Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Garden is Growing!

Here's a picture of Graysen, the young man at the AT&T store, as he and Forry are anxious to see if the new aircard is going to work. I think much of Forry's white hair has come from the last few days!
Today we went over to the mailroom to get the package of mail that Daughter Mary Mae had sent along with our prescriptions from Group Health. As that's all the mail we were expecting, we were able to go over to the office to return our mail key AND get my $5 deposit back.

Yesterday we had made a successful stop at a bead store picking up a few things, but it was too late to go to the silver shop Forry had found earlier in the week. Today we went back. They close at noon on Saturdays, so we only had a half hour there (which was probably a good thing!). Forry bought some 22 gauge silver to use for making broochs plus some silver for bracelets and some for making bezels around stones. Now, we've got to stay still long enough to get something done with all these makings.
Last night I was able to trim the basil and thyme in my garden and add it to our salads! It's been just about a month since I planted the hydroponic garden the girls gave me for Christmas --it was neat to finally pick some of it.
Tomorrow we will be moving to an RV park in Mesa where we will meet up with an old friend from Spokane who is going to be there all week for a wood-turners convention. We'll be catty-corner from them in the RV park, so it should be fun.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Much Better Day!

Today was a VERY good day! We were pretty much down to very few alternatives: give up on trying to use our aircard and use the internal one that came with the new computer (which would mean a new account and charges from AT&T); go back to the AT&T retail store and try and see if a different air card would work; or take the darn thing back to Costco!

Forry convinced me that we should try the AT&T retail store first. Back we went; different clerk; he wanted to download the software again; did listen to me, checked and found that what we had downloaded yesterday was newer than what they had in the store; tried a new USB air card which downloads its own drivers, etc. without a CD. We waited until it did its thing, then waited anxiously for it to get the screen that said connect. Clicked connect and IT WORKED! All we could finally figure out is that there is something in the older air card that wouldn't work with the new computer. The crazy thing is the new USB card cost $100 plus $8 tax. There is a mail-in rebate for $100, so I guess the new toy will cost us $8! And it has an antenna port so that we can plug into the trucker antenna and booster in the coach.

The pictures in this blog are from one of the street medians here in Sun City. Once in a great while you might see a patch of grass, but most of the city uses desert landscaping. Even here in the RV park, all of the park models (permanent housing) are landscaped with some beautiful cacti -- though there are some strips of grass. After all there has to be something for all of the little bunny rabbits to eat!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I think I've spent almost the entire day working on this computer aircard connection thing! I'm actually writing this on the new computer with a DSL internet connection over at the RV Park clubhouse. (I came over here to download directly to the Dell.)

I've been on the phone and on the internet with support services for AT&T, Dell and Costco. Even Bill called this morning to see if he could help. We just can't seem to get this thing to work! Did find out that my device is compatible with 64 bit and Vista. Also found out that the software update the store guy downloaded yesterday was not the right one... So uninstalled and downloaded the correct one.

We tried disabling the internal card that came with the computer to see if that would help, didn't seem to.

Guess I'll go fix dinner for Forry and worry about it again another day. Maybe inspiration will stike during the night.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another Frustrating Day

This has been another long frustrating day.

I spent time on-line last night checking various stuff out. Decided I liked Dell's 13.3 laptop M1330. (I really like the comparable size Think Pad, but it's a bit out of my price range...). The best price I found for it was at Costco, so we headed in that direction this morning and picked one up (the last one they had there...).

I had asked Mike at the eSource store to download the data from my old computer unto a DVD, so checked to see how he was doing. At that point, he had backed up the data, but hadn't yet started to do the DVD, so we decided to just have him download the files to the new Dell.

We went to have lunch -- found a neat bakery/cafe -- then went over to Starbucks to restock our bean supply and have a leisurely frappachino. By the time we finished, Mike called and said he had trasferred all of the data. When we picked up the new machine, he kept commenting about it being a "sweet machine" and "fast!"

So to home, turned it on, loaded the software for our aircard -- and it didn't recognise it! Tried it again, no better. Called AT&T customer service; after 20 minutes or so of trying various things; transferred me to technical service. TS finally decided that the version of the software we had needed to be upgraded from the 6.1 to at least 6.5. Sent us to an AT&T retail store several miles away. Store guy uploaded the new software; tried to connect, it would immediately disconnect. Put in a new SIM card. Same problem. Called technical service again; store guy talked to them; they tried a couple of things; still no connect. TS decided that it must be the aircard; of course it was out of warranty; trasferred us to AT&T Care; they decided we were eligible for an upgrade and they could ship us a new aircard for $199.

Store had them on special for $100 with a mail-in rebate of $100 (I know, doesn't make a lot of sense...). Store guy said he had been having trouble connecting to the internet (we were only getting 1-2 bars) and thought maybe it was the system. Decided we would wait until morning to buy a new aircard and make sure it wasn't the system.

Came home; had 5 bars; tried it again; still immediately disconnected. Tried it back in Forrys computer -- voila, it works!

