Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wrapping up the Old Year!

Here we sit enjoying the world as it passes us by. But we're not complaining, we're just plain relaxing here at Tyson Wells Flea Market RV park. We're not in the middle of the lot, but close enough that its no big deal to walk over to it. I've found most of the little stuff I was looking for and the rest can probably be ignored. There are a couple of tool sites that kind of have a magnetic attraction for me. But then do I really need another wrench?

This morning I walked to the post office shortly after 8 AM to mail some letters and had intended to visit some flea market vendors on the north side of the highway. But no luck, it appears that nothing starts around here until well after 9 and more like 10 AM.

About 2 weeks ago, we acquired an addition to the RV, Rex (a hound dog). We think we'll enjoy Rex very much. We don't have to walk him, nor feed him which can be a blessing. Rex is very well mannered and doesn't jump upon people. Rex just happens to be an electronic dog that is able to sense when someone is near the front door. As you move around the front door on the outside of the motorhome, Rex becomes more agitated and sounds like he's ready to go through the side of the motorhome and eat you alive.

We had thought of getting Rex a couple of years ago, but he kind of was pushed into the background until a friend's RV was broken into a month ago. The RV was parked at an RV dealer and the owners were out to dinner. Perhaps an upset dog barking in the RV wouldn't have stopped the burglars, but it certainly wouldn't have hurt to have had Rex around for them. Most sane people don't want to tangle with an upset dog (a big one). I don't know if it will help, but it certainly shouldn't hurt us. To complete the show, I'd like to acquire a medium sized well used dog dish to put outside when we are parked. Just a little item to confirm for the faint of heart that yes, there is a dog in the house.

Today was a very nice day here in Quartzsite and guess what that did to the lady bugs in our house? They woke up From morning to this evening, we have caught about 50 of the little critters so far. It is down right disgusting. But 50 is a whole lot better than 150 to 200 about a month ago. Actually for the last two weeks, we have seen very few of them because of the cool weather. But with the warm weather, they probably think it is spring and they are ready to do their thing. Perhaps we'll be rid of them about the time we return to the Midwest in three plus months.

It is New Year's Eve as I write this and there are no big (or little) parties planned for this household. It will be another quiet “passing in the night” for this couple. For all of you readers,



Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We're in the Thick of It

We have been here in Quartzsite and our one week stay in the park was up. So it was either extend another week or move. We decided that we'd move to cheaper surroundings. Nothing against the park we were in, its just that we were paying for stuff we were not using, like the evening bingo, card playing, etc. So where did we end up at? Right close to the flea market at Tyson Wells Flea Market grounds. We just returned from an exploratory walk and Sandy was heard to say (mumble) “I hope you get your exercise walking the flea market!”. It will be a different surroundings verses walking on the desert. Another reason was the price was more economical!

Of course, I'm not totally out of the woods either. Where we were parked gave us a very poor but usable TV signal. Here on the flea market grounds, the picture is not usable. (Of course, we didn't resubscribe to a new DISH contract, so I'm without for a while. Oh well, more time to just surf if Sandy will buy it.)

We're getting mixed signals about the attendance here at Quartzsite. One email says that it is way down; another says that the people are coming in like crazy. What we can report on is that at the Amateur Radio breakfast on Saturday morning, we had 30 people, which I thought was a very good number. On the other hand, this morning, we attended the Escapee Breakfast and there were only 7 people. So give us another week or two to decide on attendance. In the end, it probably doesn't bother me either way.

It may not be a heat wave here in SW Arizona, but I'll take it verses what we see happening in the Midwest and eastern states. Are they getting a taste of Winter. But I'll have to admit that I was a bit envious of the nice weather they are having in Florida!


Sunday, December 27, 2009

And Now for the New Year!

We survived the Christmas rush of things and are quietly enjoying ourselves here in the park. Sandy has been working for days (it seems) on getting our Christmas letter put together. Of course, you know who took the heat? Me. She asked me to draft it after she had outlined all of the stuff we did this past year. So I provided her a draft. Now she says she has a problem whittling it down to a a reasonable size. I guess I'm good at saying nothing with lots of words. What an art! And years ago, I had real problems in English, both sentence structure and writing anything.

We have been here since Wednesday and we will need to either pay up or move on this Wednesday. So this morning, we drove around an area where we might consider locating ourselves for a few days. We did find the unique golf course. They have special rules here: “if it is on the green, it is in the cup.”The green never needs mowing, is mostly rock, up to 2 inches. We also found an area referred to as “Arizona Trust Lands” that also said 'Keep out” but we observed about 2 dozen RVs parked there. We'll go back and see if we can visit with someone that is parked there.

We've developed a slight wrinkle in our schedule of boondocking in January We were copied on an email that went to several members of the Winnebago group that we are helping with. What has thrown us is that he has moved it about a mile from where we thought it was to be. So who knows.

A few days ago, we suffered from a sinus problem that made walking initially a bit difficult. (A slight dizziness when I'd stand up.) I'm happy to report that medicine does wonderful things. Pills that were left over from my bout of the same thing a year ago worked fine. Sandy looked up what they were and we both felt that it was the wrong stuff. But it worked. The down side was that it made me very sleepy, so I slept well at night.

In our mind, it is a bit cool here. But then when we see what the weather is like in Iowa, Wisconsin and New Jersey, we'll not complain. It is interesting how the storm fronts move from here to the Midwest and on.

Ring in the New Year where ever you are at.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Traveling 2 days before Christmas is not really the way to spend Christmas. For starters, you're not with family and friends. But Sandy and I have each other. The wind did pick up a little bit before our arrival, but nothing that I couldn't handle. Traffic was heavy, mostly cars, so lots of folks have started Christmas early.

I took some medication today to cure an ear infection. No ear ache, but my sense of balance is way off. It is not obvious in the motorhome, as I can just lean on the nearest door, chair or what ever. The afternoon, I should have been relaxing outside; instead, I was napping in my chair. What a sack hound I've turned into.Tonight I'm having a terrible time staying awake.

The drive here was un-eventful. We stopped at Gila Bend to drain the fresh water tank and refill it with the good water from Gila Bend. In Quartzsite, we ended up at the post offie before calling the park office and asking how to find them. This park appears to be full, but there certainly are not people on the streets.

It should be a quiet location, as we're out of site of the freeway and city traffic. And there is no train within miles of this place.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

We're Ready to Travel

Tomorrow morning is departure day and we're ready. We had a number of things to do and we finished all of them but one. I failed to touch base with the local couple that handles the park mail. I'm expecting a package (from Hong Kong) and we've decided to have it forwarded to us at Quartzsite. Obviously, that has some risk because there will be thousands of packages arriving at Quartzsite, but I want it. In the package are 25 connectors for some of the LED lights that I have purchased.

Perhaps some of you saw the massive traffic accident that occurred near here on Interstate 10. A blinding dust storm was the cause. Drivers insist on driving 70 mph plus and then suddenly the dust cloud is there. Unlike in a blizzard, the dust cloud edge is like driving into a brick wall, suddenly there is no visibility. We have seen some small dust storms where outside of the cloud, visibility is good and in the storm, it drops dramatically.

This is going to be a short blog, as my mind suddenly has gone blank. It seems like before I open the blog editor, I have all kinds of topics I want to address. But when I open the editor, suddenly my mind is blank.

So we won't bore with useless stuff.

More next time.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Standing Up for the Little Guy

A friend of ours, Nick Russell publishes a small travel newspaper The Gypsy Journal.. Some of you may have seen it now and then. He recently returned to Elkart, Indiana to sell his conversion bus. They delivered the bus on Saturday afternoon and Saturday night, Nick and the buyer and a friend went out to dinner. Upon returned to his current motor-home, they realized it had been broken into.

Nick impulsively ran to the motor-home door and ordered the thief out (Nick was unarmed and probably no match for any 18 year old.) The thief came to the door and poked his hand out, holding Nicks pistol. Nick slammed the door on his hand twice upon which the thief dropped the weapon and pushed his way out and fled.

The thief had already taken several items out of the motor-home. He also slashed some of the seat cushions for no apparent reason. After Nick recovered from the event Saturday night, he called his insurance agent, “he was out, call back Monday.” It would be best for you to read Nicks blogs for the last week to see in his own words what the insurance company and agent were asking of him. His blog is:

It was a typical delaying operation, always asking for more documentation etc. Surprise, in today's blog, Nick suddenly was making great strides. It seems that Nick has a large following on his blog and several people, upon reading how badly he was being treated, called up their agent from the company and said, “close me out, as I don't like how your company is treating my friend Nick. Suddenly the insurance company is reversing themselves. At first they needed all kinds of documentation etc. Now it is just tell us how much it is and we'll have a check in the mail. Maybe for once, the little guy might win one.

