Because We Can - Fulltime RV'ing

Journal Archive 1/10 - 1/20 2009

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January 11 Sunday

Today is my day to shine, at least in the writing department, so I was up a little earlier than usual. Linda used another phrase to describe when I got up, but regardless, it was 3:48 when I began the day. As I sat staring at the keyboard, I realized the true reason for getting up this early was so I could do all the messing around I usually do when I first get up and still have a full day to get caught up on the Daily Journal.

Linda even did her part, waking up once and checking on me. I don't think it had anything to her concern about my early morning hours, it was more likely due to what was happening outside. To say it was windy would be a misnomer, it was more like shake and bake, or rock and roll. Even with the jacks down the coach was swaying, or maybe it was sashaying, in the wind.

Now I realize a long time reader could infer that I was being kind to Linda and not really identifying the true origin of these sounds and movements, something I had originally thought about myself. When it first started, and just for a fleeting moment, a bad thought crossed my mind, was it the wind or was that Linda outdoing herself in her best grizzly bear imitation while flouncing around in the bed. This notion was quickly dispelled when she appeared in the doorway asking what I was doing up so early, while the same time the sounds and motion continued unabated.

At last the wind calmed down, things returned to normal, and I actually started on the process of catching up on my writing. When it came time for breakfast it proved to be a repeat of yesterday, with the exception on one thing. It was time to try out the new folding colander our granddaughters had sent.


Looking out the window Linda noticed she wasn't the only one waiting for breakfast, so out the door she went to feed her feathered friends. I think the reason she is so fond of the hummingbirds isn't only due to their diminutive nature and fearlessness, it might also have something to do with the fact that you only need to fill their feeder once a week. These squawky, gawky girls on the other hand are very demanding, requiring a daily replenishment of their food because it doesn't matter how much you put out, they can and do eat all of it every day.

Full lineup

Much of the morning was spent on the computer, either writing the Daily Journal, or doing research for our trip to Europe. It was amazing how quickly the time passed, and before I knew it, it was time for lunch. Having both stepped on the scales recently, we were in agreement that an occasional light lunch would be a good thing, and today seemed like the perfect time to begin. The result was a tuna salad made with our Winchester Bay tuna, one which hopefully filled us up and not out. Aside from nutrition, Linda agreed that it sure looked pretty.

Tuna salad

During the afternoon we had another lineup of visitors, but this time it wasn't the birds, it was the wild burros. They never came across the road into the area where we are parked, but they were close enough that Linda got her fill of burro watching, though it was more a case of the excitement of actually seeing them, rather than watching them.

Full lineup

All that wind this morning had also meant another change in the weather, and it proved to be a good one. Once the wind had dissipated, which happened near sunrise, the day turned out to be one of the nicest ones we have had for a while, with the sun was out and the temperatures up. By peanut time it had begun to cool off a little, but it was still shorts weather.

Peanut time

Linda had done an excellent job of monitoring our food intake to this point, but now she decided it was time to burn off what few calories we had consumed, so we were soon on a forced march into the back country. Well maybe I do exaggerate just a little, but we were taking a walk and we were going back, away from the coach and out into the open country. The plan as outlined by Sgt., I mean sweet Linda was to take a nice two mile walk out into the desert. What it turned out to be was something a little different.

The change occurred when we reached the one mile mark, you know the place where we would turn around and retrace our steps to the coach. There was, depending on what you would call it, a gully, ravine, dry wash, arroyo, or canyon to the right of where we had been walking. Now instead of immediately walking back, we decided to walk out to its edge. Looking down, it had a certain appeal and before we knew it, we had descended to the bottom. There we discovered we weren't the first ones to pass by this way.

Burro tracks

It looked like our four burros had also come this way, at which point Linda decided if it was good enough for them it was good enough for us, and so we started walking back to the coach through the bottom of the ravine. Two things readily became apparent; there was a lot of water which came through here when it rained, meaning you sure didn't want to be here at those times, and that water carried an enormous amount of gravel along with it.

Now given all that gravel, if you couple it together with the fact we were both wearing sandals you might anticipate a problem. Now throw in Linda, the woman who if she gets a particle of sand about the size of a speck of dust in her shoe, has to stop and get it out because it hurts her poor little footie. Whatever happened to that Appalachian hill girl I married that most likely spent much of her childhood barefooted, I'll never know. Let's just say that at the first progress was slow as Linda repeatedly had to stop and empty her sandals.

Full shoe

By all rights I should be posting a couple dozen photos showing a small sampling of the number of times she needed to empty her shoes, however they simply don't exist. Some of the time she was using me as a post to lean on, so no photos, the other times, she just kept on walking. That was something I never thought I would experience. Linda with a shoe full on sand and gravel, yet continuing to walk. Rocks, yes they got dump, the little stuff, nope, she just trudged onward. I was doing the same thing, though when a really big one got stuck in the wrong place, I'd dump it out, otherwise it was just keep on walking. I must admit it gave me a whole new sense of just how much Linda has changed since we starting living our Life on the road.

