Because We Can - Fulltime RV'ing

Journal Archive 12/21 - 12/31 2006

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Dec 21

Another cold morning in Quartzsite, not so for the old silver fox here. "What's that dear", you say the term old silver fox should be used for a distinguished older gentleman with a full head of silver gray hair. You think I should just call myself "bald old Bob", or 'Bob' for short. Golly gee whiz and shades of Gomer Pyle, but doesn't that ex-hillgirl wife of mine have one sharp mind. This repartee was the result of what I thought was a clever way of preventing frostbite from occurring when I shaved this morning.

Bob ain't no dummy

Personally I thought it was a pretty ingenious way of having a hot shave, lol. Besides that, I was once again surprised to see just how quickly the inside of the coach heated up by using the furnace. But then again, it sure had gotten a little practice during the night at heating the coach. Seems like Linda's husband left the front furnace on when we went to bed last night. Linda was awakened twice by a strange noise and at 3:30 finally figured out it was the furnace. No wonder she was dead set against my using the old silver fox appellation. Of course since it took her that long to figure out what the noise was during the night, maybe dumb blond fits her, then that's just a thought, nothing that I would ever dare utter to her face.

Another good reason for keeping my mouth shut was that she was in the midst of fixing breakfast and if I wanted any of those scrambled eggs with sun dried tomatoes, spinach and cheese, I'd better keep quiet. By the way, I wonder what the percentage of people are who still haven't gone back to eating spinach? It's got to be the cleanest produce in the store now.

Food and light makes art

I know everyone's view of art is through their eyes only, but I have to say that the combination of color, light and shadow in this photo really appeals to me, and I might add the taste of the food sure did also. Before I move on to bigger and better things, there was one more obstacle last night I didn't put into the journal, the problems we had with the website. It was the first time in the year we have used InterXstream as our web host that we have had any problem with either the server or the email. It was late evening before we realized there was a problem and they had the problems fixed within minutes of when we discovered them. They have really been everything we could ask for in a web host.

Maybe it's just that I'm stalling as much in writing as I was getting started on the heater. Linda had arrived at the front of the coach this morning with a big smile on her face, claiming to have not been sleeping all that time, rather, she was thinking. Thinking of the best way to solve the problem of the heater hose. Her solution was to buy a 2 foot hose to get the added length, which would also have the correct ends to attach to the old hose and the shutoff valve at the quik connect. Then get the hose end replaced on the other hose with the correct fitting. I added, buy either a 1/2" plug or a short nipple to seal off the third side of the tee and the problem was solved.

Since she also needed to mail more Ebay packages, off she drove off while I dove into finishing up the daily journal. There was no line at the Post Office and The Pit Stop wasn't busy, so she returned before I finished writing, and she had even thrown in a stop at a craft shop to boot. She had everything I needed to finish her heater installation, plus some supplies so she could do some more beading.

Soon the compartment was propped open and I was checking to see how everything would fit. It looked like everything was a go, so I put the flare adapter in the tee, then the nipple and cap, all of which were tightened. The pipe dope was messy, but cleaned up easily, plus I got better at guessing the correct amount, the more I did. Now it was time to put the second nipple on and complete this part of the installation by adding this unit to the bottom of the valve. That was when I found out I wasn't as smart as I had thought. Sure I had held it all up to see if it would fit, but I hadn't checked to see if there was enough clearance to turn it so it could be tightened. The flared fitting adapter wouldn't clear the frame, so I had to take it back out, getting pipe dope all over everything in the process. Thank goodness Linda was inside while all this was going on, as I was definitely not the happiest of campers at the moment. Removing it did the trick however, and in short order it was all assembled just as it should be.

Open compartments

The solid area between the two open compartments, the one where the water heater is located, well that was where I had to install these fittings. I couldn't reach the area at all from the compartment on the left, instead I had to crawl into the right hand side compartment and work through a little 6x10 inch access door. Nothing is easy.

Nothing is easy

Here's a closeup taken through the left side compartment showing the fittings in place prior to putting the flare adapter back into the tee.

It's in there somewhere

The fellow at Camping World was correct, you can do it by yourself, it's just that it may be a little harder than you think. Then again, on another coach it might just be real simple. Would I do it again, you bet. Editor's comment - Only if you provided his assistant with earplugs.

Jumped ahead of myself a little bit there because we still had to fish the hose up through the floor and make all the interior connections. We put some duct tape over the end of the hose and with a little bit of pushing, the mass of existing cables, wires and hoses moved just enough to provide the opening I needed to snake the hose up and into the upper access compartment. The only problem was it came up in the wrong place, but a little pushing and reorienting and it was soon right where we wanted it. Of course the fact that by now I was used to working in small confined spaces, where you had to twist like a pretzel to reach anything, all without being able to see what you were doing, may have went a long ways to making it seem easy.

We finished making all the connections upstairs, then connected the hose to the tee assembly, completing the installation.


That left one final step, the most important one, testing for any propane leaks. No one is more safety conscience than Linda, so she was the perfect person to be our official leak detector. Soapy water, a lot of dabbing, a lot more close examination with no leaks found, a second test, again with no leaks. A recheck to make sure every place on every connection was leak free and it was time for the final chapter in our heater saga. After opening the roof air vent per the instructions, we fired it up. It worked perfectly, meaning Linda was one happy girl.

Final test

The job finished, we turned off the heater, went outside to put away the tools and repack the compartments before we went on the daily trash run when a truck drove up and an elderly man got out. Linda thought maybe it was the Ranger, I wasn't sure who it was. Turned out Floyd was from the Quartzsite Southern Baptist Church (there was much emphasis placed on the word "Southern") and was letting the winter visitors know that their church was a welcome place. We had a nice chat and he left to visit the next RV. We decided, why not go, after all we do go to church on Christmas Eve and we got an invite to this one. After this pleasant interlude, we finally left on the trash run. Some people go in the morning, using the walk to warm up, others like Linda only venture out when the weather is nice. I like Linda's way most of the time myself, but today it was almost too hot out in the sun, yet the forecasted high for the day was only 56º. After reaching the dumpsters we decided that with the warm weather, why not take a walk, plus Linda wanted to make sure she got in her 10,000 steps.

Dumpster diver

Then it was off towards the south and the wide open spaces.

Not much in sight

Of course, wherever you go around these parts (that's southwest desert lingo I think), there is a dry wash. This was a pretty spot so the glamorous model I use in most of my photo's shivered in the shade while the photographer tried to compose the perfect grouping of wilds, wash and woman. (I'd have been in real trouble if my fingers had slipped and typed washed up, wild woman.)

wash woman

Back at the coach we remembered to take a photo of the thermometer in the heat of the day. Like we pointed out yesterday, when the sun is out, it does warm up.

Final test

Linda did have one last thing she wanted to do and that was look at a tree. In the wash behind us is a dead tree, that with the low angle of the sun stood out in stark contrast from the green around it. Later she got the camera and took a few black and white photos

Beauty in nature

Today may have been the shortest day of the year, but it had every moment packed with the wonder of life. What more could we ask for?

Dec 22

Last night we debated whether to put the galley slide in or not. The decision was to leave it out and see what happens. This morning I woke up to the answer, which was that we should have put the slide in.

It's cold everywhere

Normally it is at least 15º to 20º's warmer in the coach than outside when we get up in the morning, obviously that was not the case this morning. There was one difference though, with the new heater it didn't take long to quietly warm things up. When I sit at the computer and the furnace comes on, I can feel the warm air blowing out at me. With the heater aimed in my direction I was toasty in no time. Usually I have to have more clothes on even with the furnace, not so with the Olympian Wave 6. It is no wonder that so many of the fulltimers we have talked to use this heater. It looks like we did good.

Some things change and some things remain the same. We heat every morning, but now we do it a different way. Then again, you could look out our front window and see the same thing as every morning, yet a little different. The march of the little white bags with maybe a black bag thrown in. I wonder what yarns are being spun during this walk to the dumpster.

Dumpster run

It turned out that the dumpster run was not the only place that people were having shoe problems this morning. Turning around, this was the sight that met my eyes.

One hot lady

There is more to this picture than meets the eye. Look at the placement of those shoes directly in front of the heater. Their orientation is such that the opening is towards the heater to maximize the warming effect. The placement of the socks are perpendicular to the shoes, meaning the heating effect is maximized for them also. Lastly look at the placement of those feet. The heater has warmed the tile to the point where it is too hot for Linda to stand on barefooted, hence the heels of her feet were placed on the rug and the body weight was shifted onto them, lifting the toes off the hot tile, yet allowing them to be warmed by the heater. Is that one smart woman or what.

Hot footin' it

After finishing the daily journal and posting it, we walked uptown to do some shopping, shopping as in Christmas shopping. Never let it be said that I put off getting something for Linda until the day before Christmas, by going today, I'm downright early this year. Out route took us past the site of the 'Big tent', an area that will be bustling with activity in a month. Today it was just an empty lot.

Empty lot

One thing that caught our eye when we were here in January was the way they decorated the water tanks. Then it was hard to a good photo of them, now it was easy.

