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.