Friday, November 17, 2017

Day 105, Friday, November 17, 2017 - La Posa West, LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 2

Friday, November 17, 2017 - La Posa West, LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 2, 0 Miles, 3,247.8 Towing Miles For the Trip

A nice quiet night, although we didn't get much of a temperature drop (down to 73°F) overnight. Heavy clouds this morning with the batteries down by 28 amp hours.

I took my first walk for coffee this morning - the price for a coffee refill at the 76 station doubled since last winter. I mentioned to the clerk that I paid either $.50 or $.75 per Bubba container (a 28 ounce thermal mug), and he dropped the price from $1.29 to $.98. By the way, like I mentioned last year at this time, the journal starts (if it hasn't been already) to get a bit boring. It will take a few days to adjust, but Quartzsite is really about doing nothing for weeks on end. I'm not good at that, but I'm willing to experiment!

I made a quick trip to KB Tool for some crimp connectors, and across the street for a 1/2" drill bit. One advantage of Quartzsite is there are a number of small booths that sell just about anything. Most haven't opened yet, but KB Tools has always been open when I'm in town.

I put an order in to Amazon Prime for a couple of items, shipped to me care of Quiet Times, a shipping service here at Quartzsite. Hopefully, it will all arrive on the 22nd. One never can depend on any shipping to Quartzsite. A set of cables from China I had shipped by air express last year actually took longer to get here than it would have using standard shipping. I think I saw the Airborne guy running along I 10 on his way here from Phoenix! In any case, I hope to have a folding ladder by the middle of next week. I'll have to go to Lake Havasu City to get a 5" fence post to hang under the trailer for storage, but I need to get the truck serviced anyway, so a trip to the nearest Toyota dealer is in order.

Dinner will be fried cod & baked potato at Sweet Darleen's.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Day 104, Thursday, November 16, 2017 - La Posa West, LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ

The Escape & The Scorpion
Thursday, November 16, 2017 - La Posa West, LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, 162.9 Miles, 3,247.8 Towing Miles For the Trip

On the way out of Borrego Springs, I stopped by a couple of the sculptures to take a photo with the trailer, hopefully for the Escape Calendar. It is too late for 2018, but I'll send them in for 2019. And, I have to admit I got 7 miles out of town before I remembered, so I had to go back. Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Not a bad drive to Quartzsite. I'm back in Mountain Time, so I arrived an hour later than expected. I bought a season (7 month September - April ) pass for $180.00. If I spend time away from the LTVA (Long Term Visitor Area), I might have saved money buying a bunch of 2 week tickets for $40.00 each, but the season pass makes it easier, and just a week gets me back down to my average campground cost.

My usual spot has a Class A RV in it, so I parked a bit further down the "road", still in La Posa West. If they leave, I'll move so the California crew that I get together with during the January RV show will be in the same place. If not, we will just have to move. No site number, just a piece of the desert. There is some traffic noise from both AZ 95 & I 10, but far enough away that you don't hear anything with the trailer closed.

It is interesting how much at home I feel. I've only spent 3 winters in the Arizona Desert, but somehow Quartzsite grows on you. I'll never give up summers in upstate NY on Lake Ontario, but it did feel great to move in to Quartzsite. It is early in the season - most of the shops & booths are still closed. I didn't fire up the Verizon Jetpack (which worked great last year) but did plug in the AT&T Mobley. Very fast -97dBm 4G LTE service. Since it is unlimited data, I don't know how much I'll be using the Verizon service...

I'm back to needing to pay attention to electricity usage after being spoiled for a couple of days with full hookups at Ansa-Borrego. We will find out how well the two rooftop panels do with the low angle winter sun. If they don't cut it, I'll add the portable, but if I can leave it in the truck, I will.

After setting up I sat out & read for a bit, then made dinner, which was the left over steak made into fajitas.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Day 103, Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - Borrego Palm Canyon Campground, Anza-Borrego State Park, CA, Day 3

Font's Point
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - Borrego Palm Canyon Campground, Anza-Borrego State Park, CA, Day 3, 0 Miles, 3,084.9 Towing Miles For the Trip

I spent most of the day visiting some of the park attractions that I haven't seen in previous trips. The first stop was at a group of metal sculptures along the south portion of Borrego Springs Road.

