Saturday, January 18, 2014

Quartzsite to Vegas. Long Day. Sat 1/18/14

It took some time but I finally got my butt in gear and left Quartzsite.  I had read there was a geoglyph between Bouse & Quartzsite on the scenic route so I headed that way.  My plan was to get to Lake Havasu by the afternoon so I could catch the balloon glow and the last day.  I figured I had time for a detour.  The scenery near the Fisherman was amazing.

1/18/2014 12:37:37 PM

1/18/2014 12:41:46 PM

1/18/2014 12:41:56 PM

Mountains near Bouse, Az

1/18/2014 12:44:15 PM

The glyph is interesting.

1/18/2014 12:45:15 PM

1/18/2014 12:52:45 PM

The Bouse Fisherman Geoglyph. It's updside down in this shot, with the lighting it was nearly invisible from the other end.

1/18/2014 12:54:18 PM

More boondocking near Bouse

1/18/2014 1:26:38 PM

South of Lake Havasu I drove across a bridge with stunning views over the Bill Williams Wildlife Refuge.  I stopped to get some photos.  The whole 'amber waves of grain' thing seems so surreal in this desert landscape.

1/18/2014 1:33:53 PM

1/18/2014 2:25:45 PM

1/18/2014 2:27:13 PM

1/18/2014 2:29:02 PM

Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge

1/18/2014 2:29:39 PM

Well......after that I rolled into Lake Havasu.  And ground to a halt.  The traffic was horrendous.  I sat and sat, drove over London Bridge and sat some more.  Someone squeezing by hit my mirror and folded it back.  The check engine light was on & the temp was rising, as was mine.  I had had enough and made a u-turn and got the hell out of there.  I knew there was supposed to boondocking near the airport just north of town.  I never saw the road.  However, a few miles further north I saw some rigs parked off to the side & turned off to check it out.  It was another 14 day BLM area.  There were some cool rock formations and it was probably going to be a decent place to watch the sunset.  I found a reasonably level spot between a few rigs and parked.  As I was sitting there looking at the GPS I heard the sound of levelers going down.  And down.  And down.  I looked up to see an older Class A parked right at the edge of the mesa teetering precariously on almost fully extended jacks.   As the driver tried to eke out the last bit of height the rig fell off the jacks.  For a minute I thought they were gonna roll down the hill.  I got the video camera out in case they tried it again.  :-)  Luckily they were able to retract the folded jacks and apparently decided level was overrated.  :-)

Watched these guys nearly roll down the hill when they fell off their jacks. They're not the reason I left though. :-)

1/18/2014 4:53:47 PM

So I had lunch and relaxed for a while.  But an unease was growing on me.  I had no cell service, and this one guy kept walking back and forth by me, and I just wasn't digging the vibe.  I resisted it for a while as I didn't have anew plan or destination and driving in the dark isn't optimal.  Research was impossible with no service.  I finally decided to leave.  It's not like I haven't driven RVs in the dark before, they don't turn into pumpkins at sundown.  I figured I'd see where I ended up.

I drove north and had a choice to make at I-40.  West through Needles CA & up into NV, or east towards Kingman.  I got gas and took the west option which was a mistake.  Not only did I have hundreds of miles of nothing to drive through, but the sun was in my eyes while it was up.

I saw a sign for camping at the Needles CA exit so thought I'd give that a try.  Well I never saw the camping and the town was not appealing.  I got back on the highway and resigned myself that I might be driving all the way to Vegas.

Needles, CA

1/18/2014 6:29:41 PM

Bates Motel, Needles Ca.

1/18/2014 6:29:51 PM

1/18/2014 6:30:22 PM

I'm sure there were places to stop along the way, but in the dark it's hard to tell what might be ok and what isn't.  I almost stopped at a little town called Searchlight, NV but at that point I figured it was worth pushing on to Vegas.  As I approached Henderson I saw a small casino called Rail Pass and pulled in.  Signs directed RVs and trucks to an upper lot, which said no camping, but another sign 3 nights allowed per stay.  And another said No barbecues or campfires.  I checked some online resources which said it wasn't allowed by city ordinance but the hotel was very accepting of RVers.  I figured I'd give it a try and just be very stealthy when I was in the rig.  All I wanted was dinner and a beer and I figured I'd be out like a light.  As I locked up the rig and headed in to the casino I was passed by a Boulder City police car.  I was glad he saw me heading in.  :-)

The buffet was nothing to write home about but the beer was cold.

