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Winter, 2011
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Handy Bob gives a solar lesson to Dick
Saturday, January 8, 2011: What a great solar day this was. Our friends Dick and Mary Ellen are visiting for a short while. During their visit, Handy Bob is tuning up Dick's solar charging system and installing a new TriMetric Meter. Handy Bob is a huge proponent of solar energy so anytime he does any installation or tune up he is also giving a lesson of how to use it. In this case, Bob is telling Dick the reasons why he is connecting the solar and battery cables in this fashion. Dick had a solar installation done in Oregon just before leaving to Arizona. Handy Bob had to rewire the install and move the charge controller to the correct location near the batteries. It's fine work and now should be near perfect.
Dick is nimble enough to climb into his storage bay
It's hard to believe but Dick is nimble enough to climb into his storage bay to vacuum the installation mess. He must be in this good shape because he is a referee of high school football games back in Oregon. What a guy!
Where Oregon will beat Auburn tomorrow
Sunday, January 9, 2011: We watched two NFL playoff games today but the most important game is tomorrow when University of Oregon plays Auburn in the BCS Championship game. Since we are from Oregon, we know Oregon will send Auburn back home as losers. In our recent trip to Phoenix, we passed by the University of Phoenix stadium where the bowl game will be played. We checked on tickets thinking we would watch our team in person but learned the worst seats were $700/seat with parking at $85. We decided to stay home and watch the game on ESPN.
Monday, January 10, 2011: This was a great game and as close as it could get down to the last 2 seconds. Unfortunately, Oregon did not get a couple of touchdowns which we should have had. Auburn pulls it out in the last two seconds and wins by a field goal. It was a good game and fun to see it played only about 100 miles from our camp site. It was a good national championship game
A Sherman Tank on display in Bouse Tuesday, January 11, 2011: Ralph is inspecting a Sherman tank on display in Bouse. Fort Bouse was a World War II tank desert training area for about three years. This was also a training area for a top secret weapon which turned out to be a 13 million candle power tank mounted spot light used to illuminate the battlefield during Battle of the Bulge. Click the photo to read a plaque at this memorial.
Thursday, January 13, 2011: Here is a great way to see the desert. There is an ultralite pilot who lives nearby and is often circling the desert around us. Today, the pilot came close enough for me to get this photo. In a different life, I was a private pilot, something I really enjoyed and miss. Ultralites require no license, are easy to fly but don't go very far. They are good for site seeing. A great way to see the desert
Milepost 99, Escapees Chapter 37 Rally
Friday, January 14, 2011: Today was moving day from Bouse to five miles south of Quartzsite to the "Milepost 99" 14 day camping area where the Escapees, Chapter 37 winter rally is happening. We've arrive a day late because of my head cold. I can't do any socializing for fear of spreading the virus but I have been able to say hello to a few friends. Gwen is able to do more. Our plan is to leave early in the morning to get to the Imperial LTVA where friends will be getting married on Saturday.
Becky and Monty in front of the wedding crowd Saturday, January 15, 2011: We arrived at 11am for a wedding to happen at 1pm. We are at the Imperial LTVA (Long Term Visitor Area) about 20 miles north of Yuma, Arizona. This is our fourth year to spend some time here. There are several LTVAs located in Arizona and California managed by the BLM. The Imperial LTVA is one of the nicer areas with garbage pickup, fresh water available and a location to dump holding tanks. The BLM charges $40 for 2 weeks or $180 for the season (7 months). The camper simply picks the "perfect" spot in the desert LTVA area then sets up camp. Monty and Becky met here in the desert a couple of years ago. Both Monty and Becky have worked for the BLM at the LTVA. It is easy to become involved with the activities at this LTVA. Communication is nearly entirely by CB channel 12 with most camper participating. Monty and Becky have been members to the group making sure
the CB communications are working well. Roll call is taken each night at 7pm to give each camper a chance to check transmit and reception of his personal CB. After roll call, announcements are made of activities, items for sale, group trips into Yuma (for ice cream), parties, and more. The CB communication is also used for emergencies. The wedding and pot luck was held in the covered meeting area in an area called the "gravel pit". This is a windy area but this location is protected from the wind. Click the photo above for a view of Monty and Becky's new truck; click the photo to the right for a wide view of this area. Overview of the wedding in the desert
Our campsite at the Imperial LTVA Sunday, January 16, 2011: This is our campsite at the Imperial LTVA. We are on what I call a "peninsula". The desert floor is actually 50 feet below us off the edge of a plateau and we are parked on a finger (peninsula) of the plateau. We have a great view of the desert and mountains behind us. We are hoping for a visit of the wild burros. Click the photo for a larger view.
I rode my bike to the closest post office, Bard, California, 20.5 miles round trip. There's an easy zip to remember. No general delivery mail tomorrow since it's a holiday. The pavement is the worst I've ever ridden, it should have been resurfaced about ten years ago. This pavement makes the rough pavement around Downieville look great. I was able to pick up the "Yuma SuperShopper" with lots of coupons at the post office. I decided to do the ride to try to clear my head of this head cold. It worked somewhat. Bard, California post office