Not sure where we go next. I think I'll call Dell's Technical Assistance in the morning..

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Good Day/Bad Day

Boy, today was a mixed bag!

This morning we went to Surprise, Arizona (only a few miles away from the RV park) for lunch with long-time friends from our Flying Farmer days. That was the good part! Bob and Paula had invited us to come over to their Arizona home for lunch and a tour of the Sun City Grande and Sun City West properties. They have a lovely southwest style home located right on the golf course. We had a great lunch, looked at all of the grand and great grand child pictures -- and the snow pictures from their farm in Harrington! -- then checked out all of the amenities offered by the Del Webb planned communities. They have gorgeous swimming pools and spas, all kinds of recreational clubs (jewelry, pottery, ceramics, sewing, quilting, etc.), bowling alleys. bocce ball, shuffleboard and tennis courts, inside walking paths and a cushioned outdoor walking path that even tells you how fast you are walking. If you said you were bored living here, it would have to be your own fault!

The bad part came this afternoon when Mike at the computer shop called and said it looked like the mother board on my computer was toast! The hard drive is okay and they can access it from another computer but not through mine... He said they could get a new mother board for about $400 plus another $100 to install it and re-input my data. With new laptops costing no more than that, it doesn't seem too smart to repair it. So this afternoon we checked out a couple of computer places and tonight I've been looking at on-line stuff on Forry's computer.

This is not something we had planned on doing -- in fact, we had been talking about replacing Forry's older laptop...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Quiet Day, Catch-up Day

We had a pretty quiet day today. We went over to the office; arranged to stay another six days here; made reservations at Mesa for next week; made arrangements to get mail; washed several loads of clothes; cleaned the bathroom; dusted and waxed the cherry wood in the coach; downloaded map updates for Sally (our Garmin GPS for the car). Lots of little stuff, but stuff that does need to get done -- even if you're retired!

I called the computer repair place this afternoon. Mike said they were working on the computer, seeing if the setup discs would take care of it; he didnt think he'd finish today. Said he would call this afternoon to let me know progress. Haven't heard from him...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ken Madema Concert

Well, my computer is at the doctor's -- unfortunately our friend Bill is too far away to take a look at it. The fellow at the shop told me that they would be able to look at it first thing on Monday -- but wouldn't know for sure until then how "fixable" it is...

We walked across the court from the computer shop and had a surprisingly good fast food lunch of broccoli and beef and cashew shrimp at a hole-in-the-wall place. From there to the grocery store where I got ANOTHER store card! It seems every chain in every part of the country has their loyalty card and you almost cannot afford to buy groceries without it. The FRYE chain seems to be the big one here in Arizona --we actually haven't seen too many others. (They say you can tell a woman RVer by the number of grocery cards she has in her wallet!)

We drove around the housing areas in the neighborhood of the RV Park just to look at some of the landscaping. We actually saw some cacti that were beginning to bloom! (I've always been jealous of Sister Dena who always seems to manage to be in Arizona when the desert is in bloom!) I got a few pictures that I will share when (if!)I get my computer back tomorrow...

Today we attended services at Trinity Mennonite Church (where the Executive Board had met last week). The young pastor who spoke used parts of President Obama's speech in his sermon -- it was VERY inspiring and thoughtful.

We were surprised to see in the bulletin that Ken Madema was giving a concert tonight in a Methodist church in Phoenix as a fund-raiser for the Mennonite Church in Chandler. It's twenty miles from where we are, but we had to go. We had heard him a couple of times at annual conferences and have really enjoyed him. Ken is a fantastic talented musician who is blind from birth. He writes many of his own songs and is incredible at taking stories from the audience and making a song out of them on the spot.

The story I told:

Five months after Hurricane Katrina, we were in Pass Christian, Mississippi working with Mennonite Disaster Services. The winds of the hurricane had torn free all of the street signs as well as the big signs for stores. There were very few service stations or restaurants open in the entire area. I had been out all day with the Project Director scouting out sites where people had asked for assistance. It had been very frustrating as you had to figure out where people might be by counting streets from a known still-standing building. By late afternoon, I was badly in need of a rest room, but there was none to be found (Harold had been able to find a tree to deal with his needs, but it's a bit more difficult for a female...). Finally we saw a lady going into a house and I decided to knock and see if she would let me use her bathroom. She was very gracious and invited me in, although she was a bit embarassed that her house was somewhat askew after it had been pushed back on its foundation and therefore the door to the bathroom didn't shut very well. When I came out, I chatted a bit with this tall, elegant, elderly African American woman. She was very cheerful and friendly and after we had talked for a bit, I asked her how she could be so cheerful when her roof was covered with a blue tarp and her belongings were piled in the middle of the floor also covered by tarps. She replied thoughtfully to me, "You know that you can't appreciate sunshine until after it rains." Then she paused and looked around at her things. "And you know, all my things, all of this precious stuff, I'm not going to need it when I get to heaven anyway!"

