Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Here Kitty, Kitty!

When Forry was talking to our friend Gene the other day, Gene suggested that we should go see the Palomar Observatory since we were so close. We hadn't realized it was just up the road a ways from Julian. So today, we did.

The Palomar Observatory is part of a complex of telescopes and scientific studies, but the only one that the public can tour is the dome that houses the 200 inch telescope. (200 inches actually refers to the size of the mirror...) The weather was overcast and cold today. They told us they probably would not be using the telescope tonight as snow is forecast. They don't open the dome when there is any possibility of moisture.
We took California Highway 7 up to Palomar. It is a windy twisting road that doubles back on itself in hairpin turns much of the way. As we came around one of the curves, we saw a mountain lion crossing the road just in front of us! It ran across the road and up into the brush on the side of the road, then turned around and looked at us! I used my little Coolpix camera and actually got a picture of it! By the time Forry got his camera with the big lense over to me, it had disappeared into the brush.
Can you see it peeking out from behind the branches?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Critters and Birds

It is just fun to sit inside Auntie Violet and watch the wildlife out of her windows. Especially at a place like this where there is a lot of activity going on. In a way, it is a bit annoying, there is so much bird activity in the trees, but they are hard to spot.

However, sometimes they come right out and show off right where you can see them! These acorn woodpeckers are part of a flock of five or six that come out to play every afternoon. Today they were flying in and out of the trees and off and on of the Toad.

Then there are these little guys that are scampering around all over the place --
And then there are these. There must be a dozen or so in the area --

We made a quick trip into Ramona this morning to the post office to get some packages in the mail, then spent the rest of the day here at the RV Park getting the laundry done.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Checking Out Ramona

The Community School buildings in Ramona where MDS had their headquarters --

I washed the sheets this morning, then we headed into Ramona. I needed to pick up a Fixed Rate shipping box at the post office so I could pack Easter goodies and get them sent off to the grandkids and so I could mail a birthday card to Sister Dena -- her birthday is today, so it's going to be late. ;-(
While we were there, we went to find the site of the Mennonite Disaster Service headquarters. It had been set up in an abandoned community school near the edge of town. When we got there, the directors and three remaining long-termers were in the process of shutting the site down. They had taken apart all of the bunk-beds and were taking down the room partitions and removing the toilets and showers that had been put in temporarily. We didn't visit very long as it was obvious they were pretty stressed out by what they were doing.
This is the site that our Menno crew and friends had worked at in January. While there is still work to do in the area, it has been taking a year-plus to obtain the necessary building permits. Quite a contrast from the way it had worked for us last year in Dulzura where we had a local arrangements committee that took care of all of the permit work for us!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Julian and Apple Pie...

It was an absolutely beautiful day today. A bit windy, but warm and sunshiny. We were awakened with the buzzing of motorbikes and motorcycles. It sure brought back memories of being in Dulzura last year -- the weekends were always full of bikers enjoying the twisting mountain roads.

We decided to take a run over to nearby Julian this afternoon and check out the apple pie situation. This little early mining town is at a high enough altitude to raise good apples. They have a reputation for both baked goods and apple pie -- and have some kind of apple pie festival every year. Forry had heard one of the MDS folks who had worked up here in the past talking about it. He thought it was our friend Darryll, so called him up and asked him where to find the best place to buy a piece of pie. Darryll was pretty puzzled, had only been in this area with the Ritzville group, so obviously wasn't who had told him about it.

Julian is sort of scattered along the highway in a couple of different chunks. We stopped at one where a little farmer's market was going on; sampled some different nuts, some hard cider, and bought some blood oranges and a loaf of bread. A little later we stopped at Dudley's "Famous Bakery" that advertised pie by the slice. It was packed with a line almost out the door! (In addition to all of the bikers, there was a horde of Miata convertibles who were having a rally in the area.). By the time we got to the counter, all of the pie slices were gone. It was really sad as we ended up having to buy a whole apple pie instead...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

WIND and Winding Roads

Nickel sings Country and Western --

Auntie Violet and the Toad settled into Site 106 --

We woke up during the night to Auntie Violet rocking in the wind. We were at 4000 feet at the Acorn Casino and the wind was really blowing! We were awake off and on after that as it just seemed to get gustier. We finally got up and fixed some coffee and cereal which we ate while watching the antics of the Border Patrol and the Sheriff's vehicles in the parking lot. We never did quite figure out who or what they were after, but they were using the motorhomes and 5th wheels in the parking lot to hide their rigs behind. They finally brought in a tow truck and loaded up one car and hauled it away, but I guess we'll never know what was going on.

