Jan 21 - Sunday
Seven days and 10 degrees. Sounds like the title of one of those sure to fail TV shows the network dimwits are always touting as the next super hit. Fortunately it has nothing to do with the tube, rather it is a manifestation of the changes we see week to week. Last Sunday morning, seven days ago, it was 24°, this morning it is rather balmy, comparatively speaking, since the temperature is 3 4°. After a breakfast of oatmeal, our oatmeal, the kind made with nonfat milk which starts with really thick old fashioned rolled oats and has steel cut oats, wheat bran and dried cherries added to it, we started putting on layer after layer of clothes preparatory to heading south.
There's two things about attending an outdoor church service when the thermometer is hovering just above 30 degrees. You learn after the first time, to dress really, really warmly, and you find yourself paying very close attention, trying to detect the first hint that the service is just about to concluded. Last week they had canceled the service, which we learned upon arriving this morning, wasn't because of illness on the ministers part, but simply because not even a real fire breathing, you're going to Hell sermon could have provided enough heat to keep everyone warm. At least I finally remembered to take a photo to give you an idea what the pavilion church looks like.
The guitar player is from the Cowboy Gospel Association, and is singing a song before the start of things. The fellow in the background who looks like a cowboy, was a cowboy, but now he's a traveling minster. The walls are white tarps held somewhat in place with bungee cords. This is the exact opposite of the TV preachers with their opulent surroundings, expensive tailored suits, worshipers by the thousands and constant pleas for money. To us, this seems to be the real thing and is just another one of those little experiences we have had as we enjoy Life.
When we had left La Posa North, where the coach is parked to drive down to La Posa South, where the service is held, at 9:45, we had seen very little in the way of a traffic backup due to the RV Show, but coming back north shortly after 11 o'clock it was a little different story. When we hit the traffic backup, I reset the trip meter and it proved to be just a little over 7/10ths of a mile of stop and go, at a creep, traffic that we were in until we reached the La Posa North entrance road. It was a case of being glad we were home and deciding that today would be a do nothing around the house day. I can remember when I was growing up, that on some Sunday's we didn't do much, it was simply just a day that was. Today turned out to be one of those days. It just was. Neither of us strained our brains or our bodies, heck, we barely stretched them, but days like this are occasionally necessary to give balance to our lives. It also put me behind in writing the daily journal, something I'm paying for now. Once again, I promise myself I will not fall behind, at least till the next time.
Just after we got settled in, we did do the one and only job of the day, fill the bird feeders, which this time, included the hummingbird feeder. I was busy filling the feeders with seed and Linda had just gotten started on the hummingbird feeder when she found out she was going about it wrong. In fact she was told in no uncertain terms she was nothing more than the typical dimwit blond from the hills, when it came to knowing how fill a hummingbird feeder. It really wasn't all that bad as far as I was concerned, because it was someone one else who was telling her this. Seems Linda's plan was to take the feeder inside the coach, make up the new sugar solution, fill the feeder, bring it out and hang it back up. According to our resident hummingbird, that is not how you do it, and he was very vocal about letting her know. Not only did he raise a ruckus, he fluttered around the spot where the feeder hangs while he really gave her a piece of his mind. You think I pick on poor little Linda, you ain't seen or heard nothing till you watch a mad hummingbird cut loose.
Properly chastised and showing that while she may be blond, there are a few brain cells in there, she hung the feeder back up, at which time the hummer landed on a nearby branch and started singing away. Linda said, "It's because he is happy again", while I replied, "It's was a song of celebration and glory singing the praises of his triumph over another dumb blond." Linda then came back with, "You don't know what you are talking about." I started to respond when an even shriller sound from our feathered fried caused me to turn my head and look to at him, as that bird and I looked at each other, I could swear I saw him wink at me. Guess Linda could just think whatever she wanted, because at that moment I knew exactly what that little birds song was about.
I can remember the words to a song that went something like, nothing into nothing equals nothing, which sums up our day. Well, there was our lunch, which once again was not a turkey rollup, but rather a turkey sandwich, actually half a sandwich each, four or five bean chips and a glass of sugar free lemonade. Two years ago that would have been my pre-lunch appetizer, now I'm more than satisfied with this much food and I'm healthier than I've been in years. Sometimes the stars do align. It's surprising just how fast time flies when you're really busy doing absolutely nothing, so it wasn't long before the 4 o'clock alarm sounded, signaling it was peanut and remembrance time. I find it amazing that even after a year, that gentle beeping call brings to mind the freedom we have, the subtle reminder that it is four in the afternoon and we are preparing to relax and have our peanuts, while those who remain in the workplace still have another hour of toil left, before their time is their own. When I was on the working side of the fence I was one of those people who paid the clock scant attention, proclaiming a love for work. Now that I am on the other side of the fence, and even though I wish I'd have climbed over here years ago, the wonder of it all is just awesome, if you're not over here yet, I hope your day to climb the fence comes about even sooner than you expect.
Linda has a rule about our peanut time and it is, if we have to eat inside, Bob has to clean up the mess on the floor from the shells and skins. Of course you can figure out which one of eats with the delicate hand of a Victorian lady at tea and which of us shovels the food away like the coal miner returning from a 16 hour shift. Of course she always smiles so sweetly as more debris cascades from her hands to the floor. Maybe she's smarter than I give her credit for. There had been another reason why we hadn't spent anytime outdoors today and that was because the wind was blowing. It wasn't just simply blowing, it was really blowing. Two days ago it had rained most of the day, Today the wind was kicking up dust as it stormed across the desert floor.
Having spent most of the day busily engaged in the accomplishment of nothing, I wasn't about, at this late hour, to embark upon a carpet cleaning mission, so outdoors I ventured. Once again the wash came to our rescue. By tucking the chairs up in a bend, near a high bank we had a suitable spot for our repast. We were also joined by are friend, the hummingbird, who entertained us with song and dance as we happily shelled and munched away on a snack of unsalted peanuts.
We weren't entirely protected from the wind and a check of Linda's hair should give away the direction of the wind. Having gotten a taste of what was most definitely a cold north wind, we decided to brave its full wrath, and headed off on our daily dumpster run. Mirroring our sensing that the Big Tent crowds weren't as teeming as last year, when we arrived at the dumpsters there were no piles and piles of trash overflowing onto the ground, as was the case last year. Now that we had braved the wind to walk up to this place and get a photo showing the trash everywhere, even though there wasn't trash everywhere, I decided to take one anyway. All I had to do was take out the camera and our on staff model was ready to pose. Unfortunately you'll just have to take my word for what it looked like, because while Linda was doing her best imitation of the latest Super Model to grace the cover of Glamour Magazine, well maybe the cover of Trash Hauler and Garbage Gazette, I was emulating the young Ansel Adams, the time in his life when everything he shot ended up on the darkroom floor. Turned out that for once there were just too many buttons and dials on the camera. Yours truly had forgotten he had been been messing around with some long exposure times and had forgotten to change from shutter speed priority to the normal program mode. At least I was in good company with my inadvertent mistake.
I think I did manage to slightly redeem myself with a photo of the sunset, Venus and the crescent moon.
Sure it is cold in Quartzsite, the dust blows, the traffic is horrible and the unbelievable crowds of people could give even a grain of sand in the middle of the Sahara Desert claustrophobia, but then you look up and see something like the rainbow of several nights ago or a sight like this and if you are human, you see the unbelievable beauty of what all takes place out in the Arizona desert at a spot called Quartzsite. It's no wonder some people come only once and hate the place but 10's and 10's and 10's of thousands come back year after year and love that very same place that a few detest. If you've never been here, put it on your schedule for some year in the future, then make up you own mind whether it a god forsaken hell-hole or a beautiful oasis.
Jan 22 - Monday
The start of another week, and even if we didn't know the Big Show still had seven more days to run, still we would have known something big was happening. Our little neighborhood remained about as tightly packed as sardines in oil exiting the cannery, but the most telling thing was the traffic on US-95. It moved quickly in the southbound direction, with the the vehicles quickly flashing by. Northbound was a different story, the traffic was once again stop and go, but with a difference. For the past two days it has been a near endless stream of cars and trucks as people arrived to shop. This morning the line has many, many RV's in it, to the point that we can watch as long as we want and there will always be RV's in our limited field of view that we see in the openings between all the parked RV's between us and the highway. Perhaps it is related to the Holiday last Monday, where people may have taken a week off, planning to return today and avoid the Sunday rush of traffic. That might have been a good idea, but they probably had not anticipated the amount of traffic present on this end.
We spent most of the morning doing our thing. My thing being finally getting a daily journal posted, Linda's thing being, getting a number of items posted on Ebay. Since she had taken the week long hiatus because of the potential of long lines at the Post Office, she listed 20 items to try to catch up on her goals. The amazing thing was, on a number of those items she already has bids, including several where two people are bidding, which is the key to items which end up selling for far more than you imagined they would. Our plan was to also do some buying today, so after a lunch of turkey rollups, we headed off to the Big Tent.
