Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Recall ... A Dirty Word!!!

If there is anything that will make you cringe, it's the word RECALL on an envelope with the name of your NEW 2012 Tiffen Phaeton!!  Almost enough for a heart attack!!!  After the high of three weeks of Arizona fun, I was immediately brought back to earth.   I had the notice from Daimler Trucks North America before I left, but didn't think too much of it.  When I called yesterday, they said I should take care of this immediately!!!  Thankfully, it doesn't look too bad unless you mind that the cruise control may not disengage and your brake lights may not come on when you hit the brakes.

The problem that became apparent after four phone calls was where to take it for the fix.  It took two phone calls and a transfer to locate the person who could give me a list of repair shops.  The first three located in my area stated they could not "pull up" that recall (whatever that means) and therefore could not help me.  Finally the last call to Fresno Truck Center resulted in an appointment at either 7:30 am or 4:00 pm.  Of course I chose the early, most convenient time, and plan to take several books to read.  Although the letter states it should only take an hour, the service guy said these usually take 4-5 hours.  I guess I will see on February 20 when I arrive in Fresno bleary eyed from getting up at 0 dark thirty to be there by 7:30!!

The more fun part of the day was when I went to Sears to check out toolboxes.  Having my greasy screwdrivers in the RV counter dish drainer, isn't acceptable nor sanitary ... so I bought this beauty, mostly for it's gorgeous color and it's Craftsman quality!!!   Actually I REALLY wanted the fluorescent green VIPER, but couldn't justify that kind of price.  This box is a LOT heavier than I thought and after struggling to get it out of the truck and out of the box, I was pretty proud of the new home for my tools.  The bad news came when I placed it in the belly of the beast and it is TOO TALL!!!   I have access to the tool box on one side, but it won't slide the other direction, making things on the opposite side accessible.  That sure took the air out of my balloon!!   All packed up, it's going back today!!   Hoping I'll find another just a little bit smaller!!  Maybe it's a sign I should have bought the VIPER!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Home Sweet Home!!

Much as I love traveling in my RV, there are a couple of things I'm thankful for when I get home.  I'm pretty sure other RV'ers feel the same.  Something more than single ply and lots of running water.  Isn't it funny what we take for granted!!  I have to say RV'ing has made me more aware of recycling, being water-wasteful and "needing less stuff".  Unfortunately my at-home friends experience my squeakiness when I'm here!!

It is a relief this time to have Jonathan home alive and well.  After his major crash to the floor and the freezing weather, I was concerned whether he would recover.  I'm happy to say he's doing great, chortling and talking up a storm.  He's VERY happy to be back in his "house" with a full time heater!!
I can't remember if I told his story, but Jonathan is the last parrot I hand fed out of many raised from eggs.  I came up with a hand-feeding formula that worked exceptionally well for these exotic guys, using my very own baby spoon every two hours, and sold them for pets to qualified owners.  One of the interesting things about these particular birds is that you cannot tell whether they are male or female until they are much older.  At about 9 months of age, "way back then", you could have them surgically sexed by a Veterinarian.  An expensive, not exactly safe procedure.  Since I was not selling them for breeding, I didn't care whether they were male or female.  At about 9 years of age, Jonathan starting displaying in a way that determined HE was a SHE.  An identity crisis in the making!!!  To make matters worse, he's a Disco Duck ... raised in the 70's, he dances and calls out "disco Jonathan" quite often.  He/She calls the kitty, says What Cha Doing, I love You, Pretty Boy, Disco Disco and a list of other words probably only I can understand.  At 38 years old, he's become a real character that will live to 75 or better.  I have recently found a family that is willing to take on the feeding and care when I'm gone.  These birds have a pretty specific diet that includes baking "bird" biscuits!!  Live long Jonathan!!!

Eager to put my newly acquired RV knowledge to work, I headed out yesterday to pick up a few items.  First off was a wireless thermometer so I know just how cold I will be when I go outside.  Since I was going to the DESERT, I didn't take any coats and nearly froze, even when wearing three shirts!!  I also plan on purchasing coats that will not leave the RV closet.  These thermometers are pretty cool ... I actually have one in my house.  I plan on putting the external unit somewhere in the generator compartment with the Extra Heavy Duty Velcro I purchased at FMCA Indio.  Both units are battery operated.
The rugs I purchased in Quartzite have no backing and are very slippery on my tile floor.  When I mentioned I would need a rug mat underneath, I was immediately informed that was a bad idea.  I never did find out why, but the dealer suggested silicone beads instead ... washable and durable, making the rugs slip-free.  Patty noted she knew this trick already ... okay, I'll try it!!
Lastly, for my interior surfaces ... Armorall to keep them clean and shiny!!  I ordered a hitch-vise, safety cones, a collapsible dog kennel and enough hair spray to last 5 months in Alaska this summer.  It's like Christmas all over again!!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Head 'Em Up ... Move 'Em Out!!