The dry wash also varied, sometimes it becoming narrow and smooth where the water flowed swiftly.

Narrow passage

Othertimes it was steep and hard, with very little sand, gravel or smaller rocks.


Other times there were high gravel slopes to be traversed. Here's the girl who formerly couldn't take even a single step with a dust speck in her shoe starting down a gravel slope.

Starting down the slope

Halfway down, sandals buried in the gravel, water directly ahead and partially out of control.

Halfway down

A move to left, a little more confidence, and she's made it. Way to go girl, I knew you could do it. Her take on it was she had to come down after I did because there was no way I was going to get back up that slope.

She made it

This time there was no question as to whether or not she would be dumping her shoes.

Dumping gravel

As we continued along the dry wash, the wonder of where we were was suddenly before us. For purple mountain majesties Above the enameled plain! America! America! That is part of the 5th stanza of the song many of have sung about our wonderful country, and at that moment, standing where we were, the view was so spectacular, that shivers were running up and down my spine.

Purple mountains

All good things have to come to an end, and with more narrow passages ahead, we decided to take the easy way out and climb up the gentler side slopes, this being the first time since we had started that the side slopes actually were slopes rather than vertical walls.

Climbing out

Once Linda had climbed to the top, she looked back and commented how before we had volunteered at Petrified Forest National Park she would never have attempted what we had just done. Now, while it wasn't easy, it was something she could do. How much of life do we miss out because we just don't know me can do it? And yes, I did get all four of those missing posts written and uploaded. Was it because I knew I could do it?

January 12 Monday

Got up this morning at my regular time and had the Daily Journal written before Linda appeared from the back of the coach. That's what I've been working towards, and let me tell you, it sure felt good. Good is also a good word to describe the better than good breakfast we had, another Portabella, blue cheese omelet.

Linda ended up spending much of the day researching our trip to Europe, while I was having fun for the first time working some new code for the website. My eyes tell me it is awesome while my heart tells me it is a lot of glitter, so I may have to head back to square one and start over. I think I'll remain the optimist and trust that the more I work on it, the more likely it is to evolve into something that has at least a little usefulness accompanying the glitz.

As far as our European trip is concerned, we now have the canal boat rented and the hotel booked for the night before we cast off and we're getting a better handle on the cost of our flights over and back. Right now, flying from Phoenix to Girona, Spain and returning to Phoenix from Ljubljana, Slovenia is almost exactly $700. That's by using a major carrier to fly round trip to London, and using low cost European airlines for the remainder of the trip. Because we are going to be in Europe for a longer time this year, and also due to the longer distances we will need to travel, the low cost European airlines figure more prominently in our plans, and yes, we also be taking many of those glorious train rides as we try to do it once again without renting a car.

It seemed like the day flew past, the only break from our routine being lunch and the addition of some coolant to the coach. Though I was busy writing code, I started noticing Linda acting different, and looking up, I asked her if she was getting to the point of taking a walk. Her smile told me all I needed to know, and soon we were both getting ready. The plan for today was to descend down into the arroyo we had explored yesterday on a trail we had found, then walk down the wash to where it came out on the road just below where we are parked. Of course our preparations included one small difference from yesterday.

Boots today

With boots on our feet and hiking staffs in our hands we started off. While there are not any trails in the normal sense, there are definitely the remains of tracks and several paths which wound their way in the direction we were heading. We also decided that the organized hikes that are posted on the bulletin board most like use the same path we were planning to use for their descent into the arroyo. What gave it away was the large cairn marking where the path started down. You'll notice Linda didn't have any problem knowing when to turn off.

Heading down

This trail or path was more informal than formal. It was also washed out in several places, and even where it wasn't, Linda found her walking stick coming in handy.

Safe passage

Once we got to the bottom, we had two choices as the water had left its original course and had cut a new channel to the north of the first on, leaving a small mesa between them. The point where they split occurred just a few feet from where we had descended, and looking at each, we decided to take the closer branch. It wasn't at all like the channel we had walked through yesterday, this one having almost no gravel in it.

Rocky channel

The rock the channel has been cut through has the same appearance as the gravel channel we walked through yesterday, and looking closely at the rock faces, we could see the different bands of sand, gravel and small rocks that had been laid down those many, many years ago. We'd seen this same thing in our travels before and it reminded us of how a geologist can look at a rock and determine its origin.

Looking like a geologist

Not everything is how it seems, and just a few feet from where this ersatz geologist was standing, the channel began to change significantly. What had the appearance of an open bare rock area abutting the slope was a little different when viewed from up close.

Burro babe in channel

We continued our descent, and with every step the walls around us rose higher and higher. I'm a 'got to see what is ahead' kind of hiker, while Linda is the epitome of the careful placement of foot, take it slow and easy, look around and fall behind hiker. When she took this photo see didn't realize all that she had captured.