Such a contrast today as we came through the sand dunes and across the mountains into California. The amount of flowers on the hillsides was just incredible. We'll have to take the toad back in the next couple of days -- when we're not fighting wind gusts and traffic -- and get some pictures. One thing quickly came back to us from being in this area last year -- the roads are twisting and winding!

We got quite a surprise when we were checking into Ramona Canyon RV Resort. The manager was telling us about activities at the resort this week and said they were having a Country & Western singer at the clubhouse tonight that would be a "pass the hat" concert. I said something about the ones at the Gypsy Journal Rally having been pretty lucrative for the performers. They got pretty excited and we realized that's where we had seen each other. Michael Hargis had been one of the entertainers at the Rally!

We got settled in to a pretty nice site in amongst the trees (we saw both woodpeckers and finches while we were hooking up...). It's a lot different here then the desert we have been in for several weeks now.

And we did go to the clubhouse this evening (after a dinner of leftover Roadhouse ribs) for the concert. Nickel, the singer, is developing an act with recorded music which wasn't being very cooperative with her. But, she has a very nice voice and is hilariously funny besides.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Off to California!

The brittlebush flowers are in full bloom and made an edge of yellow along the highway --

Auntie Violet literally shook her skirts free of desert dust this morning as we headed down Interstate 8 towards California. With our leaving, there was only one transient RV left at M & M Park and he had Forry shaking his head. The fellow was pulling a 25 foot trailer with a 1/2 ton pickup that didn't even have a tow package installed and no auxiliary braking system. He was complaining rather bitterly about how overheated it gotten... Forry suggested he perhaps needed at least a towing package or even a bigger rig, but he responded it "would just cost too much..."

We didn't push too hard today. We don't have reservations in Ramona until tomorrow. We stopped just east of El Cajon at the Golden Acorn Casino near Campo where we will spend the night. We did go into the casino for dinner, but were both still so full from the Texas Roadhouse last night that Forry just had a hamburger and I had some huevos rancheros.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

One Last Trip Into Yuma

We needed to stock up on groceries (Forry's jug of cereal milk was Yuck! this morning -- and no way would he use my yogurt...) before we leave Wellton tomorrow. We could have gone into the little grocery store in town, but we had this card for a free "Baby Blossom" appetizer at the Texas Roadhouse in Yuma that had an expiration date of March 31st.

It made complete sense to drive the forty miles into Yuma this evening and eat at the Texas Roadhouse and then go get groceries at a store that also carried Starbucks coffee beans (heaven forbid that we would run out of Starbucks!). Sounded like a plan to me!

We had never been to one of the roadhouse franchises and said as much to the young waitress when she was explaining the menu to us. It turned out to be a pretty fantastic meal! The "Baby Blossom" is very similar to Outback's "Bloomin' Onion" and just as tasty. We decided to go ahead and order full rib racks instead of 1/2 racks or splitting one, thinking that we could have leftovers for our traveling tomorrow. We could have ordered just a single rack and still had leftovers! They did give you a large sharp knife with the cutlery, but we had absolutely no use for it -- the meat on the ribs fell off with a touch of the fork. I also had a huge sweet potato -- actually a yam -- as a side that they fixed with toasted baby marshmallows. They also served wonderful yeast rolls with cinnamon butter, and another side of green beans. Forry was a little more circumspect and had a dinner salad and broccoli as his sides.

Before we finished eating, the manager came over to our table to welcome us as "first-timers" to her restaurant. She gave us another card for a free "Baby Blossom," this one without an expiration date! She said that way we could use it whenever we returned to Arizona OR we could use it at the new Texas Roadhouse franchise restaurant that a friend of theirs was opening soon in Couer d' Alene!