We had a good laugh as we walked down to where we cross US-95 to get to the other side where the Big Tent is located. There are many people who park there vehicles up at that end of La Posa North, then head over to the Big Tent just as we do. It's a case of the early worm getting the choicest spots and the late comers parking further and further back. Imagine our surprise when we discovered we knew the earliest of the early worms, the owners of the vehicle parked in the very closet in spot. It was the white Cherokee with Michigan plates of our friends, John and Judy. They had said they were going back to the Big Tent to do some serious shopping, I guess we just hadn't realized how serious of shoppers they were. Our goal today was to buy a new cutting board and hunt for some beading supplies, neither of which were Big Tent items, so we crossed Kuehn Street and started shopping in the Tyson Wells area.
That is the Big Tent in the background on the other side of Kuehn Street. One thing we did observe was there certainly seemed to be more shoppers on this side of the street than in the area located near the Big Tent which is called Prospectors Panorama. I don't know if the ever further encroaching sales lots of the big RV dealers had anything to do with it, but whatever it was, this side looked to be a better place for both shoppers and vendors. In short order we found just what we were looking for, a high quality, made in America flexible plastic cutting board. We then tried to find the beads Linda needed to finish a special gift for our youngest grandson. We didn't find what she thought she wanted, but we did find an entirely different way of making it, so it is once again back to the drawing board. It was shortly after emerging from this tent that we looked up and saw the strangest sight.
Yes indeed, it's exactly what it looks like. Smack dab in the middle of the crowded aisles was a UPS truck. Guess it is times like these where the word, unexpected, comes into play. As we slowly walked towards the truck, the driver slowly made his way towards and then on past us. Just to document the moment, here's a view which shows off the UPS logo. When they say they deliver anywhere, guess they mean it.
We only managed to cover about half of the Tyson Wells area before our legs started giving out and I'll give Linda credit, mine only lasted no longer than hers. The last of the big spenders, we are not, so it probably had a lot more to do with the fact we were carrying full wallets, so to speak, than we were carrying full shopping bags. We may not have done the greatest job of supporting the local economy, but we sure had done our part in making it at least look like there were lots of shoppers around. Then we played daredevil and recrossed the street, which can be an adventure in itself due to all the old people driving enormous over sized pickups and paying more attention to finding an open parking spot than what's going on around them. It's one of those darned if I do and darned if I don't deals, that's, darned, if I do cross the street, because there's a good chance I'll get hit and, darned, if I don't cross the street, because there's a good chance I get hit by someone dashing into the vacant parking spot I'm standing near. One of these trucks pulling into a spot is often something that can give the unwary pedestrian a false sense of security. Those monsters are all of the long bed variety with enough cab space to hold half of the Moscow Circus, so the first attempt at parking usually results in the truck being at a sharp angle, meaning the driver has to back up in order to get straightened out, or else block someone in since they stick out so far into the rear. Compounding this is the fact the truck does not hold just the driver, but includes a cab full of friends, with the area above the backseat shining with the glow of little old white haired ladies who totally block his view to the rear. Even if he could see over them, he'd still be blinded by the sparkling glare coming of the sequined sunvisors perched atop the mounds of billowy white hair. If you're walking by when he throws it into reverse you've got a few milliseconds to move or become road kill. Quartzsite, where every second is a thrill packed adventure.
Safely across the street with only minor brush burns, just kidding, we entered the quiet solitude of Prospectors Panorama, where vendors trying to entice you to check out their bargains with verbal greetings was the norm. Compare the above photos of the Tyson Wells area with this one at Prospectors Panorama.
If it hadn't been for the attractive model posing by the cactus, the shopkeeper sitting in the chair by his vacant booth and the fellow making the mad dash for the gentleman's room, who exactly would have been in the photo? We took our cue from the lack of people and headed back to the coach. That was when I discovered Linda was suffering withdrawal symptoms. When the two tomato plants had gone to the great compost heap in the sky a few days ago, she was back down to having just the two houseplants that she has nurtured for years and years. That left a void in the old farm girls life, one that she was soon attempting to fill. Though I think of us as similar to the great mass of people who have chosen to live in a home with wheels where the wheels are frequently used to move that home to new and different locations, I'm not sure how many of them haul along spare planters full of dirt, just in case they want to grow something. Since we do, out came the planter from the Explorer and soon the prospect of Dutch Iris blooms was filling her head.
I like this woman's style. The directions called for planting the bulbs two inches deep, two inches of soil was what she had in the planter and when I asked how she knew she was getting them deep enough, she just glared at me. Hopefully she will have more success with iris than she had with tomatoes and if she doesn't, I trust I will be smart enough to not say anything. I do have to love the way our site looks, what with the patio furniture, green grass and flower bed. Why you'd have no idea from that photo that we were in the middle of desert surrounded on all sides by RV's.
It wasn't long afterward that the four o'clock alarm sounded and we sat down to enjoy our daily peanut time. It was while we were eating that we saw something different, or should I say, we heard something different. It was the sound of a hummingbird calling, but not our little friend who has shared our peanut time all these weeks. No, while this was definitely a hummers song, it was different and sounded much louder. We finally located him, high a top the Palo Verde tree by the wash. At first we weren't sure it was a hummingbird until he flew down to check out the hummingbird feeder. He was a hummer alright, but he was the biggest one we had ever seen. After a bit he flew back up to his perch at tree top level, where I was at last able to get a photo that would hopefully aid in identifying which hummingbird this was.
Quite large for a hummingbird, appearing black from a distance, though we did see a green sheen when he flew around the feeder, we decided it was the Magnificent Hummingbird because everything in our bird book agreed with our observations, including his perching on a high, exposed location. Later as we were grilling dinner, the sky decided to put on a show of a different type. Just after the sun had dipped below the tops of the mountains to the west, we looked up into the sky to see several contrails. When you live in a place where fabulous sunsets are the order of the day, you tend to get jaded. Tonight was one of those moments that rekindles the desire to routinely watch the sunsets once again.
We looked on in awe as the trails marked the march of civilization across the purple blue sky, then came the moment when it got even better.
Later, after enjoying a meal of grilled turkey burgers, cold baked beans and tossed salad, we sat for the longest time and just watched the lights of Quartzsite. Venturing outside we could hear the low hum of generators and here and there the sparks rising from the many campfires which added their own scintillating punctuation marks to the special scene spread out before us. It's at times like this that I think of those who ask, "why go to Quartzsite?" Is the answer, the trite, "If you have to ask you'll never understand?" Maybe the answer should be, "Why not go to Quartzsite." I really don't have an answer, but for us it is an ever changing kaleidescope of sights, sounds and emotions that can be summed up in one word, Life.
Jan 23 - Tuesday
This is a busy place in more ways than one. A coach has backed in next to us. It's parked not to our side, but to our neighbors side, which means it's almost on top of them. It's a coach from British Columbia and from the number of tmes he pulled up and backed in, not captained by a highly experienced driver.
As you can tell from the photo, my photographic skills could probably be considered the mirror image of his driving skills. I would have liked to have retained the view we had to the south, because it let us watch the traffic on the entrance road to the LTVA, but we do claim to be a mobile family, one that can retract the jacks and slides if we don't like where we are and move on. We'll let sleeping dogs lay for a day or so and see if the fact they are about 15 feet from our neighboor ends up being to close for the BCer's in the new coach and they move on to another spot. While I was doing a poor imitation of 007, which, as you know is the role Linda normally plays, she was taking on the part of a woman with a mission.
She has decreed that today will be the day my bracelet gets finished. It's not a morning for a beading board, high intensity light, or even eyeglasses. This is the time when the drive to finish overcomes even the need for food, since, as I stood there with camera aimed I realized we hadn't yet eaten breakfast. Note the body postion to focus the most sunlight on the beads and needle. The raised knee to bring the work in close, the lack of eyeglasses to focus percisely on the task at hand. This is a driven woman, one who you do not distract, one who, when she says jump, you instantly leap and while in midair ask how high.
That I had made the right decision to let her alone was confirmed sometime later, when she laid the beading paraphenala aside and took up the job of fixing breakfast. I'm not sure it was completely out of the need for food, since she called me over from my typing to watch how well her new cutting board worked. When I saw she was repositioning a few things around the board, I got the hint I was supposed to take a photo. I think what I've done up to this point this morning maybe considered more luck than common sense, but at least she's one happy smiling woman. It was the last of our Egg-Beater type of eggs and fresh spinach, but when they are combined with some sun dried tomatoes, it just sort of elevates the dish beyond the norm. When our kids were small, they would have turned their noses up at something like this. I wonder now, since they have small ones of their own, if they wish for something other than plain jane food all the time? Maybe what goes around, comes around. Or how about the people who spent every penny they had on things they really didn't need most of their lives and now find themselves without the funds to be able to retire. Our decisions do have meaning.
We had someone join us for breakfast this morning, not in the coach, but outside. One very small, but important task I had performed yesterday was to attach a piece of wood to the bird feeder. The house finches have had a very difficult time balancing on the feeder while eating, so Linda thought attaching something which would act as a perch for some of the larger birds would make life easier for them. As you can see from the look on this fellows face, he was quite pleased with the improvement.
It was while I was taking that photo that Linda said, "You're not going to believe what I see." Over at the circle of RV's which designated the abode of the Saskatchewanians, desparation seemed to be the order of the day. As if it was now or never when it came to soaking up that last little bit of sun and turning it into a suntan or possibly a tanned hide, they were out in full force. For the women, it appeared that just a spot of sun on the ankle or a little touchup tan to the wrist was the order of the day, for the men, well I'll just let you decide how best to describe what kind of tan they wanted.