My time at Quartzite has come to an end, but no fear, I'll be back!   This was my first week-long boondocking trip and I'm hooked.  Thanks Patty and Dan for sharing this experience and for bringing the firewood, even though it curtailed your shopping a little by taking up the entire back of the jeep!!  

Once packed up and ready to head out, Dan double checked the Tow Defender to see how it moved when making sharp turns.  I think I see one in their future!!!  I fueled up at the new Flying J just West of Q-town, probably paying too much for diesel ($4.05), but it's worth the ease of in and out for me!!  Then it hit me ... I'm going to California ... and I have a huge sack of oranges and a moldy head of lettuce in my fridge.  Panic time!!  I'm going to jail!!  I finally found a pullout just in time for the first checkpoint.  Oranges hidden (surely you didn't think I was going to throw them away!!) and lettuce in a trash bag in the belly, I quickly discover it's just a Border Check station.  The relief was only momentary when I realized there were still two oranges in the dish drainer, right out in the open on the counter!!!  Oh No!!!!  Another stop and those disappeared before I hit the produce inspection station, where the nice guy just waived me through!!  Didn't even ASK me if I had anything.  Much ado about nothing!!!!

I made it through the Palm Springs-Indio area without too much trouble, although it was sprinkling the entire time.  No problem ... the Rainex applied by my good buddy Dan worked like a charm.  The twitch in my right eye from the traffic should subside any day now!!  

Arabian Oasis in Boron hasn't changed in three weeks ... given the choice between power and water or sewer, I chose to pull forward and have power.  I tried to ignore the creepy guy hanging around staring at me and the puppies and didn't go out in the dark.  I woke up to socked in fog, which I'm used to, living in the Central Valley.  Around 9:00 it lifted and I was off, heading straight into the storm!!
It was hard to tell if it was rain or fog, but windshield wipers were required!!  Going over Tehachapi I hit one small clear spot for this picture.  Visibility was nada!!  I was going 45 mph at best and was surprised to find a trucker more nervous than me only going 35mph!!  Unfortunately, I had to follow him the entire way to Bakersfield.  Traffic was awful and I couldn't see well enough to make a lane change.  I'm sure the twitch in my left eye will stop in a week or so from that one!!!
Finally home, I was shocked to see the state of my jeep.  Patty had warned me about this when it comes to Alaska, but my what a mess!!  Good news is I get free car washes for life from the dealer where I purchased it!!
It was all worth it when I placed that Quartzite flea market calf hide on my recliner!!
All said and done, it was the most awesome trip I've taken so far!!  I met lots of new friends that I can't wait to see again!!  One of the most amazing sites in Arizona that I will remember for a long time are the sunrises/sunsets.  I took several images one morning to document the progress of the sunrise!  Yes, these are SUNRISE pictures straight from the camera!!

I thought it was done at this point ... but it just kept getting better!!

Goodby Arizona ... see you next year!!!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Organized, The Weird and The Trashy!!!

Up early as usual with the dogs, I'm fixing the old mop (scrunching the hair) and using the hair spray sparingly, because as the ladies know, it sets off that alarm on the floor, scaring my dogs half to death.  To keep this from happening, I close the bedroom sliding door.  Big mistake today ... BIG!!!  It locked when I shut it a little too hard.  No problem, just turn the door lock and open it.  NOT!!!  You have got to be kidding me ... I'm locked in the bedroom!!!  Might be a good time to practice Mac's window escape!!  I push, pull, turn, tug, lift ... nothing works.  Looks like the lock is broken.  FINALLY ... with the help of my rat tail comb (something good from the 60's) ... I was able to lift the latch and force it open, escape artist that I am!!  A little bending with pliers later, the latch is repaired.  Time to hit the flea markets!!