I don't think this is the last time we'll eat at a roadhouse...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

More Desert Blooms...

The red tips of an ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) in bloom are all over the Sonoran Desert these days. According to one of my plant books, these plants can live to be over 200 years old.

This is a portion of the road into KOFA National Wildlife Refuge. It just kept getting narrower and narrower and more and more rutted as it wound up into the refuge. We finally decided we had best turn around and go back while we still could, even in four wheel drive it was getting tough to negotiate.

This is a Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla). It doesn't look like much from a distance -- note the bottom picture -- but when you get close, it is quite dramatic. The plants range from a light pink to a very deep rose. If you have a bit of an imagination, you can certainly see how it got its name.

Two more of our neighbors left this morning -- it is getting to be a very empty campground! We will only be here two more nights ourselves.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Blooms in the Desert

This is a Ghost Flower (Mohavea confertiflora) distinguished by the brick red center. We found it along the road about twelve miles into the gravel and dirt road at the Mile 55 entrance to the southern part of the KOFA National Wildlife Refuge.

The next two pictures are of the Desert Lily (Hesperocallis undulata), sometimes called the ajo lily. This is one that my flower books say doesn't always bloom every year and may actually lie dormant for several years during droughts. Its bulb was used by Native Americans for food. A cluster of the lilies was blooming along the road near where the pavement turned into gravel and rock.

We saw lots of prickly pear cacti either in bloom or loaded with buds and about to burst into glorious bloom.

Monday was a good day for wildflower hunting. We were fortunate enough to spot many of the early spring blooming flowers. The KOFA WLR area is rich in plant life with lots of ocotillos, saguaros and cholla cacti, mesquite and manzanita. I'll continue to share some of the pictures we took over the next couple of days.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Monday, March 22, 2010

This is WORK!

The fellows on the back of the machine keep the boxes coming --

The fellow on the left has just stooped over and cut off the head of lettuce and is putting it in a plastic bag that he is bringing to the table on the front of the machine --

The lady in blue picks one up, twists the top and touches it down to the taper before placing it in the box --

The workers travel to the fields in large buses towing trailers with porta-potties --

We went to KOFA National Wildlife Refuge today. We had driven through the northern road of the refuge a month or so ago and wanted to see the main part of it. It was a great day for getting pictures of the early spring wild flowers! I'll share some of them tomorrow.

We took the back road out of Wellton through the farmland and got a chance to see the lettuce harvesting crews in action. Not only is it a great deal of hard work, lots of stooping to cut the lettuce, then straightening up to place them on the conveyor belt that puts them into the boxes. The crew we watched today was also placing the lettuce directly in plastic bags which were then sealed by another worker before they went up the conveyor belt into cartons ready to be shipped to grocery stores.

It was in the low eighties today -- just perfect for a tank top or short-sleeved shirt and shorts or capris. But not for these workers. They had on long pants, rubber boots, long sleeved shirts, aprons, hats, hair nets and face masks. They were working in as sanitary conditions in the field as you would be in a commercial kitchen.
We chatted a bit with one of the foreman who drove up in a pick-up. He said this is the last crop of lettuce for this year. (As it gets too hot, the lettuce "bolts" -- sends up seed stalks instead of making heads. ) They plant another crop of wheat or barley on the same fields.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Desert Sunflowers

We've spent most of the day watching TV today, first the March Madness basketball tournament, and now the debates and votes in the House of Representatives on Healthcare Reform this evening. Having spent most of my working career trying to ensure access to healthcare for all, I obviously had much more interest on what was happening tonight then the basket ball games earlier (especially since Gonzaga lost)!

We did take a quick run into town to pick up a few groceries and took a short drive through the farm country in the valley close to town. Just feet from the cultivated fields where the debris (most likely left from the original leveling of the fields for irrigation) is piled up, was a blanket of Desert Sunflowers (Geraea canescens) :

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Salt Cedar

Salt Cedar (Tamarix aphylla) is a pretty sight in the desert. It gives green to otherwise drab brown scenery. But like many other pretty things, it is not what it seems! Salt cedar is a non-native invasive species that has disrupted the structure and stability of native species due to its ability to out-compete. It consumes more water than native plants and draws salt up to the surface making the ground around inhospitable to other plants.

