Wednesday, November 4, 2009: We all get to visit with Chloe again today but now she is home from the hospital. Aunt Mindy is thrilled to get to hold her. Chloe is eating well and pooping just as well so everything is as it should be for my 48 hour old grandchild. We all took turns holding Chloe. We tried to keep her awake but she did a better job of ignoring our wishes for conversation and went back to sleep. Take a look at this short video below with Aunt Mindy and Chloe.
Thursday, November 5, 2009: Kim, Ben and three day old Chloe at home. Today was our last day to visit before hitching up and heading south. We were able to visit with Kim's Mother, Nancy so the grandparents could make plans for Chloe's musical interests. Nancy and I figure Chloe will have musical talents so we are preparing to provide the new parents with the right Baroque and Classical period music to stimulate those interests. Of course, I'll slip in some 60's rock just to add some faster beats.
Friday, November 6, 2009: Our trip south on Highway 395 is one of the most beautiful in the USA. The photo at right is the Walker River alongside the highway south of the town of Walker and Coleville. Click the photo to see an enlarged view of Mono Lake with Lee Vining hiding in the shadows on the right. Our travels ended in Mammoth Lakes where we met friends Jorge and Evie. The photo below was taken in the Mammoth Lakes Village. Just west of Mammoth Lakes is Mary Lake. This little boy enjoyed throwing rocks into the lake over fishing.
Saturday, November 7, 2009: We continued south to Lone Pine, California. Less than 3 miles west of Lone Pine is a geologic area called Alabama Hills where many western movies have been filmed. This area is managed by the BLM and is an area available for dispersed camping. This is a wonderful area for boondocking, an area we will need to return.
Click the above photo for an enlarged view showing our camp among the rocks.
Gwen and Morgan are exploring the many roads and hiking trails in the area. These will be great for hiking and mountain biking on a future return trip. Click Gwen's photo to enlarge.
Sunday, November 8, 2009: This morning the sun was shinning directly on the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west with the highest peak in the continental USA, Mt. Whitney just beyond our campsite. You'll see a terrific panarama when you click the photo. We are camped only 2.5 miles from Lone Pine but the rugged Sierras seem like they are in our backyard.
We continued south on US 395 into the desert of California.
Our destination is Fort Irwin, about 30 miles north of Barstow. This is where Gwen's daughter lives with her Air Force husband. Gwen's grandchildren are here also. The army base has a small RV park with electricity but no other services. We will be here five days before continuing south.
Monday, November 9, 2009: On our first day visiting Fort Irwin we were able to see Courtney play volleyball. She is on the varisity team of the Fort Irwin Middle School Wildcats. Slide your pointer through the photo to see another view, then click the photo to see a short video of the game. Yea! Courtney.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009: So what does a 16 year old eat for breakfast? In Dustin's case, a bowl of pop corn, can of Mountain Dew while texting on his phone in his right hand. I stylized the photo because I think this is what his body will look like with this diet.
Today is Veteran's Day so the grandkids are home. We take a tour of Calico Ghost Town. Click here or either photo below to see a short video of our adventures.
Below are Dustin and Courtney with Court's friend Gabbie in the Calico and Western Train caboose. At the right, Dustin and Courtney pose in one of the many plywood add-a-head photo structures.
Thursday, November 12, 2009: The above photo is of the residence, office and shopping area of Fort Irwin. This is surrounded by the desert area where the troops train. There is always new houses being built at Fort Irwin so the need to train troops for desert warfare is expanding. The temperatures have been comfortable but I'm told the temperature can get as high as 130 on a hot summer day. To the left of the above photo is the RV park area which is photographed below. There are fifty spaces which include 50 amps of power and garbage collection but nothing else. The RV fee is $10/night. Click either photo to enlarge. This was a cloudy day so the sunlight varied from one area to another as I was taking the panorama.
Friday, November 13, 2009: Our intention was to tow all the way to our winter destination but darkness fell too early. We stopped at the La Paz County Park just north of Parker, Arizona where we discovered the 2009 Desert Splash was happening this weekend.
Desert Splash is an enthusiastic 4 x 4 weekend where many jeep owners get together to party and learn 4 x 4 technique. The Friday night event was to drive over several wrecked cars in the park pavilion area. Click here for a very short video of the "climb-the-car" event. You can also click here for a video of the 2008 event with real terrain events.
Saturday, November 14, 2009: We arrived at our destination near Quartzsite. We weren't in this desert area very long before we learned of a book sale happening nearby. Both Gwen and I are readers but this is an event which is especially interesting for Gwen. It is "information-overload" for me, I couldn't possibly pick out a book from so many to choose from.
This is a very large room filled with tables. Books are stacked on top and below the tables. Since we arrived toward the end of the sale, the price became a grocery bag full of books for $2. Gwen found eleven books to fill her bag. They are mostly hardback books. The library fund raiser volunteers are only too happy to accept Gwen's $2. This even beats the Costco price on books.
I walked across the street to visit the tool vendor in the parking lot. I found $2 worth of paint brushes and bungee ties.