Now that's a water tank

The shopping trip was quite fruitful. Our first stop was at a kitchenware tent where Linda browsed and showed me several items she would like. Then after she left, I bought them for her Christmas presents, plus another one she hadn't shown me so she would have one surprise gift. Then it was off to the next vendor which specialized in RV supplies, but mostly tools. It was there she found the other thing she wanted for Christmas, a special hummingbird feeder. It was one of those things that are meant to be because who would have thought we would find precisely what she has been trying to find for the longest time, and at a tool vendor of all places. (Photo's to follow after Christmas morning, otherwise it won't be a surprise for her.)

Walking back to the coach we came across this sign which Linda just had to take a photo of. That's the one about the flooding, not the one about the no parking. Now she's wondering what happens when it rains, after all our coach is backed up to a wash and if you go up the road to where you can see that first RV and then make a 90º turn, you would eventually walk smack dab into our site. Guess that means we 'could' have high water, but then again, we 'could' also have a blizzard.

But we're in the middle of the desert

When we reached that point where I said to turn 90º's we took a telephoto shot of the coach. Just like it says on the right hand mirror; caution, RV's appear to be closer to the road and closer together than they actually are. (or something similar to that)

The one just left of center, that's us

When we returned to the coach, Linda caught me struggling with my nemesis, the far to complicated watch I wear. I can never remember how to change time zones and when I get the the half inch thick booklet of directions out, I still manage to screw it up some how or other. This time I had it set to the right time zone, but somehow or other I had the daylight savings setting on, sigh. For being so smart at some things I am a real blond ditz head when it comes to that watch. I actually was a tow head as a kid, but seem to have lost much of it along the way, both the color and the hair.

Blasted time zones

Having returned to the coach, we ate our peanuts, then decided to drive into town and check out the grocery stores to see if anything caught our eye that we could cook for Christmas dinner. We were planning on having Tri-tip, but who knows, maybe there would be something else that we would like better. Off we drove, and drove , and drove. Right past all the stores we drove, finally turning around and heading back west on East Main St. We knew we were on the right street, we'd just gone too far. Between the 'General Store' and the 'Market' we found small, hard, avocados on sale, 2 for a dollar, but that was all. Eventually we ended up at the produce market across form the Post Office, which Linda pronounced as the place where we will buy our produce this year. Boy, do we miss Lamm's. While we were there the strangest vehicle drove up. It was about the size of the front half of the Explorer and looked like it could go across the continent of a tankful of whatever it ran on. I was intrigued by the fact the owner left the engine running and the headlights on while he was shopping. It was was so small, maybe that was the only way he could tell where it was when he came out to the parking lot.

Where's the rest of it

Dinner was turkey burgers, then we watched Monk. It was a special show that was broadcast first in black and white, then the exact same show was broadcast in color. If you wanted, you could vote for which one was more Monkish. Even though they were the exact same show, they came across as being different, and we found the color version being funnier, i.e., more Monkish, while the black and white version was more eery and suspenseful, more like an old black and white Bogart type of movie. (We actually liked the black and white version better) It made for a fun evening and the warm raspberry milk with zucchini chocolate chip cake ended it on just the right note.

Dec 23

This morning was one of those Chamber of Commerce days, a gorgeous sunrise with nary a cloud in the sky, the sun's warmth pouring in through the windows heating the coach along with the Wave 6 which was pointed directly at me as I typed away. It not only got my creative juices flowing, it also got my appetite up and in gear. There was only one resolution and it wasn't to arouse the grizzly bear laying back in that warm cozy bed sawing logs. Within short oder, there was hot water on the stove to make a cup of steaming cocoa, plus eggs, whole wheat bread slices, nonfat milk, whole wheat flour, ground cinnamon, ground cloves and fresh grated nutmeg on the counter. A little mixing, then dipping, before placing in the skillet and voilà, a meal fit for a queen.

What with all the kitchen noise and enticing fragrances in the air, it didn't take her Royal Highness long to make her usual smiling appearance. I wasn't sure how much French Toast she would want because she is not a big bread eater, but this must have been as good as I thought it was, since she took seconds. I believe my culinary endeavors resulted in what is known as, starting off on the right foot.

As soon as breakfast was over and the dishes put in the sink, it was off to the hardware store. One of our boonbocking changes we make is to postpone doing dishes until after dinner. We figure this uses less water, plus we have fewer times we need to heat water. We don't use the water heater, just heat some water on the stove. Those thirty-five years of tent camping sometimes come in handy. Sure we could heat the coach with the furnace and use the water heater, basically living just as we do when we have hookups, but that's just not how we approach life. We didn't arrive where we are today, able to simply quit our jobs and live off what we saved, by spending every cent we earned, buying everything that caught our eye with no thought about tomorrow and it's not something we can or care to change. I would never criticize those who do, it's their life to live their way, but by the same token I have no desire to emulate them either.

Our first stop was going to be Herb's Hardware, north of town near the Pit Stop. We had been clued into Herb's by an email from a reader who said they would probably have the feet for the Wave heater. Talk about a surprise, this was one of those old fashioned hardware stores that have everything. Well almost everything. Unfortunately they didn't have the feet we were looking for, but they did have a fellow working there who told us exactly where we could find them, because his second job was working two days a week at the other store. It was RV Lifestyles on Dome Rock Road just west of Love's Truck stop. We was right, it was a family run operation with a huge selection, great prices and very helpful customer service. They had just what we needed, then on the way out of the store it got even better.

In a rack by the door was the Desert messenger, the free local paper that lists all the activities around town, the one we had been looking for since we arrived. It looks like there are a number of concerts we will be going to after the first of the year. Back at the coach we attached the feet to the heater, then tackled the case of the airless bicycle tires. Or maybe it would be better to say that Bob got all the exercise he needed and more, pumping up all four bicycle tires. By the look on his face, what started out as an exercise in exercise, ended up being much pain with little gain, but at least the job was done.

Hard at work

The tires had the range of tire pressure stamped in the sidewall, 40 to 65 psi. My pumping endeavors listed from the first tire to the fourth tire in order were as follows: 52 psi, 46, psi, 42 psi and 36 psi. I believe that is what is know as running out of gas. Linda took off on a test ride while I tried to recover, then joined her on an aimless ride as we strove to locate our sea legs, or maybe I should say our desert legs. It wasn't long before Linda and I were blood brothers in pain, mine being arm pain, hers being leg pain. That ended our bicycle adventures for the day.

Looking for something a little more sedate, we retired to the coach and engaged in something we had talked about for a long time, but had never actually done. We decide to learn how to play Cribbage. I can remember my Dad referring to a Cribbage board at home as "grandpa's". Everybody is gone now and I'm not sure where the board might be, it sounds like my grandfather was once a player so maybe there is a little cribbage blood in me. Talk about getting blood from a turnip, it didn't seem to matter how many times we read Hoyle, most of the nuances of the game went right over our heads. we ended up playing the Bob & Linda dumbed down version, which was a lot of fun for the clueless two.

Now what?

According to what we read, Cribbage is a game where the points accumulate so quickly that a special cribbage board is used to keep score as paper and pencil are too slow. Not so when the dynamic duo do cribbage. It took us almost two hours to play one game and that was with Bob & Linda rules to boot. it was almost 3:30 before it was mercifully over. As far as winner and losers, lets just say that we both had a good time and it will be Linda's turn to finish first next time. It was so nice with the sun out and the wind barely blowing, that we were soon outside in our chairs reading, which at 4:00 changed to reading and eating peanuts.

good times

The sun had just disappear over the mountains when Linda suggested we go for a walk. I had started the day with over exercising my arm, then my brain, how better to end it than walking my legs off. Some days, the "Life of Riley" this life ain't. Off we went, over hill, over dale, we did hit the dusty trail as we hikers went rolling along. We headed south for a ways, then decided to turn west, crossed US-95 and explored some more of the LTVA across the road. That was when the urge to climb the mountain took over. Out our front window we can see what is known as Quartzsite Mountain, which has a big "Q" on it in white rocks and the American flag flying from the top. Makes it kind of hard to miss. Linda had, earlier today, proposed that on Christmas day for something different, we should climb to the top of Quartzsite Mountain. We weren't sure where the trail to the top started, but now was our chance to find out.

At first there were RV's scattered around as we walked across the gravel, but then we were heading overland and came upon the steep bank of a very large wash. Down and across it we went, coming out on the other side on an ATV trail, which we followed for some distance as it wound around the terrain, but took us ever closer to the base of the mountain. At last we came out in a slightly elevated open area and could clearly see our goal. Just to the left of it was a smaller hill that had mine ruins starting near the top and extending down the side. It was now dusk, but we climbed up to the mine site and looked around. It was amazing how far you could see and in the dimming light I took a telephoto picture in the direction of the coach.

La Posa North

Linda was concerned we might have trouble finding our way back, but we just aimed towards the line of shiny, tall, electric towers and arrived back with no problem. After returning we light the string of Christmas lights in the coach and left all the shades open. Standing outside it made for a beautiful display of holiday cheer. Unfortunately it was too dark by this time to get a photo, I should know because I got the tripod out and certainly tried, they were that pretty./p>

Instead of watching a Christmas movie on TV, we listened to Christmas carols on the radio and talked to our daughter on the phone, during which time Linda was busy making chocolate chip Christmas cookies.