Early in the morning, when I first get up, I like to wear a watchcap, since it keeps my head warm. The combination of the Wave heater, the sun pouring in through the windows and the sunbathing next door convinced me, at last, that it was warm enough to take the cap off. Next thing I know, Linda is giggling like a little schoolgirl. "Did he finally stand up?", I asked, to which she simply continued looking at me and acting schoolgirl silly. Finally she stopped acting goofy and, taking up the new camera, asked if she just pointed and pressed to take a picture. Sometime later after taking the picture she finally stopped laughing.
It turned out that we had quite a difference of opinion about what this photo showed. Linda thought it was another 'bad hair day' photo that deserverd a spot in our photo gallery. I looked at it as proof that her comments about my being bald were totally out of order. Looking at the photo I could tell that while this may not be an image of a hirsute head, it was, putting it a little gentler, at the least the countenance of a pilose gentleman. Where she got the idea it looked funny is beyond me, I'd say cute was a much more apt description of the handsome, intelligent,dahing, debenair gentleman in the photo. Unfortunately all my blandishments fell on deaf ears and the giggling girly sounds continued. What we men have to suffer through.
Despite the haranging and humiliation I was being subjected to, the daily journal was eventually written and posted in what was near record time. Linda wasn't about to let me crow over my accomplishments, because it was another Post Office day , and it had to be done now. At least she looked at the infernally slow moving line of traffic out the front window and decided we could probably walk about as fast as we could drive. Something tells me the mutterings I overheard as she stepped on the scale this morning might have had something to do with the sudden desire to forego travel by motorized conveyence and substitute foot power instead. We did have to stop on the I-10 overpass and take a photo showing the Big Tent and the Tyson Wells shopping areas.
We found this photo far more telling as just how busy things were. See photo below.
This is that same area a year ago. See photo below.
Returning from the Post Office we decided to take a detour through the big tent. This resulted in our ending up with not only a lot of excellent information, but also a neat tour. The information was from the Blue Ox booth, where we picked up some great tips on how to hook up and unhook the Explorer. We also learned that they do a free tuneup of your hitch in the back forty where they have a service tent set up. While there we also took a walk through tour of the houseboat which is on display just outside the Big Tent. And not just any houseboat, a Lake Powell houseboat.
Besides being a little expensive for a toad, the 75 foot length and 16 width would make it slightly difficult to maneuver in some of the campgrounds we have stayed at. Between its size and cost there could be some dispute as to which vehicle would be the tow and which was the toad. I had been totally entharalled reading about the particulars of the boat, but did glance up once to see Linda relaxing nearby. Finished with my perusal of the facts and figures about the never to be owned by me boat, I once again looked up. Whether it was the modeling genes taking over in Linda or just my perception, it certainly looked to me like see was just asking for her picture to be taken. Being the ever dutiful husband I complied. She did report that the heater was turned on for the spa and the water was just the right temperature, but since I figured her hillgirl skinny dipping days were long past, I wasn't worried, much.
Being up on the sun deck also provided the opportunity to view the vendor area outside the Big Tent from a different perspective.
Back at the coach, Linda plunged once more into her beading and soon started gushing ooh's and aah's, at which point I made the assumption, correctly as I momentarily found out, that my bracelet was done. Almost before I knew it, it was on my wrist and she was saying things, like, "finally", "about time", and "should have done it years ago."
I'll just let everyone draw their own conclusion about what the words on the bracelet mean. I'm sure Linda has one in mind.
A little later, we walked over to John and Judy's coach to enjoy some peanuts, food, and comraderie. Linda had to take a photo during peanut time. She was telling us how she wasn't in the photo, but it was okay, since she was in almost every other photo we take. However, I think she actually did manage to get in the photo, just look at the long shadow.
The evening seemed to pass all too quickly, but let us tell you, the addition of a jar of Newman's Own Peach Salsa can can make an Amish cut pork loin from Shipshewana, Indiana into an out of this world delight. The Internet is often talked about as if it were nothing more than an electronic device. It is far more than that. We put our daily lives in front of hundreds and hundreds of people, something that gives us a great deal of pleasure and also gives us a sense of community. We love getting emails from you, our readers, and every once in a while we even get to meet face to face. Our daily journal, a simple email asking a brief question, a wonderful time of sharing out in the desert, a sad goodbye, the certain knowledge that we will meet again in the future, from that we know the Internet is far more than just electrons moving through space, maybe it is actually something that adds more Life to Life.
Jan 24 - Wednesday
Today appears to be moving day around our coach. Already the people to the south of us who came in late yesterday, have left and the Saskatchewanians seem to be in the process of breaking down and loading up. There appears to be movement everywhere, the small signs that say we are packing up, looking out toward the dusty area that serves as the access road, back into where we are, we saw two coaches pulling out from the big center section to the southwest of us. While we will appreciate the improved view, it also changes what Quartzsite means as it signifies a return to a more laid back, less intense state. As we continued watching, one of the reasons why the daily journal is a day in arrears, since watching and writing do not go together, the last goodbyes were said, the last hugs held for just a moment longer, then it was off to each persons respective RV to head for the next stop on their journey through life. We knew the feeling, having said our own goodbyes to John and Judy just last night.
It seemed just like yesterday that we watched as a line of RVs stopped out in front of the coach, then moved to circle the wagons. Then for the past two weeks Linda got to people watch, as the little group of Saskatchewanians grew with the addition of several late comers. Now we watched as just the opposite took place and the circle uncoiled, snaking off to the south trailing a small plume of dust. We were amazed at how different things looked, there was nothing in front of us but desert, though a ways beyond RVs disappeared into the distance.
In the afternoon Linda walked over to the show area, while I toiled on the journals, valiantly, but unsuccessfully striving to get caught up. Peanut time came and went and so did the dinner hour. Linda really did a great job with dinner, fixing the sweet potato, Kielbasa dish with her own little flair. By using fresh garlic instead of the minced dried garlic that I use, then caramelizing the onions to perfection, she created one of those just right dishes. Sounds like a lot of other things in our life where I get to imagine and develop the big picture, while she takes care of the nagging little details, which seems to work pretty well for us. Speaking of details, throw some tossed salad on the plate along with some spicy mustard, then add a dollop of homemade horseradish and you end up with something that looks good and tastes good, like a home cooked meal should. Does Winston even use that jingle anymore? Even if they do, I know my version is far healthier.
We had eaten a little earlier than usual because we wanted to stop by the RV America Forum gathering, which was just back on the other side of the wash. Richard and Patty, who we had met in the Big Tent on Saturday were staying there so we wanted to stop by and say hi. Talk about something turning out different from you expect it to be. We had stopped in for a few minutes of conversation and ended up staying until the fire was barely glowing embers. The entire group welcomed us with open arms and made us feel right at home. So much so that we are going to be traveling with them to Puerto Penasco next Tuesday and staying for a week at the Playa Bonita RV Park on the Sea of Cortez. Like I said, sometimes things turn out completely different from what you expect.
We felt right at home and they seemed like normal people. Well, there might of have been one or two exceptions, especially when we heard that one of them had tried to take a shower in the tiny little fiberglass cubicle that masquerades as the shower in a small class C RV while their spouse was driving on the road back to Big Bend National Park. You know how it is, in any group there are always one or two whose gray matter has shifted slightly from where it ought to be, though in this case, missing gray matter might be a better description. Sitting and watching how each of them was acting as the tale was being told, not only added to the story, it confirmed that every little unbelievable detail we were hearing was true. I did manage to take a couple of pictures of the group, which begs the question, would you trust your life in a foreign country to a group like this who you had only met a couple of hours earlier?
Looking at the picture of that motley crew, I'm not sure if I'd even trust Linda.
By the time we had dragged ourselves away from the dying embers of the campfire, we had a bunch of new friends, some of whose names we knew and most of whom we had no idea as to what their faces looked like, since it had been dark when we met them. Isn't that what RVing is all about, meeting new people and enjoying new places. I envy those who have been traveling for 5 or 10 ten years, not with jealousy, but with a sense of awe. I wish we would have had the knowledge and the desire five or six years ago to join them. On the other had, I thank my lucky stars that we did have the guts to quit and cut loose a year ago. What a wonderful ride it has been, and the bumps, hills and valleys only serve to make it more interesting.
Jan 25 - Thursday
We may not have been too energetic this morning, but that didn't mean other people weren't. By 9 o'clock traffic was stop and go once again out on US-95, but with a difference. The past few mornings the early traffic has been mainly non-RV in nature. This morning it seemed there were many more RV's heading north earlier than usual, a situation that didn't change as the morning crossed over into afternoon. Several more of the RV's which were out in front of us left during this time, further opening up our window on the world .
When you have such a plethora of vehicles in constant motion it can certainly cause the wildlife to change their patterns of behavior. We were seeing fewer number of birds coming to the feeders, though the doves were still out in significant numbers. Our friend, the hummingbird had not put in his daily appearance yet and we were wondering where he was when we saw the reason. Out in the side yard it stood, proud, almost arrogant, but most definitely regal. There was no doubt that it knew its station in life.