It was imported as an ornamental plant for landscapes, but has "gotten away" and occurs all over the southwest. We have seen it as far east as Texas and Pioneer Woman was writing on her blog about destroying it on their ranch in Oklahoma.

But it is pretty! Especially in the spring with its delicate pink blossoms....

Friday, March 19, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jog

Such a lovely sight to look down from the air and see the gently green desert below. My flight from Kansas City to Phoenix was boring -- there was a cloud layer almost all the way to Phoenix. But between Phoenix and Yuma, it was beautiful! A few fluffy clouds in the air but great views all the way.

Forry was just driving into the airport when I gave him a call as my plane taxied in. And by the time I got to the curb, he was waiting for me. We stopped at Denny's for an evening breakfast, then headed home to Auntie Violet who was waiting for us at the RV park in Wellton.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Old Friends, New Friends

It is always fun to work with people you have learned to know and to trust. It is also good to meet new people and find that they too may become trusted friends. This Task Group on Racial Healing that I have been asked to serve on has a good friend and colleague as the chairperson, but I only knew one of the other four people in the group. After a day spent together, I am delighted that it looks like we will have a good group -- our talents and skills seem to complement each other nicely.

Tonight we went out to dinner with our group plus the Intercultural Reference Committee -- 13 of us in all. We went to a place called Bravo! Cocino Italiana a couple of miles from the hotel. Good food and good company!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Off to Kansas City --

Ugh, I hate early morning flights. My flight to Kansas City left Yuma for Phoenix at 7 AM. Getting to the airport by 6 AM meant leaving M & M RV Park at 5 AM. Getting showered and ready to go meant getting out of bed at 4 AM. What a way to start the day! I did manage to sleep most of the way to Phoenix. We were a little bit late getting there, so by the time I went to the other concourse (It's a rule that connecting flights MUST be in a different concourse then the one you arrived in...), they were already loading the flight to Kansas City.

It was a nice flight -- the middle seat in my row was actually empty! I slept part of the way, then enjoyed the chic lit novel I was reading on my Kindle.

I met this afternoon and evening with the Intercultural Reference Committee of Mennonite Church USA. I knew most of the members, but enjoyed getting to meet the few I hadn't had a chance to meet before. We meet again tomorrow at 8 AM, so I'd best wind this up and get to bed as that's 6 AM Yuma time!

By the way, I brought my new little mini HP computer with me. It's a lot nicer typing my blog on it then on my iPhone!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Last of the Frequent Flyer Miles

Today we passed another milestone. Over the years I had accumulated lots of frequent flyer miles on Alaska Airlines while I was working. I not only flitted back and forth across the state of Washington for meetings, but had visited many states starting rural health associations and speaking at their rural health meetings. After I was elected President of the National Rural Health Association, I also made lots of trips to the "other" Washington (DC).

When I was Moderator of Pacific Northwest Mennonite Conference a few years back, I was pretty forceful in encouraging the group to have one of our annual meetings at our furthest outpost, Anchorage, Alaska. We had had a very successful gathering in Kalispell, Montana -- many people planned their vacations for before or after the meetings. It gave a great boost to the little church in Kalispell and made them feel like they truly were part of the conference. We figured by giving everyone several years notice, we could do something similar in Alaska.

So this year, June 25-27, we will be meeting in Anchorage. Forry and I are planning to take Auntie Violet up the ALCAN highway and spend a summer in Alaska, but this was not the year. We debated about whether we should fly up and finally decided that after I had pushed so hard to have it there, we'd better show up.

I got on line with Alaska Airlines today and found I had just enough FF's left for coach tickets for Forry and I! That's the END of the "working woman's" collection of frequent flyer miles. Can't think of a better way to use them.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Detour Through the Lettuce Fields

A lettuce field after the pickers have gone through....

An immature head of lettuce....