Holiday treats

I had to laugh when I was cropping and resizing this picture to put it in the journal. You can barely see it, but down in the lower right corner of the photo is a glimpse of a very well licked beater. Sometimes I don't know if what Linda enjoys is baking, or if it is just the opportunity to lick off the cookie dough from everything. This is after all, a woman who has been known to eat an entire bowl of cookie dough before any of it ever got onto the cookie sheet.

The evening ended with the Wave heater keeping us toasty warm, carols playing on the radio, the colored lights shining in the coach while we sipped a glass of port with chocolate. It gave us a peaceful easy feeling with which to end another day in the desert. As we headed back to bed, I was thinking of the what a fellow desert dweller had said who stopped by as I was struggling to pump up the bicycle tires this morning. He was from the Yukon, way up in Canada next to Alaska, where he and his wife live in cabin by a lake during the summer. They had their first snow on September 28th and the next day, closed down the cabin and headed towards their winter quarters, which was here in Quartzsite, in their motorhome. What he said was, they had been doing this for ten years and had loved every minute of it, even the ones where everything went wrong. He had done what we did, walked away from work to enjoy life. It's truly a peaceful easy feeling.

Merry Christmas

Dec 24

Another Chamber of Commerce morning ushered in Christmas Eve day. This promised to be a laid back day for us, not much on tap but things that we want to do. Well, I do have to wrap Linda's Christmas presents, but since it is only once a year, I think can handle it. Breakfast was eaten as the daily journal was uploaded, then it was off to church. Not any church, the Quartzsite Southern Baptist Church.

We found it without a problem, there were quite a few cars in the lot and it was only about five minutes until the service started. Of course, as is usually the case with small churches, we didn't get in the door before we were asked if we were visiting we said, "Yes, but it was because we had been visited ourselves by a gentleman I thought was named Floyd, who had asked us to consider coming to this church." I took the look and comment we received, "Yes it probably was Floyd, that's him right over there", to mean Floyd had a special mission in life.

The last Southern Baptist Church we had attended had been Pleasant Gardens Baptist near Marion, North Carolina and that was back in April. We quickly learned one thing, all Southern Baptist's seem to talk with the same accent. We enjoyed the service, the songs were all Christmas carols and the visiting preacher was one of those special people you run across every once in while. Someone who not only loves what they do, but also does it very, very well. I did note that 95% of the worshipers were of retirement age or older which made Linda feel like one of the youngest adults there.

Back at the coach, Linda amazed me by fixing turkey wraps even though we'd eaten breakfast just before leaving to go to church, then laying down for a rest. I sensed that she probably wasn't feeling well and later found out that was the case. Trying to give her some quiet time, I went outside and took a photo of the mine we walked up to last evening. Later I discovered that by magnifying the image and cropping it, that the far away could be made to appear near. It seems like I'm continually learning something new, a trait I truly hope I never grow to old to appreciate.

abandoned mine

Just to the left of the mine is the hill we plan on climbing Christmas Day. Somehow or other I think we will know which hill to head towards.

Quartzsite Mountain

When I came back inside the coach Linda was in the midst of a Love-in, just like back in the 60's except now, the 60's are where she will be in few years. A birth had occurred in the family and she was the proud momma of quadruplets. Four of the five Tiny Tim tomato seeds she had planted 11 days ago had germinated and she was ever so gently pulling the seed caps off the tiny green leaves.

Love me tender

Watching her finish her tender ministrations and place the plastic wrap over the peat pot creating the perfect tiny greenhouse, I couldn't help but think of a song to which only Elvis could impart full meaning.

Love me tender, love me true
All my dreams fulfill
For my darling, I love you
And I always will

I recalled how just last evening as she was tucking them away for the night, she demonstrated the just how she wraps them in a chicken decorated dish towel every night, then sets them on top of the under counter light that remains on until the next morning. The wrapping of the towel had to be done just so, in order to keep the seeds at just the right temperature. How she ever knew to it this way is for other than this mere mortal man to divine. The hardest part of all is yet to come, for in several weeks she will have to thin the pot down to a single plant. Maybe this year I will suggest she keep two plants for a while.

I then returned to a project I have been working on for several days. You saw the results when you logged on to the daily journal and saw the Merry Christmas greeting at the top of the page. I have been collecting small pieces of quartz rock and using them to spell out Merry Christmas on the ground in front of the coach. To give you an idea of how big the letters are, here is a photo of me working on it.

A special time

It has been a real labor of love. When I started I had no idea where it would go, it just sort of happened. It was simply going to be my gift to you who read our journal and so, share our life. As always with a gift, it gave even more to the giver than to the recipient. It was a chance to return to simpler time, a time without the demands of the Christmas season, a time when I realized for the first moment in ages, exactly what it meant to be fully relaxed. In some small way it may have been meant to give rebirth to me, to refresh and renew my spirit and outlook on Life. For a few precious moments I was a kid again. May you also have the same blessings at this special time of the year.

Merry Christmas

Later, in the afternoon we sat out in the warm sun, reading. Linda was enjoying "O rugged Land of Gold" while I relished Swift's description of the land of the Houyhnhnms and Yahoos in the fourth voyage of Gulliver's Travels. It seems like there is never enough time in the day, but sometime I would like to put up a page on the website where I can talk about some of the wonderful pieces of literature I have had the privilege to able to read and enjoy this past year. I would never have believed I could have laughed as much as I did while reading an English translation of a French play written in verse in 1664. Great literature is just that, great, and it simply doesn't matter where or when it was written. As I previously mentioned, blessing have abounded this year for Linda and I. As we read we were blessed in yet another way, as the first dove came to feed on the seeds we had spread beneath the feeder.

Holiday treat

After sundown we continued a tradition we have maintained for many, many years, lighting the front of our house with luminaries.


It was a special moment for us as we could see other RV's in the distance with their own luminary display. Walking around to the side of the coach I couldn't help but take a photo of the luminaries and the flag. We are so fortunate to have the freedoms we enjoy in the United States. My heart goes out to those living in countries racked with civil or religious strife where death and despair are part of everyday life. May we all do some little thing to make the world a better place for all mankind, because we are all one and the same, the difference being the circumstances we find ourselves in. Our Christmas wish, Peace for all Peoples of the Earth.

Peace unto all the world

Give Linda a glimmer of fire and the "pyro' genes pop to the fore. It wasn't long before she had a fire blazing in the cool desert night air. I can truly say that we have never spent a Christmas Eve this way, but we hope there will be many more in our future. Life is good.

Happy woman

Earlier in the day we had talked about making another of our traditional foods for Christmas, a cream cheese braid, but we didn't have the necessary ingredients so an alternative was in order. Linda commented she had apples so if I could find a recipe, we could make muffins. Off I went, on an Internet search and in short order had what looked like the beginnings of exactly what she was looking for. A little change here and there and she was ready to start baking. The results were beyond all expectations. The only problem is, we have to wait until tomorrow to eat them.

Magnificent muffins

We finished the day by watching a Christmas movie and munching on zucchini chocolate chip cake for desert. Then it was off to bed to give Santa Claus time to bring our presents.

Dec 25

I must have gotten up earlier this morning than I realized, because upon entering the living area I could tell Santa Claus had not yet visited our house on wheels. When you think about it it, trying to keep up with the location of all the people who live in their RV's has got to be a difficult task for Santa, to say the least. It is a testament to his remarkable powers of prestidigitation that he always manages to get the presents delivered to each and every person, where ever they are.


Not long after I got up, Santa's helper made his delivery and Linda's presents were setting on the counter under our angel ornaments, the place we had designated as our "tree". I was working on the daily journal, enjoying a mug of hot cocoa when Linda made her appearance, which was much earlier than has been her desert norm. Perhaps she had heard the clop of reindeer hooves on the coach when Santa was delivering her presents. Whatever the reason, it wasn't long until a second delivery had been made and my presents were also on the counter. Then almost by magic the presents from our grandchildren also appeared, seeming to fly from a white box to take their place beneath the angels wings.

More presents

Not wanting to rush the day, Linda got out her tomato seedlings to put them in the sun. They are so small and delicate that is hard to believe that in about three months we should be eating sweet, delicious, red, ripe, marble sized tomatoes. But on this day they look like yellowish green sprouts that more closely resemble alfalfa sprouts that tomato seedlings.

Tomato sprouts

Our annual Christmas breakfast includes among other things, an egg casserole that we have eaten every Christmas morning for over 20 years. The reason was simple, besides tasting great it is one of those meals you prepare the day before, refrigerate, then bake and serve in the morning. I think the latter may have appealed to Linda even more than the former. Unfortunately some things are just not to be and that was the case with the casserole, or maybe I should say it was, but wasn't what we expected. Seems like Linda neglected to make the needed adjustments for the convection oven, so it was a tad browner on top than we were used to seeing.

That, however was not the whole story. In order to use the oven, the generator needs to be running. All went well until we turned on both the front and rear heat pumps. Suddenly we lost all power, which was when Linda discovered the over cooked egg casserole. She was sure it was way under cooked when she took it out, but the opposite was the case. The electric control panel was saying we were in a low voltage situation which didn't make any sense. About 20 minutes later it reset itself and all was well. If it hadn't kicked off we would have had a burnt casserole. As it was, we had very well done casserole. It is just like Linda is always saying, "Things happen for a reason."

