Sunday, April 30, 2017

Lava Beds National Monument

The smallest entrance we did, but worth it. 
Sunshine Cave.
    While looking for a new route home that didn't involve I-5 any sooner than necessary, we discovered the Lava Beds National Monument and thought it would be fun to explore. Have I mentioned how much I love Google Maps? Well I have 'visited' many places via Google Maps and it's an invaluable tool when planning a route since I can zoom in a see if a motorhome of our size can actually get into that gas station, a parking lot at a grocery store, or where is that turn-off-- really?--so we don't have to unhitch to turn around. A fair amount of preplanning takes place before each leg of a trip and it has prevented several problems and revealed some real gems along the way. Lava Beds was a real gem as was the RV Park where we stayed. Tionesta, CA is a tiny collection of less than 20 homes and 2 RV parks. The first one you come to (Hawk's Nest) has several small cabins that can be rented and it's a cute and well kept place. At the end of the road is the one I had chosen (Eagle's Nest) and it turned out to be a win; free Wi-Fi, great phone reception, grass and friendly and helpful hosts. We splurged and got full hookups for the 3 nights we were there since the night time temps got down to freezing and below.
Headache Rock: thankful for those hard hats!
    After a visit to the Visitor's Center, we checked out several nearby caves. At the last one we went in, I twisted my ankle a bit, so we curtailed our tromping around. After putting some Arnica and other herbs on it and resting and elevating it, the next morning we checked out a cave our hosts told us about. It turned out to be a really fun cave, once you got past the opening! The bottom was sandy and not as rugged as some of the other caves.
Glittery ceiling, colorful and fascinating.
    Our hosts provided hard hats for spelunking and we each had a hat light as well as a hand held one. Being well equipped helped and after seeing other people who we not, we were thankful. It's amazing how much each cave differed. In "Golden Cave" there is an abundance of a bacteria that creates a golden (and sometimes silver) sparkle. To look up on the ceiling and see what looks like an explosion of glitter was pretty fun. Some caves had craggy, rocky ceilings and rough floors. Some were damp, some dry. Some more smooth and others with broken areas that let in the sunshine after a hundred feet or so. Some fairly level and some that went way down deep. Some you could stand up straight with high ceilings, some had sections you had to crab walk through or crawl. The caves are rated so you have an idea of what you're getting into and we skipped the more difficult ones. I'm sure hard core spelunkers would have a great time in those and we left them to it!
  Before we left, we drove all around the Monument and encountered many different terrains, lava flows and rocky outcrops. We couldn't see it all since some of it was still under a blanket of snow, but we were satisfied with what we saw.  It's a fascinating place and one we'd enjoy returning to some day.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Meandering Homeward

South of Wickenberg, a BLM spot to overnight.
Since it is late April and warm enough to do so, we are heading homeward east of the Sierras. The two years before, it was cold enough in late March to be concerned about snow, so we stuck to I-5. This year we get to see some new scenery. But it also means we have to hunt out new places to stay.
Overlooking Kingman, AZ on BLM land again.
  Our first night after leaving Tucson was spent at a BLM spot outside of Wickenberg. What a beautiful view we had there! Then it was on to Kingman where we found another BLM spot up in the foothills that overlooked the valley. Another gorgeous view and for free.
  As we headed north and westward, we passed Las Vegas and I got some pictures of the high rises. We didn't stop, but went on to Pahrump where we stayed at the Escapees Pair-O-Dice Park to see what it was like. Pretty quiet, but we enjoyed our walks around the park. The scenery is beautiful, surrounded by mountains. It was nice to take a few days to rest, do laundry and stock up on groceries.
Flowers at the Kingman overlook.
Rock formation along the way.
Amazing rocks near the Hoover Dam; we didn't stop.
  We had one day where the wind was pretty intense, and looking at the forecast we debated where to land and when to drive there. Jerry woke up early with hitch-itch and I woke up to the sensation of the truck getting hooked up! So up I got and we got all travel ready and off down the road just after 7am. For us that's pretty early, but sometimes we like to do that on travel days. Especially when the wind picks up in the afternoon. Driving and dealing with the wind is not fun. Our first stop at a rest stop just west of Tonopah turned out to be a great place to park head into the wind and wait it out.
North towards Las Vegas, the road turns West to bypass it.
  We left early the next morning as well, getting on the road before anyone else (I think a first for us!) and getting on the road before 7am. When we leave early, I make Bullet Proof Coffee and my porridge and we take off. We eat breakfast somewhere along the way, although breakfast on Wednesday wasn't until we arrived at the rest area around noon! I'm glad I had my snacks because Jerry can go much longer than I can without food.
  Tonight we are staying in Fernley, and when we head out tomorrow we'll head for Tionesta an RV park there near the Lava Beds National Monument.

