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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Visiting More Old Friends For The First Time

It's a different world, a secret society.  It almost requires special knowledge and secret handshakes.  Actually, this world is made up of people that have three things in common, an RV, a blog and a desire for travel and meet new "old" friends.

Okay, that's four things, but since we've retired, we're having a hard time keeping track of things, time, days of the week and where we are going next, let alone being able to count...

We started out the day with breakfast and a phone call to Sprint to cancel our aircard with them.  With three tries running through the Sprint phone tree to try a get a representative, we finally ended up with Peggy, then to Peggy II and finally Peggy the supervisor.

 They required me to answer a security question:  "What is the name of your elementary school".  Not hard, being that I was the only Paul Dahl that attended the Robert Erskine Elementary School in Ringwood, New Jersey.  I got the same answer from all three Peggys, "That is not the correct answer".

I still have my kindergarten picture in my Robert Erskine Elementary School yearbook to prove I was really there.  They didn't believe me.

To resolve the situation, I have to report to a Sprint store in Tucson, Arizona with three picture IDs, my birth certificate (original, not a copy), a U.S. passport and my social security card.  That probably will be enough to prove I am who I say I am.  You'd think I was trying to renew my drivers license or something.  :cO

One good thing about going to the Sprint store in person, if they still don't believe that I am the one and only Paul Dahl that attended the Robert Erskine Elementary School,  I'll have the satisfaction of reaching across the counter and grabbing the salesman by the tie to convince him that I did, in fact provide the correct answer.  ;c)

We got under way and headed out to Maricopa, Arizona to visit John and Brenda Brown.  One of the great things about the RV lifestyle is you get to know the nicest people, and John and Brenda are especially nice...they're Canadians! :c)

We had gotten to know each other via our RV blogs and comments on each other's blog.  They were a tremendous encouragement to us when we were so frustrated trying to sell our house and were one of the first folks to congratulate us when we finally hit the road full time.  They invited us to visit their "Dogpound South" ranch and this afternoon we pulled in to smiles and hugs from them.

We spent a lovely afternoon chatting on their porch and then over a delicious dinner Brenda cooked.  We felt like we've known them forever and when we finally retired to the Journey for the night (parked next to their house) we were glad to give our ribs a rest, they were sore from all the laughter.

Tomorrow they are taking us for a tour of some neat things in the area.  We're looking forward to more fun with our "old" new friends.  This RV life is agreeing with us. :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Getting Used To Short Travel Days

It was really hard leaving the friends we made in Quartzsite.  It had been a wonderful time putting voices to the faces of people we had gotten to "know" from their blogs.  The evening campfires were especially fun.

Exchanging hugs, smiles, a few tears and promises of "We'll see you down the road", we pulled out of La Posa South, heading East on highway I-10. We could have stayed longer, but the call of a couple of days at a campground with full hook ups, a chance to take longer showers and being able to wash a week's worth of Quartzsite dust from our clothes a was an irresistible draw.  Not to mention that we needed to let our wallets time to cool off.  Yes, Marti did find some nice shiny, space saving items to adorn herself with. ;c)

I was very concerned on how the newly installed Air Force One toad breaking system was going to work.
Having heard horror stories of burned out brakes on tow cars with other systems, I stopped a couple of times to check if everything was correctly in place, and did two hard braking tests to satisfy all was in order.  Everything seemed to be working right, except the LED lights that are attached to the backside of the Element's review mirror.  They are supposed to light up every time the Element's brakes are engaged and you view them in the Journey's rear camera.

They do work properly, unfortunately, I can't make them out in the rear camera's screen.  I may have to put a different kind of bulb set up there to make them visible.   I'll do a post on the system after I put a few miles on it, so far it appears to be working seamlessly. :c)

It was a beautiful day for traveling, a sunny sky and a nice, light tailwind!  We lucked out and saw the Journey's fuel mileage up in the mid to high 8 mpg range.  Unfortunately, we only drove 37 miles to the Saddleback Mountain RV Park.  Why is it on long travel days you get headwinds?