It was while we were contemplating the situation described above that something caught our eye. It may be Christmas morning, but the trash run still needs to be made.

Early morning walk

There was something different this morning, could you tell what it was?

Santa and his helpers

Guess we finally found out what Santa does with all the pieces of wrapping paper and ribbon he trims off when all those presents are wrapped. After all the presents are delivered, he and his helpers make a dumpster run.

After all this excitement, it was time to eat apple muffins and egg casserole. Just like what has happened for the past 39 years, the kid in the family was more excited about opening presents than eating, but at least she didn't take the plate away before I finished. There was no doubt about who was going to hand out the presents, the little girl at heart who always does. Our grandchildren were probably wondering how to hand out the presents this year without grandma right in the middle helping them. I also marvel at how she always picked the spots to put the presents. Whatever the biggest open space was, she claimed for "her spot", everybody else was on their own. This morning she claimed the couch. It took some effort on my part, but I was finally able to convince her that if she took one end of the couch and I took the other, then if we placed the joint presents in the center, there would still be room for all her presents. I think you call that mollified but not placated.

Happy girl

If you look carefully you can see the "ours" pile is actually nestled right next her, while "Bob's" pile is down at the other end of the couch. Is it any wonder that after almost 40 years I am still head over heels in love with this girl. Santa did good and we got things we could use and not take up much space. Our daughter had gotten Linda several books, so I was quickly buried in one of them. She has a knack for finding 'just the right book'. I can spend hours and hours searching for what she can find in minutes. Linda summed it up best when she said, "Looks like I have a lot of reading to do", then looking up at me, added "and it looks like you've already started." The joy an unexpected present can bring.

It was such a beautiful day that we ended up spending most of it outside. Sometime ago Linda's sister had found a book that described the desert plants of the southwest. I had made it one of my regular bedtime books over the past few months in order to familiarize myself with as many plants as I could. Today we got it out and tried to identify some of the vegetation in our 'yard'. It wasn't long before the erstwhile and earnest, beautiful botanist in the family had her nose buried in the book. We got the easy ones, creosote bush, mesquite and Palo Verde, but then we hit a brick wall. Not to worry, because the way we live, there is always tomorrow.

Looking at a book on desert plants

Life cannot be all work and no play, so I made guacamole and we sat out in the desert sun on Christmas day, reading and eating. Note: This is the requisite photograph for those relatives of ours who might be in snow country on this day.

All those years of work and saving were worth it

The afternoon was a delight, sitting out in the sun, reading and relaxing. We had planned on climbing to the top of Quartzsite Mountain today, but it was just too relaxing sitting in our chairs, doing nothing. We decided mountain climbing could wait until another day, so we tentative set the departure date as tomorrow morning, but it is subject to further revision. What we did do was prepare the Tri-tip for grilling by patting the salt, pepper and garlic powder rub on it. Last time we grilled it immediately after putting the rub on, and the crust was quite salty. Maybe allowing it to rest awhile before grilling will mute the saltiness. Later we were proven right and the Tri-tip, served with petite green beans topped with sliced toasted almonds and "South Beach" mash potatoes with a dash of meat juices, was even better than we hoped it would be.

Great meal

In the evening we once again lighted the luminaries, took a walk under the starry canopy of the nighttime desert sky, talked to our kids and reflected on the day. It was then that we realized just how special this life we have been privileged to live this past year has really been. It was Christmas Day today, but other than the wrapped presents, it was just like every other day that we now live. Some might look at it and say it's a shame that Christmas was nothing special, that it was just like every other day. That's not how we look at it however. To us it meant the everyday was just like Christmas Day. Christmas 365 days a year, not what we dreamed this life would be like, far, far better than we dreamed this life would be. We realize we are so fortunate to be able to live this life and it is our fondest wish on this Christmas Day that your life also, may be even more than the life of your dreams.

Dec 26

Some day's we just don't get started and this was one of those days. The rest of the world may have been off to work or off to buy the after Christmas bargains, but for the less than dynamic duo, it was a morning to sleep in for Linda and much ado about nothing for Bob. Breakfast at 10AM, get dressed around noon, like we said yesterday, everyday is Christmas Day for us. We did post the daily journal and Linda managed to get a few emails answered, but all in all, we were just two lazy bums this morning, a way of living so out of character for the way we lived all those years, that I almost have to believe that all this RV living thing is really real.

We had an apple muffin with our scrambled eggs this morning and I was overheard saying to Linda, that I believe the muffins were better than the Huckleberry scones. In some circles that would be considered blasphemy, but this morning it elicited a, "I think you're right." If that isn't saying a lot, I don't know what is. One thing for sure, when you don't do anything before noon, breakfast and lunch seem to be one continuous meal.

We broke it up a little as I managed to open the battery compartment door and begin the battery maintenance before she brought lunch out. After turkey wraps and tofu in soy sauce, it was time to do some work. Once a month I check the batteries and add water if needed. Today was going to be more than just the normal routine maintenance session, it was going to be akin to a tear down and rebuild. The plan was to remove the cables and clean them and also the terminals. It is just that when you have four house batteries and two chassis batteries it is not a simple swipe and wipe type of thing. Besides we had been through some bad weather plus the dust of Quartzsite, so there was also a lot of just plain grime all over everything.

Cleaning the batteries

You can see the corrosion which was present on the battery terminals from the greenish powder around the terminal about six inches below my left hand. I was forewarned and hence forearmed, what with clean rags, brass brush, battery terminal brush, corrosion cleaner and corrosion preventive paste. Watching me, Linda realized a spray bottle full of clean water would also help, so soon I was as prepared as The President prior to a news conference.

The method of attack was straight forward and designed to minimize any shade tree mechanic screw ups. It is a testimony to the planning that went into this endeavor that the lights actually came on when Linda flipped the switch after we were done. You didn't think I'd be the one to test it did you? What if there had been a bright flash or a loud boom, then whose fault would it have been. Sometimes I'm not as dumb. And since our method was for Linda to watch and me to work, that meant she had overseen every step we took and so was the one responsible for it being done correctly.

The actual method of cleaning was to only disconnect the cables leading to one battery at a time. Then throughly clean the posts and terminals, apply anti corrosion and reinstall the cables exactly as they were originally. From the green tint of the cleaning solution you can see we removed more than just a little corrosion.

Removing corrosion

It took quite a while to clean everything up, but when it was done we both felt much better. After putting away all the tools and cleaners, we nailed down our fake grass and sat out in the side yard, with both of us finishing the books we had been reading. Linda's next book will be: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, while I plan to plunge into Voltaire's Candide which I haven't read for at least 20 years. Remember, great literature never goes out of style and it never grows old, thus I get to enjoy one of the great pleasures of my life. I still remember the first time I read it when I was 16 or 17 and the feelings I got from those words. Will they strike me the same way today, or will the years color the words with meanings other than what a teenage old boy saw in them. Some would see a waste of time in contemplating such things, I see the threads of life, things that helped make each of us who we are today.

Relaxing after work

As we sat reading the dinner bell rang. For us it was 4 o'clock alarm, the one that sounds everyday and reminds us that we used to have yet another hour of work before we could go home to eat, sleep and do it all over again. Now it also tells us it is time for our peanuts. As we munched on unsalted, roasted goobers, the birds came to feast at the feeders. We had put the finch feeder up and stocked it with Niger thistle, and the finches had found it almost immediately. Now it was time for the sparrows and doves to also look for food. Soon one finch set up residence on the old feeder and wouldn't permit anyone else to approach. His red coloring was much brighter than any of the the other finches, so we concluded intensity of coloration must have something to do with the establishment of the pecking order.

One nasty finch

Continuing the theme of coloration, when I went outside later to start the grill, the sky was putting on one of those spectacular shows that say take a photo.


I tried once again to make a panorama photo, its 1174 x 150 but only 27.4 KB in size. If you'd like to see it, click here.

Dinner was grilled shrimp, couscous and butternut squash, then Linda tried to straighten out a problem with our Verizon billing while I worked on the website, tweaking a few things here and there that have have been bugging me. Then it was power failure time once again. Linda had been checking on the generator, it was supposed to start automatically when the battery voltage got down to 11 volts, but it hadn't come on. Her analysis of what was happening was apparently correct, it looked like it had reset to the disabled setting when we disconnected the batteries to work on them. I changed the setting, the generator still did not start so I started it manually. Ran for a bit, loud click and all the AC circuits went out. Checked the monitor and it was showing the same low battery condition as yesterday. Going to have to call Monaco tomorrow and find out what the problem is and what needs to be done to fix it. It was a blessing yesterday when it happened, tonight it is mere an inconvenience, but at this rate we worry about what the next time will mean.

Used the laptop on battery power to finish the journal, then we both spent some quiet time reading in the warmth of the Wave heater, though I did have to take my shirt off, it was so warm in the coach. 75º's is just to darn hot at night. In the morning it's another story, but I like it downright cold at night. Maybe it comes from growing up in house that had a coal furnace that went out every night so that by morning it was oftentimes in the low 40's and upper 30's. I guess that makes me a child of my upbringing. Linda had it a little better than I did. Her house had a gas furnace, so it stayed on all night, it was just that it was a floor furnace, so there was no heat in the upstairs where her bedroom was. Today we live in the lap of luxury, if all those darn electronic gizmo's would just work.