I don't know if this was Rice Ranch or Tyson Wells or just plain flea market, but we walked through the trashy first.    Found some cool stuff, but nothing trashy enough to buy.
Junk EVERYWHERE!!!  Some good junk .... some crappy junk!!  Okay, all just plain junk here!!
Next up came the Weird.  I could smell it from the road.  A short walk to the back and I discovered a "still" in the process of making some horrible smelling alcohol.  I think the Weird wins!!!  I would have bought the teepee, but it's not for sale.
The organized was last, neat rows of fun stuff for your yard, including a horse and buggy.  Patty drug me away from this one ..... not enough room in the jeep.
We did find a place that had my kind of stuff ... cowhides, buffalo heads, all things fur related.  Clear Creek Trading from Sedona.  I thought three times about the buffalo head ... one third the normal price ... but knowing I had already spent a bunch on my remodel, I passed.  I did pick up a couple calf and rabbit hides, some really hard to find ropes and some miscellaneous leather pieces.  
We didn't get dinner at Silly Al's the night before due to the 30 people in line ahead of us, nor did we eat at any of the other 5 restaurants we drove to.  Each had a waiting time of 45 minutes or better.  So for lunch today, we hit up Al's for some awesome pizza.  His reputation is warranted.  It was VERY good.
Of course Dan ordered the GOLIATH size ... and it almost covered the entire table!!
One more great find ... rugs.  Not that they will last forever, because they were $8.00 each ... but I loved the design and it matches my coach.  If they get ruined, no big deal with such a small investment.

There is back side nudity below.  Not mine ... the Naked Book Guy!!

This being my first trip to Quartzite, Patty and Dan thought I should hit the local book store, Readers Oasis to check out the proprietor.  I guess he's a nudist at heart and has been known to stand on the road with nothing more than a loin cloth, getting the best tan ever.  It takes all kinds, and this guy is one character to be sure.  When we arrived, the first sight was this kitty, the biggest I've ever seen.  What a sweetheart ... he kept my attention for some time.  
So here's what all the fuss is about .... It was cold, so he wore a jacket?????  And a sock ... I'm sure you can figure that one out!!  I felt so bad about taking a picture, since so many people had "Tip Jars" for pics, that I bought a book about "ladies" in the Yukon Territory.  How appropriate for my Alaska trip!!
Okay ... he takes the Weird award hands down.  Considering the temperature, I would have at LEAST put on a skirt!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

My First Time Ever!! In Quartzite That Is!!

A week in Indio at the FMCA Rally, a week in Yuma at Suni Sands and now a week boondocking in Quartzite!!  It just doesn't get any better.  Except in Quartzite, there is NO internet service worth speaking of.  My Sprint MiFi just doesn't get it!!  It seems the Sprint USB plug-in works better, but you have to have a Sprint phone and data account.  I currently have one of the few remaining unlimited AT&T data accounts that I don't want to let go of.  Won't someone please come up with something new???

We checked in at the Bureau of Land Management tent ... no charge, just checking in ...
and headed off to find "our" spot!!  Patty and Dan picked a good one!!
There are lots of nice Saguaro cactus around, all looking dead at the bottom, but apparently thriving at the top.  I could walk around the desert all day.  There is so much cool stuff to see!!
This one was dying in the embrace of a too close tree ... I named it "But I LOVE You"!!
Off to the Big Tent ... biggest I've ever seen.  We made a quick run through checking out Parks to stay at, doggie stuff, RV parts and pieces, clothing and LOTS of kettle corn.  I've never eaten so much kettle corn ... my favorite was Quartzite Dirt!!  

The next morning we were greeted with a nice sunrise ... how could you not love it here??
Day two and we're back at the tent, buying the Roadmaster Tow Defender for my Jeep ($399).  It fits over the hitch assembly and keeps rocks from being thrown up from the road.  Dan says this is a MUST for our Alaska trip this summer.  With Super Dan's RV Service being provided at no charge, I couldn't turn it down.  (Dans picture)
About the same time, I got a call from Davis Cabinetry about the installation of cabinets where my love seat is located, to allow for a recliner.  My before picture isn't the best, but you can see the couch on the end.  It makes into a bed, but so does the once across from it and I don't need two.  Besides, it's MUCH more comfortable to watch television from a chair.
While Dan installed the Tow Defender, Shaun took out the couch and installed the cabinets.  They match the existing cabinetry perfectly!!  Measured and ordered at FMCA, made in Oregon the following week and shipped to LA, he picked them up and drove to Quartzite to install them.  Now that's service!!  Soooo much more storage space.  The deck wasn't quite large enough for a chair, so they added a piece to make the deck area larger.  They did not have matching carpet, so I will have it covered at a later date.  Since matching drawer pulls take a month or so to get, he tied wire through for drawer pulls.  I really gave him a bad time about this ... but they will be shipped to my house.  The drawers are huge and allow for MUCH for flea market stuff!!!
Dan's installation didn't take long at all and I'm VERY happy with the idea of not having rocks hit the vehicle.  Easy to remove from the Jeep, it rolls up and stays on the back of the motorhome.  
BBQ'd steaks for dinner and campfire smores ended an awesome two days in the wilds of Arizona!!  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Quartzite Highlights!