The park is really beautiful, nicely laid and and well maintained.  We used out Escapees membership to get a discount on a site for two nights, even though the park is a participant in Passport America, that half off discount is not offered this time of year.  No worries, the price we paid is still in our budget range.

 We spent a lazy Sunday enjoying our full time life.  A nice church service, right at the campground, a couple of loads of laundry done and laying around in the warm Arizona sun, what's not to love?  Even a gorgeous sunset to end the day.  We feel like we're the luckiest people on earth!

We reached a major milestone yesterday, too.  We are now listed on Hitchitch, the premier RV travel blog website!  If you've never been there, give them a visit.

 I'm still having problems with my laptop, but I've got a temporary work-around so I can keep our posts coming.  When we're in a place for several days in the near future, it's going in to a repair shop for a tune-up.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Around The Quartzsite BLM

For our friends and family back East that have never been to Quartzsite, Arizona, we thought we'd show a snapshot of what it's like to camp in the wilds of the desert.

A family portrait, the R Sanity Team, the Journey, the Element toad and the "Tadpoles", our two Honda scooters (they fit in the Element, get it?).

We stayed at the Long Term Visitor Area (LTVA) La Posa South area, just a mile or two south of the main Quartzsite RV show.  The first thing you see is the Check In Station, where you purchase your dry camping pass.

La Posa South has the only dump/water station in the whole area.  

Sometimes, the lines of RVers waiting to dump can be quite long.  It is helpful to arrive with empty waste tanks and a full fresh water tank.

The desert floor is hard packed and you can drive the heaviest RV on it with no problem.  There is lots of room.  Some RVers come to Quartzsite to meet with other RVers in groups or clubs.  Here is a gathering of Blue Bird RVs.

Other RVers choose to go off by themselves and enjoy solitude.

Some RVers bring toys, like ATVs to ride around the vast desert areas.

We enjoy riding the Tadpoles (Honda Scooters).  Marti loves riding hers and really tears up the dirt roads and ten miles per hour.

While we were riding, Marti's phone rang.  Unlike the old days before she retired, this phone call was a wonderful chat with our daughter, Heather, who was checking up on her parents to make sure they weren't lost in the desert! 

We had a "Meet-n-Great" of fellow bloggers listed on the great "" website.

Here is Barbara and Diana, both long time fulltimers and terrific bloggers.

Of course a get together has to have the some good munchies to go along with it.

Riding around the BLM lands, you see all kinds of RVs, from fancy ones,

to small, older trailers.

There is something for everyone at  Quartzsite in January, from shopping at the RV show,

to enjoying the quiet solitude and beauty of the desert.

Our favorite was to sit around the campfire at night and enjoy the company of our RV friends.  Much great conversation, stories and a few whoppers of lies (who me?) were told there.  ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Getting Fed Up

Today we bit the bullet and fired Sprint, we replaced that aircard with a Verizon MiFi.  The new unit works perfectly on Marti's laptop, but my laptop is not responding to it and I cannot get online with the new MiFi or the old Sprint aircard.

These computer problems are beyond my abilities, I'm the guy that fixes things with wrenches and hammers...BIG hammers.  Marti, however has loved the challenge of computer issues, so she's taking a crack at it.  My computer has all the pictures on it of the things we've done while out and about Quartzsite, so those posts will have to wait.

Tonight was the last campfire, tomorrow most of our group will be heading out separate ways. We are going to slowly head towards Phoenix, AZ, we're going to stop for a day or two at a campground along the way that has full hook ups.  We've got a pile of laundry loaded with Quartzsite dust that has to be taken care of.  Plus we get to try out our newly installed Air Force One toad braking system.  I like the simplicity of it, so stay tuned.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Apologies

Once more I have to say sorry there are no pictures tonight.  I took a bunch of Quartzsite's La Posa South Long Term Visitor Area (LTVA) to show what the Quartzsite camping experience looks like.

Unfortunately, I have barely one and a half bars of connectivity on the aircard tonight, so those pictures will have to wait.