Bypassing Las Vegas, we headed through this beautiful pass to Pahrump.

At Pair-O-Dice park in Pahrump surrounded by mountains.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Tucson camping

sunset turning the Catalina mountains to pink.
After leaving Phoenix, we went back to Tucson and stayed at Catalina State Park for a few days. Jerry's friend and one-time next door neighbor from gradeschool is living part of the year in Oro Valley, and we wanted to spend a bit more time with he and his wife and see his house. Just before we left Phoenix, the truck started acting up and even though Jerry replaced the cap and rotor, it still wasn't running smoothly. We decided to go ahead and go to Tucson and see about getting it fixed there. We're getting pretty good at finding decent repair places! We love the online reviews. They help quite a bit. We got it fixed at Oro Valley Automotive. They were quick and it runs great now.

Our campsite at this beautiful park.
    In the park we saw a couple of Roadrunner birds, a couple of Jack rabbits--such long ears!--and some small rodents that make a funny clicking/squeaking sound, pound their feet and nibble on the grasses. We took several walks around the campground enjoying the view and checking out the different RVs that were there. We enjoyed the shore power and the AC while we were there as temps got into the low 90s.

  Not only did Neil  and his wife Tammy feed us dinner twice, but they encouraged us to swim in their backyard pool, and they loaned us one of their cars while we had repairs done, It was a fun visit, even the adventure of trying to catch the gecko that their cat had brought inside! They are fast little critters.

From Tucson, we begin our meaderings back to Olympia, WA. Although we are not really in a hurry to get back to the rain, we have some tabs to deal with on our vehicles which gives us a date to aim for. Plus we have things on our lot we want to work on and family to see. We are taking a different route northward this time, so it will be interesting to see the differences.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Traipsing off to Page, AZ

snow capped mountains near Flagstaff, AZ
While the roof was being repaired, we enjoyed spending the time with my friend Ruth and her new husband Tim. We 'moved in' for 2-1/2 weeks and had a great time. The second week we were there we went on a road trip to Page, AZ. What a beautiful place! It's about a 4 hour drive and our phone cameras were busy. We discovered that we had no way to recharge our phone enroute, so that put a bit of a damper on it. It was a fun surprise to pass snow along the way.
Wahweap overlook of Lake Powell

 We were able to get a 'room' which was like a small 2 bedroom apartment with a full kitchen for a very reasonable price. The owner of the Red Rock Motel was very helpful in pointing out places of interest around Page. We made it to the Wahweap Lookout just as the sun was setting, and it was gorgeous! 360 degree views and fascinating rock formations all around. But the wind was cold, so we didn't linger.
    The next morning we went on a tour of the Glen Canyon dam which was quite interesting. The town of Page essentially grew up around the people who came to build the dam.

With so much to do here, it seems that only 2 nights is not enough time. Next time a week! I really want to do the raft trip that starts at the base of the dam and goes to Horseshoe Bend and back. It's hard to see in the picture, but there are blue rafts in the river.
Jerry and Ruth coming through the slot canyon,

Ruth coming up the ancient aluminum ladder!
Tim climbing up to the rock formations.

This shows the scale of Cathedral Canyon.
The Four Sisters rock formation, a part of our tour.
Ruth had especially wanted to see Antelope Canyon, the most famous of the red rock canyons, but tours were booked out weeks in advance. I think the tour we took to Cathedral Canyon and to see a couple of other rock formations in a group of 7 was much better than dealing with the crowds in Antelope Canyon which can be as many as 200! It was a fun tour and well worth the time and money to see it. We had a 4-wheel ride in to see it on sandy roads which just added to the fun.
Panoramic view of Horseshoe Bend, just south of Page, AZ
When we headed back the next day, we stopped at Horseshoe Bend and hiked the 3/4 mile to the rim. It was pretty amazing to see in person and there were lots of people there. I heard all kinds of languages, and people came from many different countries: China, Japan, Australia, England, Mexico, France, Germany, etc. were some that I identified.
Selfie at Midgley Bridge in front of Oak Creek as it flows towards Sedona, AZ
    What a fun road trip and a great way to spend my birthday.
    But wait, there's more! Not only did I get to spend my birthday with Ruth, but when we got back to Phoenix, she had a dinner party for me. She invited a couple of friends over and after a yummy dinner and candles in gluten free cupcakes, we played games. She even got me a dozen red roses! 
   But wait, there's even more! My cousin Stephanie was able to come from Deming, NM. I haven't seem her for over 30 years and it seemed as if we just picked up where we left off--but with quite a bit to catch up on! The next day we went and had pedicures and manicures together for a fun girly time. Next year it's on my "must-do list" to go to Deming to visit with her and her family.

