Thursday, January 31, 2013

Where Does The Time Go?

Here we are at the end of January already.  Time flies; and it flies faster the older you get.  I have a theory that life is like a roll of toilet paper.  If you look at one square of toilet paper as a year of time, and compare the entire roll as your life; here is what happens.  If you take a few squares off of a new roll of toilet paper (childhood), the size of the roll looks pretty much the same.  So you keep using up squares; when you get to the middle of the roll (middle age), the use of a few squares is more noticeable.  When you get near the end of the roll (senior years), the use of squares really diminishes the roll until you get to the core; and run out of toilet paper.  Life seems to be like that.  I feel like I am getting closer to the core and the squares (years) go faster and faster.  Sometimes I wonder how many squares (years) are left in my roll.  That is a question most of us don’t know the answer to; fortunately.  Anyway, I digress.

I last wrote on Saturday.  On Sunday we found a small fellowship of our church of choice in town.  After the service, we found another walk along the Colorado River and took the dogs out for a stroll.  Later that evening I got a decent sunset photo.


We are settling in to the RV Resort lifestyle.  This week Rosie started going to pool exercise classes every morning at 9:00 am.  I entered the first of two available pool (billiards) tournaments this week and also bought in to the weekly Texas Holdum poker tournament.  In the billiards tournament, if you lose two games you are out.  I played 4 games.  On my last game, I got beat by the only “girl” in the tournament.  Poker was a little better, I came away with a few bucks more than I started with.  Yesterday evening we joined in the Wednesday pot luck at the recreation center.

On Tuesday we received an e-mail from my friend Jim Schrankel, who is still boondocking in Quartzite, letting us know of a Workcamping opportunity in Hood River, OR, at a County Park campground.  After some e-mail exchanges with the County contact, we filled out an application and mailed it off.  If we are accepted we will be Campground Hosts there from August 11th to October 25th. 

This is an important development in our ever evolving full time lifestyle.   We live on Social Security and whatever I can earn with part time self employment.  The income that we have enjoyed from my part time work in the past has diminished greatly over the last couple of years.  Part of that income is tied into the contracting industry, which is experiencing a serious downturn.  The other part of the income is affected because I have not been in geographic locations that lead to frequent work assignments.   This Workcamping job doesn’t pay wages, but we get a free full hookup site saving us camping fees for about two and a half months, plus we will not be burning up a lot of diesel pulling the camper around the country.  So a dollar saved is a dollar earned; sound familiar?  I will post more details on the Workcamping gig when, and if, we get a confirmation that we have been accepted.

Here are the end of the month full timing budget numbers for January:

Camping – $481.50 ($15.53 per night) Reflects 6 nights of free Boondocking.

Diesel Fuel when pulling – $144.00

Truck Service/Repairs – $0

RV  Repairs/Service – $0

Generator Gas/Propane - $92.13(all propane)

Satellite TV/Radio – $103

Campground Pet Fees – $36

Laundromat – $24

Total = $880.63

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Rainy Day In Yuma

Who knew that it rained in the desert southwest? I certainly didn’t.  Yet here we are with about 24 hours of a steady “drizzle” going on.  Not heavy, but steady.

So what else is happening in Yuma?  Yesterday Rosie went with some ladies to local swap meets and found a great deal on a pair of flip flops and some really fresh, sweet strawberries.  I stayed home with the pooches and caught up on my TV crime dramas on the ole DVR.  Last night we attended the Spaghetti Dinner with live music at the Rec Center.  Eight bucks for spaghetti with Italian sausage, salad, Texas toast and dessert.  It was pretty good.  All we had to do was provide our own beverages.

The highlight of the event was the band, Homemade Jam.  The band members are all residents of our little resort community and I don’t think any of them are less than 70 years of age.  They put on a good show and there was a lot of country dancing going on.


Today we are going to stay out of the rain except for a short trip to Wal-Mart for our weekly shopping.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Great Day!

We arose to a really neat sunrise on Wednesday.  I took this from the front step of our camper:


At 12:30 I went down to the Pool Room to observe the weekly Texas Holdum poker tournament.  A $5 buy in gets you in the game.  The bets are nickel, dime, quarter and half-dollar (my kind of bets).  You play until you lose all your $5 or win everyone else’s money.  Up to 6 players at one table.   Looks like something I want to try next week.

After that exciting event, we jumped in the truck to check out a hike along the Colorado River near the old Yuma Territorial Prison.  We all had a good walk.  Here are some pictures:

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The pooches got a good workout during our mile and a half or so walk.  After the walk we checked out Fry’s Foods, a local grocery chain.  This is a really big store with a huge deli/bakery, Sushi bar, Chinese food takeout, a very nice fresh produce section, an expansive meat case (with thick slice peppered bacon) and a nice selection of wine.  All of this is less than a mile from our site at the RV Resort.

