Friday, January 29, 2010

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ


We arrived here yesterday afternoon, an easy drive from Gila Bend. The Shell station had a truck scale, so we weighed the Lazy Daze and car on our way out. We were happy that we were about 200 pounds under weight, although we were only carrying a small amount of fresh water, but a full tank of gas. Guess some of the cleaning out and disposing of things we’ve done has paid off, since the last time we were weighed in Oregon we were 100 or more pounds over.

This is a beautiful desert park, home to most of the Organ Pipe Cactus in the U.S.  And we were surprised to find a pretty good Verizon connection, although Jim was a bit concerned it may be coming from Mexico. Debbie called Verizon and they gave her a code to turn off the international roaming feature, which we did also, and we still have a good connection.

P1280049  We are so happy to be away from civilization and out of RV parks. We did stop at the IGA in Ajo on our way. It was a very nice grocery store, with a good selection and fair prices.

The national monument  has very large, nicely spaced sites, no hookups but water and a dump station, for $12/night or $6 with the senior pass. Last night was our first in a couple weeks where we could hear no road noise. What a nice change.

Today we walked over to the Visitor Center and found several hikes we want to do. We may also take a drive into Mexico and check out Puerto Penasco, on the Sea of Cortez, which is only about 65 miles from here. Many Americans in RV’s spend the winter months there and we are curious to see some of Mexico away from the border towns. We’re enjoying the mid to upper 60’s and sunshine. Also now that we’re back in Mountain Time instead of Pacific, it’s staying light until 6:30 or so. Think this will be a nice place to spend some time.


I liked this picture Jim took from our roof, especially since I’m afraid to climb the ladder to go up there.P1280053

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Holt’s Shell RV Park, Gila Bend, AZ


We’re at another parking lot style RV park behind a Shell station in Gila, AZ. We were in need of a laundromat, and this is a Passport America park, so for $10/ night we have full hook-ups and a decent place to stay. Luckily we got the back row so at least there is pretty desert scenery behind us and a place to walk.P1270045P1270047  We are on our way to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, about 70 miles south of here on the Mexican border. We chose this place so that Debbie could get her replacement water pump delivered by Fed Ex. They were supposed to have sent it 2 day delivery, so she thought for sure it would be here when we arrived yesterday, but when she called Shur-Flo they said it was mailed ground and is scheduled to arrive tomorrow. So we hung out here another day, which worked out fine since rain was predicted anyway. It never did rain but sure looked like it wanted to all day.

We went into Gila Bend to see what was there. Nothing! It is a very depressed looking town, with a few motels, restaurants,  and two dollar stores. We stopped in the only grocery store for a couple things and it was pretty pitiful. Guess the residents have to drive 40 miles to the nearest Wal-Mart near Phoenix to do any real shopping. It’s another one of those places that makes you wonder why anyone would live here.

May be several days before we post again. Looks like there is no Verizon service at all in Organ Pipe so we will be out of touch for awhile.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Los Algodones, Mexico


Wished I had taken a picture of the parking lot on the US side. It was huge, Disney World sized, and cost $5.00. You just walk across the border into Mexico along with hundreds of other old, retired Americans looking for cheap drugs, eyeglasses and dental care.


Luckily we got there around 9 am, so the lot wasn’t half full, but the cars were pouring in. We had read about the wait getting through customs on the way out in the afternoons, so we wanted to get in and out before lunch.

Algodones is a 4 block area of pharmacies, liquor stores, optical shops, dentists, and outdoor vendors. We found our dental office about 2 blocks from the border. It looked like a nice office, and there were a couple other Americans waiting. Unfortunately, the cleaning was not very thorough, and they were trying to sell us on having a bunch of crowns replaced, besides the one Jim went in to consult about. At least we know where not to go, and as it turned out we aren’t crazy about Yuma, so he doesn’t really want to come back here for the crown, anyway.

We did buy a couple things at the pharmacy, and managed to get out by 11. There was no waiting in the pedestrian area of customs, but there was quite a long line of traffic coming back into the US.

Jim here. Just goes to show that you should go with your own common sense. Guy had a good internet site. Claimed to belong to several American professional dental organizations. He even has images of the certificates he received from them on his site. I checked those before we went and found that he is not currently a member of any of them. One can only conclude he joined them for one year for the certificates and to impress us gringos. Found this to be the case with another dentist there as well.

What we should have done was go to the dentist that my cousin had recommended. They have been using him for several years getting a variety of work done and never had a problem.

We both felt as though we were being sold a used car sitting in that dental chair.

