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  • Writer's pictureRobert Gidley

Cactus skeleton

Feb 27, 2023 (Mon)

12:30 pm Tonopah, AZ

We spend the morning quietly waking up, out in the middle of nowhere at our free-for-the-taking boondock site. It got cold overnight (as it is wont to do in the desert), but Harvey has a fully fueled propane heater so we’re not chilly at all!


We do need to run the generator for a bit to make coffee, breakfast, and charge up our computers and phones (the gadgets have to convert battery power to USB power keep crapping out on us…).


Robert takes his ukulele outsidee to practice a bit and nobody complains, because there’s nobody around! We could get to like this boondocking. Gini stays inside and reads another book in the series she’s devouring (the Maggie Hope Mysteries), although this book is about a serial killer, so it’s a bit creepy, but in the book, all the killing was happening in the city, not in the countryside, so it’s all good.


Gini making sure the couch remains functional in Harvey


1:30 pm Tonopah, AZ

Gini makes us a yummy lunch (Harvey—the traveling food truck!) and then Robert goes off for a brief walk in the desert, keeping a wary eye on any holes in the ground in case they harbor snakes.


However, our research shows that we should be more nervous about javelinas and cougars than snakes, because it’s chilly and snakes don’t have sweaters. (Of course, our in-depth research was talking to the neighbors who attended our concert on Saturday, but they wouldn’t want us dead, right?).


Anyway, Robert is a walking along and sees a fallen tree and doesn’t think anything of it. Then his brain finally kicks in and says, “Yeah? You see a lotta trees around here, bucko?” That’s when he realizes: cactus skeleton!


Cactus skeleton!


Seems one of those big ol’ saguaro cactuses (the ones that look like they are being constantly robbed and holding their hands up) died and fell over and there’s a tree inside! Well, most of a tree, anyway. Woody substances. It’s definitely a skeleton, and someone has kindly marked the tree with a cross containing a quote from Psalms. We have no idea what religion cactuses are, but somebody is pretty sure they’re Christian.


The marker for the saguaro cactus


Our research (Dale from the other night, mostly) also says that with all the rain, that saguaro cactuses just keep sucking up water without realizing that they’re overdosing and one day—wham! They just fall over and die. We now have data to support his contention, but we’re sure glad we weren’t here when it happened!


Gini thinks the mountains around here are weirdly shaped


3:30 pm Surprise, AZ

During the pandemic, we went to water exercise at our local Snohomish Aquatic Center, and our exercise was led by Claire. She’s a British woman who knew everybody’s name in class and was very encouraging (“You got this girls! And Robert.”) About a year ago, she moved to Surprise, AZ and we found out that she’s now teaching a water exercise class at a gym here.


Hey, we could pull our own Surprise and show up at one of her classes! How fun! So we stop by the gym and inquire about signing up. From the website, it looks like it’ll be $30 for each of us to be members for a month, which isn’t bad for free showers (something else that’s missing when we boondock) and probably more than one water exercise class.


Seems that we forgot the $50 annual fee, payable up-front (because they know that most folks aren’t going to show up for the other 11 months). Suddenly, it’s $75 (each) for our little surprise and that’s almost two nights in an RV park and we decide that maybe we’ll just mosey on down the road…


6:00 pm Peoria, AZ

We mosey to another boondock site, this one promising burros! There was a closer one, but the review said that it was “party central,” and we figure that we’re not in that demographic. Donkeys, yes, late nights, no.


Turning off the road puts us right back in the Yukon—this thing has potholes bigger than a VW Bug! And sharp rocks sticking up out of the road where there aren’t potholes. Even Harvey is beginning to wonder if “road” is actually the correct descriptor for this.


Finally, we pull off to the side, fearful that the road might get even worse and we wouldn’t have any idea what to tell the tow-truck driver (“Um, turn onto the BLM land that’s after the truck selling oranges”).


It is nice and quiet (other than four vans that race down the road, but we figure if they do that more than once, we’ll never see them again and it’ll be their chore to describe their location to the tow truck driver).


8:00 pm Peoria, AZ

Yawn! We didn’t sleep that great last night, and our sleep-tracking app suggests we head to bed at 8:00 pm. So we do.


From one corner to the next, with a stop at the gym on West Bell Road



Gini & Robert

Harvey Staff



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