Saturday, December 31, 2016

Day 62, Saturday, December 31, 2016, Imperial Dam, CA

Imperial Dam LTVA, California
Saturday, December 31, 2016, Imperial Dam, CA, 68 Miles, 3,923.7 Miles For the Trip

After my walk for coffee & breakfast, I rechecked the level of the black tank & decided it was time to make a run to the dump station. For those not familiar with a typical trailer water system, there are 3 tanks. The Escape 17b has a fresh water tank (20 gallons), a gray tank that drains the sinks & shower (26 gallons) and a black tank that drains the toilet (19 gallons). Depending on how often you take standard showers, the gray or black tank fills first.

In my case, I take sponge baths or navy showers, both of which use little water, so my black tank fills first. Since the electronic indicators rarely provide accurate tank levels, the solution is to use a flashlight to look down into the tank (directly below the toilet dump valve). Not the most pleasant solution, but about the only one that provides positive information.

Anyhow, it was time to dump. I packed up the trailer, including pulling the entrance rug & hummingbird feeder, table, grill, solar panel, etc. I would have left most of the outside stuff if I was coming back to the same location, but I decided I would either move to a new location at Quartzsite, or head for Imperial Dam in California, another LTVA BLM location. Strangely enough, the trailer next to me at the dump station was an Oliver, another brand of fiberglass trailer. We chatted to pass the time while the tanks drained, then I headed back out of La Posa South. At the entrance I flipped a mental coin & turned left, heading to Imperial Dam.

A little over an hour drive, although since it is on the other side of the Colorado River my GPS said I'd be there in 20 minutes; the river is both the time zone change & the California/Arizona border. Because most of Arizona is closer to the Imperial Dam area, at least by road, (it is only about 2 miles into CA) most people here run on Arizona time. In any case, I stopped for fresh water, chatted with someone whose friend owns an Escape 17B, then drove to my favorite section of the campground, a bluff overlooking the Gravel Pit Ramada. There is a truck camper in my usual spot, so I am a bit further north that I was last year. A beautiful clear day, with temperatures in the low 70's (about 10 degrees warmer than Quartzsite). They did have rain all day yesterday, but it is nice now. There is a strong Verizon 4G LTE signal at my campsite, and, even with an external antenna & amplifier, no AT&T available.

While I was setting up Anne Henderson (Right Brain; Right Lane) stopped by. She switched from an Escape 17 to an Escape 19 and is currently here at Imperial Dam.

I did manage to make a Facetime connection over WiFi to Don & Anne to wish them a happy New Year & get a video tour of their Christmas decorations, but so far no luck contacting my son. I left him some voice mail on the drive down, so he knows I'm out of range here at Imperial Dam. I was hoping the AT&T coverage had improved since I'd been told that they increased the power at their tower. I was picking up one bar off and on along the road between US 95 & the camping area, but nothing here.

I have a couple of photos of the entrance to the Yuma Proving grounds (the road that eventually ends up at the LTVA area). Unfortunately, my 2 years in the army don't qualify me for shopping at the base PX. Too bad, I've been told it is a great deal for all kinds of stuff. I have driven on base to purchase gasoline & propane, which is available to all. The entrance photos are at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner will be a microwaved frozen burrito.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, December 30, 2016

Day 61, Friday, December 30, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 13

Friday, December 30, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 13, 0 Miles, 3,855.7 Miles For the Trip

After breakfast & some blog & forum reading, I got a call from Anderson Toyota in Lake Havasu City with the good news that my oil filler cap was in. A pleasant 85 mile drive - the mountains on the California side of the Colorado river were nice, and I got to drive by the various Arizona State Parks located on the Colorado River I stayed at on previous trips. I drove through the La Paz County Park in Parker, AZ (where I stayed for a month in 2014) just to see if there were any open sites - there were not. Even the dry camping sections were pretty crowded. It is interesting that they are a long term campground, but operate on a first come/first served basis, with no reservations.

After picking up my oil filler cap at Anderson Toyota ($15.00 - thanks Toyota of Del Rio, TX , who didn't even have the decency to call back and say they were sorry for loosing the cap), I stopped at the Walmart next door for another long sleeved flannel shirt. I'm getting tired of wearing the same ones over & over. I was hoping to find a nice, warm lined one, but evidently so was everyone else that takes a large shirt.  Plenty of small & medium, even 4X, but only one large, and it was unlined.  Still, it was only $8.00 - I expect it to fall to pieces the first time I wash it!