The pharmacy prices are worth the trip to Mexico if you are already nearby and you need the meds of course.

Gayle and I were Debbie’s mom’s mules today but that is another story. All I can say is we will be entering the witness protection program. Just call me Raul.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cocopah Casino RV Park, Yuma, AZ

Left Quartzsite yesterday for Yuma, with our first stop as we entered Arizona being the Flying J just over the California border. Gas in California was $3.19/gallon. In Arizona it was $2.69! Unfortunately, everyone else on the planet stops there, and the lines were terrible. We also needed propane, which we were able to get with no problem while Debbie waited in the gas line. The line was even longer after getting the propane, so we decided to go to the Texaco station a few miles east, where we paid $2.77 but no waiting. It was well worth the little extra money. Unfortunately we had to go through Quartzsite again since 95 runs from there to Yuma, and there really is no other good way to go. It was stop and go traffic for a couple miles trying to get past the RV show.  There was lots of mud and standing water from the storm, which at least cut down on the dust. That will most likely be our last visit to the “Q”.

The weather has improved dramatically, so we decided to stay at Cocopah Casino in Yuma for $5.00 for 3 nights. One section is what they call an RV park, and that’s just what it is, a place to park. There are no hookups, no water, no dump, but they delineated 50 large parking spots for overnight RVs. It is so popular they also let you stay in the regular casino RV lot, which we did last night. This morning we found there were three open sites in the RV park, so we moved on over. It is so much better here, farther from 95, not so close to the neighbors, and we have a view. We haven’t met the people next to us in the green and purple motor home, but it looks like an older rig with a really sharp new paint job.


We went into downtown Yuma today to go far a walk along the Colorado River and found they were having the Harvest Festival on Main St. Kind of typical arts and crafts but with some unique things mixed in. An accordion band was playing, there were some vintage tractors, and these garlic vendors.P1240050 P1240049

The trail along the river was a disappointment. Not very scenic and I-8 and the railroad tracks ran by so it was very noisy.

Tomorrow we are going to Los Algodones, Mexico to get our teeth cleaned so Jim can scope out this dentist he may use to do his abutment and crown on the implant if he feels comfortable there. Should be an interesting day.

Friday, January 22, 2010

After The Storm


The rains came as predicted yesterday, so it was a day for indoor chores. The rain wasn’t horrible until around 3 in the afternoon, when we got a major thunderstorm, high winds, and lost power.  It was like being back in Florida! As of this morning we are still without power. But the beauty of living in a motorhome as opposed to a house is that when the power goes out, we can still run all the lights and appliances, either with propane, 12 volt or by using the generator.

There was lots of standing water and many downed limbs from the wind. We were glad to have moved to a site with no trees over us.P1210054

After the rain ended, the sun came out a little and the skies were beautiful, complete with a rainbow.

P1210052 P1210050

Wednesday we drove back to Quartzsite to pick up mail, visit Jim’s cousin and do some more shopping. There must have been 30 people in line in front of us to pick up general delivery mail at the post office. The RV show and flea market areas were not as crowded as they were when we went on Sunday. We had been thinking about some things we saw but didn’t buy, and decided we ought to go back and get them. After having been there once, we knew our way around, so it didn’t seem as bad this time. We left our car at the post office and walked through Greasewood campground to get to the show. There were a lot less RVs there, too. We figured many folks may have left early to get out before the really bad weather hit.

We had a nice visit with Connie and Joe, Jim’s cousin and her husband. They live in a park model manufactured house, just one bedroom, but to us it felt like a mansion. It was very nice, and they own a huge lot with several RV spots that various friends and relatives stay at over the winter. They spend 7 months in Quartzsite, and the other 5 at an apartment in Minden, NV, where their kids live. They seem very happy. They were trying to talk us into looking at property in Quartzsite since it is very inexpensive to live there, but we don’t think it’s a place we’d want to come back to regularly.

A couple more pictures I took after the rain stopped. We heard on the news last night that a tornado touched down just south of Blythe and turned over 3 semis on I-10, only about 6 miles from the park. Guess we were lucky.



Monday, January 18, 2010

Mayflower County Park, Blythe, CA

BeforeP1170045 And after.P1180047

This being Monday and with the Blythe Bluegrass Festival ending last night, several people left the park today. I went for a walk this morning to scope out a different site and found a couple on the outer perimeter. One interesting thing they do here, if you are staying at least a week, is pump out your tanks on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  So I went and moved the car to our new site and we waited on the pump truck to do their thing.  Quite a nice perk for $110/week.  And they only charge $250/month, which includes electric, so the park is full of Canadians and other snowbirds staying long term. Now that we have this view instead of staring into our neighbor’s RVs, we are much happier to be here.


