Friday, March 6, 2009

A review of the world of OZ (AZ)

I've been trying to collect my thoughts about this lifestyle and the people we've met. It's been an interesting journey. I'm going to work on some commentary in the next few days as we head back home.

Almost back to reality...

I found my camera!! It had slipped under the seat in the car after we left Quartzsite. So, here's two photos. One is of the Indian rock paintings in Quartzsite at Dripping Springs and one is of some sort of machine left behind at a mine. The Dripping Springs was mainly a dripping rock wall of green slime. I guess you can't get too picky in the desert when it comes to water.

We're leaving Havasu in a few days heading for home. Wish we could stay longer, but there are pressing issues at home including taxes and seeing Cara. We have become a personal friend of the ATV repair guy here in Havasu as now both quads have been worked on for a couple of different reasons. As nice as the guy is, I won't miss him. But there are many other people we've met who have made our trip fun.
We have gone on a couple of rides with an older couple, Laverne and Wayne, who are camped near us. They both ride older 2x2 quads and prefer to ride FAST. There's no "moss" growing under their wheels. I found it hard to keep up sometimes as I actually thought I might like to see some of the countryside... and these two are at least 15 years older... There is plenty of quad trails out here and some great places to boondock (camp in the desert).
This RV park has the most friendly staff. They put us in a very large site big enough for the quads, kia and trailer. We've had a fire almost night. We went to Oatman, which is a old gold mine town which has shops, an hourly gunfight, and the cutest burros who roam the streets. You can buy carrots to feed them and the babies have stickers on their heads which say "don't feed me - I can't eat carrots." The burro photos are still on the camera of course..

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Grand Canyon is incredible. After our 2 hour ride on the Grand Canyon Railway, we spent three hours walking along the south rim edge and taking it all in. The train ride was fun. Our seating on the way to the canyon was first class and very plush as we were in our own car with two other couples. The ride back was in a different car, more people and not quite as comfortable. But the ride home included champagne, wildlife viewing (deer, antelope and elk) and a train robbery. During both rides, we were entertained by a couple of singing cowboys who of course, gave their own renditions of "Folsom Prison Blues" so we felt at home. The train robbery was conducted by a couple of elderly cowboys who came aboard after the train stopped for them as we were told "only idiots jump on trains for minimum wage." What they really wanted was tips of course. This is the time of year to see the canyon. The weather was beautiful and actually kind of warm. I thought we'd see more snow, but it's all fading away. If we had taken this trip in January, it would have been very deep as the south rim is about 7,000 elevation and they got lots of snow this year. Another wonderful aspect to being here in February is that its not crowded at all. Sometimes we were completely alone on the trails and overlooks. The tour guides said beginning in March millions of people show up to tour the area. There is a free shuttle so we managed to see quite a bit of the canyon in a short time. But next time, we plan to ride the train and spend the night at the rim at one of the many cabins or the small hotel. Seeing a sunrise or sunset over the canyon would be spectacular. The meals that were included with the tour have all been buffets of course. They were acceptable - not fantastic - but okay. The entire trip was not a bad deal at all - but we did save at least $250 with special winter specials.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Grand Canyon...

We're at the Grand Canyon Railway. No photos yet, we haven't been on the train yet. Jada's in the kennel (it's very nice) but she's not very happy about it. The trailer is in Lake Havasu at the campground along with the quads. We're in the hotel for a couple of nights right along "historic Route 66." Tomorrow we'll have wonderful photos. Unfortunately, however, my little camera is missing. Not sure if it's gone forever or if it is simply lost in the trailer. I have a feeling it's gone... So, I'm taking my good camera on the train and it will not be out of my sight for a moment. I'm sad about the other camera since I've only had it a year and the fact I don't actually remember the last time I saw it... old age is setting in.. I'll provide an update of whether the train "package" was worth the money. It included meals, train trip and hotel (and Jada's kennel).

Photos - I hope

These are photos from Yuma. We found this steam shovel while out on the quads. The other photo is from a silver mine museum out in the Kofa desert. It was a very interesting place.