I also stopped at the Parker Safeway for some food supplies & some baked chicken for dinner. There may be a coming disaster- they didn't have any Bubba Burgers & I'm down to one left in the freezer! On the other hand, they did have Alaskan Amber beer, the first that I've found on the trip.

There was light rain most of the afternoon all the way from Lake Havasu City to Quartzsite. Right now we are having a golden sunset over the mountains to the southwest of my site, but it is still raining. Light enough that none of the washes are flowing. It was cloudy enough that my solar panels didn't completely refill the batteries for the first time in a couple of days. I'm currently down about 7 amp hours.

As mentioned, dinner was baked chicken, coleslaw, and one piece of left over pizza from yesterday. Another time I wished I could run a toaster oven - I prefer warmed pizza, but the microwave makes it soggy, and while a slice would fit in my 2 slot toaster, I really don't think that would be a good idea!

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Day 60, Thursday, December 29, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 12

Thursday, December 29, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 12, 0 Miles, 3,855.7 Miles For the Trip

I decided to try La Mesa's free pancake breakfast this morning. Not bad pancakes, only fair orange juice, and so so coffee (although very hot). Still, you can't beat the price. Of course you have to give them an address & email, so you will hear from them in the future, but I hear from almost every commercial (and some state) campgrounds I stop at, so what is a bit more mail.

While heading back to the campsite I got a call from Anderson Toyota in Lake Havasu City letting me know the oil cap didn't come in. At least that saved me from a 170 mile round trip for nothing. I hope it comes in tomorrow.

Today was the warmest since I arrived at Quartzsite - 70°F by mid afternoon. I spent most of the day sitting outside reading. Around 4:30 I decided to head into the trailer to make something for dinner, but Wendy & Arizona Eileen stopped by & invited me to Silly Al's for pizza. We had a great time discussing Wendy's interesting life, old times, & eating great pizza.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Day 59, Wednesday, December 28, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 11

K & B Tools
Wednesday, December 28, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 11, 0 Miles, 3,855.7 Miles For the Trip

Another late morning. I almost stopped in at La Mesa RV to try their pancake breakfast - they put up their sign for a free breakfast yesterday, but decided to wait until another day. After breakfast, coffee & my usual forum & blog reading, I drove around to take a few photos of some of the highlights for those that have never stopped in Quartzsite, or are wondering what the town is like.

I included photos of a few booths (of which there are thousands in the town), most of which are only open in winter. In fact, there are many that haven't opened yet. K & B Tools is probably one of the ones that has the longest season, and has all kinds of tools
& parts, most of which are Chinese imports. The different booths sell just about anything from tools, kitchenware, clothing, sheets & socks, Arizona concealed carry permits, you name it! I also included the the two grocery stores, Silly Al's pizza, Quiet Times where I can have mail & packages delivered, and a view of the other end of the town where the Pilot & Loves gas stations, McDonalds & Burger King reside.  Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I stopped in the General Store for a pork chop for dinner, then headed back to the campsite to do some reading.

For some reason, I decided to check the oil in the Tacoma. Now I have to admit I have become very lax on checking oil in my vehicles, since the last 4 never burned any between changes. Still, since there are now 10,000 miles between changes in the Tacoma, I checked. While the oil level was fine, the oil filler cap wasn't. Evidently, the good folks at Toyota of Del Rio forgot to put the cap back on after doing an oil change. It is a bit too far to drive back to Del Rio, Texas to complain, so I called the nearest Toyota dealer & Alexander Toyota in Lake Havasu City ordered one for me. I'll wait for them to call to be sure it came in before driving 85 miles to pick it up. I hope it is a nice day for a drive!

After that I sat outside in the sun & read for the rest of the afternoon. Dinner was a grilled pork chop, mashed potatoes, and steamed snap peas.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Day 58, Tuesday, December 27, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 10

Tuesday, December 27, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 10, 0 Miles, 3,855.7 Miles For the Trip

Since yesterday was so busy (not), I slept in this morning & didn't head for coffee until a little after 9:00AM. After breakfast I drove to Lifestyles RV to find the price of repairing the gasket on the refrigerator door. As expected, the gasket is not replaceable; you need to replace the entire door. At $500.00 for the parts, shipping & 1/2 hour of labor, I'm going to try to repair the tear in the gasket before purchasing an entire door. The first attempt will be a bit of superglue.