Walking into Algodones Mexico Monday, January 17, 2011: What's the first thing you do when you get near Yuma, AZ? Why, go to Algodones, Mexico, of course. USA retired citizens visit Algodones for dental, eyeglasses, prescription medicine and alcohol. We went today for three out of four of those reasons. Everything except the alcohol. There is a severe limit on the alcohol anyway. It is easy to walk into Algodones. You park on the US side in an indian reservation parking lot for $5 then walk across the border. We went to a dentist recommended by a friend only for cleaning. This was our second year to use Mexican dentists and my evaluation of the "cleaning experience" is not a good one. We selected this dentist because our friend specifically recommended her as a hygienist. We have tried to get our teeth
Finding the right Mexican dentist The long line of USA citizen trying to reenter the USA
cleaned in the states but EVERY dentist wants to do an "exam" before allowing cleaning. So that charge along with the cleaning would be well over $200. Our Mexican cleaning was $20 for a 15 minute cleaning. I think Gwen's idea of looking for US hygienist schools will be our next try for a cheap cleaning. Next, we went to three optical companies for "cheap" glasses. Our experience this year is different from last year. The cheapest glasses were $155 and Gwen was unwilling to trust Mexico again for that price. Our plan is to try a different city in Mexico and if that doesn't work we are headed to Costco. Our last item on the list was to get cheap prescription medicine. No, you don't need a prescription, just the name of the drug needed, the dosage and the quantity. The savings is substantial. We purchased a stained glass window to replace the window in our door but I'll be showing that in a few days. It is easy to walk into Algodones but the line to get back into the USA was one hour long which was one hour shorter than the first time we walked into Mexico. US Customs wants to know what you buy but the check usually goes quickly.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011: Tuesday is a special day in Yuma, it's the day Farmer's Market comes to Old Towne Yuma. It's a very popular event and today they had some great produce and Gwen purchased several bags of it. I walked Morgan through the market and she got lots of free pets from many shoppers. It was a great day in Yuma for a Farmer's Market, above 80 degrees and very little wind. Farmer's Market in Yuma on Tuesdays
Heading to another casino buffet

Wednesday, January 19, 2011: OK, we usually love casino buffets and last year Quechan Casino just outside Algodones, Mexico had a great buffet with 2 for 1 Monday special prices. This year there is no longer a Monday special but seniors with a "Q" card get $2 off the buffet price making the price only $6.99. That's the same price of the Blue Water Casino buffet. It was interesting, the selection was larger than the Blue Water but the food taste was not good. We don't plan to return unless we are talked into it by friends. Even then, I think we'll suggest alternatives and Yuma is full of buffet alternatives.

So today I removed the slide motor ... we are continuing with slide problems. I'll detail that later. I also added air to a trailer tire and learned it has a tiny nail, I chose NOT to remove the nail, we are getting new trailer tires on Monday ... hopefully we'll make it to Monday. Finally, I removed the window caulk from our new stained glass window. I'll detail that later too.

Thursday, January 20, 2011: When we arrive at a new town, we usually head to the chamber of commerce or other tourist information center. We do that first, for coupons, then for maps and information about interesting things to see. Yuma is not new to us but we still like coupons and maps so here we are. We got lots of restaurant coupons and directions to quilt shows and yarn shops. I got a map for a local bike route but we won't be in Yuma long enough for hikes or other adventures. I also picked up a local phone book so I could find tire shops and RV parks. We hope to get into our Escapees KOFA RV park but if we can't, we'll need to try another park. We need a park to clean up the trailer before continuing onto our 2011 adventures. We visit the tourist center for coupons
Sunrise shadow of our trailer on a west hill Saturday, January 22, 2011: This is a sunrise photo showing the shadow of our trailer on a western hill. Note the solar panels raised on the roof. Now click on the photo to see the opposite view later in the day. You should get a better idea of what this section of Imperial desert looks like around us and why we so enjoy this area of Arizona. We are camped on a "finger" in the desert ... something I also call a "peninsula". It's a view 50 feet above the desert in the distance.
Sunday, January 23, 2011: This area of Arizona and California is the "salad bowl" of the US during the winter months. It take a lot of labor to harvest lettuce. It is washed, packaged and boxed right in the field then put on a truck to it final destination within hours. Click the photo to see a larger view. You can see the lettuce on the table. Note, the hooded sweatshirts. It's 75 degrees out but these folks are use to working in 115+ degree weather. The salad bowl of the winter USA