Really bad internet service

Really BIG tent full of neat RV stuff

Really dark at night

Really mad because I forgot my tripod

Roadmaster Defender rock guard for between motorhome and tow vehicle

Davis Cabinet remodel on motorhome

Smores -- yummy!!!

Biggest flea market I've ever seen

Bedroom door lock malfunction

An afternoon with new friends

Pictures and stories to come .... when a little closer to civilization!!  LOL

Sunday, January 20, 2013

S L O O O O W !!

That's the service I have in Quartzite .... really really slow.  I'm thinking pictures aren't going to be possible until I get back to civilization, but will try to keep some updates coming.

Joanns, Walmart, Joanns, Sams, Walmart!!

You got it ... shopping day preparing for a week dry camping in the desert at Quartzite.   We hit Joanns Craft shop first, to find some yarn.  Patty and I both crochet and were looking for just the right colors to make throws for the RV.  At the Yuma Flea Market, one booth was selling plastic holders (with a hole in the bottom to feed the yarn through) ... which hang from a cabinet knob overhead.  Great idea for me to keep my dogs out of the yarn.  However I'm thinking a plastic Walmart bag would serve the same purpose.  A second trip to Joanns the same day yielded Patty enough for her throw and another color for mine.
The Suni Sands RV Park where we are staying has an exit in the back directly into Walmart.  Not only that, but you can bring the baskets back to your rig ... the manager drives around in his golf cart collecting them for return to Walmart.  VERY handy!!!  I must say this park is full of nice people, making up for the low voltage.  You just have to be up early to get the electricity you want!!!

Lunch at Cracker Barrel again ... can't beat this food!  It's more like home cooking than anywhere I've eaten and is reasonably priced.  The three of us ate huge meals for around $30.00.  I have enough leftovers for another full day.  I also really like their rocking chairs.  Wish I could fit two of them in my coach!!  Okay ... one!!!
Now for the Big Guy ... Sams!!  We don't have this store where I live in California, only a Costco.  I must say Sams seems to have more things that I would be interested in.  Some at much better prices.  We realized shortly that we should have come here and cruised the buffet for lunch.  No matter, even though we were full, we took full advantage of buffalo chicken wings, chimichangas, soy milk (yuck) and tortilla soup.
While Patty and I went back to Walmart for the tenth time, Dan installed a security light on my coach above the door.  The original light provided little illumination and I was looking for a motion-detector type.  At the FMCA rally, Dan pointed out the one he had that seemed to fit the bill.  It works perfectly!  I'm so excited ... now I can stay at Home Depot in Tehachapi and feel even more safe.  The light flashing even looks like a security system ... hoping this keeps the bogey men away!!  Oh .. and Dan replaced his old one with a new one also ... they have made some improvements well worth the money.  Funny what I can get excited about in my "old age"!!!
Back at the mobile ranch park, I asked Patty to walk around with me while I did some photography and keep me from getting run over.  Sometimes you just have to lay down in the road for the best shot.  Here's a couple examples of Snowbird Shangri-La!!
No one was living in this beautiful vintage Silver Streak.  We learned that the little rooms off to the side are called Arizona Rooms.  Some are fully enclosed, some not.  I just get the biggest kick out of these ... I've never seen anything like it.  Many are very old trailer-park like ... and many are the new park models.  Most residents seems to hail from Canada.
Time to pack up and get going to the next adventure.  Looking forward to the infamous Quartzite Flea Market!!!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Fleas and Kittys!!