Try as we might, we just couldn't get it to turn in our direction. With Linda hanging out the side window making all sorts of yipping sounds, it coolly kept its attention where it had been, distaining to even glance back towards the coach. I figure it probably thought the sounds were just hearing the caterwauling of overmoonshined hillbilly, which was certainly below its dignity to ever so much as pay the least attention. Of course there are reminders of Linda all around, and while you could move the outhouse in a manner of speaking, i.e., drive to the dump station like we do, for the people with trailers it was easier to either haul it themselves with a blue boy or for a $20 bill, have "Ol Blue" come pump it out. That's what was taking place just down the street.
The nicest thing about all the people pulling out is that you can find something to watch almost all the time. Not long after Ol Blue had moved on, something else caught Linda's eye. Over across the way a flag pole was being assembled and a flag attached from it. We tried for the longest time to figure out what kind of flag it was, but neither of us was even close.
Just looking at that photo, it tells a lot about Quartzsite, since it is a place where you are free to do your own thing. I can just imagine the thoughts going through their minds, the lady thinking, "It's what I've always wanted", the man thinking, "Next she's going to want a bigger RV so we can take it home" and the dog, looking around and thinking, "Oh my goodness, someone's taking a picture of me and that monstrosity, I'm so embarrassed." You can't spend all day people watching, so eventually we headed over to the only bank in town, Quartzsite is a cash town with very few sources of cash. It looks like the bank has even figured out how to cash in on the influx of tourists with their ATM fees. The term 'cash back' is not part of the Quartzsite vocabulary yet, but if they keep growing maybe someday there will be real stores and real banks here. While uptown, we stopped at the produce market, where the lines have considerably lengthened over the past couple of weeks.
Linda is not a person who suffers lines with grace, but Quartzsite is different, with there often being much chatter between strangers as you wait your turn. We find it to be in bold contrast to the silent shuffle that takes place in most other places we have traveled. Like we say, there is just something special about this place, and what's special seems to constantly change with the situation you find yourself in, though I guess if a person always saw the glass as half empty, they probably would find Quartzsite a place they couldn't get away from fast enough, telling everyone to avoid it. I like our Life better.
Speaking of avoiding things, remember that den of iniquity that we visited last night? Well that had caused Linda to certainly act strangely this morning. She had come out her bouncy self this morning, then just a few minutes later, while buried in writing the journal, I had heard the coach door. Looking up I could not see the usual scratching, yawning, itching, (the only thing missing was belching) blond ex-hillgirl anywhere around. My first thought was maybe she had leaned against the door and fallen out. Getting up and looking outside the door I couldn't locate her, and neither was she over at the bird feeders. I hoped I hadn't muttered something in my sleep that after all these years, finally caused her to leave, but the Explorer was still here, so that was out. Where could she have gone. I finally saw something that looked like it could be her, off in the distance. It could swear she was trailing a cloud of dust, she was walking so fast. Then I remembered, she had tried to make a call on the cell phone and couldn't get through, something about reservations at that Mexican RV park. Suddenly it became clear. She couldn't call Mexico on the cell phone so she was off to the pay at this early hour of the morning to make reservations. That lady certainly wants to go to Mexico.
Before the day was over we were all set, plus she found out some interesting information about the Mexico coverage we pay $5 extra for a year on each of our vehicles. We had read on other websites about how people with that coverage only buy the Mexican liability coverage for the days they drive the motorhome in and out of Mexico, because that $5 a day collision and comprehensive policy is all they need if the vehicle is parked at the campground should someone run into the RV or if it would catch fire and burn up. While only the toad, or vehicle to be driven daily in Mexico would have to be covered by a Mexican liability policy for all the days they were in Mexico. In Linda's working life she was the one person where she worked that was responsible for the nagging little details that kept the company out of trouble with contracts, vendors, customers, service providers and agencies. Today something wasn't ringing right to her way of thinking about this situation, and my comments not withstanding, she was going to get to the bottom of it. It was late in the afternoon when she received a return call from our insurance agent who had called their underwriter at Linda's insistance and found out that her intuition had been right. If you go high enough up the chain you finally get to someone who knows the correct answer to the question. What she found out was that it was true the $5 policy covered collision and comprehensive, but only if there was a Mexican policy in force at the time which covered liability. Meaning if we only covered the coach on the day in and day out, but it should catch fire and be destroyed on one of the uncovered days, our insuance would not pay for the loss. Sometimes the first person you talk to answers to the best of their ability, basing it on the information they have been given, but that doesn't mean it is the correct information. As always, everyone's situation is unique, just make sure you have all the information you need to make a decision, not just something you read on the Internet, or what someone has told you that you want to believe.
At 5 o'clock we walked over to the RVA encampment to enjoy happy hour and once again had a great time. Last night we had heard names but not seen faces because of the darkness. So tonight, being as it was light when we arrived, tonight it was faces without names. It was neat joking about how we had decided to join them in Mexico without ever actually having seen them, and now that we did we couldn't believe we had committed to this wild bunch, sight unseen. They in turn teased us that once we committed, we couldn't back out so we would just have to suffer the consequences of our rash act. It's the kind of group where you try to take a group photo and end up with this.
Don't ask me what that had to do with the group, but he seemed to be buzzing overhead, maybe these RVA'ers were under government surveillance or something for all we know. Then there was the episode when one of them decided to take a group photo. Just stand back a few feet from the circle and take the photo you say, not with this group. The suggestion of a group photo set off what seemed to our uninitiated eyes like a mass stampede. A stampede, not to get out of the photo, but rather to take the photo. How you can have a group photo with so many people grabbing their cameras I never did figure out, since by the time the dust settled there were just a few of us remaining in the circle. But that wasn't all, again you'd think taking a photo would mean standing back a few feet and snap away. After all, that's what I did last night. Not these people, though I'm not sure that 'people' the word to describe some of them, no they've got to dash off to their RVs and ascend the ladder to the roof in order to get the proper angle for the best white hair, chrome dome photos. My first thought was it looked more like a bunch of monkeys had just been let out into their cage and several seconds later, watching the ladder antics take place I was thinking maybe that wasn't just my imagination, their really were some wild monkeys in this group.
Later, after we had returned to the coach, we reflected on the days events. The fun it is to experience the connection of being human. The joy of life. The spirit of individuality. The camaraderie of a group. The adventure goes on and on. It is everywhere around us if we will only open our eyes and experience it.
Jan 26 - Friday
Our window on the world was changing today as we were planning on moving over to the other side of the wash and into the site Richard was vacating this morning to be with the RVA group. Maybe we should think this thing through. First we get a seemingly innocent email, then we accidentally run into one of the RVA'ers, Richard, at the Big Tent, getting a casual invite to stop by their gathering, which we did. We met them, but it was after dark and all we could do was listen to their soothing talk and erstwhile blandishments, which end up with us committing to travel to Mexico with them without still ever having actually seen them. The next night we were once again welcomed with open arms and made to feel like we were really part of the group, even though some of them cavorted more like monkeys than humans. Now today we are planning on moving in with them. What if they are some weird cult, or perhaps something even worse. After all, several of them are from Texas, do you think it could be the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family transplanted to Quartzsite? If it is, I'll have my trusty camera at the ready to capture their shenanigans and my writing to document any depredations they may undertake. Besides, I figure they'll go after the dumb blond of the family first, thinking she's easier pickings, which will give me time to flee and establish a new life somewhere else.
As we packed up and got ready to leave, the family model just had to pose as I took one last photo of our home site for the past month and a half.
We actually weren't moving very far, only about 500 feet or so, but who knows what life on the east side of the wash is like. Kind of brings back the days when your parents cautioned you against getting to involved with that girl from the other side of the tracks, or in Linda's case, from the other side of the hollow. Here's a photo taken from the spot where the back of the coach has been parked, looking across the wash to the northeast. That's our coach you see just left of center with the solar panels sticking up, parked in with the RVA group.
It didn't take long to move everything once we had driven the coach the long way around to get it over there. We could have walked over and back through the wash at least four times in the time it took us to drive the coach around. Here's the new view out the front window.
Our new location is part of one of those circle up around the campfire deals, but the best part is that Linda can sit at her computer and see all that's going on in the circle with no problem, and she doesn't even need the binoculars to do it. She's as happy as a piranha in a tank full of goldfish.
The real reason they are parked at this location became apparent when we took our first daylight walk around the circle of RVs. The quasi-leaders of this band of ruffians were Mike and Linda, who got the choicest site, the one with the water and electric hookups. See there is a reward to the being the leader of the pack.
It was one kind of morning, but an entirely different kind of afternoon today. One of the traveling 'Wall' memorials was in Quartzsite and we had volunteered to work the computers to help people be able to locate the names of those whom they knew who were engraved into the Wall. There are three traveling wall memorials, each of which is independent of the others and each is unique in their own way. This exhibit is the American Veterans Traveling Tribute and besides being a 4/5's exact replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, it also pays tribute to all the members of the Armed Services who have given there lives in the line of duty since the end of the Vietnam War. They also have a special art exhibition that is also a must see. I had a special reason for wanted to help with the Wall, not because I had served, I hadn't, not because I had lost schoolmates or close friends over there, I hadn't. It was because one of the names engraved on the wall is that of my brother who was my only sibling.
Doing something like this is one of those things that you want to do, but aren't sure how it will turn out. I'm no different than anyone else, the loss of my brother was emotionally devastating, and sights such as this cause long buried feelings to once again well up to the surface. To this day, I can call up from my mind the exact events that transpired from the moment my Dad called and broke the news to me until we returned from the graveside service, several weeks later. Looking out at those two long black lines, with over 58,000 names etched in them, I can not imagine how many hundreds of thousands of other Americans can play their own tape over and over in their own minds.
