplys !! Those washes can fill up quick. Pretty Photos !!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Sue!

      I tend to think I’m the only one having these experiences… Here you and a great portion of the country have been living with snow for months. I have lost all concept of seasons.

  2. Geri says:

    the water usually soaks into the ground pretty quick…. probably when you are ready to leave the road and wash will be fine, I hope! We are waiting for the rain today also the possibility of snow! YUCK! Where is Spring??????

  3. mickent says:

    Your high voltage solar panel should give you some charge on cloudy days. Today would be a good day to monitor the charge so you know how much your getting under poor conditions. This is the advantage of your panel and MPPT controller.
    Looks like the snow / frost came very close to the desert floor. Nice pictures, Thanks for sharing.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Mick!

      I knew you’d be wanting to know what the readings are! Now I know how to get to hear from you. . .

      Reading the little inverter inside the BLT I see that the voltage in is 14.5 (at noon Arizona time)! Not bad, eh? Now people know the answer to the question: Why such a big panel? You did good, Mick.

      Glad you like the photos. It is weird the way the snow goes all the way down the mountains.

  4. Grace (in Tucson) says:

    Ahhhh…. snow in the mountains! Right where it belongs! Lovely site. Like Geri says, that wash should dry out pretty quickly but I wouldn’t attempt it for a few days. Hunker in, stay warm and enjoy the seclusion. Heavenly…. again!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I imagine the Tucson mountains are snowy, too. I agree . .. keep the snow for the view only!

      You stay warm, too. Good to know this isn’t going to last long.

  5. kayjulia says:

    Rain on the roof usually puts me to sleep, storm rain usually awakens me and I check for leaks, usually there is no problem and I go back to sleep. The pets on the other hand want to be comforted and feel protected which I enjoy doing. It is nice to have a cozy place to ride out a storm it almost makes me want to find one sometimes 🙂

  6. Hello Sue, Spike and Bridget.
    Glad you got through last night with no leaks. Nothing worse than water damage. I lost a 34′ King of the Road due to water damage. The pictures are amazing! You must have a great camera.
    What a blessing to see the white mountains in person. You are blessed. Stay tight until it all drys out. I am glad to hear that you can call Forest Rangers for help.I pictured no living humans in the area to help you. lol. What is the chances of seeing bear there? Probably pretty good! Do you have wild boars? We have those here in Florida. Easy to see them at times. Tomorrow my car goes for sale. Wish me luck! Then RV hunting. Loving that you are posting more often. Its so exciting to read your adventures. How do you get wireless or computer, tv connections? As long as I have my computer I am golden. can’t wait to hear about your next adventure!! Stay safe.Sharon from Fl.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello Sharon from Florida!

      Ooh. So sorry about your rv and the water damage. One of the things that attracted me to Casitas was so no big seams up top. No, my camera isn’t that great. It’s the scenery that makes the photos!

      I don’t expect to see any bears here. They’d be up in those mountains. I don’t think there are any wild boars around here . . . There are javelinas closer to town because they like to scavenge. I haven’t seen them here. I don’t even see chipmunks, although they were all over the camp I had on Ghost Town Road.

      I get wireless with a Verizon air card plugged into my laptop. TV comes to me via the antenna within the Casita “shell.”

      I’m happy you enjoy my blog. I’ll try to keep posting consistently. Good luck selling your car and finding the rv that’s perfect for you!

  7. Darlene says:

    Here in Minnesota we are having high 70’s to 80 degree weather and lots of wind. It is so dry because of not much snow that there is grass fires, seems every hour or so there is sirens blaring.
    Every one is enjoying the warm weather, but we will probably have snow yet.

    My Charlie is like your Spike, very afraid of the rain because he thinks here comes the thunder and lightening. This year it seems he doesn’t hear very good so maybe that will help, who knows.

    I can’t believe how healthy the horses and cattle look for living in the desert.Great pictures as always.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, Darlene,

      Weather seems to be strange all over. The fires must be scary. At least you’re getting a break from cold.

      I wonder how the horses and cattle made it through last night. I picture them standing in that downpour for hours. Someone must be feeding them, they’re in such good shape and the forage here is scant.

      Thanks for the compliment on the pictures. I’ll pass it on to my little Sanyo that does all the work! That and Picasa . . . although I didn’t doctor the pics at all.

    • geogypsy2u says:

      No bears up here on the mountain, just javelina, deer, mountain lion, fox.

  8. geogypsy2u says:

    Just make sure the wash is Dry before crossing. No rush to go anywhere, right?

    Be glad you’re not sitting on top of those mountains where I am with 4″ and more falling.

    BTW, Rangers don’t get paid to tow vehicles. If you have phone bars, you call your tow service and hope they’ll come off pavement. Don’t want to scare you, just something to think about.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Believe me, I’m going to wait for that road and that wash to dry out before driving the PTV with its heavy load into that sand.