Thursday found us at the Yuma Flea Market ... the biggest one I have ever been to.  We found several things on our list, including some nice fold-up chairs which have a side table for your happy hour drink.  By now Dan has made several Walmart and Home Depot stops and there is barely room for me to sit in the back seat.  There are also two huge boxes in the very back that they tell me are wood for Quartzite.  Hmmm the boxes say lamps and books.  I'm thinking maybe Dan forgot to unpack the jeep before they left!!
The car stacked to the ceiling with chairs, a foot stool, some step covers, a couple gourds, "wood" and miscellaneous other "good stuff", we headed to Five Guys for lunch.  I guess this won't be our favorite burger joint any more.   I got HALF a hamburger patty and for the second time, Dan didn't get bacon on his bacon cheeseburger.  I do love their peanuts though!!!
That afternoon I snuggled with the puppies for a couple of hours and started unhooking my RV for an appointment Friday morning at La Mesa Yuma.  My list had grown quite a bit since arriving here ... door won't stay open and squeaks so loud it wakes the neighbors, loose wires caused by La Mesa Davis digging in my dash to fix the camera, shower door bottom scraper fell off, night shade wouldn't go up ... and the worst of all, the ceiling seems to have come unglued and is sagging a little.  The worst part is being inconvenienced when you have two dogs and a parrot.
Friday morning Patty and Dan put Jonathan in their bedroom ... remember they have a BIG cat named Gracie.  I was just hoping she had been an indoor cat long enough to have forgotten that bird eating thing.  Later in the day we let her in to see what would happen.  Jonathan is very territorial ... and no one gets too close.  When he headed to the cage floor after her, I pushed Miss Gracie away ... her entire body was fuzzed up!!!!
Cooper and Jessie lived in my car for the day and we switched off puppy sitting and shopping.  Lunch at Cracker Barrel was awesome, as usual.  Best Mac and Cheese EVER!!

La Mesa Yuma people are VERY nice ... they fixed everything they could in one day (which was almost everything on the list), sending a memo to Tiffin about how they should proceed with the ceiling.  I will definitely give Tiffen a call too and let you know the plan.  I like that Yuma has the same service reps as when I bought my motorhome.  I have had three different reps in 9 months at Davis and less than satisfactory service.  Might be worth the long trip back here to get the ceiling fixed.

By the end of the day, everyone was happily back in their own home and Gracie's guest was alive and out of her reach.
No idea what's on the schedule today, but I did pick up enough really great yarn at Joanns Craft Store to make two afghans.  Not exactly the best prices, but they have the biggest selection of the best yarns I have ever found.  Can't wait to get started!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Infamous Hell Hole, Yuma Prison!!

I've heard about Yuma Prison over the years, being such an old west history buff, but was VERY surprised when we arrived yesterday at it's location on the river.  It was so much smaller than I thought it would be.  However, later when we calculated 6 men to a cell, counting the number of cells, it could hold maybe 250-300 people.  Small numbers by todays prison standards!!

Apparently the Colorado river used to flood this entire region and  could be up to 10 miles wide.  The prison was built on high ground at the rivers edge.
As we entered, it was easy to imagine how awful the conditions must have been. 
Seven original prisoners were brought here to build the first cells, which then became their home.  Six men were assigned to each cell.  Believe me, that doesn't leave much room for moving around.
The first stop was the barber shop where the men were shaved bald.  Apparently that helped with the lice and other critters roaming about.  Looks like he had a small fireplace, as a stovepipe hangs from the ceiling in this room.
Here's what you would see every morning.  No electricity, no heat and only fans moving the already scorching air around "outside" the cells.
Six metal bunks were placed in each cell, replacing the wooden ones that were infested with termites.
There's hardly enough room to have two guys standing on the floor.  You can only see in this picture because I added the light.
To keep busy when they were not on a work detail, they made horsehair hobbles and created fine knitting work.  Yup ... even the men knitted!!   Most of the inmates were of Mexican or Indian descent.  The horsehair work is just amazing.

Although much has been destroyed when sold to the railroad for a right of way, there is still a lot left to be preserved.  Without the people of Yuma making donations, this prison would have been closed and probably destroyed completely.

One of the infamous was Pearl Hart ... a stage coach robber who got off scott free on that charge, but the judge nailed her on stealing a gun.  The gun here was actually hers.  There being no place to house women in the prison, the other men were forced to make four new cells just for the ladies.  Pearl spent a couple of years here.  
Next we stopped at the Quartermasters Headquarters ... the supply depot for the armies in this area.  I would LOVE to take one of these saddles home and try it out.  It's not much different from mine with the exception of stirrup leathers.
Around the buildings were lot of old equipment, from a honey extractor to a bottom dump trailer and this McCormick Deering tractor.  
Two covered wagons were parked out front ... I cannot imagine leaving everything I owned, loading up this wagon with food and provisions, then spending months traveling/walking across the United States through these mountains and deserts, let alone dealing with the Indians who just wanted to be left alone.  I rather think it's amazing that the West was settled at all.
Leaving here, we passed Yuma's military memorial.  It's a beautiful park and worth a stop by to pay your respects to those who helped keep us a free country.
Today .... FLEA MARKET TIME!!!!!