Dry camp at the KOFA RV park
Monday, January 24, 2011: Today was moving day. We are trying for a space at our Escapees KOFA RV Park in Yuma. They are generally full this time of year. We are number 1 on the list for the first rental opening into a full hook-up spot but are assigned to a dry camp spot. It's nice because it's cheap, $37 for a full week and we are close enough to water to fill our fresh water tank without moving. It's not our usual way of camping (crammed into dry dock about 8 inches from the next RV) but it's our week to clean up the desert dust, inside and outside. There is a huge PLUS. This park has a hot tub and pool plus laundry with outside clothes line. It also has a very nice recreation center with something happening most hours of the day. Our name is on the wait list to lease a space in this park. We are number 43 but that changes almost weekly. This is a Co-op park with spaces for lease. A leaseholder pays the lease fee when their number comes to the top. The "buy-in" for this park is $6,342.64. Once that fee is paid, the leaseholder pays an annual maintenance fee, in this case about $1,000. So, the leaseholder may stay in the park after the "buy-in" for about $1,000/year (plus electricity). When the leaseholder chooses to leave the park for whatever reason, the "buy-in" is refunded. This park is in a rural area of Yuma, with paved streets, brick walls between the sites, full utilities and a storage unit at each site. As a leaseholder, we don't intend to spend more than a month in Yuma until we tire of RV travel. While our site is vacant, it can be rented with a portion of the rent offsetting our maintenance fee. So, why be a leaseholder? It gives us a place for storage but the better reason, leaseholders get first choice of sites as they become available and with the rental option, the cost to us will be small. So once "in", we are able to move to the better sites as they become available. Click the photo to see a rear view of the dry camp area. We also have our name on the wait list at the Escapees park in Sutherlin, Oregon but we don't expect to reach the top of that list for another six years or more. The "buy-in" for that park is a little more, $10,211.54. It's another beautiful park and, of course, Oregon is our preferred state.
Sergio and his crew start the clean process on our trailer Washing the trailer sides
Tuesday, January 25, 2011: First on our list ... clean the outside of the trailer. We joined with two friends to have Sergio and his crew clean the outside of the trailer. We were able to get a slight decrease in the price for each unit with three units to be cleaned. The cleaning includes the roof, washing the sides, then hand waxing. The going price is $99, I paid $95 and got the truck washed for free. This would take be about three days but with a crew of three and the right equipment, Sergio and crew finished in about two hours.
Washing the truck is included in the price Hand waxing the trailer

About the time Sergio finished, we got word that a full hook-up spot was available to us so we moved to space #60. This will help us to complete our list of clean jobs before leaving the park on Monday. Before Sergio arrived, I washed all windows on the inside and removed, washed the screens from all windows. The sun is from a different direction so I'll be lowering the solar panels. I'll be using the solar panels and shore power connection to do an equilization on the batteries soon.
We were moved to a full hook-up spot today
Removing and replacing the anode rod Using a wand to clear the debris from inside the tank

Wednesday, January 25, 2011: Today was my turn for cleaning. I begin this morning with lowering our solar panels and starting a battery equilization. Then I flushed our blackwater tank. Next, the contents of the forward storage area were removed and the area vacuumed. I consolidated some items into storage containers and threw away some unused items. Our can, Annie, has her food and literbox in this storage area and can get to the storage area from inside the trailer. This keep the cat mess in the storage area and NOT in the living area of the trailer. Today, I cleaned up the cat mess. Next, I removed the anode rod from the hot water heater and throughly cleaned the inside of the water heater using a water wand made for th purpose. Pass your pointer through both photos above for a different view. Finally I began the cleaning of the inside of the truck but did not finish before the renter's appreciation pot luck.

Below, we happen to be in KOFA the only week of the year when the park has a renter's appreciation pot luck in the clubhouse. Since we are renter's this week, we get to enjoy the pot luck without having to bring anything.

Renters appreciation pot luck
Time for new trailer tires Thursday, January 27, 2011: These heavy fifth wheel trailers do go through the tires. It's been about 1.5 years since the last set of tires and it's time for another set before we start our advertures to the east. I certainly would have preferred the tire purchase in Oregon or Montana without the horrible sales tax of Arizona ... in this case MORE than 10%. The last time we were in Oregon was September, 2009 and Montana was even earlier. The price for four tires varied from $900 to $522. I didn't choose the least expensive and tried to choose a tire company available in most of the states we are traveling. I chose "Discount Tires" even though they are missing in some of the mid-west states we are traveling.
Tires are removed and replace quickly

Arizona Marketplace
Friday, January 28, 2011: Among other errands and chores today we visit the Arizona Market Place. This is a large outdoor market selling about anything you can imagine. The prices are usually better here in Yuma at Arizona Market Place than in Quartzsite which is essentially a huge outdoor market throughout the entire town. The photo shows about a third of the market. It is a popular shopping location with a huge parking lot. Last year an entrance fee was required on the weekend but this year an entrance fee is required every shopping day but the fee doubles on the weekend. I took my water hose with me with a leaking end hoping to get a professional replacement. As it turned out, their parts were too large so they fixed it using a hose clamp, something I could have done myself. Gwen wanted to visit the kitchen store, she was also disappointed and did not find what she was looking for. I did find two sized of bungee balls and an LED flashlight to solve a keyboard lighting problem.
Sunday, January 30, 2011: Here is something we don't have in the desert. This is the KOFA recreation area with hot tub and heated swimming areas. The laundry area is to the right, out of the photo and the recreation building is behind the photo. Today has been the first cloudy day we have seen in quite a while. Everything has been cleaned so we are moving tomorrow to Roosevelt Lake northeast of Phoenix. KOFA recreation area
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