      In the light of day I know Rangers don’t tow vehicles. It was just part of my middle-of-the-night imaginary scenario . . . I kept seeing those HUGE white pickups they were driving when here the other day.

      My Good Sam road service better think twice about not helping me when I need it! Hell hath no fury like a woman stranded!

      And yes, I am SOOOOO glad I’m not on that mountain, Gaelyn . . .

  9. Maribeth says:

    We have wind, wind, wind here today. We went out and sat in GROVER (the Class C) just to see how we would feel when we are out and get caught in weather like this. Thank you for sharing your experience of this day. A little less than two weeks and I will actually get to blog about our adventures in GROVER. http://www./tripwithtwo.com/blog/.

  10. Bob says:

    Sue, You will soon learn that elevation does mean everything out west. We are in Montrose, Co. apx 5800 ft,; we had a storm about a month ago which we got a dusting of snow, (didn’t even cover the ground) while 10 miles away is Black Canyon Nat. Park apx 8300 ft received 13″ of snow overnight You will find the same with temperatures in the summer. Mountains can still have winter thru May. So if planning to head North later check your areas and verify with locals before using any back roads (USFS and/or State).

  11. hobopals says:

    Glad you’re on a high spot, Sue. In 1999, just as we were about to enter Las Vegas, a state trooper drove right in front of us and waved wildly for us to go to the left. We had no idea what was happening. Ahead was a flash flood that filled up what looked like an underpass, in seconds. It all happened so unbelievably fast. We were to find out that there were people killed and a lot of damage. It was like a wall of water that appeared out of nowhere.

    Needless to say, we didn’t get to see Las Vegas.

    I have heard, though I don’t know much about the desert that a flood can appear even if you never see a drop of rain–the sand is like cement and the water comes from a distance carrying debris with it.

    Following elevated train tracks on the way down from Reno to Las Vegas every so often there was a big round tunnel underneath and I wondered how fast water came through them. Little did I know I was soon to find out. It was a close call for us and it was very scary.

    So, stay high and keep your eye on the weather. The snow in the mountains is beautiful and you captured the beauty with your camera, but I wonder where the melt drains. Be careful, Sue. Stay high and dry. Keep us posted. Pats to the pups.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I appreciate you being so concerned. I was thinking the same thing, looking at the snow on the mountains, and I’m pretty sure of the answer … The melted snow comes down here into all the little gullies and big washes that are all over the place. They didn’t form all by themselves . . . water had to be involved! There’s a tremendous amount of moisture around here and the mountains right now.

      I’ll be careful.

      Interesting and scary experiences you’ve had. You apparently know what you’re talking about.

      • hobopals says:

        Maybe Al will chime in–he certainly has knowledge of the desert. I really don’t want to be an alarmist. I saw that you said you’re fairly new to the desert experience so I was just trying to make sure you knew about things to watch for. I had no idea of how rain far way could affect an area before the experience we had–took me by surprise. One thing I learned in my travels is that there are things to be aware of in all parts of the country. Originally from NY, transplanted to Georgia–I watch for tornadoes–that’s what the south knows.

        On my 2010 trip, I didn’t write about many things because I had family that would be having a hissy fit. You know–the ones who don’t think a woman should be out on the road by herself! LOL

        I have a friend who passed through the snow, then awful rain on her way to Yosemite. She called me last night saying how quickly the weather had changed.

        I used to watch people (on TV) caught in the washes and wonder why they were dumb enough to get themselves in that situation. Well, sometimes one just doesn’t know what can happen in terrain that is so different than what they know. The 1999 experience was a very unusual occurrence for that area. From the picture, you look good and high, and since you have solar you can wait out any weather that crops up. It wasn’t my intention to scare you–just warn you so you and the pups stay safe while enjoying your surroundings. I hope you know that.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I know you are speaking from experience and your concern comes from the heart. The fact that you would take the time to explain the dangers so thoroughly is proof of your sincerity. I appreciate you writing frankly. No matter how careful we may think we are, it’s always a good thing to be reminded of dangers and how to avoid calamity.

          I promised myself, family and friends that I would be completely honest on this blog about my experiences, good and bad, so that they could be assured of how I am doing at any given time.

          I write sentimental little blog entries about the beauty of nature. Not for a second do I forget her power and ability to destroy.

          Thank you for caring. I’ll be careful.

  12. rvsueandcrew says:

    ANOTHER UPDATE: 4:00 p.m. It’s hailing again! It was fun before. Now I’m wanting the hail to go away. Fortunately the hailstones are too small to damage the solar panel.

  13. Sherry says:

    I hate to hear all the concerns of others. Love your pictures and know all about the scenarios a late night mind can take you through. Glad you have provisions to wait it out. I imagine myself there too, free and taking it all in. Thanks for letting me be there.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Sherry.