Last night a group of us went out to another of Quartzsite's "fine dining" establishments, the Grubstake.   Some of our group had dined here before and highly recommended the fish fry.  Since Marti is allergic to fish and I rarely have it, I took the advice and ordered it.  Mistake, big mistake.

I was up most of the night paying the piper for consuming that fish.  Talking to some members of the group this morning, several others became ill last night from their meals, and they didn't have fish.

The handwriting on the wall is we're never going to darken the doors of that place again.

Marti and I did get a nice ride in on the scooters today.  Even though they are not off road bikes, they do well on the desert roads, even if there are lots (lots) of small rocks.  Taking it slow and easy made for a nice ride around enjoying the cactus and the beautiful mountain scenery.

Tomorrow we're hosting a small get together with some blogging friends for an afternoon snack session at our campsite.  One thing that is common all around here, half the fun is sharing the love of the outdoors and the RV lifestyle with the people here.  The other half is shopping at the RV show.

It's a great place to visit at least once (this is our second time, the first was January 2006) and we're having a ball.  Put it on your bucket list if you have not been here yet.  Just don't come in August. ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Doing Our Share To Support The Economy

We spent the morning running some errands up in Parker, AZ this morning (about 30 miles North of Quartzsite) and enjoyed a nice sunny, warm day, even if it was a little windy.  Once we returned to "Q", we hit the big tent to make some purchases and finalize our choice of toad braking systems.

We bought the Air Force One braking system at a very good price and booked the installation.  The installer is coming to our site out in the desert on Friday instead of us having to fight our way through the traffic to the big tent area.  That is really nice and easy for us.

We picked up some LED lights for the Journey for about $10 less apiece than we've seen them anywhere else.  And Marti picked up some great Yellowbox sandals, her favorite brand.  We wandered around some of the vendors outside of the big tent and met blogger friends Kimberly and Jerry, who are working a vendor booth here.  We've followed their blog for some time and corresponded back and forth for a while.  Kimberly made us a great funnel cake, too.  What is it about fried dough and powdered sugar that makes them such a tasty treat?

There is so much to see here and so many interesting vendors you can walk the soles off your shoes.  We crossed the street to look at some other ones.  Some junk, some trinkets and some "must have" treasures (for somebody).  All for sale.

Marti found a great shirt she wanted to buy for me to memorialize my tank dumping experiences (disasters).

RVers find many ways to support their lifestyle.  We saw a couple that support their travels by picking through the trash dumpsters to find cans and plastic bottles that they can turn them in and collect the nickle deposit. It's a shame that the BLM doesn't provide any receptacles so people can recycle.

Sorry this post is late, but again we've been having fun getting and staying connected on the Internet.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fighting For Bandwidth

With all the RVs (no kidding, thousands are here in Quartzsite and the adjacent BLM lands),

 it's getting harder and harder to get online.  Everybody is trying to get on line.  That makes it really tough to find a little bandwidth to make a post, let alone stick on a picture.

So with apologies if we turn up "missing in action" here and there, a day or two, now you'll know why.  Of course tonight, I got a strong signal with my aircard, so it made a liar out of me.  :cO

Today we went to the Big Tent with a major mission.

Our Roadmaster tow bar was showing its age and had some wear and tear that needed attention.  Roadmaster, as well as other tow bar manufacturers like Blue Ox have service areas where they will repair, rebuild or overhaul your tow bar for minimal costs.

Our tow bar needed an upgraded swivel joint, which cost $125, as well as repair on its sticky release mechanisms.  A new tow bar would have cost over $800, so the chance to get it upgraded was well worth it.

A couple of hours later, the tow bar was finished and looked brand new.  We gave the tech a good tip for all his hard work.  We're pleased.

Next was a walk through the tent and then around the outside, looking at all the vendors selling everything from RV supplies to foot massages (we passed on that).  We were looking for an upgraded braking system for our tow car that is permanently installed and we found what we were looking for with the Air Force One system.  We're going to book an install tomorrow.