Continuing down Borrego Springs Road to HWY 78 & Buttes Pass Road brings you to "The Slot". There are 3 slot canyons that are listed in the Visitor Center information, and this is the most popular. About a 2 mile drive on a washboarded, hard packed sand road, nothing that a passenger car wouldn't be able to do. A short walk from the parking area to the canyon. None of the Borrego Springs canyons provides the incredible photo opportunities of Upper & Lower Antelope Canyons (the sandstone walls provide wonderful color) in Page, Arizona, but they are true slot canyons, and worth a visit.

Almost 30 miles away, South Palm Wash Slot & Palm Wash Slot are a couple of other slot canyons. To save hiking .8 miles, (and as an excuse to use the 4 wheel drive) I drove to the upper parking area of South Palm Wash Slot. The road from S-22 (the Borrego Salton Seaway) down to the lower parking area is steep & rocky. Once you reach the bottom, 2 wheel drive to get to the upper parking area would be OK, although you do need lots of ground clearance, and 4 wheel drive is probably necessary to get back up the steep hill to Borrego Salton Seaway (HWY S-22). There is parking along S-22, so you don't need 4 wheel drive if you are willing to walk a bit further.

I didn't drive to the Palm Wash Slot - I'll save it for another trip.

On the way back I took a 4 mile, 4 wheel drive listed road to Fonts Point. While there is a fair amount of soft sand, particularly at the edges of the track, I never needed 4 wheel drive. I talked to a guy who drove to the point in a 2 wheel drive Ford Edge, so as long as you don't get caught in the soft edges, it isn't a bad drive. The last 1/2 mile has lots of dips - I did fine at 5 MPH.

Very much worth seeing. The view is over a wasteland that is forbidding, but beautiful. You really need to see it in person. I included a couple of panoramas, but standing on the edge looking over the almost 300° view is impressive. More photos of Fonts Point & the Slots at today's LakeshoreImages Page.

After that it was back to the trailer. I did my usual night before packing, then cooked a New York strip steak for dinner. No where near as tender as the last one, but edible, along with mashed potatoes. I finished off the white wine (I know, wrong for steak).

While it is about 25 miles further to Quartzsite than Imperial Dam, I think I'll head to Quartzsite tomorrow. I want to do Thanksgiving at Sweet Darlene's Restaurant & would feel a bit rushed getting to Quartzsite after Imperial Dam. I'll do my usual Imperial Dam 2 week break when I get bored with Quartzsite.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Day 102, Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - Borrego Palm Canyon Campground, Anza-Borrego State Park, CA,Day 2

Galleta Meadows Scorpion Sculpture
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - Borrego Palm Canyon Campground, Anza-Borrego State Park, CA,Day 2, 0 Miles, 3,084.9 Towing Miles For the Trip

AT&T ended up fast enough overnight that I could listen to my Phoenix classical station, and, although it worked for part of the morning tuned to their NPR news station, it quit around 9:00AM.

I did a few chores - filled a propane tank, did some food shopping, and stopped at the Visitor Center to pick up some trail information. I've done many of them on previous trips, so I was looking for something new.

Back at the trailer I read for awhile, then drove out to the Gallery Meadows. I took a bunch of photos of the metal sculptures last February, but wanted to get a few more. I didn't re shoot the dragon that is on both sides of Borrego Springs Road, but did re shoot a couple of my favorites, the Scorpion & Grasshopper. More of today's photos at LakeshoreImages.

Another hot day, with afternoon temperatures on the mid 90's. Unlike Jumbo Rocks at 4400', Borrego Springs is at around 700', and doesn't immediately cool off when the sun ducks behind the mountains.

Dinner was my last chicken Empanadas, along with the left over Knorr Alfredo, and the rest of the watermelon for dessert.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, November 13, 2017

Day 101, Monday, November 13, 2017 - Borrego Palm Canyon Campground, Anza-Borrego State Park, CA

Site 32
Monday, November 13, 2017 - Borrego Palm Canyon Campground, Anza-Borrego State Park, CA, 134.2 Miles,3,084.9 Towing Miles For the Trip

I decided to take a bit longer to get to Anza-Borrego by driving through Joshua Tree. I stopped to see the Cholla Cactus field, as well as a collection of Ocotillo Cactus. I have to say the Ocotillo are far more interesting when they are in leaf or bloom. Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post (that I posted this morning), I stopped at a pull off about 5 miles south of the Cottonwood Campground where the internet appears by magic. It goes away either side of the pull off - I suspect there is a notch in the mountains that "sees" a tower. In any case, I got the last 3 days posted.