We finished the day with the auto gen start starting the generator even though it was not charging. It took three times of it starting before I finally disabled it. Then it was port and chocolate time. The only problem was the chocolate was limited so I tried port and a persimmon cookie. Suffice it to say that it is not up to par with port and chocolate, heck it might not be up to par with port and seaweed. Then again, nothing tried, nothing learned. After some more reading and a phone call to our oldest daughter, we went to bed looking forward to the morrow.

Dec 27

Some nights just aren't a lot of fun and that's what last night was. It was just to darn hot, and the thermometer this morning showed why. We hadn't left the heater on last night, it was just that it never cooled off outside.

a pleasant surprise

That was not the only problem however, as the fault light on the inverter panel still glowed bright red. Call it wishful thinking, but somewhere in the back recesses of my mind I had hoped it would be out this morning. On Christmas Day it had fixed itself, but that was apparently due to the bright sunny day and the solar panels working overtime. That was not going to be the case today as the sun had decided that since the name of today most definitely not "Sun"day, it didn't have to shine.

Well, if the sun wasn't going to shine, we were. At least we were after we went to laundromat so we would have shiny, clean clothes. We had spotted three of the laundromats in town last Saturday during our travels and picked the closest one to the center of town to try. It was on Central just north of Main, or putting it in Quartzsite terms, just behind the Shell station. It was about 9:30 when we arrived and the parking spaces were mostly empty. They were not busy, and shortly we had three loads washing in top loading machines. The cost was $1.50 per load, which was quite reasonable compared to what we've paid during our travels.

Linda figured we had about 30 minutes before it would be time to transfer the clothes to a dryer. What to do? We could read or we could explore. Without so much as a backward glance, Linda was out the door and down the street. I got the impression she didn't think that reading was the preferred method of killing time this morning. I followed as any dutiful slave, I mean husband would and soon she was pointing out one of those buildings that women find so necessary to maintain their royal bearing.

Beauty parlor

This was one of the two beauty parlors in town and across from it was another of those establishments that can draw the female of the species as does a flower in bloom draw the honey bee, a craft shop. That women are blinded by the call of the crafts was never more apparent than in this case. As we walked up to it Linda was talking about how she stopped here on the way back from the Pit Stop last week. Then as we walked inside, she said this was the wrong store. Just as she sometimes does as we drive down the road, she had unerring brought us to the wrong place. That did not stop her, it only caused a momentary look of confusion to pass over her face. Then it was up and down the aisles to see what she could buy. The prime objective had been to obtain some more bead supplies, but with this being unknown territory, everything was fair game.

Whether we ran out time, or she saw nothing which caught her fancy, when 20 minutes had passed, we left, stopping at the laundromat, but the clothes were not yet finished washing. We had time to kill, we had gone to the wrong craft shop, there was another craft shop somewhere nearby, we set out in search, as I struggled to keep up with her fast pace. A few buildings north of the laundromat she spied it and in a flash we were through the door and in a welcoming place. Because we needed to get back to transfer the clothes into a dryer, it was a most cursory examination of things crafty before we had to leave.

Back at the laundromat, the clothes were washed, a cart was grabbed and things were sorted for drying. Hard to dry items like towels and jeans in one dryer, dainties and sheets in the other. One of the great mysteries of life is just how much money to put in the dryer at a strange laundromat. The first couple of times this happened, it took a good deal of time and money to dry each load. Then I discovered she was setting the heat to medium or low. No wonder things were always coming out damp. We've worked on rectifying that behavior and so today the temperature settings were all on high, but once again mere mortal man was baffled by the actions of woman. I know each woman would no doubt approach this task differently, but the way the head woman of our family approached it left my scientific mind reeling. We had put fast drying items in one dryer, slow drying in the other. We had set the drying temperatures of both to high. Why then would it be necessary to put three quarters, or 75 cents in each dryer. Shouldn't one dry much faster than the other? When asked, she stated with utmost conviction, "I put .75 in so they'll both get dry." After that, I know I'll never understand the logic of the female.

Back to the craft store we walked, but this time there was buying rather than just shopping to do. The bead bracelets she had been making have been of the plain variety, i.e., one type and color of bead with no decoration. She wanted to try one with decoration and I volunteered to the guinea pig, which she immediately agreed to. I don't know if that was good or bad, but I think I'm about to find out. I committed to wearing what she created and she committed to doing the best job of creating something nice that she could. I was going to pick the pattern and she, the colors. I watched out of the corner of my eye as she touched the turquoise and pink beads, then some green ones that more resembled fresh cow manure than something masculine. It was all I could take.

This had the potential of being one of those marriage defining moments, so I drew in a great breath to calm myself and give me time to collect my thoughts before opening my mouth and saying the wrong thing. That proved to be the wrong move, for no sooner had the intake of breath occurred, than she snapped, "Is something wrong. "It was akin to driving on a mountain road and finding you're about to skid over the edge of the cliff, only to look up and see an avalanche roaring down the mountain towards you." Doomed wasn't a decisive enough word to describe my situation at the moment.

It is at these times, the gut instincts that eons and eons of mankind battling against nature and hence deeply instilled in man can rise to heights unknown. It was at this moment that the collect wisdom of those who had gone before me rose to the surface. My lineage my not have been from the swiftest afoot or the surest with the spear, but they were most definitely sharp minded. For it was without any conscious act on my part that I replied, "I just thought that since I always wear my watch and it is black and gold, that it would look nice if the bracelet was in the same colors." Her lips parted, chin quivered and then her eyes softened and twinkled. I had done it, or my ancestors blood in my veins had, or maybe it was divine intervention. What ever the reason, I was saved. In short order I had picked out the colors I wanted and it was back to the laundromat. As we walked along, I couldn't help but wonder what will appear on the bracelet. Had this only been a temporary reprieve?

The clothes still had a few minutes left to dry, but soon they were being folded and placed in neat piles. It always amazes me at how a woman can be almost horrified at the mere hint her panties might show at the top of her skirt or pants, but they can carefully fold all manner of dainties in front of everyone at a laundromat without showing the least hint of embarrassment. Linda, forever her own woman has her husband well trained, she does the towels and tee shirts while he does the dainties for both of them.

Get busy, boy

The clothes all folded we returned to the coach and the case of the insolent inverter. The fault light was still on, so it was time to call Monaco Technical Service and hopefully solve the problem. As always the wait was long and the messages were about the quality of Monaco products which strikes me as a bit humorous since the reason people call the tech service line is because of problems. Maybe it is a subtle may of getting you to think about the quality and fewer problems a new coach would bring you. Eventually a tech service rep came on line and asked what was the problem. Within seconds it became apparent this was not one of his better days. Faced with this, it would have been easy to take the same attitude and approach, which makes one feel good but almost always leaves the problem unsolved. I decided to not fall to his level, but to stay focused and try make his day a little better. It took a while, but eventually we were communicating and potential solutions were being discussed. He was, for some reason fixated on the necessity of checking the electrical hookup to see if the transfer switch was working. After explaining to him several times that we were boonbocking in the desert and no hookups were available, he told me to call an RV service and have them come and check it out. My preference was to eliminate all the things we could on the phone, then get an RV repair company involved as a last resort. I truly believe my calm manner helped a lot for eventually he did ask if I had checked the circuit breakers on the inverter, I said I had and they were both pushed in and on, then he asked if I had reset the inverter. This was a prime chance to zing him back as all I'd have to say was, "if I knew to do that would I be calling you?"

Remaining on the higher plane, I replied that I hadn't, but would he tell me how and I would try it. He seemingly snapped back, just unplug everything. Aha, this was not just pushing a button or turning a knob, but rather, some disassembly was required. I went outside, opened the door and looked. Everything seemed to be hard wired and I said as much. No, he said, the wires you unplug should have telephone style connectors. It took a little looking as the wires were covered in cable protectors, but soon the two wires I could find were unplugged. He said I should leave then unplugged for about 5 minutes and everything should reset. I made sure this call was noted for warranty purposes and said thank you. He just hung up. I hoped his day would get better rather than worse. After I hung up Linda asked if I had gotten his name, I hadn't, but maybe that was for the best as he shall remain anonymous.

After A few minutes later I plugged the cables back in, or I should say I tried to plug the cables back in. Try as I might, I just couldn't get them to go in the slot. Of course the fact I could only feel the slot and not see it may have had something to do with what I took for ineptness on my part. It was Linda to the rescue with a small mirror, which actually rescued me in more ways than one. Using the mirror I could see I had overlooked disconnecting a third cable. When I had told the tech about disconnecting two cables he had said nothing about a third. Figuring that only good could from disconnecting it, out it came. Five minutes later, with the help of the mirror and the color coded tags on the inverter and each of the cables, it was all correctly reassembled. Inside the coach we checked the monitor panel. The fault light was off and everything looked normal. Unfortunately the battery was not going to be charged by the solar system today, as old mister sun was sleeping behind a heavy cover of clouds. Deciding to check everything out, we held our breath and started the generator. It started right off and all the AC circuits came on, things were looking good. Back to the panel we went, but unfortunately all was not well. The generator was still not charging the batteries. Thinking there may be a loose wire or something, I went out and opened the generator compartment. Looking at all the wires and moving them elicited no change. I did notice the tag for the oil and coolant hanging from the filler tubes and also the hour meter. I moved the tag to better see the hour meter and it was at that moment that the reason the generator was not charging the batteries became abundantly clear. The generator's circuit breaker was tripped. I felt like both a million bucks and a complete doofuss at the same time. That may have been what the loud click we had heard on Christmas Day was, the circuit breaker tripping.