Narrow canyon

Notice the shadow on the channel wall, at first glance it looks like it could be mine. But since the sun would have to shining from below me to cast that shadow, it had to be something else. Linda said it was a large rock up above us, and while that seems reasonable, I had another explanation. What you see there is something that isn't, meaning it isn't an is, it's an isn't. This isn't being something that is nothing, not substance, but rather spirit. It is only at certain times that we even know it is an isn't, maybe it's when the isn't is active and all the signs line up just so. This had to be one of those moments.

What we see on the channel wall is the spirit watching over the channel. Look again at my posture and maybe you can guess what I am talking about. Notice the hands on the hips stance? There is a reason for that.

end of the trail

Whatever was around the next bend, we weren't going to get to see, not unless we wanted to get seriously wet. It would have certainly been over the tops of our boots, so it was time to turn back. We weren't sure what the channel spirit was guarding, but it was going to remain hidden from us. Walking back was easier that coming in, but I wasn't up to following the channel. While the walls were steep, they were not sheer vertical faces. What they did have were enough pockets and protrusions that I decide to climb up and out.

Looking down

To say that Linda wasn't too happy with my choice of method to exit the channel would be a colossal understatement. All her worries were for naught as no scorpions or snakes bit me, and I didn't fall, breaking all the bones in my body. I will admit to it being just a mite more difficult that it would have been twenty years ago, but it sure was fun to be standing on top looking down and hearing her say, "I can't believe you climbed up that wall." Of course those words were followed with a colorful dissertation of what she thought of my mental state. That was OK because like the song says, 'I did it my way.'

Before we walked back to the coach, we checked out the other side, finding it was blocked by a dry falls, I could have jumped down, and as Linda said, so could she if it was the only way out, but since it wasn't, we retraced our steps up the path and by taking a circuitous route back, got in our two miles. Oh. lest you think those boots prevented any sand grains from causing Linda problems, you don't know Linda.

Starting down the slope

We had tried something and come up short of our original goal, but what adventures we had in the trying. We knew what it looked like from both the top and the bottom. We also knew just how narrow it was. Someone standing all the way up on the top, never descending down into the arroyo to do some exploring would never realize there were places down there like this.

It's only this wide.

To stand on one side and reach across a 20 foot plus deep chasm, dream the impossible dream, to do it our way. It's times like these that we realize just how lucky we truly are to be able to live the Life we do.

January 13 Tuesday

To everything there is a season, A time to.... I'm not sure what season we are entering, but I do know it will last until late July. That's some six months down the road, using the word "road" in more ways than one. From the RV Show in Quartzsite, to Mexico, to Europe, it will be a time of travel and adventure. The trip today was to be short, but the passage significant. It's only some 85 miles up US 95 to Quartzsite, but what a different world it will be.

When we left Q back in mid December, we had a view that included very few other RVs, something tells me today it will be a different place. Back then we were parked off by ourselves near a dry wash, soon we will be parked with 17 other rigs out in the open in a great circle. There will be a nightly campfire and munchie fest, plus we will be getting rid of all this firewood we have been carting around for some two months. We have really enjoyed our time at Imperial Dam, the peace and quiet is so relaxing, yet we look forward to the constant energy pulsing through Quartzsite. Each has its place, and so a new season begins.

We were in no hurry to leave, having no to schedule to meet, so Linda got to sleep as late as she wanted, and I got to have fun on the computer. Eventually the Daily Journal was posted, breakfast, the same as yesterday with the addition of cilantro was over, and it was time to begin packing up. For only having been here two weeks we certainly had managed to get spread out. In a way it spoke volumes to how comfortable we were here at Imperial Dam LTVA.

While Linda worked inside, I took care of the outside. There were a few rocks in the path we were going to take to pull out of the spot we were in, many of which I had picked up and tossed out of the way. Still, to be on the safe side, Linda stood out front while I started to pull forward. I hadn't moved a foot when she was signaling me to stop. I was thinking, 'What in the world could be the matter, after all the jacks were up, the slides were in, the MotoSat was stored, and I had checked under the coach. Now she was pointing her finger up at me and shaking her head with the familiar no-no motion. She came around the coach as I was opening the door, and with a sweet innocent smile said, "You don't really want to drive up to Quartzsite with the solar panels up, do you?"

Forgot something

Once I was up on the roof the wisdom of drilling out those mounting tabs was readily apparent. No more standing on my head trying to figure out which way I needed to nudge the panel to make things line up. To say that I was a happy boy would be a bit of an understatement. There was one panel which gave me a bit of trouble, but once the first side was in, the second was easy.

Easy job

I had raised three panels, but the time it took to lower and secure them was less than half of what it had taken before. And that was even with them raised the opposite way they normally are, meaning it was more difficult to get to them. It was a case of something little making a big difference. Soon we were on our way out, leaving Florida Flats, the name of the area we had been parked in, behind us. While the initial section of the road leading back into the LTVA is paved, we were in the back forty so to speak, so as we slowly drove out, the speed limit is 15 mph, Linda led the way to make sure we didn't get lost.