Madema took this story and made a beautiful song out of it. It started with the sounds of wild winds and ended with the woman's words and singing that I had found more than a restroom that day.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I am so frustrated! I came home VERY tired Thursday night; posted to our blog; shut down the computer; remembered I needed to check something else; turned the computer back on; decided I was way too tired to deal with it and hit the "shut down" button (instead of waiting for it to cycle on and then shut it down from the screen!). Somehow I really messed things up. Now all it tells me when I turn it on all it tells me is that there is a missing or damaged file in Windows and I need to use the SETUP disc to restore it!

BUT, this HP laptop came with everything already installed! There is a "back-up disk" on one of the internal drives, but the computer needs to come on for me to access it...

After I finished with the last of the meetings this morning, I used my IPhone to hunt for computer repair and found a shop about four miles from the RV park. They were going to close for the weekend at 1 PM, but said they'd wait until we got there. They didn't seem too concerned about it, said they had all of the needed discs, and promised they would start working on it first thing Monday morning...

I'm using Forry's laptop to write this -- which makes him VERY nervous.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


We were up at six this morning, showered and dressed and on our way over to Trinity Mennonite Church by 7:10 for my first 8 AM meeting. (I ate my blueberries, yogurt and granola in the car on the way there...) This is a very interesting facility -- it is a series of buildings set around a courtyard. You need to go outside across the yard to the SS rooms, the restrooms, the kitchen, the fellowship hall, the library, the sanctuary, etc. It was in the seventies today so the people from the east and north were really enjoying the warmth.

I met all morning with the Anti-Racism Team which I co-chair -- except my co-chair didn't arrive until late this afternoon...

The Executive Board meeting started at one PM and went until 8:30 this evening. We always invite local congregations and conference folks to meet with us for dinner and dialogue one evening. Bryce Miller, who was an intern at Menno, now a pastor at a church in Tucson, was one of those who joined us.

I must get myself off to bed, we start again tomorrow at 8 AM...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sun City, Arizona

This is looking down one of the many streets at Paradise RV Resort. As you can see, most of the places here are pretty permanent residences. While each of the sites has a concrete patio at the site, most of the more permanent ones have either poured concrete or bricked the remainder of their property. I saw several ads of units, mostly park models, for sale when we stopped at the office activity center this afternoon. The prices seemed to start at about $25,000 with most at $29,000. That seemed awfully low --I'll have to look again to make sure it wasn't just for the lot. But then they had spaces checked for washer/dryers, dishwashers, etc... Some of the units are very nicely landscaped, mostly xieroscaping (sp?), with lots of cacti.

We didn't get up very early this morning -- it was so nice to sleep without blankets! Phoenix had a record-breaking high of 80 degrees today. We took the toad and scouted out the route to Trinity Mennonite Church in Glendale where my meetings will be starting tomorrow morning at 8 AM. It took us almost 40 minutes to get there from here and it wasn't rush hour morning traffic. I suppose we'd better allow an hour tomorrow...

We also made a much needed Costco run. It turned out to be an expensive trip -- Forry found three sets of double DVDs of old Marilyn Monroe movies. We're now the proud owners of "How to Marry a Millionaire," "Bus Stop," "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Monkey Business," "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," and "The Seven Year Itch."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Momentous Day!

What a momentous day today! We were traveling from Quartzite to Sun City today, so weren't able to watch the inauguration live on TV, but we have been listening and watching the reruns this afternoon and evening. It doesn't seem to matter what political party, if any, that you adhere to, there seems to be a sense of new beginning and new hope throughout the country.

We actually did pretty well with our first experience of extended boondocking. We came away still having a half a tank of water and with our gray and black tanks only half full as well after spending a week off the grid. We have been listening to experienced heads at the Life on Wheels conferences over the years. People that said we needed to use paper plates and to only wash dishes once a day or even every two days. Another suggestion was to shower only every other day and to put a bucket in the shower to catch the water you waste when you first turn on the shower -- the water that's too cold or too hot. Then you use that bucket of water to flush the toilet! Of course, I think it helped a bit that several of the meals were catered -- so there weren't that many dishes.

We are currently parked in Paradise RV Resort in Sun City, Arizona. It's quite a change from Newberry Springs or the desert at Quartzite. There are over 2500 sites! Many or most of them are people who are here for the whole winter and many are the park model RV homes. There are all kinds of amenities -- pools, hot tubs, basketball and tennis courts, horse shoes, lawn bowling, putting green, ceramics, woodshop, sewing room, music room etc.! It also costs a LOT more to stay here!

Monday, January 19, 2009

On to the Flea Markets

Today we went back to Quartzite to check out the other selling places besides the big RV show. There are three main places with organized vendors plus all kinds of tents and rigs with something to sell on every side street and corner. Plus, there are all of the food booths and trailers that you would see at any big state fair or convention. One of the food vendors we chatted with said that to see aerial pictures of Quartzite in the winter compared to summer is a riot. All that is left of all the tent cities is a couple of permanent structures. I did find a clip-on magnifying glass at the stand in the picture for my embroidery work -- I think the one I already have got left in the storage unit at the ranch...

