Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!

You probably won't be reading this until tomorrow so both Chris and I would like to wish you a very Happy New Year and a prosperous and safe 2019.
I expect things will be pretty quiet around the LTVA here tonight but from what I have heard, there may be a bit of revelry happening in town later on. I am not sure how late we will hang in but I will be surprised if we make it to midnight.
As I mentioned in my last entry it has been unseasonably cold here the last few days. Today, despite a beautiful sunrise, was cloudy all day and the temperature barely made it into the double digits. In fact the forecast for the next few days are even colder yet with 'hard freeze' watches for most of this area. Overnight lows could go down as low as -4C or so for the next couple of nights with daytime highs up to 10. It doesn't look like things will really start warming up until the weekend. Our trailer is fairly well winterized so I am not worried about anything freezing but we are going through propane quite a bit faster.
I hear winter has arrived back home with cold and snow so I guess I probably shouldn't complain.

A couple of shots of this mornings sunrise. This was about the last we saw of the sun today.

For a while now, I have been looking for an alternate way to carry potable water in the truck. While we do carry 80 gallons of fresh water in the trailer, when we park for an extended period, we need to occasionally refill that tank. Rather than move the trailer to go fill with water, we have been hauling around 2 15 gallon barrels that we use to bring water to the trailer. This works OK, but those barrels do take up a fair bit of room in the truck. I have looked at several types of bladder tanks such as this one, which, when empty, can be rolled up and stored in a space about 1 cu ft. The problem is that they also us a fair bit of space in the back of the truck when full and our hitch would be in the way. Last year when we were at Imperial Dam, I was talking with a fellow who had a 40 gallon round one that is contained inside another tough container. We couldn't find a source for the manufacturer last year and their web site left a lot to be desired but I did find them this trip. Turns out he is right here in Quartzsite for the winter. We stopped off to take a look and had a chat with the guy. It looks like the original owner of the company passed away recently and his wife has another fellow (the guy in Quartzsite) selling what stock they have left. Anyway, we wound up buying one of their 60 gallon tanks for a decent price. It comes with a pump and a special fitting to attach the hose to the bladder. Right off the bat, I was having an issue with securing the fitting to the bladder as it seemed the fitting was not the right size. The rep wasn't much help so I had to come up with an alternate method to secure it. I think my method, while not quite as aesthetic as theirs is more secure. Other than this, the bladder looks to be very well constructed and the outer enclosure very tough as well. Time will tell I suppose.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Brrrrrrr! Damn, it's cold right now!

I probably shouldn't complain, but damn its cold down here right now! For the last week almost it has been getting colder. Even talking to the locals it is unseasonably cold right now.
Yesterday and last night have been the coldest yet. I don't think we got above 15 C all day and were down to about 0.5 C this morning. It wouldn't be too bad except for the wind. Yesterday it was blowing probably about 20-30 KPH. According to the forecast it is supposed to stay this way for a few days yet and possibly even colder yet with highs only around 10 and lows around 0. New Years day is the worst. If the forecast holds, they are also forecasting winds around 30-60 KPH.
At least the skies are mostly clear so we do get some fairly decent solar heating although when the sun goes down the temperature drops very fast. We are also using up propane at a good rate.

After breakfast his morning Chris and I took Maya for a walk then headed into town for a bit. We were hoping to check out the thrift store but it turned out it was closed for renovations until after New Years so we headed over to Tyson Wells instead. Tyson Wells is a combination RV Park and flea market area just south of the I-10 freeway. In January it fills up with vendors of all sorts selling everything from ATV and RV parts to tools to kitchen items. Today though there are not too many vendors set up yet. We did find a few things though.

Before heading back to the trailer we stopped for lunch at a place in town that is famous for its pizza's; Silly Als. While I am not usually a fan of pizza, I have to say that Silly Als is among the best I've had. It is probably in the top 5 anyway.

After lunch it was back to the trailer and we just took it easy for the rest of the day.