      It is so important to keep the larder full . . .never know when I’ll be stuck in bad weather or too sick to go grocery shopping. I’m kicking myself for forgetting to get propane when I last went up to North Ranch, but I should have enough to get us through this. I don’t like calling it close though. Hey, I’m learning still, right?

      I’m happy you enjoy the photos. There’s no way I could describe those mountains the way the photos do!

  14. Billy Bob says:

    Hee hee hee, nuttin like a good storm to awaken “little images” in your mind. You are learning well RV Sue. Desert winds of 35 mile a hour ain’t nuttin but a bit over a breeze. Rain an’ hail is just a reminder that ol’ “mamma nature” is got her eye on ya….mak’n sure you ain’t out cut’n limbs off’n her bushes for a big ol’ campfire. The snow on the mountains is just to paint a pretty picture for your enjoyment. That’s desert. Enjoy every minute of it.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re funny , Billy Bob. And full of good ol’ common sense and general knowledge. All you said I’m learning to be so true. Desert is something else, isn’t it.

  15. Ron says:

    I do a lot of camping and extended trips in kayaks ,we carry everything with us for up to two weeks at a time. These trips have made me pretty good at surviving comfortably.
    You spoke of worrying about the propane. My suggestion would be eat all the food that needs to be refrigerated first ,then go to your non perishable foods.
    Here is a little gismo that I think should be included by everyone that boondocks in remote locations. It will operate with just about anything that will burn and does great on small twigs.
    Check it out it is cheap and small.
    PS love your blog

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Ron! I love it! Great site, too!

      I am definitely getting that thing. I’m debating whether to order it now or wait until I’m at a new long-term camp. (I’m too cheap to pay for fast shipping!). Speaking of cheap, what a great price, too. I appreciate you sharing this with us.

      “love your blog” . . . music to my ears… Thanks, Ron.

    • thanks for this site. I a

  16. Bill says:

    Hi Sue- The more I hear about the success you’re having with the PV system, the more I believe you lucked out meeting Mick! You also ‘lucked out’ on the size of hail you experienced. At your elevation, it could have been much worse. Hail gets bigger by being sucked up into a cloud and forms until it’s to big to stay aloft. If that happens multiple times, you’re in for potential damage. You rarely get large hail at higher elevations because terra firma is closer to the base (if not in) the clouds! We rarely see anything bigger than pea size up at the CO camp.

    K and I were headed to Mesilla PK south of Cruces but messed around until the winds practically closed I-25 between the Lake and Cruces! It blew so hard here, the power was off for several hours. Fired up our $100 Harbor Freight generator which is a week old! Love all the pix.I love horses, especially when they WIN! Cheers BR, K and kids

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hey Bill . . .

      I-25 closed due to weather . . . You’re giving me flashbacks. You got a generator for a hundred bucks? That must be a misprint. Every time someone mentions Harbor Freight it’s more fantastical than ever. I’ve got to see that someday.

      The two hail showers consisted of hail about the size of peas. Somewhere around Phoenix the hail was a lot larger, as seen on the news. Right now it’s raining off and on and it’s that awful, damp cold! I’m so spoiled with great weather that I have no patience with this . . . I can take about another day . . .

      If you’re heading home, that’s good news, must mean Kathy’s doing better! Cheers back at you!

  17. Elizabeth in NC says:

    It is truly amazing how cold the desert can feel at times!! So glad you are safe and are ok for awhile there where you are. Thanks for sharing the photos…it is fun to see them. My dad lived in Arizona as a kid and he told us that one had some things to be careful about in the desert too…like not being near gulleys when it rains!! Seems the poisonous snakes should be enough to worry about however!! Hope you are able to stay warm enough until you can get more propane!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hmmm . . . You’ve got me thinking. What do the snakes do when it rains like this? Do they come out of their underground dens? I hope not!

      Yes, it is cold at night, even when the day is warm. I’ll be happy when it gets back into the 80s as predicted for the latter part of the week.

  18. beckyschade says:

    Gorgeous pictures, and I’m so glad to hear that you made it through the heavy rain and hail alright. It’s been an unusually warm spring in SC this year and we had a monster of a storm roll in last Friday night. According to weather reports it was producing hail up to quarter-size, but luckily that missed us and we just got an incredible light show and heavy rain.

    I went out to the Casita the next day to check on it, it’s the first big storm we’ve had since I picked it up a week ago and there was nary a drop of water to be found inside, guess I fixed the missing rivet well enough. 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Have I congratulated you on your new Casita? If not, Congratulations!

      Yours had a missing rivet? I’m wondering if you picked it up that way or lost it on the way back to SC. I had a rivet come loose from twisting up the side of a mountain in NM. Luckily I met a guy named Bill from Oregon (Bill and Ann) who carries a rivet gun with him. He fixed it like new.