Rosie and I kept noticing the almost constant noise from Emergency Vehicle sirens.  Today I mentioned that to someone I met at the Pool Room and he said that when the Snowbirds are here, the average age in Yuma is about 80 years old.  Basically this is heart attack central during the winter.  Every time I hear a siren I am grateful that they are not coming for me.

I was able to play billiards with others today and it was great.  Although I haven’t played very much in the last few years, it comes back (like riding a bicycle).  I won two out of three games.  Way cool!

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Day Trip to Quartzite

Well, we finally made it to the Big Q; Quartzite, Arizona for the January gathering and festivities:


Quartzite is 73 miles from our “Resort” here in Yuma.  A pleasant drive on a good road.  I don’t think I have ever seen so many motor homes and campers on one stretch of highway.  We arrived about 10:30 am and found a parking spot in about 15 minutes.  We walked over to the big tent, (think 3 circus size tents): and mingled with the crowd:


This is one end of the Big Tent.


Is Rosie looking a little overwhelmed?


Inside the Big Tent.


Outdoor Food Vendors


Checking out our downsizing options!


Vendor Humor

I picked up a couple of LED lights for a great price.  I had an Italian Sausage on a bun with potato fries and Rosie had a hot dog.  Then we shared a Pecan Praline Ice Cream Cone.  We even checked out some new fifth wheels.  They really look fancy and have some neat features, but we decided we were really comfortable in our Alpenlite.

Speaking of Alpenlites, after leaving the vendor area we looked up my Facebook friend and e-mail buddy, Jim Schrankel and his wife Linda.  Jim and Linda are full timers that also own a 1997 Alpenlite.  Theirs is slightly different than ours, but they have done a wonderful job of redecorating the interior.  I connected with Jim on RV-Net over a year ago and we have been writing back and forth ever since.  They were residents of Washington State before hitting the road.  It was so good to finally meet up. We chatted like old friends for over an hour before heading back south towards Yuma.  The boondocking possibilities around Quartzite look fantastic.  We will surely give it a try in the future.

On the way home, we checked out the Imperial Dam LTVA (Long Term Vehicle Access) area about 20 miles north of Yuma.  We were not impressed and crossed that off our list of possible places to boondock.

After a stop at the Post Office, we got back home.  This evening was Pool Tournament night at the Pool Hall and I went over to check out the proceedings.   Just went to observe this time; on Friday I will take my cue and sign up for the games.

We continue to enjoy our life here in Yuma.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Broken Promises :-(

OK!  I haven’t kept up with my commitment to write a blog every day.  I did not realize how difficult it is to write about your experiences every day, when you have days that are remarkably uneventful.  I really admire those that can do it, but I am obviously not getting it done.  So, my new commitment is to blog whenever there is something reasonably interesting to talk about.  I don’t know how often that will be, but hopefully several times a week.

Saturday (yesterday) was laundry day (real exciting), but we also got a tour of greater Yuma from our friends Brian & Teresa.  We were shown where all the major shopping stores are and some of the well known restaurants, like Famous Dave’s BBQ, (one of my favorites).

Today we went to Albertson’s to stock up on things that Wal-Mart does not carry, like fresh fish and my favorite bacon in the whole wide world.  Albertson’s has thick sliced and peppered bacon in the meat case that is to die for.  That would be my choice for a last meal. 

Later in the day, we ventured out to The Cocopah Casino, about 15 miles away and blew $15 each on various slot machines.  We took a chance and left the pooches in the camper for the 2.5 hours we were away.  The neighbors reported they did not hear them bark at all while we were gone until Sammy heard the sound of my diesel when we returned. 

Then it was time for Sunday night surf and turf; salmon for Rosie and Sirloin for me. 



Sunsets are starting to be pretty here in Yuma.  Our friends tell us they get spectacular as we get into the next month or so.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Life In A Yuma RV Park- Day One


Caravan Oasis RV Park has 550 sites, 2 outdoor swimming pools, 2 outdoor Jacuzzis, 2 dog runs, 2 laundry rooms, a doggy washing station, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, shuffleboard court, a pool hall, a meeting hall and a fitness center.  There is a mail center with a mail box for every site.   Many of the sites are occupied by “Park Models” like these shown below:

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A typical street has a mixture of Park Models and Motor Homes/Campers.  That is our site in the center of the picture:


I have to admit it is nice to have full amenities AND nice weather.  We have met several of the locals, who are all very friendly.  Our friends from Idaho Falls, Brian and Teresa Morris, took us on a walking tour of the amenities:

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Another great benefit; it is 2.8 miles to a Wal-Mart Supercenter.  It was stock up day for us.  We noticed right away that over half of the vehicles in the parking lot had Canadian license plates; another 30% were from northern US States (where it is really cold right now).  This Wal-Mart is laid out a lot like the one in Idaho Falls, so it felt pretty familiar.  The noticeable thing inside was the vast majority of the customers were senior citizens.  Not many young people or families.  You gotta wonder if it is pretty much empty in the summer.