LED light bulbs are next on our agenda and we're going to replace some reading light bulbs with them.  The reading light bulbs not only are amp hogs, they get really hot.  We've burned our fingers on them a couple of times just trying to turn off the light and touching the bulb while reaching for the switch.  There are a half dozen bulb vendors, so we'll shop around inside the tent for the best price.

We're enjoying the chance to shop when we want and chill out afterwards.  The Escapees group we're with at La Posa South have been a blast to hang with and we're learning lots of tips and ideas from them about the fulltime lifestyle.  We may have been RVing for years, but we're rookies or newbies at this life, so that must make us "newkies" or maybe "rookbies".  ;c)

Whatever we are, we're sure loving the lifestyle.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Touchdown In Quartzsite

Gritting our teeth from all the wind blown sand that resulted from yesterday's dust storm, we did a quick breakfast at the casino and hit the road to clear skies and little wind. 

Once again we enjoyed the scenery as we drove along I-10 into Arizona.  We made it to Quartzsite with 50,000 of our closest RV friends, not counting the thousands more who were already camped out in the BLM lands surrounding the town.

We signed into La Posa South Long Term Visitors Area (LTVA) and went looking for our Escapees group.  We eventually unhooked the Element and drove that around, with no results.

Our group had a white tent and that was what we were keying on, unsuccessfully.  We gave up and made a phone call to Jeri, who had invited us, she jumped into her Jeep, tracked us down and led us to the group location.

We found out the white tent we were looking for blew down in yesterday's wind storm, so we felt better about being so lost.

We intend to be here at least 5 or 6 days and we'd love to meet with any of our blogging friends that might be out and about.  Feel free to contact us at our email address (located on the very bottom of our blog post) and we'll work out some get together.

Stand by for our adventures here in Quartzsite.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

It Never Rains In California???

That song may have been correct for the last few days, but this morning, when we were going to leave, man it poured.  Our site was not cement, not gravel, it was dirt.  Was being the important word.  This morning, it was shoe sucking mud.

Fortunately I keep an old pair of shoes in the closet, so I was able to schlep around with out doing any damage to nicer footwear.

We got out of the mudhole, er site, and headed on out way.  Destination:  Quartzsite. 

Eventually we came out of the rainstorm and headed on down the road with a stop at a Flying J to fuel, dump the tanks and get propane.

We are thrilled with our fulltime lifestyle and the new adventures it brings.  Today we got an adventure that was something we never experience before and was not thrilling.

We ran into extremely high winds and a first for us, a genuine desert dust storm. 

The blowing sand was blinding at times and the wind pushed us around quite a bit.  I was glad the Journey handled well despite the heavy gusts but we grimaced when hearing the sand hitting the sides.  We were expecting to have all the paint sand blasted off the body.  :cO

Of course, our important stop at the Flying J was right in the middle of the dust storm.  Fortunately the blowing sand lessened, but the winds kept up.  As I was fueling the Journey I was watching trash barrels, mats, even fuel pump metal panels blow around.  Despite all the debris, we were able to get the fuel and propane tanks filled and the black and gray tanks emptied.  Marti even helped me by keeping her foot on the dump hose end where it entered the sewer drain.  We didn't need an "accident" with the wind blowing as hard as it was.

A quick stop at a nearby Walmart for some cold cuts and we were back out on the highway fighting the wind and blowing sand.

After a while, the better part of valor became obvious, we had to get off the road.  The winds and blowing sand, along with the nutty, speeding drivers made our decision easy.  The next good place we could find we'd stop.  We were more than a hundred miles from Quartzsite and we'd fight the weather all the way only to find ourselves trying to get into one of the BLM sites at night.  Not a good scenario.

We called a nearby campground and it was booked full (surprise) so we looked for an alternative and found one, a casino right off the highway, 29 Spotlight Casino. There were a bunch of RVs in the huge parking lot already, so we joined them.  The posted rules allow a 24 hour stay so we were golden and very glad to get off the road.

Safety first, it is a good stop, RVs are still pulling in and the prime rib at the buffet was delicious!

Sorry, no pictures, the aircard signal is weak. :c(

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Space Invaders?

