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2009 Winter RV Travel to Arizona
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Distant view of Bouse
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General Patton Tank
January 13, 2009: We tried the scenic loop road to the northeast toward Bouse, Vicksburg and Hope, Arizona. All are tiny little towns unlike the nearby Quartzsite. The Q is full of snowbirds, crowded and hundreds of flea market booths of mostly junk and rocks. We aren't interested in junk/rocks nor are we interested in the crowded streets. This was a nice little scenic loop of about 70 miles. Bouse is where General Patton trained his WWII tank soldiers in night time fighting. The tank above is a "General Patton" tank. There is a museum and memorials in the town.
Bouse market
Like Quartzsite, Bouse has two grocery stores. The market above has a laundry also. These look much like the two in Quartzsite. I have to wonder what happens to Bouse during the summer months since there is very little business on main street during the winter.
The A & C Merchantile

Our friends Jack and Carole are visiting from Grants Pass, Oregon. We were all hungry so we try the Country Kitchen in Bouse. I got an over cooked omelet, Gwen got the special, chicken fingers with a salad which she liked. Carole liked her hamburger and Jack got a tuna sandwich. He didn't mention how he liked it. I would try the other two cafes in this town before coming back to this one. We chose this cafe because it had the most cars in the parking lot compared to the others. I decided the people were in the cafe for socializing rather than food.

Vicksburg and Hope were very tiny. Hope was the larger of the two with a flea market and nice looking RV park. Both had a couple of cafes.

Our friends Jack and Carol are visiting. We all try a Bouse cafe.

KOFA National Wildlife Refuge: Palm Canyon
The route to the palm canyon January 14, 2009: This was a magical day of driving, then hiking into the KOFA National Wildlife Refuge; Palm Canyon area. The photo above is of the mountains as we approached the area. To the left is the driving route to the canyon. The photo below is of the view of the desert valley below the canyon trail. Nearly all plants and bushes in the desert have spines. Gwen and Morgan are hiking toward the canyon. By accident, we arrived at the canyon at the exact time the sun was shining onto the palms. They probably get direct sunlight only 1 hour of the day this time of year. You'll see other visitors in the dark shadows below the canyon. At the top of the canyon trail is the obvious sign pointing toward the canyon for those who aren't looking around. The mountains surrounding this area are impressive with steep walls and little vegetation. This would be a good place to sit and meditate for a while. Be sure to click all photos to enlarge for a better view. Some of the photos are MUCH larger than your monitor so be sure to click the enlargement a second time to get the full view.
The view of the desert vally from the Palm Canyon
The desert close up Gwen and Morgan hiking the Palm Canyon Trail
Palm Canyon Closer view of Palm Canyon
Dale and Morgan at the top of Palm Canyon Trail We found a "Walking Stick"
This last photo on the right is of a "walking stick" which I found on the head rest of the truck. I was vacuuming and about to brush off what I first thought was a piece of brush when my college entomology class kicked in. My friend, Fred, happened along about this time and he put the "stick" on his arm so I could photograph it. This insect is a master of disguise. Be sure to click the photo to enlarge.
Free Breakfast at La Mesa RV Dealer January 15, 2009: We have decided to move today to a new location. But before we move we must follow the crowd to free breakfast at the La Mesa RV Dealer. You complete a card with your name and address then get a name tag. Join the line for pancakes (against the far wall). Terry and Kathy joined us this morning because they tried it yesterday and enjoyed the pancakes both days.
Our new camping location
A friend showed us a quiet area away from the many RV campers. If you click the above photo you will get a big enlargement and be able to see the arrow pointing to our new campsite. Be sure to enlarge to it's fullsize. It will be many monitors wide and you will need to scroll to see the entire photo. You can also click the photo below to enlarge. Our nearest RV neighbor is at least 1/4 mile away. We are looking for silence (no generators) and a dark Arizona night sky. Morgan and I are searching the area
This is the chosen locaton
All windows are facing south to catch the sun all day long. January 16, 2009: This was our first full day of sitting in the desert alone. Our trailer windows are facing south to catch the sun all day long to capture the warmth. After breakfast I took Morgan for a two mile bike ride then returned the tired dog to the trailer. I then took myself toward the Plamosa Mountains and got to within 200 yards of a pass before decided the road was too rough and sapping what strength I had left. You can see the Plamosa Mountains behind the trailer. The pass will have to wait for another day. Click both photos to enlarge. Be sure to look for my mountain bike in the center of the photo below.
Mountain Bike ride toward the Plamosa Mountains
January 17, 2009: Today I had the opportunity to ride with my friend Bob in the Plamosa Mountains. Bob is a more accomplished rider than I am although I think I could be to his level in about a month of practice. We rode no single track but found good 4 x 4 roads for riding around one of the mountains. You can just see the top of our trailer in the photo below to the right. The mountain we circled is to the left. I was able to stay on the bike except for one technical spot at the bottom of a "wash". Around here there are washes rather than creeks or rivers. A wash is a dry creek or river bed, usually filled with sand or loose gravel. Apparently when it rains, the rain water is not soaked into the ground but rolls downhill into the washes. This can create flash floods with little warning. I'm not sure what time of year this happens. I've never seen water in any wash this time of year. Click any of the photos to see the desert terrain. Riding with my friend Bob
The top of our trailer on the right and the mountain we circled on the left
The trail behind the mountain Dale on rough ground
January 18, 2009: Today we met with Robert Shearer who wrote The RV Battery Charging Puzzle. I mentioned it back in August. He has updated that article and called it The 2009 RV Battery Charging Mystery. Robert also wrote a shorter introduction titled: RV Solar Short Course. The longer article is a complete overview of charging batteries using solar power. There seems to be a lot of mis-information about solar power and Robert is doing his best to make us wise in solar choices. Gwen and I will likely add solar power to our Cameo to be able to spend months in the desert without using our generator. We've learned to recharge the batteries the best we can during the day with our generator then run on batteries in the evening so not to disturb the quiet of the evening. This includes AC items such as our TV, Internet and computers. We meet with Robert Shearer