I also stopped at a Walmart in Indio, and found small cans of Bush Bourbon & Brown Sugar Beans. They are my favorite, but usually only available in a can large enough that it makes 3 meals. The small 8.6 ounce cans are perfect for one meal. No chicken Empanadas. I've only found them at Walmarts, but very few seem to stock them. One of my favorite frozen chicken meals baked in the oven (or toaster oven).

I really don't understand the California on line reservation service. They started their own, dropping Reserve America. It seems very disorganized, forcing you to go through all their parks even if you are at a individual park's web page & click "reservations". I checked Borrego Palm Campground at Anza-Borrego State Park for a site with hookups & Reserve California said there weren't any. When I got to the gate, the crew asked if I wanted hookups or not. I mentioned that Reserve California said there were no reservable sites available, and I guess they were technically correct - because electrical upgrades are in process, the campground is all first come, so you can't reserve a site. You would think that the reservation site would note that information, since I suspect there are those that would bypass the campground if hookups were not available, and there are many empty full hookup sites.

Anyhow, I'm in site 32, a full hookup site for $33.00 per night (including a $2.00 senior discount). Close to the showers (which use tokens - $1.00 for 2 minutes). I did buy a couple - it will be nice to have a full sized shower. Since I'll be heading to Imperial Dam LTVA as my next stop, I'm spoiling myself with full hookups!

There are both AT&T & Verizon data services in the campground, however both are very slow. Verizon is a -90dBm, 4G LTE signal that is so slow I can't get a speed test to work. AT&T is a -73 dBm signal, showing 5 bars on my iPhone, one of the strongest of the trip, but only HSPA+, and again too slow for a speed test. I did upload today's photos using Verizon, so while slow, it works. Upload speeds are actually faster than download. I did manage to make a Facetime connection with Guido & Anne back in Binghamton that I suspect was over WiFi on the AT&T network, but it was a poor connection.

Dinner was a Broccoli & Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast cooked outside in the toaster oven, a Knorr's Alfredo side, a glass of Thousand Island's Wellesley Island White wine, and watermelon for dessert. At 85°F, it is too warm to fire up the trailer oven unless I have to!

Until Tomorrow (I hope) -

Day 100, Sunday, November 12, 2017 - Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Day 5

Sunday, November 12, 2017 - Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Day 5, 0 Miles, 2,950.7 Towing Miles For the Trip

The campground sure emptied out today. Now everyone cruises around, not looking for any space, but for the best one. It is a dreary day, with no sun & heavy clouds. No rain, but cool enough that sitting outside requires (at least for me) a long sleeved shirt, and even my photo vest.

I didn't do much besides walk around the campground and spent the rest of the day sitting around reading. I did hook up the trailer while my neighbor was away so I had room to maneuver the truck. I still have to drive it off the Anderson levelers & hook up the WDH bars - the site isn't level enough to allow fully hooking up.

Dinner was chicken burritos.

I'm posting this and the last couple of day's pages at the pull off south of the Cottonwood Campground that I used in past years.  It is a location along the road where Verizon 4G appears - nothing on either side of it.

Until the Next Internet Connection -

Day 99, Saturday, November 11, 2017 - Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Day 4

Tree & Rock
Saturday, November 11, 2017 - Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Day 4, 0 Miles, 2,950.7 Towing Miles For the Trip

I made bacon & pancakes for breakfast, then settled down to do some reading. Got bored, walked around the completely filled campground. It has reached the "pay no attention to the rules" phase - 5-6 tents on a site, cars double parked, along the side of the road, etc. I haven't seen a ranger drive through - I think they are hiding!

Around 11:00 I took a walk on the Skull Rock trail. If you want a photo of Skull Rock without people, don't go on a holiday Saturday morning! I did take a few photos along the trail. On the way back I walked to the entrance & paid for Sunday night. On the way back to the campsite, I saw what I thought was a scene that appeared in the Southern California copy of Photographing the Southwest by Laurent Martres. If you are a photographer interested in the Southwest, these are a great series of books filled with suggestions for places to shoot. Anyhow, in the section for Joshua Tree, there is a wonderful image of a vertical rock and weather beaten juniper. The description said it was taken near Jumbo Rocks. Now, if you have been here, that doesn't tell you much - there are acres of rocks. Still, from the road it looked like it might be the spot. It was, and I have to admit to copying Laurent's composition. I took a couple of photographs, the last two around 3:30 when the light was better.