      I’m glad yours is fixed, too. I wouldn’t expect a Casita to leak for a long, long time.

  19. Sue Johnson says:

    Be careful still about the wash if it has rained a large amount. It may look okay but check it out good. . I drove out near a lake once because the bank near it looked dry on top but it was an illusion. It was dry and cracked looking on top but a couple inches under was all mud. I sank up to my doors in mud. In my Jeep Grand Cherokee, not an RV. I called Triple A and the guy was a triple AAA !! he said well, since you are off road , I can not tow you. But , I know someone who can do it for $400. I said no thanks. Lucky for me some guys came along in a Truck and a Jeep and they had a winch and tied the jeep to the truck and the truck to me and pulled me out with both of them !!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      So much for AAA’s road service . . . I’m assuming you dropped them immediately. I should call up Good Sam’s road service and make sure they tow off-road. That’s a huge reason for me having road service!

      Thanks for telling us about your experience. A pickup truck came through here just before dark yesterday. I’m curious to see what the wash looks like after he drove through it..

  20. Mark Watson says:

    Leave the blanket inside for warmth, instead put cardboard over windshield and solar panel to protect from hail.
    When a propane tank runs empty, get it filled at the first opportunity, then you’ll always have plenty of gas. An empty propane tank isn’t much good except to use as a flotation device.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Mark! The trouble with cardboard is it blows away. Ever since I’ve been in the Southwest I’ve noticed that rain/hail usually comes with plenty of wind, really gusty wind.

      “When a propane tank runs empty, get it filled at the first opportunity . . . ”

      Ya think?

      • Geri says:

        The reason I suggested a blanket (or maybe a big towel) is because when they get wet, they don’t blow away as easily as cardboard! We are just glad your hail wasn’t big enough to cause damage! Chuck and I have been caught in hail several times and were not prepared for it by covering windshield! LarryHarmon aka Mountainborn taught us the wet blanket method when we were visiting him in Arkansas.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Now why didn’t I think of that! Excellent idea! Next time I see a thrift store I’ll pick up a couple of heavy blankets, one for the windshield and one for the solar panel. I have been wracking my brain to come up with something to protect both in rain/hail with wind. The simplest solutions are best. Thanks!

  21. Karen says:

    Yesterday talked to my son who lives with his family in Tucson. We thought he was kidding when he said it was in the 40s. We checked after our conversation and he wasn’t kidding. I guess the weather is unusual all over our country.
    One of my Shitzus is so afraid of storms that she will try to get into or behind anything that looks like a shelter. Scooter starts shaking when the sky turns gray and doesn’t quit til the sun is out. My sister felt so bad for me that she bought Scooter a Thundershirt for my birthday. Not quite sure if it helps or not but it’s easier to find her in her pink and white striped “shirt” when she starts hiding.
    The pictures are beautiful. I love how the sun throughout the day changes and “paints” new colors to amaze us.
    Glad you weathered the storm with no leaks. In our first RV we camped through a weekend of torrential rain. I noticed a leak in a window behind the couch and neither of us could figure out how it was happening. No matter how much I tried to wipe the drips we ended up with a small bulge in the wall that, unfortunately, became permanent even though we drained and dried it by piercing a small hole in the wall. We brought the RV to a local shop a week later and asked him if he could find the leak. We couldn’t believe the cause……there was a boxelder bug lodged in the hole of the track for the window. (There are a couple of holes in each window bottom track to allow water to escape). The bug was just big enough to block the hole so the rain came in. We never had it happen again and always check to make sure the holes are clear in each window track. You probably already knew that, but maybe some of your readers can save themselves some anxiety and expense by taking precautions.
    Stay safe and give the crew a pat from me.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Wow! I never thought a bug could do so much damage! I’m sorry that happened to you and your RV. It must have been very frustrating.

      I appreciate you taking the time to explain your experience here for all of us to take note.

      Dogs and storms. Sometimes I wonder if Spike is frightened because he was lost as a young dog (I got him from the pound.) and spent a night(s) out in a storm. It must be terrifying being a dog and not knowing what’s the cause of the noise. Spike is so brave in other situations.

      Bridget who is “scared of her own shadow” hardly notices thunder and lightning.

  22. Ed says:

    While attending the Club House coffee hour this morning one of the others in attendance said that Why, Az also got hail yesterday. That means that Darby Well Road could well have had snow and hail also. Yes, it is spring time in AZ and NV!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Interesting, Ed. I was wondering about Darby Well Road, thinking, “Hmmm… should I have stayed there longer?” I take it from your last sentence that hail is not unusual in springtime in AZ.

  23. Geri says:

    Sue, You gonna be in Congress long enough for me to mail you something?

  24. carol says:

    I believe in Karma, maybet those morons in th ATVs got caught in a flash flood.
    it snowing hard in theWilamette Valley

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