Friday, April 29, 2022

There is always next year.

 Well - I have some bad news to share.
Our trip to England is over.

You might remember that this past February I had a knee injury and spent the better
part of March running around and getting things lined up for arthroscopic surgery.

After my PT visits etc - things were great and we hit the road full of expectations.

Just an hour or so after our last blog post, I proceeded to do my stretching and strengthening
exercises to continue my therapy, and as soon as I tried a "step up" I felt a tear and a pop
and sure enough - my knee is toast again.

So - today we'll make a u-turn and start to head west 1,600 miles back to Tucson with our
tails between our legs.

Disappointed - but not beaten.
Don't feel bad for us - we roll with the punches.

To update you.

After that new injury, I figured that I can drive without any problems, so since we were only
6hrs west of Red Bay, Alabama - where the bus was built - and we had our windshield scheduled
to be replaced there - we continued east yesterday and arrived in Red Bay at 3pm.

Dave Hester owns 1st Class Glass.
A glass shop across the street from the Tiffin Service Center.
Dave ran the Tiffin Windshield Shop for years and a couple of years ago he branched off 
and set up his own facility.

So at 0700 this morning we pulled outside of our assigned bay.

Waiting to enter the glass shop

Tiffin Service Center across the street

As more and more Tiffins are built - places to stay in Red Bay are
dwindling.   In the past few years I know of at least 3 new RV Parks that have sprung up.

Dave built one next to his shop and reserves some spaces for his customers.

1st Class Glass RV Parking

Dave knows his stuff when it comes to windshields.

Loosening up the gasket to remove the glass

Vacuum suction cups and crane to lift it out

In just a few minutes he has the old removed.

Within about an hour the new one is installed.

After the new glass in in place, a urethane glue is run inside the gasket to help seal
and hold the glass in place.

A super nice guy, he goes above and beyond.
He even installed the magnets that hold my "Magna Shade" in place,
and applied a glass "sealer" for me that I used to make it easier to remove bugs etc.

Neither of those jobs is his responsibility but that is the type of guy he is.

He installed my last windshield in 2019 and I never had a problem, a leak or whatever.

Anyway - I'm sitting here now waiting for a few things to set and then we'll back out of the bay
and start our trek back to Tucson.

Looking forward

We do have reservations for next year on the Queen Mary.
We'll be taking the QM2 to Hamburg, and doing a Europe/UK/Ireland trip,
so I'll need to get busy planning that.

We also still have our return reservations on the ship for October, and we are going to keep
them for now.   

The thought is that after a 2nd summer of post knee replacement
Physical Therapy - perhaps a nice treat will be to fly over to London, spend a few days, and
then take the ship back to NY.    

Without dogs we'll actually be able to enjoy the amenities of the ship
rather than spend all of our time on kennel duty.

For now - my immediate concerns will be getting everything from this years trip
cancelled and unwound, and getting my new knee replacement scheduled.

Last but not least....

We received many messages from our past post.
Lots of them are marked "anonymous" which is fine.
But since you did not leave a name its hard for me to reply to say thanks, but
we want you all to know that we receive every message and enjoy to hear all of your
comments.  Thanks and keep them coming.

Thanks again for following along.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

England Bound - The Adventure Begins!

 Finally - after 2 Covid cancelled years, and a third almost ended due to a knee injury,
we are on the road headed east.

Our destination is Brooklyn, NY where we will rendezvous with the Queen Mary2 on
Sunday May 15 and set sail once again.

The past few weeks have been a mix of packing, then downsizing our packing, and packing again.
Come hell or high water we've decided to pack much lighter this trip and I'm happy to say
Mission accomplished!

The dogs stuff actually take up more room than ours.

Other tasks included clearing the back yard of furniture etc that might blow around 
in the summer storms, and basically getting the house ready 
for being empty the next 7 months.

10 Trips to Physical Therapy later, and lots of stretching and strengthening at home, 
we packed up the bus and this past Sunday - April 24 - we hit the road.

The trip map below is taken from this blog - right side - "where are we today" link.
I've noted the 3 stops covered in this post.

You can always click on that link to see where we are or where we've been.
It defaults to the past few days but you can also select a longer time period to see more .

Loading the bus

Our first day was about 4 1/2 hrs east on I-10 to Las Cruces, NM

Entering New Mexico

Hacienda RV Park is easy in and out.   
I grabbed one of the super long pull-thru sites so as to make for an easy arrival and departure.
When in "Trucker Mode" like this - I only hook up the electric.

Hacienda site 177

Monday we headed north east up US 54 to connect with I-40 which we will take
all the way to Memphis.

Entering Texas

After an 8 hr drive, we spent the night in Amarillo at the Oasis RV Park.
The roads are getting sort of beat up in the park, and the prices are too high IMO, but there
is a Loves Truckstop right at the exit so you can fuel up before you stop,
 and be ready to hit the road first thing in the morning.

