Thursday, January 05, 2012

The party begins!

We left the Senator Wash area about 10am after dumping tanks and filling up with water.
Judy Williams,her five dogs and her husband, Stew are camped in the LaPosa North area. Carol & I stopped by for a visit. We filled up with gas at Pilot, $3.33/gal., and bought some fresh veggies at a farmers market sort of place then headed over to the main Lazy Daze camping area at LaPosa West. 33.64322 -114.22328. There were already five rigs there. We had met everyone someplace during our travels. Jerry, the guy who is organizing the GTG, is guessing there will be from 20 to 25 rigs within the next two weeks. Last year there were perhaps six or eight.
Compared to the two weeks during the big RV show, the place is a ghost town which really works to our advantage since we don't have a tow car and Carol's scooter doesn't work well in sand so desert walks are out. Right now there are lots of places we can park the camper in town. We're going to do our exploring this coming week then bum rides when the madhouse sets in by about the middle of the month. The gem & mineral show starts tomorrow. Carol is in the market for some earrings.

This is going to be a great month.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Our last day at the Imperial Dam LTVA

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

This evening, our neighbors walked over to introduce themselves. They are a retired couple from Iowa who have been spending the winters here for several years. I would guess farmers from their dress and demeanor. For only $180 per year, they have unlimited access to water, a dump station, trash collection and a shower. They travel in a Class A motorhome in the 36’ range. About every two weeks, they dump their tanks and fill up with water. They have their own special spot to which they return year after year. The “residents” tend to “customize” their areas with rocks, of which there is an endless supply. Big rocks, medium sized ones and pebbles. These rocks make it very difficult for Carol to either walk with her cane or drive the scooter. The rocks cover up the fine red dust, about the consistency of talcum powder, that blows around and coats everything.

The residents build one rock high borders to define “their” area, elaborate fire pits, patios, walkways and such things. The spot we’re in tonight has been customized. The defined area is large enough for two RV’s plus there is a well built fire ring. Last nights campsite had a good sized area that appeared top have been raked of even the smaller rocks. Perhaps to prepare a tent site.

The wind never stops blowing around here. It’s strong enough to make the flags stand out straight. As I rub my hands across the dinette table, I can feel the grit of the sand. There are a few camping areas that are in “bowls” or depressions. They are quite popular because they afford some protection from the wind. A few of the regulars have set up screens around their site to block the wind. Some have wind generators erected to provide electrical power. When we got home from last years trip out this way, I must have vacuumed up a pound of red dust. It coated just everything; the engine compartment, refrigerator, the interior, the roof, on and on. If you camp in the desert, that’s just the way it is.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

This morning on the way to our day camp spot on the reservoir, we drove around here and here. The long term residents are easy to spot. Flag poles, clothes drying trees, wind screens, elaborate solar power systems, potted plants, and such things. You see everything from tents to very expensive RV’s. A very interesting lifestyle.

Camping on the Senator Wash Reservoir.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Imperial Dam LTVA

January 2, 2012

Today we did some exploring. I have never seen a city with so many RV parks as Yuma. I don’t know if they hold the world’s record for such things, but they just might. One of the Escapees we’ve been camping with has been coming to this area for 16 years. He was just chock full of tips on free camping. Seems the true boondockers don’t even want to spend the money to camp at the LTVA’s.

Then we did our last minute shopping at WalMart, topped off the propane tank and set out for the Imperial Dam Long Term Visitor Area (LTVA).
In order to get to the Imperial Dam area from the AZ side, you drive through the Army Yuma Proving Grounds. Per the signs, every tracked vehicle and cannon developed for, and since, WW-II has been tested here. There is an interesting exhibit of some of the machines and guns tested.

Parts of the Imperial Dam LTVA are in Arizona but the majority is in California. CA is in a different time zone but, by convention, AZ time is used in this area. There are a number of camping areas like Cozy Cove, Kripple Creek, Hurricane Ridge, and another half dozen or so. The administrative area with the dump station, water fill, dumpsters and permit office is located in the South Mesa camping area. GPS 32.90139 -114.49599. We bought a 30 day camping permit for $80. This permit is good for all the different LTVA’s, including, of course, those around “Q”.

We spend the day camped on the shore of the Senator Wash Reservoir. If you want to stay overnight there, you need to pay an additional fee of $15/night. The folks in the office told us to just spend the day there and then move to one of the other camping areas before sunset. That’s just what we did. Gopher had a fun time playing stick in the reservoir, plus it washed some of the desert off her.

About 5:00 Gopher and I were sitting outside and two “wild” burros came wandering up. They didn’t much like barking dogs, so I put Gopher inside. They walked right up to me and just stood there. I got an apple and cut it in two and gave each half; that’s exactly what these two mooches had in mind. I didn’t want to give away any more apples so I took a zucchini and cut off two pieces. Burros don’t like zucchini.