At one of the rest stops on our way from California, I bought a set of nifty beaded hair clips from a Navajo lady who had her handiwork laid out on the sidewalk outside the latrines. I really like them and have been watching for some similar ones to buy for variety. Forry suggested that I could probably make some... So, we started looking for beads and fittings -- and then some beginning beading books and tools. Are there ever bead stands and shops! I (we) have a start on a bead collection! Forry has done some bead work the last couple of years while we were at Sundance (while I was working), so we found some stuff for him too.

I am continually amazed at how creative some people are. There was the usual creative iron work -- but I thought these stone creatures were a bit different and really cute, especially the big scorpion on the left.

The other thing I was impressed by -- and didn't get a picture of -- were the HUGE geodes from Brazil with amethyst crystals inside. Some of them were more then four feet high and a couple of feet across. Someday I want someone to explain to me how they find these hollow rocks -- and how many do they try for everyone that has crystals inside.

Tomorrow we will pull up stakes and head for Sun City where I have Mennonite Church USA Executive Board meetings Thursday through Sunday.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The BIG RV Show

Today started with 30 dozen doughnuts and coffee! That's more then three apiece for everyone here. They did announce this evening that they still had 5 dozen left for tomorrow morning. No wonder it's so hard to lose weight!

There were devotions scheduled for 9 AM which I presumed would be fairly informal. NOT! It was pretty high church, complete with preacher in collar and stole and liturgy. His homily used the story of John the Baptist and of Jesus' forty days in the wilderness. Pretty appropriate as we sat and looked out on the desert as we listened. They even had recorded organ music to accompany the hymns.

Later this morning we headed back in to Quartzite and the big RV show which started yesterday. They have a HUGE white tent with vendors. All around the perimeter two to three layers deep were vendors selling new and used RVs. I had been looking for a vendor that someone had told us about last year in Washington that installed carpet on the motorhome steps. We didn't find that one, but found a few other things we just couldn't do without! About half of the vendors have nothing to do with RVs, they're the usual "show" vendors of knives, kitchen wear, clothing, etc. But best of all, the Escapees Club had a booth and I was finally able to get SKP decals for Auntie Violet (Al had taken the previous ones with him when we traded him for Auntie Vi....)

Forry convinced me he really needed an early Valentine's Day gift and came home with a remote controlled helicopter....

While we were in Quartzite, we found the cemetery and Hi Jolly's tomb. According to the signs at the cemetery (which is still in use), there were still camels roaming in the desert around Quartzite at the turn of the last century.

Tonight's catered Italian dinner was the last official event of the rally. I think that Forry has finally gotten Auntie Violet's generator and battery issues solved. The picture shows him chatting with Engineer Bill, (in the hat) the Alpine Coach guru, on how things were now working.

We'll head back in to Quartzite again tomorrow and check out some of the other sale venues. I actually think you could spend a month here and never see all of the stuff that is for sale!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Long, Long Trailer

This morning most of the folks at the Rally journeyed to the Desert Bar for lunch. It's five miles up a dirt road into the Buckskin Mountains north of Parker, Arizona. The Nellie E Saloon is on the site of of an old mining camp. Ken, the owner, bought the land in the late 70's and decided to see if running a bar in the middle of nowhere would actually work. It's only open on week-ends from mid-morning to dusk. They have a full bar (you'd definitely want a designated driver!) and serve grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch. No cheese, but pickles, onions, mustard and relish. We arrived about 11:30 and there were already lines!

It's a funky place with lots of rustic atmosphere. It has a stamped tin ceiling, a copper topped bar and windows that are old glass refrigerator doors. The saloon is powered by solar energy that is stored in batteries and run through inverters. They had a stage outside at one end with live country music. By the time we left, there must have been a hundred plus people there. Many of them come across country in four-wheelers, jeeps or dirt bikes.

This afternoon event sponsor Guaranty RV put on a wine and cheese reception. Lots of good California wines, but very little cheese and crackers!

Towards the end of the reception a truck arrived and put up a large screen between the motor homes and after the sun set, they showed the movie, The Long, Long Trailer. Forry and I had seen it in the 50's before we were married! (the movie was filmed in 1953.) The only thing I remembered of it was Desi throwing her collections of boulder-sized souvenir rocks and home canned goods out of the trailer on top of a mountain pass. It was fun to see again, even though I had to put on my coat and bring an afghan in order to sit outside in the desert after dark.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Trip to Blythe and Quartzite

Greetings! It's almost 9 PM and the outside temperature is still 75 degrees. A person could get to like it here!

Forry thought that I would get some responses to the picture in yesterday's blog (especially from Vic!) but all has been quiet today.

Forry's been working on electrical issues all day today -- he'd ALMOST finished his shower this morning when the water pump quit working. Fortunately he found the wiring/fuse issue so that I could take mine. (He always wants to take his shower first because he really doesn't like to squeegee the glass shower walls down...)