And next - Oklahoma

Tuesday - our third day on the road - saw us leave Texas behind and cross thru Oklahoma
and into Arkansas.

This is the day when you leave the dry sagebrush west behind and enter into the humidity 
and green deciduous trees of the east.

Western OK.   Dry Sagebrush Country

Eastern OK, 2 hrs later its green!

And finally we are in Arkansas.
The roads get a bit more crowded as the population increases.

Entering Arkansas

Our destination for Tues and Weds nights is Aux Arc Park, in Ozark, Arkansas.
It is an Army Corp of Engineers Park and we've stayed here a number of times.

Army Corp Parks are usually associated with a large body of water and are very nice.
This one is on the Arkansas River at the Aux Arc Dam and power plant.
There is a lock at the dam so watching the river traffic move thru the lock is an
added attraction of staying here.

Aux Arc Army Corps Park

We've stayed here a number of times over the years.
A mix of Water and W/E sites.   I even think there are some
FHU sites further down in the trees but be prefer to stay in this newer section with
its better sunshine and satellite reception.

The view across the street

View of the dam and lock 

It was nice to wake up listening to the birds singing.
I even saw morning dew on the truck.   It's been a while since I've seen that.

View from our side window

We've accidentally seemed to have picked a perfect travel weather window.
A slow moving high pressure bubble is pretty much parked over - and moving with - us
across country.  It looks like it may stay with us for the next 3 or 4 days as well.

So today is a rest day and then tomorrow we'll head about 6 hrs south east to
Red Bay, Al.   Where our bus was built.

Friday morning at 0700 I have an appointment to replace our windshield which took a
big rock several years ago on the Alaska Highway.   The cracks never traveled across the
windshield, and its not in my field of view - so I was able to defer the replacement till now.

After the windshield is replaced we will immediately hit the road.
Our next stop after Red Bay will be a farm in Tennessee for the night as we start working our
way northeast along the west side of the Appalachians.

Because we will need to take Covid tests to board the ship - we are being extra careful
and pretty much remaining in self-quarantine till then.
No visits with any east coast friends until we get back in the fall.

Stay tuned - its gonna get exciting!

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Ouch that hurts!

 It's hard to believe but it has been 2 months since our last post.
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then....   a lot.

So let's bring you up to date.

We departed Quartzsite on Feb 8.
Ron, Maxine, Rob, & Pat all headed to Catalina State Park near Tucson,
and we headed back south to Senator Wash BLM Land north of Yuma.

Our plan was to get back together with R&P in 2 weeks at Organ Pipe Cactus NP, and then
all of us get back together a week after that up at Lake Roosevelt.

After 17 days of boondocking, our first stop at Senator Wash was the water fill and dump stations.

Potable water station at Senator Wash

We scouted around looking for a good spot to park.   This time of year it can be
challenging to find a decent spot but we arrived early and while not the best, we found
a large spot that took advantage of the prevailing winds to keep the dust down.

Our spot at Senator Wash

We spent 2 weeks here going to hikes and pursuing other projects

Picasso at work

Mid point of our stay, a cold front came thru with high winds and dust storms.

The next morning however dawned clear and cool with a setting moon.

A couple of days prior to departure my left knee started to bother me.
I had been feeling something for a while but nothing major.
All of a sudden it was becoming harder to hike so I took a few days to rest it.

Departure day - we headed south east thru Dome Valley enroute to I-8 east of Yuma.
We've never taken this route and it was a nice and quiet green ride thru the farm fields.

Dome Valley - NE of Yuma

Upon arrival at Organ Pipe Cactus National Park, I could hardly stand on my left knee.
Something was definitely wrong.

I'd had my right knee replaced in July so that I would have plenty of time prior to our
departure for England to get it back into shape.

All of a sudden, this wrench in the works, only 2 months before departure was starting to
get me worried.   I ordered a cane from Amazon and received that a day later, but even with
that, moving about was extremely difficult.

Twin Peaks CG site # 83 at Organ Pipe

We had planned on a week at OP but after some frantic calls to doctors in Tucson,
I secured an appointment in a few days so we had to pack up early and hit the road.

Looking East from Campground road

Long story short...
A couple of doctor visits, an MRI, and just a week ago a quick Arthroscopy on my left knee
and Voila...   my knee is feeling great!   Not 100% mind you, but I'm able to get around without
any assistance and almost pain free.
So now the next few weeks will be filled with 3x per week visits to Therapy, lots of home 
therapy, and steady progress.

Barring another shoe dropping, we are back on track and scheduled to hit the road on
April 25 and meeting up with the Queen Mary2 on May 15.

Some progress on Victory while home.

It should be an interesting trip.   I have a lot of great stuff planned including
renting a Motorhome in Scotland for 10 days.

