What strange weather we are having in Quartzsite. One day it is 70 the next 55 and the next 70 again. That is supposed to change big time this weekend when they are saying the temperatures will dip into the mid 20's, with low temperatures forecast all over the west. Given all that, it didn't come as any surprise that the outside temperature early this morning was about as high as the daytime high had been for yesterday.
The daily journal was written and posted in short order, then the boss started issuing her own orders. Before long I found myself unwrapping Christmas presents of all things. Well, maybe not exactly, but in a way I was. Our older daughter had gotten us one of those maps where you can show the states you have traveled through, and Linda was of the impression that even though I said I would install it, the time had come to do it now. It didn't matter that I had actually tried several times in the past, only to quit when I thought it was too windy. Come high winds or dust storms, today was going to be the day. So before long I was up on the ladder, cleaning the area where the map would be placed.
Returning to the ladder and commencing to mark the spot, while at the same time hanging on to the ladder for dear life to keep from getting blown away, Linda was also busy, studying the installation instructions and telling me what to do. Looking at what we faced, it was obvious to me the map needed a few modifications to yield the 'look' we were trying to achieve. After a couple of, "I understand what you're saying, but it isn't going to work", rejoinders, I grabbed the directions, read them and started hacking away with the scissors. You'd have thought I was cutting her instead of the paper, the way she started screeching, but she finally settled down and admitted it was better the way I was doing it.
Having reached the point where she wasn't going to take no for an answer, I started up the ladder with the paper flapping away in the wind. I really didn't want to do this, because having made several prior attempts to install the map on my own, I knew it wasn't going to work. Linda, safely out of the wind, which was rocking the ladder, even with me on it, was of the opinion I was at best stalling and at worst disobeying her direct order to install the map. Exasperated, I finally hit upon asking her to hold the bottom of the map while I worked on the top. It only took about five seconds until she said, "It's too windy, if you try to do it today, you'll ruin it." Notice how she stated it would be my fault, if it got messed up. Well, she didn't have to tell me twice, and in the blink of an eye the ladder was put away to await better weather, which according to the directions is a calm day with the temperatures in the 70's. I'm not sure there is such a day at Quartzsite, but if there is, I know she'll have me back on the ladder, installing that map, not out getting a suntan.
Since it was such a nice day, she also decided we would eat lunch outside. What is it about gusting winds that this woman just doesn't understand? It was blowing hard enough that we had to hold our food on the plates. Besides that, if you stood up, your chair followed you, the wind blowing over against you. Given all this, she did about what could be expected and announced that since the weather was so nice, we were going for a walk. I thought, nice weather, my you know what), but since she was determined, off I went, following along. Turned out there was one site across the road she wanted a picture of, so that's where we headed. Isn't it amazing what you can do in the desert with some yard ornaments and white rocks picked up from around your site.
After this we set out on a hike that took us through the hinterlands and even into some of the, highly likely to never before have been explored areas of the LTVA. When we finally returned to the coach, she commented as to how she thought I was never going to stop walking. Me? It was her idea to go on the darned walk in the first place. Oh well, you'd think after all these years I'd finally know my place in the order of things around here.
Back from the walk, the 4 o'clock alarm sounded, signaling peanut time. The wind was going to be a problem, and I walked all around the outside of the coach trying to find a spot where it wasn't blowing. Unbelievably the wind seemed to be coming from all directions at the same time. Eventually we did find the perfect calm sheltered spot, down in the wash behind the coach. Between the drop in elevation and the vegetation growing along the banks, it proved not only a wind break, but a most interesting change in scenery.
As we sat and talked, Linda noticed a plant in bloom, one we had seen on our walks over to the Post Office, since it grew along the I-10 overpass. Soon I had retrieved the desert flower book from the coach and we were attempting to identify the plant. As usual, our botanical abilities and the book's information didn't quite meet in the middle ground. We both agreed the flower was orange in color, there were two pages in the book with plants having orange blooms and it sure wasn't on either one of them. After shaking the book but good, telling it what I thought of it's worth and threatening it with the possibility of definitely being orange in the future, that's orange as in the orange flames of the fire I was going to throw it in, I set it aside and tried to catch up with Linda in the peanut eating department.
Suddenly a thought occurred to me, maybe it was one of the flowers that came in a variety of colors and so was listed under another color. Picking the book back up it only took a few short moments and five pages of browsing in the book, and there it was, under the pinks. Why it was there we will never know because most of the descriptive references to color indicated it was apricot, but then again, maybe that is why botanists are generally portrayed as bumbling fools in movies and books. I couldn't even imagine what a blond female botanist must be like, maybe I'm luckier than I thought. Back to the plant, it was named sphaeralcea ambigua, commonly known as apricot-mallow according to the book. And I still don't get where the pink comes in.
To show you what we are talking about, here is a picture of the actual leaf and flower.
A little later I was grilling our sausage patties for dinner when Linda pointed to the sky and said look. It was one of those special Quartzsite sunsets.
The sausage patties were great, cooked with fresh made sausage from the Roadrunner Market, which we followed with some after dinner entertainment, a live music show at the QIA Building. Apparently every Thursday evening, except during the big Gem and Mineral Show, they have a gospel music show with a stage band, where local people can sing on stage. Admission was only a buck a head, so we thought we'd give it a try. After our previous two experiences we weren't sure what to expect, but then again, nothing tried, nothing experienced. Crossing the freeway we could tell from the number of vehicles in the parking lot it was going to be more akin to the first concert, than the second. Arriving just before the stated start time of 7:00, we found the program in full swing, and the few remaining seats located in the back row. Almost 2 hours later we were leaving, having spent a very pleasurable evening listening to singers and guitarists of varying abilities but equal boundless enthusiasm.
They are not going to be having concerts the next few weeks, but when they start up again, it will be a regular weekly must attend for us. Look at it this way, I get to be the hero no matter what. Linda gets taken out for the night. It's a live performance. It's music she knows. It only costs me a buck for each of us. Tell me that's not a great deal. There was one other great thing about tonight's concert. By getting there on time, which was actually late and our having to sit in the back row, we were the first ones out and beat the traffic rush out of the parking lot. Sometimes things just go our way.
There was one last little bonus left before the day ended, something which Linda had overlooked last night. When we had been at the Roadrunner Market yesterday, she had bought a quart of ice cream, then forgot to have any last night. We chalked it up to not having had any for so long we were simply ice cream challenged. That was not going to happen tonight, as the sole topic of conversation on Linda's part during the drive back was just how good that bowl of ice cream was going to taste tonight. It looked like for a time like I had thrown away two bucks taking her to the concert when she finally mentioned how much she had enjoyed going. It looked like I had done good after all. Ending the day with a heaping bowl of healthy ice cream and a brownie is about as good as it gets. Then it was off early to bed as we had a long, long day in front of us tomorrow.
The sign doesn't tell what we did today, but it does tell what we did one year ago today. This probably is where we are supposed to post just how many miles we have driven, how many states we've visited, etc. It's strange, but we didn't find ourselves particularly interested in those statistical type of reflections, but rather in the emotional reflections of just what all this had meant. While we spent many minutes over the course of the day reminiscing, especially about how we felt one year ago today, I can be summed it up very simply. It has been the most fantastic and rewarding year in our lives. For us it was the right decision.
We were on a mission today, a shopping mission and rather than an earth orbit type of mission, it was more of the interplanetary nature. Think major expedition, think 79 mile drive to Yuma. We even left early for us, getting out of here at 9:30. What followed was a full day of driving, parking, shopping, then more driving, parking and shopping, which was finished quite late in the day and ended with our arrival back at the coach at 6:30. Shop we did, but the great thing about credit cards is that today was all joy, the pain won't be felt until next month. One thing I must say about Linda, we were prepared for whatever might befall us from the looks of the pile of things we were taking along. I looked at the bright side and figured all this would take up space in the Explorer, so maybe she would have to limit her shopping some.
We bought the required food items and also had a couple of pleasant surprises. Linda got to buy two pounds of cherry tomatoes, which are almost 1/3 gone already as I write this on Saturday morning. That lady does love her tomatoes, plus we also picked up a pound and a half of pimento cheese spread. Unlike the spread in the Southeastern States where the stores carry multiple brands and both regular and low fat, here it is only regular or the ultra high fat, so we opted for the lower fat of the two. We know it wasn't low fat, but relative to the other brand it was, so knowing the lesser of two evils when we see it, we bought the biggest container they had.
We were at the WalMart, when we had a another very pleasant surprise. A man with a huge smile on his face walked up to us and said, "I thought I recognized you, I read your blog everyday." That was how we met Doug and Darian, currently of Yuma, but before the summer is out of Las Vegas, then Northern California and eventually Missoula, Montana. We had a great time visiting in the aisle of the store, and I even remembered, well okay, Linda reminded me to get a picture. As you can tell, whether you've been on the road one year or thirteen years, fulltimers are happy people. We understood when they related how they had decided to fulltime for a year and see how they liked it, the answer being all these years later they love just it as much as they did the first year. Linda took our picture and we went on our way, thinking just how big the world is, but how small and real the daily journal makes it.