We hit maybe +12 today and the wind was blowing all day. It is about 5:45 as I write this, the sun set about 15 minutes ago and the temp is already dropping fast. It's going to be another chilly one I think.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Quartzsite, Az

Today we packed up at Mittry Lake and headed for Quartzsite. We were here around about the same time last year and liked it enough that we stayed 3 weeks. We pulled into the La Posa South LTVA at about 1:30 and proceeded to the same spot we had last year. We even recognize some of the rigs in the area from last year.
We weren't sure what to expect when we arrived what with the partial US government shut down. We had heard stories varying from no access allowed unless you were there before the shutdown to fully open with no impact. The reality was that there were signs posted indicating that the registration booth was closed and that services might be limited but otherwise the site was still open. There are thousands and thousands of rigs in all of the 4 LTVA areas so I don't see how they could possibly close them down completely.

Once we were here and set up, we went for a short walk with Maya and noticed that the sani dump and water stations were still functioning and it appears that garbage is even being collected. We shall see how it goes if the shutdown continues however.

Quartzsite in an interesting little town in that its year round population is only around 4,000, yet in the winter and especially through January its population swells to over a million. It is known as the "Boondocking Capital of the World".
What brings so many people here in the winter months is the dry and temperate desert climate and a huge rock and gem meet from Dec. through the end of Feb. and an equally large RV show in the middle of Jan.

One little sidebar I wanted to mention began on our trip last winter. In early December we were camped out at American Girl Mine Rd near Ogilby, Ca. While there I noticed something in the sky off to the East visible between 2 mountain peaks. Whatever it was didn't move over a span of several days then disappeared for a couple of days. Before we had left it had reappeared. All I could see at that point even with binoculars was that it was a light colored vaguely streamlined dot. When we made trips into Yuma, I could see it as well and attempted the take bearings on it against recognizable landmarks but it wasn't until we moved to Mittry Lake last year that I was able to figure out what and where it was. It turns out it is a Tethered Aerostat Radar Platform and is located out in the Yuma Proving Ground.

Photo taken from Wikipedia article

There are 11 of these aerostats positioned across the country just North of the Mexican border which are currently operated by the the US Customs and Border Protection agency.
The reason I mention this now is that we drove by the site on our way to Quartzsite this afternoon. It is only about a mile from US-95 and some features are visible from the highway.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Betty's Kitchen and our last full day at Mittry Lake

After breakfast the 3 of us took a short drive over to Betty's Kitchen. This is a short half Km or so interpretive trail at the site of the original Laguna Diversion Dam. The interpretive trail system was named after an illegal restaurant that operated in the area until it was destroyed in a flood in 1983. It was built back in the 90's and at that time was probably a nice walk through the original vegetation of the area.
Unfortunately, since that time the area has suffered through a recent major flood and brush fire that destroyed much of the native vegetation. Human vandalism and neglect has also taken its toll on much of the interpretive signage.
The original earthen dam still exists as well as a flood control gate built in 1907. One interesting thing is a bridge over the flood canal adorned with a number of swastikas. Keep in mind, this structure was built long before that symbol was taken by the Germany's Nazi party as it's symbol. At that time the symbol was a Hindu symbol indicating a power over water.

Today, control of the Colorado river takes place at the newer Imperial Dam which was built in 1938.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!

Probably by the time you are reading this, Christmas 2018 has come and gone and now you are into the Boxing Day madness.
I just want to say that Chris and I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and were able to spend time with friends and/or family.
Chris and I spent our day with some other members of the Boomers BOF. A branch of the Escapees RV club.
The weather for our Christmas was almost perfect. Sunny and warm with only a bit of wind which came up about noon.
We all gathered about 2PM for a lovely pot luck supper over at the RV of Don and Glenda Wicks. Fortunately their rig was positioned so that it blocked the little bit of wind that there was.
Instead of turkey, Chris had done up a couple of large chickens and added some stuffing and gravy. Others brought veggies, mashed potatoes, sauces and deserts. All in all everything was delicious and the company was great.

The group photo in front of the Christmas Ladder. Kind of a boomer Christmas tradition.
Left to right: Myself, Chris, Don Wicks, Tom and Margie Maloney, Glenda Wicks, Dan and Jenny Shepard.

After supper we had a good Facetime session with my Mom and brother and Chris's parents back home in Vernon, BC.
All told it was a wonderful day.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Fly day today

Today I got to do what I have been wanting to do for a while. The stars aligned and I was able to take the jet out to the Yuma Aeromodellers Contreras field and got in a couple of flights.

