Friday, March 10, 2023

Senator Wash - Winters end

Its hard to believe that its been over a month since our last post from Quartzsite.  Time has a way of slipping by even when you are not running at high speed.   And now we are sitting here staring at the end of another winter season.   The snowbird flocks are starting to migrate, and so we shall as well.

Our migration will now take us to the east coast and onboard the Queen Mary2 for a summer in the UK and Ireland.  But that is still a few weeks hence, so let me bring you up to date as to what we've been doing.

A big change in Quartzsite this season seemed to be that a large part of the Geezer population seemed to start dispersing prior to the end of the show.   By a few days past the shows end, we had seen a large decrease in the local population and we were enjoying our nice slice of the desert in relative peace and privacy,

Unknown to us however, that was not to last....

About 5 days after shows end, a few older RV's of all types began congregating just to our east in the spot where the Montana circle had been.   The group grew - slowly at first - but then the pace of growth took a turn.

One afternoon this green converted vehicle with a ladder sticking out of its roof started to drive up and down all the fairways between washes.   He was blasting rock & roll music as he drove around.

Driving by us, he entertained us with a very loud rendition of Grand Funk Railroads "Closer to Home" (I'm your Captain).   His speakers were quite good, and I must say I enjoyed the tunes but started to worry that if this continued into the late night it could be less enjoyable.


I'm your Captain

It seemed as if he was the Pied Piper of the group because as he drove about, more and more vans, school busses, panel trucks, and other types of RV's  descended upon the stretch of desert to our east.    At first we were simply a far outlying eastern suburb of the group, but as the days passed, we started to be incorporated more into the edges of their growing encampment.

looking east towards the group at first

It seemed to be a race between how fast thier group would grow vs our upcoming departure date.

Talking to some of the group, we found out that they belonged to a group called "Van Aid".  Simply a large get together of like minded folks who would meet to help each other learn about how fix, improve, and maintain their campers, and to learn tips and tricks about the lifestyle.   They ranged in age from very young to very old.    Seemed to be more of a hippy leaning group, and they were very nice and quiet at night so I found it all to be fine and rather interesting.    I would just perfer to have a bit more room between us and them

The group expands closer

Finally, a couple of weeks after the show ended, our group began to break up.    K & B went to Organ Pipe, R&M to Tucson, and eventually Rob, Pat, and us went down to Yuma.

Ron & Maxine depart thru the "Camp"

While in Q I installed a Reverse Osmosis system for our drinking water.


I know it looks like something out of "Breaking Bad" but Water White I am not.    This is to finely filter water down to the molecular level giving us the cleanest most pure drinking water possible.


Installed under the sink.   The 4 gal storage tank is anchored to the wall and valves let me select from a number of options for both the distillate (clean water) and brine (waste water)

I can send the distillate to the bus fresh water tank or to the under sink storage tank.   I can send the brine to the fresh water tank, the grey holding tank, or overboard.   It all depends on where I am and if I have an external water supply or am dry camping.


A separate faucet (on the left below) provides the RO water for our use.


After leaving Q we went down to Yuma for a week and stayed in the Fortuna de Oro RV Park.   This allowed me to wash/wax the bus and rent a rug shampooer to give the bus a long overdue freshening up.

Soon, we were all back in the desert.   This time back at Senator Wash/Imperial Dam Long-Term Visitor area just across the border in California.

Being next to the Imperial Dam Complex on the Colorado River, there is a fair amount of water nearby and some Riparian areas in the LTVA


The 4 of us with the Senator Wash Lake behind us.


We were able to secure a pretty nice spot in the "Murphy Flats" area.


While here - the stormy season continued and we had several rain and dust storms.   Days of cool, wet, and/or very windy weather.

Dust storm in Yuma

One morning while Rob and I were walking about, we found a better spot over in the Northwest section of the LTVA where the cell service is stronger so we made a move to our new home.

Our site in The Hermans Horsepath area.

One night I made a Rack of Lamb for Kate and I.  Roughing it in the desert!


Some rock art

Ron and Maxine, finished with their visits to Tucson and Scottsdale, returned to spend some more time with us before they headed for home.   If you look over our shoulders you can see the dark clouds of the next storm approaching.