Monday, February 16, 2009

quick update...

I’m creating this offline at the trailer in our free camping site in Q. I’ll post it later when I get to the only hotspot in Q – the library. There aren't any photos. The website is not allowing it today for some reason...
Well, here’s an update on our travels.
Arizona is the home of mines. At one time, the mines in this area produced a lot of silver. We visited the Castle Dome Silver Mines Museum which is a tribute to a vast area of silver mines. A family is rebuilding the area complete with buildings and artifacts. It was a very interesting place, although they could use some serious help with their display signs. They have recreated everything from the bars to miners cabins and even have an original pair of Levi’s on display from the 1880s which was found deep in one of the mines. The bathroom complex was, well, a collection of outhouses and with holes in the ground. A big bucket of white powder (??) was used to sprinkle in the holes from time to time – I guess to keep things from getting too ripe – so to speak.
Our other experience of note was a boat trip with Dick and Audrey in his ski boat on a nearby natural wetland area. It was windy, unfortunately, and it took a LONG time to get the boat back on the trailer. (Actually, we spent more time getting the boat back on the trailer than we spent on the water.) Audrey and I ended up being in water to finally help in the process. I was up to my waist and barefoot hoping there wasn’t any fish hooks to step on. The wetland area was really designed for fishing boats as it consisted of channels of water (not very deep water) separated by tall cattails. It was an experience – enough said.
We left Yuma and arrived in Q again which is very quiet now as all the big fairs are over. We decided to try the free camping since we’re only here for 8 days. It will require us to truck out the garbage, but otherwise, we can easily survive with our large water tank and generator/solar. And as it turns out, we needed that extra money to fix my quad – again.
The day after we arrived, we decided to head out for a long day of exploring on the quads. We spent a couple of hours driving around, stopped for lunch, and then decided to see if we could find that “Apache” cabin again. Of course, as soon as I turned off the main dirt road, the quad stalled and refused to start again. This was the first time it refused to start after cooling down. So, Steve had to tow me the 15 or so miles back to the trailer. Luckily, it was mostly easy road with few hills. We damaged the front plastic on the quad from the tow rope, but that’s fixable. It’s difficult to be towed up and down hills. We decided to take the quad to a Kawasaki dealer in Lake Havasu this time as we heard nothing but horror stories about the guy in Parker who did the prior work on the quad. YEAH!! They just called. It’s a short in a wiring system. They can “jury rig” a solution for $88 or we can order a new wiring harness for a mere $650. Of course, that’s a no brainer… And we can have it back today! I won’t miss the desert bloom!! YEAH!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A quick note...

I’m doing laundry in Yuma. The campground doesn’t allow rugs in their machines so I am here. Or actually, I'm at Starbucks enjoying the wifi. But I'm in a hurry because Steve's only good for sitting so long and then he's done. SO, here's just the facts.. so to speak.
Jada got very sick last night. Of course, it was me she jumped on to be let out at 2 a.m. Then, after getting sick from both “ends” outside, she decided it was time to play with her squeaky toy at 2 a.m. I decided to keep her confined and sleep on the hidabed so I could make sure all accidents occurred outside. Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that it was raining – a drenching rain outside all day and into the night. So, she dragged me out to a muddy area and refused to do her business on the gravel. Then, of course, she took off after a critter and yanked the leash out of my hand and dragged it across the mud with me in pursuit in my pjs and flipflops. That was bad enough. But of course she leaped into the trailer before I could wipe her feet and galloped up to jump on the bed to give her dad a big muddy kiss. So, the casualty list included three towels, a couple of rugs, the duvet cover and me. So again, that’s why we’re doing laundry yet again. Oh, the joys of a dog.
Tomorrow Dick and Audrey join us at Yuma Lakes. We’ve talked to several other members and none are all that happy with the campground or management. I have to admit I should have listened to that “inner” voice of mine last year and not signed up. But oh well, I’m hopeful the other campgrounds are better. I can’t believe a campground these days doesn’t offer cable – just bingo games, shuffleboard and grouchy seniors. Well, on the plus side, the pool and spa is very nice and the breakfasts have been pretty good.
We took the quads out only twice and of course, mine decided to die again this time. So much for fixing the issue. The riding is okay – tall mountains, mining claims and such. But the hills aren’t nearly as pretty as quartzsite and there isn’t much cactus. We’re waiting to see how Havasu is for riding. And we might be dropping off the quad there to be fixed. I hate playing the "is it going to die" game while climbing a hill.
Dick and Audrey took us to the giant Yuma “swap” meet. The name is a bit misleading. It's a place filled with new stuff like socks, art, rv supplies, tools and just about anything else. It's under a covered patio and has music and even a bar.
We're getting a bit bored here in Yuma. On Sat. we're heading back to Quartzsite for 8 days. We really want to see the desert bloom and it looked like it was getting ready to really show color when we left two weeks ago. Then on to Lake Havasu. And of course, finally home to do taxes.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Catching up - FINALLY!!