I had we bit of difficulty getting it to start until I realized the problem was a set up issue with the transmitter. Once that was sorted out, it stared up without issues and flew nicely.
The first flight was pretty tame as I haven't flown it since Sept. but the second flight felt much more comfortable. This aircraft is capable of speeds over 200 MPH yet slows down and lands nice and slow. I only got 2 flights in as the wind was starting to get a bit strong and everyone was leaving.

This evening Chris cooked up the roast we bought yesterday. Oh my God! That was the nicest roast we have had in a lllooonnngg time. Even better is we have enough left overs to last for another 2 or 3 meals. Along with the roast, were baked potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and french cut beans.

Friday, December 21, 2018

More fiery skies today

It must be the weather lately; we have been having some clouds around instead of the normally sunny skies the last couple of days.
This morning, this is what greeted me shortly after I got up.

And after an almost totally cloudy day, we saw this in the West just after sundown.

Otherwise, today was laundry day so another run into town. We also stopped at Fry's for some more groceries. We caught some really good beef sales today as well. We picked up 2 huge T-bone steaks with large tenderloin portions for less than $17. Also a 5.7 pound (2.6 kg) rib roast for $22.67.
Sure wish we could find prices like that back home.
Mind you, I see our dollar is taking a bit of a nose dive today so maybe the prices weren't quite as good as we thought.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Boomers Movie and an (early) Dinner

For the last week or 2 we have been noticing a slight sulfur odor in the trailer. It seems to occur mostly when we are doing dishes. After a bit of reading, it would seem that the source is our hot water tank.
From Wikipedia, "The most common cause of smelly water is anaerobic bacteria that exist in some water and react with sulfur and the magnesium and aluminum sacrificial anodes that come with most water heaters to produce hydrogen sulfide gas, making the classic rotten egg odor."
The fix apparently is to drain the tank and then refill it with a weak Hydrogen Peroxide solution. 
That was my project this morning. After breakfast, I drained the tank and then poured in about a half litre of 3% H2O2 and refilled the tank. I left it for a bit while I transferred the last of our holding tanks into the 'honey wagon' then drained and refilled the water tank with fresh water. Time will tell if that solved the problem.

Afterwards we headed into town again to disposing of the contents then headed over to the Main St. Theatres where we were meeting up with a few other Escapee Boomers for a Movie and Dinner date. While the movie wasn't quite to my taste, it was "Mary Poppins Returns", it was nice meeting up with other Boomers. Some we already knew and a few new faces as well. After the movie we all went over to the "Prison Hill Brewing Co." for an early dinner.

One thing about owning an older trailer is that there is always something that needs doing. One important thing is the caulking around the various seams to keep the inside dry. Today I was working on the bedroom slide. The old caulking on the outside seams was starting to dry up and pull away so I was stripping some of the old stuff off and applying new.
Later on Boomer friends who were at the dinner last night arrived with their trailer. They will be here with us through Christmas. That's them in the background in the top photo.
Just at sundown I caught a bit of a sunset reflecting of the water in the canal behind us. It really looked pretty so I grabbed a couple of snaps. I thought this one was the best.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

We have a honey wagon

Well yesterday I turned our truck into a honey wagon!
Being reasonably conservative with our water usage, we are able to last about 2 weeks in our trailer before our water tank is empty and the 2 holding tanks are full. We turn about 95 gallons of fresh water into about 45 gallons of grey and 45 gallons of black.
The last time we dumped the holding tanks and refilled the fresh water was last Monday when we moved from Imperial Dam to here. We plan to be here about 3 weeks so knew going in that we would have to dump at least once while here. As it would be a major undertaking to break camp, haul the trailer to a dump site (the closest is back at Imperial Dam), dump and then bring it back, I set up some portable tanks that we brought with us. For fresh water I have 2 15 gallon food safe barrels that I got from a beer making store back home along with 2 smaller 7.5 gallon water jugs. For the black and grey tank we acquired a 30 gallon plastic drum from a car wash that I have fitted with fittings to allow me to transfer waste water from the trailer to the drum and then dump when we get to a dump site.
As I am sure every one knows, sh#t won't flow uphill, which begs the question of how to get it from the holding tanks in the trailer up about 3 feet into the drum in the back of the truck.
Last summer we bought a macerator pump. This 12 volt pump hooks onto the trailers dump fitting and when running, chews everything up into a slurry and pumps it up through a 3/4" hose into the tank in the truck. 30 gallons of black and grey took maybe 5 minutes.
After that, I just hauled it to the dump station in town as I was going that way anyway. As the tank is only 30 gallons, I will have to make a second run sometime in the next week or so. Hopefully that should give us enough endurance to last until we head for Quartzsite after Christmas.
As for transferring the fresh water, I have a small 12 volt transfer pump that I use to pump the water out of the fresh water barrels into the trailers fresh water tank.