The first thing to check next time

Later as we sat in the coach, the generator busily charging the batteries, I thought about the events of the past several days. Things do happen for a reason. Had the circuit breaker not tripped on Christmas Day our casserole would have been burnt. Had I not decided that the situation with the tech was not worth getting upset over, we would probably be heading off to an RV repair place for who knows how long. And finally, had I not moved the tag to see the hour meter, I never would have noticed the circuit breaker. To know the link with the past. To experience the connection of being human. The joy of life. The spirit of individuality. The adventure goes on and on. Is it any wonder we enjoy the life we live so much.

After all this, it was time for a break, so we walked over to do some shopping. I needed to get a couple of things to finish up the work on the batteries, a new terminal for the solar cable and a mini fuse for the SMI brake system. (I had put a standard sized fuse in the SMI system when we installed it last January, so it was time to replace it with a smaller sized fuse. Both are 5 amp, but with the mini fuse, I can close the cap.) It was warm, also very windy so not many of the vendors were open. There were more and more setting up though.

What will they be selling?

We decided to take a series of photos from one spot so we could mark the progress towards the end of January when it is wall to wall vendors. This is what it looks like today.

Who will open next?

Back at the coach, we sat out and ate peanuts, trying not to get blown away. The wind was beginning to really kick up its heels and something was definitely in the air, so we decided to beat a hasty retreat back into the coach. No sooner were we in the coach than the sky darkened and the famous Quartzsite dust made its appearance.

Mini dust bowl

This went on for quite a while, seeming to come in waves, each more powerful than the rest. Finally one really powerful gust rocked the coach and we both looked outside. What we saw was one of those special moments that defy description.

And the glory shown down

Another photo of what held us spell bound in the desert.

Peace on earth

It wasn't long afterward till the rain came pelting down, or more properly, came almost horizontally. As you can see from this photo of the Explorer the direction was from the far side and all the ground on this side was dry. We see something different everyday.

Blowin' in the wind

As it approached time for dinner, I made up another bowl of guacamole, which served to ruin our appetite to the point dinner consisted of crackers, cheese, dill pickle relish, peanut butter and nectarine jam. See, we do, sort of, eat like normal people sometimes. The evening consisted of a game of cribbage where Linda beat my butt, but good, reading and working on the daily journal. All in all it was a most satisfying day, even if parts of it may not have been what we expected.

Dec 28

After yesterday's post you know we had to have a good day today and was it ever, though the start left a little to be desired. When I awoke this morning the sound of little feet pitter pattering on the coach roof greeted me. It begged the question, was this going to be a rainy day, or was this simply one last hurrah. It turned out to be the latter, but not before it came down pretty good for a while. At least we did not have the winds of last night, though the drops made for an interesting sight on the windshield.

Rain on the windshield

You have to look at the good side of these things, where rain is simply "Quartzsite Dust Down" and a lot cheaper than spraying lignin sulfate or some other even higher priced chemical that doesn't work in the long run. Sorry, shades of my past life peeking through the cracks for a moment. Breakfast was a large piece of the previously mentioned over baked egg casserole and a measly 1/2 of an apple muffin. It certainly was nutritious, but I would have preferred it to be the other way around.

The daily journal turned into one of those 1000 page novels and consumed most of the morning, but if I didn't enjoy writing, I wouldn't spend the time at it. If nothing else, it gives a pretty good picture of what a day in the life is all about. In the early afternoon Linda went into the Post Office and I did a whole lot of nothing.

After she returned we decided that having not liked what the scale was telling us the past several mornings, it was time for some exercise, and not just a leisurely shopping stroll into town, rather some real, head out into the middle of nowhere, bike riding. Off we went and went and went. Do you know it is almost impossible to find a spot out here where you can not see another RV. And it sure wasn't because we weren't trying. There are some places that in one direction you can look and see no RV's. Then if you turn and face the opposite direction they seem to be everywhere.

Nothing but open spaces

We finally got off the well traveled roads and discovered a sign that with a little moving of some white rocks, spelled out a greeting to our Granddaughter. I know she would have had fun riding her bike back here with me and also making the sign. Thank you Lindsey for all the wonderful memories, especially the bike rides home from school.

For a special granddaughter

We were amazed that our legs held up, what with all the cross country riding we did. You could follow a road for the longest time, round a corner and there in a copse of trees would be an RV. The number of spots to park an RV is only limited by the distance you want to drive. Of course that's if you want to be off by yourself, though I have to chuckle at the people who drive a mile or more back into the LTVA and then set up 300 or so feet from the next RV. It's a lot closer to everything up where we're at, but on the other hand, if we didn't have the great spot we have, then there's no telling where we'd have ended up parking.

Back at the RV, we struggle to get off our bikes, wondered who added the extra flight of stairs into the coach and grabbing the peanut bag, retired to do a little bird watching and peanut eating. Sitting out on our green grass mat, we watched the evening feeding take place, the sparrows scarfing up everything that was on the ground while the finches fought over who was was going to eat at the feeder. Eventually the losers retired to the ground and joined the sparrows. Watching the enormous amount of seed that gets thrown down from the feeder, the ground foragers may eat better than the ones further up in the pecking order.

Later we retired to the coach and while Linda posted some more items to Ebay, I worked on the website and did a little reading. She had just finished downloading her Ebay photo's when she pointed out the sunset. It was once again, roiling red clouds just like two nights ago, though there was only one small patch of cloud in the sky. I disdained from taking a photo, then changed my mind. That was when the 'things that can go wrong will go wrong' syndrome hit once again. The camera lens came out and then everything stopped working. I pressed buttons, nothing. I removed the batteries and put them back in, nothing. I gently tapped the camera, nothing. I vigorously tapped and shook the camera, nothing. I changed the batteries, nothing.

I paused and thought about what had happened. Linda had just removed the memory chip to download the photo's onto her computer, could that have been the problem? I removed the memory chip and replaced it, hearing and feeling it snap into place. Then in a very uncharacteristic action, I did a second thing. I twisted the extended lens, first one way and then the other. I felt no movement, but you never know. Replacing the batteries, nothing happened, then several seconds later the lens retracted. It appeared not only to be working, but working better than it has for quite sometime.

In the meantime Linda had wasted no time when I reported the camera wasn't working and was already on the net checking out places in Blythe where we could buy a replacement. I think she wants a new camera, even though this one appears to be working just fine. Perhaps my comment about this being our only camera will come back to haunt me. With the camera fixed I looked up to take the photo, only to find the sun had already set and the moment had passed. Things happen for a reason and this one appeared to be so that you wouldn't have to see sunset photo's three days in a row.

A little later the auto-gen start kicked on just as it should, everythings working. I had increased the voltage setting from 11.0 to 11.5 volts as the point for it come on in order to prevent the batteries from getting too low in case of another malfunction. Dinner was leftovers, but still great, Tri-tip, South Beach mashed potatoes and butternut squash heated in the microwave, with our fresh horseradish sauce as a topping. I'm not sure if it wasn't better than on Christmas Day. We laughed about the squash, for our butternut squash is just that, 100% pure butternut squash, no fillers, no additives, no sweeteners or spices, just squash. That's the way we like it and is it ever easy to fix.

Later we both worked on the Internet to the hum of the generator and discussed buying a third solar panel. We may stop by a couple of the solar stores and see what the prices are this year. The evening passed just like the day, laid back and easy going. The only excitement being when I decided to have some Port with the chocolate cookie Linda placed before me. I asked her if she wanted some and she said, no thanks. It was only after I had taken a sip of Port and bitten into the cookie that I discovered it was a persimmon cookie and not chocolate. After eating the cookie, then rinsing my mouth out with water, I enjoyed my glass of port. But then again, isn't life supposed to be an adventure.

Dec 29

Another night in the desert and to begin the day, dawn unfurls clear, calm and colorful. Quite a change from the last two mornings, but if the weather was always bad why would so many people come to Quartzsite? I had done really good last evening and uploaded the daily journal just before going to bed. That left this morning open to do a few things around the house. That turned out to be not the best move I've made in while. One of the worst moves might be a better description. Eager to get the day started, I shaved, then washed up. Bad move. The grizzly bears hibernation was disturbed by all my moving around and banging of doors and drawers. And when she didn't merely roll over in bed, but rather, rose up, flinging back the covers I knew I was in deep do-do for sure.