For the last couple of postings, we've talked about holiday dinner arrangements. Obviously, I don't like to stand in lines. Plus if it is to be a social event, let's arrange it so that we can socialize. The acoustics in so many of the recreational halls is not good when you get 100 to 200 people in and, all are talking. It is especially bad when a few are hard of hearing and the rest speak louder! Perhaps some thought needs to be given to deadening the acoustics in the room.

The last weekend before Christmas is upon us and we're making big changes. Two weeks ago, a couple here in the park asked if we were really serious about renting out our lot now? We said, “Yes!”. They needed a lot starting the 24th of December. So we're leaving here on the 23rd of December and heading for Quartzsite. I've told Sandy that we will go to a park when we arrive and I've already verified that there is space and they will have a park wide dinner. (I didn't ask for the details.) So we now have 4 days to get everything squirreled away and be ready to move out on Wednesday..

For those of you in the frigid north, the low today was about 45 and the high must have been about 75. It was delightful Merry Christmas and remember the reason for Christmas


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Dinner Seating and Serving Arrangements

Today we'll describe some of the seating / serving arrangements used at the park holiday dinners we have attended. In the park described in the previous post, the meat (turkey or ham) was prepared by one member of the table group. In all the other parks the kitchen staff or a group of volunteers prepared the meat (and sometimes some traditional side items, such as dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce). Of course, the participants paid a fee for these items. If table groups were used, the meat, etc. were served on platters, etc. to each group. I especially liked it when the turkey was prepared by one of the table group members. Then the leftovers were divided among the participants. (When the park kitchen staff prepared the main course, there were usually no leftovers at each table.)

By far, the least desirable method of serving was when no table groups were used and all potluck dishes were put on one long buffet table. As people arrived, they placed their potluck dish on this serving table, located their seating area at the tables, and began their wait in the standing serving line. We stood in line for almost one hour! After going through the buffet line, people arrived at their table at different times – thus there was little table conversation. In short, we thought it was a disaster of the first order.

We've also experienced a variation of the above approach in which each table was assigned a number. As people arrived they located a table and sat down. Then, following table grace, random numbers are drawn to identity the order to enter the serving line. This approach works reasonably well. However, with a large group those going through the line first are ready for seconds before the last people are even served. Also, sometimes those that were served early were wanting to leave with their potluck dish almost immediately after the last person was served, thus giving the tail end group limited opportunity for seconds. In short, the group was too large for one buffet serving line!

In another park, we signed up in table groups of twelve. In this case, they were using six-foot tables, with the two tables placed side by side. Thus, we had three people on two sides and three people on each end. Any way you cut it, the people on the ends are usually very uncomfortable, especially if they are of any size. My knees are quite a distance from my hips, thus if I'm seated at the table end the table legs clash with my knees and I can't get close to the table. Another disadvantage with this arrangement is that the food is served family style – and large potluck dishes are sometimes awkward and heavy to pass around the table.

Another disadvantage to this side-by-side table arrangement is that it's difficult to visit with anyone other than your neighbors at your side, often one of them being your spouse. The room noise prevents across-the-table visiting. Our experience has been that tables with four or six makes it possible for everyone to be involved with the conversation. With round tables of eight (or square tables of twelve), across-the-table conversation is nearly impossible, usually because of room noise or the hearing impairment of many seniors. Also, when two people try to carry on an across-the-table conversation, they usually speak so loud that everyone else feels they need to be quiet. The net result is very little conversation between members of the group. Thus, one is left with visiting with your spouse and your other neighbor.

When table groups are determined by sign-up, I like the more formal arrangement where your spouse is not seated right next to you. This provides opportunity for more varied conversation. (This pre-assigned seating arrangement, done with place cards, is a detail usually handled by the table coordinator. It's the type of seating arrangement used at formal White House functions.) With our preferred setting of sixteen people at two long tables, the couples were split with the spouses seated on opposite sides of the table.

Yes, we have an opinion and we've tried to express it. These last two postings are even "Sandy Approved". The weather has warmed here in Casa Grande finally, so everyone is in a good mood.

Happy Holidays


Monday, December 14, 2009

The Best Holiday Dinner Arrangement

After the last blog entry, a friend sent me a note suggesting that I comment on what I liked or didn't like about various RV park holiday dinners. So here it goes. To keep it a bit more organized, we'll initially report what we like to see in a park holiday dinner.

The basic structure was multiple groups of sixteen. A few weeks before the event the Activities Director posted a sheet for each group with space for sixteen people to sign. One person ineach group volunteered to be the organizer, often someone who had been a park resident for a few years. Sometimes a group consisted of friends -- but often it provided an opportunity to get acquainted with residents outside one's normal circle. About one week before the dinner the members of each group met to plan their menu and determine who would bring each item. The park Activities Director purchased all the meat (turkey or ham), but someone in each group volunteered to prepare it. If the volunteer's oven wasn't adequate, they could borrow an electric roaster from the park kitchen. Each dinner participant paid a small amount for the Thanksgiving turkey -- but the park operator provided the Christmas ham. (Following the dinner the meat left-overs were divided amoung each group's members.)

Each group was alotted three long tables, arranged end to end, two for seating and one as the buffet serving table. Some groups used the tables as provided while other groups extensively decorated their tables. Since all of the food for a group was on a table next to the group, it didn't take long for each group to serve themselves. (There were no long lines, plus seconds were close at hand.)

Tomorrow, we'll comment about some of the practices we really dislike.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mid-December Almost

Time marches on and we're gradually getting back to some warmer weather.
Both Sandy and I have commented that the cold seems to be so much more
miserable this year! Does age have anything to do with it?

It has been a pretty quiet week in the park. We did visit with the
Architectural committee about getting a building permit or at least laying
the ground work before we leave. The answer is NO. The committee does not
want to be the depository for numerous permit applications. Okay, I guess
we will wait!

Today we were visited by a fellow who is in the park and is looking to rent
a lot so that he can stay for another month. We have a tentative agreement
and Sandy and I have to decide if we really want to leave on the 23rd of
December. His current lot rental agreement is up on the 24th and he has to
move off of the lot. We have said that if someone wanted to rent our lot,
we'd leave today! I guess someone is calling our number. It is a bit
earlier than desired for us, but it also means that the lot would be rented
January, February and March with no gaps. (We like that part of it.). I
guess the plus also is that we know how the Christmas dinner will be served
in this park and we don't like it (to put it bluntly).

So while we may leave earlier than desired, I've assured Sandy that we will
go to another RV park in or near Quartzsite for a week or two. We will make
several calls tomorrow and see what those parks do for a park wide Christmas
dinner. We've seen how various parks handle the Christmas dinner and we
have some definite opinions. So why not pick one that serves dinner like we want it?

We were blessed this week with 3 small packages from Hong Kong, two of them with
an old ZIP code. EBay had thrown me a curveball and I didn't catch it that
the shipping address had an old ZIP. When I purchased a third item, eBay
allowed me to use the correct ZIP. Anyway, we can relax. The items were
LED assemblies that I want to get installed in the coach prior to our trip
to Quartzsite. We added one of the lights to our sink light strip and Sandy even
agreed that the new one and the old one give off enough light in the sink
area. Perhaps more would be desired, but for a couple of weeks, it is
tolerable. Each light assembly is a flexible plastic strip with 24 LED's
embedded in it. The total current consumption is about 0.1 amps, a whole
lot less that the 1.5 amperes that the incandescent bulbs consume.

Now I need to find a fixture so that I can provide more light in the living
room area. The second and third items that came in were LED assemblies
with 48 LEDs in each. The devices are in the shape of a small funnel, about
2 inches diameter and 2 inches deep. The challenging thing is that they
use a different base from anything locally available. The base is composed of two
pins, a quarter of an inch long and about a quarter of an inch apart. It
is a standard socket and I will order some via eBay tonight or tomorrow.
(If we leave on the 23rd, that doesn't give us much time either!)

This afternoon I took a long walk to the cotton field east of the park. It
is interesting how cotton is harvested. Since cotton is so fluffy, they
actually have a packing machine to reduce the shipping volume. In the
field, the harvested bale of cotton is about the size of 40 foot semi
trailer. To move the huge bale, they have large truck bed similar to the
trucks that are now used haul cars off of the highway. The truck bed
slides way out at an angle, and I think they put a cable come-a-long around
the bale to slowly winch it onto the truck bed that then pulls it up onto
the truck frame. Of course when all of this is done, there is lots of
cotton bulbs scattered around. It probably is not that many pounds, but the
white cotton on the dark soil just look like poor processing.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Winter Blast has passed us Here!

Looking at the newscasts, there is no doubt that it may be cool here, but it is a heat wave compared to what some of you are seeing up north. Our daughter Beth (single, in Dodgeville, WI) sent an email that she was up at 6 AM to shovel her sidewalks and drive. Then she left work early so that she could get her sidewalks and drive shoveled again before the temperatures headed down and froze it all in place. She finished the task and admitted that she is very tired tonight.