1/18/2014 7:37:19 PM

As expected, I fell asleep pretty quickly.  A few times during the night I heard the slow crunch of tires as someone drove close to the rig but I resisted the urge to twitch the curtains.  And if anyone knocked I was playing dead.  :-)  No one did though.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Quartzsite (Still!). Fri. 1/17/14

In the continuing saga of the crappy MH, when I woke up in the morning to make breakfast  Every single thing in the fridge was frozen solid.  Even my half & half.  Even my eggs.  Frozen eggs. :-( The Norcold fridge in the RV froze everything no matter what it was set at.  I had set it on 2 the night before.  I turned it off to let everything thaw a bit.

1/17/2014 10:18:12 AM

Since the fridge was running non-stop & I hadn't gone anywhere the day before, the house battery (yep, singular) was showing a yellow light.  Since it costs $3.50/hr to run the genset I started the main engine for a little while, which has the side benefit of being not nearly as obnoxiously noisy.  Shortly thereafter, I saw Carol's big class A come rolling up and begin scouting the territory, followed by Rita and her TT.  Apparently the genset noise at their site went on for hours.  Bummer.  :-(  Of course, that's why they put wheels on these things.  :-)

Carol was taking a trip to town to get her Escapees name badge made up and invited me to go with her.  Apparently these badges are a big deal.  You get one with the logo of the club (or clubs) you belong to, with your member # and other stuff, then there's other little badges you can attach, and so on.  Some people have quite an array.  Carol knew exactly what she wanted.  I wasn't sure I wanted just doesn't seem like my thing.  If "Hello, my name is Gail" on a little nametag isn't good enough for anyone well, that's just too bad.  If I DO have one it'll be handmade with some sort of bling or something.  Funny thing is, I actually have one of these engraving machines in may basement.  :-)  Not sure if I have any of that plastic stock though.

People lining up to get nametags/badges made... :-/ I'm a little unsure of that whole thing.  I did pick up a cute pin that said Alaska Snowbird on it,  Had to take that off though as I grew tired of answering questions about it,  :-)

1/17/2014 2:00:35 PM

I mentioned to Carol that I had heard the RVing Women were down south of town and I had considered parking there at first.  But since I was an Escapee member and I had better directions to the Plomosa Rd group I went there instead.  Carol had been interested in RVW too so we went to check it out.  We followed a trail of paper plates stapled to stakes for what seemed like miles to their encampment.  Wow, they seemed very organized.  When we arrived they were just finishing up a seminar on fire safety, and another workshop about tank enzymes was just starting so we weren't able to talk to folks much.  The workshop had an infomercial vibe about it so we left.  Still, would like to look into this group more.

RVing Women setting up for a workshop

1/17/2014 2:28:01 PM

On the way out we were kinda flummoxed by this row of rigs.
I don't get this.... miles of desert and these folks were in each other's pockets. To each their own I guess...

1/17/2014 3:34:37 PM

After dinner I enjoyed my sunset view, which I could actually SEE as I didn't have a rig 10' away.  :-)

1/17/2014 6:46:52 PM

I watched the paraplane flyers again...looks like fun.

1/17/2014 6:52:29 PM

1/17/2014 6:52:36 PM

Looks like fun!

1/17/2014 6:52:40 PM

My new Ivation LED lantern.  This thing is the bomb and I'm SO glad I threw it in the suitcase.  I have to say, when it was first recommended to me, I thought it was kinda pricey.  And it may be, but it works great, it weighs nothing and it goes anywhere.  I used this exclusively for light during the trip, other than turning the light on in the bath now and then.  I hung it off the cabinet handle when I was sitting and I hung it off the vent in the bedroom area when I was there.

