Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

First Look: Imperial Dam LTVA

No need to search out the wildlife. The wildlife comes to you.

No need to search out the wildlife. The wildlife comes to you. The view from my office window two days after arriving.

The trip down toward Yuma from Quartzsite was notable because of the absence of bad. Nice drive, keep it in the lane, smooth pavement, no need to use the GPS, inviting scenery, things I passed that should be seen in detail later, and warmer temps. At one point, the scenery got downright attractive, with numerous small hills, lots of large trees and bushes, and plenty of less common forms of cacti. It made Quartzsite look pretty barren.

Oh, the Ford’s speed control flamed out for a second time, as one of two sensors thinks the brakes are on and refuses to engage. It eventually got over it like it did before. The first 2/3rds of the trip involved a strong headwind that dropped fuel mileage to 7.5 MPG. Dropping speed from 55 to 50 MPG popped it right up to 9 MPG. As the wind died down a bit and the elevation change had its effect, the entire trip averaged 11.2, which was unexpectedly good.

Some kinda balloon/dirigible at the northern edge of the Yuma Proving Grounds.

Some kinda balloon/dirigible at the northern edge of the Yuma Proving Grounds.

Once I was within a few miles of the turnoff for Imperial Dam, I noticed what looked like smog! Yuma is sizable, but not that big! Leakage from California, just a few miles west of here? Ultimately, no. It turned out to be dust raised by the windy conditions.

Well okay, I guess smog looks more brownish...

Well okay, I guess smog looks more brownish…

Once on the road toward the army base and Imperial Dam LTVA, it was all just a pleasant cruise on paved two-lane. My goal was simply to find the camphost station for the LTVA, then locate a suitable spot to set up camp. I began passing dirt entrances to named campsites, and wondered just how big this place was. In total, it’s big – really big. Most of it is far too rugged for vehicular camping, but what’s left is still boggling.

Found the camphost and asked about my own first priority, cellular signal strength. He seemed particularly uncertain, and guessed the southeast corner closest to the army base, since they have an antenna. He gave me a generalized map of the LTVA, which is basically a big loop with some branches. I took moment to fire up the Verizon cellular modem, and it seemed to lock in strongly and promptly right there! I decided to make a counterclockwise loop, look for the Christian Services Center that offers package reception and propane, and then scout for less crowded sites that still have a decent signal.

Campsites vary wildly, from ridgetop climbs to flat plains, waterfronts to deep gorges. Nearest the army base, the elevation was low and the campsites charming. Internet, with my modem, was zero.  After what seemed like a couple of hours, I decided that internet connectivity would just have to trump charm and seclusion, and picked an area just southwest of the heavily-occupied camphost cabin area. 2 bars of 4G Verizon. A WiFi amplifier antenna would open options a bit, but my modem can’t accept one, at least of the plug-in variety. I was sorely tempted to climb up a couple of steep ridges, but I know that it’s a mistake to descend again with full waste tanks in the camper. Fills the bathtub with greywater.

Parking in The Graveyard.

Parking in The Graveyard.

I circled around one good area that had plastic flowers stuck in the ground inside a campfire ring and then stopped in another on the other side of a 4-trailer encirclement, where the ground wasn’t nearly as level. A camper from the quad walked over and said, “You can park there over where you were before, where the yellow flower is. There was an elderly couple came up every year to stay there, but they both died last year. Somebody put those flowers there.” He smiled a little and added, “You can stay over there in the graveyard if you want.”

Well, it was exceptionally level there. It also helped that this had been someone’s fav spot, and that they weren’t actually buried there. I’d read that some folks return here year after year and camp in the same spot. They get to know each other. It must really louse up their sense of entitlement when some goof shows up and steals their heritage. Since it was approaching sunset, I didn’t have time to do that to anyone, and had to settle for desecrating a memorial. There was even a little solar sidewalk lamp beside the flower. “Somebody” indeed.

In Memoriam... the solar lamp is hard to see, but it's right next to the flowers on the left side.

In Memoriam… the solar lamp is hard to see, but it’s right next to the flowers on the left side.

And as the sun sets low in the west, we say a fond farewell from Imperial Dam LTVA...

And as the sun sets low in the west, we say a fond farewell from Imperial Dam LTVA…

Okay, now this is REALLY sunset.

Okay, now this is REALLY sunset.

I actually waited until sunset to hook up the panels in order to help the electrical connectors last longer.

I actually waited until sunset to hook up the panels in order to help the electrical connectors last longer.

The quad of RVs next door. One has a wind generator that makes sounds like a thousand grasshoppers flying. A couple of others use ground-based solar panels anchored with big rocks and fuel cans.

The quad of RVs next door. One has a wind generator that makes sounds like a thousand grasshoppers flying. A couple of others use ground-based solar panels anchored with big rocks and fuel cans.

As dark set in, the wind gained speed for a stout overnight blow as a cool front came in.

As dark set in, the wind gained speed for a stout overnight blow as a cool front came in.

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5 thoughts on “First Look: Imperial Dam LTVA

  1. Hope you stay warm down there.

    • Thank you Swank, but I’m spoiled rotten. The trailer plumbing is at risk, but not me personally. As long as one of the two 20# propane tanks I have is full, I have heat. I gots me a Mr. Heater Buddy that will handle my 200 sq ft down to 30 degrees in a high wind, but I only use that mornings to break the chill. To stay comfy, I have a twin-mantle Coleman propane lamp that is mounted to a tubular stalk right on the 20-lb tank. I should probably photo and post it, because although it isn’t as clean-burning, its BTU output can vary from barely on, almost to the “low” setting on the Mr. Heater. I think it would be usable in a van for both light and heat, if the door gaskets are a bit drafty for ventilation. On days like today, the heat gain through the trailer’s windows is enough all by itself. And for the curious, I do have a propane gas and CO detector just in case.

      • 67 in the van right now with sun so hot on my back from the open side door, that I feel like covering up my back. Also sun streaming in the front window, and van is toasty. Might be different in a couple hours. It was 32 outside this morning.

  2. Michael on said:

    Thanks for the photos. It’s good to get a visual sense of the place.

    So am I right in inferring that Imperial Dam LTVA is less crowded and frenetic and noisy than the Quartzsite LTVA? Or is that an oversimplification?

    • That would be correct, I think. Photos can be deceiving – I strive to make my emphasis more open, and having more solitude. It’s less noisy here because of the lack of nearby highways, and so far, I’ve lucked out with mostly solar-equipped people who aren’t running generators. At peak in January, Quartzsite is more populated in total and jammed tight in the nearest corners. It also has more “barking dog” owners and people who are running generators and riding ATVs past. Imperial Dam seems to be less populated, but crowded is what you make it – I will show some pictures in future posts. I am away from the main pack, so it’s pretty silent.

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