I have to admit that it is nice to be here in Arizona and not have to worry about any snow in this area. Northern Arizona near the Grand Canyon was hit pretty hard yesterday with snow and wind. As of 6 pm tonight, there are still 10 hunting parties unaccounted for in the forest. It reminds me of the Armistice day storm that hit Iowa in the early 40s when several duck hunters were lost on the Mississippi River because they were un-prepared. These hunters at least knew it was to be cold. Perhaps they didn't expect as much snow.

This afternoon we were at a meeting in the club house and I asked the fellow next to me if he knew why the county was being such a stickler on the park survey. He said he really didn't know, but he understood that there are a few lots in the park where there is a border or fence line dispute and the county has been involved. Obviously, the county authorities are not too sympathetic when everything is supposed to be carefully measured etc. and nothing is built without a building permit defining what is being built and how far it is from the lot lines.

A few weeks ago, one of the old time members told me that the original park developer was kind of loose with lot dimensions when someone wanted to buy a lot. If the buyer wanted a slightly wider lot and the lot next door was still a park owned lot, the developer would give him a few feet. However, no records were kept other than individual buyers memories of what was said. So when another buyer purchased the lot next door, his neighbor pointed out where the lot line was per his understanding, not the actual lot line as recorded. So yes, a mess. Our lot is correctly described and we found the four corner stakes when we purchased it.

Yesterday we were at a luncheon at the Golden Corral to meet with about 30 other RV users here in the Casa Grande area. We especially enjoyed sitting at a table with 2 other couples with Iowa connections. We hadn't seen each other for months and what a joy to catch up on every ones activities. The rest of the group was long gone when we also decided to do the same.

The weather is slowly warming here. The wind has died down and today was very nice, if only up to 60 degrees. We feel for our friends and relatives in the Midwest that are getting hit with a real artic blast! We wish them well.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Politics' at a Local Level

Today we attended the "work session" of the park's board of directors. It was a most interesting way to learn what goes on in the park. What we find interesting is how similar the little stuff in this park is to another park we've very familiar with in Florida. Both have their issues with the local authorities relative to building permits. It impacts us slightly, as we need a permit in order to build a shed on the lot. Supposedly, only a park permit is required, but until a park survey is finished and approved by the county, no permits are being allowed by either the county or the park. The ones we feel sorry for are lot owners that came to the park early so that they could get a park model RV installed. For them, it is a very frustrating delay, as the season is slowly disappearing and they may be hard pressed to get all of the little things done before they want to head north.

With the patio done and no work on our shed, I've been loafing a little bit. I've done more reading in the last 2 weeks than I've done in 6 months. I picked up a book on the allied battle in North Africa during WWII and find it hard to put down.

We've also taken a few more walks morning and afternoon. I do know that my stamina is much better than it was a few weeks ago.

Tomorrow is breakfast out at the clubhouse and I get pancakes; I love'em.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An Early Morning Blog

Here it is Wednesday already and I've been derelict on updating the blog. So while Sandy continues her shut eye operations, I'll put something together.

Yesterday was the weekly potluck at noon in the club house here in the park. In an attempt to meet more folks, we have been trying to be regular attendees. We were early and helped to get the serving table arranged. A week ago when we moved the tables to a pair of tables end to end, the other lady there quipped: "Oh, we always have the tables side by side". I commented to her that we were at the last two dinners and the tables were end to end. They stayed end to end! Yesterday, she was there early also and didn't comment when we moved the tables. I guess you could have the tables side by side and use a single file serving line! When the tables are end to end, we can have two serving lines, which moves things along.

The couple that joined us at our table were old park residents but they have not participated in the noon potluck before. They were also, fulltimers, Winnebago owners and mid-westerners. We had a delightful conversation. Plus we were the last table to clear out. We have also noticed that the rest of the attendees seem to hurry through dinner, grab their dishes and bail out. There is no "after dinner conversation".

A couple of weeks ago, I had bought a book that the library was disposing of. The book is a history of the WWII North African battle as pertaining to the United States involvement. In summary (and I'm only half way through), what a bunch of bumbling leaders we had for a while, including Ike. Poor planning, wrong ammo, not looking an ambush, and the list goes on and on. Obviously, they finally got their act together, but for the first 2 months it certainly doesn't look good. (It is certainly more fun to read about it when we know that in the end, the good guys will win the day.) Sadly, thousands of GIs were wasted in the process.

Yesterday, we received confirmation that our lot has a rental commitment from mid February through March. So we are going to see more of the southwest verses squatting in the park. We'll leave in mid January for Quartzsite and just keep wandering until time to return north. Perhaps we can find somebody else to rent the open dates.

Temperatures here in Casa Grande have been running 70 in the daytime and 40 at night. Not really too bad, especially considering what our friends are having to tolerate up north. So we do get out for lots of fresh air and exercise.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Post Thanksgiving Recovery

Here it is Saturday and we're kind of relaxing again. (Or do we do it all week?). We attended the usual Thanksgiving dinner in the club house where each couple brings a plate to share and we paid $3 each for the park to provide Turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes. I referred to it as like feeding cattle, as one fellow led us with a "blessing" (well done) and then it was "go get it". It reminded me of my days on the farm when we opened the gate to let the cattle access the feeding trough. There was no pushing here, but otherwise it was similar. (The idea of calling out numbered tables seems foreign to them here.)

We have quit watering our newly poured patio slab and it is slowly drying out. Yesterday I tried to drill into an electrical pipe I buried in the concrete and didn't find it. Apparently they moved it slightly. Today I'm going to push a magnet up the pipe from the outside and hopefully using a compass, I can find where they moved it to.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I got kind of excited about heading into Best Buy early on Friday to try to get one of the HP computers they had on sale Friday. Then Sandy read where you had to get a coupon at 3 AM in order to get in the computer line at 5 AM. We decided that it wasn't worth it. If they have reduced the price once, they'll do it again.

I have tilted our solar panels and they are working wonderfully. We're burning about 50 Ampere-hours each night and with the tilted panels, the batteries are recharged by noon. I'm now assuming that when we arrive at Quartzsite, we'll not use the old interior lights but instead use the LED lights and then run the inverter to power the computers so that Sandy can surf all evening.

It looks like we're going to find out what a dust storm is like in Arizona today. Supposedly a weather change is also to bring some rain, which they have not seen in 3 months. Right now there is a definite dust cloud in the air.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stopped Dead in our Tracks

We previously told you about finishing the patio pour and our satisfaction with the service. So Monday we decided we ought to put a shed on the pad just poured. Sandy suggested that before we go to Casa Grande to buy a shed, I ought to talk with the local wheels to make sure we don't need a building permit to install the shed. Well, we were stopped dead in our tracks. There is a park wide survey being done to validate all lot boundaries and until it is done, no building permits are being approved. So no shed until at least mid December.

We did go into Casa Grande any way to do some shopping and look again at our shed options. I think we know what we want. Sandy's comment as we left Walmart, "We don't want to go shopping at Walmart the few days before Thanksgiving!" The place was busy, but not over run with shoppers.

Today I decided that we'd tilt our solar panels to see how much better they would perform. Woh, is there a difference. The panels are almost 60 degrees above horizontal. Yes, they work much better. I still don't like the idea of tilting the panels when we park, as it means I have to get on the roof, which is inherently unsafe for an old duffer like myself.

The big task for us in the next few weeks is to assemble the sunscreen that we bought the parts for. Actually, we bought the material and some rods to hold the two ends up. Sandy is to sew the material to the proper dimensions. Gene has to figure out a way to hold it in place without drilling lots of holes. We are hoping that then when we are parked facing the west, the afternoon sun will not be so hot through the sunscreen.

One little item that nearly sank me on Sunday was when I drove the wrong way across those steel guards that supposedly puncture your tires. Well, we drove across the grating and when the gate didn't open, I realized I was at the entry gate, not the exit gate. the only thing I can say is that I was going very slow when I did it, plus we have fairly new tires. Needless to say, I feel very lucky! What was I doing? I was waiting for the cement truck to arrive and I needed to open the gate. I was waiting on the inside and decided that I'd go outside of the park where I had a better view of the road. An impulsive decision that nearly bit me really hard, had they worked as they are supposed to.

We're still collecting lady bugs. I'd guess that there are between 50 and 100 bugs each day. Maybe we'll have them eradicated by spring!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

We have a Concrete Patio out front!

Another week has passed us by and we do have a major milestone to report. The contractor finished the patio for our lot here in Casa Grande today. (I know it is Sunday, but he does his moonlight work on the weekend.) It looks great, if I must say so myself.

Two years ago, we bought a lot in a park in Florida and that fall went there to put a patio in. Actually, we paved the entire lot. The red-tape necessary was minor, as few people were in the park and our Iowa friends were good friends with the park president who was also the chief approval authority while everyone was gone. So we verbally presented out plan to him and his response was (referring to our helpers Denny and Chuck), "you guys know what the rules are." So we did it. Of course, he zoomed by almost daily on his mini-bike as he kept the park running.