Our next stop was at Sam's Club and here we were faced with those types of major decisions in life that only someone who lives in approximately 354 sq ft of space can wrestle with. We needed paper plates, but did we need 1200 of them? Those kinds of important decisions. We had already made one at the WalMat, The RVer's toilet paper dilemma. Do we buy one roll or four rolls of Scott 1000 sheet septic safe toilet paper. We solved that one easily enough, we bought the 12 roll pack. I showed Linda how, at the normal price of upwards of $2 a roll, 12 rolls for a little over $5 would allow her to buy at least 3 more containers of tomatoes in the future at no cost as far as the budget was concerned. The problem now is where to store those rolls. The other problem with making decisions like that is it gets easier the more times you do it.
At Sam's Club it was ten boxes of tissues, 300 paper plates, six pounds of prunes, etc. Is there no end to this buying in quantity thing? All of this was minor in comparison to the shopping we did for a new camera. It took the best part of five hours, lengthy visits to five stores, some more than once, before we had our new Canon S3 IS, SD memory card and Lowpro case. Those many hours spent on the Internet had been put to good use. Something tells me there will regular updates over the next few days as we learn what it is that we've bought and if it was what we thought it was. I quickly found out one thing, the carrying case for this camera is going to be much bigger than the case I now carry. Of course the camera is about four times bigger also, but Linda seems to think I can be retrained to carry the new one.
The drive back with the sun setting behind us made for some interesting views of the landscape. Since Linda is probably going to start carrying the old camera, she decided to get in some practice with it. I guess if actors can turn into directors, models, even blonds, can turn into photographers.
Here's a great shot she took of a blurred sign with the mountains in the background.
Next she took this really neat picture of a airship moored over the Yuma Proving Grounds.
Since by now she knew she had the hang of this 'photography thing', she decided to broaden her horizons and take some more artistic type of shots. Here's one of the famous Castle Rock where it is only partially obscured by the roadside foliage. With a little practice who knows what kind of shots she can take.
I must point out that her photographic skills are an inherited trait. Linda's mother was legendary for her photographic abilities, or lack thereof depending on how you looked at the results of her endeavors. She had the uncanny ability of cutting off what ever the object was on the right side of the picture. Have her take a photo of the five of us when we came to visit and you'd have thought we had left one of the kids at home, since there was always one who never showed up in any of the pictures she took. To this day, whenever a picture cuts something off, the immediate comment is, "It looks just like the ones Mom always took." 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.
We arrived back at the coach just as dusk was turning to darkness and while I carried things inside Linda, filled the refrigerator and freezer to the maximum. When we had been shopping she had finally stopped buying anything frozen, saying, "the freezer wouldn't hold any more", and when I questioned how she knew, the answer was, "I just do." As they say, the proof was in the pudding and I had admit she had been right on. It took a slight amount of pressure to close the freezer doors, but they held everything we had bought. She sure does know her way around the kitchen, I'll say that. Cameras are a totally different thing. Once the unpacking was done, we enjoyed a meal of the last of the pork tenderloin, then it was time to get out the new camera. No pictures, just hold it and think of what the future holds.
We ended the night with a champagne toast to out first year on the road and the prospect of many more wonderful years to come. Sometimes in life dreams do come true. I do need to state, or at at least that is what Linda has told me to do, that the opening of the champagne bottle was not without incident. Linda had gotten the bottle out and removed the little wire cage, but left it up to me to open. I did put a towel over it and twist the bottle rather than the cork, but I didn't realize she had set me up but good. The popping of the cork was immediately followed by the flowing of the bubbly. All over the towel, myself and the floor. Score one for her, but it just added to the lore we are building during our travels.
The cold weather had arrived yesterday, but we had a slight reprieve last night as it didn't get as cold as was first predicted. This was evidenced by the shirts and the light jackets I saw on the people who were outside there RV's this morning. Well, not everyone, but at least in the circle of RV's off the northwest of where we are parked they were. Those RV's had come in circling up just like the wagon trains of the old west, and soon the men were out doing the tasks of daily living. The thermometer did say it was 33 out there, but they acted like it was 53 instead. After a while of watching this, my curiosity got the best of me and unable to make out the license plates at this distance, I did my best Linda imitation, taking up the binoculars and sneaking a peek. At this point I was no longer imitating Linda, as she would have been staring long and hard rather than sneaking a peek, but I had to start somewhere.
The plates were green on a white background, adjusting the focus, the answer to my question sprang into view. The plates said Saskatchewan, no wonder they were dressed so lightly, to them this was probably akin to the warm desert southwest. The other half of our family sure didn't consider the word, warm, to have anything to do with describing the desert southwest weather at the moment, which was acting more like what she figured was the frozen tundra of Saskatchewan. She did have a solution to the problem of the cold temperatures as the photo below shows.
I had to laugh at this one for it brought back memories of my childhood, getting up to a really, really cold morning and spreading my clothes in front of the register to warm them before getting dressed. I thought those days of the coal furnace, which went out in the night, were long past, but here I am once again, in the same situation, just older is all. Unable to resist the chance to relive happy childhood memories, I followed after her, doing the same thing, but heating all of my clothes including my 'dainties', so no picture. I must admit this photo of her clothes was staged, as certain articles of Linda's clothing were quickly removed when I started focusing in on the pile, her comment being, "You not taking the picture with those on top." My unvoiced reply was, "Yes dear I was."
Eventually the little vignettes of daily life began to unfold before us, including activities other than the usual dumpster runs. Direct across from us is an older couple in a small travel trailer. The wife uses a motorized chair to get around outside and the husband spends a good deal of time working on things around the outside of the trailer. This morning he was engaged in the same activity we observed several others participating in, the cold weather ritual of getting the propane tanks refilled. I don't know whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, but motorhomes don't have the portable tanks like trailers, so when ours nears the point of needing to be filled, i.e., when it shows one third full per Linda, or when the stove and heater no longer light per me, we will get it filled. Wanna' bet which one of gets our way regarding the refilling? Hint, I wouldn't bet on myself in this situation, for if I actually did win, I figure Linda would see to it that my life wouldn't be worth living thereafter.
As you can see, there are more and more RV's pulling in everyday, some of which are are, shall we say, the strange side. Take for example the purple bus you can see in the photo above. One of these days we are going to have to traipse around La Posa North and document some of the more interesting vehicles we see. Might even be an excuse to try out the new camera. Speaking of the new cameras, I still haven't gotten to try it out yet. We didn't have any batteries charged up, so they are plugged in and the wait is on. If they were completely discharged it is going to be tonight before they are ready. Linda, looking at the bright side, said, just think how much fun you will get to have when they are ready. There is just something about her that is so special. All the while she was repackaging the whole wheat English muffins we use for buns. Placing two to a ziploc bag, which makes it so much easier to pull them out of the freezer. We use these instead of regular hamburger buns, but have to be careful that we don't get the 'honey whole wheat' muffins which have loads of extra sugar in them. If there is a way of sneaking sugar into food, the food companies have either thought of it, or have an army of researchers looking into it. It is amazing what you learn when you become a label reader.
If you look carefully at the above photo you can see that two pound container of cherry tomatoes which has been ravished by the family tomato worm. I've taken the liberty of enlarging the section showing the devastated plastic container where the battle of the bulge took place. That's bulge as in, "I can eat as many as I want and there will be no resulting bulge."
It was shortly after this that we go a call from two readers of our daily journal with whom we have corresponded many times via email, and who were now also at La Posa North. A short while later we went on the daily dumpster run, then continuing on a ways further, stopped at John and Judy's coach for a brief visit. Not only did we have a great visit but the similarities in how we approach life made for an instant bond. The result was that our short visit, turned into a long visit, which will continue tomorrow afternoon when they come over to our coach for peanut time and dinner.
One of the best moments of our time together came when we were talking about using the binoculars to 'better observe' what was going on around us. It was at that moment that John reached down and brought up a pair of binoculars which could have little siblings of the mount Palomar 200 inch telescope, laughingly telling us he used his binoculars from the days they lived on a boat, to do the same thing. Staring at those monsters, I had the same feeling the fellow did in the Crocodile Dundee movie when Dundee unsheathed his knife and said, "That's not a knife mate, THIS is a knife." Isn't that what life is really all about, here the Internet had brought us together, then shared experiences had put so at ease, and moments of hilarity had made the time so very special. Life simply doesn't get any better than this.
We had just thought it was cold yesterday, this morning we found out what cold was.
But later in the day we found out we may have actually been in a warm pocket, because Terry of Hitchitch was saying it was 20º where they were at, which is about about 800 feet south of us, then later we learned from our friends, John & Judy that where they are parked, which is approximately 1500 feet southeast of us, it had gotten down to 19º. Made me think those Saskatchewanians who are circled up nearby realized what they were doing when then picked that spot, because they knew it was located in what might be considered the 'La Posa North Banana Belt".
It didn't take long for the sun to come up and the temperatures to start climbing. Not one to rely solely on the whims of nature, I decided that if that razor was going to touch my face, it was going to need some assistance to prevent giving me frostbite. The result was a new invention which was solved the problem, but probably isn't something I can patent. It does reinforce the notion of necessity being the mother of invention. On second thought, it might be better to invent a razor that absorbs what was in those 1800 pages of literature it was laying on, then have it transfer the knowledge to my brain as I shaved. Want to bet it will happen someday in the future? I'd think the odds are pretty good that someday it will be as routine as turning on the radio to hear the news was in its heyday. It would work for women also. Make them have shave their legs everyday instead of going on a winter hiatus.
As we looked out the side window we could see one change which has definitely taken place, and that is the appearance of the Big Tent.