Since we were going to be working the computers, we went over to that area when we arrived to find the location of my brothers name. The first shift was being named by local High School students. I will only say that if the two young ladies who attempted to help us are an example of the youth of this country, we are in big trouble. Having been blessed or cursed, depending on the situation, with a very uncommon spelling to a common name, I am more than used to confusion over trying to have someone look up my last name in a computer when it comes to reservations, etc., and so I'll just leave it at the fact the two girls managed to give new meaning to the word, ludicrous as they tried to find my brother's name in the computer. Once we had taken over, after receiving about a minutes training, which was enough, and had donned our volunteer tee shirts, extra large size of course, Linda began tidying up the area around the desk. There were free roses available which could be placed at the base of the Wall, all of which had sat untouched all day, thanks to the young ladies we replaced. Linda took upon herself to dispose of the top layer which was ruined and impressed upon all of us that free roses would be offered to everyone.
At first people came slowly, which worked well because we got to experiment with the computers, discovering all the different ways we could search for names. They also had books which you could use, but after about 5 minutes of using the computers, it became clear why they had computerized everything, it was just so much quicker and easier that way. While Linda was helping someone on the computers, we had a question about a soldier who lost his life in the Gulf War, which meant we needed to look through the book to find that name. Shortly after someone wanted to know where the football player was. That was the Phoenix Cardinal player, Pat Tillman, which, after we had been working for a few hours, we could just walk down an point out where it was because we were asked that question so often.
The reasons people came were as varied as the people themselves. Some were checking on relatives, some on classmates, some on comrades in arms. I marveled at the delight one gentleman exhibited as I reported 'not on the computer list' to name after name that he gave me. It turned out they were all men whom he had served with who were going on another tour of duty when he was returning stateside. Every name he gave me was not on the list and and he recounted how he had thought of them many times over the years, wondering if they also got out. Then there was the soft spoken gentleman who asked about a classmate and best friend, the smartest boy in his high school class, who had arrived in Vietnam and had been killed just a few days later. He went over to the Wall, then returned and we talked for a long time. I knew what he meant when he talked about leaving the brightest and best over there, since my brother had also been the smartest in his class with a full ride scholarship to colleges, but instead elected to enlist in the Marines. It is amazing how quickly the time passes when you are completely engaged with others on this level. Another poignant moment was when two fellows came up and gave a name. We chatted a little bit as I looked it up, then when I commented, looking at the info on the screen, that his death was due to a helicopter crash at sea, one of the fellows turned away and the other simply said, yes, we got out, he didn't.
It was some time later that the crowds thinned and we had time to look around. We looked up the dog tag of Sean Miles, who was killed in Iraq on January 24, 2006, and whose funeral service rehearsal we had seen at the mission church in San Antonio last February. Life is composed of many small connections. We do not always know why at the time, but having been there that day some 11 months ago, we were connected and in some small way, and understood just how real his sacrifice had been.
The quiet time was also a time to walk out and take a photo of the wall, bright shining in the setting sun. It seemed to say to the names on the Wall, well done soldier.
After the people stopped coming and the cleanup was completed we got to do something that most people never would even think of doing.
The gentleman to Bob's left was the artist who creates the marvelous and moving paintings portraying the Vietnam experience as part of the Wall exhibition. He was also the owner of the Segway which first Linda, then I got to ride. When they say it only takes minutes to master they are right, though the word minute may be more accurate than minutes. It's one of those things that have to be experienced to be appreciated. Everywhere we go on our adventure, the unexpected seems to come our way. Three days ago we were not going to Mexico and a ride on a Segway was the farthest thing from our mind. This truly is a very special adventure we are on, one that gives us glimpses into the lives of people who touch others. As has so often been said, it's not the destination, it's the journey. May your journey be as fulfilling as ours.
Jan 27 - Saturday
We both slept in this morning. Volunteering at the Wall had been an emotional experience and was more draining than we had realized at the time, but once the day started, the drive to do something came to the fore. At first it was the usual, working on the daily journal for me and Ebay duties for Linda. She now realizes she is going to be very busy mailing packages on Monday and Tuesday, which is not necessarily a good thing since we are going to be leaving Quartzite on Monday and driving to Ajo, Arizona, then on Tuesday driving down to Puerto Penasco. While they will not be long drives, Ajo looking to be approximately four hours away, she has many other things she also needs to do after we arrive. However it turns out, be assured, you will read all about it here.
The morning was not all sitting in front of a computer screen, since she also wanted the coach to look its best for the trip. That's look its best as in, a clean interior, so out came the sweeper and up came the feet, my feet. She's got this sweeping thing down at long last, since it now only takes one long, gray eyed, steely glare to convince me to stop whatever I am doing and start to move furniture and shake rugs. I did make one small faux paux today, shaking a throw rug over the carpet instead of shaking it outside. Though there won't be any lasting scars, the tongue lashing I received was more than just a gentle reminder that all rug shaking in her home, takes place outside.
Compounding my error, I noticed her sweeping one of the rugs in the hall instead of shaking it. Apparently in my goofy, stupid old man way, I had failed to notice that she had indeed, first taken it outside and shaken it quite throughly before bringing it back in and vacuuming it. In order to prevent a repetition of the smell of singed hair that was in the air after she finished discussing the failings of men in general, and elaborating on one man in particular, I vowed to never again bring the subject up and only do as I was told. Sometimes the goal of domestic tranquility can only be reached through the realization that there is only one way that things are to be done and that is her way.
Another job on her list was laundry, and after the rebuffs she encountered last night when we found out that Quartzsite closes up at 8 PM, she wasn't in the frame of mind for me to be anything but a yes ma'am type of guy, as we got ready to go. At least I didn't have to worry about taking the dirty laundry out to the Explorer, since it was already in there, having been left upon our returned from the futile effort of last night. We were pleasantly surprised to see only three cars parked at the laundromat when we arrived. For some reason early Saturday afternoon was a good time to go. The quarters inserted and the washers started, we headed over to La Mesa RV to look at a coach. Richard, the same Richard who had lured us into the clutches of this bunch of RVAer's, was looking for a new coach. Isn't everyone?, and liked the floor plan of the Itasca/Adventurer 38T with its front galley. Of course, while we were there the blond female model that I live with couldn't help but pose inside the bright shiny new RV, so a photo was in order.
it was one of those split personality coaches with the kitchen placed at the front of the RV instead of more to the middle, resulting in an unusual layout of the bathroom, but appearing to have a very livable floor plan. While there we also had to tour several diesel pushers as well, after all isn't that what it's all about? If you're not always on the lookout for your next coach how will you know it when you see it. We both must admit that after all the tire kicking, we still don't see anything as nice as a Country Coach, but then again, we still have a number of years before it will be new coach time for us. We did look at an upper end Tiffin coach and after all the raving about how great they are that we are always reading on the forums, both of us were very disappointed in what we saw, though the results of looking at one coach certainly doesn't mean that all are like that.
By the time our four washer loads and three dryer loads where finished, plus the clothes folded and put away, we not only had found time to look at RV's, but we also walk up to Herbs Hardware and bought a dowel rod to make a real perch for the bird feeder. On the way back to the coach we discovered that someone had moved into our old spot. I believe it could be termed "in stark contrast" from what the neighborhood was like when we were there.
Back at the coach it was peanut time, so out we went to the circle of chairs around the fire. The setting was different from what we had been used to over the past six weeks, but it was still Quartzsite as the hum of generators, the ever present dust in the air and the sight of RVs everywhere confirmed.
Dinner was going to be grilled pork tenderloin, but as we have learned over the past few days, with the five o'clock happy hour gathering everyday, it can put a crimp in just what and when dinner is fixed and eaten. Our solution was to grill those puppies just after peanut time, then eat later after happy Hour. Besides we like the pork served cold just as well as hot, making it a serve and eat meal as opposed to the either a cook and eat or heat and eat meal. Several days ago Linda had put the tenderloins in the marinade which she has now developed to near perfection, so we knew that the smell of them cooking would be a treat in itself.
As I was grilling, the brave young men in their flying machines were out, and I finally managed to get a half ways descent photo of one of them. In fact it is clear enough that I could caption it, photographer photographing photographer, or something to that effect. As you can see, the flyer is holding what looks to be a camera and taking a photo from up above.
Soon after the pork tenderloins were grilled, which was a major improvement over the last time we grilled them. That first time Linda was in one of those, "they better be cooked because if I die from some disease I get because you didn't cook them long enough, you'll never hear the end of it" phases. In other words, they were going to be overcooked if they were cooked at all. Then, of course, the litany started as soon as we had begun eating those lengths of charcoal like dead pig, "the meat is dry", "don't you think it's a little chewy", "why is it so burned looking on the outside", little comments like that. The result was I did some serious looking to find the ideal grilling method to have those expensive little buggers turn out the way they should this time. Reading, I discovered that a touch of pinkish color was good, and that since they have three sides, the preferred method was two minutes per side on the highest temperature setting to sear them, then one and a half to two minutes per side on the lowest temperature to cook them. That's what I did this time, the timer constantly going off, but the meat coming out exactly like it was supposed to. We set it aside to rest, planning on eating after the happy hour and joined the gathering crowd.