From this whole field of growing lettuce ---

Today we went in to Yuma to pick up our General Delivery mail at the post office there. Although Wellton is only about twenty miles away, there is a small range of mountains (the Gila Mountains) in between the two communities. The scenery changes rapidly from farm country in the Dome Valley to desert terrain in the hills.

Our GPS unit had tried to get us to take a back road (Hwy 80) into Wellton when we came instead of I-8, so today we thought we'd go that way in the Toad. Turns out they are re-doing a bridge on that road and you get sent on a detour -- via dirt and gravel roads -- several miles through farm country. The detour took us into an area where iceberg lettuce was being harvested. Machinery with boxes goes through the field followed by the pickers who slice off the lettuce heads, then slice off the outer leaves and hand them into the boxes. (There was a write-up in the Sunday New York Times by a writer who is working with migrant crews -- he says it really looks easy, but is very hard to get the rhythm right and to keep up!)

I don't think I had mentioned Saturday that while we were still setting up at the RV Park here, one of the park residents came by with a box of fresh-picked iceberg lettuce and gave us a head. Iceberg lettuce is apparently having a renewal in favor due to the popularity of lettuce wraps and wedge salads.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Today in Wellton

At the M & M RV Park in Wellton --

It seems we came to M&M RV Park just as most of the Sno-Birds were getting ready to leave. A few left yesterday and more this morning. As far as we can tell, most of the economy of Wellton has to do with the number of Sno-Birds who annually make this their home every winter.
As we drove about the town and its environs this afternoon, it was apparent that what prosperity there was in this town has to do with the retirees. There are some very nice houses just outside of town in an addition they call Coyote Wash that is built along a new golf course, but it looks like they also are only occupied in the winter.
The Town of Wellton does have its own golf course as well along with a nice park with sand volleyball courts and a skate-board area. There are a couple of small restaurants in town.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Back to Wellton, Arizona

We knew we needed to find another place to stay in the Yuma area for a week or so. We had to be out of the Yuma County Fairgrounds by noon yesterday as they had a gun show coming in for the week-end -- and we certainly didn't want to tangle with those guys!

Forry remembered a place we had stayed at for a couple of nights in February of 2009 when we were on our way to work with Mennonite Disaster Service in Dulzura. It's on the Passport America 50% discount list, so we called to see if we they had room for us. It turns out they have a lot of people leaving for home in the north this week and have lots of room.

It's a whole lot different here at M & M RV Park than at the RV Resorts we had been staying at in Mesa. It does have the obligatory VERY busy railroad tracks running along the back of the the RV Park. You can go out the gap in the back fence and walk along the tracks, but you've have to dodge all of the debris (tree trimmings, grass and trash) piled between the fence and the tracks.

We slept in this morning after all of the early mornings at the Gypsy Gathering and stayed around Auntie Violet all day. Forry has four months of the ranch books he has to get entered and sent off to our accountant as he needs that information in order to finish our personal taxes. So Forry worked on that while I did several loads of laundry. I made a pretty awesome pork stir-fry for supper with yellow peppers, onions, celery, cauliflower and lots of ginger.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Auntie Violet Gets Weighed!

Auntie Violet is NOT a happy camper! She says her privacy has been violated!

This morning we had an appointment for her at 11 AM to be weighed. One of the precepts we have been taught over the years at Life On Wheels conferences is to make sure your RV is not over-loaded. The weight of the coach has a direct effect on its ability to stop in a timely manner and IF you were to be in an accident and it could be proven you were overweight, it could affect both your liability and your legal status!

We had been over a truck scale and knew that Auntie Violet was not over her gross vehicle weight. What we didn't know was how well her weight was distributed. This rally was the first place we had been where we had an opportunity to have each wheel or set of wheels weighed.

The folks from the Recreational Vehicle Safety Foundation have individual scales that they slip in front of each wheel and then have you drive slowly onto them. Each scale gives a weight of that wheel or set of duals. We got an initial weight report and will get a detailed analysis in the mail in the next couple of weeks.