After a breakfast of hot oatmeal, when the temperatures are like this we eat it hot, not warm, we got bundled up to go to church. Since the service is held outside, and given the temperature, we decided that even if it was to be a real fire and brimstone sermon today, we probably needed a little extra protection from the cold. Since you can take the people out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the people, Linda and I travel prepared for cold weather emergencies like this, so out came the long underwear. Linda may have come from Appalachia, but that don't mean she ain't got no brains. After all, how do you think people manage to survive winter up in those hills. It was while getting dressed that we both discovered a new longing for those clothes we had worn before losing all this weight due to our change in eating habits. That extra room in the waistband would have made all the difference. As it was, neither of us could tuck in our shirts and so just went with them hanging out.
Just ahead of us as we turned on US-95 to drive down to where the service was held, we saw the white jeep of John & Judy and could see they appeared to be as warmly dressed as we were. It was after turning into the La Posa South entrance that we found another surprise waiting for us in the form of a sign stating 'no service today'. Common sense says it was because of the extremely cold temperatures and the fact the service is held out doors. But then again, that preacher has been warning folks for the past few weeks that todays sermon was going to be "R" rated. For all I knew, maybe the preacher had second thoughts about preaching such a sermon, fearing the god of the Israelites might just decide to 'smote' the preacher just like he was always smoting people in the old testament. That's probably not the real reason, but then again who's to say.
Back at the coach it didn't take long before we were doing our best imitation of crustaceans under going the molting of their shells. Slowly, in the heat of the coach, the gloves, hats, jackets and sweaters came off. The totality of the molt was apparent, when at last, the winter underwear had to come off and we took on a strong resemblance to a pair of soft shelled crabs. However, in our case the reacquisition of our outer shell was almost instantaneous. It wasn't long before Linda had busied herself baking some never before made cookies, adapting a recipe she found on the Internet to our South Beach way of eating. Out went the not so good for us white flour, sugar and fats, to be replaced with healthier alternatives.
It was while watching her work her usual culinary magic that something caught my eye. The mountains to the west looked different, then I saw it, a hot air balloon just disappearing over Quartzsite Mountain. I grabbed the camera and just managed to get a shot in before it completely disappeared from view.
New cameras are a lot of fun, besides when you get one about once every ten years or so, this last one being an exception to our well established photographic buying habits, you have to mess around a little. Thus you get to see the results of my self portrait, taken as a reflection in my laptop monitor, and yes, I do realize Ansel Adams has nothing to worry about. I was going to title it "Still life of Bob by Bob", but then decided I didn't like the connotation of those first two words.
It had also come time to do some work, as Linda had a plaque she wanted mounted mounted on the wall of the coach. She had specifically asked me to get it for her as a Christmas present a year ago. Up until now it had laid forgotten, in one of her desk drawers, but while hunting something a few days ago, it had revealed its presence. Taking the message to heart, she insisted it be attached to the wall now, not later. Resigning myself of the need to tear myself away from my new toy, I bowed to her demands.
I think that is what is called, looking at the bright side of things. With life there are things and then there are things. How many times do we focus in on the things that are wrong instead of the things which are right. This little ceramic plaque says volumes about the joy of the way we live. Each day is a new day, each day is different, forget about yesterday, don't worry about tomorrow, lets live today. As I was setting up the chairs for our daily peanut time, Linda tapped on the window and pointed at the bush just behind me. Perched on one of the branches was a hummingbird. Try as I might, doing my best at imitating a hummingbird call, I couldn't get it to turn towards me and show its beautiful iridescent red throat, still it was as pretty as a picture perched on that tiny twig, and soon it was more than a picture in my minds eye.
In short order, John and Judy arrived and we sat out on our fake grass patio, shelling peanuts and sharing our lives with one another. All the while, the hummingbird, sat on the branch, occasionally chattering, but mostly he just stared off in the same direction he had been looking towards when I was trying to take the earlier photos of him. At last, he let out a great burst of chatter, zooming off by flying within a foot of John. I think it may have been his way of saying, this is my territory and my feeder, you have been warned.
We spent the evening eating, talking and eating some more. I find it almost uncanny, the number of similarities in life experiences that we share with John and Judy. It makes the saying that Ron of Hitchitch so often refers to, "What the Internet does best, people sharing with people" very real. Everyday we share our lives with our readers and it has been so wonderful to get a chance to in turn, share the lives of one of readers. That's also why we love to get your emails and while Bob writes the daily journal, Linda works hard answering those emails. It wasn't that many years ago we were coming home from work every night and sitting down to together to read what adventures our favorite RVer's had written about. We are glad to now be on the other side of the fence so to speak. Like Linda says, "I never expected we would have so many readers, or so many emails."
Later as we got ready for bed, Linda took a break to review the results of some of her Ebay bids. We talked for a while about how everything just seems to go together in our life. One thing that had not gone according to plan was my not taking any photo's of our get together. Here we had just spent five hours with a couple whose entire lives have revolved around photography and we were so busy talking, not only had I not taken the camera out to ask some questions about it, I hadn't even remembered to take a single photo. I don't know if that classifies as a Bad Bob or or not, but I would certainly call it a missed opportunity. Guess it's just like Linda says. I'm not quite perfect yet. Looking at it from John & Judy's point of view they probably think we're great people, not besieging them with questions photographic, when it was merely Bob being unable to do two things at once.
I'll leave you with one last thought for the day. Look carefully at the mouth of the model in the above photo, now look at the almost empty cookie container in front of her. Do you think there might be a connection there? (Editor's comment: I had help!!)
Jan 15 - Monday
"Did you hear something", whispered the voice coming out of the darkness. Indeed I had, in fact it seemed as if the whole coach had shuddered, almost as if trying to shake off the cold induced lethargy of the night and come to life. My first thought was a branch had fallen from a tree onto the coach. Many years ago we had a tree fall on our house in the middle of the night and while this sound wasn't that loud, it was similar. Then I realized we were in the middle of the desert for goodness sakes, every plant around here was only a couple of feet tall and those which were taller than two feet weren't anywhere near the coach. It was cold laying there in bed, surrounded by the darkness even with my eyes open, and I was wondering if I should get up, when a series of clicks resounded from the closet. We both said it at the same time, "The generator", which was immediately followed by my flinging back the covers and leaping out of bed. As I passed by the control panel in the hallway, it glowed fuzzy red, and without my glasses, it had the diffused look of Christmas lights seen through a frosty window. Even though it was too dark to read the words by the various lights and switches, I knew what was on just from having lived in the coach for the past twelve months. There was the water pump, which is always on, except when we have a water hookup. The propane water heater, normally off, was on overnight because the temperature was supposed to drop into the low twenties. The system heat switch, which would hopefully provide enough heat in the service bay to keep the tanks and pipes from freezing was also glowing. Up in the top right corner a fourth, halo enshrouded light shone, the generator light. What was going on?
My mind raced, trying to make sense of this and I turned to ask Linda a question, thinking she was up and at my side. Only empty darkness greeted my gaze, she was still in bed. Smart woman. I must have stood out enough against the slight amount of illumination for her to sense I had turned, because a muffled voice came out of the darkness, "Is the generator on? I can feel a slight vibration." I replied, "Looks like it", reaching to open the closed pocket door between the living and sleeping areas of the coach. We had, for the second night in a row, decided to let the Wave heater run all night on low to provide some extra warmth in the front of the coach, and I noticed how cold the metal felt against my finger tips. Emerging through the opening, I could sense a slight vibration and then heard a low rumble. Taking several steps toward the front of the coach, I could just make out a small patch of white light in the area of the dashboard. Moving closer I could see, that indeed, the generator was on.
During all this time my mind was going a million miles an hour trying to figure out why it might have started, when I remembered I had adjusted the voltage for the auto-gen start to a much higher voltage than normal yesterday. The only problem was the quiet hours setting hadn't been changed and so it shouldn't have come on between the hours of 10PM and 8AM. Though I could barely hear it, my mind was telling me that outside it was roaring away, no doubt sounding like a truck stop at midnight. I could just visualize the BLM Ranger sitting bolt upright in bed, cussing at the RVer who was running his generator in the middle of the night and storming off to first find, then immediately evict him from the park. However this nightmare scenario was quickly replaced with the thought that probably half the people in the LTVA were running their generators tonight trying to keep warm and the Ranger was probably one of them. All this got me to wondering just what time it was and how cold was it? A flick of the light switch revealed the answer, 4:44AM and 21 degrees above zero.
At this point, three things were certain, first I was going to leave the generator on, allowing it to shut off automatically in two hours, secondly, I was by now wide awake and third, I was rapidly becoming rather cold standing there, heater or no heater, in the chilly air. Returning to the bedroom, I could tell Linda had never stirred from the bed. Smart woman. She had even pulled the covers back down on my side of the bed and a I mumbled a thank you to her for trying to keep a little warmth on my side of the bed. "Your side of the bed had nothing to do with it, you also uncovered me when you got up", was her somewhat testy reply. So much for the ever faithful and steadfast wife image I was conjuring up. As if adding insult to injury, she added, "be quick when you get back in and don't let any cold air over on my side." Trying to perform my best imitation of a snake, I slithered into bed, realizing that after all these years I really should know my place in the pecking order around here. As I lay there cold and shivering, she moved slightly and said, maybe a little louder than necessary, "Stop shaking, I can't get back to sleep."
