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…