1/17/2014 7:17:15 PM

I already had bungee cords on the vent housing in the bedroom holding up a blanket I had stuffed in there so it was a convenient hanging place.  Why did I have a blanket stuffed in the vent?  Well, I'm glad you asked!  When it got warm in the afternoon the first day in Q  I cranked up the vents in the bath & BR.  When it got cold at night I closed them.  Well, one of them closed.  The one over the bed went down to being only being open about 2" and would go no further.  Sigh........  Did they check NOTHING when they refurbished this thing?  Sigh......  It wasn't open much but when it's down in the high 30's at night I don't need that breeze.  Hence the blanket in the vent.  It was an old airplane blanket, small and paper thin, which I actually brought for the plane ride.  Good thing I did.

Someone released some Chinese lanterns. And they were setting off fireworks. It was lovely, but all I could think of was, "Yogi, I don't think the Ranger's gonna like this!!!"

1/17/2014 7:28:28 PM

Playing with Lightroom settings....I know this isn't a great pic but I liked something about it.

1/17/2014 8:50:20 PM

Screenshot of my SkyView app. Very handy.

I kept trying to do a little astrophotography but never got the results I wanted.  I don't like to blame gear but the Dolica Pro tripod I bought at Costco sucks.  It's going back.

1/17/2014 8:57:05 PM

As I said every night so far, I'm leaving tomorrow.  This time I mean it!!  :-)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Quartzsite Thur. 1/16/14

Ok, so I'm not much of a morning person.  I woke up, dragged myself out of my cozy bed with difficulty, and headed right down to the Escapees as the Christians were making us Biscuits & Gravy for breakfast.  :-)  I stopped at the Solos base and we descended upon the Christians like a plague of hungry locusts.  :-)  They had a nice setup, not just the B&G but also a nice egg casserole that had been baked in big Dutch Ovens.  Good stuff.  Oh, and coffee.  Lots of coffee.   It was fun and they were nice people.  Everyone loves my butterfly stool.  I must have gotten asked 100 times where I got it.

After breakfast I headed back to the rig to shower & clean up a bit.  While I was having some more coffee I broke out a little gadget that Mom got me for Christmas. It's a vibration speaker.  (I would shop around, it shows up on Daily Deal sites for less sometimes, and there are also other makes/models to be had.  This is the one I have, however.)  It works surprisingly well for what it is.  I plugged in my iPod, set the vibrator (sounds bad I know :-) on the coffee cup, and instant music with no battery draw.  Don't get me wrong, it's no Bose, and it's not going rock the house.  But for a little background music, it worked surprisingly well.  I played with it a bit, and found that removing the lid from the cup and then setting one edge of the cup on the iPod made a difference.  Much more resonance.  Downside was, the instant I opened the door  it fell over.  It's a paper cup.  Breezes are not its friend.  :-)

1/16/2014 11:16:43 AM

Over breakfast Rita had asked if I wanted to ride into Q with her.  She needed to dump & fill & do a little shopping.  I said "Sure!"  She's my hero, almost 70 years old, lost her hubby a few months ago, and here she is in the Arizona desert in a 14' travel trailer.  Good for her!!!  She spends summers in WA working on her sisters organic farm.  Unreal.

I guess I wasn't in a picture taking mood so there are none of out trip into Q.  The RV Pitstop was a mind bender.  This is an RV mecca right on the main road with everything the RV population needs.  Propane, sewer dumps, water, etc.  We went to the dump station first.  It's separated from the propane area by a short wooden privacy fence which seemed a bit odd but whatever.  Rita began the dumping process as I stared idly around, and noticed there were a few RVs lined up about 20' away.  I kind of assumed they were parked there while people shopped in the little camp store, but I really didn't give it much thought.  Much to my amazement, in rolled a nice Class A behind us, and I heard the driver say to the attendant, "We have a reservation."  My eyes widened and I realized those parked RVs were actually CAMPED there.  Next to the sewer dump.  Where you set out your camp chair next to your rig and watch (and smell) people dumping their crap all day.  And where, from 9-5, you are serenaded by the jackhammer noise of the propane compressors.  Are you kidding?  With thousands of acres of free desert to park in THIS is where you'd make a RESERVATION at?  Wow.  Just Wow.  I *did* want to take pics of that, but I dunno, I felt odd as the guy in the class A was setting up his rig and it felt rude.   I mean, yeah, ok, boondocking isn't for everyone but that just boggled my mind.  I wouldn't have stayed there if it was free.  Here are some pics on the web.  Google Image Search