Maybe the way of the caveman was better, club the woman over the head, drag her by the hair back to cave and have her put wood on the fire all night to keep you warm. Laying there in the silence of the dark room, I sensed her move once again, now what, I thought, when out of the darkness came the words, "Do you feel that?" I was not in the mood to get back up into the cold air, so I just curled up a little tighter, hoping she'd go away. Once again the voice repeated the same words, "Do you feel it?" Deciding I better respond, or she would soon be sounding like a broken record, I muttered through clenched teeth, "What are you talking about?" "The heat, the electric blanket, the bed is getting warm, don't you feel it? Just lay still and soon you'll be warm." Maybe we men still things like the cave men, and it's just that women have evolved a lot more than we give them credit for.
One thing became obvious in the light of day, if you can get them back into cavewoman mode, they stay that way for a while. Why, she even did dishes before breakfast, as well as once again after breakfast this morning. I think I could grow to really like the new cavewoman Linda.
The remainder of the day was anti-climactic after such an unconventional start, and in keeping with such a beginning, we pretty much just dwaddled all day long, with me occasionally writing a little for the daily journal, then messing with the new camera. A process that was repeated over and over, with the journal not getting posted until the very late afternoon. Linda was busy with Ebay, having had a number of bids close over the weekend, which meant she had packages to get ready to mail out.
I assure you, I am most definitely not turning into a Howard Payne, but I did get a photo of our hummingbird turned toward the sun which showed off his brilliant red plumage. No more slightly out of focus bird pictures as I learn how to use this new camera. I promise, I think.
We had been watching RV's drive in most of the day, and having gotten used to seeing them pass by, were paying them no attention when three brightly colored coaches which came in together caught my eye. For the next five minutes we watched as eight of the old GM coaches drove in, drove around, and finally settled on a spot out near US-95. When you've got something as sharp as they were, you definitely want to show it off. As you can guess, I was so entranced by them, I almost forgot to take any pictures. And almost it was. It was just like the birds, the bright ones are the leaders, with the more drab ones following along, so you know which ones I got the photos of.
Because of the dust, they spaced themselves out and drove slowly. We weren't the only ones watching, as all around there were people standing, staring in the direction they were coming from. They said the design was ahead of its time. Maybe it still is.
Just yesterday I wrote I was going to have to take some photos of the more interesting RV's in the LTVA, and here was a row of them parading right in front of us. Maybe today I should wish for money.
Later we decided to walk over towards where the GM Motorcoaches were parked to get some more photos. Unfortunately, the way they were parked along with the angle of the setting sun wasn't in line with my fledgling photographic skills. We did, however, see a really sharp looking coach back over near the wash and just couldn't resist taking a picture of that beauty.
If that doesn't sum up just how proud we are of the coach and the joy we feel for the Life we live, nothing does.
We decided that we'd had so much practice at doing a whole lot of nothing much, that we would do much more of it this evening. That meant some reading, I'm really struggling trying to read Faust, and find I just have to plow through several pages each time I pick it up before it starts to come to life, then I find myself completely immersed in it until my concentration is broken. At which point the process is repeated all over again. Don't you just hate books like that which have so much to offer, but make it so hard to find it. In a way that is also how I find writing. Sometimes it is hard to get started, then suddenly the words come rolling out far faster than my fingers can type. What with the reading and time on the Internet, the evening just seemed to fly by. I did remember to start the generator at 9 o'clock so it wouldn't decide to come on in the middle of the night again. With the Wave heater keeping us warm, the soft glow of the lights illuminating the coach and the radio playing softly in the background we were at home. It had been a day which started with a bang and ended with a whimper. It had been a day when, once again, we experienced Life to its fullest. It's not what happens that matters, its what you think about what happened that counts. Today, as always, we thought good thoughts and counted our blessings. By the way, how did you day start?
Jan 16 - Tuesday
It must have been apparent to Linda, but I must confess it wasn't to me. Given that sad state of affairs is it any wonder she did what she did this morning, which I became aware of only when I was getting ready to write this todays entry for the journal. It seemed strange at the time, the fact that I let her request and comments sail right over my head, but maybe it was because I was too deeply engrossed in writing the journal. I remember her saying something about a dog and asking about the camera, but that is all that comes back these many hours later. It's a shame too, because I would like to be able to remember what must have the sound of glee in her voice and seen what was no doubt, a huge smile on her face. Unfortunately all is gone, never to seen again, unless time travel becomes a reality and someone gets lost, only to part the mists of time and stumble onto our morning.
To say I love the new camera would be a gross understatement and each evening I can hardly wait to download the days photos onto the computer and see how they turned out. Tonight was no exception and that was when I discovered what she had been doing this morning. I have been trying to get her to use the old camera, even to the point of encouraging her to buy a belt so she can carry it around. Hasn't happened yet, but hope springs eternal. Imagine my surprise when I gazed at the first two photo's from todays download, photos not taken by me, but ones which told a remarkable story.
Now I know what you're going to say, big deal, after all that, we get some photo of a man and a dog. This is where the superior insight I have developed into the inner depths of the blond, Appalachian hillgirl mind can serve to interpret that which to the eye of the normal man or woman looks like an ordinary everyday situation. Take the above photo. The hidden message is rather straightforward. In order to train the male of the species, the investment of time and effort needs to not only be ongoing, it also needs to be undertaken no matter what the weather conditions or time of day.
Looking at this photo you are probably beginning to get the point. With enough training, he will sit, stay, come and fetch on command. What she was doing by taking these photos on my camera was telling me exactly what my place in life was. That if I didn't wise up, and quickly, there would probably be more nights where I would find myself out of bed, standing in the cold air, wondering what was going on, just like last night. One night was enough for me, I'm well trained and there will be no need to repeat it dear.
That certainly wasn't all that went on today, not by a long shot. This was mail day for Linda, who had the packages from 10 Ebay bids to mail out, plus she also had to pick up our mail at the General Delivery Annex. But there was even more as she was also going to do laundry, but first she wanted to stop by John and Judy's coach to drop off some information and, of course, visit for a while. Lets see how it went? Visit with Judy, 25 minutes; mail packages, 45 minutes; do laundry, 1 hour; pick up packages; 15 minutes. Just a normal day in Quartzsite during the week before the Big RV Show and none of those times included travel time to get to those places. She was able to combine the mailing of the packages with doing the laundry, so it wasn't as bad as it looks. There were 30 to 40 people mailing packages, but only 20 to 25 picking them up, which was contrary to what she was expecting. The Martin Luther King Holiday played into that somehow or other, but how she wasn't sure. Because of the crunch at the Post Office, she's also decided to take a one week hiatus from posting anymore Ebay items for bid. I teased her about that cutting into her pin money revenue for the month, but she had a quick answer. She would double up on the bids the following week. Smart woman.
While she was out, I was having an adventure of my own. First I finished the daily journal article, then undertook something what turned out to be a little different from what I had planned. With all the RV's pouring into town, it was time to go dump the tanks and get fresh water down at La Posa South. What's hard about that you say, just drive down, dump and fill like the last time. Unfortunately with the way things work at Quartzsite it isn't that simple, what with there being a gazillion RV's down here right now. Maybe that was the word for this operation, simple, not simple in the sense of being easy, be more along the lines of a simple minded person doing the operation. First off was the problem of just getting ready to be able to drive off in the coach. We had been setting for some time, so the coach had taken on the lived in look that makes it more homelike, but also means things are out, on and over just about every flat or open space in the coach.
I actually did a pretty good job of putting everything away, even remembering to take down the clock and lay it on the sofa. The MotoSat was lowered, the slides brought in and the jacks lowered, just about ready to go I thought. Then I remembered the ladder on the back of the coach, the one that is normally stored under the bed. Good thing I did, because the bikes where also back there, chained to the coach. I pulled forward several feet, checked under and around the coach, couldn't see anything and got back in the coach. That was when I noticed the bright pink piece of foam we had put on the corner of the rear slide after my 'hole in the head wife' got here nickname. Got out walked around to the back of the coach and of course, it didn't want to come out, since it is now pinched by the closed slide. Thinking maybe it will just pull free, after all it is merely a piece of foam, I tugged on it, but only succeeded in tearing it. Back inside the coach, I shut off the engine, and put the slide out a few inches so I could remove it. Walking away, foam in hand, I remembered I hadn't checked the bay doors, so I proceeded to walk around the coach, pulling on them. All were tightly closed. Back in the coach I pulled out, and started to maneuver by the circle of Saskatchewanians. That was when the curtains on the front window came gently floating across my field of vision. I had forgot to use the tiebacks to secure them. Didn't take long to fasten them down and once more, I was off. Another 200 feet or so and I glanced for the first time at the mirrors. Surprise! I had forgotten to put the bedroom slide back in those few inches it had been extended to remove the piece of pink foam. Stop, walk back, hit the button and nothing happens. That's right, the engine has to be off to retract or extend the slides. Walk back to the front, shut off the engine, walk back and retract the slide. Hope to, you know what, that is finally everything as I actually do drive off.
Knowing the solar panels were in the raised and locked position, I drove about 45 mph, but with all the traffic, it would have been difficult to go faster even if I had wanted to. Driving back to the dump site, you first pass the Blueboy only dump. A crude cardboard sign stated it was closed. I wondered at the time if that meant the other dump was also closed. Drawing close to the main dump site, it was obviously open, it was also obviously busy. There was the usual passel of truck campers and motorhomes, but there was also the Blueboys. When these people pulled up to dump, it just begged for a picture.