I probably won't post this (or yesterday's) page today. The traffic is pretty busy, and they check your pass at the gate. While yesterday was pretty quiet, I suspect there will be quite a line today.

There is a astronomy program at the amphitheater tonight. A star talk around 6:00, and viewing through telescopes until 9:00. I'll probably check it out.

I did. There were lots of clouds, but a ranger gave a talk, pointing out constellations with a green laser pointer. I managed to get a fuzzy photo. A 1/3 second handheld at a very high ISO of 3200, further pushed 3 stops in Lightroom; it was very dark.  Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

There is one disadvantage to Site 77. It is at the end of the campground, and lots of people want to hike the rocks beyond the site. There is a wash that goes behind the campsites, but a number of people just march through your site to get to the rock field. No only that, but they try to park in your or your neighbor's parking space. I chased a car full of hikers away just before my neighbor got back. There aren't many parking spaces for non campers in the campground (which makes sense) but non campers still want to to use the campground as a base for hiking among the rocks.

When I walked up to the amphitheater for the astronomy program I discovered another benefit of site 77, peace & quiet. Lots of noise, bright lights, etc in the central area of the campground. Here on the edge it is nice!

Dinner was peanut butter & homemade strawberry jam sandwiches.

Until the Next Internet Connection -

Day 98, Friday, November 10, 2017 - Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Day 3

Friday, November 10, 2017 - Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Day 3, 0 Miles, 2,950.7 Towing Miles For the Trip

This morning I discovered that it is Veteran's Day weekend. Since retiring, I don't pay much attention to holidays since every day is one, although as a vet, I do sometimes take advantage of the stores that offer discounts to vets on Veteran's day. In any case, the reason I bring it up (other than to thank all Veterans for what they have done for us all) is I had planed on leaving on Sunday, but with the long weekend, it might be better to wait until Monday to try to find a place at the next stop (where ever that will be).

I counted underwear, and discovered that I only have until Sunday before I run out. So, around 11:00 I drove to Joshua Tree with a load of laundry. I foolishly tried to find the Kreamy Soaps Laundromat that Matilda, my GPS insisted was the closest, but it was in the middle of a development made up of dusty sand roads. It was a pretty house, but I doubt they would let me use their washer & dryer. Again, using Safari to find an address for the Joshua Tree Laundry, I found it on main street 5 miles closer to the campground than Kreamy Soaps. Very busy place - I had to wait a bit to get a machine after filling the only empty one to find that it wouldn't take any money. It was interesting taking my clothes out of the washer. Two very light weight, bright red 2XX tops seemed to have joined my laundry. I suspect they were stuck to the top of the front loading drum. I left them on top of the machine since I don't look good in spaghetti string tops, and 2XX is a bit large for me!

While my clothes were in the dryer I wandered next door to the second hand store & picked up a dozen books, and a lid for my small frying pan. A good deal on the books - they were listed at $.50 for paperbacks & $1.00 for hard cover. I had a mix of each, and they priced them at $3.00. They were having a bag sale...

Back at the campground I made the bed, put the clothes away, and sat outside reading. I was here for the sunset, however it wasn't all that exciting. I did take a few afternoon light shots of the rocks & stuff. More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

All the campgrounds at Joshua Tree are full. There are still people circling the loops looking, and my next door neighbor had to chase people out of my parking space even though it is not marked as a separate site. Lots of doubling up on tent and RV sites (they allow two vehicles per site, although if you have a trailer, it & the tow vehicle each count, for a total of 2. You would think that looking at a trailer, there would have to be something to pull it, but people kept trying to park in front of it while I was off doing laundry.

Dinner was finally the Bubba Burger, along with a grilled piece of corn on the cob.

Until the Next Internet Connection -

Friday, November 10, 2017

Day 97, Thursday, November 9, 2017 - Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Day 2

Night Sky Looking North
Thursday, November 9, 2017 - Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, Day 2, 0 Miles, 2,950.7 Towing Miles For the Trip

Well, I lied about dinner last night. When I went to town to post yesterday's page, I found a Rite Aid, stopped and picked up a couple of things. When I came out I looked up Grocery Store using Safari, and found an address for the Statler Brothers. I entered it in Matilda, my GPS, and she informed me that the address didn't exist. Since she couldn't find a grocery store last year, I decided to do a "Grocery Store" search again. Matilda informed me that there was a Statler Brothers .6 miles away, and gave me the address - of course it was the one she couldn't find when searching by address.