In the Florida park, it was a self help job done by residents of the park. We had very able helpers from Iowa that we've known for years helping us during the preparation which seemed to take forever. When it came time to pour the cement, there must have been 10 to 15 fellows there with all kinds of tools. It was apparent that they had done this before, as they all seemed to know where they were to fit in. In one case, a fellow showed up when it was nearly done with the finishing tools. His self appointed job was to trowel the wet/damp/drying cement to make sure it had the right finish on it. And just as quick as they had all shown up, they all seemed to disappear. Our cost was for the concrete, and the skid steer loader we rented for one day.

Here at our lot in Casa Grande, all of the effort was by the contractor, his 13 year old son and a very skilled helper.. Of course, we haven't really gotten too well acquainted with the local residents, so I'd also not expect too much neighborly help had we tried to do it ourself. So our arrangements were with a local contractor that has done other work in the park. His workmanship is great. Probably our biggest complaint is that he kind of kept us in the dark until the day before he was going to do it. It was really no problem, other than when you order something, you want it right away. (We had no deadline or personal schedule to keep relative to the patio, so it was only a minor inconvenience.)

As it was, he called us Thursday night and said that he'd be here Friday or Saturday to form it up and then back on Sunday to pour the cement.. He showed up Saturday afternoon and finished the forming by 5 pm. Then he was here at 6:30 AM on Sunday morning to do the last minute form checks and the Cement truck (local on site mixing) showed up at 8 AM. They started pouring by 8:15 and finished by about 9:30, with only the contractor and a helper working the cement. (The driver started and stopped the mixer.) Sandy and I both commented that while in Florida, we had about a dozen fellows shoveling, raking, leveling, and toweling the cement, in this case, there were only two workers. The contractor directed the truck operator where to dump the slurry and then he leveled it some with a medium sized long handled scoop shovel. His helper did the final leveling with a long 2 by 4 and a shovel. They didn't do any troweling of the leveled cement. until it was entirely poured.

For the next 5 hours, they continuously troweled with both a hand trowel and some long handled push pull trowels. The final finish was to pull a push broom across the nearly set cement to give it a textured non-skid finish. (There are no trowel marks in the finish. Also, there is no need to saw the slab, as they have laid in deep cuts to mark each break line. After 6 hours, they pulled the forms and were gone shortly thereafter. I'm to lightly water it after sundown and again before sunup for 2 or 3 days. They used one tool that we didn't have in Florida. It was a metal mesh, about 1 foot by 4 feet that they had a stand up handle on. After the entire slab was poured and leveled, they used this mesh to pat down the surface. It seems to press the gravel down and allowed the surface to be fine cement. My gut feeling was the the cement here was slightly more moist than what we had in Florida. (Especially after they did the pat-down operation.)

Okay, so you've read the differences. The big difference for us was that we ended up paying probably about double for the local project for about a third of the amount of concrete. But we're happy with what we have and it is done. With the few people that we know in the park now, we didn't feel comfortable asking them to join a heavy work crew. Besides, we learned a little bit.

While the work was going on, we moved the motorhome off to a vacant lot nearby. We thought we had made good plans to the extent that we have buried in the cement an electrical conduit for a light to the front of the lot. Plus we buried a sewer pipe for an eventual stool in the storage shed plus another sewer pipe for a washer drain line. We also installed an underground electrical service pipe. All of the "future addition provisions are just below the surface" with good dimensions on a paper and hidden away in Sandy's files. When we were all done, it dawned on me that one item we forgot was a water service line. Okay, so it is no big deal if we never install a washer. (The park commercial laundry is a 150 feet north of our lot in the Activity building.)

Tonight we're back on our lot and feeling much more relaxed now that it is done. Perhaps we could say that it is all over but the shouting. Actually, one little task remains, that is to install a shed on the base that we poured adjacent to the patio. We weren't going to do it this season, but we decided that the lot would rent out much easier if there was a shed, so we're doing it. Tomorrow we head to Home Depot to see what is available and if they'll give us the "Black Friday" discount now.

Then it will be time to relax and think of Turkey day. As always, we will miss the old fashioned family gathering with parents, siblings and daughters. Thankfully, there is the telephone and it gets well used on the weekend. We will join our park family here for a big Thanksgiving dinner in the club house Thursday noon. Then we'll relax and watch a bit of football.

Have a great day.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Patiently (or Impatiently) waiting for the Contractor

Well, our contractor called us on Monday and apologized for taking a long weekend off out of town. I guess we can live with that. (What choice do we have?) Supposedly, he'll be here tomorrow to do some grading and then Sunday morning to pour the cement (or is it called concrete in the slurry state?). We were well trained which was which when we were at our park last winter in Florida. But time moves on and I don't remember.

We have permission to park the motorhome on a nearby lot while he is working here. Okay, we're only putting in a patio, but why take a chance when they are moving stuff with a tractor plus swinging forms around. (It is nice to have neighbors.) We aren't plugging in or parking it for a long term hookup, probably 3 or 4 hours each day.

Yesterday I went to a meeting in the park, entitled "Long Range Planning and Property Committee" Did I get an education. The committee is really only concerned with park property, forget the planning. And if you donate anything to the park, it had best be in tip top shape and not have a power cord, as anything electrical breaks and needs repair. "The park is not a dumping grounds for your old recliner!" It is interesting to watch how park politics plays out. (I doubt if anyone from the park reads this, so I'm not on too much thin ice.) The bottom line was that there is a process and you must play by the process. Of course, they also agreed that most people don't understand or know the process, including the park management.

Before the meeting began, I broached the subject of park lot rentals and the need for chart in the Welcome Center showing what was available for rent by private members. Did I get my ears penned back. I've heard it from just about everyone when I bring the subject up that Arizona rules absolutely prevent park involvement in the rental of private lots, unless they have a licensed broker in the office. I think it is really the accumulation of some years of questionable practices plus supposedly a letter from the Arizona AG that the park could not collect money for the owners unless they had a bonded and licensed broker in the office. Perhaps the crowning blow was that for a while, one of the volunteers in the Welcome Center also owned several lots and if someone appeared at the gate needing a lot, he directed them to his lots. I guess when others found out what he was doing, there was a bit of an over reaction. So now there is absolutely no information about private lot rentals in the Welcome Center. You are directed to either drive around, visit the club house and look at a notebook listing rental sites or visit the parks commercial web site. (In my opinion, not very prospective guest friendly.

So yesterday after the meeting, I decided that we'll advertise our lot on the park web site and include in the listing a link to a page (that we maintain) that tells the prospective renter what months are available. As it is now, if you want to rent a lot, you go to the classified listing of lots (about 30) and start calling until you find an opening. With the link to another page, we can post the lot rental status of our lot and make it less frustrating to the prospective renter. We shall try it. Last night I found a web site that provides a free webpage hosting service. Don't they say, Nothing ventured, nothing gained. We'll try it.

One of the things we see in a group owned park is that it is difficult to get leadership changes made. If the park is owned by an individual, they can see the need for a change and they can make it happen quickly. A characteristic of seniors is that when they assume a responsibility for a job, they treat it as if it is theirs for life. Sadly, most of them ought to be replaced after 5 years more or less in the same job. They have bent the job into a mission that specifically suits their interests, not necessarily the interests of the group. We have seen a case of that here and changing it will not be easy, if at all. Short of death, the job title is theirs!


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Closing out Week 2

The old adage of "Hurry up and Wait" is still true, even in our retired years. We have made arrangements to have a concrete Patio poured sometime. We negotiated the deal last Sunday and he wasn't too specific on when he'd get at it. Possibly this Saturday or Sunday or maybe next weekend. It seems that he had another job partially committed for this weekend. Well, we called his number and as usual, we get the answering service. Since we haven't heard or seen him, I'm not assuming that it will be next weekend.

Does it really make any difference to us? Not really, other than once we get it done, we are free to leave should someone want to rent our lot. Of course, with the large number of vacant RV lots in the park, there is a very small chance that someone would want to push us off. Show me greenbacks and we can rapidly pack. (We're so new to the park that we're not really locked in to any activities.) Our biggest loss would be a fixed mailing address so that I can buy some more stuff on eBay.

A year ago, we upgraded our solar system and we love it. This past summer, we replaced the OEM batteries with four 6 volt golf cart batteries that we're happy with. Now to further extend our boondocking time, we're wanting to replace the lights with lower power LED lights. We've tried 4 or 5 products and the verdict is so so. We're using 3 salvaged LED lights from a Walmart Christmas sale string for a night light in the bed room. It works great. (Sandy even said it was too bright until I relocated it to cover it up some.) We have purchased 3 multi-LED assemblies with so so results. One was a 24 LED flexible string which is much too bright for a night light and not bright enough for general use.