The next storm was a bigger one with a fair amount of rain.   The normally dry washes all flooded.   While hard to see in the photo below - the rain is creating rivers of muddy water flowing down the hillsides into the wash below our site.


When the skies cleared, the boys and I took a ride in my truck on some of the dirt roads and went down to the bottom of senator wash to check out the riparian areas and the lake

Senator Wash Lake from down below

Finally it was time again to say adios to Ron & Maxine.    Theyv'e had enough of us and are headed for home.

And head for home is what we will do next too.    We have a lot to get done in the next couple of weeks.   Kates Irish Citizenship was approved so we need to get her passport paperwork done and submitted, Dogs washed for the trip, clothes packed etc.   Before you know it - our next post will be from somewhere back in the bus headed east.    Fingers crossed that this time we really make it onboard.

See you then.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Onward to Quartzsite - 2023

If there is one thing in life that never changes, then certainly it must be that everything changes....

When we last checked in, we were drying out in Pismo Beach California.   We had an inoperative, squirrel eaten pickup truck, and were planning to drag it to Bakersfield, Ca in the hopes of getting it repaired.

Happily we've solved our problems and have moved on down the road.

I called the local Ford dealer in San Luis Obispo to see if they could help - but they were booked out for weeks.   So was the two Ford dealers in Bakersfield.   But they gave me a lead on a couple of local independent shops that they recommended, and I called the first - Blue Ribbon Automotive - who told me that they would squeeze me in since we were from out of town.

Rob had a code reader that we had hooked up to the truck so we had a good start of what the problems were and I had communicated that to the shop.

Fortunately the day before we left I was able to get the truck started.   It ran like crap, but at least I could move it enough to line it up to hook it up to the bus, rather than having to push it.   So on Thursday Jan 12 we drove the 3 hrs to Bakersfield and I dropped the truck off at the shop around noon.

We then headed over to the Orange Grove RV Park to meet up with Rob & Pat to await news on the truck.

The Orange Grove is one of our favorite commercial RV Parks.   Built in a grove of Orange Trees, we love to come here in the winter and early spring to enjoy the fresh, sweet, juicy, seedless Washington Navel oranges fresh off of the tree.

They also have a wash bay, so before we parked, I gave the bus a quick washdown.

Orange Grove wash bay

Once that was done, we pulled into our space.   We were only going to stay for 2 nights but there was more heavy rain and flooding forecast.   Our next stop was a campground in a canyon, so I decided to stay here for 4 nights and remove the risk of more flood evacuations.

The OG has a mix of site types.   We chose the FHU long pull thrus that are about 90' long and settled in between a row of Orange Trees.   I could reach out the window and pick some beauties!

Orange Grove space 144

Within no time at all I had enjoyed a few fresh oranges.    Some are almost the size of Grapefruit.

The Pumpkin and the Oranges

Friday afternoon the shop called to tell me the truck was fixed.   Of course there was a wire harness that the squirrel had chewed into right where I thought it would be, and it was a fairly simple fix.   While there I had them do a few other maintenance items on the truck.

Meanwhile we used the "Wonder Bag" to make some beef stew.  It's a simple way to slow cook without having to leave a burner or crock pot going while we are gone.

Dinner for 4

Leaving Pismo, I had also discovered that one of my hydraulic jack retraction springs had snapped and was gone.   Checking around it seems that they've been backordered for months so while at the OG I set up a jury rigged solution with some bungee cords for now.   Seems to be working quite well.


Monday, Jan 16th we headed east out of Bakersfield.  I was able to secure some last minute reservations at Lake Havasu State Park for 3 nights and since Ron & Maxine were there, we jumped on it.

Leaving Bakersfield we say goodbye to the green world again....  we are headed over the Sierras to the dry side of the mountains.


We headed east on Ca-58 and up and over Tehachapi Pass.


And in a blink, you cross the pass, leave the green behind, and are in the Mojave desert and another world.


Lake Havasu SP built a new small loop a few years back.   Most of it is cabins with parking and electric hookups for RV's but we were able to secure on the of the few sites that does not have a cabin on it.   I think the concept is that people can arrive in their RV and meet up with friends who are staying in the cabins.