This afternoon we drove the 26 miles to Blythe, California back across the Colorado River to pick up our mail at the post office there. We had been warned of the long lines and cranky people at the post office in Quartzite, so asked Daughter Mary Mae to mail it to General Delivery in Blythe instead. The folks at the post office there were extremely friendly and also commented that we'd made a good choice in coming there! MM did her usual good job and probably could not have crammed any more mail into the fat Flat Rate box she used. It had everything from Christmas cards and magazines to new checks (finally ones with the Mount Vernon address on them!) and a couple of prescriptions -- and of course, bills.

On our way back through Quartzite, we stopped to visit Burgess and Maxine, friends from our old Flying Farmer days. They have a place in the NW corner of Q that Burgie's parents had bought back in the sixties. They have a few acres they have planted with a variety of different cacti. Maxine laughed though and said they always return to their farm in Washington before they bloom and have only the neighbors testimony about how beautiful they are. We saw Gambel's quail, a ladderback flicker, mourning doves, a rabbit AND a coyote while we were sitting sipping ice water at their dining room table. The coyote had a beautiful full coat of fur and looked very healthy in comparison to the rather mangy specimans we've seen around. Maxine says they have a neighbor that feeds hamburger to the coyotes...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Quartzite Day Two

Greetings from the desert!

It's been a long day. It started with a 7 AM conference call. Now anyone who knows me is aware that I am NOT a morning person. I am a member of a Search Committee that is looking for a new Executive Director of Mennonite Church USA. Most of the other members are either in the mid-west or east coast, so they were well into their mornings already while I was just barely awake... But I think it went well as a first meeting.

The Alpine Coach Association had their business meeting this morning followed by a catered Mexican lunch. It was sort of funny to see a couple of hundred people sitting around in the desert in lawn chairs earnestly discussing by-laws. After the lunch -- which was suisse chicken enchiladas, pork taquitos, refried beans, rice, chips and fresh fruit salad -- they had what they called a "gearhead" session. Basically, it was an opportunity to share ideas, problems and solutions with everyone else. One fellow started it off with a horrendous story about insurance after an RV repair shop burned down with his coach inside. I bet everyone there went back to their coach and reviewed their insurance policies!

This afternoon Forry and I took the toad into Quartzite itself. We have heard so many stories about the area that we were curious to see it. If you think there are thousands of RVs parked in the desert out here, there must be twice as many in Quartzite itself! Every half block or so there is another RV park. Some of them are pretty nice looking with pools and fenced areas while others are not much more than a flat area with water and electric hook-ups. Then there are "RV supply" places where you can get fresh water and propane and dump your tanks. We went by this one neat house that had a iron fellow in a sombrero sitting on one end of a porch bench with his sweetheart on the other. (Unfortunately in the picture, she is hiding rather coyly behind the cactus.)

And yes, Sister Dena, there are flea market type stalls and shops all over the place. They have a really big Hobby, Craft and Gem Show the end of January followed by a Classic Car Show the first week in February. The big Sports, Vacation and RV Show starts this Saturday. The big shows are in a HUGE tent at the edge of town, but there are vendors set up anywhere and everywhere there is a little bit of space.

Besides being a haven for early prospectors, Quartzite is famous for having the US army and navy's only camel post. There is a large rock cairn topped with a copper camel at the cemetery commemorating Hi Jolly (the local pronunciation of Hadji Ali) the camel driver who came to the US with the camels from Arabia. Q is also famous -- or infamous -- for the owner of the local used bookstore, the Reader's Oasis. Paul Wimer has run the bookstore from the early 1990s. Things were a bit looser then and the town was a bit wilder. It's only been the last several years that Paul has been convinced for public decency to at least wear a nether garment. When we first came into the store, he was wearing just it and his hat. When I went to pay for my books -- and get the obligatory picture -- he had put on a sweater as he said "it's a bit chilly today..." (He's a lean scrawny soul, brown as a berry! )

So went our second day at Quartzite.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Alpine Coach Association Rally

This was the scene this morning -- that's Auntie Violet on the left with the long row of Alpine coaches behind her. By this evening, the line stretching the other way is just as long. They had 110 coaches registered, but way more than that have shown up. It is such a rarity to see more than one Alpine (there were only a little over 4000 ever made) in an RV park, so this is pretty amazing. The sentiment seems to be that since there is no longer a manufacturer, having good rallies and other get-togethers is a good way to keep the re-sale value of the Alpines up.

It was warm enough last night that for the first time in months, we did not turn on the heat in the coach. It was a bit chilly this morning, but a long way from the cold we've been used to the past few months. We wandered down to the office tent about ten and got registered. They had nice blue bags, ACA calendars and note pads.

