Thursday, February 28, 2019

Back to Mittry for a bit

We pulled out of Westwind RV Resort yesterday morning after our 2 night free stay and have moved back out to Mittry Lake. This is one of our favorite places. The scenery, the peace and quiet, and the cost (free) make it almost perfect. We plan to stay here at least into next week.

In the photo above, you can see the lake with a number of fishing jettys, the boat ramp and parking area in the upper right and where we are camped (the push pin). Most of the area down by the lake was posted for a maximum 10 days/year stay, but we have been told the canal, shown at the bottom, is actually managed by the irrigation department and has different rules. The area where we camp is also about 50 feet higher than the lake so we get a nice view.
Since we were here in December though, they have made some changes to the camping areas by the lake. They used to allow camping at the foot of each of the jettys but I guess the locals have been complaining that limited access to others that wanted to use the jettys. They have just recently posted all those spots as Day Use Only and created a designated camping area at the bend in the road just left of the boat ramp. They have set that area up into about 12-15 spots and divided them up with rows of large boulders. So far nothing has changed up top where we are though.

After we moved, we found out our internet Mifi device had started to act up. It is continuously rebooting and making our on line activities a bit difficult. Since we don't have any other cell service here, we will be a bit cut off until a replacement gets here. We are currently working with the vendor to get one.

This morning a large semi from Arkansas hauling live fish pulled into the upper lot where we are camped. It was carrying a hybrid species of carp that they use to help keep the canal clean. They dump them at several locations along the canal. They also told us that this canal, besides supplying irrigation water to the Yuma area also provides some of its drinking water.

The weather has made a complete about face compared to last week. We are now getting temperatures into the upper 20's during the day and staying fairly warm over night as well. The forecast is for this to continue at least through the middle of next week. It's about time is all I can say!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Bloom time

The last round of rain we had a few days ago has really started things blooming down here. Nothing on the cacti yet but lots and lots of wildflowers.

According to the iNaturalist app on my phone, the purple flowers above are Desert or Pink Sand Verbena. In some areas there cover large areas of the desert. These ones were found within a few feet of where we were parked at the Yuma Aeromodellers field.

This is a Dune Evening Primrose

This is a Desert Evening Primrose

I think this is a member of the Globemallow family, likely the  Desert Globemallow.

This one was a bit harder to identify but I think it is a Browneye.

This one was a little tough as well but I think it is a Clearwater Cryptantha.

We have moved over to the Westwind RV Resort only a couple of Kms from the airfield where we were. We had a 2 free night coupon that we decided to make use of. This is the first time we have been plugged into power since we left home in November! It feels a bit strange not having to worry about using extra power for things!

We have decided to hang around Yuma for another week or so but we are now giving some thought on what route we want to take heading home. I would like to stay on the East side of the Sierras up through Nevada and East of the Coast Range through Oregon and Washington, weather permitting.

It does look like the weather is finally changing and we are getting out of the cold we have seen for the last couple of months. The forecast for the next week is for warmer weather getting up into the high 20's. It's about time! Maybe the warmer weather will bring out more flowers.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Snow! and the YAM airshow

Well, it looks like we escaped Tucson just in time! We pulled out of Casino Del Sol about 10AM on Thursday and made our way towards Yuma. About a half hour north we ran into pretty heavy rain and it continued after we turned west on I-10 and right through to Gila Bend. It was also pretty cold but not freezing fortunately. I gather a cold front was going through because later on that evening and over night Tucson got this.

Image from the Arizona Daily Star
Yikes! I'm sure glad we left when we did! Once we did get to Yuma, we got ourselves set up at the Yuma Aeromodellers Contreras field. I guess the rain must have followed us because no sooner were we set up that the skies opened on us again! It poured for the rest of the evening. No snow though thankfully.

Friday actually dawned fairly clear. Just some low puffy clouds around. Shortly after sun up, the local club started arriving and began getting the field set up for Saturdays activities. I was hoping to get a couple of flights in but by the time the set up crews were done, the wind had come up and I elected not to risk the plane. Chris and I had a couple of errands to run so we did that in the afternoon instead.

 I managed to catch this little guy tasting a creosote flower while taking Maya for walk in the afternoon. The photo doesn't do his colours justice. He had a vivid green back and bright red throat.

After another cold night, Saturday dawned clear and once the sun was up it started to warm up nicely. People started to arrive for the airshow and by about 9:30 the parking lot was full and people were parking in the desert. After a short pilots meeting at 9:45, the local air cadets did a colour guard and the the US and Canadian anthems were played. Then the flying started. They had me up first again this year but had me flying with another pilot with a jet. We were able to tag team our maneuvers so that when one of us was turning around the other was flying something in front of the crowd. We both had real good flights and once finished got to sit back and watch the rest of the show.