We also made a stop at Dollar General.  I had resolved to buy a teflon pan at the earliest opportunity as I was having a helluva time cooking on the propane stove in my rig.  Eggs were sticking like mad, I was burning stuff and my thin SS pan had actually warped a bit.  I found out later that the front burner was a high-output one which was part of the problem.  But in the meantime I picked up a set of 2 cheap teflon frying pans for $6.  I would give them to another camper the day I flew out but they helped me survive the week.  I also bought some awful cheap wine.  I can't believe there's not a real wine/beer/liquor store in Q, they would make a mint.

All in all, it was an enjoyable low-energy day.  I was having a hard time reconciling my "I ONLY HAVE A WEEK!!! I HAVE TO GO GO GO!!" mindset with the reality that I was enjoying the company, the weather and the experience and  I didn't HAVE to go anywhere.  I think that will be the biggest adjustment I'll have to make in retirement.  Learning to slow down a bit.  This was a good first lesson.  I kept saying every night, "I'm probably leaving tomorrow."  :-)

As you can see from this pic, last night's campsite put me a little closer to the crowd but I was still on the other side of the road. :-)

1/16/2014 5:58:33 PM

Rita had a campfire at her rig, which was parked much closer to the group.  We could see the rest of the Solos at their fire.  Carol joined us, she had arrived that afternoon driving a large spiffy Class A.  Nice rig!

1/16/2014 7:55:06 PM

Not the best pic of Rita.  I blame the cheap wine.  :-)

1/16/2014 7:55:32 PM

1/16/2014 7:56:38 PM

One problem with being closer to people're closer to people.  Earlier that afternoon a small MH pulled in pretty close to Rita & Carol and promptly fired up the jackhammer generator.  They ran it for a couple hours and they hoped that would be the end of it.  It wasn't.  It was probably around 8:30 or so that they got back to their rig & fired up the genny.  :-(  That pretty much put the kibosh on our campfire as it was loud enough to make pleasant conversation impossible.  Ah well.  Carol and Rita decided that if it went on for too long they might move out where I was in the morning.  I went back to my rig and basked in the silence.  :-)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Quartzsite Weds. 1/15/2014

I don't think I mentioned it before, but this was my first night of actual boondocking. (Though it's certainly beginners boondocking asit's so easy to access & so flat! :-)   I'd done Walmarts, Cracker Barrels, Casinos, etc. before but this was my first time being more off by myself.  While there's thousands of RV's at Q, there's still a lot of empty space.  I purposefully went pretty far from anyone as I wanted to see if I'd be anxious.  I'm not generally a fearful person, but new things are new things, and one never knows how one will react.  Turns out I slept like a baby.

My campsite in the morning

1/15/2014 11:05:34 AM

1/15/2014 11:06:49 AM

Making coffee in the Aeropress.  I love the Aeropress.  It's a simple thing and it just works.  I also have a Melitta Clever Dripper and a Bonavita Ceramic Dripper, neither of which I brought on this trip.  I'm unsure which I like better to be honest, they all make good coffee & clean up in a snap.

1/15/2014 11:24:24 AM

I was still jetlagged and tired from the day before and I had a hard time dragging myself off the couch.  But I had an email invite to join the Escapee Solos for Happy Hour & I wanted to explore downtown Quartzsite a bit.

An Escapee with a nice solar setup.

1/15/2014 1:52:17 PM

I like the design of the Born Free's...kinda wish I had that overcab storage.

1/15/2014 1:55:54 PM

Seen along the highway in Quartzsite..

1/15/2014 2:36:08 PM

My trip into town was kind of a bust....traffic was miserable and it was hard to see where I might park a 25' motorhome.  Lots of people were using ATVs.  I might have been more motivated to find a place to park if I wasn't so aware I was flying back and had room to bring back about 2 postcards and a pack of gum.  :-)

I got back to Plomosa Road and got my free BLM 14 day permit.  They had been closed last night when I got there.  I looked for the sign for the Solos which I had passed the night before.  I still parked kinda off by myself.  I guess I really am a Solo!!  :-)

Walking towards the Solos encampment

1/15/2014 4:14:10 PM

They were a nice group of folks and there were a LOT of them.  Over 60.  I did join their group.