We found a bit of beautiful color in the desert. The Golden Knights practice at the Yuma Proving Grounds.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to update this blog. And I'm sorry about the spacing of the photos. This free program is nice but not very flexible. Unfortunately, the wifi at the Yuma Lakes campground doesn’t seem to agree with this laptop. Tonight is the first night I've been able to actually get online. And the seniors have decided I’m just a pain after complaining about the lack of wifi access. Being in the desert with all these - quite frankly - cranky seniors - has given me a new prespective on retirement. I think I'll elaborate on that little tidbit of information another time.
So to catch up. After leaving Quartzsite, we arrived at Yuma Lakes – another one of the campgrounds included in our membership. It’s okay but not fantastic. Because we had the quads, we got placed in an upper level which is out of the way of the rest of the park. It’s okay, but feel a little bit removed. So, we haven't met very many people except at breakfast which is the only meal we've managed to eat on "their' time. There’s inexpensive dinners, but only if you eat between 4:30 and 5:30 exactly. Which in California time, is 3:30 to 4:30 – too early for us to even think about dinner. So, we’ve missed out on the deals. They are also into “rules” here. They even provide a diagram of how to park the rig and have decreed that electric heaters and power boosters are bad - very bad. Luckily, since the temps have been in the 80s, there's no need for heat. And frankly, I'm not sure about the idenity of a "power booster."

We’ve visited the local Yuma sites including the old prison and an old church. The historic district is being renovated nicely, but there’s very little commerce there. The economy isn’t all that good here. They’ve got a new super WalMart and a mall with Old Navy, Ross, Sams Club and several other favorites. On a good note, we are surrounded by farms of lettuce and vegetables. And the selection is first rate from the nearby farms. And there are palm tree farms which harvest dates, a local favorite. We've had wonderful salads and asparagus as well as a "date" shake.
Today we joined Dick and Audrey to visit the Yuma Proving Grounds base (military) as Dick is retired marine, he was able to get us on the base. While doing laundry, we were able to watch the Golden Knights practice their skydiving skills right across the street. They practiced all day so if you missed one jump, they got back in the plane and did it again. It was a great way to pass the time while doing laundry – which is SOOO boring. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I miss my washer and dryer.
We also made our annual trip to Los Algondones (spelling??) in Mexico. Bought some nice tequlia and of course, Kaluha as the price was very inexpensive. Plus, Steve got his hair shaved and mustache trimmed in a traditional barber shop for a mere $10. Otherwise, Steve also bought a very nice hand-tooled leather case for his shotgun. Bargaining with the vendors is an Olympic sport here and I'm just not very good at it. I did buy a yard peacock made from rocks and metal which rocks back and forth.
Anyway, I'll update this later when I have wifi again