 This is just a small section of the parking lot with the flight line at the top of the photo.

It continued to warm up through the morning and by the lunch hour, was starting to get downright warm for a change! The show wrapped up about 1:30 and then we all gathered on the runway with our planes to answer what seemed to be a gazillion questions from the spectators.
I did get one more good flight after this then packed it all away til next time.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

We've gone underground!

Yesterday, we again met up with Paul and Joan and traveled about an hour east to the Kartchner Caverns State Park. This is a fairly recently discovered cave system and as a result has been kept in a very pristine condition. They have built minimum impact pathways through the caves to allow visitors to see the underground wonders.
The last cave I was in was back in 2002 in Mexico and that cave was nothing compared to this one. You can really tell they have taken a lot of care to preserve this one and will for years to come.
Unfortunately they don't allow cameras on the tours so I can't share any photos other than what are available through the link above. The trip took most of the day and we spent about an hour underground on the actual tour. There is a good interpretive centre on site as well so before going on the tour we were able to explore that for an hour or so while waiting for our time slot.
Even at this time of year, it is a very busy location. Our tour was later in the day, and I believe the head count for the day yesterday was somewhere around 650 visitors on the tours.
The weather was beautiful if a bit on the cool side. The elevation at the park is close to 5,000' and we actually passed a bit of snow on the side of the road left from the storms on Monday night. There is a good sized RV park on site and some hiking trails. I would like to come back sometime and spend a bit more time here exploring the above ground attractions.
We made it back to the trailer about 5:30 and then headed into the casino for dinner. We ate at the buffet where the days menu was mostly Italian. It was typical buffet fare. I actually found the small amount of Japanese stuff they had more to my taste.
The four of us chatted for a while afterwards while we finished our wine, then Paul and Joan headed back to their hotel and we retired for the night.
Tomorrow, we head back to Yuma for a week or so.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Pima Air and Space Museum

Anyone I have talked to who has been to the Pima Air and Space Museum say it is a must do. When we mentioned it to our friends, Paul and Joan, they agreed and said they would like to join us. So that was yesterdays activity.
We met them at the museum at 10AM and then proceeded to spend about 5 hours wandering around the indoor and outdoor displays.
The museums collections of aircraft of all types and sizes are impressive. From the small Bumblebee with its 6'6" wingspan to the B-29 Superfortress and B-52 Stratofortress as well as a replica of the Wright Flyer and even one of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner test aircraft.
Unfortunately the weather wasn't the greatest for spending a lot of time outdoors, being cold and windy, but at least the rain from yesterday is done with and the sun was out for the most part. Still though, we limited our time outside somewhat. I think Paul really enjoyed himself. He either worked on some of the same models on display in his earlier military days or flew some of them. He quite often had some humorous anecdotes to relate.

 Worlds smallest biplane, the BumbleBee. 6 foot 6 inch wingspan.

 A BEDE 5J painted to match the one used in the James Bond movie, "Octopussy".

 A nice example of a B-24 Liberator. That's Paul and Joan in the foreground.

 An AVRO Shackleton. Similar to the AVRO Lancaster but a later design.

One of 2 B-29 Stratofortress's

They had one whole hanger dedicated to this B-17 and the crews who flew them in WW2.

 A PBY Catelina

And their B-29 Superfortress

There were way too many other beautiful examples to list or show here.

By 3 PM, our feet were sore and we were all getting tired so we called it a day. We didn't get to see everything though and I would like to go back sometime and do it again.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Movin' on

Friday, Paul and I went flying again. I needed to conserve my jet fuel for Yuma so didn't take an airplane but hung around the field with Paul for a while before heading back to the trailer. Other than that not much of interest to relate.
Saturday as well, we both just took it easy all day. I wandered around the airport a bit but didn't do much else.
Something I had been curious about even when we were here last year is an old boat parked on the far side of the airport. From our camp we couldn't see too much detail, so Sunday morning we drove over to take a closer look.

According to Rick, the airport manager, it is owned by a Hollywood stunt man and may have been used as a prop for the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie. Looking at it close up it is in very rough condition. A lot of the details are just hacked out of Styrofoam and painted over.
Looks kinda neat from a distance though.
We needed to pick up a few groceries before moving on so after checking out the boat we made a  quick trip to Fry's and also topped up the truck.
Monday was moving day. We are moving to Tucson to see a few of the attractions there. Paul and Joan are joining us so we had made arrangements to meet up with them at noon at the first stop. The weather has changed again and a fair chunk of the drive south was in rain, at times fairly heavy. It was also pretty cold, getting down to 4C in places. At one point I was wondering if it might actually change to snow!
Just north of Tucson is our first stop; Biosphere 2.