Lake Havasu SP site C-19

Below is all of us at LHSP with Buddy photobombing us in the middle.




The lake is formed by Parker dam and is simply a wide section of the Colorado River, a couple of hundred miles below Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon.

The park is convenient for shopping as its right in town.   It's not a wilderness experience for sure, but the park does have some pretty hide a ways where you can picnic along the lake.


On Thursday Jan 19, after our quick visit,  it was time to raise the jacks and move on south to Quartzsite.   
Everyone would be congregating here in a few days or so and we were the advance scouts.    

We wound up parking in our usual spot.  It seemed this year that it was much less crowded than last.  There might be 30%-50% less people here.    A welcome change!   Perhaps a lot of the workers had to go back to the office leaving the desert back to us geezer retirees.

Waiting for the gang to arrive.   The circle is on the left

Slowly over the course of about a week, 3 more busses and a Class C arrived in our group.

To celebrate Maxines 29th birthday we had a spaghetti dinner with 10 people in our bus.  

Dinner for 10

In the meanwhile, I've got a Reverse Osmosis water purification system that I am going to put under the sink as soon as it arrives in Parker on Friday.   A bit of a water upgrade for the bus.  We soften the water so the RO system will get rid of the sodium and any other dissolved solids, and give us the best drinking water possible.

The Q RV show consists of the Big Tent with perhaps several hundred vendors inside.  A large area surrounding it has RV's for sale.  Beyond that are acres of Midway with many more vendors selling everything under the sun - not everything is RV related as well.

The show from the air.   The "big tent" is upper left

Kate borrowed a sign to take some practice at selling.


The RV show ran from Sat the 21st to Sunday the 29th.   Many people started to leave the surrounding desert even before the show was over.   A big change from years past.   The group in the Montana Circle was no exception.   In the past it seemed most people hung on at least till the show closed, then moved on.

This year there was only about 25 or so Rigs in the circle, and most were gone by the time the show was over.    This year marked the 10th year that we've been coming here (except for 2020 Covid year).  Times have sure changed.   We did not really know many people in the circle as most of the people are new.  Most of the old-timers have either passed, too ill to travel, or in some cases, just dont want to boondock anymore.

The circle used to as many as 75 rigs and we'd have visits by RV dealers, pizza vendors, musicians, and all sorts of activities each day.    Here is a link to our first visit 10 years ago.   It seems a much quieter event these days.

Like I said:  
If there is one thing in life that never changes, then certainly it must be that everything changes....

As for us...   Ron & Maxine, Kevin & Bobbie, Rob & Pat, are still here and will be for a while longer.
After this we'll be spreading out.   We'll be heading down Yuma way with Rob & Pat for a bit, and then...

Meanwhile -  another night falls over the desert.....






Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Into the Storms - California here we come

Well the holidays have passed, and winter is upon us, so that means its past time to be back on the road and meeting up with our friends.

It's been a bit wetter than normal so far this season in Az but I was able to squeeze in a quick bus washing and loading in between the storms.

Loading time

Departure was on New Years day.   No sooner than I was done hooking up the truck behind the bus, and the rain started.   Heading up I-10 towards Phoenix and of course the rain messed up my brand new wash and wax job.
Rainy start to the trip

About 2 hrs into the drive the sky started to clear and by the time we got to Quartzsite it was a pretty nice day.    We spent the night about 2 miles north of town in the Hi-Jolly BLM area.

Parked at Hi-Jolly in Quartzsite


The next morning - January 2nd, the weather gods were still cooperative as we headed west towards our destination for the next few nights - Huntington Beach, Ca.

Rolling down the hills into the Colorado River Valley on the Az/Ca border

By the time we reached the coast, the clouds had settled back in for what so far this trip has been the usual type of weather.

We have a great view from the window.   In the summer this is a beach parking lot and in the winter it is lined off with spaces for RV's.  50A hookups with water at each spot.   A dump station is on site.


Good friends of ours, Ken & Catherine live nearby and we specifically came here to visit with them.   On day one, while Kate was visiting with her friend from College I went to a great out of the way Mexican place for lunch with them.