So, I did a bit more shopping, and picked up some excellent fried chicken (the best of the trip) and some egg potato salad for dinner. While all that was going on, the best sunset of the week took place while I was in the parking lot. Oh well, that's the breaks.

This morning I walked around the campground for a bit before breakfast - a few people moved out & their sites were quickly filled by wandering campers. By mid afternoon the "Campground Filled" sign went up, but that didn't stop hopeful campers. Probably a good idea, since I've often found sites in "Filled" campgrounds. I had a long talk with one of the campground maintenance men. It started with me asking if there is a laundromat in Twentynine Palms (there isn't - nearest is in Joshua Tree about 30 miles away), and continued on discussing different parks, tow vehicles, and some of the recent history of Joshua Tree.

I read for a bit, then decided it would be a good day to install my Bogart Industries battery monitor. The battery monitor keeps track of how many amp hours come out of the batteries, as well as how many go back in. The result is you have a much better idea of how full your batteries are compared to checking voltage, or even worse, a row of lights.

Like all projects, a few "got ya's" along the way, but it eventually got done. I will still have to do a bit of work on the old work box the monitor is installed in - the 1/8" plywood the box is mounted in is too thin for the fingers on the box. I'll have to add some shims to build it out. Electrically, it works fine.

By the time I finished, it was dinner time, which was left over fried chicken & the rest of the egg potato salad.

It is late enough that I'm not going to post this today - maybe tomorrow. I did take a few late afternoon photos & included one of them. Great light. I also did a star circle & a couple of night star photos as well as a panorama.

Until the Next Internet Connection -

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Day 96, Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, CA

Site 77, Jumbo Rocks
Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, 121.2, Miles, 2,950.7 Towing Miles For the Trip

It got cold enough for the furnace last night - down to 41°F. The clouds did clear a bit so I took a couple of photos early enough that the moon was still around the curve of the earth. A bit of the sunset in the images and lots of airplanes; nothing special, but I included a couple.

I think I must have washed off a layer of "protection" with the shower. It wasn't any colder in the trailer overnight, but Monday I on the bed reading in shorts & no blanket, while doing the same last night I got cold enough to put on a long sleeve "T" shirt, a sweater, and full length pajama bottoms, and duck under my old army poncho liner. I don't understand...

No problem getting to Jumbo Rocks Campground at Joshua Tree National Park. While the ranger at the gate said there shouldn't be a problem finding a site, there were not that many choices. Most of the sites are tent sites with a parking space, and the few that are long enough for both the truck & trailer have RVs in them already. The one I found required quite a bit of jockeying around to get the trailer off the road & leave room for the truck. Of course, after I was set up the person in the site in front of me pulled out, leaving more room to park the trailer. Since I was already set up, I left it where it was.

I'm in site 77, at the far end of the campground for 4 days. $7.50 per night with the senior card for dry camping, and they do mean dry - no water available anywhere in the campground. While I was back at the front of the park paying for the site, someone moved in in front of me with a small trailer. There is just enough room for both of us. There is now a continuous stream of trailers, truck campers, vans & cars circling the one way loop in front of the site. I walked around the campground, and while there are a few back in tent sites with just enough room for one car, the place is pretty much filled. I did see a good sized Class C pull in & park across a bunch of tent site parking spaces - I hope he is planning on paying for 3 sites. He did look old enough that at $7.50 a site it is still less expensive than a single California State Park dry campsite!

I looked for both Verizon & AT&T service at the campsite. No AT&T phone or data, even with an amplifier, and only 1X Verizon service with the amp. 1X doesn't do data, so I will have to drive to the park entrance to post the pages. As you drive along the road through the park, Verizon goes from 4G LTE to nothing.  Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be pull offs at the places where there is a signal.  I am now in town with a good 3G signal.

I checked on the nearest Walmart & Toyota dealer (I'm within 400 miles of my 30,000 mile service) and Matilda, my GPS tells me they are both only 20 miles away in Indigo. If I actually enter the route, it comes out to 85 miles & 1:45 minutes to get there. I don't remember if there is a grocery store in 29 Palms (the town nearest the park). I do remember last year driving to the one the GPS suggested, and finding a house. Actually, I can live with what is in the refrigerator. I think I'll wait on the truck until Quartzsite. There is a Toyota dealer in Lake Havasu City about 85 miles away, and a couple in Phoenix and Yuma.