Why is Auntie Violet acting so pissy about it, you ask? She doesn't think it was fair that both Forry and I were on board when she was weighed and that nobody mentions that it's not just her weight, but ours as well...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day Four -- Western Gypsy Gathering

Looking down the row -- one of many -- where Auntie Violet is parked --

This one was taken a little farther away. If you don't recognise her -- and I won't tell her if you don't -- she's the second one in the row parked behind the Jeep Liberty Toad.

Today was another busy day of seminars and visiting vendors. We've been at the Yuma Fairgrounds long enough that I can find my way around to the various seminar locations without looking at the map. Since I am VERY directionally challenged, it's always nice when I get to that point. But, I don't get nearly as much exercise as I do when I get turned around and find myself at the opposite side of the fairgrounds from where I need to be!

Tonight was the last of the door prize drawings. It's pretty incredible how many door prizes are collected by Nick and his crew -- eventually every single coach attending the rally got a door prize. And some of them were pretty nice stuff! By the way, the final count of rigs attending seems to be 220 RVs, give or take 1 or 2. Add to that total the several hundred people who have come on different days as day attenders, and you have an idea of how many people have been running around here!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day Three -- Gypsy Journal Gathering

This is a Harrier --

We are next door to a Marine training base --

These noisy babies fly lots of "touch and goes" (landing and then immediately taking off without taxiing off the runway) in circuits that take them right over the fairgrounds.

After three days here, people just pause in their conversations until they can be heard again and then just go right on talking like they never stopped.

Today was another busy day full of seminars. Added to that was tonight's Pizza Party where 400+ people were fed the first go-around of pizza (two slices each with choice of cheese, sausage or pepperoni) in less then fifteen minutes! I had helped with pizza serving last year and this year Terri sort of put me in charge. We set up forty tables and chairs for eating, six more for serving and three more for stacking pizza boxes until they were needed for the servers. It's quite a spectacle to watch that many people come through the lines and get served so quickly!

Tonight's entertainment was a fellow named Michael Hargis and his wife Christy. He's a pretty talented singer who uses the kinds of pre-recorded music used in karaoke machines. He did sing a couple of things without accompaniment just to prove he wasn't lip-syncing! He and his wife did a bus conversion to an RV and have been on the road for the last six months.

One of the seminars I went to today was one Nick Russell led about blogging. I think I've gotten a few new ideas I may want to be trying out in the coming weeks. We'll see...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day Two -- Western Gypsy Gathering

Janet Trannum in her seminar extolling the virtues of microfibers for cleaning the coach --

Today was a day of seminars -- I went to one on The Gypsy Journal's FAQ; a For Women Only Roundtable; Accessories for Better Air Card Internet Access; Passport America Discount Camping Club; and Honey, Let's Clean the RV. Forry attended Electrical Management Systems; Fire Safety with the Fire Guy, Mac McCoy; RV Insurance, What Affects Your Rates; The Great Rocky Mountain RV Adventure and came with me to Honey, Let's Clean the RV.
I must admit, we kept busy from 8 AM this morning until 5 PM this evening. There was an evening session of cards and games planned, but we came home to Auntie Violet for a dinner of crab cakes and fresh asparagus and didn't leave again.
I've made a couple small purchases from the vendors -- some new rugs for the bathroom made of microfiber to replace the old rugs that were falling apart and a couple more small glass nail files (I want to end up with one stashed everywhere I am!).
I did the paperwork on tire sizes and the gross weights of Auntie Violet in preparation for her "four corner" weighing appointment on Friday morning. She'll have each front wheel and each set of rear duals weighed separately so that we can see how well her cargo weight is distributed. (We do know from weighing on truck scales that we weigh less then the manufacturer's recommended total gross weight...). We also purchased a combination surge protector and electrical management system that will be installed tomorrow (We had wanted to get one last year, but the dealer sold out on the first day and we hadn't found what we wanted since!)
And it wouldn't be an RV Rally with Mac the Fire Guy if we didn't buy ANOTHER fire extinguisher! This year he has a special one that goes in the back of the refrigerator compartment (last year we bought an automatic one for the engine compartment...). There have been so many refrigerator recalls and fires in the past few years -- first with just the propane ones and then with the combo propane/electric ones. The problem seems to be in their design -- something about the compressors and the amount of heat they put out. (Sort of reminds me of the Toyoto debacle!)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day One -- Western Gypsy Gathering