Today being our last day in the San Diego area, we went on an exploration trip to the Navy Base on Coronado Island.  Once again, the sun was shining and the air was warm and inviting.  I guess the song is true, it never rains in Southern California (we're NOT complaining!).

The Navy Base is home to a bunch of helicopter squadrons, it was neat to see them buzzing around in their pale grey Seahawk choppers (the Navy's version of the Army's Blackhawk). 

On the base, there is a private beach.  When we walked out on the sand, we couldn't believe how crowded it was.

We decided to come back another time when there are not so many people about.

Near the base is a FamCamp called Fiddler's Cove RV Park.  It is right on the water, there are 40+ sites.  No hookups, dry camping only, but at $12/night and with water and a dump station on site, what's not to like?  This time of year, you can only stay 45 consecutive nights before you must leave for two weeks.  In the summer time, it is reduced to 30 consecutive nights.  (A caveat, it is limited to active duty, reserve and retired military folks).

If we had the time, we'd come here and stay at least a week, San Diego has some many things to see and do it will be a priority stop the next time we come out this way.

Late in the afternoon, we returned to the campground and found most all the sites that were empty spaces when we headed out this morning were invaded with strange, silver capsule like things.  Were they from outer space?  No, upon closer inspection we determined they were part of a large Airstream Rally. 

Funny, because as we drove by and headed up to the Journey, the lone motorhome in the campground, the Airstream people looked at us like we were from another planet.  ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Reason We Came To San Diego

Of course, the sights in the city of San Diego were a plus, neither Marti or I had been here before.  The main reason we came to this area, though, was to visit with my two cousins and my aunt whom we had not seen in...well it's been so long we can't remember.  And it was a visit on a happy occasion.

My cousins Carol and Marilyn and I were very close to growing up.  My aunt Audrey, their mom, was always a fun person to be around.  It is funny how our lives became interwoven over the years.

Marti went to college with Carol, and knew her before she ever met me.  Marti transferred to another college where she knew Marilyn before she met me, although we met at that college.

Marilyn married a guy she met in college, Willard.  He and I became good friends because I helped him keep Marilyn's car running.

Carol married Jeff, who is a cousin to a guy and a girl that were neighbors of mine when I was a little boy.

So we all have common twists in our relationships before we knew each other and after we all married.
Don't worry if I confused you, there is no test at the end of the blog. (Phew!)

Just a good family picture to document the great time we had together.

Marti, Paul, Aunt Audrey, Marilyn, Willard, Jeff and Carol

It was wonderful to reconnect, meet their kids and spouses and grandchildren.  It was another goal of our fulltime travels accomplished, to see relatives that live far away.  We'll be back again and stay longer next time.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lost In Time

We've discovered an new phenomenon in life as full time RVers.  We're losing track not only of time, but what day of the week is it.  To combat this loss of days of the week, we had to get this remedy:

It actually works pretty well and has prevented us from showing up for a Sunday morning church service on Tuesday...

We took a trip to downtown San Diego and walked along the beautiful waterfront in the warm sun.  The sun felt so nice after all the cold weather we've experienced.  We were not the only ones enjoying the day, there were lots of people about, even kite flying.

We think they were kite flying, but it was so huge, it might have been a UFO coming in for a landing.

The waterfront has many lovely fountains and other enjoyable sights.  One statue is of a girl playing the violin while standing on a naked man.  In my efforts to keep this blog G rated, I cropped the photo so you wouldn't be afraid to show it to your mother.

San Diego is a Navy town, no mistaking it.  It has a large base and even its own aircraft carrier museum, the USS MIDWAY, its deck covered in various types of aircraft.  There is even a statue of the famous picture of the sailor kissing the nurse that was taken on the announcement that Japan had surrendered and World War II was over.

You can't miss this statue.

As a public service, I wanted to make sure this statue is safe for curious little boys to play around.

It is! ;c)

Next to the statue is a lovely tribute to Bob Hope, for all the years he entertained the troops overseas.