The normal door side campground photo is kinda boring, but looking out my kitchen window is nice. The afternoon light on the rocks is wonderful, at least it was last time I was here. Today there are fairly heavy clouds covering most of the sky. Might produce a decent sunset, but I don't think I'll be doing and star photos tonight. I did walk around the space behind my site & took a few images using the soft light the clouds produced.  Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I'm not sure if I'll get out of the park to post this today, but if not, I'll do it tomorrow.

Dinner will be a Bubba Burger & Chips.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Day 95, Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - Hole in the Wall Campground, Mojave National Preserve, CA , Day 2

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - Hole in the Wall Campground, Mojave National Preserve, CA , Day 2, 0 Miles, 2,829.5 Towing Miles For the Trip

It did get cool overnight - down to 51°F outside, but only to 59°F in the trailer, one degree warm enough to keep the furnace off. I was hoping to get some photos of the night sky since we are far enough from most city lights for dark skies, but the clouds moved in - not a star in sight (although later in the evening the moon provided a nice glow). It was clear all day, so I thought about photos tonight, but around 3:00 in came the clouds!

A quiet day spent reading, taking a shower in the trailer, and walking around the campground loop. There is a 6 mile trail that I'd take if I felt a bit more adventurous, but the description shows rings bolted to the canyon walls that you use to pull yourself up through them. Maybe another trip! A steady flow of traffic into the campground, with most finding a site & staying. About 3/4 RVs and the rest tent campers.

I ate a big lunch (mostly snacks) so dinner will be simple - a turkey sandwich.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, November 6, 2017

Day 94, Monday, November 6, 2017 - Hole in the Wall Campground, Mojave National Preserve, CA

Site 7, Hole in the Wall Campground
Monday, November 6, 2017 - Hole in the Wall Campground, Mojave National Preserve, CA , 196.1 Miles, 2,829.5 Towing Miles For the Trip

Well, I'm back in California (and $4.99 gas prices at a station along I 40 - glad I filled up in Nevada). Most of the drive on US 95, where my AT&T phone came alive with messages & voice mail that had been floating around in the ether for 3 days.

I arrived at the Hole in the Wall Campground around 1:30. I was worried that there wouldn't be open sites that late, but no problems; about 3/4 of the sites are empty. I'm in site 7, a close to level pull through that only required the use the Anderson leveler to tweak the side to side leveling; I was able to leave the truck hooked up. Dry camping @ $6.00 per night with the Senior National Park pass.

After setting up, I checked the cell service availability. AT&T shows a -93dBm, 3 bar, 4G HSPA+ signal, but no internet? I don't quite understand, but Verizon, as usual pulled through with a -84dBm, 5 bar 4G LTE signal that provides fast data service, which is good, because the only FM stations in the area are Country Music, about the only kind of music I just can't listen to.

While 70°F at 3:00, I suspect it will cool off tonight since the campground is at 4000'. I took the usual campsite photo, plus a couple more around the campground. A great view out my back window...  Pictures at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I sat outside & read for much of the afternoon. Since the batteries were fully charged, dinner was an Amy's Thai Pad Thai frozen meal cooked in the microwave.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Day 93, Sunday, November 5, 2017 - Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, NV, Day 5

A Unimog Camper
Sunday, November 5, 2017 - Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, NV, Day 5, 0 Miles, 2,633.4 Towing Miles For the Trip

Another windy night, but it died down to a gentle roar by morning. Still enough during the day to blow over my awning chair every time I got up. I met a couple traveling in an Escape 5.0 parked next to a converted school bus staying in the unserviced side of the campground, and a Unimog & a Scamp 16 just down the road from me. While the campground emptied out this morning, it is back to being filled except for the handicapped & dry sites.

I had an interesting thing happen to my iPhone this morning.  I went to enter the book I just finished into my "Read Books" database, and clicked on "Today's Date".  It put 2560 BE in as the date.  I checked a couple more apps, and they all said today was November 5, 2560 BE.  I had to go on line to discover that my phone switched from the Gregorian to the Buddhist dating system.  Not sure how it happened, but eventually I found the Language menu to fix it.

I didn't go back to the Fire Wave for morning photos, but did do some Lightroom adjustments on one of the ones I took yesterday, cleaning it up a bit.

They warn you about bees at the water faucets looking for water. There is a steady drip from the unused one at my site, and they are right - lots of bees.  Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I talked with Anne a bit this afternoon over Facetime - AT&T has no cell coverage today, but the Verizon Jetpack is doing OK. Don is at work doing the final dress rehearsal for the "Wizard of Oz". For some reason, I don't miss working on weekends (or weekdays, for that matter)!