Otherwise, Chris has been doing a bunch more baking and I have been doing some hiking and general 'puttering' around the camp.

As I mentioned the other day, Tuesday mornings the local model club usually goes float flying. The location happens to be just around the corner from our camp. They do start early though; pretty much at dawn and only fly for a couple of hours.
Yesterday afternoon I dug out the Carbon Z Cub and got it ready and this morning packed it up and headed down to the lake. About 5 of the guys were there so I joined them and got in 3 nice flights. Everyone was all done and packed up by about 9:30.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

We seem to have found a routine of sorts

Not that things are getting boring! Not at all. It's just that we seem to be running into town every 3 or 4 days.
I guess it is partially the limited fridge space we have. We tend to run low on the daily staples such as milk, eggs and produce fairly often. Chris also is keeping pretty close tabs on the sale flyers for the 2 main grocery outlets here; Fry's and Albertsons.  Of the 2, we seem to do most of our shopping at Fry's. They always seem to have several items on for very reasonable prices. Yesterday, for example, they had whole chickens on very cheap. We bought 2 large ones to use for our Christmas dinner for just over $10. Another find was strip loin steaks. A 4 pack where each steak will do a meal for the 2 of us was $17. Even factoring in the dollar difference, those prices are still quite a bit less than home.
The other reason we like Fry's is that every $100 grocery purchase is good for ten cents off per gallon at their fuel stations which are already about the lowest in the area. And the discount accumulates for the month.
I also needed some new shoes so we stopped at the Sketchers factory outlet store where I found a couple of pairs for a good price. And we stopped by Sears again (not much left) where Chris found a nice pair of earrings.

Otherwise I have been knocking off a few more maintenance items on the trailer (does it end?). Oh, and I did get our Christmas lights up.

We did see a stunning sunrise a couple of days ago. I woke up early and managed to catch a few pictures.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Taking life easy

Not a lot happening around here the last couple of days. Just hanging out and enjoying the weather.
After the rains last week, it is starting to dry up again. The humidity is dropping back to more normal levels and the daytime temperatures are getting back up into the low 20's. Although it does cool off rapidly when the sun goes down.

Tuesday mornings the local RC club flies float planes off the dock down on the lake. While I didn't have anything ready to fly, I did go down and visited for a while. They start at the crack of dawn and usually only stay a couple of hours. Afterwards we made a quick into town to pick up a few things.

Today, Maya and I went on probably my longest and toughest hike around here yet. There is a geocache that is only a couple of hundred metres from our camp, but to get to it is a good 45 minute to one hour hike and scramble; about 2 or 3 kilometres each way. It is just across the canal but to get to it you have to hike quite a ways up one canyon then cross over another hill then back down a dry wash followed by a steep climb and scramble up to the top of the hill across the canal. Gotta give Maya credit, she kept up like a trooper. There was only one spot that I had to lift her up where I had a short climb up a steep rock face.

This is the view back to our camp from the hill on the other side of the canal.

On the way, I spotted this nice example of an Ocatollio flower.

And another shot of a Brittle Bush in full bloom.

After lunch I started another maintenance project on the trailer that I should get finished tomorrow.
And last but not least, I hung up our Christmas lights.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

What a little water will do

After we set up here at Mittry Lake yesterday, I went for a short hike up into the hills above our camp. One of the things I noticed right away is how the vegetation is starting to green up after the rains we had last week. The Ocatillos usually just look dead. No leaves, no green, just spiny sticks. 