After that I took a long drive down the La Posa South road to see what was on the other side of the BLM area. Eventually, I got tired of driving & turned around & came back. I did find the limit of the camping area. Back at the trailer I sat in the sun & read for a bit. It was actually warm enough to be comfortable, at least in the sun & using the trailer to block the wind. I talked with another trailer owner who rode by on his bike for a bit, then made dinner, which was a Bubba Burger & the rest of the asparagus. I did manage to knock over my wine glass & spill half of it all over the table & me. No, I was sober - just my usual clumsy self!

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, December 26, 2016

Day 57, Monday, December 26, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 9

Monday, December 26, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 9, 0 Miles, 3,855.7 Miles For the Trip

A busy day. After breakfast I packed up the rest of the laundry & headed into town to the laundromat. Quite a crowd, but I didn't have to wait for either washing machines or a dryer. While the close were drying I headed for the showers. For $7.00, you get a wash cloth, towel, soap & shampoo (although I usually use my own). No sink in the shower room, but there is a mirror to make it easier to shave. There is a time limit of 20 minutes, which I don't see how someone could reach. More than 5 minutes in a shower is too much for me.

On the way back to the trailer I filled a propane tank for $10.15 - 4.5 gallons @ $2.05 per gallon plus tax.

After dropping the laundry & propane back at the trailer I headed to Blythe to do some food shopping & pick up my prescriptions at Rite-Aid. I managed to find everything on my list except Turkey Bubba Burgers & Bushes Bourbon & brown sugar beans.

after putting away the groceries, I sat out and read. It is still a bit cool for sitting around without doing anything - 59°F was the high, particularly with enough wind to make it feel cold even in the bright sun. Glenda, the Casita owner that camped next to me for awhile last year stopped by. She & a friend are camped at the southern end of the campground.

Dinner was a grilled chicken thigh, asparagus, and the rest of the Knoor noodles from the other day. I reheated them in the microwave - 2 minutes used around 3 amp hours. Since the bright sun put me a bit above full, I can afford the amp hours even though there isn't enough sun left in the day to put them back.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Day 56, Sunday, December 25, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 8

Sweet Darlene's Christmas Dinner
Sunday, December 25, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 8, 0 Miles, 3,855.7 Miles For the Trip

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and all other holiday best wishes to all. Just in case you were discouraged from the idea of staying at Quartzsite by yesterday's post, check below for what it looks like today. I also added a photo of what my hometown of Oswego generally looks like this time of year. I say generally, because the photo is a few years old - I'm not there to take one today, but my son tells me that there is snow on the ground & it is raining. Photos at today's LakeshoreImages post.

I Skyped with my daughter & family while they were spending Christmas with Brian's parents in Oceanside, NY, and face timed with Don & Anne visiting their kids in South Carolina.

After a quick breakfast I did some reading, downloaded an update to my GPS (lots of sun providing power, and, because I spent the first part of the month in Big Bend with no cell coverage, lots of Jetpack data left.)

Around 12:15 I headed to Sweet Darlene's for a Christmas dinner. A choice of turkey or ham with all the fixings. While I had no problem finding a table at 12:30, by 1:00 there was standing room only. Not a bad dinner for $11.95.

After that it was back to the trailer for a bit of relaxing & posting this page. Dinner will be something simple; I had a huge lunch!

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Day 55, Saturday, December 24, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 7

A Water Filled Wash
Saturday, December 24, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 7, 0 Miles, 3,855.7 Miles For the Trip

Another miserable day in Quartzsite! I'd love to see the sun. Of course, I could be having a miserable day in my home town of Oswego, NY, where it is 10°F cooler & going down to below freezing tonight, and still has snow on the ground, but at least there it isn't raining. Here we had heavy rain most of the morning, with gradual clearing during the day. Right now, at 3:00 it is partly cloudy. Hopefully, there will be enough sun for the rest of the day to put something back into the batteries.

After breakfast I took a photo out the front window of the trailer to show one of the smaller washes just behind the trailer. Most of the time it is dry, but this morning it has a foot of water in it. By this afternoon, it just has a few puddles.