No sooner had I filled my plate with munchies and other goodies, than Quartzsite decided to put on one of those ooh and aah sunsets, something we hadn't seen for a while, so you can skip the next photo if you want. I also tried out the panorama capabilities of the camera, but unfortunately had no clue as to how to take them or what buttons to push. The result was one of those shots that, to use the Hollywood movie industry parlance, "ended up on the cutting room floor."
It was so pleasant gathered around the fire and we even had a missing man type of formation, with extra chairs for Richard and Patsy, who were missed, but listening to the group, missed for different reasons. Soon, a considerably less than roaring fire was going, after all, exactly what we should have expected, given the combination of green wood and motor oil used to build it. The result was we sat eating and talking and occasionally coughing from the smoke.
Linda, however, was not satisfied with the amount of smoke the fire was generating, so she got our waste papers out and proceed to show everyone exactly what a real smoky fire was. I was questioned as to whether this was the way she normally behaved, in response to which, I immediately arose from my seat in order to defend the honor of my wife, replying, "This was most certainly not the way she normally acts", trying to set the record straight in jiffy quick time, I added, "I'll not have you wild RVAer's accusing Linda of something she's not because usually she's much worse." That sure put them in their place, but unfortunately I couldn't understand why Linda got so upset with my attempts to defend her honor, because everything I had said was the truth.
Though it's a little faint, you can see the smoke around Linda's head in the photo. We even got to show everyone the "burn the envelope with the plastic window game" and they soon joined in guessing which way the paper would crumple as the plastic shrank. If you've never played it before, it's a real treat, especially when Linda's the one throwing the envelopes into the fire. They may not remember me, but no one is going to forget the ditz brained blond of the big smoke and the crumpling envelopes. After a while the group dwindled and we headed of to fix our dinner. The cold pork, which was so tender it literally melted in your mouth, served along with cole slaw and tossed salad made the perfect ending to another great day in the desert.
Jan 28 - Sunday
Our last full day in Quartzsite began and ended in the usual way, but in between there was, to say the least, a modicum of excitement. This was a day where beyond simply wanting to get caught up on the daily journal, I actually had to get caught up, since the next week or so would likely find us with minimal 'down time'. I was busy typing away when Linda made her appearance and exclaimed, "It's already after nine, you know you've got less than a half hour to eat and get ready for church." Maybe not her usual morning greeting, but one that was certainly calculated to grab my attention. It worked too, because I immediately began concentrating more on my writing and picked up my typing speed. I guess she was amazed at my powers of creativity and typing ability because for a number of seconds she just stood there, hands on her hips, intently staring at me. It was looking like I had started out on the right foot for once, then my thoughts were rudely interrupted by the banging of pans the slamming of drawers, perhaps I had erred in my earlier observation of her body language. Could it be she expected me to stop my labor of love, crafting witty words that always showed her in such a positive light and actually begin getting ready to go?
Unfortunately I never did get to find out if it was the former or the latter which was on her mind, because reaching for the refrigerator door, she asked, "Do you know what "Sr" means?" Without really thinking about what a question like that portended, I grunted something that should have been taken as an indication I didn't, because, after all I needed to get the journal finished. I was conscience of the refrigerator door opening and closing several times, then she broke through my self induced creative fog with, "Something's wrong with the refrigerator, it's above the red zone and is showing a Sr code on the door." That not only served to get my attention, it also jerked me bodily away from the computer and into a position in front of the refrigerator, where I could see the "Sr" had replaced the little green dot that is normally there to let us know the stupid thing is running.
I also noticed that neither one of us were displaying the cool, calm, laid-back, professional, fulltime RVer attitude that we both normally exhibit. While that might have been a slightly embellished description of our normal morning demeanor, just contrast it to the panic stricken, near gasping for breath, current state we found ourselves in and it was fairly accurate. Several thoughts rapidly flashed through my mind. Why now, on Sunday morning when nothing is probably open, why now, when we're out in the middle of the desert, why now, when we're just a day from heading of to Mexico, and lastly, why did this have to happen at all? These thoughts were immediately followed with, we'll probably have to drive over to Phoenix to get it fixed, how are we going to keep the food cold and frozen things frozen and lastly, I pondered just how much money all this was going to cost. I guess that last thought could be considered good, coming as it did at the end of that train of thought, rather than at the beginning of it.
Thoughts were nice but they didn't get the problem solved, so we attacked it on two fronts. While I hunted for buttons to push, Linda hunted for a phone number to call, with both of us having limited success. Linda quickly discovered the phones at the number in the Norcold book were only answered during business hours, Monday through Friday. So much for customer service, but then when there are only two suppliers for this type of refrigerator to the RV industry, I guess customer service is not one of their priorities. Since American companies are busily engaged in teaching the companies in India the ins and outs of customer service, one can only imagine what will happen when India wakes up like China has, and invades the American market with quality goods at low, low prices accompanied with the sterling customer service we taught them to provide.
Back to our problem, I had pushed every button on the frig, not once but several times with no change in its status. The only other thing I could think to do was to turn the power off to the stupid thing, hoping that resetting it would clear it up, just like rebooting often helps solve computer problems. Walking up to the front of the coach I hit the battery disconnect switch, thinking that would do it. I was wrong, as Linda reported the display did not go off. Well, there was always the main battery disconnect switch back in the battery compartment, so out the door I hurried to the back of the coach, reached in and turned the switch, then back up to the door I strode, fingers crossed in more ways than one. "Did it work", I asked as I bounded up the stairs. "No", was the reply, which was not what I wanted to hear, but then thinking for a moment, I realized that I needed to turn the battery switch, and hence the refrigerator, back on to see if the "Sr" code had been replaced the little green dot. Back out I went, turning the battery disconnect switch back on, then once again heading back to the coach only to here from Linda, "It still says "Sr", just as it always has." Somehow or other, the words, just as it always has, finally penetrated my brain to the point that I asked, "What do you mean, always has? You mean as soon as it came back on, don't you?", To which she replied, "It never went off."
There is a excellent word to describe what I was thinking as the sound of Linda's voice reverberated in my ears. It was consternation, what did she mean it hadn't gone off, it had to go off, I had cut the battery off. This was not sounding like a problem with a simple solution and I began to see our trip to Mexico start melting away like the ice in our freezer probably also was at the moment. I was sure I had turned the switch all the way to the stop, which certainly should have cut the power off to the refrigerator, but had I? Maybe in my haste I hadn't turned it far enough. Back to the battery compartment I went and reached for the switch. It was at that moment that I realized the family blond wasn't the only idiot in the our little twosome. I had turned the chassis batteries off, not the house batteries. A flip of the left switch, which was the right switch, a trip to the front to confirm the power was off, a very slow walk back, then leisurely reaching for the switch to give it more time before turning it back on followed. Seconds later Linda was reporting it was showing just the wonderful little green dot that meant it was working. I confessed that I had turned the wrong switch, while she admitted she had said a prayer when I went back out the last time. Whatever the reason, it looked like it was working, and even though church was starting in 10 minutes, we decided that we had probably better go.
I must confess that when we returned to the coach, a little over an hour later, the first thing I did was walk back to the kitchen area and look at the refrigerator door. That little green dot was a most comforting sight, but we still didn't know whether it was working, and didn't want to open the door just yet. Several hours later, Linda the inveterate snoop, could wait no longer, and opened the door. It was back in the red zone, meaning all was well. Needing to work off some of our nervous energy which had accumulated over the past several hours we set off on a dumpster run. One of the things about Quartzite is the unusual things that become the commonplace.
When you need water, you need water, especially if you are living in a trailer which can be a pain in the you know what to move. So setting off with every container you possess, you seek out the precious fluid. That sure seemed to be what these people were doing. A little later we were walking blissfully along when we were confronted with what we had not witnessed last weekend, the mother of all dumpster divers dreams.
After adding our four bags to the pile in front of our regular dumpster, then taking this photo, we set off to find a better way out of the area where we are parked. It soon became apparent that I was not being the husband Linda desired at the moment, especially after I managed to imply that the reason were lost was not because I didn't know where I was going, because I did, it was because she had suggested we take a different route from the one I wanted, something that almost got me buried in a hole along side the road. Won't make that mistake again, that's for sure.
As is the custom, the 5 o'clock happy hour came with loads of food and more. One of things which took place was the symbolic burning of the cardboard RVA signs which directed everyone back to the campsite area in the La Posa North LTVA. At this time our soon-to-be trail boss, Mike, went over our route down the Puerto Penasco, what to look for, the need to stay in line, space ourselves out, the fact that it was the third traffic light we would be turning at in town and that he had never lost anyone yet, though there could always be a first time. I could have sworn Linda's eyes widened at that, but maybe it was just my imagination.
That business concluded, a ceremony then took place, the induction of the RVA rally first timers into the Quartzsite Rally Club, complete with club emblem. Here are the three latest inductees and a closeup of the emblem
After one last photo of the drivers who would be steering the course for Puerto Penasco, we headed of to our rigs for our last night in Quartzsite.
You will notice that Richard, the fast talking Texan, who lured us into associating with this bunch in the first place, is missing from the photo. Maybe he's some special undercover agent who, because his job is to lure the unsuspecting into the clutches of this nefarious group of RVAer's, can not allow his photo to be shown. Who knows what fate awaits us south of the border. Whatever it is, we welcome it with open arms and can't wait to experience it.