The attendees gather for the opening session of the rally --

That's Nick Russell with the microphone (hiding behind the guy in the cap) who is the editor/publisher of the Gypsy Journal which sponsors this rally --

David Bradley, Singer/Yodeler --

Of course, today turned out to be a beautiful day -- the sun was out, the puddles were drying up and the Harriers were flying! (Did I mention that the fairgrounds is right across the road from the big Yuma Marine Air Base where they are training in Harriers, F-16s and the big transport planes -- and the flight path is right across the fair grounds?)

There were a few rigs that came in today, but the majority had arrived in the midst of the thunderstorm yesterday. I haven't heard a head count yet, but one of the parking guys said they had parked over 200 rigs.

The rally officially started this afternoon at 3 PM with introductions of all the vendors and people who would be giving seminars -- and a Marine corporal from their Public Relations department who came to tell a little bit about all of the flying going on. He got a standing ovation from the crowd. People just paused in what they were saying when a plane would go over. There were lots of comments about "It's the sound of freedom."

Tonight's gathering was very special. First of all we won a nice door prize; one free night's stay at the Westwind RV & Golf Resort here in Yuma plus a free appetizer from Texas Roadhouse Restaurant. Then we were treated to a concert by David Bradley, a singer/yodeler who had sung with the Sons of the Pioneers. He did a great program of music that ranged through the thirties on up to the late fifties. All the music we grew up on!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

At The Fairgrounds For the Western Gypsy Journal Gathering

Waiting in line with the other 50-60 rigs waiting to park at the Yuma Fair Grounds --

There were puddles and then it rained some more --

After we finally were parked, we headed for the fair's theatre building to get registered --

We got a good start this morning driving from Casa Grande to Yuma. It's about a 170 mile drive and took us about about three hours. One thing we noticed was how green the desert was -- even more so than the last time we had taken a long drive. We had rain showers all along the way. It says on the "Desert Wildflower Reports" on the internet, that the rains of last month did a great deal to start things growing, but another shower would still be needed "if there is to be a spectacular bloom this spring." Well, today they got those showers -- and then some!

This is part of the usual "preparing to leave" routine --

Emptying the black and then the gray tanks, flushing them out, then waiting to make sure everything is drained before you can pack all the hoses away...

And the puddles grow--

And the tempers flare
And you have to laugh ..
What's an hour or so to wait your turn?
It's pouring rain, what else are you gonna do after you get parked anyway?

Almost as much fun as people-watching at an airport!

And The Thunder Rolls

And the lightening flashes and the rain pours down!
Must be time for a Western Gypsy Journal Rally!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

So What Did We Do Today?

Do you ever have one of those days? When you look back, know you were busy, but can't figure out what it was you did all day?

I can see part of the evidence -- the portable clothes dryer has jeans, sweat-shirts and dish towels on it -- must have done the last of the laundry.

There's a smell of mushrooms and sour cream in the air -- the beef stroganoff I finally made for Forry for supper tonight (he's only been asking for it for a LITTLE while!).

There's red marks on my cheek -- must have taken a nap somewhere along the line...

I've crops ready to harvest in Farmville -- must have gotten some planting done...

There are fresh blueberries in the fridge -- evidence of a quick trip to the grocery when I discovered I'd forgotten the tomato juice for the stroganoff.

The lawn chairs on the patio are moved -- must have had some time out there enjoying the sun and my Kindle.

Must have been just a nice quiet day. Tomorrow we head for the Gypsy Journal RV Rally at the Fairgrounds in Yuma. At least I'll be able to report that!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Once Again, Laundry!

Now that we were ensconced in a site with running water and electricity, it was time to catch up on all of the on-going chores that need to be done whether you are in a stix and brix house or an RV one. So today I did laundry, changed the sheets and washed the bathroom rugs. Forry vacuumed Auntie Violet and even cleaned the air filter on the Toad.