I drove to the Roadrunner Market, mostly for something to do, but also to pick up some oatmeal cookies & a gallon of water. While I have plenty of water in the trailer's fresh water tank, I try not to use it for drinking or cooking. It has gotten a bit musty smelling, While I have a separate filtered water faucet on my sink, I still prefer bottled water for coffee, etc.

While at the Roadrunner Market I notice that there weren't many cars in the laundromat parking lot across the street, so I drove back to the trailer, loaded up the laundry basket, grabbed my shaving kit (they have showers at the laundromat) and headed back. Well, the reason there weren't many cars in the lot is it was closed! Now I know I should have driven into the place to check, but logic says if there are SOME cars, it should be open - no cars, closed. So much for logic. Anyhow, a basket of laundry is now sitting in the back seat of the truck, waiting until Monday.

Back at the trailer I made the bed, and sat around reading, inside - the temperature spent most of the day at 51°F, a little too cold to sit outside even though the rain has stopped. Besides, it is windy, and most of the area around the trailer is a bit muddy. The truck made trenches backing into the area in front of the trailer.

I called the nearest Rite-Aid, which is in Blythe, CA (about 20 miles from here) to get refills on my prescriptions. One of the reasons I switched from a local pharmacy (Kinney's) in Oswego that I liked was the difficulty in getting prescriptions transferred while on the road. Since there are Rite-Aids in most states (except Texas & Arizona) and two of them in my home town, I switched to them. The Blythe Rite-Aid had no problem finding my prescriptions, checked with my insurance, & they will be ready on Monday. I spent the last couple of years juggling around the 90 day refill dates so that they would all come due on the same day, making it easier to pick them up when the nearest drug store is 20 - 30 miles away. Unfortunately, that doesn't work with my eye drops since they don't do 90 day refills. I suspect the drug companies purposely choose the size of the bottle of drops to require more frequent refills to sell more product - there is no reason they couldn't make a 90 day supply. Enough whining!

If the weather holds & the wind dies down, dinner will be the last of my frozen chicken thighs, snap peas, & rice.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, December 23, 2016

Day 54, Friday, December 23, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 6

Sweet Darlene's Friday Night Fish Fry
Friday, December 23, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 6, 0 Miles, 3,855.7 Miles For the Trip

It was closer to normal for last night's temperatures - in the low 50's with the furnace only kicking on a couple of times. By morning I was down 38 amp hours, and nothing but clouds in the sky, so I plugged the trailer into the inverter in the back of the Tacoma again. It is only rated at 400 watts, but that is enough to run the trailer's converter to help charge the batteries. The only problem is the trailer is equipped with a 35 amp WFCO brand converter. While kind to batteries because it rarely produces more than 13.7V, it does not like to go into the bulk charging stage, the stage that provides the most amperage into the batteries. It started out at 10 amps, but quickly went down to only 5. Still, I ran the truck while eating breakfast, then shut it down & relied on the solar panels to do their thing. Unfortunately, with the heavy cloud cover all I was getting is between 2-3 amps. Still, by now at the end of the day I'm only down 18 amps.

After breakfast I read for awhile, then headed to a couple of RV places to see if I could get a new gasket for the refrigerator door. There is a 4" tear in the current gasket. It is on a fold, and doesn't effect the insulation or movement of air, but it can only get worse. Unfortunately, no one had a gasket in stock, and it won't be until Tuesday that they can order one. A couple of dealers don't believe the gasket is replaceable; you need to replace the door. While I'd have to agree by looking at it, I sure hope that isn't true - I'll bet a door is not cheap!

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading, including the Syracuse Post Standard on my iPad so I can keep up with what is going on back in upstate NY.

Around 4:00 I headed to Sweet Darlene's for their Friday all you can eat cod dinner. Good coleslaw, a baked potato & like, the name says, all the cod you want, for $9.95. They have a large selection of used books, and I added two to my collection. Rather than haul my large cameras to dinner, I took a couple of photos with the iPhone.  A couple more photos of Sweet Darlene's at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Day 53, Thursday, December 22, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 5

Thursday, December 22, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 5, 0 Miles, 3,855.7 Miles For the Trip

Dinner last night was cooked inside, one of the few times I did anything but soup on the inside stove.