A good day for a swim
Tonight's campsite

Wednesday, January 3, 2012

We like it here so decided to hang around until it’s time to move to “Q”. I got up just before sunrise, took a few pictures then drove down to the shore of the reservoir with Carol still tucked warmly in bed. We went exploring some of the other areas, like Squaw Lake, but liked the Senator Wash Reservoir the best. Here we’ll stay.

Monday, January 02, 2012

We had a visitor today

Gopher & the burro.

He stopped by to say hello and mooch an apple.

A few favorites from 2011; a truly great year.

Cedar Island, NC on our way to the OBX

Lake Superior, Michigan.

The family reunion in Pennsylvania.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

A few favorite pictures from past travels

The Slabs

Our campsite

The grandchildren. Christmas, 2010.

Our all time favorite campsite. It's just us. Lake Superior, Summer 2011.

Death Valley, 2010. A most beautiful animal. Looks like he just stepped out of the groomers.

Yuma, AZ and the Escapees

December 30, 2011

We made the final drive to Yuma this morning with stops at Fry’s and WalMart for supplies. Yuma is a madhouse this time of year. The full time population of Yuma is about 75,000 but another estimated 70,000 call it home in the winter.

Yuma. The lettuce capital of America

Yuma is Arizona’s warmest winter city and the sunniest year round place in the US, with an annual average of 4,133 hours of sunshine. This week’s weather is forecast to be in the mid 70’s during the day and the mid-40’s at night. This time last week a daytime high of freezing was about typical. It’s nice being warm once again. Last year in Yuma, Carol had heat stroke and we spent the day in the ER. This time, she’s drinking more water, dressing more appropriately for the weather, wearing a hat and keeping out of the sun during the hottest hours of the day. One ambulance ride to the ER is enough!!
We drove out to the Escapees New Years gathering on Mittry Lake. This is one of the “ten day” BLM areas. No charge, no facilities, but you’re supposed to move on after ten days. Right now there are about a dozen rigs here with more expected tomorrow; the official start of the rally. It’s hard to find a more welcoming group of people. As soon as we parked and got settled down, people came over and introduced themselves. Carol hopped on her scooter and joined some ladies who were sewing, making ear rings, knitting, etc. It’s just so nice for her to have company other then me, and for me to be able to talk to the guys as well. There was a couple here that we had met at an Escapee rally in Michigan a few years ago. About 4:00 there was the customary social hour. By sundown it starts to cool off and everyone heads “home” for supper. Everyone here, except for us, are “full timers”. One couple, Ron and Sharon, had been on the road for the 19 years since he retired from the Navy. They have a 1959 Continental Trailways bus they bought and converted into a motorhome. There are eight 125 watt solar panels and a battery bank with a 1,150 ampere hour capacity. Ron said they have a household size refrigerator, microwave, etc. that all run from the battery bank. Other RV’s here tend to have from four to six solar panels. Of course they are large fifth wheels or motorhomes with room for such things.

December 31, 2011
New Years Eve.
A beautiful day. Woke up to 44* this morning but by 10am it was over 60* and by noon time 74*. We spent the day enjoying the company of all the very nice people. The more time we spend with other Escapees, the more intriguing the life style becomes. Under the right circumstances, we could see traveling almost all the time with the occasional trip to Fort Pierce just to be sure the house was still standing. Some day perhaps. Summers in Colorado , Wyoming and Montana, winters in Arizona. ??
Tonight we discovered something new to us; a revolving party called a “Z Circle”. There are four host stations. Everyone is assigned to one station and brings either an appetizer or dessert to that station and leaves it there. We made brownies. Every hour you then move to the next station and sample whatever is there and socialize with a new group of people. Around and around you go until you have visited all four stations. It’s a great way to get to know everyone on a more personal basis.
Around 11pm the community fire was started. Carol had already called it a night. I managed to stay awake until a little after midnight.

January 1, 2012
New Years Day, 2012.
What a weather perfect day. Low last night in the mid-50’s, by late afternoon it was 80*. At 2pm there was a New Years Day pot luck supper and endless socializing. It was the most unusual, and enjoyable, New Years weekend we can recall. In the morning most folks are setting out for here and there until the big event at Q at which time, we’ll all meet up once again. We’re staying around until Tuesday then going into Yuma for propane and shopping, then to the Imperial Dam/Senator Wash areas before moving onto Q later in the week.

Carol and her friends

Our campsite overlooking Mittry Lake

Getting ready for the pot luck supper.

Talking to these full timers is really interesting. Some, judging from their RV's, are quite well off financially. Some need to work while they are traveling. One couple is heading to Texas from here. They have a three month job lined up at one of the oil exploration sites. They park by the entry gate and check everyone in and out. The job is 24/7 so someone in the RV must be available around the clock. The job pays $150/day. They are provided with a large generator, a supply of drinking water and a tank pumping service. The three months work will bring in about $13,500 less the very occasional, day off. Some have worked at Amazon, some at Wal Mart, some doing odd jobs here and there. Doing what they need to do in order to continue their chosen lifestyle.