Gracie, due to her age and poor hips however will not be able to do much walking around.
We dont want to leave the dogs alone in rental homes, so against all of my objections,
I've broken down and gotten a doggie stroller so that we'll be able to head out and bring her along.

My traveling freak show!

Oh the Humanity!

Fingers crossed - our next report will be from the road headed to NYC

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Quartzsite - The times they are a changin...

When we last checked in, about 3 weeks ago, we were still in Senator Wash, 20 miles north of Yuma.
Since then we have moved 80 miles up the road for the annual flocking of the snowbirds in Quartzsite.

We arrived here about 2 weeks ago and will be leaving Tuesday. 
Our group of 4 busses will be scattering about for a while but most of us re joining
a little further down the road.

Kate and I will most likely head back down the road to Senator Wash for a couple of weeks
before we meet up with Rob & Pat at Organ Pipe Cactus National Park on Feb 22nd

Now for Quartzsite....

I won't go into too many details as to why we are here, and what goes on, as we've been coming here
every year since 2013 with the exception of 2021 which had us remaining away due
to Pandemic Inturuptus.

If you haven't head about "Q" you can simply go back to January in any year on the left  (except 2021)
and learn all about what goes on here.

It seems as if the chain has been broken.
Many of the old Montana folks no longer come here and  now a new breed of modern 
nomad seems to have taken hold.

I'm not certain if this is a result of the times, a natural spin off from the movie Nomadland, or
most likely a combination of those and perhaps other factors.

One of the requirements to camp on BLM land is that your unit be self-contained with a permanent
holding tank capable of a minimum 10 gallons capacity.
Yet this year the area is filled with people - young and old - living in cars, tents, and mini-vans.

Across from us is a group - one of the people there told us they were affiliated with some
youtube group called MiniVan Lee.

Upon our arrival, one of the group had staked off vast swaths of the desert with yellow caution tape.
It seems as if these new people think that they have the right to arrive and claim the land
sort of like a modern day Columbus.

We ignored the tape and when one of them came over to protest I explained that we've been coming
here for about 10 years and how things work on BLM Land.
I don't think he was happy but he went away.

Meanwhile, where friends Jim & Kristi parked, some nutcase in a van came over yelling
that they were "spoiling his view and would have to move"
When they refused to move he started waving a machette and threatening them.
They called the sheriff which caused him to jump in his van and speed away.

We see them dumping buckets in the washes and can only suspect what they are dumping.
One person even left their tent and a bunch of junk - I guess she felt it was someone elses job
to clean up after her.

I was raised camping with my dad and he instilled values such as "leave the campsite
better than you found it" and "leave some firewood for the next camper"
All of these decent traditions seem to have been replaced by personal rights and "freedoms"
The freedom to be a jerk or a slob.

The "Homeless Camp" across from us during a day of high winds and dust storms.
Many of the tents and garbage blew away

This "genius" tried to drive his van thru a wash and became "high centered" so he spent
several hours trying to dig himself out.   He wound up spending a night stuck there.
Not to mention the destruction of sensitive vegetation that he caused
and is relied upon by wildlife when we are gone.

Here you can see the pile of garbage left by one of the "Van People"
3 vans are in the photo and more across to the right.
In the recent past there were none.

Each morning they emerge with tubs of unknown "fluids" that get dumped into the wash.

A few washes down is another larger encampment.

It looks more like a Woodstock (Quartzstock) group.
Dreadlocks & beat up vehicles everywhere.
 Grateful Dead Music and the smell of pot fill the air.

What was once an annual gathering of retired folks has turned into less of that and more of 
what appears to be a giant homeless camp, teleworker hangout, and refuge for
those who just don't want to work and don't give a damn about taking care of the land for
people who will follow.

In 10 years I never saw garbage here.  This morning passing the "Grateful Dead Camp", I spotted
glass bottles discarded in the wash next to them.

The times they are a changin....

I'm really going to reconsider coming here in the future.
Budget cutbacks mean no rangers to patrol and enforce the rules anymore and a new
crowd with no respect for the land or others seems to be taking over.

I now call it Quartzstock.

Well that is enough of my Quartzstock rant.

On the positive side - we finally got to see friends that we have not been able to see for
a couple of years.   We also made some new friends and had a great time.

R&P followed us up from Senator Wash and we parked in our usual place outside of the
smaller but still decently sized Montana Circle.

We arrived on Saturday - the start of the big RV show - so more people were already here.
Usually we arrive a week or so prior to the show start.

The Montana Circle 2022

At first it was just the two of us.

But within a few days there were 4.

Other friends, Stan & Marilyn, were parked nearby and came over for happy hour.
We were also joined by a few couples that Stan and Marylyn knew.

When the winds picked up we moved to the downwind side of my bus.

The Big RV show ended a week ago now and most of the retiree types have cleared out.
The circle is gone but the Nomadlanders, (and us) remain.