Dirt road

The plan was to fill with water and dump the tanks here. On our trips in and out we had noticed the water fill was usually busy but the dump stations were not. We had decided, or I better say, I had decided that if the water fill was busy we would just dump here and get our water in Quartzsite. I shouldn't have even given it a thought, because there were three water fill stations and not a person there when we arrived.

Not busy

we pulled all the way forward, to the one next to the dumpsters, and discovered each station had two spigots, meaning we could do the fast fill routine by hooking up both our regular hose and a second hose to use the external fill, which would make the job go much faster. The only problem was keeping the hoses out of the small lake which had formed around the base of the pipe. But even with that, it was an easy task to fill. We even got the water shut off at just the right moment so there was no overflow into the compartment from the external fill port, something I've had problems with in the past. The problem being, my not paying close enough attention to just how full the tank was getting, and filling it past full.

Looking like a hydrologist, not

Next it was a simple matter of pulling forward to the dump station. There were four stalls, and only one person there. What a difference this is from Quartzsite where with just two stalls at La Posa South, it can get backed up quite a bit. Of course Quartzsite also has the Pit Stop, as well as the various pumpout services as an option, but this is a nice setup. Since it wasn't busy, we even managed to hookup the Explorer while we were dumping, just contrast that to Quartzsite. Of course out here you are miles from town and shopping, so each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Hooking up

Once out on US-95, we set the cruise control at 58, our preferred speed and motored along in sixth gear. With all the long open stretches of road it was easy for anyone in a hurry to pass us. I often wonder at the RVs that pass us, flying up the highway whether they are really in that much of a hurry, or whether they simply travel at 65 and over just because that is the speed limit. It was shortly after a small pickup pulling a huge 5th wheel had struggled to pass us that Linda remarked about something up ahead.

The same view

That is the same view we had out our front window at Imperial Dam. The same one we saw on the day we got stuck riding around in the Explorer. Further up the road we found out it was called Castle Dome, which exactly what it had looked like. It was interesting how it wasn't quite as perfectly shaped as it had appeared from the previous far greater distances, but at least now we now knew what we had been using as a landmark for the past two weeks.

Then a few minutes later a large shadow passed over us. At first I thought it was a helicopter, but within a second it was revealed to be a V-22 Osprey. I thought I did good with the almost instant recognition, though I think Linda wondered what I was talking about. Linda did her best to get a photo, but it was flying a lot faster than we were driving, so a dot in the distance was what I thought she got. I should have know she was faster than I assumed, as the photo showed a small, but distinct rear silhouette. Good Girl.


Of course no drive north from the area near the border is replete until you have passed through a border patrol checkpoint. It was just the standard, what is your citizenship and is anyone with you, before we were waved through. These agents work hard to enforce the laws and keep our country safe, and yes, not everyone agrees with those laws, but as Linda always says, "Thanks doing a difficult job."

Looking down

It was miles up the road, but eventually we began to notice all the white specks out in the distance, and before we knew it, we pulling into a familiar place, the La Posa North LTVA. Virgil, one of the members of the RV America group was already there, and as we unhitched I asked Linda if she knew where to go since it would be better for me to follow her than for her to eat my dust. That proved to be a bad move, as I took a wrong turn and did another on my Quartzsite deals of making an RV road where there wasn't a road. It got so bad I had to stop, get out and ask Linda if she knew where we were at. She knew, and soon I was following her to the right place. If you don't think that wasn't tough to admit, I've got a bridge you could buy.

Following the leader

Once we had arrived, we got set up, though it was just in a temporary location as we were trying to spread out as much as we could to make sure no one who was not part of our group parked here, then it was time to do a little repair job. I should also mention that it sure doesn't look like there are as many people here as there have been in past years, but take that with a grain of salt. It also may be that many are waiting a little longer to show up. You'd think that with the recent tumble in fuel prices and the cold weather up north more people would be heading this way.

Back to that little repair job I mentioned. When I was making that new RV road, I had driven across a dry wash that wasn't designed to be traversed by diesel pusher motorhomes, meaning I had torn up the mud flap once again. We had replaced the last one I destroyed just a few months ago, so this one was going to be repaired as the $400 cost of the last one was still fresh in the family accountant's mind, and she was someone I sure didn't want to get on my bad side. Besides that, looking at it, it didn't appear to be damaged too badly.

It's only bent a little

It's just a little bent. OK, maybe its stretched a little also, but it's going to get fixed.

Another view

As is often the case, it would have been decidedly easier with the tools I had in my former life, but still the same, a little ingenuity, a little make do, and while not as good as new, it was close enough for me. You will note the radical bend in the metal pieces in the upper right corner of the photo, which turned out to be not only bent but also twisted.

Repair under way

Once it was reasonably straightend and bolted back together, Linda polshed it up, with the result that when it was reinstalled, other than a few blemishes, it looked almost as good a new.


Finished with that job, something that with a little more prudence on my part would never have needed be done, Linda was off to see what the heck was going on over near where Virgil's rig was parked.