Escapee's 'Solos' schedule of events at Quartzsite

1/15/2014 5:43:05 PM

Sat around for a while meeting new folks & drinking wine out my tin cup.  :-) This is living. :-)

Thought this guy was in trouble but apparently not.

1/15/2014 5:57:15 PM

Nice! Haven't seen a 2-seater version of these before...

1/15/2014 5:57:24 PM

As the Happy Hour was finally winding down, this amazing moonrise happened.  The rig belongs to one of the Christian BOF (Birds Of a Feather, special interest groups) Escapees.  The Christians were cooking breakfast for us Solos the next morning.  :-)

1/15/2014 7:00:37 PM

I rejoined the Solos later for some more wine around the campfire but didn't take any pictures.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Phoenix to Quartzsite Tues. 1/14/2014

I flew out of Dulles at 7am. When I got to the airport at 6, I was greeted by the dreaded advisory, "Due to winter weather in Chicago, your flight is subject to delay, diversion or cancellation."  Yay.  We got out of Dulles on time, though there were hints of the brewing storm.

The coming storm.

1/14/2014 7:51:39 AM

We *just* beat the snow! it was beginning to fall as we departed Midway. Woohoo!

Snow beginning to fall as we departed.

1/14/2014 9:18:33 AM

As we waited to disembark I noticed we had been carrying a lot of cargo.

Dell computers and medical samples...

1/14/2014 11:44:11 AM

Got the luggage....oh the luggage!...and caught a cab to Cruise America in Mesa. I had like 130 pounds of luggage since it's free to check two fifty pound bags on Southwest, plus 2 carry-ons. And I have a hard time spending $150 to rent household supplies I already have.  So I packed a sleeping bag, small throw, sheets, pillows, nesting camping cookware set, LED lantern, 250 watt inverter (thank god I had that, the rental had no inverter. Unreal....) aero press coffee maker, a folding stool/table, silverware, cup, corkscrew, bungee cords, command hooks, a portable backup camera, and some tools.  Oh, and a couple changes of clothes. :-)

My home for the next week...with the luggage.

1/14/2014 12:48:34 PM

Saw this sobering sight on the way out.
What NOT to do..

1/14/2014 2:14:55 PM

I had to get gas almost immediately as the tank was only 1/4 full which is annoying.  Last one was like that too.  Finding gas is NOT the first thing I like to do in an unfamiliar city with an unfamiliar rig.  And I then I hit <gag> Walmart. I like Target way better but it was too far off the route and I was in a hurry.  Last thing I wanted to do was get to Quartzsite after dark and be wandering around the desert trying to find a place to park without driving into a hole or over a cliff or something.

1/14/2014 2:33:14 PM

The drive to Quartzsite was torture.  There was such a cacophony of noise....squeaks, rattles, bangs and so on.  I fixed the worst one almost immediately upon leaving, the bathroom cabinet door wouldn't stay shut and banged away in 3/4 time. A bungee cord mitigated that.  Unfortunately another one soon presented itself as the dinette window vibrated open and began to rattle.  I pulled over once and closed it but the latch is broken so I had the same problem  15 miles later. I had such a headache by the time I got there. At least this one handled better than the last one I rented and didn't try to fling itself off the road at every opportunity. :-)

Arriving at Plomosa Rd in Quartzsite. Signs said Escapee Solos were to the left, Christians to the right. I kept going & parked pretty far from anyone. :-)

1/14/2014 5:33:03 PM

Me in my antisocial spot. :-) Watching the moon rise

1/14/2014 5:38:48 PM

Half-assed campfire. Jar candle on my folding butterfly stool/table. :-) I love 1803 Biscuits & Honey candles.....makes anywhere smell like home.

1/14/2014 7:00:23 PM

Orion with full moon

1/14/2014 8:18:37 PM

1/14/2014 8:24:05 PM

1/14/2014 8:27:02 PM

At this point I started getting chilly and headed inside.  It had been a long day.