Jan 29 - Monday
Laying in bed this morning, I was mulling over in my mind all the things we needed to get done before we pulled out, when I realized it wasn't even light outside yet. Guess you could say I was a little excited about heading towards Mexico. Linda on the other hand was sleeping like a log, or at least like a log that was growing shorter with each saw cut. That allowed me to go out and work on the daily journal in quiet solitude. That's after closing both sets of doors into the bedroom, of course. Unfortunately, the pile of sawdust must have grown to such proportions that it partially smothered Linda, cutting off her air and waking her up. So much for making great progress on the journal.
The bright side was that at least breakfast was soon on the stove and with our bellies full of oatmeal, we could began to tackle the projects we really needed to get done. That probably should have read my belly full of oatmeal, since Linda's is flat, which is probably the only way all of this will make it past my editor. Yesterday was a big Ebay day for Linda, and she had 10 packages that she needed to mail out. As always, what people are willing to pay, or not pay on items never fails to amaze us. What she made was not enough to pay for Mexico, but it should buy shrimp tacos at the taco stands for lunch everyday this coming week. Not bad for a few hours work which she also finds to be fun. I think the real benefit is that it also gets rid of some more "stuff" we no longer need and won't miss.
As the Explorer disappeared in the usual cloud of Quartzsite dust, I got the ladder extension out and climbed up onto the roof. It had finally come time to lower the solar panels. We had left them up whenever we had driven to dump and fill, which is a common sight in Quartzsite, RV's going down the road with raised solar panels. The first time we were going to dump I had thought I would lower them, but seeing how many people left them elevated, I decided to follow their lead. Now that we were leaving they really did need to be lowered. As I was to soon discover, there was a good reason that all those RVs left their panels raised, they'd all copied the very first person to do it, who probably was a woman, and a very smart one at that. I found out it was easy to take off the arms and drop the panel, but it was an entirely different story to screw that threaded knob back into the bracket securing the panel for travel. The first time's a charm may have worked for Linda when she tried out all the things she had read in the book, "How to Capture the Perfect Man for a Husband", but when it came to figuring out how to do the simple job of fastening the panels down, I'd apparently lost not only the book, but even my library card.
There was not much space and my, standing on the head technique may have left something to be desired, plus one of those blasted things just didn't want to fit, but recalling that old adage from my past, if finesse doesn't work, brute force usually does, I eventually had it all battened down. The only problem was that I finished up just at the same time Linda returned from the Post Office, which caused her to wonder aloud what I had been doing all the time she was gone. After mumbling something about it being harder than I thought, I took a couple of photo's to show the sights around our spot in the desert. One of the problems the photographer faces is never being in any of the photographs they take. Looking at this photo, I discovered I had finally managed to take one showing me at the campfire.
While it may look like just a mere shadow of myself, that really is me standing in the ring between the two green chairs at the bottom of the photo. The number of RVs was also thinning out, as can be seen in this photo taken looking over towards the big tent.
When you have lived in place for a long as we have at Quartzite, it's been six weeks since we arrived back in mid December, your helpful neighbors may not always be the ones that are outside, sometimes they are also inside the coach. Putting the broom and dustpan away, I spied our friend who had helped keep the bad bugs at bay these past weeks. Rather than wipe it away, I left it. When you live in an RV, flying things somehow always manage to find their way inside, in which case it is nice to have an out of the way bug catcher on duty 24 hours a day.
We had been concerned about the batteries not holding a charge, so we drove over to Discount Solar to talk to them about what was happening. Turning into the parking lot we could see this probably wasn't the ideal day to visit the place, either that or it was in fact the ideal day to visit the place. The reason being that it looked like about half of the people in Quartzsite had the same idea today. We patiently waited our turn, talked to them and decided that even if something wasn't right, though it sounded like nothing was wrong, there wasn't any time to get anything done today, so we'd just journey on down the road, because as we learned with the refrigerator, sometimes a little tweak and things just seem to fix themselves.
Traveling back to the LTVA we saw one of those sights that strikes fear in the heart of any RVer. A truck and trailer jackknifed in the middle of the road and an RV off to the side of the road with its back and side mangled. Fortunately it didn't look like anyone was hurt, though the truck was obviously not going anywhere soon, as it was pouring coolant over the road. The real problem looked to be the horrendous traffic backup to the south, which made us decide to temporarily change our time of departure. Turning into La Posa North entrance road, there was a long line of RVs backed up waiting to get out onto US-95. We decided to do a few jobs around the coach and wait for the traffic to clear before leaving. It only took an hour to fix a drawer whose latch had pulled out and also mounted the SMI control panel to the console to the left of my seat with screws. For some reason, the adhesive on the back of the Velcro strip did not want to adhere to the control module. You practically needed a crowbar to pry it off the dashboard, but whatever plastic they molded that module out of must have been the first cousin of Teflon.
A little work, a little visiting, and almost before we knew it the traffic had cleared and the road to Ajo beckoned. We were both sad to leave "Q" once again, as it was a place filled with many fond memories and the fun of visiting with friends both old and new. Earlier Linda sneaked over to the Hitchitch trailer of Ron & Terry to drop off a bag of peanuts, and maybe get them started on their own 'peanut time' ritual to celebrate the wonders and freedom of this Life. Then it was time to start the trek that would end up with us spending a week in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. This was not going to be one of those turn, turn, turn type of driving days, in fact we were going to have more turns in getting through Quartzsite and onto I-10 than we would have the entire rest of the trip. At least that was the plan until I managed to drive right past the entrance to the RV park, but more on that later.
Linda had programmed the route into the GPS, though it was hardly necessary, and in the end that was the real reason we missed that turn, even if Linda did suggest that I should have been looking at where she was pointing off to the right, rather than watching the road and looking to the left like the GPS had said. Traffic was light on I-10 as we headed east toward the Phoenix area, which made for a very relaxed, cruise controlled, drive. Turning south on Highway 85 put us on alternating sections of two and four lane road. It didn't take a genius to figure out what the main agricultural crop was in these parts as the side of the road was strewn with cotton, so within ten miles Linda had it figured out and took a photo.
It was a cloudy day, and the landscape was mile after mile of desert dotted with Saguaro cactus.
Linda did say she saw some strange type of plants off in the distance, but since I was driving, I couldn't look over to see what they were. She did take a photo, which I enlarged so you can see those strange plants that woman I am married to was talking about. As you can tell, sometimes the meaning of a word is lost in the translation, either that our I misunderstood what she was saying.
Not long afterwards we drove into the town of Ajo, and then out of the town of Ajo. Seems Linda had programed our trusty GPS with the whereabouts of the Shadow Ridge RV Park, the only problem was, the GPS apparently got lost while looking for it. Linda was watching the street numbers telling me we were getting closer, while I was watching all the construction and vehicles driving in somewhat aimless fashion in this town. The GPS told me we would be turning left in so many feet and Linda was telling me she saw the sign, but didn't see the entrance. I was looking as well, but wasn't even seeing anything like an RV park, but we were right where the street made a sharp turn to the left, so I thought it was just around the turn. As I started to make the left turn to follow the street, she started saying things that I won't repeat in order to protect the sensitivities of some readers, but a rough translation, highly sanitized, would suggest that I might have been of uncertain parentage and that at least one of them was a stupid, four legged, male beast of burden with long ears, and those were the nice things she said to me. As we drove all the way through town to find a place to turn around, which we did, but just before going out of town to the south, she was telling me how she pointed right at the entrance and I didn't turn. I acknowledged that the driver was always responsible for where the RV goes, but when everything I am hearing is telling me to turn left and I am looking in that direction, pointing in the other direction is not the best way to notify me that the RV park was not where I thought it was. We left it with me having a puzzled luck on my face and her having a look of superiority on hers.
Once we finally got to the RV park, registered and parked on our hillside spot, we were off to pick up our insurance policies. The second we gave our name, we were greeted with, "Oh yes, I was told to watch out for you." We looked at each other and then I asked, "There wouldn't have been somebody here already by the name of Richard, would there?", to which the reply was a laughing affirmative. I related how we might be in the grip of a dangerous cult and that we were probably being lead across the border to be used in some Texas Chainsaw Massacre type ritual. When she stopped laughing, she said, "I don't think so, he didn't seem smart enough to do something like that." I admit my memory is a little fuzzy on just what her exact words were, however I believe it was something to that effect. But even if she didn't say those exact words, I like them better than what she might have said, besides they're also more accurate of a description of the gentleman in question.
Next it was a stop at the IGA store to get a few food items which was followed by a stop at the town pharmacy. While Linda stocked up on lower intestinal tract solidifiers in case of a south of the border emergency, I window shopped. One notice in particular caught my eye and seemed to sum up the Town of Ajo better than anything I might write. Pay particular attention to the fifth line as you read it.
On our way back to the park where we were staying, we stopped at the other RV park in town and visited for while, meeting the latest couple to join our little caravan. Unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to take one off the aside and let them know about my Texas Chainsaw fears, as Richard stuck close by to to keep a constant watch on the latest victims, I mean fellow travelers. Back at the coach Linda checked her email and found that the article I had written last night and submitted to Workamper news, was going to be posted on the website. It was an article describing our experiences at the Umpqua River Lighthouse last fall, which was titled, Born To Do This Job, and can be read on the Workamper Viewpoint page. See, I don't write about everything we do, contrary to what some may think. We had experienced another wonderful day on the road of Life, with another still another coming up tomorrow. I would be remiss however, without mentioning our dessert, which was Blue Bunny Banana Split, reduced fat, no sugar added ice cream, which Linda had dug out of the back of the ice cream freezer at the IGA store. Now that was the way to end the day.