Sunday, November 15, 2009: Here we are, somewhere near Quartzsite, Arizona. Our solar panels are erect and pointed at the southern sky to catch the most sun. Internet is coming off the satellite dish to the left. The TV antenna is up, we get 7 channels. The bicycles are off the rack and I rode about 1.5 hours today on one of the many trails through the desert. It was a bit windy today, so I didn't put out the awning. It was a comfortable 70 degrees today. Our location is private but we are 100 yards from some friends who are parked on their own desert island. No need to keep Morgan on a leash or worry about Annie with traffic. There is no traffic or train noise. We have a weak cell signal. The wildlife we've seen so far is a rabbit. Nearest water and holding tank dump is 2 miles, nearest grocery, library and propane is 4 miles. Click here to see a short video of finding and parking in our desert island. Did I mention the ten day forecast is for abundant sunshine, mid-70s high and mid-40s low? Click the photo to see an enlarged, different view of our location.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009: When visiting Quartzsite in January, 2009 we found a cafe booth in one of the selling areas. We enjoyed their service and meals, we visited more than once. Since it is about lunch time, we began looking for the same booth but couldn't find it. We glaced across the street and Gwen thought "Bad Boys' Cafe" was the name she remembered from last year.
Sure enough, we checked with the owners and they are the same folks we enjoyed so much last time. They have expanded into a building with a foundation and solid walls. Steve and Jolene own the cafe and today is their first day of business in the new location. Jolene cooks while Steve delivers the meals. I'll have to say, I like their breakfasts better than lunch so we'll have to stop by again for breakfast.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009: There are no springs near our campsite like the one we found at Boca Reservoir, so we must buy our drinking water for 25¢/gallon. If the folks in California had to pay 25¢/gallon there wouldn't be such a water shortage in California. This is not as good as the Boca spring water but our cheapest source for drinking water. "RO" is "reverse osmosis", it's not enough to just filter the water in Arizona, it must be treated further for drinking quality. Note the same "Arizona Tea" gallon jugs I used at Boca spring. These machines are located in several locations around Quartzsite.
Thursday, November 19, 2009: I worked on several projects then off to Parker, Arizona for a few groceries and to check on a replace throw rug for the living area. Gwen found the perfect rug, perfect color, size and price. I also found the parts I needed to complete my projects. You can click the photo to enlarge.
Friday, November 20, 2009: We took Morgan to Quartzsite today for grooming. While she was at the groomer, we visited the senior center craft show. There were many exhibitors inside and outside. The products seemed of a higher quality than the usual "bazar" type show. Yes, we found a few items for gifts and something for ourselves too. Ok, so we did laundry too and got some more drinking water.
Our find at the Senior Center craft show was this cute little solar lamp to set outside near our steps. The solar chip on top of the lamp charges the battery which provides the power to an LED bulb. It has enough power to last the whole night. We don't like light polution when we are in the desert but this provides just enough light to give a point of reference. Slide your pointer throught he photo for the night-time effect.
Saturday, November 21, 2009: I mentioned "hundreds of miles of mountain biking". The photo shows what I'm talking about. This area is surrounded by ATV trails (those little 4-wheel drive, single rider off-road vehicles). That sounds like a BAD thing but we've only seen four of them in the first week of camping. We've made sure the nearest ATV trail from our campsite is at least 100 yards distant. The cactus you see lining the trail is the Teddy Bear Cholla. It's a very sturdy plant but sheds the ends of the stems. A bike rider must be careful NOT to ride over one of these spiney parts. It would likely create an instant flat tire. Most of the grades in the area are gentle with short steep climbs. You must be ready for a quick shift of gears.
Sunday, November 22, 2009: Today is Gwen's birthday so our desert neighborhood ladies gave a surprise birthday/tea party in the afternoon. From the left is Noreen, Gwen, Celia and Jeannie. On the table is a wonderful chocolate cake baked by Noreen and oatmeal chocolate cookies baked by Jeannie. Yummy! As the girls said, you can't have an afternoon tea party without chocolate. What were the men doing? Watching football and talking about men stuff.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009: The view below is a 180° view from our desert location looking at our view onto the wide open space around us. Look above and you will see the view of the trailer sitting on our "island". I call this our island because we are surrounded by Arizona washes on all sides. When it rains, the water does not sink into the ground because the ground is sand and rock. Instead, it runs to the lowest level and creates a desert wash or creek bed which has NO water until it rains. I will explain some of what you see in the photo below. Click the photo to enlarge.
This is a 180° photo so you see the front of the fifth wheel on the left of the photo and the end on the right. The awning is extended and we have a very handy sun shade attached to the awning. The sun is very low in the southern sky so the awning is useless without the sun shade. My bicycle helmet and camelback hydration pack is sitting on the table along with a propane barbeque. The barbeque is cheap so it gets pretty warm on the bottom. Warm enough to melt the plastic table we learned by experience so I've set the barbeque onto some lumber. We have a personal wireless network for Internet access which allows us to sit on our "patio" and search the Internet at the same time. A solar powered lamp is located at the right corner of the mat along with our wind mobile. The mat helps to keep the dust and dirt from inside the trailer and makes our patio more comfortable since these desert rocks have sharp edges. Continuing to the right, you see our Internet satellite dish. It points to the east of due south but our trailer side must face due south to allow our solar panels to get the best view of the sun. I designed the solar panels to tilt this way to allow our dining and living area windows to face the southern sky in the winter. It's nice to have the warmth of the sun to heat our trailer through those windows. We can have access to the Internet at any location our satellite dish can get a clear view of the southeastern sky. The new 3G networks available from Verizon give very good Internet access when you have a good cell signal. So far in our travels, we've had a good cell signal only 20% of the time. In this location, we have a very poor cell signal. Finally, you see my portable step ladder laying on the ground. I need it to install the sunshades to the awning. We don't leave the sunshade and awning extended when we leave the trailer. The wind can increase on the desert rapidly and might do damage if the awning is not retracted. I can very quickly disconnect the sunshade tie-down cords, pull the shades from each end of the awning then roll in the awning. I don't need the ladder to accomplish the "roll-up" but I do need the ladder to reinstall the shades.