This afternoon there was a heavy hors' dourves potluck at four o'clock that was the first official function. I had a round of brie that I divided in half and wrapped pastry around to bake. I put some of Brother Pat's walnuts on one half and his hazel nuts on the other. It seemed to go over pretty good because by the time we got through the line (we were in the third group) there was little left. I was going to take another picture when I took it out of the oven, but didn't think about it again until I'd already taken it over to the table... The picture on the left is part of the group gathered for the evening. Guaranty RV of California has brought five rigs that are for sale that are in a U-shape in the middle of the gathering. The table for the food was set up in the middle.

Forry was having trouble with the generator running, but not seeming to charge the batteries. He stopped to chat with some fellows who were working on another coach with the generator slide out. It turns out there is breaker switch on the generator that had been turned off that he didn't know about. It's great to be around people with the same kind of rigs that know some of the quirks!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Well, not quite to Quartzite yet. We are parked out in the desert on BLM land a few miles out of town. We arrived a day early for the Alpine Coach Association Desert Rat Rally and there are already more than fifty Alpines here! They are expecting over one hundred. We have not been to anything like this before. It should be interesting. We are especially interested in the "gearhead" session tomorrow afternoon when everyone shares their tips about dealing with any issues with our "orphan" coaches. (Western Recreational Vehicles who made Alpine coaches in Yakima went out of business last spring.)

We did all we could this morning to get ready. Filled the water tank (100 gallons) with fresh water; pulled in the slides; brought up the jacks; hooked up the toad; then drove over to the dump station to empty the gray (capacity 100 gallons) and black tanks (capacity 78 gallons) so that we would arrive hopefully able to stay a week. When you live in an RV, you certainly become more aware of the details of daily life and what is essential -- water, sewage, electric and propane -- as well as diesel for the rig! A certain amount of every day seems to be spent dealing with one or more of them.

The sun was shining brightly, the air was warm (it is so good to be back in sandals again!) and the sky was a brilliant blue as we left Newberry Springs. The one thing we didn't do while we were there is visit one of the pistachio stands (Forry's stash of pistachios was already pretty good.). There are lots of groves of fairly small young pistachio trees around the area. They have white bark and right now, no leaves. We heard that undeveloped land sells for $10,000 and acre if you are adjacent to power and further out it's still $1000 an acre. We saw a lot of deserted-looking homesteads with boarded up and calapsizing bulidings -- it looks like many people had dreams of making a living in the desert. It's hard to believe that those kind of land prices will hold up in today's economy.

Tomorrow, I'll try to get some pictures of all the rigs at the rally and the desert where we are.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Work Day...!

We had a wonderful day yesterday. We had sort of scoped out the little "strung-out over miles" community of Newberry Springs on Saturday. We found two churches about a mile apart on the same road as the elementary school. One was a Mormon stake house and the other a Community Church. The owner of the RV Park says there is a 3rd "somewhere out there off the road a ways," but we never found it.

We didn't get up terribly early Sunday and by the time we showered and ate breakfast I thought it was too late to go to church, but it was only 10:30 and services started at the Community Church at 11 AM which is only about seven miles away from us. It has got to be the friendliest church we have ever visited. We were about ten minutes early and people came from the other side of the building from where we were sitting to say hello. There were probably at least 150 people there -- I have no idea where they all came from as it doesn't seem that populated around here!

After services (they have a nice 18 person choir and good music) a fellow named Pete caught us as we were shaking hands with the pastor and invited us to lunch. We hesitated a few minutes, and thought "why not?" Pete and Dixie live almost fifteen miles from the church in a community called Calico Shores which is built around a pair of man-made lakes of about 30 acres. (All of these "lakes" around here are filled from wells -- they are pumping from about 300 feet down.)

We ate and talked and laughed a good share of the afternoon. Dixie is an RN who commutes three days a week (12 hour days) to Loma Linda where she works in Labor and Delivery. Pete is retired and it was amazing how much he and Forry are alike. Pete was also formerly a pilot -- they spent a couple of years in Liberia, Africa where he flew for a mission group while Dixie worked at a lepersorium. He flew Super Cubs AND a Cherokee Six, which is one of the airplanes that Forry had! (We used to fly it to Baja with the Franzes and the Kramers and all the kids...!)

We got back to the RV Park about 4:30 and had enough time before dark to get one side of Auntie Violet cleaned before dark. Forry has a cleaner that you wipe on and then just wipe dry.

This morning we did the other side and the front and back. She was filthy with the grime from the de-icer stuff and sand that she got went we came over the passes from Oregon. THEN, we decided we'd better do the car too as after the coach was clean, it really looked bad!

THEN, we decided to go for a walk as we hadn't walked yesterday. We are trying hard to get back into the exercise regimen that we sadly neglected over the holidays -- as did everyone else we talk to!

We are planning to leave for Quartzite and the Alpine Coach Assoc. Rally in the morning, so decided we should run into town for last minute groceries and to stock up on paper plates -- you need to conserve water out there as there are no hook-ups... I think Forry likes the idea of not doing any more dishes then you can help as the dishwashing is his job.