I started packing up the stuff I don't need out for tonight, getting ready to leave tomorrow. I never saw a hummingbird, although the feeder was empty - the wind shook the nectar out! I hope there won't be too long a line at the dump station in the morning. While I don't have to dump, both the gray & black tanks are getting close to 1/2 full, and since I'm heading for dry camping, if I can dump, I will. I'll also bring the fresh water tank back to 1/2 full before I leave the site, even if I have to fight with the bees.

Dinner is going to be another inside oven meal - a stuffed chicken & broccoli thing with mashed potatoes & coleslaw.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Day 92, Saturday, November 4, 2017 - Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, NV, Day 4

The Fire Wave
Saturday, November 4, 2017 - Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, NV, Day 4, 0 Miles, 2,633.4 Towing Miles For the Trip

Very windy last night & this morning. In fact, windy enough that they canceled the Atlatl demonstration. Since I had walked down to the picnic area where they do the demo, I took a couple of photos of the Petroglyphs next door.

The AT&T data connection had been intermittent today. At times it is OK, but will drop out for minutes at a time. Verizon is also slower than normal, but did let me load the photos from early this afternoon.

Around 4:00 I decided to see what the "golden hour" light was like at the Fire Wave. It is a short .6 mile hike (although part on soft sand). Not terribly crowded for a weekend; maybe the wind was keeping people away. In any case, the morning golden hour would be much better - most of the wave was in shadow. Still, I took a few images of it, and more of the surrounding area.

On the drive back I was presented with some close up views of the Desert Bighorn Sheep. I don't know if it is the same herd as the other day, but they were eating right on the roadside. Lots of cars stopped taking pictures, so I joined them. The Desert Bighorn Sheep photos and many more at today's LakeshoreImages page.

It was close to 6:00 when I got back to the trailer, and since the plan is for a chicken pot pie, which takes an hour to bake, dinner will be a bit late.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, November 3, 2017

Day 91, Friday, November 3, 2017 - Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, NV, Day 3

Friday, November 3, 2017 - Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, NV, Day 3, 0 Miles, 2,633.4 Towing Miles For the Trip

I don't understand the signage here at the campground. Yesterday afternoon, they put a "Campground Full" sign at the entrance even though there was one electric, 2 electric handicapped, and many water only or dry sites available. Today, with all but the electric handicapped & dry sites filled, no sign.

I didn't do much today. Made a run to Overton for a small frying pan (tired of cleaning a 12 1/2" pan in a small sink when frying an egg or two). I also picked up some vegetables for my fajitas. Overton has a strange collection of businesses. Three banks, two hardware stores, one grocery store, no laundromat, a couple of insurance offices, but no general or department store. There is, like every town in the west, a dollar store - this one a Family Dollar. I found the frying pan in the Ace Hardware store. I did pick up a couple of books at the Goodwill store, but while I was looking through the racks, they closed - I'll have to go back...

I stopped at the visitor center on the return trip. Some nice displays & information about the park, and an announcement that there will be a Atlatl demo at 2:00 tomorrow. I'll probably go - it is fun to try tossing the thing - last year I even hit the target!

Other than that, it was reading forums, web pages, and my current book - Richard Laymon's Darkness, Tell Us.

Just before dinner I headed for the showers. The building in the electric hookup area has individual bathrooms and individual showers. Poorly designed showers - the shower control is in the drying area, out of reach when you are in the shower. Not that that is a major problem since you need to set the temperature at full hot to get lukewarm water.

No hooks for your towel or clothes (there is a towel bar that gets hit by the spray that gets around the shower curtain) and a small seat. They do put down a rubber floor mat in the drying area, which is good since there is no drain in the shower area - water runs across the drying area floor. The west side shower high pressure nozzle cannot be adjusted - a single thick stream of water is all you get. The east shower does let you adjust the spread of the stream, but if you make it too wide, all you get is a spray fine enough that it is cold be the time it hits you. I really do wish that all campground administrators were required to shower in their facilities at least once in a while. I suspect it would improve things. Still, all in all, it is nice to have a shower larger than the one in my Escape, and not have to worry about filling the gray tank. Enough whining!