A second purchase was a bulb assembly that is a replacement for the common single filament brake lamp. It has 12 LEDs and has plenty of illumination, but it is almost a spot light, so it really doesn't cover too much area. The third purchase was a 36 LED bulb assembly that is almost sufficient for general lighting. It is probably a bit weak for reading, but otherwise is more of a general flood lamp. The problem with it is that it has an MR16 base (two pins a quarter of an inch apart.). But I like it otherwise. We have made a base for it so that I can plug it into our normal wall fixtures. (I'll probably order more of these or perhaps a similar bulb assembly with 48 LEDs.) Finally, we are waiting on a fourth assembly which has 18 LEDs, 12 out the front and 6 around the base. Hopefully, it will work in our shower fixture where the illumination is off of the side of the bulb. If we're able to use only LED lamps for illumination, we can probably reduce our lighting load from 8 amperes to more like 0.5 amperes. That really translates into more computer time!

This morning we went to the club house for sticky rolls. I guess they were okay, but I though $1.75 a roll was a bit on the high side for a park service. They did taste good. Yesterday, we went to the Friday morning breakfast, thinking I could have my pancakes again. Well, pancakes are only served every other Friday, so I had to settle for an omelet. I guess in the future, we'll go every other Friday.

While I rant and rave about using or living on solar, I have to admit that on Wednesday, we threw in the towel and enabled the battery charger again. We were not getting enough sun to fully charge the batteries in a day, so back to using the power company. If you have been watching the weather maps, a series of fronts have moved into the southwest, so for almost a week, we have not had full sun shine. Even when the thermometer was hitting 90 degrees plus, the sun was partially obscured by light clouds, enough to seriously affect the solar charging rate.

However, the outside temperature of 70 degrees sure feels good!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Day is it?

I hate to say it, but it sure is easy to lose track of time here in Arizona. Perhaps the real problem is that other than church on Sunday, we are not involved in that many activities that are on a scheduled basis.

Now that we settled the issue of getting our patio done, we've moved on to other issues. It would make our lot more "rentable" if it had a shed for others to use. So we went to the early morning coffee yesterday to mix with the old coggers that know it all to see what they recommended. We were thinking a metal shed and they highly recommended a plastic shed. So we've been walking around doing an eyeball count of what is most popular in the park and how do they look. Okay, we'd prefer plastic.

So today we attend an Escapee's RV Club luncheon at the Golden Corral. Afterwards we go shopping, especially to find out what sheds are available and how much. We also need some electrical conduit to lay under the concrete so that we can run a power line to the front of the lot for a security light. Fitting 40 feet of pipe in the Saturn will cramp our style a bit, but I think it will work.

There are the little things that really get me. We secured our neighbor's wireless router and then could not get one computer to find the signal and log into it. Oh, VISITA strikes again. I really have a hard time accepting what Microsoft has done to the developed world by changing some of the basic computer functions with each operating system. With XP, service pack 2, finding and logging into a wi-fi signal worked very well. With Visita, it is some times nearly impossible. At least for me, I can stick with XP and I keep saying I'm moving to Linux (the sooner, the better.)

Have a great day.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Closing out another Week

Here it is Friday evening already and we seem to have gotten so little done here in the park. I guess we make progress in small steps, a little bit at a time.

For starters, we have a park building permit approved to lay a concrete patio on the lot. Supposedly, the contractor will be here tomorrow morning to give us a price. We can handle that. The building committee agreed with my drawing with one minor change. I had understood that we needed to stay away from the lot lines by 3 feet. It is really 3 feet from the side lot lines and 4 feet from the back lot line where the utilities are located. Okay, we can live with that.

When all seemed to be pretty well settled, I mentioned that I had talked to Dale (manager) about adding a sewer inlet so that I didn't need 20 feet of sewer hose. Big mistake, as they informed me that the county rules have changed and I needed a county building permit. Ouch! The committee chairman wasn't certain and called the county office this afternoon. Yep, it is very easy, come to the office, give them $48 and they'll authorize it. A bummer. I decided that I'd skip that effort for a while and this afternoon, we filled the half dug trench back in. I guess as a friend used to say, "You win some, you lose some and some get rained out!"

One piece of good news this week was two LED lamps that I ordered via eBay came in today. (That means our address is correct.) Tonight I tried them to see how much light they put out. To put it simply, it was fantastic. It is plenty of light, but more of a bluest white. The thing I like about them is that the current consumption is very very small. They are an ideal replacement for a general lighting bulb. (Except that the base is two pins, not the standard 1141 socket.)

Sandy and I went to the park breakfast this morning and I got to have my pancakes. They were filling. (I miss the Saturday morning pancakes that were served in Tropic Star RV park in Texas, pancakes, apple sauce, two sausages and juice for a very modest price. Okay, it was 8 years ago.) There were not that many folks present. Tomorrow morning, there will be sticky rolls available.

The weather has finally moderated and the high was only 82 today. It was very pleasant and many more to come next week.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Yes, it is Warm Here in Casa Grande, AZ

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, but when the temperature gets to 90 degrees around here, it is WARM. The problem is one should slow down during the heat of the day and I normally don't.

Today was a big day for us, we went to town for no other reason than to get a haircut (for each of us.) Otherwise, we didn't do any shopping which is a first for us. You don't often find us driving 20 miles round trip and not doing a lot of shopping. After we returned, we looked at our drawing of our proposed patio and then used the tape measure to again confirm our plans. It will be nice!

I'm itching to get it done. One thing we do miss is the group effort that helped us when we did some concrete work on our lot in Florida 2 years ago. My Iowa friends went all out to help us, as they were known to have done for others in the park. Here at Sunscape, there may be a self help work crew, but we're not tied into it. Of course, it takes time to establish those connections and we have not spent that much time in the park. What we have learned is that most (if not all) of the concrete work in the park has been done by local contractors. Such will be the case for us. (I'm sure I'll groan when I see the difference in costs when it is all done.) But some times you just have to do it their way.

This afternoon, I checked out a shovel and a that we can install a second sewer inlet closer to the motorhome. With the present inlet, our 20 foot hose is nearly stretched to the maximum. Our intention is to locate a second inlet right below where it exits the motorhome. There will not be a tripping hazard when you walk around the rig. We had initially checked out only the shovel and quickly decided that a more aggressive tool was needed. We are also soaking down the dig area so that the soil (rock or gravel) is something other than hard dried clay or what ever they call the stuff here. It needs to be an early morning job only. By definition, there is no hurry.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Getting Stuff done in the Park

Okay, the weekend is history, we've been here since when and if we don't get with it, we'll be ready to leave and our "to do" list will be unchanged. So we dug in.

First there were a few administrative things to get done, like access to our mail box. Gene was at the mail room before 8 AM to catch the mail room clerks, but no one answered the knock on the door. Finally a local friend came by and told me that they were in the lounge drinking coffee. So he took me in the building and introduced me to the mail room staff.

Then it was back to the mail room where Tom picked up the mail in our box plus the new key and gave it to me. We did a quick test of the lock to make sure it worked and headed back to the motorhome. Our next task was to pick up some wire rods to mark the outline of our proposed concrete patio. We then dug out the 50 foot tape and laid out the patio and the adjoining outline of the shed in the corner. They meet with about 6 inches space to spare. All seemed to be going well. Of course, the real problem is just how big should the patio be. It will be roughly 12 feet wide and 25 to 35 feet long. It appears that 25 feet is more than adequate, but 35 feet connects it to where the storage shed would be. Thankfully, we have a little time to look at the outline on the ground.

At noon, a neighbor asked for help to get his wi-fi working so that he could log into his neighbor's wi-fi. The source wi-fi is a new Linksys Wireless N with internal antennas. Our first task was to get the router working. As usual, we're not sure what was done, but it finally started transmitting a signal. My first reaction is that with antennas buried inside of the case, the router is not configured for distance. It works great in of his rig, but at the neighbors rig and in our rig, there just isn't enough signal to reliably work (Neither of us are using Wireless N receivers for maximum distance.)

At 4 pm, we joined another neighbor for a social hour. At 4:45, the contractor called and was in the park and wanted to look at the proposed or tentative patio work package. What a pleasant surprise. He was there in a few minutes and we walked him through our outline. We also shared that we were a bit uncertain what we wanted yet. He took measurements on what we had and said that he was pouring a pad elsewhere in the park on Saturday morning and would stop by afterwards to drop off his proposed work package. Woh, we could see how he works and perhaps have it done in a couple of weeks. It is nice when the customer doesn't have to chase down someone to do the job.

The other task done during the afternoon was to capture all the loose ladybugs that we could in the motorhome. There is hope and perhaps we're nearing the end of the lady bug invasion. We picked up less than a fourth as many bugs today as yesterday and it was warmer.

When we arrived in the park, the weather was about 15 degrees below the average. This week, the temperatures are now expected to be about 10 degrees above normal. We'll take it!


