Winter Doldrums? Not For Us!

How to summarize a quick, complicate winter full of changes? Maybe this way:

We headed for Yuma, Arizona, where we thought we’d spend the winter — having had such a great time last year.

After a couple of weeks at the KOFA SKP park there, we got a call from the Jojoba Hills SKP park in Southern California that a lease site was available to us.

Jojoba Hills is a beautiful spot and affords its leaseholders lots of benefits — including free storage for an RV, large sites, storage shed, plus all the great amenities we discovered last year (“Our New Place” for photos). And don’t get me started about the sunsets!

Although we’re far from wanting to “come off the road” (in the lingo of full-timers), having a lease spot does a few things:

  • Gives us a guaranteed place to stay every winter — no hoping a favorite spot is still open, nor making reservations weeks ahead and then having to travel on a schedule.


  • Parking the fifth wheel would give us the choice to get a smaller travel rig, which many full-timers do — making us more flexible on the road for staying in smaller campgrounds and doing more travel during the winter.

After some deliberation, we decided to lease the site, and spent the winter immersed in activities we would never have expected…

Jojoba Hills is one of the SKP co-op parks, which means it was built by and run by volunteers (with the support of a small, paid staff) — its own park residents. Though not required, volunteering is expected. We were eager to do our part and immediately volunteered for too many things! So we had a bit of juggling the first few months while we found our balance.

While snow covered much of the rest of the country, we were content with the dusting that occasionally whitened the ridges that surrounded us…

…adapted to the rainy days that came along…

… played pickleball whenever we could (here some fellow Jojobians take their turn on the court)…

…and admired the flowers that seemed to be in bloom all winter long:

We relocated sites, and — thanks to the hard work of the site’s previous leasees — immediately appreciated the grapefruit tree…

…stunning flowers…

…empty pots ready for planting, which Bob pretty quickly filled with basil, jalapeno, and other leafy green plants…

…and a spot just begging for a Valencia orange tree (shown in the front in the photo below), which we planted where it could befriend a nearby unidentified fruit tree (we think it’s a lemon tree… it has yet to bear fruit, after many years of dormancy, though this spring it showed some tiny fruit buds, so we’ll see):

When the park started a community garden, we jumped at the chance to grow even more veggies — tomatoes and sweet corn, cucumbers and squash:

As winter turned into spring, flowers erupted all around us:

The ponds attracted waterfowl, including this juvenile Double-Crested Cormorant:

Its broken beak made us worry it wouldn’t survive, and we watched for it at the same pond for days until it was finally joined by another juvenile before they both vanished.

This female Hooded Merganser was a lucky sighting — a one-day only show. Sometimes it’s worth carrying a camera everywhere!

This Great Egret fished in the same pond where the cormorant had taken up residence:

Our first visit here, I was mesmerized by the Gambel’s Quail (a little different in coloring than the California Quail, which haunt the Park of the Sierras SKP in Coarsegold, CA), which is always fun to watch. They’re so fast on their little feet and legs that I’m sure they could probably outrun the Greater Roadrunner (okay, so the latter has the advantage of a much larger body and longer legs…!). We even saw a one-legged female  quail, her male partner guarding the road near her, but that was one time I didn’t have a camera ready…

A little more used to the quail, it was easier to spot other birds I hadn’t noticed before, like this California Towhee…

…and this California Thrasher (don’t you love how California is quick to claim birds? Why isn’t there an Ohio Robin?!?):

And just as other birds were starting to get my attention, those Gambel’s Quail starting appearing with their gangs of youngsters:

It was like living in a quail nursery! Sometimes I lost count at 20 of the number of little ones in a group…!

Just as fast as these coveys took off when we got too close, the winter was flying by, too!

About Ellen

Fiction writer and photographer, I travel the country with my sweetheart of a husband as a "full-time RVer."
This entry was posted in Birds, Cool Experience, Flowers, RV Parks & Lifestyle and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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