Even though we made it to our RV resort in Yuma Arizona and immediately enjoyed all that our park and golf resort had to offer, we wanted to get to a remote area for an overnight in the desert. About a week after we arrived and attached our luxury motorhome to full hook-ups, we loaded up our Jeep with tent camping basics with the intention of roughing it.
We packed a cooler, pots and pans, sleeping bags and bedrolls, a cook stove, cots, rocking camp chairs, gas fire pit, and a tent. After all, we’re retired, we don’t want to rough it too much by sleeping on the hard ground.
We drove about 25 miles on a rough gravel road from the farmland and desert to the hills of Picacho State Park just across the Arizona-California border. Then we set up camp, pitched our tent, and went on a hike through the abandoned mining camp and town along the Colorado River.
The area is steeped in history and there are still working mines in the area. We enjoyed the interpretative signs that brought the ghost town to life. It was easy to visualize what life was like in this remote area just after the turn of the century.
We enjoyed a hearty dinner and settled into our comfy chairs and our cozy blankets around the gas fire. Our reason for coming was to see the stars in the dark night sky, but unfortunately just as we sat down, the clouds blew in and we were sprinkled by the rain. So much for seeing the stars! In January, the desert gets cold at night and the sun goes down around 6 p.m.
We put on headlamps and read for a while and went to sleep early. But part way through the night, around midnight, things got noisy and bright. I woke up to the sound of coyotes howling, lots of them and they were very close. Then I realized that someone was shining their car headlights right into our tent and it was completely lit up.
I got up and went outside the tent to see what was going on and realized that no, it wasn’t a car, it was the moon. A gigantic full moon! Which of course didn’t help with seeing the stars. Then we heard the hee-haws of feral burros. Hundreds of them! We were surrounded and they seemed to be everywhere.
I quickly went back inside the tent, zipped it tight, climbed into my sleeping back, and listened to the midnight concert in stereo of coyotes and burros under the bright light of the moon. I’m not quite sure if the burros were sounding the alarm that they and their babies were in danger or whether they were braying because the coyotes were howling at the moon.
But either way, I’ll never forget our night in the desert. While this type of experience was never on a bucket list, being retired and experiencing the sights, sounds, and even smells that night, especially those that were so different than what I’m used to at home in rainy Washington, made for an unforgettable memory.
Still loving this retirement lifestyle!