The withering verbal blasts not withstanding, it didn't take long before she had oatmeal bubbling on the stove and was also ready for the day. There must just be something about this place that sets even the most ferocious female at ease in quick order, for heaven knows it was nothing I said or did. As soon as breakfast was over, I tackled the two things I wanted to get done today. Replacing the standard sized fuse in the SMI wiring with a mini fuse. That was easy, take the old one out, plug the new one in and snap the top closed. Job completed.

The second job took a little longer, mostly because Linda pointed out another thing I could do since I had the tools out. The initial job was to replace the terminal on the lead from the solar cells with a bigger copper terminal. Cut, clip and crimp, that was easy and I was admiring my handy work when Linda came out of the coach. Smiling broadly she said, "Since you've got the tools out, you should put the screws back in the side panel." That was the same panel we had used to get access to the compartment where we installed the fittings for the plumbing for the Wave heater. This was something I been putting off at every opportunity, but after my start with Linda this morning I knew she wasn't going to brook any excuse this time. The problem was that with the air out of the airbags and the way the coach was setting, there wasn't a lot of clearance where I needed to work. This was further compounded by there being more gravel in this particular area around the coach and it was necessary to lay on the ground in order to install the screws. After lugging the box the air compressor came in around for 6 months and having been asked repeatedly by Linda why I kept it, I could finally put it to use. It made the perfect mattress to lay on and the job was quickly accomplished. Of course I wonder how long it will be until I hear how I've only ever used that box once and why don't I throw it away. Women.

Back inside the coach Linda's tiny tomatoes were basking in the morning sun and she was talking about today being the day they would need to be transplanted. Vermiculite is good for sprouting, but it doesn't have much in the way of food content and since their second set of leaves were just emerging, it was time for a change in where they grew.

From tiny seeds grow tiny tomatoes

Once the tomatoes were transplanted and all the tools put away, we drove into town to get the mail. The Main Post Office is on Main St, but the pick up for general delivery mail is at the annex which is on Plymouth St. We knew where Plymouth was, so soon we were on the east side of town, heading north and looking for the annex. I was going slow because I didn't know where I was going when we came up on a school and right past it was the annex. The only problem was the north side entrance is one way from the lot to Plymouth, which meant we needed to make a "U" turn and go back south. We found the south entrance but it sure was a fooler as the Post Office sign sits way back off the road.

The annex consists of three trailers, which I think may be poetic justice since that seems to be the primary structure around Quartzsite, whether the tires are still on or not. Linda went inside and I checked the place out. Most of the space was post office boxes and there was a steady stream of patrons in and out the door. Don't know if it a status symbol or just the easy way to get your mail, though after learning that box holders have to go down to the Main Post Office to pick up any packages, maybe the status symbol didn't turn out to be what some people expected. This is what the unit where you pick up general delivery looks like.

Post Office Annex

And here's what a happy postal patron (rhymes with motley matron doesn't it) looks like emerging from a successful visit to the will call window. She wasn't the only one who was happy because the mail I was supposed to have picked up in Harrisburg those long weeks ago was also in that package. {Editor's comment: I had to send a change of address form to the Harrisburg OR post office to get our mail returned to sender or wait the 30 days for them to return it automatically, of course, the big postoffice in the sky would not give me their phone number, so I could just call them and make my request. Next time he WILL pick it up when asked.}

Actual Postal Patron

From here we decided to drive up north and see if we could find the Hi Jolly 14 day free area that we had driven by without seeing the night we arrived. As I was pulling out of the Lot I noticed flashing blue lights off to the side of the road south of the Post office and in front of the school. That was when it hit me. I had been so intent on finding the Post Office as we drove up Plymouth, I couldn't tell you how hast I was going, I know it was under 35 and probably closer to 25, but the School Zone speed limits are 15 mph. I wonder just how many people they catch speeding because they are focused on looking for Post Office signs (and there are none) and not on school zone signs. On the other hand if patrolling the area prevents a child from being injured or worse, it is more than worth it.

We found the Hi Jolly area with no problem in the daylight and saw instantly why we hadn't found it that night. This was the same place we had stayed at back in January of this year and to put our arrival that night those many long months ago into proper perspective, here is a quote from that day's journal entry. "...but did stop at the next one called "Hi Jolly" which is about 3 miles north of Q on Hwy 95. The actual entrance road was not too bad if we had been on it, the alternate entrance road we took with Bob blazing the trail had a few "big bumps" and then we heard some loud noises and crashes very similar to the sound of breaking glass as we bounced across some major ruts and not so small ditches. Heck, it was a good place for a road if they'd just of built one there. Bob envisioned all kinds of things breaking, including the monitor screen. Low and behold all that noise from one small, badly shattered tea pot. The cabinet above the sink had opened and had partially emptied with no other damage other than to Bob's pride."

Did you catch the part about where we drove being a good place for a road? Well, that's just what the powers that be had decided over the summer and a new 'paved' entrance road had been constructed. In the photo Linda is standing in just about the spot I had pioneered 11 months ago. It was a good place for a road, so maybe I really did learn something during all that time I worked with the construction industry.

A beautiful model of an entrance

As I was finishing up my photography work, Linda was checking out the erosion and sediment control practices of the BLM. A year ago she would have been buried up to here eyeballs in billing out jobs where straw wattles were used. Today she was excited to see one and putting her modeling skills to work, posed beside an installation. Were we both ever glad to be seeing this side of wattles, but then again, if it hadn't been for things like that we wouldn't be where we are today.

Wattle model

Shop talk note, the erosion control method was loose straw and seed which the wind had obviously scattered to the far ends of the earth. Meaning it was just another example of how the government wastes our tax money because they don't know what they are doing. What about loose straw and seed, Quartzsite and wind, didn't the designer understand?

Instead of going back to the coach we drove through the northwest part of town, ending up over by the Main Event. We decided to do a little shopping, but other than a few things we picked up at a discount grocery, not much caught our eye. Well, one thing caught Bob's eye. He's been threatening to get a pipe wrench to uncap those unwieldy dump caps we've run into several times. It was while at one of the tool vendors that he spied the pipe wrench he's been looking for.

Now that's a pipe wrench

I have to laugh at that photo, but a reason other than what is apparent. Last night I was reading an article about how you should try not to place the subject of a photo directly in front of a distracting background, and what do you see here. Maybe I should blame it on the substitute photographer, but when you're in a tool store, what are you supposed to do. Besides blaming the substitute photographer is the worst possible thing I could have done.

Back at the coach Linda busied herself making lunch and I got to do something I very seldom get to do, open the mail package. Just one look was all it took and I saw something special sticking out from the mass of mail. It looked just like the kind of wrapping paper that is found on Christmas presents.

Is that a present in the mail?

Linda looked at it and told me go ahead and open it. I was beginning to think she knew something about what this was. It didn't take long before a nice, new, direct from Home Depot, saw had been unwrapped. Our daughter, the one who works at Home Depot, had picked the perfect present. Later as we talked on the phone, she laughed as she told me how she had measured the saw before she bought it, just to make sure it would fit into the box. Smart kid if I do say so, even if I am her dad.

Happy Dad

The rest of the day passed quickly what with peanuts and reading while the birds flocked to the feeders. We did see our first goldfinches, not sure which type, but think they were Lesser Goldfinches. The weather was so pleasant we took another bike ride and guess what, we weren't as tired as we were yesterday when we got back. Maybe this exercise thing is good for us. Dinner was turkey burgers, grilled in the light of the setting sun. I don't know if that was what the special ingredient was or not, but they were even better than usual tonight.

Grilled to perfection

The rest of the evening was taken up with web searches on digital cameras, we are leaning towards getting an ultra zoom style, but that is today and tomorrow it may be something else. Given the fact I want to carry it on my person most of the time, we need to get to a camera store and hold a few in our hands. Dessert was a mixture of cookies, chocolate and persimmon, and though I gave it a fleeting thought, I passed on the Port after my last experience with persimmon cookies. Time for bed, we said farewell to another chapter in the wonderful adventure we live, called Life.

Dec 30

One day can just seem to run into another out here on the desert. I've already reached the point that I really look forward to catching sight of those first few rays of sun peeking over the mountains to the southeast. Simple little pleasures found in life, no matter where we are. I think Linda's simple little morning pleasure may be the warmth those extra blankets provide, but each of us is content in our own little way.

Quiet contemplation is one thing and a hungry stomach is another, combine them and the latter seems to dominate the former. Before long Linda was up and as the eggs cooked on the stove she made a discovery. Anyone who has followed our travels for a period of time has read about how we love to shop at Trader Joe's, the poor man's gourmet store. Well we need to report that the last container of crumbled Feta cheese was not up to their usual high standard. It appears to be watery and consequently the eggs turned out a little less firm than normal. I have alway been a person who liked eggs well cooked. You know the kind of scrambled eggs that seemingly shatter when dropped as opposed to those that just go plop. Funny what a small change can have on long held, preconceived notions, isn't it. I pronounced those eggs not bad at all, in fact they were downright delicious.

After breakfast it was time to swing into action, but we seeming were stalled as to what to do when I looked up and saw a different kind of swinging into action taking place in front of us. US-95 isn't the widest road, but it looked like it was about to be used for a "U" turn and not by just anybody.