This is a scientific facility that was built in the late 1980's and early 1990's to test whether humans could survive in a completely self contained colony. The original experiments are long over, but the facility is still in use and run by the University of Arizona.
The 4 of us arrived about 12:30 and after stopping for a bite to eat in the trailer, headed over to the facility. I guess maybe because it was Presidents day today, the lines were quite long. It took us about 30 minutes to get through the line just to be able to buy our tickets. We were lucky and managed to get on the last guided tour at 4PM.
I personally found it fascinating and well worth the admission. I think the other 3 enjoyed is as well. Our tour guide was very well informed and was able to answer everyone's questions.
There are several biologically diverse ecosystems inside the facility. 

Tropical Rainforest Biome

 Ocean Biome

Mangrove Wetlands Biome


 Using Olla's for gardening

The Fog Desert Biome

More of the Fog Desert Biome

All in all, the full tour took about an hour and took us through all 4 major biomes in the facility and also some of the support equipment and facilities.
I found it all fascinating and glad we decided to visit.
After finishing up here, we went our separate ways for the rest of the evening and will meet up tomorrow for our next adventure. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

More rain!

Since Saturday we have had some fairly nice weather although it has been a bit cool.
Sunday after the airshow was quite nice. Lots of sun and pretty warm. We didn't do too much or venture very far.
I was hoping to go flying with my friend Paul on Monday, but it was pretty windy so we decided to try again later on in the week. Chris and I did go out for a couple of hours and explored a bit of the Maricopa Trail. There is a section just north of us with a few geocaches that we grabbed.
It did calm down late in the day and one of the balloon companies decided to launch just up the road a bit. Several of their balloons floated down the runway beside us.

Tuesday, we headed down to Mesa, about an hour away, for what was billed as the "Canadian Snowbird Extravaganza". It was way over billed. There were about a dozen tables set up with representatives trying to get people to come visit their state, to companies flogging dentures! There were a couple of worthwhile exhibits that we took some literature from. One on travel medical and another by the Canadian Snowbird Assoc. There were also some live Canadian entertainers there but that didn't really interest us that much. We left after about an hour and did some shopping in the area then had a nice Japanese lunch before heading home.
Wednesday, we did get to meet up with Paul and Joan at the AMPS field for a couple of hours and I was able to get a couple more flights in with the jet. It was pretty cloudy but nice and warm for a change. I think I have it dialed in pretty good now and am feeling pretty comfortable with it. We also were able to plan out in a bit more detail what we want to do next week.
Wednesday night though the forecasted rains started. Things started off with a shower about 10PM but Thursday morning it started to rain pretty steady.
There is a factory outlet mall just a bit north of us so after breakfast we decided to go up and check it out. It was pretty much the usual brand name clothing stores and a few others. Chris found a couple of clothing items at one shop but I didn't see anything worth buying so kept my money in my pocket.
A quick stop at WalMart for a couple of items then back home again.
It rained most of the afternoon and into the evening with a forecast accumulation of about a half inch or so. Our parking lot is pretty wet and since it is just gravel over desert dirt, it is pretty soft in places. From what we have heard, California has been getting hit pretty hard. Hopefully our friends Lyle and Barb in Hemet are keeping their heads above the water.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

All kinds of flying

After my last entry where I mentioned we had received a fair bit of rain I am happy to say that things had dried up considerably overnight and Wednesday dawned pretty decently. Chris and I had planned to meet up with Paul at the AMPS flying field but by the time that came around, the wind had come up and it would have made for a rough day of flying. We decided to abort and Chris and I came back to the trailer and hung around here for the rest of the day.

Thursday was pretty quiet for the most part and not too much happened other than we took a nice walk out in the desert.
Later on in the afternoon though, while sitting in the trailer, I heard the sound off in the distance of an airplane flying some aerobatics. This isn't unusual in itself as there is one that practices a few miles to the East almost every day. This one though sounded downright odd. It sounded like 2 big radial engines running together and periodically I heard a very loud jet engine as well. It was too far away to see what it was but even from a distance it looked just as odd as it sounded. I dug out the binoculars and took a look with those and what I saw was pretty radical. I still couldn't identify it but I was able to do some searching on line and found it. A group of guys had taken two Yak 55 monoplanes like this one.

And tied them together to come up with what they called a Yak 110.

photo by Jim Raeder

And then, to top it off, they added a jet engine under the centre wing section. It has only been flying for about 6 months and is just starting to fly the airshow circuit. I'll come back to this in a minute.