Dinner was a couple of steak fajitas made from yesterday's leftover strip steak. I had a couple of McVitie's Digestive Wheat Biscuits for dessert. I read a couple of British authors, and, of course, am working my way through the Harry Potter series, and kept reading about Digestive Biscuits with tea at tea time. I was never sure of what they were, and when I saw a box in a grocery store a few weeks ago, had to buy them. I'd call them a cross between a cookie & a cracker. In any case, they are quite good, although where "digestive" comes in, I'm lost.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Day 90, Thursday, November 2, 2017 - Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, NV, Day 2

Thursday, November 2, 2017 - Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, NV, Day 2, 0 Miles, 2,633.4 Towing Miles For the Trip

A quiet day at the Valley of Fire. I started by turning the trailer around. If it was one of the smaller fiberglass trailers, I'd just pick up the tongue & spin it around. With the Escape 21's 450 pound tongue weight, that isn't going to happen. So, I used the Tacoma to turn it around. The site is large enough that with the rear of the trailer towards the road, there was still room in front of it to unhook & drive the Tacoma around to the front of the site. My door now faces the picnic table (although still a couple of car lengths away), away from the water taps & bees, and the awning can provide afternoon shade (as long as the wind isn't too bad). All in all, a big improvement.

Most of the day was spent doing maintenance. I replaced the short Escape provided FM antenna with a longer one, repaired one of the connectors on my portable solar panel, and built an adapter to mount my glow ball on a paint roller extension mast that I also use for a Ubiquiti Networks Nanostation I use when I need to reach a distant WiFi network. I used my heat gun to warm up the plastic handle of the paint roller enough to pull the metal handle out of it, then a reamer to enlarge the hole enough so the bolt on the glow ball fit. All in all, it worked out OK.

I did take a break to drive along the main road & take a couple of photos of the sheep that live in the park. I also took a photo of the "Sleeping Man" and some of the wonderful rocks that surround the campground. During the late afternoon, but before the sun ducks behind the mountains on the west side of the campground, the light is great.  Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a New York Strip Steak, mashed potatoes, and coleslaw.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Day 89, Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, NV

Site 41, Atlatl Campground, Valley of Fire State Park, NV
Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - Valley of Fire State Park, Overton, NV, 180.5 Miles, 2,633.4 Towing Miles For the Trip

Much of today's drive was on CA 190 out of Death Valley, and US 95 to Las Vegas. Glad I had enough gas to make it to Nevada. California raised the gas tax by $.12 today. Of course the stations added a bit more on their own. The station at Furnace Creek went from $3.89 to $4.15 per gallon. It was $2.79 at my first Nevada stop & $2.59 at the second.

The Valley of Fire State Park is about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. They have 2 campgrounds, Atlatl Rock, which is 1/2 primitive & half with electric & water, with bathrooms that have showers. The Arch Rock campground is all primitive & vault toilets. I was hoping for a hookup site, and got lucky. When my wife Carol was alive we always seemed to find parking spots, campground sites, etc. I don't know how she did it, but she must have been looking over my shoulder today. Only one open site, and on the way in I passed a guy pulling a trailer that pulled into the hook up part of the campground 30 seconds after I grabbed the space. I hope he didn't recognize the trailer...

A huge site with, and, like most here at Atlatl Rock, with hookups on the wrong side for trailers. I could almost manage to unhook the trailer & still get out the truck by pulling in rather than backing in, which would put my door facing away from the utilities (and the bees that hang around the water tap) and facing the picnic table across the double wide site. Since I'm here for 5 days, maybe I'll think about jockeying the trailer around tomorrow. In any case, I'm in site 41, an electric & water site for $30.00 per night. The $10.00 park entry fee is deducted from the first night's stay. The 30 amp connection looked burned, and had an open ground; I used an adapter to connect to the 50 amp connector. No AT&T without an amplifier (with one a usable LTE data signal) and a weak Verizon signal without an amp. Both in the neighborhood of -95dBm. When streaming the Phoenix NPR station on the amplified AT&T Mobley WiFi, it dropped the connection a couple of times. I didn't try the Verizon connection.

After setting up I drove to Overton (about 15 miles away) to check out Lin's Market, find out if the Suds & Duds Laundromat reopened (it didn't), Ace Hardware for a paint roller (No, I'm not painting anything, but need a roller handle to make an adapter to mount my glow ball on a new mast that is a roller extension handle), and get a haircut. As usual, I bought way too much at Lin's, but now have dinners for the rest of the week.

Speaking of dinner, I had chicken tacos.

Until Tomorrow -