That was about all there was to do for the longest time, watch. The line moved at what is commonly referred to as glacial speed, but eventually, my time came. The look on the face of the driver of the coach behind me was priceless when when I brought out that little one inch hose to dump. I've noticed the tendency of the dumper is, not to look back at the dumper to be, in line behind them. I enjoy watching everyone, especially the person next in line behind me, giving them a big smile every now and then. It is even more fun if they seem a little aggravated, shall we say. It's a nice way of saying, lighten up a little bit guy, we're all in this together and it's no different for anybody else than it is for you. Then I chuckle to myself, thinking he was probably the class bully when he was in school and all his life he's gotten what he wants by bullying others. I don't wish ill on anyone, but if he wants to work himself into a hissy fit, he's more than welcome to do it.
Finished dumping, which actually took less time today, I pulled forward to the water faucets only to find them out of service. The freezing temperatures had worked there ways, and even though the work crew was busy fixing them, at least the faucets on the other side of the road were working. It's just that dumping, however long it takes is a speedy process compared to filling the fresh water tanks. Most people, present company excepted, dump through a 3" hose, but everyone fills their fresh water tank through a dinky little garden hose. It didn't help that the first coach in our line was a Bounder, not that I have much against Bounders, but... On second thought, I better not go there. Anyway, suffice it to say, speed was not the order of the day, so being the intelligent young man that I am, and also trying to improve my mind, I got out Faust and started reading.
Eventually, the two vehicles in front of me, pulled out around the Bounder and filled at the next faucet. I was content to read Faust and enjoy the day, after all what else was there to do? At long last the Bounder's owner emerged from the coach and disconnected the hose, then pulled away. Finally it was my turn. Stopping, I got the short fill hose out and hooked it up, using the fill port instead of the hose connection. There had been a coach connected to the other side of the fill stand when I pulled up, and when I left he was still there. It is just so much faster to fill through that big port, plus you don't have to drape a big long hose all through the mud.
You have to think of the water fill as the community meeting spot. For people watchers it is a great place. There's always the guy in the pickup truck who thinks he can just cut around the line and fill because he only needs a little bit, while the big RV's take all day to fill. Even got to see one confrontation when the guy who was behind me at the dump took great offense at someone going from the other line into our line. Must have given him his bully fix for the day. People like that are the exception however, as you also see the nicest people at the water hole. As I was filling, the people at the back of the line beside me were constantly driving around the guy beside me who was taking forever to fill. Imagine my surprise when an RV Internet celebrity pulled up to fill. Doing my best imitation of a Paparazzi, I sneaked in a quick photo.
I wish I could say I returned to our site and had the coach all back in place and set up when Linda returned. While I was back in place when she returned, there was this little incident that had happened first. Heading back to the La Posa South area, I got the bright idea that since I was out and about, why not get the propane tank filled. It sure sounded like a good idea at the time, but not everything that sounds good turns out to be good. Long story short, the traffic in Quartzsite is now becoming more than congested. The near record cold wave of the past few days was causing everyone to use far more propane than normal. It is the week before the Big Show and the masses are arriving. I first attempted to get propane at the place behind the laundromat. It would have been a left turn into the place, traffic was backed way back up north on 95, plus, there wasn't any room in their lot even if I had been able to turn in. Decided to head up towards the Pit Stop, but seeing the endless line, decided to turn around and head back down to the other place. That would make it a right turn into the propane place. Next I had trouble finding a place to turn around. You know how it is, when you're in the left lane, all the places to turn around are in the right lane and visa versa.
Finally deciding to turn around at the next place I found, I turned left onto a side road, turned around in a dirt lot and headed up the little hill to the main highway. It was when I made the turn back onto 95 that there came a jumble of sounds, which, even to someone like me with hearing loss and severe tinnitus, came through loud and clear. With much neck craning I was able to see no visible signs of damage, so I blissfully continued on. Passing by the the Pit Stop I noticed there were no vehicles in the front lane, where the propane is dispensed, but thought nothing of it. Coming up on the object of my initial journey down this street, two things became abundantly clear. First there was no room to turn off the road and second, there were only pickup trucks in the place, not a single RV to be seen. Closer examination revealed there didn't appear to be any place to turn the monster I was driving around, even if I managed to get into the place. It just wasn't my day, heading on south I was about to drive past the Shell station when I spied a truck just pulling away from the pumps. At least I could get diesel I thought and started to turn in just as the truck seemed to halt its exit from the pump. Now here I am, half on and half off the road, when I see a 5th wheel about to pull away from the pump in the next lane over. I move forward a little and the 5th wheel starts to back up. This is starting to look like it could get worse. Finally the 5th wheel stops and the truck pulls out. Guess they were playing a game of cat and mouse.
With both of them leaving, I was better aimed to pull into where the truck has pulled out, I go for that spot. That's when I hear the blast of an air horn and and glance into my side mirror to see a semi behind me, the driver pointing at something. Looking the way he's pointing I notice the sign on the pump which says, Semi's Only. Figuring after watching the antics at the water fill, I'd best just pull on through and let him have his pump. After all, getting caught up in a modern edition of the old Steven Spielberg, Dennis Weaver made for TV movie, Duel, was not something I wanted to engage in today. Exiting the Shell station I turned west on Main Street and almost instantly regretted my decision. Better to have waited 5 minutes to turn left than face what I saw ahead. It was wall to wall traffic. Creeping along I kept looking for a place to turn around, finally finding a open lot to the left, I started to turn in when I noticed the no trespassing signs plastered all over. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do, so in I went and bang crash clatter went the coach. Stopping I went back to survey the damage and could see nothing amiss. Then noticing the box of wine had moved a little to the side I reached for it. I brushed something else in the darkness of that back corner and the next instant a blood curdling sound reverberated throughout the coach. You know the sound, the one the bottom of a wine bottle makes when it smashes into the side of another wine bottle. I didn't see any of this as it took place back between the slide out and the counter. What I did see was the red flood come pouring across the floor. Grabbing paper towels I got it stopped and dammed up the best I could.
Later back at the coach I was cleaning the floor and picking up glass shards when Linda got back. Together we cleaned it up, stopping once when she asked me if I was mad, I was, but only at myself, but for some reason I wasn't upset. Maybe the calm serenity of this RV Life is starting to rub off onto more and more parts of our daily life. We did find out one thing. While a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and Dawn dish washing soap does a pretty good job of taking a red wine stain out of the carpet, Oxy-Boost makes it look as good as new. It was after 4 o'clock when we had it all cleaned up and as we sat there eating our peanuts, I thought, at least it had only been half a bottle of two buck chuck wine. Deciding to take my mind off the events of the day, I got out the tripod and set up the new camera to take a photo of Linda and I eating peanuts. I set the ten second timer, pushed the shutter release and scampered over to get in the picture. I knew the camera was awesome but it could do things I couldn't even imagine.
Just how did they manage to put some kind of filter mask in the programming of the camera to make look like I wasn't sitting in the chair beside Linda. The wonders of modern electronics never cease to amaze me. The evening was spent quietly, with Linda finishing up her book, me struggling once again with Faust, then a dinner of leftover soup and time on the Internet before ice cream and a cherry chocolate chip cookie for dessert. To say that it was a day when things didn't go as planned would be an under statement. But did we ever have fun anyway. Like a dear friend of ours was oft heard saying, sometimes you just gotta go with the flow. I'd much rather go with the flow and really live than try to swim against and end up exhausted on the shore, watching Life float past.
Jan 17 - Wednesday
What a beautiful morning in Quartzsite. It may not be was warm as Miami Beach, but they don't have the sun rising over the the mountains in a grayish blue cloudless sky, either. It's also getting a little harder to see the sunrise and the sunset, what with all the people pouring into town. The pace of things has shifted dramatically around here. No longer do we have days when only a few new RV's seem to arrive. Now, they are streaming in, not only singly, but in large groups, all at the same time. In addition, the demand for certain necessary services also increases. A month ago we would see water trucks and honey wagons driving through here daily, stopping if you were out, to see if you needed their services. All that has changed and now when we do see them, they are usually driving as fast as conditions will allow, dust swirling up behind them. We all have had to answer the call of nature at one time or another, Guess you could say they are answering the RV's calls of nature. The people engaged in this business use all kinds of vehicles and tank setups, but this has to be the nicest honey wagon we have seen this year.
Couldn't you just see this rig parked beside of the little old blue boy totes and being able to listen in on the conversation. Somewhere during the course of it, I'd imagine the driver of this rig would look down on the Old Blue pickup and trailer and say something to the effect, "Well son, your right, you do have a nice little old honey wagon there, but I look at it as just a little fart. Now this here rig I got is what you might call the real thing, you know, a real pooper pumper." Of course all this was hard for Linda to comprehend given her background. As she would put it, when the holes fills up, just dig a new one up wind, hitch up the mules and drag the outhouse over it. No need to pump out no septic tank thata' way. Ah, how sometimes we wish for the simple life once again.
It was after the big blue truck had left that Linda noticed a some activity going on across from us. The ranger was over there, rather disgustedly pulling yellow caution tape off of the bushes around a large area that was obviously being saved by someone for their late arriving friends. We watched as he wadded it all up, then proceeded to write something on a pad, using the bed of his truck as a desk.
No sooner had the Ranger left than the owner of the coach was out, putting lawn chairs and and desert golf targets around the site.