The Big Tent is crowded
Dale visiting with the California Land Management Booth January 19, 2009: Ever since we started talking about visiting Quartzsite people have told us we must visit the "Big Tent" during the January RV accessories week. The Big Tent sale began last Saturday but we waited until today (Monday) to visit hoping the crowds would be less. There was a huge crowd of buyers (above photo) and I did not understand the attraction. Neither the prices nor the variety of product was impressive. Both Gwen and I felt that the selections and prices at the Arizona Marketplace in Yuma were better. Apparently the excitement is a social thing because the traffic jams and crowds were huge. I did enjoy visiting with several campground management companies about employment. The photo to the left is of the California Land Management Company (CLM). They have gotten good reviews from the folks who subscribe to Workamper News and manage campgrounds in California, Oregon and Washington state.

Good bye to the Arizona desert
January 20, 2009: This is our last day in the Arizona desert. I did a three hour mountain bike ride today. Only 16 miles of riding but over rough rocky terrain. If I did this for a month, I believe I could be in much better health and condition. Tomorrow we are leaving early to drive 450 miles north to Bishop, California the on to Reno, Nevada the next day. Gwen and I have decided that the only thing which would make this better is having solar power to recharge our batteries. We have enjoyed the solitude and daily recreation (mountain bike riding for me), the warm sun the uncrowded conditions. The animals, Morgan and Annie have enjoyed their freedom too. No need for leashes and confinement in the desert. We have learned that we can go three weeks with the amount of fresh water in our holding tank, and careful management of the gray and black water tanks. NO, we did NOT dump our gray or black water into the desert. We have learned techniques from other boondockers to refill the fresh water and empty waste water tanks without moving the trailer. Assuming we will be back next winter, I'll go into more detail of how we manage our "utility" needs.
January 21, 2009: Our early start began with the Cross Roads Cafe in Parker, Arizona. This was recommended by our friends in the desert. Recommended breakfast restaurant
Passing into California We cross into California on our way to Needles, the first good size California city.
Our lunch stop was at the Junction with Highway 395 north. This rustic drive-in had good food (including fried zucchini and a pineapple milk shake). Lunch at the 395 Junction
Lone Pine
On the road for 9 hours We passed through Lone Pine near Bishop on our way north 395. We started at 6 am and by this time we've been on the road for 7 hours.
After 450 miles of driving, we've made it to Bishop, California. This is our first RV park in Yuma after two weeks on the desert. We paid more at this park than any other park we've ever stayed, $39 for the night. We have turned everything in the trailer which uses electricity to "ON" trying to use up $39 in Kilowatt hours in ONE night. I bought clorox for the fresh water tank. It will "sanitize" all the way to Reno tomorrow. I also bought a gallon of vinegar for the gray water holding tank. Both tanks will be clean by the time we reach Reno. We've arrive at the Highlands RV Park in Bishop, CA
Chain controls on 395 North January 22, 2009: We left from Bishop after checking road conditions. The California Highway Patrol was requiring chains on two sections of 395 but after looking at the forecast for the day I decided the controls would be cancelled by the time we reached the two sections. I was right. Highway 395 between Bishop, California and Reno, Nevada is one of the MUST DRIVE highways in the United States. The highest pass along the route is above 8,100 feet and you are generally above 6,000 feet the whole route. This is the eastern side of the Sierra