Brian and Teresa came over for happy hour before Rosie and I had dinner.  After dinner, I headed over to the Main Hall to check out the Friday night Jam Session.  That was really interesting.  About 20 to 25 participants take chairs in a big circle, then take turns coming up to the microphones in the front to perform while everyone else accompanies the main performer.  There were men and women, singles and duos, guitar players, mandolin players and harmonica players.  All of them are residents of the Park and all appeared to be in their 70’s and 80’s.  For a gathering of mostly amateurs, they were quite good.   Some of them were certainly professional entertainers in their younger days.  The genre was 50’s country/western (not my favorite), but entertaining nevertheless.

We are really settling in to RV Park life here in Yuma.  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Tough Night and Moving On

Yesterday was uneventful from a sightseeing perspective.  I cleared out the basement of the camper so I could get in it to remove the panels to the working stuff; to get the information on my Converter to see if it was a single phase or a 3 phase.  It appears to be a single phase which explains why our batteries have been getting slowly worse over the last year.  Did some research on camper electrical systems and learned a lot.  The Internet is such a wonderful place.  As soon as the sun got low in the sky, the batteries tanked so I shut everything down and we went over and visited with our Canadian neighbors, a couple in their eighties that have been coming to this same spot for 12 years and spending 4 to 6 months boondocking in this same spot for free.

There was no blog last night because of our battery condition.  This morning at 5:00 am the low voltage alarm started beeping and that drives Sammy nuts.  I had to get up and turn the Battery Disconnect switch to OFF.  What a night!  I had already awakened at 3:00 am and could not go back to sleep.  It was warm all snuggled up with my sweetie, but the air was on the very cool side on top of the covers.  The low voltage alarm persuaded me to get up for the day.  I lit up our new Buddy Heater and turned on the flame under our percolator.  Took the pooches for nature walk and came back to have coffee with Rosie and watch the sun slowly creep over the mountains to the east.

Our batteries were so dead I had to hook up the power cable to the connector in the truck in order to get enough power to start the generator so there would be enough power to bring in the slides and adjust the stabilizers to get hitched up.  We were hitched and ready about 7:45.  Our neighbor from Canada came out to wish us safe travels.  Then we pointed the truck east towards Salton City.  There is an Arco station/truck stop at the intersection of 22 and 86 with 5 free RV dump stations.  During the dump process of the black tank, my hose came loose from the connector.   YUKKY!  Managed to close the valve before too much got on the pavement and then hosed it down.  After we finished dumping, I had the rig weighed on the truck scale ($10).  I haven’t done the final calculations, but it looks like we are still a little overweight.

About 3 hours later we slipped across the border into Arizona and Mountain Standard Time again.  We arrived at the Caravan Oasis RV Resort and were greeted by our friend Brian Morris, who had recommended this place for a winter respite and had hand picked our site.  This is a large resort with 550 sites.  Many of them have trailers that have been permanently set up to stay here year around.  Some of the trailers are “Park Models”, which are kinda like a mini-mobile home.  Many Canadians on site.  Our neighbor to the rear is a lady by the name of Rosemary and her husband.  After getting set up, we relaxed a little, then took a walk to check out a dog run, one of the pools, the laundry and the pool hall (billiards).

Grilled some chicken for dinner while consuming an adult beverage or two.  Checked e-mail and Facebook and wrote a blog.  It is good to be in civilization with full amenities again.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Day Trip and A Hike

I missed my first daily post since the New Year yesterday.  The excuse is that we had to take a long day trip to Indio and our battery power situation is getting really bad.  I was simply too tired to do the blog.

Our day trip to Indio was for the primary purpose of securing a source of heat for our little home.  It has been freezing at night and we have no power to run the heater fan in the camper.  So I did a little research for an indoor safe propane heater and found the little Buddy Mr. Heater.  The nearest place to purchase said heater was at the Wal-Mart in La Quinta (next door to Indio, CA) about 60 miles away.  So off we went to get some heat.  While we were in Indio, we had a nice lunch in a Chinese Restaurant.  We filled up with $3.99 diesel in Salton City on the way back home and scoped out a free dump station at the same time.  Here is our new heater with the camping coffee percolator next to it.  Boondocking with serious time limits on generator hours (10 am to 8 pm) changes your lifestyle.  The heater works great.