Friday, we met up with Paul and Joan at the AMPS field and did get some good flying in. After that, Chris and I headed over to Costco to fill a propane tank then back to the trailer. While at the AMPS field though Chris and Joan came up with our plan for today.

Today, we headed south a bit, to Buckeye, Az where there was an EAA (Experimental Aircraft Assoc.) fly-in and airshow at the Buckeye Municipal Airport. We met up here at the trailer about 9 then headed to Buckeye which was about 45 minutes away. After we had staked out our turf, Paul, Chris and I wandered around for a while and drooled over a lot of very pretty and impressive aircraft. Also there was the Yak 110 which I had seen on Thursday. The airshow itself started at 12 noon with a fly-by by a pair of the US's new F-35 Lightnings.

There were a couple of other aircraft that flew routines then the Yak took off. I have to say, up close and personal, it is quite the airplane. It is definitely different and the sound of the 2 big radial engines and the jet was impressive.
The airshow ran about 2 hours so after it was done we went our separate ways. Chris and I came back to the trailer and hung around here for the rest of the day. All in all a busy and pleasant day and it even finished up with another stunning Arizona sunset.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Mish mash of stuff today

I don't have anything major to report on, so today's entry is just a mish mash of stuff since Sunday.

As I mentioned in the last entry, we joined our friends Paul and Joan and their daughter, grand daughter and great grandkids on Sunday for the Super Bowl. While we had a great time, I can't say much about the game. It was pretty boring. Also, I found the half time show rather disappointing as well. Some of the commercials made up for things a bit but, all in all, we probably would have been just as far ahead to watch a good movie.

Yesterday, Chris and I did a bit of grocery shopping, then just hung around the trailer for a the rest of the day.

I hope Maya gets better soon. I am missing our daily walks. This morning the weather was fairly good so I struck off solo and took a good long walk out in the desert. The rains this month are definitely having an effect. The desert is so green now and some of the cacti are starting to show some blooms.
One of the cacti that are fairly abundant around here is a member of the Cholla (choy-ya) family; the Buckhorn Cholla.

Another common member of the Cholla family is the Teddy Bear or Jumping Cholla. This one can be nasty if you aren't careful. Each of those fuzzy tufts breaks off very easily and if you just brush against one, they latch on something fierce. They also shed them and they can roll around on the ground, blown by the wind, and are easy to step on if you don't watch where you step.

This afternoon we had a few showers around and about 4 PM we saw this full arch rainbow. It must have been a good shower as it hung around for a good 15 minutes or so. We never did find the pot of gold in the trailer though.

Lastly, I mentioned the 3rd member of the family that runs this airport and RV park. That is BeeBop the cockatoo. I got a chance to get up close and personal with her this afternoon. She is very friendly, unless you are female! She won't socialize with women at all and has been known to bite! She doesn't much care for Maya either.


If you look at the rafters in this shot, you can see what her beak can do!

It's raining hard as I finish this up and has been for a couple of hours now. I imagine things will be a bit mushy tomorrow. I am hoping for decent weather as Paul and I have plans to go flying.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

A wet Super Bowl Sunday

We have been seeing a daily increase in cloudiness over the last few days up to today. This morning around 4 AM it started to rain. Not heavy, but solid showers which lasted up until about 9 AM. As I write this around 11 AM we have a solid overcast and no rain at the moment although it is supposed to start up again this afternoon. The forecast for the next few days is also for more cloud and occasional showers so I suspect we will have to use the generator a bit as we won't likely be getting much sun for charging.

We will be headed over to our friends, Paul and Joans, for the Super Bowl this afternoon. Their daughter Kelly and her 2 daughters and possibly a couple of others will also be joining us. Chris has made up a few treats to take with us as well.

While it has been less than a week since her injury, Maya seems to be doing about as well as can be expected. She is still not putting any weight on her leg although she does try occasionally. We are trying to keep her as quiet as possible but it isn't easy as she is such an active puppy. I think the anti-inflammatories are helping as she doesn't seem to be in too much discomfort. From my research though it could be up to 2 months before she is more or less back to normal. Going forward, I think we are going to have to think about scaling back on her play a bit. Now that she has torn one CCL, she could be at higher risk of re-injuring the same leg or even injuring the other one.

I always like seeing pretty airplanes. There is one around here that we have seen a few times. It isn't based here but has been coming by to practice every few days. At first I though it was a Super Cub, but on further investigation it is an Aviat A1-C Husky. Very similar to a Super Cub and from a distance hard to tell apart.

Not the greatest photo but all I could get with my iPhone.

Another that we have seen is a 250 HP Maule. It is quite the performer with that much horsepower.