Give them some water and the change begins. All those dead spiny sticks leaf out and turn green.

Also at the end of those stalks, bunches of red flowers.

Another desert plant that looks dead most of the time is the aptly named Brittle Bush. Normally the stems are dry, brittle and snap easily. 

Add water and the leaves develop. After a while the plant will develop stalks with a yellow daisy like flower.

Another desert plant that pops to life after a rain is the Creosote Bush. These are probably the most common shrub in the Sonoran desert. They are literally everywhere. Normally, while they do have leaves in the dry times, they are dull and drab. Add water and within a few days the leaves have turned green and flower buds start to form. Those buds will produce small yellow flowers.
The Creosote Bush is also responsible for what people call the scent of the desert or the smell of rain. The leaves emit quite a pungent odor after it rains. I am still getting used to it. The first time I smelled it last year, it kinda reminded me a bit of burning plastic. It took me a day or so to make the connection.

Not much to relate today. Just laundry day and a bit of grocery shopping.

Monday, December 10, 2018

A hike thwarted and moving day (again)

Yesterday afternoon Chris and I decided to check out the small slot canyon just up Senator wash a ways. I wasn't sure how dry it would be after the rains a few days ago but we figured we would give it a go anyway. If you want to check, the coordinates are 32.9060,-114.5185. This wash has 2 slot canyons that are about 350 to 400 M long. The wash splits at the West end and the 2 canyons come back together at the downstream end. We tried the left or South fork first but only got 40 or 50 metres in before we found it flooded.

Downstream end of the 2 slots

We were a bit more successful on the North fork but again after a couple hundred metres it too was still flooded. As we didn't bring any hip waders, we elected to return and try again another day. I expect it may be a week or 2 before it dries out enough to allow passage the whole length.

Today we pulled up stakes at Imperial Dam and moved over to Mittry Lake. As the crow flies, it's only about 10 Kms but over quite a rough road. We also had to dump tanks and refill our water so all told it took us about an hour and a half. We are set up very close to where we were last year. I think I like this spot just as much or more as we are kinda tucked back in corner.

After setting up, I went for a short hike and after climbing up the rocks nearby took this shot looking back at our campsite. As you can see, there are a few other rigs here. We are the 5th wheel on the right. Don and Glenda Wicks who were at Borrego Springs with us are on the far left. The trailer in the lower left is a guy named Al and his wife Elma(?) from Ladysmith. In the orange tent is a self described hobo named Joe. Not sure who the other 2 rigs are yet. There are also a half dozen or so  other rigs off to the left of this shot.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Christmas Parade of Lights

Every year in Yuma, they hold an event called the Dorothy Young Memorial Electric Light Parade. We attended this last year at the suggestion of a couple of ladies we had met while staying at American Girl Mine in California. With one exception, we enjoyed the event last year so decided to take it in again this year. We started off meeting up with the Gerows at the Asian Star restaurant for nice Chinese Dinner before heading downtown. We arrived about an hour before the start of the parade and managed to get a decent spot to watch from. Even that early there were a lot of people already lining the street. The parade was scheduled to start at 6PM and by then the crowds were stacked 8 to 10 rows deep in places. Obviously a very popular event.

Unfortunately my pictures don't really do any justice to the entries.

One thing they really go in for here in a big way are their marching bands. Out of the estimated 100 entries, there were at least a dozen and maybe more.  The last one was the Gadsden Elementary School District #32 Marching Band. This band has participated in the Rose Bowl parade and was invited to London UK in 2014. We could certainly see why; they are good!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Lots more rain last night

Several times last night I was awoken by the sound of heavy rain pounding on the roof of our trailer. I think it started somewhere around 1 AM and there were still some pretty good showers around at 5:30 when I got up. Once there was enough daylight to see around us, I could see there were some pretty major puddles. Also the little dry wash behind us wasn't dry any more. After it finally quit around 9, I took Maya for walk up the road as I was curious to see how much water was coming down Senator Wash. This is a (usually) dry wash that has it origins in the hills about 10 KMs Northeast of us. Sure enough, it was now a pretty good sized creek. Ferguson Road which is the access to Ferguson Lake crosses this wash and the local camp host had to barricade it for safety reasons due to the volume of water crossing. Even Senator Wash Reservoir looks like it rose several feet overnight.