Every January, the little town of Quartsite, AZ turns into a city of RVs and people, all coming to camp in the desert and shop at the vendors who set up for miles around town.

Yesterday we went to see what it was all about. We shopped till we dropped at the Big Tent and Tyson Wells flea market areas, along with thousands of our closest friends. Only found a few little things we couldn’t live without.


Luckily we went early in the morning and it wasn’t too bad, but by the time we left the traffic and crowds were horrible. The older we get, the less we tolerate large groups of people!  We found our way under interstate 10 to the Greasewood campground to visit our Lazy Daze friends, Don and Carol, who were staying there. We were so glad we decided stay here at Mayflower Park instead, as Greasewood campground is just a giant dirt parking lot with very little space between sites. The only advantage to being there is you can walk under the interstate to the vendor areas, but our one trip was plenty for us.

Jim has a cousin from Nevada who spends the winters at a trailer park in Quartzsite, so we are planning to go back and visit them one day this week. Otherwise we are sitting out the rain, which we had a little of last night and this morning. Looks like the worst is on the way. It cleared up for awhile this afternoon so we went for a walk along the Colorado. Very pretty!P1180043


Saturday, January 16, 2010

More Fun Than A Barrel of Monkeys

Well, we left Jojoba Hills SKP park today or as I refer to it, a little piece of heaven or an island of tranquility. Take your pick.

Anywho, we decided to change our plans and head over towards Quartzsite. Reason being that it appears there is going to be a market for Ark building in the coming days. They are talking many inches of rain coming at us in just a few days and multiple storms.

We thought about heading to an RV park at Rice Ranch in Quartzsite until we saw a post on the internet with a photo of a guy riding a jet ski in the campground following really heavy rains.

So, we may have a window of a couple of days before the rain. We headed to another California park, Mayflower County Park just north of Blythe, CA. This is on the Colorado River and were the campers not one on top of the other you might actually see it. Actually, there is more room than that but the lanes between each row of campers is one lane wide so it seems strange and cramped. Still can’t see the river though.

We finally pick a site and there begins, boys and girls, our hour long effort to get level. We don’t have hydraulic levelers so the orange thingamabobs come out. We gave up on the first site and on to the next. Luck there was even worse. Fortunately, our friends from across the Canadian border offered more orange things but they say you shouldn’t stack them more than a 6 foot step ladder tall so we tried pulling forward instead of backing in and we were level without using that stuff.

Checked the water hardness and it was hard enough that we are required to send it to NASA for further testing. Filled up the tank and one would think all was well.

But for one thing. The ever present smell of shit in the rig. Now I was beginning to think that we had a ruptured black water tank. No, I had dog shit on one of my shoes. Thankfully, I tracked it all over the rig. At this point I thought the best thing to do was head to Lazy Daze and buy a Kodiak and set this rig on fire but Gayle decided to clean it up.

I can only say that I am hoping to be able to rent a jet ski in the next few days to travel throughout the campground.

And the people in Haiti think they have problems! Why wasn’t CNN here to film this fiasco.

Pictures to follow.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Temecula, CA


We took a stroll around Old Town Temecula yesterday afternoon. It is a quaint area of antique stores, cafes and specialty shops. The sidewalks on the main street are wooden, and most of the buildings are rustic looking.  We found a candy store that sold  these cute little white chocolate “deviled eggs” that were very realistic looking, and a root beer shop with over 150 kinds of root beer.P1140046
Always searching for that perfect pizza, we decided to try Pizza Fusion, an organic pizza shop. Only in California, I thought, but it is a chain with locations throughout the country. It is one we will definitely look for again. We had the Very Vegan, which had Crimini mushrooms, roasted garlic and soy cheese on a delicious multi-grain crust. It was one of the best pizzas we’ve had in a long time,  although we rarely find a bad one! 

Being here at Jojoba Hills, it feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Temecula, on the other hand, about 20 miles west of here, is like being in the big city. It is only 60 miles north of San Diego and about 80 miles southeast of LA, so it appears to be just one big extension of those areas, with the traffic that goes along with it. Not much fun!

Today we made use of the exercise room and when we got back, Debbie came by to tell us her water pump was leaking. She had called Mike Sylvester and he came by and verified that it was a pump failure and not a loose connection. She called ShurFlo but they wouldn’t send a new one until she sent the defective one back. She told them she wasn’t sure where she would be by the time they got around to sending it, but mentioned we were heading to Quartzsite next week. Of course the ShurFlo rep will be there, so she is to bring him her old pump for a replacement. Since we had a spare,  Jim installed that one for her. He’s gotten pretty good at doing that after all the pumps he’s replaced in our rig. Amazingly, our latest pump has been working since November 24. Maybe we got lucky this time.