This gave me the idea for a little fun. Grabbing the camera I sauntered over that way and as he stormed around, slamming down the various chairs etc, I just stood there taking a couple of pictures. He wasn't paying me any attention, so I just moved in a little closer, pretending to take pictures until he finally noticed me. I could see him look at me, then he turned away, walking back to his RV and disappeared inside. In a little bit I turned around and walked back to our coach. It was just after I returned that Linda announced he was back out again, but this time he was picking up all the lawn chairs are taking them back by the coach, which gave us a good laugh. The desert golf game stayed and whether my little photo session had anything to do with it or not, I'll never know, but then again, maybe it did.
This incident also brings up another interesting point, and that is the question, are all RVer's the same or not. Recently there was thread on one of the RV forums about Quartzsite and the kind of people who come here. All sides were represented in the discussion and the prevailing opinion was that we are all pretty much the same. We play by the rules, we do similar things and we live and let live out here in the desert. Watching what transpired across the way made me think about that. There are people in life who live it like the rules don't matter, they trample all over people, they're the one's whose luxury cars are parked in the no parking zones in front of hotels, the ones who go to the head of the line and seem to get right in when everyone else has to wait. Some of these people become RVer's and like the spots on the leopard, they don't suddenly change. Just like the vast majority of all people, we play by the rules and enjoy the life we live. After all, living that way got us to where we are at and will hopefully take us to where we are going. I guess it is unfortunate that some people only see the destination and never think about the journey, but then we are so busy enjoying our own journey we don't have time to concern ourselves with those few pitiful people who live a miserable existence all wrapped up in there self importance.
One thing everybody out here has to do is, do the dumpster dash, and so it was our turn. What with the increase in people has come the corresponding increase in things to be thrown away. Not surprisingly the dumpsters were a good half full, but by the end of this weekend, the trash will not only fill them, it will overflow and fill the area around them. A ways further up the road, we just had to stop and take a photo of what is a common sight on the roads of the LTVA's. The desert signpost.
We've enjoyed watching the growth in the open areas behind us where the groups tend to gather. It's wide open back there and groups have no problem finding areas big enough to park in, hence all the signs directing latecomers to the proper location. As we walked down the road Linda said we had better move over, there's a train coming. Not sure I had heard her correctly, I looked back, she was right, it did look like a train. Five RVs were bearing down on us, clouds of dust swirling around them like steam blowing out the sides from the old time locomotives. The creaking of the springs of the trailers sounding like the clackity clack of the cars behind the engine. We stepped off to side, then I started walking backwards to get a photo. Never could get shot of all of them, but I did notice that Linda managed to add a little beauty to each shot.
Back at the coach, I decided I was tired of looking out through a dusty front window and got out the window washing paraphernalia. Linda, only having taken two pictures with the new camera decided this would be a good time to practice her photographic skills. Needless to say, it was difficult, but with a little tweaking here and there and some judicious cropping I was able to find a suitable shot. I hope it doesn't go to her head and she starts once again thinking she's another Annie Liebovitz or close facsimile.
As I was putting the ladder back under the bay, I could sense the definite aroma of wine in the air. Looking around I spotted the source. This side of the slide had been inside the coach when the bottle broke yesterday and still carried the evidence of the moment.
We spent the evening doing something different. Those signs along the road had provided directions for us as well as the people they were intended for. Several days ago there had not been nearly as many, but one had caught our eye. There are Escapees groups in a number of areas around here, but it surprised us to see one was parked almost right behind us. We went to the website, saw the contact was a fellow Datastorm user and emailed them. Tonight we are going to hear the Balyeat Family sing and then share in a potluck supper. Not only that, but John and Judy were going to join us, so it promised to be a really neat evening. We had caught the end of the Balyeat Family singing at the Gospel Concert last week, so knew we would enjoy them and did we ever.
It was cool evening, but the energetic beat of the music had everyone tapping their toes and staying warm.
The potluck supper was sure a blast from the past. The last one we had attended had been at the prettiest little RV park, this side of heaven in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina back in April. This was our first actual food event we had ever attended as Escapees even though we've been Escapees since 2005. Standing in line I could see that there was a significant difference in the size of the plates Linda had brought along versus the ones carried by the other Escapees. It was later in the evening that I learned the reason why. If you have a huge plate, then heap it full, there is no embarrassing second trip back through the line while everyone else is eating. Then later, you can get up, walk over to the table and partake of desert just as every one else is doing. Not a bad system, but figuring it is unlikely anyone could tell who I was in the darkness, I hit the table three times without batting an eye. After all, you gotta do what you gotta do.
When it came time to leave, we faced another challenge, how to get out this place. What with all the coats, sweaters, food and eating utensils we had to bring I had chosen to drive rather than walk even though it was only 500 or so feet over here. We had taken the shortcut through the wash as opposed to long way around, which was the route we had walked earlier in the day. I wasn't sure which way to go, it all looked the same in the desert at night, when Linda said, just follow John and Judy. We did, they didn't get lost, and five minutes later we were back at our coach. Smart woman. Then we ate a dish of ice cream, another cherry, chocolate chip cookie, and after concocting an answer to an email I received that had Linda nearly in tears with laughter when she read my reply, we nodded off into dreamland after another day where we once again lived the life we only used to dream of.
Jan 18 - Thursday
It's surprising how a little something extra can change the routine into the extraordinary. We had debated buying a package of whole mushrooms when we were at the Sam's Club in Yuma, eventually putting them into the cart. What had tipped the scales was our fungi love, figuring we could eat them at breakfast and dinner if we had too, but we could somehow suffer through eating them twice a day. Hence breakfast was once again, thick slices of mushroom sautéd in olive oil, to which was added two beaten eggs, with a small handful of fresh spinach added just before the eggs were cooked. Served folded on a plate with a generous amount of fresh, course ground pepper and a dash (numerous dashes in my case) of Habenero sauce, it was one of those truly special ways to start the day.
Certain days are meant to simply be enjoyed, we planned today to be such a day. Unfortunately, there was the matter of the brightly glowing red light beside the "E" on the system monitor panel. The fact that this was the case with both the holding and the grey tanks was good. Don't you just love the way they caption these things, holding and grey tanks. You'd think RV's were only used by delicate ladies in the Victorian Age, when their sensitivities would have lead to a fainting spell if words that actually described those abodes of the effluent of daily living and the normal emissions of every human being had been used. Speaking of which, did you know the reason that indelicate terms like, "take a crap" or this one, "going to the john", are used is because it is said the flush toilet was invented by an English gentleman with the name, John Crapper. Just be glad it wasn't invented by a young lady with the name Petunia Blaster. For all we know it could have ended up that we would find ourselves in this day and age going to the petunia to take a blaster. I think it's all the dust in the air here at Quartzsite, it does that to the mind you know.
While the above sounds like what you'd like to hear, I was going to say nice, but for some reason the word just didn't fit in with the the subject matter, it's apparently not quite true. There was an early manufacturer of flush toilets who was an Englishman named Thomas Crapper, but the term "john" was used long before his time. All this was popularized in a book called, Flushed with Pride: The Story of Thomas Crapper, which also had Thomas using the name Sir John Crapper, which makes for a better story. Not much different from Weems making up the tale of Washington and the cherry tree in his book, The Life of Washington. Somethings seems just so plausible, they are simply accepted as fact, no matter what the origin.
Unfortunately there was one other light on the panel which was also glowing red. The one indicating the propane level, the same light Linda has been commenting on for several days, the one I tried to rectify earlier in the week with disastrous results, the one that, if I don't do what she said, which was get it filled before it runs out, would prove quite harmful to my health in more ways than one. Obviously the time had come to drive into Quartzsite and wait in line. It was then that Linda said, "You may have put it off too long." "Why do you say that", I inquired, wondering once again how she always seems to know what is on my mind. The answer was, "Look out front." A sight certain to strike fear deep into the heart of a procrastinator like myself met my eyes. Traffic was backed up on US-95 coming a near standstill in front of us heading north to town. I did a quick calculation, it was only Thursday, it was two days before the start of the Big RV Show when we know traffic will be backed up for miles, this simply couldn't be happening. I blinked my eyes, but nothing changed. I wasn't worried about the hours this meant it would probably take to get propane, I was more concerned with just how many days, or perhaps weeks it would take before Linda would stop reminding me of this day. It could be described as feeling akin to the time traveler who suddenly finds himself transported into an opulent room surrounded by bejeweled women, when he feels a shudder, he looks towards the door to see HMS Titanic emblazoned above it.
Linda snapped me out of my dreamworld with the comment, "There had to have been an accident or something at one of the lights." Time proved her right, because in fifteen minutes the backlog had cleared and traffic was flowing normally once again. It was an accurate depiction of what the future holds, the tremendous traffic that the weekend will bring. Rather than just drive into town in the coach, I decided to combine a reconnoitering trip with Linda's trip to the Quartzsite Beauty Salon. We parked in front of the salon, the way I was feeling it would have been all right with me if it had been a saloon instead, then proceeded to walk up past the propane place behind the laundromat, where there were just a few vehicles in line, but nothing like the mob scene of several days ago. Continuing north on US-95, I looked and couldn't see the usual backup out on the street where the Pit Stop is, or at least where I thought it was. I decided it was best to continue on and see what was going on. There was only one problem with what I was doing, and that was walking on the sidewalk against the flow of traffic. That meant that everyone who pulled out from a side street or place of business was intently looking the other way. I quickly established my pattern, if the person was looking the other way, I simply waited until they pulled out, before continuing on. If they looked at me, I waved, and if they waved back, meaning definite contact had been established, I walked past, otherwise I waited for them to pull out. Made for a little slower going, but made me feel a lot safer.