Now what?

It turned out that the great circle where all 18 rigs were to be parked was being laid out. As I understood it, they were inscribing a 100 foot diameter circle on the desert floor. The rigs would put their butts on the line, that may be both literally and metaphorically speaking, and their other end up near where the fire ring would be. All this also presented another problem that will soon appear on these pages, how to not only describe what is taking place, but also keeping all the names straight. There are going to be multiple Linda's, or Lynda's here, but now there was also another Bob. Suffice it to say that that Virgil and Bob laid out the circle while I played photographer.

Inscribing a non circular circle

Later after our dinner, which consisted of hot dogs and beans, primarily because I had forgotten to get anything out of the freezer, everyone gathered in Virgil's motorhome for an evening of pegs and jokers. It was the boys versus the girls and it goes without saying that the two neophytes, Linda and I, made the game interesting with our lack of knowledge of the rules and occasional creative moves. It was a day where we made some mistakes, or more correctly I made several decisions that could have been better, but you know, in the end everything turned out to be more than OK. Oh, what a Life.

January 14 Wednesday

Morning in Quartzsite and even before I poked my head out from beneath the covers, one thing was readily apparent, it was again about 10 degrees colder than we had been experiencing at Imperial Dam. Not being a person who gets any pleasure from laying in bed, I was soon up with the Wave 6 heater running. Linda simply curled up into an even smaller ball and did what she enjoys.

All good things must eventually come to an end, and even though the coach wasn't yet warm, she made her appearance and was soon enjoying her morning cup of coffee. She's good at that, moving from one enjoyable moment to another, but it didn't mean she couldn't do other things. But fixing breakfast wasn't something she was had in mind, and I got busy so she could enjoy a Portabella mushroom omelet, which was when I learned it was time for her to do some cooking.

We had bought several sweet potatoes back who knows when, and today she was going to make good use of one of them. When we are with the group, our meals get a little out of kilter, and this was her attempt to make them easier for me to fix. Maybe there is hope for her after all. She makes this style of potato salad the same way she used to make potato salad with white potatoes, and since everyone has their favorite way to make this dish, you could just substitute sweet potatoes or yams, whichever you like, for the white potates in you regular recipe. I will caution you that the taste will be different, so a one potato trial may be all you want. For anyone interested, Linda's recipe is on the salad recipe page and can be found here.

Sweet potato salad

Once the Daily Journal was written, we straightened up the coach. That's straightened up, not as in cleaning up, but rather moving the coach and making it straight like the spoke of a wheel for our circle of coaches. Since we knew we were just parked as a place holder last night, it wasn't much of a problem, we are now parked at an angle that would maximize our solar power generation. Then it was up to the roof to raise the panels, something that was so much easier now that the brackets were drilled out. Linda asked if I needed a wet rag to wash the dust off the panels, and one look confirmed that was the case, though not for the reason she stated. It seems that all those birds she was so busy feeding at Imperial Dam had need to go potty due to all the food she was supplying, and I was looking right at where they had decided to go.

Solar setup

We were expecting more arrivals today, and had been alerted to expect three Tiffin coaches to arrive between 9:30 and 10. Now that was a very specific time period and the person responsible for stating that time interval, a somewhat odd person named Richard, was also know to brag about the quality and craftsmanship of that particular brand of RV. When 11:30 rolled around and they still hadn't arrived it was becoming apparent that those old Tiffin coaches just couldn't handle the strain of a cross country trip.

It sort of reminded me about the stories of the wagon trains where the fancy looking horses wore out and oftentimes died pulling those wagons while the lumbering old oxen made it with energy to spare. I'm sure they will have some story about a reason completely unrelated to those tired old horses they are riding in for the delay, but deep down they have to know they've got a lot more show than go. Of course there is also the possibility that Richard, who has been known to push the upper end of the speed limit, simply blew right on past Quartzsite and was now fast approaching the Pacific shore.

It was while I was up on the roof that Linda reported seeing three similar coaches out on US-95, but as it turned out it wasn't them. Maybe it was Richard speeding past, heading south for all I knew. Oh well, once he hits the Mexican border he'll at least know enough to turn around. I hope. At long last we did see them coming down the road, and I climbed the ladder to document their arrival. The actual arrival was almost anticlimatic since they were so late, but it is better to struggle to in on a old tired horse than to not arrive at all.

Here they come

That's two of the three in the dust cloud. The pile of boards and things in the bottom of the photo is not the third coach, which was Richard's, though there is a strong resemblance between the two. It didn't take long before Richard was telling Virgil where to go and was taking charge. I'm think his words were, "I'm the boss and y' all are gonna' do what I tell you."

Dirt road

Once he was parked in the very best spot, he set about getting those Tiffin coaches placed exactly where he wanted them. It was sort of my way or the highway.

That's right

With one coach in place he moved over to order the next one around. At least there was no question of who was in charge, even if they were all parked in the wrong place.

