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