Monday, January 26, 2009

A week without internet

I’m off the grid right now as my wifi better known as “blue thunder” drove out the gate yesterday. The giant bluebird motorhome group has been slowing disbanding. These bluebird buses are huge, ornately decorated and very expensive.
I’m posting this from the Starbucks in Blythe as we had to get some prescriptions filled at Rite Aid. Obviously, there’s no Rite Aid in Quartzsite or Parker or Yuma. That would have been far too easy.
There is very little in Blythe – with emphasis on little. But there’s a Starbucks and an Albertson’s. And Rite Aid is THE PLACE for cheap alcohol. Steve has become addicted to red beer - Clamato and beer. It's an aquired taste.
We went on a long quad ride yesterday across the highway (through a culvert) and into the hills above Q. There were several gold mines and active mining claims. They are still pulling gold out of these hills – usually armed with a metal detector and a shovel. The gold hides in veins in the quartz. We saw some at the “Pow Wow” rock festival, but of course wouldn’t recognize it in the wild unless it glowed purple.
My quad is still acting up. We tightened some connections and are hoping this helps. I’m thinking it needs to be fixed – correctly this time. After a big 4x4 climb up a steep rocky hill, it decided to quit at the top and right in the middle of the trail blocking the way of others behind us. And as an added bonus, it wouldn’t start right away.
Otherwise, everything is okay. We’ll have to get a new trailer tire before heading home, but otherwise all systems are operating normally. Geez, I sound like a TV program.
Another quick observation... Starbucks internet is no longer FREE!! But since it's ATT and we're ATT at home, it's free to us. Even Starbucks is looking for a buck...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

desert ramblings

It was a beautiful sunny day with slight winds and temps around 72. Can't beat it.
I guess I should describe what it's like being here. At night, the coyotes drift past the trailer while they chatter and howl. There's no ambient light except for thousands of stars which glow brightly. We're on AZ time (no daylight savings time), which means it's dark at 5 (and I mean DARK) and light at 7 am or so. We are not "roughing" it as the trailer has solar, six batteries, generator and I can get my news fix through the 2 TV stations we can get through the antenna. The only challenge is the grocery stores which frankly are lacking in anything resembling fresh veggies. They are the size of mini-marts and right now are downright crowded with snowbirds seeking supplies. The water tastes terrible so bottled water is a necessity.
We went on a long quad ride up in the hills behind the long term camping area. There is an amazing variety of rocks here in the Arizona desert. There are veins of quartz, some sort of black sparkling rock, blue rocks, green rocks... you get the idea. We're bringing home quite a few of them. There are many mines and some are down right dangerous holes without any barriers. The trails are fairly easy and not quite as rocky as the ride was in Parker. There are a few challenging rides, but Steve's saving those for tomorrow's ride. We'll climb "hogsback ridge" and if we can figure out the GPS, find "dripping springs." Of course, this is provided my quad behaves. It's developed quite the attitude lately and likes to shut down for no apparent reason. Of course, Steve claims its all me...
Due to the recent rain down here (much more than usual) we'll be able to witness a "desert bloom." Many of the cactus are gearing up to bloom and some are already showing color. In the next couple of days, we should be able to get some great photos.
We met two couples out on quads and spent some time riding with them. They began to refer to us as "the kids." It's true. We are definitely among the youngest RVers roaming around the desert this time of year. We have another week out here before heading to Yuma to use our camping membership.
We bought "booties" for Jada as the rocks were really hard on her feet and she insists on running full speed. It worked for awhile, but she lost two of them somewhere in the desert.
We've been talking to Cara daily and miss her a lot. She's taking care of the house and the business and has a busy semester at school. Thank God for cell phones (and generators).
Oh, and before I forget... Who knew? We had the best fish and chips ever at a hole-in-the-wall local bar called the "Grubstake." It was really good and all you could eat.. but the first plate was more than enough.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The desert

Our campsite photo.

Steve and Jada are out hunting scorpions with a special flashlight. The guy at the RV fair said it would work and they can be found everywhere. We haven't seen one yet. They are small and glow apparently. It's been a quiet week. We've done lots of shopping at the flea markets and RV fair. Bought Jada some boots for her feet because the rocks have made them sore. She's not too crazy about them but I hope it helps. On tonights walk she took off after a rabbit and chased it a couple of blocks at a dead run.