This way

it was one of those cases that just when you think it couldn't get any better, it did. Richard then proceeded to begin the process of leveling his coach, something that took far longer than the typical coach owner takes. Part of it was the grossly over engineered and highly polished pieces of wood that had to be perfectly placed under the jacks prior to leveling. I figured that old Tiffin was on it's last legs and unless it was absolutely level, it would probably tip over from exhaustion.

That task completed we figured he would most likely exit the coach and join the group. That was when our level of astonishment was raised to new heights. Up to this point he had certainly lorded over everyone, but now he gave new meaning to the term: A man is king of his castle, his castle. Castle in this case being that poor old Tiffin coach he was in. Just as he was about to make his exit, this is what we saw.

Hurry up, girl

Look at that lady run with that broom. I don't know about you, but I'd swear it looks like his wife Patsy, and she appears to be running up to sweep the dust and dirt away from the bottom step so he won't get his feet dirty when he alights.

Eventually everyone settled into their individual routines and the afternoon passed. I had decided to work for a while on the computer, when I looked up and saw another strange sight. It was one of those days, but when you've got a lot of strange people around, you see a lot of strange sights.

The lineup

My first thought was they looked like a bunch of birds perched on a wire, but all they were doing was watching Virgil trying to get his generator started.

By the time the dinner hour rolled around, it was apparent Linda had plans. Soon we were sitting over at Virgil's, talking and getting ready to grill burgers. Two interesting things happened here. The first was when we were gathered around in a circle talking. This was always extremely difficult for me as usually, I could only completely understand the person sitting directly to my right. Anyone to my left, or across the circle might as well of been speaking in a foreign language as far as my ability to understand what they were saying was concerned. What a revelation this was. Not only could I hear what was being said, but even if two people were talking I could still carry on a conversation with someone across from me. To say I love these hearing aids would be a colossal understatement.

The second thing was what happened was when we started to cook the burgers. They began on a good note, but soon a problem cropped up. I'm not sure how to best put this, but it appeared that Karen was having some difficulty cooking those burgers without there being a good sized flame present.


She had struggled mightily with it when her husband, Bob took over. From the look of things it was only getting worse.

More cooking

That was when the reason for this struck me. Karen and Bob are from British Columbia, meaning both were from the land to the north, Canada. They were as good a Canadians as you'd ever want to meet, but they seemed out of their league when it came to cooking burgers. Maybe up north they weren't used to cooking beef. For all I knew the burgers they normally eat were moose which cooks differently than beef. Mystery solved, way to go Bob. After that the rest of the evening passed quickly, though we did enjoy several more rousing games of Pegs and Jokers. The best part was, tonight the guys won, though not through any great play on my part.

Pegs and jokers

I guess that just goes to show that if you team up with the right people, success may eventually come your way. May you too, be successful in your endeavors.

January 15 Thursday

Talk about grizzly bears, there was one in our coach that I thought was going to attack me this morning. I was totally innocent of any wrong doing, and yes, I do know the saying about never waking a sleeping bear. Last night I was informed that she who thunders and roars in the night wanted to be up early today so we could do the laundry. That required a gentle touch to her foot at any early hour this morning in order to arouse her. That was certainly what happened, and I've got a number of emotional scars to prove it.

Once the awful noise and thrashing under the covers ceased and a blond topped head popped out, the eyes opened and she realized where she was and what was going on, she was a docile as a little kitten. It's just that those first few seconds were enough to give me a terrible fright. Once she was out in the kitchen and discovered I had her coffee ready and breakfast almost fixed, she gave out one of her million dollar smiles, and all was right in the world.

Breakfast over, I unloaded most of the firewood from the back of the Explorer with the help of Virgil, loaded up all the laundry, then escorted the now reformed bear out to her cage, I mean carriage. We knew our destination well, having used it numerous times in the past, and the need for the early hour was to arrive before the morning rush. It was 8:30 when we pulled into the lot of the laundromat (that's a washateria for any bayou boys reading this), and we did manage to beat the rush, as there were only two cars in the lot.

Linda has her favorite machines, which turned out to also be some other persons favorites, since two of the three were already in use. It was funny watching her look around at the other rows of washers, trying to decide which ones to use. Then with a purposeful stride we set off to the selected machines. I was given orders to load the towels and washcloths (those are pieces of fabric used to clean the body as opposed to just jumping in the water and thrashing around trying to avoid the alligators for any bayou boys reading this). I had the machine about half full when I remembered the instructions for these machines are very explicit about adding the laundry detergent before adding the clothes, and so, mentioned it to her.

Wrong thing to say, talk about dirty looks, you'd have thought I'd told her, no more coffee in the morning for the rest of the month. For some reason, she really, really doesn't like to follow these directions, and since I was the bearer of the news, I was the one who .... While the washers did their thing, Linda was off to the Post Office, which is right around the corner. I played watch the washer and read about the places in France we plan to visit after our time on the Midi Canal. With the timing born only of long experience, she arrived back just moments before the third washer completed its cycle, then took what I had already removed from the other washer and loaded a dryer. When the drying time was up, she discovered that one of the dryers wasn't as hot as the other, so she transferred everything to the one which operated correctly.