Nevada mountain range. The Sierras increase in elevation from the central California valley to 14,000 feet gradually over 70 miles from west to east. However they drop from elevation dramatically on the Eastern slope in only a few miles. Most of the cloud water is kept on the west side of the Sierras so east of the Sierras looks dry most days. The views of the Sierras is incredible from 395. However, this day, they are obscured by a tropical storm from the south. There are some very interesting, tiny mountain towns like Lee Vining and Bridgeport plus a California ghost town of Bodie along the route.

Carson City
Verdi Nevada

Gwen took the above photo of one of the Nevada State legislature buildings as we were passing through Carson City.

We reached Verdi, Nevada where we rented a space in an RV park. This strange building is located in Verdi.

January 23, 2009: While visiting Reno I get to visit with my son and daughter. We all decided to visit a few stores while in town. Ben and I were forced to visit a couple of craft shops and the ladies where forced to visit sport shops. We actually ended up in Costco to learn if the Reno Costco had anything different from the Medford Costco. Yes, they did. Our Medford Costco seemed better organized. We decided on a Costco hot dog for lunch too. I'm checking for Oregon road information. It looks like rain rather than snow for tomorrow. Should be a good trip back to Oregon. Ben and I were forced to shop in a couple of craft stores
Reno Costco My daughter Mindy

Leaving Reno on a rainy day Arriving in Phoenix, Oregon on a rainy day
January 24, 2009: We were on the road by 9 am to return to Oregon from Reno, Nevada. Our route is north on 395 to Susanville, then use highways 36, 44 and 89 to intersect with Interstate 5 at Mt. Shasta. This is a beautiful, must-do drive between Susanville and Mt. Shasta. It covers some of the most beautiful and remote areas of northern California. It has essentially been raining since we left Bishop, California and the rain followed us all the way to Oregon. Our exit is #24 off Interstate 5 in southern Oregon into the little town of Phoenix. We reluctantly stay at the Holiday RV park behind the "Exit 24" mall. It's not a bad park but is completely the opposite of what we both enjoy, wide open spaces as we experienced in the Arizona desert. We will be here for another couple of months before moving back to Howard Prairie Lake Resort for another season.

Mohave National Preserve

January 25, 2009: This last scene is of the Mohave National Preserve which we passed in southern California before reaching Bishop. You can click the photo to enlarge. This is a location we would like to return to the next chance we get.

My feeling about this vacation is a good one. We learned again that we enjoy Arizona in the winter months. There is much to see and do in Arizona. We enjoy the KOFA Escapees RV park and have put our names on the wait list. So we currently have our names at three parks, Yuma and Benson, Arizona plus Sutherlin, Oregon. We don't expect to become lease holders (our names reaching the top of the list) for at least 8 years at any one of the parks. We don't wish to stay in one place long enough to justify the annual maintenance fee any time soon but may wish for a "home park" in eight years. We've also learned that the solitary desert camping is also very attractive to us. With a solar method of recharging batteries we can see ourselves spending 4 - 5 months each year camped in the desert.