Friday, April 7, 2017

New Roof in Phoenix

APR RV has great decor and antiques.
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new decking applied

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The shadow by his thumb shows the thickness.
       It turns out that much of the decking needed to be replaced (the wood under the rubber roof) and the leak that we had noticed in the last several months was not the only one to leave its mark. It turns out the the 'oops' I had done, going under low power lines and breaking the booster antennae had an up side. The small hole, that we had a hard time finding, did some damage and took awhile to find and patch. When I talked to APR RV and told them about the roof, they suggested I check to see if insurance would cover it. They did, and we are SO thankful! It was covered under the Collision clause, so we only had to pay for the extras that we had them do while they were at it. The Flex-All roofing material they put on is thicker than anyone else and guaranteed for life, even if you sell the rig. We got a new bathroom fan installed (included) with 2 MaxxAir vent covers, a new TV antennae, and all the solar panels replaced in a more orderly arrangement. And no more caulking ever! I love that. Now to figure out how to fix the stains inside....

Repairs are an expected part of life on the road and we seem to be having a season of 'catch up'.
    We have known for months that our roof would need replacing, and before leaving Washington, we did some research and found a place in Mesa, AZ, knowing that we'd be down here for a few months. They had good reviews and could do the work we needed. (APR RV) A bonus was getting to stay with Ruth and her new husband Tim in Phoenix while our rig was in the shop.
    We did get an estimate from RV Armour while at the Escapee RV Club Escapade in Tucson, but decided to go with our original plan since they work on it indoors. That appealed to us over having the other guys come to us in Washington
and be exposed to the elements (and bugs, birds, leaves, etc!).
   We rely on reviews quite a bit when trying to find someone to fix something. Our various forums and groups are helpful, and I also found another great resource: It always helps to see what others experienced.

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New roof, all solar panels reinstalled.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Arizona Desert Museum

Sunset at Gilbert Ray Campground.
After leaving the Escapade, we went to Gilbert Ray Campgound which was not far away and very near to the Arizona Desert Museum. It's a beautiful campground, and it felt quite decadent to have an electric hook-up! We were treated to a colorful sunset and enjoyed walking around and seeing all the desert plants.

Maguey (Agave avellanidens), at the museum.

Grey Hawk.

Harris' hawk in flight.

Great Horned Owl.
Gilbert Ray Campground as dusk was creeping upon us.

Flowering cactus at Gilbert Ray.
The next day we met up with Neal and his family, a friend of Jerry's that grew up next door to him.  We went first to the Raptor Free Flight show which was amazing. We were able to get quite a few good shots of the birds flying near us or perched and posing! There were about 8 different ones. We also saw the hummingbirds in their own area, and one flew so close to me, up one arm and down the other; I could feel the wind from it's wings. Breathtaking!

To see the desert blooming is such a delightful thing. This barren-seeming land has such exotic colors. We have seen so many more blooms this year. Partly because we are here a little later, partly because the rains have caused so much more to bloom.

Beautiful trumpet shaped flower on cactus at the AZ Desert Museum.

Friday, March 24, 2017

57th Escapade

Boomers potluck for the Thursday night Happy Hour.
What a great time we had at the 57th Escapees Escapade at the Pima County Fairgrounds south of Tucson. We parked with the Boomers BOF (Birds of a Feather group) and it was great to see not only a few people we had just been boondocking with in Bouse, but people we haven't seen since last year. Add to that the fun of making new friends and you know I'm having a fabulous time! Even though there were lots of seminars, I focused on meeting people and renewing friendships rather than stuffing my brain with more info.

Mostly we went to Happy Hour with the Boomers, but one day we met up with the Boondockers where we felt like some of the "Experienced Ones"! That was kinda funny to me, but Jerry pointed out that it was actually true. We've been boondocking for years, going out to the sand dunes with our sand toys when the kids were younger. Good times. We've never really been that much into RV parks. They are fine sometimes, but we'd much rather be boondocking or dry camping.
Woodie and the Longboards

They had some great entertainment with Native Spirit, world class Native American dancers on Sunday evening, then a group who played Beach Boys and Eagles songs which was great fun on Monday. Many got up to dance to the music. So much to do: many seminars, Happy Hours, crafts, line dancing, Zumba, meet ups, shopping and people to talk to. I didn't try to do it all, but I got my money's worth!

