December 25, 2020 – February 6, 2021.
We didn’t have much of a plan for this winter. After doing lots of planning during 2020 I was more than ready to not think too much about where to go next. We did have to make some plans to visit the dentist but other than that our biggest plan was to figure out how to keep warm.
Just like a house, there are many different ways not to freeze to death in a van. You can put on more clothes and pile extra blankets on the bed at night. Friends of ours have a diesel heater in their van with a thermostat. It keeps their rig warm and toasty day and night. We use a propane heater. In order that we don’t asphyxiate ourselves, we only run it while we are awake just after we get up and if it is really cold before we get in bed. But there is one way we can keep warm in a van that you can’t do in a house, drive your entire home south to warmer climates.
Florida is a good choice for keeping warm if you are in that part of the world and either have friends with driveways you can camp in or money. There isn’t much free camping in the warmest parts of the state and daily camping fees add up quickly. I always thought Texas was a good option but after their debilitating snowstorm this year I’m rethinking that. We spent one winter in Mexico which is an excellent option for staying warm. Friends of ours did just that this winter but our journey got detoured before we could join them. And of course, there is where we spend a good deal of our time, the southwest.
Now not every place in the southwest is warm during the winter. I mean it snowed in Tucson this year! Keeping warm during the cold months in the southwest is a matter of finding spots at low elevation. Every 1000 feet you go down or up you gain or lose 5° of temperature.
So this is what we did from the end of December until we switched gears at the end of February, we wandered around, not doing anything all that exciting while we tried to stay warm – and as always looked for birds. Here are a few of the spots we stayed.
Ajo Desert, elevation @1700 feet
We came to the Ajo desert to celebrate Christmas with our friends. It is beautiful here. It was pleasant during the days. We hiked and looked for birds (didn’t find many), had campfires with our friends, and took a trip to Organ Pipe NM and the Border Wall.
Five Palms Hot Springs, elevation @20 feet
We ended up here for New Year’s Eve with our friends. The birding was much better here – perhaps due to there being water here. The weather was pleasant again but unfortunately not warm enough for any of our gang to soak in the Spring – although there was a short (perhaps alcohol-fueled) and chilly dip on New Year’s Eve by two members of our nomadic pod.
American Girl Mine Area, elevation @400 feet
We stayed here two different times. The first time was with our traveling friends while we were going back and forth to Mexico for dental visits. Then after we separated from our friends, we came back because of the good internet signal. This area is full of old small mining claims and one currently operating mine. There is not much vegetation and we didn’t have the stunning views out our door as we did in Ajo or the lure of a hot spring like Five Palms. And at first, it didn’t seem like it had many birds but on our second visit, we found quite a few perhaps because of recent rains.
Yuma, elevation @ 100 feet
Yuma oftentimes makes it on to lists of the warmest places in the country during the winter. Although we didn’t stay in Yuma, it was the closest city to many of the places we camped and we spent lots of time there shopping, doing laundry, picking up packages, and on occasion looking for birds.
This week I will be sharing this post on My Corner of the World, Travel Tuesday, Wild Bird Wednesday, Through My Lens, Weekend Coffee Share, and Sharon’s Souvenirs. Check out these links to see what other people are doing all over the world.