Loading the dryer

After returning to the coach, we decided that we would move again. There had been a little mix up in the instructions we had been given as to where to park in relation to the giant circle in the sand that had been inscribed the other day. By backing up about 25 feet we actually ended up in more level location, with the result being we now had a normal height to the first coach step.

Linda's first order of business was to make this spot into home. Out came the doormat, and after she placed it precisely where she wanted it, she suggested that I could nail it down. I think this might have had more to do with some negative comments, at least in her mind, that I said about her job of nailing it down the last time, rather than any need for me to actually help her. When she started to get the flag pole out of the bay, I knew what my next job was going to be, and after only hitting my hand with the hammer one time, the pole was in place and the flag hung. Next it was time to put out the finch feeder, something she tackled herself.

Setting up the bird feeder

Once all the outside work was done it was time to return to the coach and get hooked back up to the Internet, which only took a push of a button for the MotoSat to find the satellite and we were once again on line. It also didn't take long for her to settle into her favorite location in the coach and start instant messaging back and forth with her sister.

On line

There was one other thing which was taking place that had nothing to do with us, but everything to do with is going to happen on Saturday. The RVs were just pouring into the area around us. It seemed like everytime we looked up there was another going by. Their destination was the fence to the north of us, which is the closet you can get to the where the action will be back here in the section where we are parked. The view out our front window hasn't changed much, but it will be interesting to see what it looks like tomorrow night when the other 12 rigs in our group are scheduled to arrive.

View out the front window

Linda actually did a better job of documenting our relative position with several photo's she took. Maybe she's posed for so many photo's that she now fancies herself a photographer. Of course it wouldn't take much ability on her part to surpass my ability, but just let her try to capture the true essence of a photograph the way I can with my writing. Just the facts Ma'am, just the facts.

Our little circle

Then I found out she wasn't done yet. Having put my brain to work and deciding that we would have a salad and spaghetti squash with spaghetti sauce for dinner, she volunteered to cook the sausage. I'm not sure why because I do a really good Job of cooking sausage, getting it done just right. Maybe it's because my bits of sausage are too fine for her and she likes them in bigger chunks, but whatever it was, soon she was soon toiling over a hot stove.

cooking sausage

While the sausage and Trader Joe's Marinara sauce simmered on the stove, we joined in with Richard, Mark and Manuel to rehash the past few months of our lives. Then all to soon it was time to eat and I was led away to fix the salad and get everything ready for the lady of the house.

That's just right

Note the careful placement of the tomato slices and the creamy dressing on the salad. That's just the way she likes it, so it's just the way I fix it. I like to watch when she comes over to the table and a big smile appears on her face. Maybe that is something I should strive to have happen more often, bring a smile to someones face. I hope that your day was just as great as ours, and someone brought a smile to your face today.

January 16 Friday

Sometimes things work out for the best and this turned out to be one of those mornings. The generator had not run since we had arrived back in quartzsite on Tuesday, so the batteries finally reached their limit this morning and the auto gen start took over. It hadn't been running for long before Linda came out scratching, yawning, and trying to put a good face on her abbreviated period of hibernation. That's when I got the idea to make scones. The day we had picked huckleberries at the lighthouse was the last time I had made them, and given the chilly morning air, it was the perfect opportunity once again.

There was one problem however, the scone recipe. I looked in the drawer where the recipe folder is kept, discovering that in her desire to clean and consolidate, Linda had found a new and safer place to put it. That made it safe in more ways than one, including safe from me. Granted my voice may have had a sharper than usual edge to it when I politely inquired as to its location, but once the smoke cleared from the air I could see where she was pointing and soon had it in my hands.

Looking at the tabs, I flipped it open to the breakfast section, but look as I might, the recipe wasn't there. Just as I was saying something to her about it not finding it, I discovered I was in the dessert section, and mumbling an apology, began my search anew. That was when a real problem arose, I still couldn't find it. Having been awakened earlier than normal by the generator, then having me mistakenly suggest she had missfiled the recipe, I was wondering if I should seal my mouth and just keep on looking, or should I mention my problem. Deciding that if those scones were ever going to get made, she'd have to get involved in the search for the errant recipe, I carefully mentioned my situation to her.

I knew it was the wrong thing to say, but it was time to bite the bullet. Later, as the dispersions cast upon me were dispersing, she admitted she couldn't find it either. That began a page by page search that eventually led to its discovery. It also gave her time to assume her normal demeanor and even laugh at herself for misplacing it. I shudder to think what the results would have been had she not found it. I know who would have been blamed for its loss and it wasn't the great goddess of the coach. With the recipe in hand, the mixing and baking rapidly proceeded.

Baker, baking

One thing that was not happening was the influx of RVs like in past years. They were coming in all right, but the number was certainly down from in the past. The area where we are parked had just a few circles of RVs. Even our circle was looking sparse with many of the people unable to arrive before Saturday or Sunday.