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Settling in at the Park, Sunscape RV Resort

As mentioned a couple of days ago, we're here and does it feel good! For all of you readers back in the cold country, perhaps global warming hasn't gone away totally. It was in the mid 80s here today and it felt good, with wall to wall sunshine.

Since we were a day late leaving Iowa a week ago, we have had to pay for it every warm day here. The lady bugs are a pain, not just one or two but by the dozen. We catch them in a butter container that has a little bit of water and soap in the bottom and it is instant paralysis to them. Then after we have caught 2 or 3 dozen to the point that they are building up on the bottom, they get a free ride to lady bug heaven (down the stool). I think I've emptied my container 6 or 8 times.

Sandy and I took a walk around the park this morning, looking at the concrete patios on the various lots. We are planning to do some improvements to the lot and before we talk to a contractor, we need to know what we want. Some lots have a nice arrangement with the concrete squares, others have about a 12 by 20 concrete patio and a few have wall to wall concrete, which in our case is about 55 by 70 (which leaves a 5 foot border around three sides of the lot.) Decisions, decisions, decisions.

In the PM, I took a long walk through the park again and then outside in the undeveloped land to the north of the park. I think they've had some recent rains, but you'd never know it by how dusty everything is.

Tonight, no wind and nice temperatures.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

We have Arrived at the Park, Day 9

It was a real red-letter day today for us. we have arrived at our winter destination park (Sunscape RV Resort, Casa Grande, AZ) and we are happy to be off of the road. This morning in Deming, we wondered if the wind had laid down enough for us to travel. Of course, the answer was yes and if need be, we'd pull over.

Because we didn't plan ahead for an early departure, we didn't get away until nearly 9 AM, much later than I like. Driving was very relaxing, with a few trucks to share the road with. Traffic was light. We fueled up at the Lordsburg Flying J and thank goodness we learned our lesson earlier at Tucumcari. The RV lanes were stacked up, so we used the end pump on the main gas pump islands. So we got right in and out. After filling, we took a small break in their RV parking area, where they have slots of 10 RVs. A very nice RV setup. However while we were waiting there, the RV island was full and 3 more rigs came in. It was almost a bottle neck of RVs for a little bit.

Our next stop was Willcox, AZ at the visitor's center and C of C welcome center on the edge of town. We've been there before and like the out of the way location and level parking. Again, we were well treated. when it was time to continue our travels, it was back on I-10 and heading west. Our next stop was a Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on the western edge of Benson, AZ. We helped the church many years ago pour the concrete for the sidewalks and also Gene helped when they laid the roofing on.. It is about a half mile from the interstate and has a nice gravel turn around for us with the big rig.

With our final break over, we gritted our teeth and headed for Tucson, our big city for this trip. Actually, all went well, traffic was moderate to heavy, but everything kept moving. No hold ups or sudden lane changes. Finally,the highway construction work in Tucson has been finished and it was nice. The highway is very smooth, and is 3 lanes each way. It was great.

We decided to top off our fuel tanks before parking for the next 2 months, so another stop at the Eloy Flying J this time. Again we elected to not use the RV lanes and in the process almost got myself into a hole. But I was fortunate that two vehicles blocking my exit moved and we were able to quietly leave with everyone happy.

One reason to fuel up one last time was to check our fuel mileage because we have been using a fuel additive this time. In a nutshell, we did get better mileage, the details in a later blog.

Upon arriving at the park entrance, we had to sign in and then park it on our lot. Per our time, it was nearly 5 pm, so Sandy went ahead with dinner. When I couldn't get any news on the TV, we finally realized that Arizona must not be on daylight saving time. Instead of arriving at 4:30, we had arrived at 3:30 PM. Anyway, we enjoyed an early dinner and shortly, I'm going to enjoy an early trip to bed. It is nice to know that our travels are over for a few weeks. Plus the weather forecast says the highs are to get into the mid 80s next week. That will be very enjoyable!!!!!! Isn't that why we came?


Heading to Arizona, Day 8

Heading for Arizona, Day 8
Okay, I'm a day late and probably a dollar short. I neglected to write this last night. So this morning at 5:45, I'll try for a short posting. (I took another early evening cat nap.)

It was very windy yesterday here in Deming and by the reports, also along most of I-10 to Casa Grande. So wisely, we decided to sit tight. It was not a nice day here in the park either, as the wind blew and it was cold. Our LP space heater ran continuously just to keep the living room area comfortable. (The bedroom was like ice.)

We did take a break from in RV stuff and took the Saturn for a short spin around Deming with a stop at Walmart for a few groceries. Walmart was fairly busy considering the weather.

Otherwise, it was a restful day other than thinking that if I would have just moved on Tuesday, we could have had clear sunny weather all the way. (But it is not warm in Casa Grande today either, so it really does not make much difference.)

Check out here is not before 8:30 AM, so no real hurry to get moving. We could have checked out last night for an extra buck, which we should have done - but didn't. Right now, there does not appear to be any breeze outside or at least no awnings are flapping in the breeze. That is a good sign.

Enough for now.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Heading to Arizona, Day 7

To put it mildly, here I sit at nearly 9 PM and I just woke up from an early evening snooze. And no blog written yet.

We arrived here at Deming at high noon from a short drive from Socorro, NM. My one regret was that as we went through the little town of Hatch, NM, we didn't stop. Iit was apparent that the main product of the town was chili Peppers. It is in a small valley just off of the interstate as we headed across country to Deming. I saw a small store front that was nearly covered with hung groups of red chili peppers. I was temped to circle the block and park it so I could have a closer look, but my navigator said, "keep driving". Sometimes, I need to just do what instinct says to do.

It was great to hang up the driving chores early. Deming has a nice Escapee's RV club park and while it is not anything fancy, it is always a place to see friends. True to form, we met a couple at the social hour that we have visited with in Florida 2 or 3 years ago. It is a small small world.

We're here to spend an extra day and relax. Considering how well I slept after dinner, I must be tired. I sure hated to quite early since the wind was breezy and out of the east. What a nice tail wind and we ignored it. We leave on Wednesday and they are predicting wind gusts up to 45 mph in the afternoon. So while the plan is to leave, if the weather changes on us, we might just sit tight. Again, we have good hook ups and stuff to do.

Happy trails,


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Heading to Arizona, Day 6

Heading to Arizona, Day 6

It was a full day of travel for us today. As we pulled out of the visitor's center at Guymon, we decided to update our clocks in anticipation of getting into Mountain Standard Time. So we were really on the road at 7:30 AM (too early.) Then we decided that it was a bit too far to Tucumcari, NM on what we had for fuel, so we stopped and added in 12 gallons. We wanted to wait to fuel up at Tucumcari because they have a Flying J and it had the best price. Back on the road, we noticed a major station that had diesel at the same price as the Flying J, but I'm happy with the Flying J, so on we go. But a 100 miles down the road, we began to have second thoughts and stopped to add some more fuel, since I don't really like driving with the fuel gauge bouncing off of the bottom of the empty mark. (I know there is spare in there, but you don't want to run a diesel dry!

Finally, we arrived at the Flying J and we had two downers: The fuel price was more than what we paid at Guymon and we had to wait in line because of so many other RVs wanting to fuel up. Dummy me didn't think to go to the regular pumps until after I was locked in to the RV pumps. Okay, we learn!

The rest of the drive was uneventful. We drove I-40 to Santa Rosa and then dropped back to state highway 54. I love traveling the lesser traveled roads when in no hurry, which was today. Plus I didn't really want to take on Albuquerque Sunday evening.

We ended up parking for the evening at the Socorro Walmart. Lots of space, level and off of the interstate. There are 3 other RVs here. It should be a relaxing evening.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Heading to Arizona, Day 5

Our two day stay at Venango Corp park ended this morning as we quietly pulled out for warmer climates. That is one park that we shall keep on our list to return to, especially between October 1st to April 30th. The price is right.

The drive was very pleasant as we headed south and then west. Thank goodness there was only a half mile going east because the sun was very bright at 8:30 AM. Traffic was null on our way to Great Bend where we found the SuperWalmart so that we could restock our larder. It was early in the morning and we had lots of room in the parking lot to turn around. The other advantage was that we had to contend with very few customers in the store.

One minor problem developed as we headed west from Great Bend. We both knew the route number and there was no other conversation. We went through some familiar towns like Pawnee Rock and Larned and several miles down the road, Sandy very calmly says, "I think we're lost!" We were supposed to be on highway 56 and instead, we were on highway 156. No wonder the highway signs never mentioned Dodge City. Eventually we found a highway to take us south to get us back on track. How embarrassing. We only added 14 miles to our trip doing a dog leg verses the diagonal.