Arriving across from the Pit Stop, I could see they weren't very busy, certainly nothing like the other day.
Time to head back and get the coach. Walking along 95, I watched the traffic ebb and flow through the intersection and across the I-10 bridge. It was much busier than it had been a few weeks ago, so it seemed like a good time try out the telephoto aspect of the camera on a street scene.
Everything else was almost anticlimactic after this. When I was nearing the street the salon was on, I noticed a pretty blond lady in a red jacket standing on the side walk. Then I saw her wave at me. A flash of thoughts, a jumble of emotions, and the sudden recognition that it was Linda only took a microsecond. The beauty salon was definitely into speed cutting this week, as they were booked solid through next weekend. It wasn't like their customers would be coming back anytime soon, so maybe the motto was shear the sheep and move on. Linda laughed as she told how one lady came in looking to get her hair cut and got upset when the stylist couldn't fit her in some how or other. I figured maybe she was the wife of the guy in the RV at the dump and water station the other day. Back at the coach, I got everything packed up to pull out, no repeats of a few day's ago, and Linda, knowing this morning that I going to be getting propane today, had already put anything in a glass container away in a very safe place.
No starts and stops today, an easy drive into town where I was even able to make the left turn into the propane station behind the laundromat. There were only two people in line, so it wasn't long before it was my turn. The attendant mentioned this was the first time this week that there were no other people in line. Not only that, but he had no big row of empty cylinders which people had dropped off to be filled, adding he liked that, but he wasn't sure if that was good or not. Said, once you get so busy you just like to stay that way. Remembering my working days, I knew just what he meant, hating it when the pace of work slowed down. He also mentioned the fact that the Pit Stop had a pump break down a few days ago was part of the reason he had been so busy. Like I say, you can learn more standing in line for 5 minutes in Quartzsite than a dozen Guantanamo interrogators could in 5 days, trying to use their normal methods to extract information. As I pulled away from the pump, the tale of the tape showed 27.5 gallons for the quantity and 56.89 for the cost. As I was getting ready to turn out onto 95, a horn started honking, looking up, it was Linda and Judy, who were out on a bead buying expedition. They waved as they drove right on past. I waited another couple of minutes until a very nice lady in a jeep finally let me out onto the road.
After a stop at the Shell station to get diesel, at Quartzsite you use diesel just setting still, I drove back and parked the coach, pointing a little more to the northwest to hopefully better track the sun. Once set up, I busied myself with cleaning up a few things on the website which I had noticed were just not right. It is amazing just how much effort it takes to try to keep everything current on the website. A job which, by the way, is impossible to keep up with. As I worked I watched one of those things you have to see to appreciate taking place far across the way. A group of people were gathered around one of those folding loungers, trying to get it open. It was simply not going cooperate, and while some worked on the top, another got down on hands and knees to get a different perspective on the problem. By the time I thought to grab the camera, the prime moment had passed.
One of the true joys of being in Quartzsite is people watching. The problem is, that with each passing moment there is yet still another RV pulling in and parking. The wide expanse of open space in front of the coach was disappearing as sure as an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. If you don't like crowds, then staying up in the area closer to the Big Tent like we do would not be for you, see what I mean.
The thing about being here now is, the parade of newcomers never seems to end. As Linda was fixing supper, she was talking about her beading adventures with Judy, but every once in a while she would interrupt the narrative with, "Here comes another one." And sure enough, I'd look up and coming down towards us was another RV. It's one of those things that can only be appreciated if it is experienced. And is one of the reasons we like to be up front, even though it is crowded and dusty. It's just too much fun. That, of course begs the comment, "Get a life", to which we say, we got one, and we love it.
Dinner was bad, not because the food was bad, it was great, but because it was the last of the leftovers, meaning someone's actually going to have to cook something for supper tomorrow night. As we ate and checked in on our favorite websites, I seemed to overhear some phrases being uttered by the other person at the table. I wasn't sure, but I thought I heard such things as, "cook every night", "justs sits at the computer", "he can cook", "his turn for a change", you know, woman babble like that. Taking my cue, I added a few contributions myself, "rain in the forecast", "won't be able to grill", "she sure is a fabulous cook", the type of honest, positive comments that any husband would make. Something tells me it all fell on deaf ears and I will, no doubt, find myself cooking supper in the very near future.
Later we both did our usual, a little web surfing, then Linda typed up a few recipes so I converted them to html and uploaded them to the server. They are for the cherry chocolate chip cookies and the pumpkin fluff. Here's a direct link to the dessert recipe page, the cookies and fluff are at the bottom of the page, or you can use the normal links to the recipes at the top left of each page. That was also when I found out the mutterings at the dinner table I had heard were but the tip of the iceberg. We were eating not only the last of the cookies, but even worse, the last of the ice cream. Oh well, at least I didn't make a mess of the coach today, so I guess it could have been worse. Then again, it also means we will be eating something new and different. Our never ending adventure called Life, rolls on.
Jan 19 - Friday
It's a Rainy Night in Georgia may be how the song goes, but it's a cloudy morning in Quartzsite is how the day began. We were also greeted with temperatures in the 40's, which was a welcome change from the cold we had been experiencing. Whenever the weather changes it usually puts on a spectacular show which, I think, is mainly due to the mountains which seem to shield Quartzsite to the west, forcing weather to squeeze around it before building to the point of overwhelming the mountains resistance. The view to the south presented the sharp contrast between the gray storm clouds, the light colored RV's and oranges and yellows of the sunlit sky, making for a special scene.
After a breakfast of oatmeal and dried cherries, we settled into our routine. I worked on the daily journal and Linda got ready to go to the Post Office to mail the last of her Ebay packages for the week. After her experience on Tuesday, she was expecting the worst to be worser than the worst, today, or something like that. While much of our life is a case of fulfilled expectations, this foray to the location of one of the busiest mail stations known to mankind, for a few days at least, was a colossal disappointment. It was so bad she couldn't even get any photos of the long lines, namely because there weren't any. For what ever the reason, the wait at the main Post Office was only 5 minutes and at the annex, less than 15 minutes. She didn't even have time to pick up any of the local gossip because the lines were moving so fast. She did, however, have nothing but great things to say about the girl working the annex, who was faster than the two people put together, who normally work there. Maybe this girl was new and just hadn't learned the way the Quartzsite Post Office likes to treat its customers. Or maybe she was Postmistress and knew how she'd like to be treated herself if she were a customer.
The great thing about Quartzsite is that if there is a short line in one place it only means there is a longer line someplace else. She found the lines at the General Market when she stopped in for some ice cream. It was so packed that you could only come down the aisles from where the meat counter is in the back, then turn around and go back to the meat counter end to move over to the next aisle. What's with all these people coming into town for the Big Show, do they all wait till the get here to shop so they can tell everyone how crowded it is?. Needless to say, we are not going to be enjoying any ice cream, but at least she was able to escape unscathed. Her next stop was the produce market, where while the lines were long, the need for peanuts was far stronger than the torment of waiting in the long line. She did pick up the little tidbit that tomatoes had been selling for around $17 a case before the freeze, but were now on the order of $47 a case. She didn't even look to see what the market was charging for tomatoes, but she could confirm the price of peanuts was unaffected.
Her last stop was at the Camping World tent in the Beaudry RV lot off Kuehn Street. During the time she had been running her errands, the clouds had filled to the point of overflowing and it was threatening to rain at any moment. This did not make the impatient woman in my life a very happy, particularly when she found there was a long and slow moving line that lead to the tent. She was also loaded for bear since her mission was not to buy, but to return. All those fittings and hoses we had bought in Henderson, Nevada that were not used to install the Wave heater were in the bag she was carrying. As she waited and waited, she was becoming more and more impatient, after all, why should the line to Camping World be so long and so slow moving.
She got to talking to the person in front of her and remarked about the slowness of the line. The reply was something about free food and old people. That was when she learned she was in the line for the free breakfast Beaudry serves, and that the Camping World tent was elsewhere on the Beaudry lot. Marching past dozens and dozens more RV's, with salesmen hanging around like vultures or rats, rats probably being the more appropriate since their are so many around, she finally found the Camping World tent. The cashier, when asked if they accepted returns, said only on certain types of items. When Linda opened the bag, the girl immediately started ringing them up, saying there was not only no problem returning them, they were glad to have them. When she was done with the transaction, she had received back enough money to make all our purchases at Camping World for the past year cost us only $0.04 in our own money. That nice big Camping World gift certificate my coworkers had presented me when I quit my job in December of 2005 had really come in handy. She did take a quick walk around the tent to see if there was anything she could blow her new found fortune on, saw nothing, but had to laugh when she noticed the propane fittings she had just returned were already going back on the shelves. As Linda left the tent she stopped to snap a picture, which turned out to include another person taking a photo of the same tent, all RVer's are alike.
Somehow or other she resisted all the pleading invitations from the sales people and arrived back at the Explorer with out having spent her newly obtained greenbacks on an RV. For a street which had been nearly deserted only a week ago, it sure was busy today. You can just hear the cry going out, the grass in the pasture is deep and green, the sheep have just been turned out, let's fleece as many as we can, as quickly as we can. The photo also has the symbol of the aforementioned RV dealer. Could it have one meaning for the customer and another for the workers? One also has to wonder just how long it will be before a dealers of one of the popular model of toads or tow vehicles buys a big chuck of prime real estate to set up shop to fleece the unwary during this time of unrestrained buying.