Jan 30 - Tuesday
Note: Today's journal has lots of photo's and very little writing, which is a departure from the way it is normally written, but it is probably better that way, because it would take me a hundred thousand words to describe everything that we saw and did today. What's that old saying? "My loss is your gain", or something to that effect, but don't celebrate too much, because I should be back to proving the pen is mightier than the picture in a few days.
There was no need for an alarm clock this morning, as Linda's question, "What time is it?" drug me out of my half awakened state and into full alert mode with about the same speed that a cat comes into kitchen at the sound of a tuna can opening, though my yawns would never be mistaken for a cats meow. It was looking like it would be a nice day as we opened the front curtains to view which was certainly different from what we had been seeing at Quartzsite. With RV stacked upon RV, made us yearn for the dust of Quartzsite, except for the fact that Linda was really loving the electrical hookup we had for a change.
We were parked near the very back of the park, but we were not alone, as there were seven RVA RVs lined up and getting ready to roll out to meet at the 11 o'clock hour. We did wonder whether one member of our group was on the same time we were, since Frank pulled at just before 10 o'clock, but then he had left for Ajo a day early also. Maybe he's just one of those people who can't be late. Linda could relate, because if wasn't for me, she would always be way too early to everything also.
With some time to kill, after all, I had almost a whole hour to dump the black and gray tanks, then fill the fresh water tank, we took a walk around the park. You can bet my words, "Don't worry dear, I've got time to do everything after we get back", bit me big time, but so what, because since I'm typing this we still got to Mexico, didn't we. Right off we saw something that immediately reminded us of Quartzsite. While Quartzsite has its "No Name Street", the Shadow Ridge RV Park in Ajo has its "No Name Road", or at least we think that's what the sign said.
A few seconds later we walked around the corner and we were confronted with a scene that was what the term "trailer trash" should really be used to describe, though maybe other terms would fit just as well. We had watched as several people had pulled out of their sites a couple of rows in front of us, then ended up snaking through vacant sites to get out. We hadn't known the reason, but now we did. Sorry, but I have absolutely no sympathy for the pathetic excuses for humanity that do things like this. They were hooked up to the utilities, completely blocking the row. Sure their going to say, but I can't unhook my enclosed trailer, I say either pay for two sites and unhook, or go elsewhere. The world has a few people who only think of themselves, and after our time working at the campground in North Carolina I concluded that the people who pull these types of trailers almost always fall in that category.
As if to cool me off, we went from the maddening to the hilarious. There was no doubt that this was either a brand new RV with what must have been a brand new RVer, or an RVer whose motto was, "What, me worry". You can tell from the height of the body above the rear wheels that he didn't dump the air, but simply put the jack down in the front. While probably not a top ten contender, it would definitely make it into the Hall of Fame. The use of the term, a few degrees out of plumb, to describe someone who may not be all there, would probably be a good fit in this case.
Returning from our walk, I realized I had miscalculated just a little on the time, but somehow managed to not be the last one to pull out from the campground, which probably is the only reason I am in good enough health to write this. Just south of town was the rendezvous point and soon all eleven rigs were lined up along side of Hwy 85 as our wagonmaster, Mike held a drivers meeting, accompanied as always by his vivacious, and for a blond, intelligent wife Linda.
It is amazing how much space just 11 RVs lined up along th road can occupy. I can't imagine what those 50 and 70 unit RV caravans must look like.
As we climbed back into the coach what we saw was the view we were going to be seeing for much of the next three hours, but it was just that we didn't know it at the time. By the time we arrived in Puerto Penasco, we not only knew what the stickers on the back of this fifth wheel said, we also knew where every knick and scratch was, but the good part was that it actually did end up at Playa Bonita, so we also did.
Our route took us through the desert.
Past the Border Patrol check point.
Through Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument where we plan to spend several days on our way back from Mexico.
All the time our view was filled with RVs in both directions. It was like a river flowing in two directions at once. With all the RV's we were meeting, we decided there was either going to be lots of room down there for everyone heading south, or there was no room and everyone was being turned back. As we suspected, it was the former.
At last the line of RV's slowed and the view ahead changed. It was the border. Would we get stopped? The line moved continuously for the longest time, then it stopped. Ahead of us we could see doors opening but little else, after what seemed like an eternity, but was actually only five minutes at the most, the line was once again moving, then it was our turn, The officer gave me a big smile and waved me on. I saw his smile and I doubled it as we drove through. At last Linda had gotten her wish, we had moved to a foreign country. Well maybe not actually moved to foreign country, but since our house was now in a foreign country, I guess we could claim to live there, even if just temporarily. Only one thing hadn't changed and that was the view to the front, which I guess was good, since it meant we weren't lost, at least not yet.
Once we were across the border Linda made the observation that not much had changed, since all the signs were still in English.
It didn't take long for things to change and Linda to decide that maybe it was a different country after all.
One other thing I noticed was that our long strung out line of RV's was no longer a long strung out line of RV's. We were now a tightly bunched up line of RV's. I figured we were all probably thinking the same thing. Please don't let me get stopped by a traffic light and lose sight of the person ahead of me.
We shouldn't have worried because the road is very well marked and we had absolutely no trouble following the road down to Puerto Penasco.
We only had one close call the entire trip and that was because I was watching that 5th wheel disappear down the road when I should have been watching the Traffic Officer in the road in front of me. Everyone was slowing down as they approached the two officers standing in the street and I was no exception. Of course the fact the minivan in front of me was creeping along made it easier. Just as I got a few feet from the officer nearest to me, a movement to the side of the road caught my eye and I glanced in that direction. At the same moment, because of my angle of view, the officer disappeared from sight because the mirror was blocking my view of him. Suddenly I realized the movement to the side was an elderly lady walking across the street, and in the next instant I saw a hand appear about a foot from the front window. The term, slammed on the brakes is a very accurate in this case, even though I was only moving a couple of miles an hour at the most. I think it was just after this that the officer moved off to the side a foot or so and looking up at me, smiled. I think he may have realized that if he couldn't see me, I couldn't see him, but what ever the reason, the woman finished crossing and we were given a big wave to continue on. At that moment I looked down the road and couldn't see that 5th wheel we had been following for the past hour, but I was so relieved I hadn't hit anybody, I could have cared less. It only took a minute to once again catch up to the group, and no I didn't hurry.
I wasn't sure what Linda was thinking while all that was taking place, but I knew what I was thinking. "How I spent my retirement years living cheaply in Mexico", with a subtitle of, "Living cheap the easy way, just run over a Mexican traffic officer and spend the rest of your days in a Mexican jail."
During the drive from the border to Puerto Penasco, there is one section where the highway, which is a very well maintained road by the way, even better maintained than the road on the US side, crossed a very sparsely vegetated area. The signs indicated it was a volcanic region, so Linda had to take a photo of this area were there was about one large bush to the acre. Knowing her photographic skills, you can guess that the only bush growing right along the highway for miles, appeared almost dead center in the first photo she took. I interpreted the mutters from the passengers side to mean she realized the error of her way and so for a while she was busy taking pictures to show the world she doesn't always take shots of the things she shouldn't.
Here's what she was trying to photograph.
Eventually signs of civilization began to appear and a town began to emerge from the desert.
Our leader took us in the back way, which is also the old way, the way through the old part of town and then out across the sand, where at last we could see the Playa Bonita RV Park.
Our caravan came to a stop, and we walked up to the office to register, but something else was also catching our eye. We could see into the future and it was staring us in the face. It was the face of the ever changing landscape, the march of money. For just beyond the park, the towers of the hi-rise condominium projects thrust into the sky. It was obvious that RVer's were not the only people who come down from the states to enjoy this town. How does that saying go, something to the effect that if we could see the future, we probably wouldn't like it.
Soon we were all parked, which took place almost as if it had been choreographed. We didn't have assigned spots, but did have eleven spaces reserved, which backed up to each other. They are fairly tight to back into, but slow and easy did it with no problem. Once everyone was in their sites, some took a walk down do the beach, while others had some honey-do projects to work on.
As you can see, we had a familiar view out the front window.
But just by turning to the left, something entirely different came into view.
It didn't take Linda long to head for the beach, and off course I was told to tag along for any photo opp's that might occur. As you can see it didn't take long. That's the old port area where the rocky point is in the background.
With the tide out, the little old shell gatherer was soon busy, though there's no doubt she'd never get a lick of work out of her friend.
At 5 o'clock a number of us headed up to the Cantina to partake of the happy hour, enjoying Pina Coladas and Margaritas.
Just as with every group, there is always one person who just seems to talk all the time. You know, the one that try as you might, you just can't take a picture of them with their mouth closed. Our group was no exception.
But that wasn't all that was wrong. Before long the blonds in our group were in high gear and not only that, but both of these are named Linda.
We will end the day with photo of this happy couple enjoying their first Mexican RV trip.
But we can assure you, it certainly won't be our last. It may be that we are going on vacation in January, but when our whole life has become a vacation, does it matter?