Tomorrow we’re off to Anza Borrego State Recreation Area, only about 45 miles from here. Will probably spend a couple days there and then go to Quartzsite for the big RV show, which actually starts tomorrow and runs for 10 days.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The RV Guy

We spent a very educational and pleasant 3 hours yesterday afternoon with Mike and Lisa Sylvester. For $230, they inspect and do the annual maintenance and servicing of the water heater, air conditioner and furnace, generator, and refrigerator. All our appliances tested fine, and everything is now clean and hopefully ready to continue functioning for a long time to come.

Jim had a list of questions, and Mike was happy to answer them and let us follow behind him and watch what he did. It was well worth the money and we would highly recommend him.

The sun is shining today and it is supposed to be 70. Planning to take a ride to Temecula and see what’s there.  More later!

Forgot I took this picture of the sunset last night. It was beautiful.P1130041

And wasn’t Oreo’s pose beautiful, too!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jojoba Hills SKP Resort, Aguanga, CA

We reluctantly left Lake Cahuilla yesterday and after a 60 mile drive, about 20 of which consisted of a nice climb and lots of switchbacks, we arrived at Jojoba Hills SKP Park. I drove the car separately because we had some concerns about Hwy 74 out of Palm Desert, and even though it wasn’t horrible, it is easier for the rig to climb without the weight of the car behind it. Plus that way Jim didn’t have to listen to me badger him about slowing down around the curves that had no guardrails.

Jojoba Hills is one of the Escapees parks where you can lease a permanent site. Right now there is a two and a half year waiting list!  It’s around $28,000 plus a monthly fee for water, sewer, garbage, cable and local phone. When you decide to sell, the buy-in money is refunded and the lot goes up for resale. It’s definitely the nicest “trailer park” we’ve ever seen.  They have a huge clubhouse, outdoor swimming pool with a lovely view, hot tubs, game room, library, exercise room (which we’ve already made use of), and of course the usual RV park activities.  Each site has it’s own shed and patio, and lots of people have done some beautiful landscaping on their lots. We could see living there, at least in the winter.

We are staying here as guests of Mike and Lisa Sylvester, The RV Guy, who does mobile RV service and has a lot here. We had only planned to stay 2 nights but decided to stay another 2 so we could explore the area some. P1130046


Thought it never rained in southern California, but we awoke today to drizzle and fog. Looks like it is clearing up, just in time for our RV inspection and servicing by Mike. They just arrived so I will go see if I can learn something, and hope he doesn’t find anything wrong!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bear Creek Palm Oasis Trail, La Quinta, CA

Went for a little hike today in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.  This trail begins at La Quinta Cove Oasis, a pretty palm filled picnic area near town. P1090042 There are several trails leading out from there, and the map at the trailhead showed this to be a 2.4 mile hike to another palm oasis in the mountains. P1090043

It started off flat walking through a wash, then turned up the mountainside and was a gradual climb all the way. We had some lovely views of the area, including the San Jacinto snow covered peaks, the Salton Sea, and an agricultural area to the east. We were surprised to see the ocatillo cactus already blooming.P1090050 P1090055

As it turned out, the sign was not correct, and we hiked for two solid hours with no palm oasis in sight. Kept thinking it would be right over the next ridge, but we were just too tired to go on. Found out that it is really a 4.75 mile hike to the end, so I’m not sure how close we came but I bet we walked 3-4 miles before we finally gave up and turned around. The parking area was a welcome sight and we were starving when we finished.  P1090059

Stopped at Chipotle Mexican Grill on the way home and had a wonderful veggie burrito. Will try to do better research before the next hike!

Just a couple more pictures of the manicured golf course subdivisions in the area, quite a contrast to the stark brown desert scenery.P1080044 P1090060  And the beautiful sky last night.  This looks like a great area to live, at least during the winter.P1080046

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sunny So. Cal.

We are enjoying the beautiful weather here in La Quinta, CA. Been biking and hiking so far, and did some necessary shopping at Wal-Mart and various other stores. You name it, they have it here.

Jim discovered some cracks in the lid of our one and a half year old Acer laptop a few weeks ago. Of course it was only warranted for one year, but I remembered that our Mastercard doubles the manufacturer’s warranty, so he contacted them, sent pictures to Acer, and got an estimate. They were not happy that it was a flat rate repair fee of $199 so they asked him to take it to a local computer repair shop. He found one in Palm Desert and we took it in yesterday. Their estimate was $271! So now we are awaiting a reply, but it does sound like they will pay to have it repaired. Another good reason to use a credit card.