Our circle

Once the scones had been taste tested and Daily Journal finished, we were off for the concert. During our December stay we had purchased tickets for The New Christy Minstrels' matinee performance, and at this moment in time one of our lovely leader's stated objectives was "not to be the last ones in the door." (I think it was to be the first ones in line.) Another was to not to have to fight the traffic jam when the concert was over. Ancillary to this was the desire to get some exercise, hence we walked. Looking down from the I-10 overcrossing, and seeing the deserted QIA parking lot, we decided to do some shopping. Browsing the dealers set up east of the Post Office, we found not a single thing of interest, possibly because they were antique dealers and that was something from our past life. Then just as we were departing for the QIA, Linda detoured to the craft store.

Crafty woman

When we eventually arrived at the QIA, there were several short lines, and as we were about to join one, an announcement was made that the back door to the hall would also be opened to admit ticket holders. We followed a few people back there and found ourselves in a much shorter line. We had an approximate 20 minute wait until the doors opened at 1:30, with the show scheduled to start at 2:00.

The lineup

Jostling through the mob of old people inside the hall, we ended up with what looked like pretty good seats, about five rows back in the center section. They turned out to be great seats as the people in both rows directly in front of us were somewhat vertically challenged, providing us with an unobstructed view of the performers.

The show

And like the groups founder, Randy Sparks says, they do a pretty good job of entertaining for a bunch of people, most of whom are over 70. We loved the songs and the reparté between the performers. And as Randy joked, he may have written the song, The Ballad of Hi Jolly, but it wasn't something they sang to often. This was after he goofed up on the lyrics and had to put his glasses on to read them on the prompter. The way he did it made for a good laugh. It also meant that if we are here next year when they are playing, we will be back again. It was certainly worth the cost of the $12 ticket.

There was one thing that could have been improved upon and that was the QIA stage. The lighting was less than horrible, it was atrocious, with several of the performers being in the dark during the first set. The second thing was the sound system. I'd bet most new RVs have a better sound system that what passes for the one at the QIA. Maybe they have the lights and sound designed for the groups normally playing there, but The New Christy Minstrels deserved better. Even with that, we and a whole lot of other people really enjoyed the show.

RVs everywhere

Walking back to the LTVA we stopped on the I-10 bridge and took a photo of the area where we were parked. This is the same view as we had taken a little more than a month ago, but what a difference.

That's just right

Later, as the group gathered for the traditional 5 o'clock get together, there was food, which found Linda fighting for her share along with everyone else. The heck with eating the south beach way, it's party time for a few days.

Good food

There were interesting stories being told which had people hanging on the story tellers every word.

That's a great story

And there were people who just couldn't get their story straight.

But I thought it was funny

Later, as we sat around a blazing fire, it was as if we had been transported out of our normal lives and into a fantasyland, a world that didn't exist just a few days ago and one that would disappear in a few more. Change is good, change is different, change is how you look at it. May you too occasionally put on the same of rose colored glasses we are wearing.

January 17 Saturday

it was scheduled to begin at 9:00 this morning, but we weren't as excited as we had been just a week ago. I think the obvious decrease in the number of Rvs around town had something to do with. But the most startling thing, at least to me was that even though we were parked back behind the wash, we still had a view of US-95 out the front window. Oh. yes, the it I was referring to was the annual RV Show in the big tent.

Perhaps Linda was eager to spend so money, or maybe she had a headache, or maybe she just couldn't sleep, but whatever it was, she sure showed up early this morning. After feasting on the last of the Portabella mushroom omelets we will have for the foreseeable future, we headed off to do battle with the crowds. I will never forget that Saturday morning three years ago when we attended for the first time. The crowd was so thick, you could only move when the person in front of you moved.

Wasn't the same at all this year.Even two years ago it was still very crowed. Last year we missed the Big Show, and this year we were here once again. Here's what the center aisle looked like this year.

Looking bleak

Here's what it looked like two years ago.

More Big tent crowds

The south aisle today.

More Big tent crowds

The south aisle two years ago.

More Big tent crowds

You can be the judge, but having been there, tnhere was definitely a difference. Before you couldn't hardly move. This year there were a number of people with mobility scooters there and they seemed to have no difficulty with the crowd. Another observation was that there were very few peopl outside, which was also in sharp contrast to previous years. These are just my observations, and I will be interested in what others thought, but still, those photos don't lie.

Normally we look at the first day as just a walk through and experience the feeling type of day, waiting to later in the week to go back and either buy or get the information we need. With the sparse crowds, it changed our approach, and it wasn't long before I was in the midst of buying the major purchase we had been planning.

For three years we have traveled on what is best described as borrowed time. Now there are a number of people who will tell you not to spend the money on a surge protector, why they have been RVing for years and never needed one. It's one of those things that if you needed it and didn't have it, you'd have wished you would have bought it. Today was the day we were going to rectify that situation.

Surge protector

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