Yesterday, we walked straight across, right about where that motorhome is.

From what I hear though, what we received here, pales by comparison to what the LA basin got. I have heard of large mud slides and flooded streets. Even our friends wintering in Hemet said they had some significant flooding near their park.
By noon though, it had pretty much cleared off, the sun had come out, and things were drying up quite nicely. By sunset, other than a few soft spots around, the desert was pretty much back to normal.
I am hoping the moisture will get some of the vegetation to start greening up and maybe even prompt some blooms.
Around about that time we got buzzed by a Marine Corp. Osprey.  It came over low circled around and then headed back to Yuma.

Our new end table arrived yesterday and we picked it up this morning. It fits the space nicely and should help keep some of our papers and magazines under control when we travel.
Chris did some more baking today and has started playing around with some new cookie decorating techniques. Should be yummy!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Even in the desert a little rain must fall

Things are pretty quiet around here so only doing posts every couple of days or so.

Not too much to relate from yesterday. I took Maya on a good long walk and snagged a couple of geocaches along the way.
One thing we have been looking for is a new end table to go between the two euro chairs at the back of our trailer. The one we have is a bit small and only has a narrow shelf under it. Anything left on there when we travel invariably gets spread all over the floor. One of the furniture stores we stopped at the other day had one that caught our eye. It is a bit bigger and has a small cupboard that will contain its contents. It also has a built in power bar with USB charging capability that will help tidy up all our charging stuff. The one we saw in the store was marked (on sale) at $230. Chris managed to find one on for $132; and free shipping to boot! We ordered it yesterday and it should be here today. We can pick it up tomorrow. If you are interested, this is the one we ordered.

The forecast for today has been calling for light showers beginning overnight. Sure enough, sometime during the night we did get a bit of rain. It had stopped by the time we got up but everything was still a bit wet outside. Most of this morning and into the early afternoon it has been overcast and as I write this about 4PM, it is once again raining lightly. I'm hoping with this bit of moisture, some of the desert vegetation will come to life. The Ocotillos particularly come to life after a rain.

As it has been an inside kind of day, Chris has started a bit of her Christmas baking. So far she has done a batch of shortbread and I think has some sugar cookies planned for next.

As we haven't had any sun today and have been inside and using power a fair bit, I will have to run the generator for a bit to charge the batteries. I had planned to do this around this point anyway as I like to run it at least once a month just to keep it in good shape. The last time we used it was in Eugene, Or on the way down a month ago. Has it been a month already?

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Yuma Territorial Prison

Yesterday was another pretty quiet day. We stayed pretty close to camp, just doing a few chores and enjoying the peace and quiet.

Today in Yuma was a welcome back winter visitor event at the Yuma Civic Centre. We thought we would take it in and see what it was all about.  Basically, just a bunch of local businesses showing off their wares. Very much like the home shows we see back in BC but more geared to snowbirds. We did manage to snag a few good coupons that we will use later.  We also ran into our neighbours from back home who also winter down here. They live just up the street a ways. And we also ran into Gerry and Marilyn Gerow again.
One place I wanted to visit last year when we were here but didn't get to was the Yuma Territorial Prison. This prison was originally built in 1876 and was in use until around 1905. It was called the Desert Alcatraz. The original inmates had to literally carve their own cells out of solid rock!
Chris and I spent a couple of hours exploring around the old site. Unfortunately much of it was lost in the middle of the 20th century due to railroad expansion and fires. What is left however, has been quite well preserved.

6 prisoners to a cell. Pity the poor sod who got stuck with the top bunk!

Some cells were very small. I'm sure you can figure out what the pot was for.

Guard tower on top of the cistern.

Model of the prison as it would have looked when in full use.
After escaping the prison, we stopped at a couple more furniture stores to see if we could find some suitable chairs (didn't) then back to the trailer.
It was quite a bit cooler today, only getting in to the high teens and with the wind was quite chilly. More clouds today as well. After we got back we took Maya for a walk and then enjoyed maybe the best sunset we have seen yet this trip.

Castle Dome mountains getting the last of the days sunshine.

Red clouds mixed with the last of the blue sky.