We did go out to dinner and had a great Mexican dinner at Dos Domingos in Barstow, but we are both pooped tonight!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Newberry Springs

We spent the day today at Twin Lakes RV Park near Newberry Springs, California. We'll spend the next couple of days here then head for Quartzite. One thing nice about RV Parks like this is they don't have rules against hanging clothes outside like most of the ritzier ones. Forry strung the new line Granddaughter Havela gave him for Christmas from the toad to a tree and I washed some towels and hung them out. It seems like the nicer a place a park is, the less "green" it is.

There isn't too much vegetation around here, it's mostly grease wood and salt cedar trees like the one in the picture. Also called tamarisks (I think), they are much disliked by forestry people as they are considered weed trees that force out other trees. Their roots pull of salt from the deep ground that contaminates the soil around them so nothing else will grow.

It's a full moon tonight. We were out walking as we watched it rise, it looked huge! It got pretty warm today -- we had all the windows in the RV open. It did freeze last night.


I was thinking about Martha (my late beloved mother-in-law) this noon when I was making some tuna sandwiches for lunch. As I buttered the bread I recalled her urging me to "be generous with the butter, make sure it covers the edges so the bread doesn't dry out," as we prepared sandwiches for the harvest crews. It was quite a contrast to my Mom, who with five kids, was always very sparing with butter -- and other food. Not that we never had enough to eat, but there never was a surplus. Anyway the sandwiches were good -- I learned to cut dried apricots into the tuna at a little sandwich shop at Manito Park in Spokane.

Birds seen today while we were out driving around:

Ravens, red-tailed hawk, Say's Phoebe, Black Phoebe, white crowned sparrows, mourning doves, geese, mallards

Friday, January 9, 2009

Into the Desert

Today we drove out of the fog/smog of the San Joaquin Valley into sunshine and the Tehachapi Mountains, then into the Mojave Desert. It was finally warm enough to go without long sleeves -- and if the wind wasn't blowing, I'd even put my sandals on. Everyone we've met has been complaining about the cold. I understand that Snoqualmie Pass (the major mountain pass from east to west in Washington State) is still closed and the I5 is closed between Olympia and Portland because of flooding, so I guess this isn't too bad.

I wasn't quick enough to think to grab the camera as we first came over the Tehachapis to get a picture of the THOUSANDS of wind generators that line the pass area. The picture above is just of the last of them. The area signs describe the area as the "Wind Generator Capital of the World" and they could very well be right.

The top picture is for Sister Sherry. I drove the last couple of hundred miles today -- two lane roads, freeway and the last a dirt road into Twin Lakes RV Park where we are staying for a couple of nights. The address here is Newberry Springs. It is run by a very young nice Asian lady who has it on the market because her manager passed last winter. We are parked by one small lake -- more like a pond -- the other lake is all dried up. There are three white geese and about a dozen Mallard ducks in the pond.

This park is somewhat off the beaten path and there are only a dozen or so rigs here. The couple who pulled in with a fifth-wheeler shortly after we did are from Issaquah. Last night the people who pulled in just ahead of us were from Everett. Most of our conversations with them have been about the terrible conditions up in Washington...

Last night we were talking about the 350 square feet of living space in Auntie Violet compared to the house in Spokane which had more than 2400. One thing about it, we definitely have no rooms we aren't using!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hurry up and....

We were up early this morning, wanting to get a good start. Forry had hooked up the toad last night and we had taken out all of the garbage and put everything away etc. We had spent an extra day at Old Orchard, getting some laundry done and making a trip into Home Depot at Chico. We needed to get a few things before we were ready to boondock (camp with no hook-ups for water or electricity or sewer) on BLM (Bureau of Land Management, i.e. public land) land at Quartzite.

We got four big packs of firewood and a bucket. The firewood is on the "bring sheet" for the Alpine Coach Association Rally that we are planning to attend from January 14-19th. The firewood is for evening campfires and the bucket is to catch shower water (the water that runs too cold to step into at first) that can then be used to flush the toilet. (All in the name of conserving water!) We've been to seminars at Life on Wheels conferences on boon-docking, but this will be the first time we've tried it for more than overnight. The other instruction is to come with your water tank FULL and both your gray and black water tanks EMPTY.

As we were unhooking the electricity and water this morning, I noticed that our neighbor -- who had been up and going even earlier than we had -- did not look very happy. He had the hood up on his toad (towed car) with a battery charger on with power from his coach. When I asked him what was wrong, he said he had left the key on in his car the night before and had run the car battery down and now his charger had been on for a half hour and didn't seem to be working. I called Forry over to check and sure enough there was NO spark at the battery terminals. So Forry went to get ours while the fellow kept protesting that he didn't want to delay us. After he hooked up our charger up, Forry remembered that his new compressor had a battery booster on it that could be used to start the car. But by the time he got it out, there was enough juice from the battery charger to start the car. The fellow was going to leave it run for a couple of hours in neutral while he was going down the road. It was a Honda and he said he had run it before while he was towing it without any problem...