Tonight we're parked in a very quiet Oklahoma Visitors Center in Guymon, OK. One reason it is quiet is that it was closed when we arrived and by the looks through the door, it is probably closed for the season. We're about a mile plus from the downtown railroad tracks and it is apparent that the train whistle works very well this far. They blow the whistle for every cross street and there must be dozens of them. We may have different opinions in the morning, but right now we're comfortable here boondocking (no hookups). (No electric heater or electric mattress pad to keep us warm through the night.) Perhaps we need to become adapted sometime!

Tomorrow will be another day similar to today, headed to the southwest, perhaps close to Albuquerque by night fall.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Heading to Arizona, Day 4

This was to be a layover day and we intended to really lay low. In reality, it was a busy day. In the AM, we decided to get really serious with our backup computer and install the external wi-fi adapter that I purchased about a month ago. The only problem was I couldn't find the adapter. We had picked it up in the mail at Beth's house 2 weeks ago and I remember returning it to the motorhome when we were ready to leave. The adapter was the size of a large sized flash drive with a 6 inch antenna.

So today I look in my computer case for the adapter and could not find it. Then we checked Sandy's computer case with the same result. Eventually we ended up outside at the basement to look in two of my older computer cases, again with no success. I think I rechecked the cases two or three times and could not find the adapter. It was getting close to noon and I was getting very frustrated, as I knew we had it someplace. So back to the primary computer case and I opened up each pocket very wide. Then for some strange reason, I wondered what was in a brown envelope. Wups, there was the adapter, in the mailing package, just as I had packaged it. What an embarrassment.

In the PM I did get the wi-fi installed and it works well. I also was intending to install a hard disk boot manager so that the computer could boot to Windows or Linux. I downloaded a couple free manager programs but gave up before we lost what we had. I need to learn more about some of this Linux stuff.

When I was outside looking in the basement compartments, it also became obvious to me that there must be a water leak, as several of the papers, some maps and a couple of boxes had water damage on the bottom. So it being a dry day with a strong wind, we emptied both compartments to find the source of the leak. However, other than one small box, all of the wet items were really on the floor and the floor was not entirely wet. (The floor is covered with a thin carpet material and it was not really wet.) We never did find the water source. I suspect that it might have been from the bucket fill line which ran on the ceiling of the compartment and yesterday when I had used the hose fill connection to our holding tank, I had over filled it and water had back flowed out of the bucket fill door, under slight pressure. Perhaps the bucket fill line is cracked, but we'll wait until another time to resolve that issue.

At mid afternoon, Sandy and I decided to take a short walk for some fresh air. All went well until we were on the final leg going up a small hill when Sandy tripped on her own feet and went flying to the ground. Of course it is not a graceful fall, but she stiffens up and topples over, hitting her head on the side, and jamming her arm into her side. It was not a pretty site, but eventually she recovered her composer, and we got her up and back to the motorhome. After she was settled down, I went for another 2 mile hike, perhaps a bit further than I should have, as my legs are complaining tonight.

The real results of the fall became apparent tonight when Sandy was making dinner. Just about every movement caused a groan of some sort. Just opening a drawer requiring a slight pull caused a noticeable groan! I think she bruised every muscle in her body and especially at her joints. The one activity she seems to be able to do is operate her computer resting on her lap. (But there is a groan when she moves it off of her lap.) It will take a few days for her to recover from this episode. (I can wash the dishes, but don't ask me to do the cooking.)

Tomorrow we are on the road again. Our intention was to make a quick stop at Greensburg, KS and see how their recovery from a devastating tornado is progressing. We'll make that determination when on the road tomorrow.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Heading to Arizona, Day 3

Today was the right day to be off of the road, as there is a stiff cold
north wind with a trace of moisture that has been blowing all day. As I
mentioned yesterday, this was a planned layover. And we're enjoying the
relaxation. We are on Kanopolis Lake, SW of Salina, KS in the Venango Park Campground.

This morning, for fresh air and exercise, I walked to the south end of the
campground. The real test was on the return when I had to face the wind.
It was cold and penetrating. This afternoon we walked over to the north edge
of the lake and walked on some of the shoreline rocks (like little boys do).
Since it was behind the trees it was very pleasant until I returned to the
motorhome. But you need some out time now and then.

The bonus for the day was when Sandy took advantage of the full AC power and
made two loaves of Quick bread using some of our cranberries. What a short
lived treat! It has been cut, wrapped and frozen, so again I'm on limited
rations for the treats. She believes that out of site is out of mind and
then she can be a hero when she reminds me that there is still some available.

We haven't had any real rain, but it has often misted some on the front
window. The snow in Kansas was along the western edge. Since we have a
very flexible schedule and driving might not be much fun in this stuff, we've
even talked about laying over another day. After all, the price is right! We'll decide in the AM.

Enjoying life one day at a time!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Heading to Arizona, Day 2

It sure was a lot easier to get the motorhome rolling along today, as we were on the road by 8 AM. Traffic in St. Joseph wasn't too bad and we quickly were on the southwest corner, headed out of town on highway 59. Surprisingly, the traffic on the highway was more than we expected, especially for grain hauling semis. (They left us once we crossed the river into Kansas..)

We took a break before we arrived in Topeka where we would get onto I-70 for a hundred miles. After the break, we had indications that it sure would like to rain, but not enough to require the wipers. But the over cast clouds gave the impression that a real winter storm was just around the corner.

We arrived at Venango C.O.E. campground southwest of Salina about 30 miles before 2 PM. Yesterday, a friend had suggested it because of the low price, nice facilities and lack of users and it is just as described. For us old fogies (with a Golden Age Pass), the nightly fee is only $2 a night. To get that great rate, we have to do without the campground host and about half of the restrooms are closed. (Since we use our own facilities in the motorhome, no big deal). It was 60 degrees when we arrived, but a short time later, a light rain moved in. I just saw the forecast for tomorrow and it is not for sissies, the high might be up to 42, with a 20 mph NW wind. I suspect we'll keep ourselves busy in the motorhome doing something. We've been on the road for 2 days and our plan is to drive 2 days and rest one day. (That plan is going to be severely tested when I see the weather getting worse as we wait!) But why hurry with such a great parking rate and a 50 Amp connection.

We're away from the big cities now, but we still have 7 TV stations and one of them has the Wheel of Fortune tonight (so Sandy is happy). Plus the internet connection works well, so we're both happy!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Heading to Arizona, Day 1

We did a normal departure from the farm, we didn't hurry. We took our
time, read the mail, rechecked all of the locks, hooked up and pulled out at
9:05 AM. It was cloudy and over cast, so no bright sunshine to get in our
face. Traffic was moderate on I-80 and we seemed to make good time.

Our route was I-80 to Des Moines, then south on I-35 to Missouri highway 36
and west to St. Joseph, MO. We arrived here at a Walmart around 2:45 PM and
proceeded to get some credit added to my Walmart card. (I get three cents a
gallon discount doing it that way.) We fueled the MH with diesel and had to
leave before we were blocked in by the fuel delivery truck. Okay, next
time. I did like the price at $2.50.9

We checked with a few people and yes, RVers are allowed to park in the lot
over night. And since the weather seems to be very cooperative, we decided
to just call it a day. It is so nice to have weather close to 70 degrees
and no wind. Actually, we'd be happy with there was some wind now to blow
the lady bugs away. It is hard to describe the number of bugs we have
inside and outside. They certainly hung on for dear life coming today,
because I don't think we're missing any of them. I rechecked the lawn before leaving for
any forgotten items and it is obvious that the lady bugs were going to make
their winter home under the tires. I'm not sure how they did it, but it
was a solid mass of squashed bugs where the tire depression was. Two good
things, they won't fly any more and they will now contribute to the lawn
fertility. A characteristic of the bugs at this time of year is that they
seem to want to gather in bunches in very tight quarters. I should have
put some boards down with about a quarter of an inch gap between them.
Perhaps I could have squashed a few hundred more.

We are parked in what seems to be an odd appendage to the Walmart lot. No through traffic, probably employee parking. We don't complain.

Tomorrow onto a C.O.E. park in central Kansas. Venango campground, near Langley, KS.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Departure Day Minus One

We leave on Tuesday (tomorrow) and about right now, we feel like it is a
day late! We have been invaded by lady bugs of the most aggressive kind.
It is unreal how many we have swarming on the east side of the rig (where
our door is). We thought we had pretty well escaped this year when we went
to Wisconsin last month. I guess it is not to be.

I've done my little errands in town and we're ready to depart I think.
Actually we could have left except that friends are bringing out some Chili
Soup, the main ingredient from a dinner that we canceled out on last Friday.
We were planning to compare notes about our previous outings. (They
in Ohio and we in Wisconsin.) I guess we'll wait until spring to finish
the job.

Larry W (our farm operator) stopped by this morning and said that both the
corn and the beans are too wet to combine. Of course, the price is very
decent now and who knows what it will do when the harvest swings into full
gear. Just for keeps, I did go out into the corn field this morning and
picked three ears to carry along (as reminders of my roots). I was
impressed with how well filled out the ears are, right to the end of the
cob. I also had to smile about how tight the ears are sticking to the
stalk. It was a two handed job (and then some) to remove the ear from the
stalk. Normally, that is a one handed job and too often in times past, the
ear just falls off. Not this year, at least now.