One of the characteristics of a SKP (Escapee) park is afternoon get-togethers. Every weekday afternoon at a park, most park residents meet in the clubhouse. One member acts as the MC and they follow a regular routine. First new arrivals are greeted, handed a microphone and asked to introduce themselves, give their SKP number, telling where they're from, how long they are staying and where they are going next. Second on the agenda is recognition of birthdays and anniversaries. Next there are announcements, then any jokes of the day, RV tips and a thought for the day before the group is dismissed. Sometimes there is quite a line-up for announcements, jokes and tips, other days there may be only one or two and the MC sort of fills in. It is sort of hokey, but it's part of what ties SKP communities together. You know that whatever SKP park you go to, there is this familiar routine.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Site 52!

We are no longer boon-docking! The couple at Site 52 left mid-morning and we were escorted around the park and down the middle aisle to their spot. I was sort of hoping that the first available site would be in the outside row where we were when we were for a few days in January. There are trees outside the wall and there was lots of bird activity.

BUT, the opportunity to have electricity, Internet and being able to do laundry for a few days makes Site 52 just fine!

I finished up getting all of our tax records together this morning for our accountant. So this afternoon we went in to Casa Grande to the post office to send the stuff off by Priority Mail. We had also finally gotten a call from the dispenser at the Costco Hearing Aid Center in Spokane giving us the "procedure code" for the new hearing aids Forry had gotten last fall. I had sent the paperwork in to our health insurance asking for reimbursement (we have an $800 benefit for hearing aids) and they had sent it all back saying they needed this code (I don't understand why they couldn't have looked it up in their code books...?) first. So anyhow, we mailed that off today as well.

We had planned to eat out while we were in Casa Grande and wanted to have Mexican, but had no idea what there might be in the area. I did a search with the "yellow pages" app on my iPhone for Mexican restaurants and got a couple dozen names of restaurants. One of the neat features of the iPhone is it gives you the distance from your current location. We decided to just go to the closest one -- and it turned out to be a winner! We had some of the best sopapillas we've ever eaten!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Still Boondocking!

We were supposed to move into a regular site with hook-ups today when the lady across the way left...

BUT, it turned out the woman in the office had lost track of how many RVs she had waiting for a space in the Boondock area and it turns out that there was another RV that had come in before us. No one else left today, but at Happy Hour this afternoon another fellow announced that he would be leaving tomorrow for ten days. We don't know if he has a site that he allows to be rented out when he is gone or not. We'll have to wait and see tomorrow.

We are allowed to run the generator in the evening for three hours, so I am getting some work done on the computer while it is on. I have been working on getting our tax stuff ready for Cleon our accountant. I think I have it pretty well finished, so I have a few minutes to catch up on my blog and Facebook!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

We are at the Escapees RV Park in Casa Grande, but are parked in the "boondock" area as all of their sites are full. Which means we have no hookups, which means we have no power to run the router, which means I have no Internet! (I'm sending this to Blogger as a text message.)

Hopefully, someone will leave in the morning and we can get moved in!

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Man and His Tools...

As any male can tell you, you need to have the right tools to do the job! Most of the time a new job also requires at least one new tool! This time Forry had to buy a new valve to replace the one that wasn't closing, but he did seem to have all of the tools he needed. ;-) Thanks to this massive set he bought a year or so ago at Costco...

Forry's been complaining about the valve that opens and closes the black water tank so that it can be drained. It has an electric switch, but he has had to tap the actual valve handle with a hammer to make it work while I hold the switch down on the opposite side of the coach (of course, it's on the opposite side, isn't that the way it always works?!)

Last night the valve stuck half open and we couldn't get it closed. Knowing it was getting worse, Forry had purchased a new valve when we were at Camper World last week. So after extensive flushing of the tank this morning, we got the valve to open all the way, then flushed it well so that he could replace the valve.

It really pays to have a man who knows how to fix things! It took a couple of hours to get the job done -- I wonder what it would have cost to have hired someone to do it down here in Arizona? The last time we were at Uhlmann's, one of the guys said they were making $90/hour.

The old valve was fairly corroded -- I would presume it's from all of the hard and salty water we've experienced as we traveled....