Steve and I have been on a few short quad rides around the camping area mostly. Steve, of course, found the clothing optional area. I turned around. A bunch of nude seniors is not very scenic.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Back in Q

We're back in Quartzsite in La Posa South. We've claimed our patch of desert and have set up our homestead for the next 11 days. Quartzsite is VERY busy with the RV Big Tent affair and there is literally thousands of RVs all over the desert. We're at the far end of the fun so it's not very crowded out here at all. Tomorrow we're heading to the RV fair and meeting up with Dick and Audrey (parents of Rich - our neighbor) The weather has been simply wonderful. But I hear it's been great at home too.
The wifi is from "Blue Thunder" which is a bluebird motorhome parked about 3 blocks away. The bluebird group has probably 50 rigs all parked in a circle. Not sure how long they will be in the area so my wifi might drive out the gate any day. I'll try and post a photo tomorrow of our campsite.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fun in the sun

The photos include the water park at the Blue Water Casino, Steve and Jada on our quad trip, an antique fire engine from the Desert Bar and the Angel monument which sits on the top of a narrow cliff.

I've finally defined the AZ attitude. It's a bit like being in OZ - a little removed from reality. We feel blessed that we have the opportunity to enjoy retirement this early in life. While at Emerald Cove, we spend mornings in the pool, have lunch at the bar and then wander over to sit on the beach next to the trailer. Or we head out on the quads. We’ve been all over the desert and have found several mines. We also visited the Angel monument to an 11 year old boy who died while digging a sand cave near the river. His dad put a stainless steel angel on the top of a tall ridge as a monument. It was a haunting monument and kind of sad. While on the quads, we’ve seen a couple of wild donkeys which can be found all over the area. Mostly we hear them, but a couple of them have been spotted watching us from the top of the hills. In the distance, we’ve seen mountain sheep and on the first night we heard very loud howling of coyotes.
Sitting on the beach is definitely the best place here. It’s busy this week because of the long weekend and there are many families. The karaoke has been frankly terrible, but apparently everyone else seems to enjoy it. Unfortunately, we're too close to the pool bar so we get to listen to bad karaoke loud and clear. Tomorrow we move out to the desert for 11 days so we may not have internet to update this blog.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Another warm day in Arizona

Looking out our back window at the river, a cool moon shot, and the Desert Bar.

