Monday, January 30, 2012

On-line again, for a while.

The Arizona State Park System have implemented a new system of on-line reservations. Unfortunately they do not provide internet connections to do it with so we've hung out at the local library. Yesterday we moved from Catalina State Park to Wishing Well RV Park only 5 miles north but with the same dramatic view of the Catalina Mountains outside Tuscon.
It's shorts & t shirt weather most days, a couple have been overcast but the majority of time it has been in the high 60's by 10:00 and a few 70+ degree days. We sat outside yesterday at a campground pizza party and got sunburned.

We love the Tuscon area. I was thrilled to see some barrel cactus blooming when we pulled up to Catalina State Park.
We've learned a few things:
Don't make friends with a cholla. Here's a close up.
What I thought were birdnests in the trees are, in fact, desert mistletoe which provides berries for the birds to eat.
The sunsets are beautiful but . . .
praise the Lord for a good heater. The nights are chilly - low thirties most nights. Once the sun goes down - I mean immediately upon sunset - it cools off. It's the desert.
 We love the saguaros - the symbol of Arizona. I took these pictures on a walk we took from our campground.

They don't branch until they're 70 years old!

We have had a change of plans. Bev Large, Dick's brother Bill's wife has gone to glory, as they used to say, and passed from this life to the next Saturday morning after a long bout with that C demon. We've moved our trailer to an RV park where we can store it for a week and are flying home tomorrow.

Monday, January 16, 2012

It's Monday, I think

We tried geocaching the other day. We downloaded some coordinates that we found to established caches  and went out exploring the country. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and will do it again, however, our learning curve on this new venture looks like this:

The people camped next door to us were from British Columbia and when we struck up a conversation with them it turned out that they were avid geocachers. We were aware of this sport and decided after talking with them that we'd give it a try. They were leaving or they'd have given us some help.

The idea is that a person goes to, locates caches near their location, enters the coordinates into a GPS and proceeds to locate a cache at the coordinates that has been hidden by someone. Usually there's a logbook to record your find.

It took us about 2 hours to figure out how to use the GPS. This RV park is not posted as a 55+ park but there were no technologically advanced young people around to lend a hand.

Then we struck out on foot. I read the part about the cache being 1.1 miles from our camp but Dick's GPS  didn't clarify distances like that so he just started off across the restricted area of desert adjacent to our camp with me following blithely behind holding my sunglasses and the instruction manual wishing I had remembered emergency rations or at least a water bottle. Occasionally I'd look back over my shoulder to make sure the trailer was still visible. (I'm big on line-of-sight) Finally I encouraged him to take his eye off the GPS screen and look around and we headed back to camp, about a quarter of a mile away, hopped in the truck and took off down the road.

We got close to the area we were looking for and saw another car parked there with people milling around. We were excited because we thought we'd be able to get some help on the geocache but it turned out they were looking for a location their Grandpa had taken them to years ago. Reading between the lines I think they might have been looking for a good place to scatter Grandpa's ashes. Hopefully they'll put the coordinates into their GPS and be able to find the spot again. We got close on our cache, enjoyed hiking a little, found a wide assortment of broken bottles and unique rocks but no cache.

Our second try took us through the town of Salome (the town sign reads where she danced, but we pronounced it sa-LOAM not like Herod's step-daughter) out a paved road, onto a dirt road, up a gravel road where I shifted into 4WD and up a short mountain. The cache was called Nuts over Salome because it was hidden in a plastic Kirkland nut jar and overlooked the valley. The view was beautiful, the walk was enjoyable, I got some more pictures, but unfortunately the heavens didn't open and a ray of light expose the cache and it remained hidden from out view.

[Please turn your computer to the side to look at this picture.]
When we got back to camp I took a look at the Geocaching  book to find out a little more about our new sport. The book says that GPSs are accurate to about 50 feet. That doesn't sound like much when you are looking for Wal-Mart or a Dairy Queen but a nut jar or a baby food jar? Give me a break. We did have lots of fun and saw some interesting country. We're going to try it again at our next campsite, Liberty Haven Ranch between Wickenburg, named for the guy who found the Vulture Mine, and Phoenix.

Later, Lynn and Dick

PS The Geocache book said that the first established cache was in the Beavercreek area! How about that!
PPS We found this sweet little roadside chapel:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Quartzsite Rocks!

Hello from Salome AZ. It was about a two hour drive south from Lake Havasu City through the town of Quartzsite to Salome which is just a small dot on the map and an even smaller dot on the desert. We dropped the trailer in the Desert Gem RV Park and went back to Quartzsite to check it out. It's indescribable, but I'll try. Imagine the biggest flea market you've ever seen on steroids; imagine all the vendors at the Oregon State Fair times 50, or times 250 would be more realistic. It's huge. Some of it is organized into established booths but there are lots and lots of vendors who just have their RVs sitting along the road with stuff displayed to look at - and it's all half priced.

Yesterday we looked at RV mats, ate Texas barbeque and  bought some beads and had some apple pie. Today we went back to the Gem and Mineral Show and saw fabulous opals, turquoise, fossils, petrified wood, crystals. The jewelry and polished stones were all beautiful and the rough stones were fun to look at and imagine how much beauty we've walked over and never seen, We talked to a lady who has a turquoise mine in Elko NV and another man who mines opals near Boise.