And then before you know it, it's time to hook up and head off with "Safe Travels" and "Happy Trails" and "See you down the road!" ringing in your ears. Yep, these are my peeps!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Boondocking near Bouse

On a walk at dusk near Bouse. Love the different moods of the desert!
What fun it was to finally meet up with the Boondockers BOF group and get out into the desert! It's a great group of people that we met last year. Cowboy coffee at the fire in the morning (which we seldom got up early enough to do), 3pm Happy Hour to meet up and see what's happening the next day, and if weather permits, an evening fire to sit around and chat.

   I was fighting a cold, so I wasn't out doing as much as I would have liked, but I did get to join the "Beading" ladies a couple of times, although I don't really bead. But it's inspiring to have all that creative energy around me. I worked on wire things and taught the Viking Wire Weaving technique to a few ladies. That's always fun to do. I also finished a wire dragon I had started last year and one of the ladies decided he needed to live in her RV, so I sold him. That was fun! 

Something I've been wanting to do and finally got around to doing was making some ear cuffs. 
We had a 'yard sale' and I sold a few of my ear cuffs, enough to buy some fun things from others (boot toppers, greeting cards, scrubby). I even have some left to wear myself. And more ideas, always more ideas! And finally time to do something with those ideas. I also got a chance to get together with a guy who likes to sing Gospel songs. He brought the music books and I got out my keyboard and we had a lovely evening of singing. This is my first year to bring my keyboard and I'm so glad I did. I wasn't able to do it again because of the cold. Having one of those in the dry of the desert is not my favorite thing!
Black wire ear cuffs displayed on cloth with a pencil underneath.
Moonrise over the hill with the campfire going on the left.

Silver and blue wire ear cuffs on black fabric.
The small town of Bouse has a lot going on in the winter. There is a very active Community Center that puts on a Craft Show, Bingo, Breakfast, Spaghetti Dinners and so on. They also have a great little library. I didn't make it to the library since I was creating stuff with the ladies. There is also a guy who brings a large panel truck with produce on Friday and Saturday into Bouse, so I was able to stock up on some fresh veggies and eggs. Out in the more remote areas, it's a fun challenge to figure out where to get some fresh food. Although I prefer organic, I settle for fresh since the choices are slim. But it's worth it to be out here in the desert. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Stocking up in Indio

While stocking up in Indio, we found this sauerkraut juice and had to get it. I used to hate sauerkraut, but since learning of its benefits, I started to eat a little here and there. Now a day doesn't go by without some sauerkraut to top my veggies, salad, eggs, whatever! I have found that We eat lots of Bubbies Sauerkraut and have come to appreciate how beneficial this live fermented food is for out health in so many ways. We (politely) argue over who gets the sauerkraut juice that's left over. I like it mixed in some bone broth for a powerful tonic and gut health. Every time I feel some kind of 'bug' sneaking up on me, I grab the juice and chug a couple of tablespoons full or so. For a stomach bug, nothing works quicker! It can turn it around in a matter of hours. Here is a website that goes into more detail on the benefits of sauerkraut and even how to make your own. Since most of the immune system is in the gut, it makes sense to take care of your gut to keep the immune system healthy and smart.

We were able to get quit a bit of my specialty foods in Indio before heading to Bouse where the options are slim. We didn't really do much besides shop and rest, but that was necessary and helpful.

Now, finally after parking in parking lots all the way down here, we're heading out into the desert!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Indio and sunshine