I expect to retire at the end of June this year. If you have been following my countdown clock on the "What's New" page. You will notice it dropped 60 days today. That's because I expect the state of Oregon to be under tremendous financial pressure due to the poor economy and the colleges will have a large percentage of their budgets cut. The end of the fiscal year is June 30 so I have decided not to burden the college by asking them to continue my employment until the end of August, my original retirement plan. This is early retirement for me. I'll be 62 and don't want to begin drawing on social security and other pension accounts until I reach the age of 66. This means Gwen and I will workamp at least 6 months of the year and perhaps more. We will also be living very frugally in the Arizona, California and New Mexico deserts. I expect my "new job" while living in the deserts will be to get back to good physical conditioning with lots of bicycling and hiking. I'd also like to lose 20 lbs while getting into good condition. I also expect to stay mentally keen by reading and writing more especially on the Internet.

February 4, 2009: (additional thoughts) Another unexpected thing we learned while camped in Arizona is how little resources we really need to be happy in the desert. Once camped in the desert we began thinking of all the ways we could conserve water, waste and energy. We had about 85 gallons of fresh water. Our gray and black water holding tanks are 55 gallons each. In our previous experiences, the gray water holding tank was always the limitation lasting at the very most only 5 days. I wanted to maximize our ability to stay in the desert with a minimum of searching for dump stations and fresh water. At the end of two weeks we still had 1/3 of our fresh water and each of our holding tanks were less than half full. How did we do it? When we return to the desert next fall, I’ll get into detail of how we managed. We managed our energy by running the generator during the day to recharge the batteries and access the Internet. At night, when we want the quiet, we operated off the inverter. We quickly realized that a solar recharging system would eliminate the need for a generator to charge and give us quiet during the day too. It would take several years of saving the gas money plus wear on the generator to pay for a solar system. But if you figure we aren’t paying RV park rent, we could pay for the solar system in a year. Then all the rest of our years will be quiet and environmentally friendly. My point of this story is not the methods we used to save water, waste and energy but that we were very happy with a life style using probably 1/10th the amount of these resources we normally use … especially when we owned a stick-house. Guess what?; we were very happy with our sustainable lifestyle. More about this next fall too.

February 5, 2009: More on sustainability. Today was the National Teach-in on global warming. Before today I was not aware of the urgency to act now to slow the creation of greenhouse gases. The message is that we must slow/eliminate the use of fossil fuels. This means an attitude/lifestyle change from everything we have known. The consequences of the earth warming only a few degrees will be catastrophic to the human way of life as we know it. There is a movie at which will explain a call to action aimed at students. The movie flatly states that if you are 30 years of age or younger, it is that generation which will have to eliminate the use of fossil fuels or thousands of generations afterward will be affected. This is much sooner than I had expected the effects of warming to arrive. I also listened to one of the college science teachers explain the problem and consequences of no action. I think most of us are afraid those that warn of global warming are going to take away our way of life and/or our jobs. The movie does a good job of explaining where all the new jobs will be coming from. This day of national teach-in has caused me to think of ways I could reduce the fossil fuels I burn as well as ways to a greener way of living. Admittedly, I don't know how I will move my fifth wheel without burning fossil fuel but I believe I can reduce the amount of fossil fuel I use greatly as I proved above in my discussion of adding solar battery charging to my trailer. I also think consumers as a group can affect the actions of corporations by the way we spend our money. Finally, we better all take personal responsibility to act in greener ways or the earth as we know it won't be here for our grandchildren, yes, far sooner than I thought. Don't let those who say this is a "natural cycle", cause inaction, it's not a natural cycle. They have been able to measure the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere for thousands of years by drilling into ice in Greenland and elsewhere. Minor fluctuations were found but NOTHING like the increases since the industrial revolution began in 1850. The earth will survive but the life on it won't if we don't act more responsibly.

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