We loved the weather forecast for tomorrow here in Iowa, only a 20 percent
chance of rain late in the day. That gives us a good shot of getting all
the way to St. Joseph, MO for our first stop with decent driving. I
wouldn't mind it also if it was a bit cloudy, with a north wind to top it
off. (I love a tail wind.)

We've picked out our first stop, Lewis and Clark State Park south of St.
Joe. Our second day will be fewer miles to a Corps park near Lindsborg, KS,
where our current plan is to rest a day. A friend heading there today says
the price is right ($2 / day), so I think we can handle that. From there,
it is anyone's guess. If the weather is sullen, we'll head for Deming, NM
to hole up for a day. Other wise, we'll take I-40 I think. We have no
schedule to hold to other than our own wishes. We had wanted to do some
touring of Indian ruins in New Mexico, but with the after effects of this
cold I've had, I'm looking for some really hot weather to bake it out of
me. (Of course, that isn't want Sandy likes!)


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tuesday Departure (we hope)

It seems like we have been here on the farm forever, but really just 7
days. I've been motorhome bound since Thursday afternoon and it is
frustrating. Thursday night was a real bummer of a head cold when I had a
very stuffy, plugged and still a runny nose. At about 3 AM on Friday
morning I finally woke up to the idea that there were some pills in the rig
that would somewhat alleviate the symptoms. They helped some (but not
much). I spent Friday mostly on my back, on the sofa and downing the pills
as recommended by my nurse/caretaker/boss. Friday night was a bit better.
At least the pills stopped the runny nose. On Saturday, I actually felt
like I might live

Today is better, but I'm afraid I've got a ways to go. I haven't taken any
pills since last night and my head feels great. However, there is some
sinus drainage and I periodically seem to need to do a weak cough.
However, this afternoon, I finally put the coat on and went outside to do a
few small pre-departure items. It sure felt good to be outside in the fresh
air, even if it was very windy.

Our departure is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday morning. Our route is
flexible, depending upon what the weather map looks like at departure.
Supposedly, we're to get more rain on Tuesday (not what the farmers want or
need right now as the harvest season is ready to begin when the weather


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Grounded, short term

Our plans when we returned to the farm were to depart today or tomorrow. Well, as health would have it, we came down with a bummer of a head cold, nasal congestion, or sinus problem on Thursday. We decided that we would hibernate on Friday and Saturday for certain. (Yesterday was not a good day in my book!)

As I write this on Saturday morning, I at least feel like I'll live. We have not determined a new departure date and probably won't until it is here. Are we in a hurry to leave? You bet ya! I've had enough of this cold, wet miserable Iowa fall. Plus as I hibernate here and watch a national news cast now and then, I hear comments like: 90 degrees in Arizona or Florida. That is where I'm headed, Casa Grande, AZ. I'm ready to get some place where I can stretch out in the fresh air and let the sun burn this junk out of me.

Hopefully, next time I'll feel like writing more.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back at the Farm (and it is cold)

We left Beth's on Friday, and stopped in a county park outside of Marion, IA
where we used to live. On Sunday morning, we went to our home church, which
is a rarity since we're on the road. We make a special effort to get there
spring and fall to let them know we're still around. What a joy to see
so many wonderful friends of yesterday. The other thing we noticed was
that the church is changing. I guess it can be expected since moved out of the community 16
years ago. There are so many new faces. Even the president of the
congregation is a stranger to us. Actually, that is good, as it means that
the church is growing!

For the rest of the day, we laid pretty low in the motorhome. It was just
too cold to be out wandering around in the park. This morning, Gene was up
early (he always is) to read the email and do his surfing. However, no
breakfast until nearly 9 AM because he had to have a blood test done at 8
AM. The blood suckers seem to want their share also.

We then organized the RV and made it ready to travel. It was lunch and then
off to the dentist to allow him his pound of flesh. For once I got by
without any fillings, but the bill seems plenty high anyway. We were in a
hurry and the dentist seemed to be in no hurry. I think we were his only
customers for the afternoon. One reason we wanted out was so that we could
get the RV and head to the farm. Plus the park wanted us out by 3 PM. We
were 30 minutes late, but nothing was said. On the way to the farm, we
stopped at the west side Walmart and picked up some last minute items. Then
it was on to Amana to see my mother. We wanted to park on the road and then
saw a big sign (No Parking). Then we spotted the employees parking lot that
was about half empty (it was 5 pm). So we wheeled in and parked.
Perhaps not where we ought to be, but there was lots of space.

After a short visit with mother, it was on to Williamsburg. and the farm.
We were ready to get off of the road and when we pulled in, I told Sandy
that we weren't unhooking the Saturn until we were parked. So we wheeled
in, did a U turn on the grass and parked in the usual location on the lawn.
Then I unhooked the Saturn and noticed that we did leave a depression in the
grass. It was a good thing that we kept it moving until we were parked. Later
I checked the rain gauge and noticed that we had 2 inches of
rain since we left 2 weeks ago.The big disappointment is that none of the
soybeans are harvested in this area. I was hoping that they'd be out so
that I could do some work in the field before we leave. Okay, we can't win
them all.

Time to turn in.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Heading Towards the Farm in Iowa

On Friday morning, we gathered our belongings and tucked them back into the motorhome. It is truly amazing how much stuff we carry out of the motorhome and into her house. No wonder we love just staying in the motorhome. We've heard other people also comment that when they visit friends, they prefer to stay in their RV. It bugs their friends who feel that they have a very nice spare bedroom for their guests. But staying in one's RV is so much more convenient for the traveler.

Our drive yesterday was truly amazing. We seemed to have a tail wind the entire distance and the motorhome just wanted to roll along. Secondly, we connected with the green light at every stoplight until we arrived at the Walmart here in Marion. When we first started driving up to see Beth via U.S. 151, it went through every small town and each one had a stop sign or two and the highway was all two lane. Today, it is a 4 lane highway, with only four stop lights in Dubuque and the one in Marion. We're not really going to complain, but we do miss the Interstate rest stops that are usually every 40 to 50 miles. There is one rest area on the Wisconsin border, which is too close to our departure point of Dodgeville. Oh well.

This morning leaves no doubt that winter has arrived. The Saturn was entirely covered with frost. And tomorrow morning is to be worse, with snow flurries on Monday. We're planning to be here in Iowa for another week or two, so I'm waiting for the warming trend that almost always occurs after a severe cold spell. We looked up the forecast for the weather in Dodge City, KS since we're planning to pass close by there. It was almost the same as Cedar Rapids. As the weather forecasters have said, "The Midwest is in a deep freeze." Last night they said that the Cedar Rapids temperatures for the first 10 days of October have been 12 degrees cooler than the average. Where is Global Warming?


Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Last Night in Daughter's House this trip

We've been here at daughter's house since Sunday. It is always fun to reconnect with Beth and this was no exception. I've changed a number of her light bulbs (but not all of them). She has more then once accused me of changing a bulb when I didn't! Is it really a problem of light? Actually, I like the way they have a slow start. Some brands or wattages are slower than others.

It was raining slightly this morning, so I was thrown off schedule. We did the errands around town in the AM. In the PM when the rain (or mist) let up, I worked under the motorhome, stringing my antenna cable. A couple of times I wondered if I was under it for good, since I had to slide down off of the curb and then immediately under the motorhome. Most of the time there is plenty of space, but not near the curb. The cable is strung with about 6 feet to spare. It isn't really tied in place, but well enough for road travel.

We also picked up more walnuts from her lawn. What a back breaking job! We delivered them to city landfill lawn and garden waste pile and later got an email from an uncle offering me the use of his Sheller to de-husk them. At the moment, we don't think we'll do that. I don't need nutshell pieces in the motorhome.

While picking up the walnuts, I finally glanced at the single grape vine Beth has along her property line. I was impressed and after dinner tonight (in the dark) I went out and clipped off 3 groups. I was amazed how many bunches of grapes are on the vine hidden under the leaves. I told Sandy I was going to get enough to make some wine, which obviously didn't impress her. I wish I could, but that is a hobby that had to be left behind when we went fulltime.

Tomorrow we leave Beth's wonderful hospitality and head for a county park near Marion, IA. Hopefully, we'll have some time to meet and greet a few of our friends from church, work and the old neighborhood. On Monday morning we have a blood test as part of my physical of last week, then in the PM we both get our annual teeth cleaning. I'm sure the dentist will say that I need to return for at least one filling. Once that is done, we have little to keep us in Iowa, especially considering the cold wave coming through. Perhaps a couple of items to take care of on the farm and we hit the road (maybe).

Looking at the weather map, the Midwest is really getting hammered with rain and cool weather. I thought it was global warming we were concerned about.