Thursday, February 25, 2010

Leaving the Slabs

Today was a red letter day in several ways.

For starters, we were fortunate enough to get our mail from our remail service, so we were free to leave.. Secondly, we have been here long enough that our tanks are about full, so a move is in order. (It was a race to see if the tanks would fill before the mail came in.)

We picked up the mail at the opening bell (10 AM) and headed back to the motorhome. We didn't exactly rush, but we obviously wasted no time getting ready to roll. Our destination was a small (but nice) rest stop about 10 miles south of Niland. While there, we would empty our tanks and fill the fresh water tank, plus take time to change the valves on the holding tanks. The valve change was driven by a leaky black tank valve, not something that makes friends for anyone in a campground.

After dumping, we moved the motorhome to the parking area and raised the left side with the jacks so that any residual liquid would run to the other end of the tanks. It is very surprising, but access to the valves couldn't be easier. I told Sandy that it was a 2 hour job and we finished in about 1.5 hours. We removed the valve assembly, disassembled it, cleaned everything and reassembled it with new seals. Looking at the old seals and the gate, it was obvious why there was a leak. The tank side of the gate was coated with lime, much like the lime that accumulates around the water faucets etc. Naturally, the lime on the gate valve surface was like sand paper and wore the seal out. Interestingly, the gray holding tank valve had no lime present, perhaps the result of soap in the bath water and dish water.

Once everything was out, cleaned, we reassembled it and presto, good as new (we think).

From the rest stop, we headed for the Walmart in Brawley. I had planned my route via my computer map and verbally told Sandy how to plot it on her GPS. Well, I never write anything down, so we had a bit of a problem getting the route loaded. But once loaded, we headed to Brawley. However, the first road I wanted to take was both gravel and closed, so plan B. I told her to head for 1st Street and she said there was no 1st street. Anyway, we headed into town and I picked the first logical street to the right, to which her GPS goes nuts again, saying “recalculating”. The first street was really “A” street, which we headed west on. Her GPS wanted to route us north and I knew that we wanted to go south. We headed a fair distance west and then I turned south, and the GPS again said “Recalculating”. But then Sandy informed me that we were dead on the street to take us to Walmart. So how is that for dead-reckoning driving?

We had a long stop at Walmart, as Sandy said the Pantry was bare. I don't know what the bill was, but the cart was full (and I get ice cream for a snack tonight again finally!) (Buying anything in Niland is supporting highway robbery. A half gallon of milk was 50 percent more than a full gallon in Brawley.

All the while Sandy was shopping, I was manning the bug trap. It was a warm day and we had brought the slides in and al-la, did we have lady bugs! They were out in force A week ago, we thought we were out of the Lady bug land, as we were down to 2 or 3 bugs a day. But today, it was a problem with 100 plus. We have resolved that next year, we shall not have this problem with the bugs. We shall leave Iowa before the Lady bug season starts. (We believe that the bugs are hiding in the joints of the slide-outs. We need more hot weather to drive them out.

Tonight we are hunkered down in a short term (free) BLM campground near a hot spring. Tomorrow we soak our cares and worries away! Life has been good!!!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Getting Complacent here at the Slabs

We have been here a week plus and already we seem like old timers. For one thing, all of the people we have met here were mostly like ourselves, that is, either their first time, or maybe once before. We did meet one couple that have been here about 10 years, starting with a couple of days, then returning for a week, then a month and now two or three months. They leave tomorrow.

It is an interesting culture here. In the area we are in, there is little trash and lots of space between rigs. From the photos of a day or two ago, you can also tell that there is no right way or wrong way to park. The rule is 'just park it where you feel comfortable.”

The real downer is that in times past there has been some real scum from society here. People that just plain live like pigs Unfortunately, some of that is most obvious when you drive into the slab section..

Today, Sandy and I took a drive to a place called 'Salton City”, which is on the other side of the Salton sea. When you look at a map of Salton City, you'd think that it has 50 to 100 thousand folks in town. But when you get there, no more then a thousand, counting the snowbirds. Some developer had big plans, put in all of the infrastructure and it seems that he sold one lot in about every block. So there is lots of green (brown) space between houses. They are still trying to sell lots, but few takers. This place was advertised as the next “Palm Springs”, only bigger and better. They claim that the lake level went down, algae formed, the water stunk and in general, it was not a pleasant place to live in for some time. So it is not the paradise so claimed.

On our return trip, we stopped at a Wildlife refuge and then visited a “Paint Pot” field owned by a farmer. This field is only about 20 acres, but would rival the mud pots in Yellowstone. What is un-nerving is that there are no walk-ways, guarded paths or the like. Enter at your own risk.

Tomorrow is another day!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

The other View of the SLABS

Okay, the previous blog was with our RV mainly in the photo and you could see some of the background Slab area. Actually, it is pretty clean in our area, no garbage, cans etc. But there are a few areas that are otherwise. My guess was that one site out of 10 are the pits. Sandy thought I was too generous and it should be more like one site out of five that are the pits! So here is a photo of one which occupies an entire slab and is really the pits.

I also went upon the roof of our RV and took a couple of photos that will give you a better “lay of the land” around here. It is quiet, or very peaceful, no disturbing music, dogs barking etc. Considering that there is no management, it is kind of amazing how nice it is.

Today was time to empty the tanks and fill with fresh water again (after two weeks). So we pickup up, compressed the sides and drove into Niland to use the facilities at the Chamber of Commerce grounds. While there, we bought another dollars worth of Grapefruit, 4 for one dollar. They are very nice!