He was a wonderful supporter of the American GIs.  He put on shows starting in World War II and contiuned on through the many conflicts that followed.

I still miss him, truly a great American.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Back In Civilization

Edwards AFB FamCamp was a nice stay, with sunny, but cool and windy days.  However, it was way (way, way) out in the boonies and our Internet signal was all over the place, one minute it was strong, the next it ran away and hid.  Sometimes pages loaded, other times you'd go cross-eyed staring at the blinking hourglass.  It is amazing how much we've come to depend on the Internet.

We had a nice open site, with a clear view of the Southern sky, so we were able to lock on to our DirecTV satellite signal.

We awoke to a freezing cold morning.  Good thing I filled the water tank and put away the hose last night so we had no problems. 

Our goal today was drive a "short" 191 mile distance to Escondido, California.  It didn't start out very good. 

Edwards AFB is not just big, it's HUGE.  So huge it could easily swallow some New England states.  Rhode Island, for sure, probably with Vermont and New Hampshire thrown in.  Guess what happened to us.

We got lost, trying to get OFF the base.  Funny how desert sand, tumbleweed, Cholla cactus and creosote bushes all look exactly the same.  Now we understand how people died of thirst in the desert.  Our GPS was no help at all, it just showed an arrow pointing forward in a totally blank screen.  For once, the annoying voice inside the unit was speechless.

Figuring that if we headed in the direction we believed was South, we were sure we'd come across the major highway we were looking for.  We continued on, re-enforcing our bad choice.  And on, and on.  I swear we passed a few skeletons of unlucky people who made the same bad choices as we did. 

If I was a betting man, I'd put money on the fact that there are still Conestoga wagons loaded with pioneers heading West, wandering around out there.

Before we left, I had dumped the tanks (smart move that I'll get to later) and filled the fresh water tank.  So we weren't going to die of thirst or the need to use the bathroom anytime soon.  Still, getting slightly concerned, we pressed on, wondering aloud if we should turn around.  Turning around always sounds like a great idea, a lifeline to get you out of a bad situation, except for one thing:  There's never a good place to turn around when you need one.

Eyeballing the desert floor, it didn't look too sturdy.  It would be just our luck to try and turn around on the sand and get stuck.  Then, our very first use of our emergency road service would be disastrous cell phone signal.

We decided to press on. 

Finally, we were rewarded with a victory, the entrance gate to the base.  We roared through the exit at the breakneck speed of 5 mph and we were home free.  Almost.

A sun bleached sign indicated the highway we were looking for was just down the road...thirty miles.

Finally we merged onto the elusive highway we were looking for and headed on our merry way.  Shortly thereafter, to add insult to injury, we passed a sign with an arrow pointing the way to Edwards AFB, 10 miles! 

Just goes to prove, if there is a long way around to get somewhere, we'll top even that.  Our record is when we're faced with a 50-50 choice, we'll make the wrong decision 90 percent of the time. :cO 

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful, except for the !*$%&%^! that whipped his Honda Civic around from behind us, zoomed past us on our left, then cut right in front of us and turned right.  A new learning experience, no matter how well you store items, no matter how carefully you tuck things tightly away, in a panic stop, lots of said items will come crashing down and scare the living you-know-what out of you when you are confronted with a tire screeching panic stop.

Good thing we carry extra underwear with us.

We finished our trip at another Passport America campground in Escondido, CA (near San Diego).  We booked for four nights, three at the PPA rate of $16/night and one at the regular rate of $33/night.  The campground only offers 3 consecutive nights with PPA, but who is complaining?  We love the discount, even if you have to go a little bit out of your way to get it.

The campground is an older campground, nestled in the mountains with old growth trees surrounding it.  No satellite TV signal here.  The only down side is the site is electric and water only.  Not a big deal since I had already dumped the tanks this morning.  Their dump station, however, looks to be very problematic to get to so we'll just have to be a little more conservative on our water usage, sort of practicing for next week at Quartzsite.

We have a pretty good Internet signal here, but not good enough to download lots of pictures from Picasa, so you'll have to use your imagination.  ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.