We've been having a great time, meeting many other people escaping the frigid weather at home for the sunshine in Arizona. The folks from Alberta who reported 3 degrees as the high at home and the ones who reported a foot of snow at their place in Idaho are tied for first place so far!

Here are some pictures we've enjoyed taking:

This is one of the many orange trees in our campground. The grapefruit tree next to it got hit by the frost. We bought some sweet juicy oranges at a stand down the road and need to go back tomorrow to find some more.

We saw lots of these flowers blooming while in LHC but we're in the desert now and haven't noticed any flowers yet, although it's starting to green up.
We stopped along the road to Oatman, an old gold mining town to visit with these wild burros.

Dick was wondering if they rounded up all the burros and gelded the males as they can get pretty mean and raunchy and the animals are all over the town of Oatman. They even sell burro food - carrots. But, apparently not as these little guys showed up.

Enough adventures for today.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fun in the Sun = January 10th

I love it when a plan comes together but yesterday it just didn't happen.

I decided to make biscuits for breakfast. I make good biscuits and have been making them for years. My recipe makes 8 biscuits which was great when the kids were home, 2 apiece, but long ago I cut it in half so that I wasn't tempting myself to eat more than 2 or throwing out a lot of food. I grew up with a waste-not attitude inherited from my mother who lived through the depression.I particularly like to make them when I'm camping because the oven in the trailer is gas, heats up fast and I like the way it cooks.

I had a ziplock bag of biscuit mixings in the cupboard from another camping trip - you know, one of those unlabeled efficiency maneuvers as in I'm mixing up one batch, I may as well mix up two and save one for another day. Anyway, I got it out, lit the pilot on the oven and then decided to practice saving water by mixing the biscuits in the bag rather than in a bowl I would have to wash. I added oil and milk to the bag, zipped it back together and mixed my ingredients Everything was going fine up to that point.

It was impossible to get the dough to cling together. It just coated the inside of the bag. I turned the bag inside out, scraped it off as best I could but by this time both my hands were completely covered with sticky dough. I couldn't open the cupboard to get a paper towel so I grabbed a kleenex that was popped up out of the box and used it as a glove so I could open the door to wipe my hands off. Anyway, I stuck the 4 misshapen lumps I was calling biscuits into the oven finally and used all the water I had saved from washing the bowl to clean my hands and the mess I'd made of the kitchen.

My never-fail recipe turned out to be a total flop. The biscuits didn't turn out light and fluffy; instead they were heavy and doughy. It is possible that there was no baking powder and salt with the flour after all; I just don't know. Suffice it to say that we had toast for breakfast! Today I'm making biscuits again but this time from a can!

We had two days of real hard winds and decided to stay put at Lake Havasu until the weather settled down. I think we've talked ourselves into taking a tour north to Oatman today so we'll stay another day and head south tomorrow.

Here's a picture of my nephew Dennis Zipprich who just graduated from bootcamp and starts Sub School in a couple of days.

I guess that Navy pictures are like football pictures - no smiling!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Snowbirds - Arizona bound

The first time we actually saw any snowbirds (retired people looking for sun and fun with their RVs) was when we toured the Olympic Peninsula on a Spring Vacation 20+ years ago. Now we've joined their ranks. We hooked up our Wildcat 5th wheel and headed south on January 2nd arriving at Dick's sister's house in Grants Pass in time to watch the Rose Bowl.

The Ducks won but my personal opinion is that they need to work on their defense. Having watched football for 42 years now (our anniversary was in December) I feel entitled to an opinion and that's mine. I prefer big wins. Enough with this just winning by a touchdown.

We saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree along I-5 on the way to GP. I'll summarize California: horrible roads.
GP to a KOA in Lodi; The GPS does not recognize KOA as a legitimate entry which was challenging. From  Lodi to Bakersfield, A Country RV Park - strategically located between two freeways and a railroad track; nice cacti, lots of palm trees. Many dairies along the way. Mile after mile of dying orchards due to loss of farm water for irrigation. From Bakersfield to another KOA in Barstow. We went by Edwards AFB where the space shuttles used to land. From Barstow to Lake Havasu City, AZ. We've packed away most of our coats and are wearing our sunglasses everywhere.

Lake Havasu is the location of the London Bridge. It was purchased by Mr. McCullough (the chain saw guy) who thought it would make a good tourist attraction. Apparently it was sinking several inches each year in London but since the relocation it's holding it's own. I thought it would have shops on it but, no, it's just an arched bridge. It seems odd to see the huge Christmas wreaths still in place on it.Some people here still have their Christmas decorations up.

Right now we're at Campbell Cove RV Park. This is really not our idea of camping - lots of RVs and what little view we had just got usurped by new neighbors to our right and right behind us. We've extended our stay here though because of strong winds that kicked up last night. Actually I'm hoping that we get a new neighbor on the left because the winds have been slamming us from that direction and I'm sure a huge motorhome would block for us!

We're meeting people from everywhere - the joint's jumping with RVs and their snowbird occupants. This place is a sunshine seeker's mecca. It was kind of funny when we dropped by the Walmart today and saw families with children. Not seeing too many kids but plenty of grey-haired people with little dogs!

 I have laughed and laughed over this sign.
 This is the first of a collection of photos I want to take of the interesting plants.
The sign just before we got here was one of those flashing ones that said BURRO CROSSING. We didn't see any but I hope we do.

We're having a great time and learning a lot. I'm going to use my blog as a sort of journal so I won't forget our trip. You're welcome to read along.