I think I can, I think I can

As I had watched the truck pull off along side the road I was wondering if there was going to be some backing up and pulling forward involved in the coming turn. Linda had promptly spoken up, pointing out how the coach turns in a much smaller space than we thought it would, so she figured it it would not involve any maneuvering, he'd just make the "U" turn in one move.

I knew I could, I knew I could

Why do I ever doubt that woman, after all I picked her. Or was it that she picked me? I can alway fall back on Linda's favorite saying, things happen for a reason, since how we met was on a blind date. What followed for the remainder of the morning and most of the afternoon was nothing more than surfing the Internet. We are still doing our research on which camera would best suit our needs, but until we can actually hold a few in our hands, we won't know if we are barking up the wrong tree or not. The more we look, the more we think an ultra zoom would give us the best balance of portability, photographic results, and cost.

Of course, it gets too hot in the coach to spend all day there, or at least we love to use that as an excuse, so the late afternoon found us out in the sun, reading as usual. When the 4 o'clock alarm rang we were more than ready for peanuts, and as become or habit in recent days, we talked of what our life was a year ago today as we watched the sun set behind the mountains. One year ago today if you were wondering, was our last day of work.


Among the observations we have made as the days go by are the ever increasing number of RV's. Part of this influx may be due to school vacations because we see a lot more young people than we had when we first arrived. Concurrent with this has been the increase in ATVs and other off-road vehicles. The result of all this activity has been a significant increase in the amount of dust in the air. It was particularly noticeable tonight as the sun crept lower and lower in the sky.

Dusty sky

There is one thing which always accompanies the setting of the sun at Quartzsite and that is a sudden and precipitous drop in the temperature. With the lower temperatures we decided to go on a dumpster run. As we were returning, we noticed a fire burning brightly by Ron & Terry's 5th wheel, so we decided to stop by. It was great seeing them again and it is amazing how, when you sit down with someone who you know on a daily basis through their blog, there is so much to talk about. We spent over two hours sitting around the fire visiting and Linda even got to spend time talking to Terry about things gem and mineral. And yes, I did get a little ribbing on the length and meandering that my daily journal sometimes takes. For those unfamiliar with Ron & Terry, they post a great daily blog fulltime.hitchitch and also run the best site on the Internet showcasing the adventures of RVer's,

Back at the coach, we fixed leftover Tri-tip, South Beach mashed potatoes, butternut squash and tossed salad, then soon followed it up with dessert, which was both persimmon and chocolate chip cookies, which I carefully separated so I could enjoy a small glass of Port with the latter. For us, it had been a great day and the perfect lead-in to tomorrow which will close out the year that saw us throwing off the old ways of doing things and setting out on the adventure of living the rest of our lives.

Happy New Year

Click on the photo for a larger image

Dec 31

The last day of 2006 crept in on the rays of the morning sun. It was almost as if it was trying to seek out all of the last few seconds that had remained hidden these many months, which must reveal themselves today or be forever lost in the river of time. Some people like to spend today reviewing the past year and setting goals for the next, which is an admirable undertaking. They look at life as pieces of paper in a notebook. The pages of the past neatly filled in, which, by flipping the pages can be examined. The future is a series of blank pages, each the same.

I on the other hand, think of it as a river. At times it many be languid and passive, a backwater barely alive, the current stilled, at other times it is like the Mississippi in full flood or the Snake charging through Hell's Canyon where you are simply along for the ride. A river that can change its course, carving out new channels and bypassing the town that for so long sat at its edge. Perhaps it didn't flood at all for many years, then in a moment of passion, overflowed and swept all signs of life and civilization as we have come to regard it, from its banks. Pages on a notebook are easy to review and make future plans upon, giving one a sense of control. The river can't be written upon, plans can be made for a life along its banks or a voyage on its waters, but it controls the circumstances of the day. Our ride on the river of Life this last year has not been without its ripples, strong currents and even a flood or two, but what a journey it has been. Those notebooks from all our previous years lay on a shelf somewhere, gathering dust. Each a volume unto itself. The river of today does not end here, it rushes on and we will be watching the passing scenery with wonder in our eyes and a sense of adventure rippling through us, while our hearts are filled with this awesome thing we experience called Life.

Breakfast was once again oatmeal, though it did hold a surprise, the fruit blend had a cherry in it. What a pleasant, refreshing, burst of flavor it provided, giving an unexpected lift to my spirits, the portent of a grand day looming in the coming hours. Since it was Sunday, it was also a morning for church, we were unsure whether to go or not. We weren't interested in returning to the church we had attended last week and had thought we might try the First Baptist Church, which we had read, had a blended type of service that we took to mean partly traditional and partly modern, which would appeal to us. On the other hand blended might mean something entirely different to Baptists. I can recall the "casual" praise service we attended at the Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia where "casual" meant sport coat and tie rather than casual as we thought of it.

The river of time was rolling right along and it was time to paddle towards shore or float right on past, we looked at the directory once again and spied a little notice about a service at the La Posa South LTVA pavilion that gave the time and said to bring a lawn chair. The beauty of belief is that it is all yours and yours alone. Not being one's who believe in pomp, and pageantry, this sounded like our kind of service. Getting there proved a little more difficult than anticipated. We had no problem finding the La Posa South LTVA, it was just that when we passed the 'easy' road over to the pavilion we were both looking the other way. We finally drove down through a wash to get there, but when we parked, it looked like the service had already started even though we were a few minutes early. That wasn't what it was, rather they had music before the service and the early birds were enjoying it. Think itinerant, non-denominational preacher, think Cowboy Gospel Music, think casual, outdoor setting in the Arizona desert. Think what a wonderful experience it was. Think we will be going back again? You bet.

No pictures of the service because the camera batteries were too low, but the first thing we did upon returning to the coach was replace them so we could document the rest of the day. We were kind of restless, so we decided to take a walk over to the vendor area at Rice ranch. What a waste of time. Between selling off their prime land to the RV dealers and the disastrous attempt to build a new vendor area in the old south side dry camping area without using a contractor, it was a joke. Sometimes people get what they deserve, in this case I wish them the very best.

Whether it was the recent rain or the time of the year, we saw our first plant in full bloom since we arrived. For now it shall be nameless even though I have that book on desert blooming plants. It was yellow flowered and 90% of the book deals with plants which have yellow blooms. If we do figure out what it is, we'll let you know. Bumbling amateur botanists, where's Keith when you need him? (Previous reference was to an old friend who had a PHD in plant genetics and could wax poetic on the delights of a single plant seemingly for hours on end. The unbelievable thing was, that when he was done, you had understood what he had said.)

Yellow plant

All of this shopping, actually it was more walking than shopping as nothing was bought, made for a healthy appetite so early afternoon found us back at the coach enjoy turkey wraps. Then it was time for reading on Linda's part and working on the daily journal on my part. Eventually Linda grew tired of reading, which meant I had to stop my work and help her. Those Pyro-Mom genes had taken over again, so it was time to split a few of the tiny 2x4's we had brought along and make her happy. While the sound of the falling ax making little pieces into littler pieces resounded in the air, over at the fire pit I could hear little yelps coming from Linda. That woman sure can get excited over the prospect of a fire. I later found out the yelps were not of joy, but rather of pain since the little bit of dry weeds she had picked up to use as kindling where full of thorns. Needless to say, she plans on using paper in the future.

Pyro-Mom at work

Talk about anxious to start the New Years Eve celebration, the sun had just disappeared beneath the top of the mountains when she wanted to go on the garbage run. As we walked, I found out the reason for the earlier than usual trip was so we could get back and light the the fire. Somehow or other I think this had been her plan all along, as there was none of the usual wandering and side trips on this nights garbage run, simply coach to dumpster to coach. That woman definitely had fire in her eyes.

The joy of it all

As we sat and watched the blazing embers, okay, a better description would be, as she threw paper after paper and piece of wood after piece on the roaring conflagration, I tried my best to dodge burning embers and smoke. Don't believe me, look at the mass of ash in this photo.

Scorched earth

As I was moving my chair for the umpteenth time to prevent become a human inferno, I noticed how the flames were reflecting off the side of the coach. An unexpected joy in to complement my dance with the fire.

Reflections of our life

This was the perfect scene to toast the New Year, so we did a quick calculation, deciding that somewhere out in the Atlantic, maybe Iceland or Greenland, it was 12 o'clock and so dug out the champagne bottle we have carried all year to toast this moment. We had to laugh when, after digging it out of the bay, we held it up in the firelight. It seems we weren't the only ones who appreciate the bubbly drink. It looks like our mice friends who hitchhiked with us during the summer also wanted to celebrate their great adventure.

Mouse tracks

They had actually chewed off the foil on the other side of the bottle and we remembered seeing it in the nest we had removed from the bay. Eventually the fire burned out and we retired to the coach for a meal of crackers, tuna salad, cheese, relish, corn chips and bean dip, all washed down with another champagne toast.

Our world is full of joy

As we enjoyed each others company, our thoughts went back to the group of close friends we had spent the past twenty or more New Years Eve's with. We knew they would once again be celebrating another year and I thought about their lives, had it been a notebook or a river and what would this year's be. I couldn't spend too long in thought though, because the broad, beautiful, ever changing river we call our Life was already carrying us on to new places. May the river of life transport each of you to places of joy and enchantment throughout the coming year.

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