The Montana Circle is now gone

Our visit here was a success in that my goal was to see if I could get a decent deal
on a new Blue Ox towbar.

Mine was just bumping up against its "useful life"
It was still in good condition but getting worn.

My friend Stan - who loves to make a deal - wound up talking to Blue Ox and then
a neighbor of his who needed a new tow bar but did not have the $$'s for a new one.

Stan brokered a discount with Blue Ox for me and then I sold my tow bar to his neighbor.
All in all I saved almost $100
His neighbor, who pulls a small 1,800 lb vehicle, got a 10,000 lb towbar for peanuts
and everyone was happy,

Stan is the man!

We are here for tonight and tomorrow nights.
On Tuesday Ron, Maxine, R&P head to Catalina SP in Tucson.
Bobbi & Kevin will as well, then continue onward to the east coast.

We'll head to Senator Wash and perhaps visit with some friends who are warming up
in Yuma at one of the dozens of RV parks down there.

Only 98 days till we board the Queen Mary2 in Brooklyn for 5 months in
England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.

There is a lot of traveling coming up so thanks for riding along.


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Winter - The tradition resumes Part 1 Senator Wash LTA

 After 2 years of Covid interruption, we are finally back on the road for our wintertime 
boondocking in the desert with friends from all over the US and Canada.

Our first stop, of many to follow, is just north of Yuma, Az at the 
Senator Wash (Imperial Dam) LTVA (long-term visitor area)
Most of the National lands have a 14 day camping limit, but thru out the southwest there are tracts of BLM land that are set aside as areas where people can camp for long term periods. 
In the California/Arizona border area there are bout 7 of these LTVA's.  

While much of the public land is free to camp on, there are no services and stay limits.
Several of the LTVA's, have centralized garbage, water, and dump stations to 
make long-term camping more convenient.   
The fee in the LTA's range from $40 for a 14 day permit or $180 for 7 months.

Yuma is Produce Country.
Heading north on US95 you abruptly leave the green of farm country and enter the
brown earth tones of the desert.

Traveling the other direction, you come around a corner and the shock of the green fields
stretching out before you - after weeks in the desert - is quite a sight.

Our spot with Rob & Pat on the left, with us on the right.

Circle the wagons

Rob & Pats Australian Labradoodle Olivia immediately came over for a long
over due visit with our two.

Our morning stroll around our end of the area.
One interesting thing about this LTVA is how over the years, visitors have removed the larger
rocks scattered about and carved out smooth little camping areas of all sorts.

The larger rocks that were removed from the parking areas are used to outline the
camping spot as well as the driveways

There are rock gardens, and rock artworks scattered about the area.

Large ravines cut thru sections making the area more spread out.

In the distance (center) you can see a small lake.   Beyond that in the valley is the
Colorado River and Imperial Dam.

A remnant of an RV that burned a few years ago serves as a reminder that you
need to have an evacuation plan as these things can go up in a heartbeat

At Imperial Dam the sunrises out perform the sunsets due to the long range views to the east.
This was the view from my bedside window on Thursday morning.

Sunrise at Senator Wash

A few minutes later looking west towards the hills. 
The orange sun reflects off of the stone.

As well as off the sides of the bus.

Senator Wash lake.
You can camp down there for a 14 day limit and then you must move and make room
for someone else to enjoy.

Senator Wash Lake

All thru the area are countless miles of dirt roads.
We take our morning stroll each day on one of them.
Today Kate & I also did a bit of a drive up towards the mountains till she
did not want to go any further due to the deteriorating road conditions.

On our walk this morning, you can see all the RV's back in the distance

We are only about 21 miles north of Yuma, Az so it is a quick run into town for groceries
and other needed supplies.  

Yuma's population swells in the wintertime with the influx of
seasonal residents, including those in RV's, residing in the city's countless number 
of RV parks and the expansive dispersed camping areas
in the desert outside of the city.

Between us and Yuma is the farm lands mentioned earlier.   Today we made a run
into town to go to the Arizona Marketplace - a large outside flea market kind of venue that
has been operating for years.  I picked up a bunch of replacement LED bulbs in a warmer
color for our recessed ceiling lights.

We took the scenic route back thru the middle of the valley thru the farms.
Many of the crops I could not identify but a couple that I could:


You can see a head peeking out just left of center

Broccoli - from farm to table


The groves of date palms lend a cool vibe to the area mixing in with the green vegetable fields.

Date Palms

Here and there you see the white school busses scurrying about.
Some hauling porta-potties behind.
These are the farm workers moving about the fields.

We are expecting to stay here till about Saturday the 22nd, at which point we'll head
80 miles north to Quartzsite where we'll join up with the crowd of wanderers from all
over at our usual meeting place in the desert north of town.

Staying safe and having fun.
Till then.