Upon arising this morning I put on the coffee and our new heater, then took the dogs for a morning nature call.  After breakfast, I went into the basement of the camper and opened the panels to reveal the innards of what makes this thing work.  The purpose was to take pictures of the converter and charger equipment so I could do a little research on their quality.  While I was there, I checked some wiring blocks and found a loose nut on a major connection of the battery system.  After tightening that and taking pictures, I buttoned everything up. 

After lunch, we drove to the local State Park Campground and paid a $7.00 day use fee to get access to the trail head for the Palm Canyon Trail.  We also got to take our trash to the campground dumpster.

The Palm Canyon Trail is 3.0 miles round trip from the trail head to a small desert oasis with a spring fed stream.  I was able to complete the journey since the grade change was not too strenuous.   We made the round trip in about 2 hours.  Here are some pictures from the trail:

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     Can you see the shark from Jaws?

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According to the trail guide, the CCC did the stone stairs in the 1930’s.

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                                                                                                 Rosie does not like log bridges.

Well the sun is going down and I will soon be out of power again.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Art And Batteries

Woke up to 28f in the desert this morning at 6 am.  It was 39f inside the camper. So exactly why did we have to pick boondocking dates during the California desert cold snap of 2013?  If this is Karma, I must have been a bad boy lately.  We learned yesterday the generator hours in the whole State Park are from 10 am to 8 pm.  Sooooo, last night I pulled out the ole coffee percolator and set up to make coffee the old fashioned way.  While I was doing the coffee on the stove, I turned on the other two burners and the oven (with the door open) to try to create a little heat is our casa.  After we got things warmed up to 49f we had breakfast.  The coffee wasn’t too awful for me, but I add enough creamer, sweetener and peppermint schnapps and it all starts to taste the same.  Rosie thought it was “OK” with the little teeny bit of half and half she adds.

We headed out about 10 am to find the rest of the metal art north of downtown Borrego Springs.  Rosie had a delightful time with the camera.  Here is some of her work:

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After lunch I spent the afternoon investigating the status of our 4 RV batteries.  I pulled them, two at a time, out of their nice little storage spaces, disconnected them, and lifted the battery caps.  Water level was good in all batteries.  I was using my little, bitty cheapy hydrometer when one of our Canadian neighbors came by and offered to lend me a real hydrometer, which I graciously accepted.  I also used my 3 phase battery charger on each battery to get it up to 95% capacity.  Final testing with the hydrometer showed one battery having consistently lower charge rating in all six cells, than all the other batteries.  So I left that battery disconnected, thinking it was possibly dragging down the charge on the other three batteries.  I put all the batteries back in their storage spaces and put away all the tools.  Then I pulled out the owners manuals for my solar panel and solar charge controller and refreshed my memory on those items.  So we will see how it goes tonight.  If the overall power drops back to the 50% range real quick with very little draw on the batteries, something is still wrong and I will have to continue to try to figure out where the problem is.

Now it is Vodka time before the sun goes down and Rosie’s wonderful roasted chicken and mashed potatoes hits my dinner plate.   Not sure when we are leaving here, but we are expected in Yuma on Thursday.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Highs And Lows

Today is a mixed bag. 

The lows are the fact that although my batteries “charge up” to 100% all day with the solar panel input, as soon as the sun goes down the battery level drops to 52% with no load and as soon as we turn on a light or recharge a laptop, it goes down to the 20% range.  Something is seriously amiss.  Tomorrow I will pull out all the batteries to check water levels and run a hydrometer on each cell.  It has to be one battery with a dead cell or something dragging down all 4 batteries.

That said, there were highs today.  We started off with a trip to the Visitor Center and picked up a lot of great information from the wonderful staff on duty.  From the visitor center we went to check out some of the “animal art” in the neighborhood.  It turns out an heir of the Avery Label company took a liking to this area and donated a lot of his wealth to improving the community.  He commissioned a metal artist from Temecula to create a large variety of animal art forms that are place in the area around town.  We visited half of them today.  Here are pictures taken by Rosie (if you double click on a picture it will come up in full size, hit the back arrow to return to the post):

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She insisted I include this cactus.

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More animal art to come tomorrow.

After lunch we headed out for a hike at a place called The Slot.  It is out in the badlands and the hike is through some very narrow canyons.  Here are some pictures:

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In addition finding more animal art tomorrow, we are planning a hike to an “oasis”.

Thanks for stopping by.