So, it was ten AM before we got going. It gets dark by 4:30 and we didn't want to be looking for a campsite at night. About 4 PM we cut over to Hwy 99 from I5 at Los Banos to a little RV park called The Viking at Kingsburg. (There is not much of anything in the way of towns and/or RV parks on I5 once you leave Stockton) It is very different from any other place we have stayed. I had called earlier this afternoon and the lady they told me they didn't take reservations, but had "lots" of pull-through spaces left. We followed another rig (who turned out to be from Everett also heading for Quartzite) in. She went into the office and quickly came out and met me before I got there. If you are an overnighter, you are not supposed to go to the office, but are to pull into any vacant spot -- there were only two left -- then fill out an envelope from a box on a post, put your money or a check (no credit cards) in it and put it into a slot in the post. No human interaction at all!

This isn't a very attractive place and there are no amenities at all, so we'll just spend the night and head out again tomorrow. We'll check out a few places closer to Quartzite and stay there until the ACA Rally starts next Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Catch-up Day

Mount Shasta was out in all of its glory yesterday as we drove south on Interstate 5. It always surprises me how mountainous southern Oregon is. We didn't leave too early as the weather forecast had said there would be black ice early in the morning. By the time we came through the several passes the roads were pretty much bare and dry, though there was as much as a foot of snow in places.

In the Siskiyou Mountains, you go through the highest pass on I5 at 4315 feet, then pop out into the high valleys of northern California with Mount Shasta shining in the sun.

We came as far as Orland, California yesterday and are staying at Old Orchard RV Park. We had stayed here when we came through last March. Old Orchard is an older RV Park with a somewhat unusual layout -- the 52 pull-through sites are all in a large circle. You drive around the outside of the circle and pull into your site. When it's time to leave, you just pull out into the inner circle and drive out. The center and the outside of the circle are all planted with walnut and almond trees of the original orchard. It was very pretty when we were here in the spring, but of course now the trees are all bare.

We'll spend today here, catching up on chores and being lazy. We need to plan our route to Arizona and make some plans -- albeit in Jello -- for the next couple of weeks.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Travel Day!

Forry is busy draining the black and gray water while I'm tucking things away inside the coach as we get ready to move on south this morning.

We've had a restful couple of days here at 7 Feathers RV Resort in Canyonville, Oregon. We've spent time in the hot tub every evening (after 8 PM it's adults only!), enjoyed some beautiful scenery -- and saw a live "Beatles" show last night at the casino.

As we were riding the shuttle bus over, the driver told us that it wasn't on the menu, but that if you asked, they had a 10 oz. ribeye steak dinner for $7.50. We were a bit skeptic, but asked and yes, they did. We split it between us along with a large baked potato, garlic toast and vegetables. It would have been a pretty cheap meal if we hadn't decided to order dessert...!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

NO Snow!

We woke up to beautiful sunshine this morning -- it was so bright it almost hurt my eyes. We've gotten used to overcast dreary gray skies. The 7 Feathers RV Resort is a gorgeous place. It's only a year old. We're going to spend the weekend here and leave on Monday morning.

We took a walk this morning around the periphery of the property and along the creek that runs through it, The Umpqua tribe has done a great deal of work improving salmon habitat along the creek. They actually had their first spawning salmon return last fall. There are several dead snags among the evergreens along the creek. We heard and then saw a large pileated woodpecker. It must have found a treasure trove of bugs in a hole it hammered open, for it let me get right under the tree where it was working. I sure wish we would have had Forry's camera. His is much faster and might have gotten a better close-up.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Back on the Road!

We're back on the road again and it feels good! We left Hubbard this morning headed for Camper World in Wilsonville for an oil change and for them to try one more time to install the stabilizer. We didn't bother to hook up the toad as it was such a short distance and we knew we would have to just unhook again for them to get the RV in the service bay. I just followed Forry and the motorhome. The sun was shining at Hubbard (after a whole night of down pouring rain) but Wilsonville had about an inch of new show on the ground. Most of it was off on the freeway, but the parking lot at Camper World was a sheet of ice where no one had driven. This time they did have the RIGHT bracket!

We had to run back Daughter Dawn's (20 miles or so) with the toad while they were working on the RV as she called to tell me that I had left my plastic box of sewing machine needles behind. That doesn't sound too bad, but at $5-6 a packet and about 30 different kinds, it was worth the trip. We gave the grandkids one last hug and were on our way again.

By the time we returned to Camper World, they had all of the work done and had even done their test drive, so we hooked up the Jeep and took off about 12:30 finally heading south on Interstate 5! It was a funny drive -- we went from sunshine to rain to snow to slush and back again.

After hearing some RVer's talking about it on the CB, we decided to stop and spend the night at the new Seven Feathers RV Resort near Roseburg. We had dinner at the casino seafood buffet, then soaked in the hot tub just across from Auntie Violet. The weather forecast is talking about snow tonight for the pass into Californa, so we may just stay here for a day or two. It's a nice place.