Front row view of the new gas station.
We had a surprise when we showed up at Tachi Palace Casino. In the area we like to park, they are building a new gas station and convenience store. When we woke up the next morning, we were surrounded by the workers' cars and trucks! But we had a great front row seat to the action. It was fun to watch to big equipment move stuff around and men framing up the walls.
   We got to talking to our neighbors who turned out to be Fulltimers from Qualicum Beach,Vancouver Island, Canada. They are on their way home, but wondering if they should delay a bit due to the weather; and no wonder with reports of snow in the Seattle area again. It got down to freezing in the night here, and without hookups, it was pretty chilly until we could get the generator going. But under the covers, it was all cozy and warm. Who needs to get up? We're retired, right?!
    We did manage to get out and about, getting groceries in nearby Hanford. Then I went over to the Kings Outreach Ministry. The peace of this place permeates and refreshes. There is an area set up for people to pray, to meet with God. It's a shoes-off area with a really soft smaller carpet where you can kneel if you want to. His presence there is palpable, peaceful, loving, majestic, compelling. The sense of rest I came away with was profound. It's a special place run by such loving and kind people. Very memorable, and I'm so glad I got up!
    I needed all that rest for the next leg of the trip all the way to Indio. Going over the Tehachapi Pass was easy, but of course I was a passenger. But we switched drivers near Boron, and heading south on 395 was a pretty rugged ride! Not only is the pavement rough in lots of spots, the wind kicked up to make it even more interesting. There were a few white knuckle areas and I was glad to switch drivers someplace past Redlands. We finally reached our destination of Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio. They have a large RV parking lot and there are about 30 or more rigs here. We stayed here last year and found it a great place to stay for a few nights, plus it's close to stores where we cans stock up before we head out into the desert.
  What a treat to wake up to warmth and sunshine! Although there are a few clouds today, we've had the windows open on the RV to enjoy the fresh air and warm breezes.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Back on the road

Good mobile RV Repair guy
Thursday the part came in and John did a great job not only replacing the controller for the slide, but I asked if he would swap out the bathroom faucet while he was there. I was not able to get it to budge and hoped he had better tools and experience, which he did. It was worth every penny to have him do that, especially after seeing how it had gotten rusty and fought him every step of the way. He's pretty reasonable, much less than calling in a plumber. If you're ever in the Redding area and need mobile RV repair, call John! He's a good guy. We were in Corning, but he came down there anyway. He was helping out his friend Chris who runs Campfire RV Repair in Corning who we had called. Chris has been having some health issues and John stepped up to help him keep his business afloat.

By noon, we were on our way, headed for Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, CA. Even though we got a late start, we decided to push on and not try to find a closer stopping point. Of course we hit Sacramento and Modesto when traffic was getting pretty thick, then with an accident earlier, it was stop and go for several miles. We finally pulled in at 8pm.

Almond trees in bloom
Along the way we saw an amazing amount of water. Places where where previously had been dry washes, sometimes with bridges baffling high, now rushed with muddy water. Reservoirs who were so sadly lacking in water now filled to the brim and then some. Evidence everywhere of the abundance of water, even an excess of water, caused us to be thankful for our enforced delay. Of course all that water helped to make things lovely and green, and blooming as are these almond trees.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

And even more repairs....and some fun

When John from Cronic Mobile Service came Sunday, he found that the controller box for the slide needed replacing, and of course it needed to be ordered. Monday being President's Day, we knew we'd have a few days to wait. At least he was able to get the slide back in by powering the motor from his truck.

On Monday, we visited a delightful store, S&S Produce in Chico, where we got organic veggies, some tinctures and supplements, and some chicken wings and feet to make broth! I love restocking from the delightful variety of health food stores I find on our travels. Each one is unique and it's fun to find what's familiar as well as new things. Hey, it's my thing! Some women visit quilt shops, or yarn shops. I visit health food stores!

Now that the slide was in and we could move the rig, we took the motorhome in to Corning Ford on Tuesday to see what was going on. As we suspected, an engine coil needed replacing. We have already had 2 replaced, and it looks like the other seven will need to be replaced at some point, but not today.

While they had our rig, we took off in the truck to see what there was to see in Corning. They are very big on olives around here. "Olive City" is incorporated into the names of many of their businesses. There are miles of olive groves and several olive companies in town.

After visiting the library, we happened upon the Chamber of Commerce where we got some info about where to find the olive oil. They have a small museum in the same building which was fun to look at. Then we did a little walk around town, which isn't very big, and then went to Lucero's to check out their olive oil. It was a fun experience for me, but Jerry wasn't going to taste any, thank you very much. :I bought a couple of bottles of great olive oil which I'm sure won't last me very long!

I had to get a picture of the water tower because it reminds me of the song "Water Tower Towns" sung by Scotty McCreary, my favorite Country Western song and singer. And, no, I'm not really a CW fan, but there are some that I like. We also saw Bartel's Giant Burgers and had to take a picture for my sister whose last name is Bartel.

After picking up our fixed up rig, which drove beautifully, we settled back in at Rolling Hills Casino parking lot for another night to wait for the next fix on the list. Hopefully it will come tomorrow. I appreciate being able to park overnight at a Casino, but more than 2 nights gets a bit tedious, especially busy ones like this. Lots of trucks coming and going, lots of generators. But, still, a safe place and no flooding!