By the time she arrived back at the coach, the rain had started to fall. You had to feel sorry for any of the vendors who were setting up in what turned out to be an all day rain. That didn't phase Linda, however, as she had gotten a package in the mail from her brother and sister-in-law. I barely had time to get the camera out before it was opened, so we had to reconstruct the moment of glee in order to get a photo. That was when I noticed she was just as happy the second time as the first. That girl surely does love to get presents. She'd probably say it's because I hardly ever get her any, to which I'd have to admit that she's probably right. Never have said I was perfect, just close to it, but someday I hope to be as good as she is...
It's fun to watch the little girl come out in her when she does something like this, plus one of the gifts was more than met the eye.
One of the true joys we have always had, was to be surrounded by a world decorated with chickens. To say that she has hundreds of items with or in the shape of a chicken would not be hyperbole, and these gifts only added more to the making of the coach into our home. By now it was raining pretty good, but there are always some chores which have to be done, rain or shine. Wonder if any of the four of them were happy out there? It sure looks like the two on the right aren't. Bet the big dog overheard the man and woman talking about it raining cats and dogs, so it just had to go out and see if there were any cats to chase. Who knows how a dog's mind works, other than the dog whisperer, Cesar Millan, that is.
The rest of the day was spent inside, as the rain continued to fall and the puddles grew.
When the rain finally did stop it was getting to be early evening. And while fixing supper we happened to look out and notice the sun was trying to break through the overcast. Rain and sun usually mean one thing and so we rushed out to see if there was a rainbow in the sky.
This was a night where we wanted to get to bed early, because tomorrow would be a big day. That we succeeded was due more to Linda's insistence than my compliance, but not before eating a big slice of recently baked zucchini chocolate chip cake. After all, when the sun don't shine, the solar panels don't generate current, so the generator has got to run. Linda, being Linda, would never let an opportunity like that, to bake something in the convection oven, go to waste. No matter what the day brings, somewhere there is joy in Life.
Jan 20 - Saturday
Well it finally arrived, one of the reasons why we are where we are. Our minds are a jumble of activity with common place jingles from years past replaced with the sign of the times. If I could eavesdrop on Linda's thoughts maybe I would hear something like the following:
Faster than a flashing blue light special. More powerful than an automatic door closer. Able to leap tall counters in a single bound. Look, up in the sky it's not a a bird, it's not a plane, it's blond Supershopper.
A fiery female with the speed of light. A cloud of dust and a hearty "Hi-Yo Shopper", The blond shopper rides to shop once again with her ever faithful Kem-O-Bob-E.
You know, I couldn't possibly make this stuff up, it's got to be what she's thinking this morning. There was however more than the idle thoughts of SuperShopper which were distracting me, as the view in every direction this morning is what might be called wall to wall RVs. Here is the view to the side.
Remember that big vacant field behind us several weeks ago, with only a lone RV in sight? It doesn't look that way today.
Our view of US-95 had completely disappeared, with only thing in sight being hundreds of RV's.
There were so many RV's it was impossible to count the number. Deciding to take a quick census of the immediate neighbor hood, we walked around and counted the RV's in just our little triangle of land here between the entrance road, the wash and US-95. When we had arrived, over a month ago there had been only 25 RV's at the most scattered over these couple of dozen acres. Today we counted 181 RV's, just right here. The total number at Quartzsite right now must be in the tens of thousands. You've got to be here to understand the numbers that are present. If Tennyson was here today, would the famous poem have been slightly different, would he have looked at the two hundred or so RV's in our little corner of Quartzsite, then after spying the seeming thousands standing between us and the big tent have written something sounding more like:
So what was there about the Big Tent that presented such a challenge? Well first we had to get there. We are not masochists, but we do enjoy a challenge, which was why we had told John & Judy to stop by about 9 o'clock and we four would all walk over together. You have to admit people from Michigan are good sports. They may not be able to beat Ohio State in sports, but they are willing to always show up on time. The traffic was already backed up to the south on US-95 when we crossed over to the west side of the road where the Big Tent is located, then after negotiating through the usual very impatient drivers, we found ourselves inside. The first order of business was to hurry off to the Good Sam exhibit and try our keys. If you don't go to the tent first, the line grows and grows, making for a long wait later. Needless to say we were were both winners and losers. Winner because there was no line, losers because our keys didn't unlock the treasure chest. Or I should say their keys didn't, I didn't even get a chance to try, as my key was missing from the key ring when I went to get it out of my pocket. I just know it had to the winner, but think of all the money I save the Good Sam Club because they won't have to give that prize away. Somewhere out there, ground in to the dust and gravel of Quartzsite is probably the winner. Just my luck.
So just exactly how bad were the crowds? We didn't think it was as bad as last year, which is the only other time we have been here. We were hardly ever blocked from moving this year. The hucksters with their magic mops, knives, rags, cookware, etc, seemed to be having a problem gathering even a few lookers for their pitch. Everyplace we stopped that we wanted to ask questions, we had no problem finding someone to talk to. I ended up buying a new adapter for our Sani-Con macerator waste pump system. John on the other had proved to be a pro at the trade show game, knowing exactly which products to show an interest in and receive a demonstration concerning exactly how the product worked.
So just exactly what did it look like inside of the big tent?
We did have another pleasant surprise while in the Big Tent. We were stopped with the now familiar, "I read your daily journal", greeting, getting to spend a few minutes chatting Richard and Patsy of Victoria, Texas. They are with the RVA group which is circled up not to far from where our coach is parked and hope to join them at one of their nightly campfire get together's next week.
It is amazing how tiring it can be walking around looking at many things in which we have absolutely no interest. On the other hand we could also say it is amazing how tiring it can be walking around looking at many things we are interested in. Today was more of a scouting and experiencing the crowds trip to the Big Tent. The real shopping and information gathering will take place later in the week when the crowds thin out. I did try to get a photo of the huge houseboat in the outside display area, but there were just too many people around it to get a good shot. Will try later in the week when we come back again. During our walk back to the coach, I took a couple of pictures to give you a sense of what traffic was like out on US-95. It didn't surprise us that traffic was not backed up nearly as bad as it was last year, since the crowds in the tent, and especially in the vendor area ringing the outside of the tent seemed to be definitely less than last year. This is looking south on US-95.
When I tried to take this photo I had a problem. Would you believe, there I was getting ready to take this photo and somebody stepped right in front of me to take a picture. At first I wasn't sure what the large object blocking my view was, then when I figured out some had stepped in front of me, took a deep breath preparatory to generating some very unkind thoughts. That'd when i realized it was John who had stepped in front of me. That instantly turned my thinking around 180 degrees. Here's a guy who makes his living from the photographic arts, and he was taking what was basically the same shot I was. Maybe it's not always that top model I work with in my pictures, maybe they really are photos and I do a pretty good job myself. Better not talk about it too loudly or Linda's gonna' want a pay raise. After I'd finished patting myself on the back, I turned around and took one towards the north. John had not taken one in that direction, but by now my ego had inflated to such proportions that I figured what did he know anyway.
You'd think after all this the day would be finished, but really we were just getting started. As we sat out on our fake grass patio, our friend, the hummingbird came over to share some lunch with us, then proceeded to serenade us with a song. As we sat and relaxed in those chairs we once ago realized just how fortunate we were to be able to live the Life we do.
After lunch Linda presided over a burial. Her tomato plants had officially expired and it was time to put them out of their misery. It was just a few weeks ago they were dark green, vibrant and healthy. Here today they had lost their color and were a limp shadow of their former selves. She was surprised to find they still retained their root structure, but why they had decided to give up on living, we will never know.
Later as we enjoyed our daily peanuts at the usual 4 o'clock hour, we received a phone call from yet another daily journal reader who had just arrived in Quartzsite. We invited Kay, who was from East Texas to stop in any day she was up this way at 4 o'clock and share some peanuts with us. We are so glad we can share our lives with you, and it is real treat to get to meet the people on the other end of the daily journal, those who read and share the grand adventure we we call our Life. Maybe the phone call got me pumped up to the point where I finally figured out at last, how to make the delayed shutter timer actually work for once. Of course the first one had us staring at the camera to see if the darn thing worked, so we had to take a second photo where we were busily engaged in stuffing peanuts in our mouths. I can't believe we're into retakes, but that woman wants everything just right, so what ever she thinks I need to do, I do.
We had one more thing to do make for a perfect day and it started at 7 o'clock when John and Judy showed up for a friendly evening of Mexican Train. I'm not sure just how friendly they thought it was especially when Linda managed to win every round but two that we played. It wasn't just that she won all those times, did she have to express such glee each time? It turned out that Judy had a birthday coming up in the near future, so we celebrated in the grand style that only those who have spent their time in Quartzsite can appreciate. Linda put three candles on a piece of zucchini chocolate chip cake, we all sang a somewhat off key rendition of the Happy Birthday song and completed the celebration with opening a bottle of very fine port, a Vincent Arroyo, 2003 Napa Valley Petite Sirah Port. (Thanks Carl and Jan)
There are times in life when everything just seems to come together. This was one of those times. To experience the connection of being human. The joy of Life. The spirit of togetherness. Our adventure goes on and on.