While dumping, we learned that we indeed have a leaking holding tank drain valve. So when we were done, I tried to exercise it well in hopes that it will seal this time. I can think of nicer things to do besides trying to change a valve out here.

It is President's Day weekend and unlike previous years, we see a decided increase in RV traffic here on the road. The bigger traffic item is the bicycles on the road, lots and lots of them. I don't know where they are camping, but they are not in this area. Thankfully, only one has his boombox along and the volume is cranked up.


Friday, February 12, 2010

We're surviving in the SLABS

I've decided that today we ought to show you a little bit of what the SLABS is all about. Since I'm not sure about the photos I took, today we'll do the nice photos. This is our motorhome parked in a fairly decent area. The greenery is from desert bushes (or scrub trees) that seem to thrive in this dry climate.

I was going to take a photo of the alternative area, but I was walking and every alternative seemed to have a live person around, so I didn't want to be so obvious. Tomorrow, we'll have a photo or two of the alternative parking areas.

Today we did our milk run to a town 25 miles south called Brawley. It is the one community I've seen where the traffic lights are not operated based upon a road sensor. We left Walmart at noon and the traffic was a bear. We finally went off route and headed through the residential area and made good time. Of course, Sandy's GPS kept saying "Off route, re-calculating" as I ignored its suggestions and headed out via dead-reckoning! Yes, we ended up exactly where I wanted to be.

The photo may also impact the blog load time. I hope not too much.


Monday, February 8, 2010

We made it to the SLABS

We left Patton's Museum dry campground this morning after 4 nights. We loved it for the price and I could do with a bit less of the highway music. The campground is about a quarter of a mile north of the interstate, but with no trees to block the sound, it comes through loud and clear.

Yesterday we toured some of the Joshua Tree National Park. We wanted to tour the old farm, but because of the rains last Friday, they claimed that it was flooded. So no tour. We went to another area for a short hike and gave up on it because we didn't feel like climbing the boulders. Okay, they were not large ones, but it was wet footing and a fairly strong breeze.

Tonight we're in what some call “Slab City” near Niland, CA. The place is about as we remembered it with a different set of folks. The regular fellow that we met 2 years ago isn't here and we miss his updates. So we'll make some new friends. As another camper said this afternoon, “the price is right”. They were going to a private park west of here that had a hot water spring and decided not to because of the campground daily rate of $38 per night. That hurts when this place is free, just pick out a spot that you like.

For those that don't know about it, you can pick just about any kind of environment that you like. We're in an area that is very clean (no garbage) and with some brush on the ground. (When I asked Sandy about my description, she kind of wrinkled her nose. I guess it is not quite as good as I thought.)We do have nice neighbors, one of them invited us over for visiting this evening. We met them 3 years ago at a rally and we had a brief meeting with them in a Walmart Parking lot last fall. We had a great visit after so many years.

More later.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Visiting Patton's Museum

Visiting Patton's Museum

We're boondocking in a “wide spot on the road” called Chiriaco Summit. It is about 50 miles east of Palm Springs, CA in the high desert. The local attraction is a museum honoring General Patton. It is also next door to the south entry to Joshua Tree National Park.

Today Gene toured the local museum honoring General Patton while Sandy remained in the rig doing financial books and surfing. (This morning was cloudy and I knew it was not going to be a real solar day. I assumed that it would be generator time this evening and told Sandy to surf away.) So this evening we ran the generator for an hour to charge the batteries plus Sandy could use the microwave oven to help make dinner. She loved that.(and so did I.)

Yes, I enjoyed touring the museum, but it isn't a real barn burner that I had expected. The one thing that came across was that Patton's defensive strategy was very simple, just keep charging ahead. Don't give the enemy time to organize against you. It was not mentioned, but I'm convinced that had Patton been running the show, there would not have been a “Battle of the Bulge”. His troops would have engaged the Germans before they were ready.

While here, we're planning to meet up with an Air Force classmate for lunch in Palm Springs, half way between where we're at and where he lives. It will be an interesting lunch, as we have had no contact in 50 years until we called him last winter. There will be a lot of catching up to do.

Obviously, we're intending to tour Joshua Tree N.P. How long we stay here is also not set yet. In other words, we have no schedule. From here, we're heading south to the Salton Sea, and some nearby sites. We have a rally in Yuma the second week of March, so there is no hurry. Also, the weather has been very nice (with a rumored chance of rain tonight.)


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We've got Hitch Itch!

We have been here at Quartzsite on the desert for almost a month and we have hitch itch to get the rig moving down the highway. Sandy is feeling much better, so it shouldn't be a show stopper now. Today we did a drive north to Plomosa Road where our Winnebago group parked to get some Lat/Long measurements. Then it was Laundry time again plus we picked up some odds and ends before returning to the motorhome. She was tired, but ready to go again this afternoon when I wanted to take a drive out west of Quartzsite to an area we have not camped at.

On the return, we stopped at an RV place to see about a backup video system for our rig. The one we have went belly up and I do miss it. Yes, they had one, but I decided to learn more about it online before buying. Well, it is available via for about half of their price, so we are waiting a bit longer.

With all of the activities today, there has been no adverse reaction from Sandy, so I think she is much better. (Perhaps a bit tired, but we expected that.)

When we leave here, our destination is the General Patton Museum at Chiriaco, California. It is right at the southern entrance of Joshua Tree National Park, so that will be our next destination.

The weather has been very decent lately, with rain predicted for Friday night. So I think it is time to move. One thing we have noticed in the desert is that there are lots of tiny grass shoots in the washes. With the rains they've had in the last 2 months, it ought to be a good year for flowers on the desert in the spring. But we're not waiting that long!