I had this awesome plate of Prawns, stuffed with sausage, and wrapped in bacon.  In addition there was some real fresh salads with the dish.    A nice twist.  One of the best Mexican lunches I've had.   Colima Mexican & Seafood Restaurant in Santa Anna was the name of the place if you find yourself in this neck of the woods.

Bacon wrapped stuffed prawns

We spent 3 mostly rainy days in Huntington Beach before heading north on Thursday.  Our next destination is the North Campground at Pismo Beach State Park.  

Big waves along the coast traveling north on US 101

True to form it was mostly a rainy drive but about an hour short of our destination, the sun came out and gave us a sunny arrival.  The leftover flooding gave indication of the past (and soon to be) weather.

North Campground Pismo Beach SP

We hooked up with our friends Rob & Pat from BC and Kevin & Bobbie from Ca.   We all took advantage of the sunshine to get out and about.



One of the riders was wearing a vest that said something like "Beach Patrol"


A prolific succulent found all over the coast - the Ice Plant - must really be something when all the flowers are blooming at once.

Kate, Pat, and Bobbie held a meeting on a nice perch above the beach.


Part of this State Park is a Monarch Butterfly preserve.   The butterflies migrate hundreds of miles in the spring returning to the coast for the winter.


In the grove you could spot masses of Monarchs all huddled together.   It was cooler and cloudy at the time so they were waiting for it to warm up a bit.    At times the air is filled with thousands of the colorful butterflies.

We also took advantage of the dry weather to walk the boardwalk along the dunes.


The dune system here is much deeper than the ones that I am used to along the east coast.


Soon enough, the next weather system moved in with heavy wind and more rain.  It rained for 2 days, at times really coming down in buckets.   The ranger knocked on our door in the morning to let us know that we might have to evacuate the park.    Later that afternoon, as the rains came even heavier, another knock on the door told us it was time to pack up.    The ranger said to move down to the Oceano Campground, part of this state park, where the rangers there would be expecting us and find us a site to hole up in

Campground flooding

It turned out that a stream running in front of the campground had crested its banks and threatening to trap us inside the campground.   The ranger said it was time to leave.   So a rush to pack up and get relocated, and then there was s short line to get into the next campground.


Our new location.  It was more flooded than the last, but allowed for escape if needed.  You can see the bus in the far right of the photo.


Lucy put on her raingear to weather the storm.   Does this face say "humiliation"?


At times the rain was so hard it was like we were being pressure washed.   Then about 5pm last night it stopped.   So for the last 24 hrs we've had a bit of a respite.   Kate and I took a walk over the dunes to check out the waves.   Unfortunately, as soon as we reached the beach it turned dark and started to sprinkle.


This is our new location.   It has dried out a bit and we keep an anxious eye on the sky. 


We are here till Thursday at which point we'll move to the Orange Grove RV Park in Bakersfield for 2 nights.  It will give us a chance to pick some of the best Oranges that you will find on the planet.

2 Late Updates

Travel buddy Rob took this video of the campground that we were in the day after we evacuated.   Our spots were in the distance about the middle of the video.   Our picnic tables were pretty much completely underwater.



Then - to add insult to injury - while parked here at the new campground, I noticed a squirrel getting too cozy with my truck.   Long story short is that it got under the hood and now my truck will not start.   It will turn over, but you can tell the plugs are not sparking.    Chewed wires??    Rob has a code reader so we checked the codes the truck was throwing off and they were all sorts of ECM (Electronic Control Module ie: Computer) errors so we'll see what this new adventure brings forth.

As long as I can get the transfer case into neutral, the plan is to pull it to Bakersfield (our next destination)  tomorrow where I made an appointment at an auto shop for diagnosis.   The Ford dealer there is currently taking appointments 5 weeks out and suggested this place so fingers crossed.   My friend Ron had rodent damage to his Toyota a few years back and wound up with his vehicle being totalled.   The wiring damage alone was over $14k!


A side note:   I had some suggestions about changing the justification of the print on the page.  It might make the blog easier to read on mobile devices.   I have to admit that it was hard to read on small devices.

Hopefully this left justification will be better.   Let me know what you think.    

So if the wheels keep turning and the creek don't rise, we'll see you in a bit.