In the meantime, he fixed it himself with epoxy putty. It’s not too pretty but seems to be holding up. We now refer to it as the Flintstone computer, since it looks like there’s a grey rock on the lid.

While we were out yesterday, we stopped for lunch at zpizza, a place we had never heard of. We had the Berkeley Vegan pizza, with soy cheese, veggie sausage crumbles, and numerous vegetables. It was excellent! Debbie’s Moroccan Rustica pizza looked delicious, too. We will be on the lookout for them in our travels, since it is a chain and has various locations around the country.

Only have one photo from our late afternoon hike yesterday behind the county park. The trail goes up the mountain for some lovely views of the nearby golf course, but the sun was going down and the pictures didn’t turn out well.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lake Cahuilla County Park, La Quinta, CA


It was a pretty good 80 mile drive yesterday, better roads and $2.79/gallon gas. Maybe California isn’t so bad.

I found out about Lake Cahuilla online a few weeks ago and decided we needed to make reservations since there weren’t many sites left. Glad we did. It is a busy place and a nice enough park.  The surrounding area is beautiful, lots of palm trees, gated subdivisions,  and bike lanes everywhere.  Looks like a great place to spend a week. We’re about 25 miles from Palm Springs at the base of the Santa Rosa mountains.


  And they honor Passport America on weekdays, so we are paying either $10 or $20/night depending on the day of the week. Still quite a bargain for a water and electric site in California. Unfortunately all the pretty sites on the lake were taken.

But best of all, it got to 75 yesterday afternoon.  Had to change into shorts as soon as we arrived.  And the sunset was lovely.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Joshua Tree National Park

Spent the past couple nights at Twentynine Palms RV Resort, a Passport America park a couple miles from the entrance to Joshua Tree. The regular rate is $38/night so the half price was not a bad deal. They have a nice laundry room, which we desperately needed, an indoor pool, which I used, a hot tub, game room, store, etc. It’s not a bad place to stay while visiting the national park. We would have loved to camp in the park, but at 4000’ elevation it’s been in the low 30’s at night,  just too cold for us without hookups. Yes, we are wimps!

We spent yesterday afternoon in Joshua Tree, and walked several of the shorter nature trails. We had been here maybe 15-20 years ago when I attended an ophthalmology meeting in Palm Desert, but didn’t remember much except that we have always wanted to return. It is another beautiful national park, with stunning rock formations. We have grown to love looking at rocks this past year and probably have thousands of pictures of them.  Here are a few from yesterday.

These are from the Skull Rock trail.

P1040051 P1040044 P1040049

Baker Dam trail.


The dam was built in the early 1900’s, and it was amazing how high the water lines were. There is much less rainfall now so there was very little water.


Our favorite trail was Hidden Valley, a popular rock climbing area. In fact the campground there was full of tents, with what looked like college students who were rock climbing.

P1040065 P1040064

Our list of places we want to come back to is growing and this is definitely one of them. Today we’re heading south and looking forward to the mid 70’s. Can’t wait to be wearing shorts and sandals again!  Forgot to mention that California has some of the worst roads we’ve encountered anywhere so far, and the highest gas prices. We aren’t impressed.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Tecopah Hot Springs County Park, CA

Just spent the night at this Inyo county park on our way out of Death Valley. The campground isn’t much to speak of but we got electric for $19. There is no potable water here, since it all comes from the hot springs and has too many minerals and chemicals for  it to be safe to drink. Also we still have no cell service so no internet. Hoping our next stop will put us back in civilization. The price includes free use of the mineral baths, but we passed on that one. It was surprising the number of people we saw going in. And the camp host told us it was nude bathing only, with 2 different pools for men and women, though!

We stopped here so we could visit the nearby China Ranch Date Farm, a working date farm with a small store that sells the dates and lots of goodies made with them, such as bread, milkshakes, cookies, etc. We did buy a bag of honey dates after sampling all the different varieties.


You can walk through the orchards and there are hiking trails going into the surrounding BLM land. It was interesting to see how the dates grow on the palms. They cover the bunches of dates with old fabric remnants and clothing to protect them from birds, rain and sunburn.P1010051 P1010052 P1010055

It’s worth a stop if you’re in the area, and the gravel road leading to it is a pretty drive, although a bit narrow and hilly. Not to be done in the motorhome!