I planned to update this blog daily. Of course, that’s just not happening. I’m having a breakdown. My wifi from the trailer has mysteriously disappeared. The person I was borrowing it from shut it down or they have left the park or the new giant motorhome next to us has become a wall. The end result is I now have to walk over to the clubhouse to be connected to the world.
Back to the business at hand. Sue and Jerry have adopted us. They are from Oregon and have a large motorhome, two Boston Terriers and a big “party barge.” They are interesting people. Jerry worked for Boeing until having a stroke. Sue was one of the first female senior VP’s for Farmers Insurance. Jerry likes to eat and drink and take us with him. Let’s just admit the New Years diet has not happened yet.
First, since the quads are still being repaired, we needed something else to do. So, we decided to take a trip to The Desert Bar. It’s about 5 miles down a dusty dirt road and is back off the grid. It’s completely solar powered. The guy who built the bar complex is constantly adding to the buildings. It’s only open on the weekends from high noon to 5 p.m. and offers live music (quite good actually), hamburgers grilled very well done (No cheese ever – according to the menu) and a small selection of drinks. The bloody marys were very good. There’s even a small church constructed of steel with a copper roof and stamped tin interior. The women’s restroom was really pretty unique with solid steel stalls and rock walls. It’s a great place to spend a Sat or Sun afternoon, but you have to get there early as it’s a popular place.
Since the quads were still out of service, Jerry and Sue they took us to the Roadrunner restaurant which is a slightly lopsided barge along the river. On Mondays, one can get 6 prime rib tacos for $5 – quite a deal. It’s got a full bar and during the summer is positively crazy with boats, people and alcohol. There’s a sign at the door warning “no nudity on the dock.” Considering the clientele was about 70 years old when we were there, the warning seemed a bit silly. Then we floated upstream to look at the river and headed toward the dam until it got too shallow. The river is being kept low so those with docks can perform annual maintenance. It really is a beautiful river as it meanders along colorful volcanic rock walls.
Following tacos, Jerry wanted to take us to the Elks Lodge for its spaghetti dinner. More food. Yeah.
The photos are of the river, the desert bar and a very cool moon shot.
Oh, and yesterday we retrieved the quads from the repair shop. Only a mere $750 later, we’re ready to ride.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I could get used to this life. It’s easy to forget the day of the week, date or any other pertinent information related to reality. Let’s see, shall we sit on the beach and mindlessly watch the river or should we jump on the quads and watch mountain sheep or wild donkeys? Choices, choices.
But I digress. We arrived nearly a week ago to Emerald Cove Resort on the Colorado River. It’s a resort within the camping timeshare which we purchased last year – maybe wisely – and again maybe not. We’re going to have to come down here every winter for the rest of our lives to get our money’s worth, but it is a great place to avoid the rain and fog of the valley. The trip down here was LONG. Just for future reference, Highway 40 is positively the most boring highway in the world and the longest. After 8 hours behind the wheel on the second day, I was decidedly grumpy. My exciting audio book from the used bookstore turned out to be missing the last CD. So, does anyone have “Sail” by James Patterson? Do they survive? Does that snake of a husband get caught?

So we arrived and were rewarded with a beach front site (YEAH!) and proceeded to entertain our neighbors with our usual backing and setting up performance. Luckily, they’ve forgiven us. We did learn that the trailer does indeed have an axle issue as its wearing tires on one side of the trailer a bit strangely. Now the one tire is completely bald on the outside edge. So, again we’ll be supporting the local economy by buying a new tire. We’ll have to wait until home to get the trailer looked at closely.
I guess I should describe Emerald Cove in the winter. The mix of visitors is predominately snowbirders with a few younger families. It sits across the river from some million dollar homes with waterfront docks. The clubhouse offers inexpensive meals, games and activities. We have enjoyed a few meals which were cheap and not bad actually. There are two swimming pools (both heated) and two spas. They are currently in the construction phase of a mini golf course for families. Across the highway is a 9 hole “jackass flat” golf course which is popular with those who brought golf clubs. There’s also the usual shuffle board, basketball and the time honored tradition of bingo games and karoke. Tonight is enchilada night with a live band all for $6. Yes, this is definitely the life…

The weather has been wonderful and I didn’t bring enough shorts. Okay, I didn’t bring ANY shorts and only a few short sleeve shirts. IT IS WINTER AFTER ALL!! But with the temps predicted to be about 77 this week, I regret that decision.
There is free wifi at the clubhouse, but I have discovered a wifi signal near our trailer by an aircard hooked to a router which is open to everyone. I can link on quite easily. If it costs them money, they’ll quickly learn now to secure their network!
We met two neighbors and one has a “party barge” parked on the beach. We were invited to cruise the area and watch the sunset with some wine and conversation. It was incredibly beautiful. A different couple took a group of us on a long quad ride to a mine back in the hills. It was really cool to see the rock formations. Unfortunately, my quad decided to be a pain and quit whenever it felt like it. I wasn’t the only woman on her own quad, but there weren’t many. But it was a really nice trip as there are lots of quad trails around here.
So, now both quads are in the quad hospital. Maybe it’s more stressful on the pocketbook, but at least Steve won’t be throwing tools in frustration. We’ll get them back probably in a couple days.
In the meantime, we’ll be sightseeing to the Desert Bar (will explain later) and perhaps historic Oatman. In the meantime, PLEASE let there be a state budget solution. Those SacBee email alerts are a bit alarming when we’re sitting on the beach…