It rained off & on most of the night, and the morning broke (actually, sighed is a better term) to gray skies with rain & fog. I decided not to walk to town for coffee, but instead drive to Sweet Darlene's for breakfast. Sweet Darlene's is my favorite restaurant for dinner, but I've never been there for breakfast. The bacon & eggs were OK, but very slow in arriving. On the way back to the campground I filled up the Tacoma tank at the local Cheveron gas station, $.05 cheaper than the rest of the stations in Quartzsite.

After breakfast I sat in the trailer reading. While the rain stopped, it is still cloudy, foggy, and too cool to sit outside. I'm not getting much from the solar panels - I'm down by 35 amp hours as of 1:30, and the panels are just breaking even with the basic power use by the trailer. I did start the truck with the trailer plugged into the inverter just to keep breaking even while putting out today's journal. With both the solar panels putting out 2 amps & the converter about 10 amps, I'm getting a little ahead, but running the truck to provide 10 amps of charging is pretty inefficient.

After posting the journal, I'll go back to reading & relaxing for the afternoon. No photos today. Speaking of photos, I just ordered a replacement cable to go between my GPS & cameras. I believe the bad cable was what was causing the D700 to crash, but won't know for sure until I use the replacement GPS for awhile. I don't like the Marrex MX-G20M replacement GPS as much as the Solmeta Pro I usually use because the Marrex is very slow to lock on to the satellites. The Solmeta locks on within half a minute, even if you have traveled aways from the last use. The Marrex usually takes 5-10 minutes.

The replacement cable comes from China, and getting it shipped to General Delivery here at Quartzsite is a problem. The Postal Service doesn't accept UPS & FedEx packages, and while it might be possible to get the shipment done to general delivery as mail, that would take much longer.  Plus, General Delivery at Quartzsite is difficult.  They only open one window, for a couple of hours per day, and shut it down exactly on schedule even if there is a long line waiting.  Sometimes, the line is out the door of the Post Office.

Thankfully, there is a solution - Quiet Times is a store that will accept packages & mail, as long as it is addressed properly. They charge $1.00 for small packages & $2.00 for larger ones. You do have to address it exactly - they give you a card that has the correct address. I used it last year & it worked; we will see how it works with a delivery from China.

That's about it for the day. Dinner will depend on the weather - soup inside or a grilled brat if it isn't raining.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Day 52, Wednesday, December 21, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 4

An Unusual "RV"
Wednesday, December 21, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 4, 0 Miles, 3,855.7 Miles For the Trip

While not the greatest sunset, I did take a photo of the view from my back windows, and a panorama of the area around my location.

There were a few short sprinkles of rain overnight, but it was nice enough for my usual walk to the 76 gas station for coffee. Not much sun, and little is expected for the next couple of days. After breakfast & forum reading, I walked around the La Posa West area to take a few photos for those that wonder what the place is like.

La Posa West does not have any bathrooms or dump stations, so only self contained RVs are allowed in this section. They don't consider a Porta potty self contained. You need a minimum of a "permanently affixed, 10 gallon black tank" to meet the BLM's definition of self contained. They do have dumpsters, and I included a photo of the entrance station where you get your pass, maps, and trade books. It is usually open daily from 9:00AM to 4:00PM.

The "Little House" is back, a bit more finished than last year. Still the most unusual RV in the area. I didn't see the people living in the boat in La Posa South when I went to fill up on water, but that would be a close second. Lots of solar; you can the the long time visitors by the tilted panels. There are even a few that have wind generators, probably useful since there is usually a breeze during the winter. All kinds of RVs, from older ones that amaze you that they made it here to huge 5 slide out motorhomes.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After my walk I went to open the top silverware drawer & remembered it was broken. For those that know me know I have this problem. I can't stand anything that doesn't work, and insist on fixing it, whether it is mine or someone else's. Maybe that is why I carry over 100 lbs of tools & 50 lbs of parts in the truck & trailer. Of course I didn't have what I needed to fix the drawer, so I headed into town & the local Ace Hardware. An interesting hardware store, 1/2 hardware, 1/2 groceries, with a liquor isle divider between the two sections. I did find a mending plate. Because of the tight quarters, I was hoping for some Robertson head bolts, but this far from Canada, that is wishful thinking. They did have some metric bolts with Allen wrench heads, but no nuts to fit them. I couldn't even get Phillips head bolts; settled for straight slot heads, which were a joy to tighten in the confines of the drawer space.

Back at the trailer I dug out some tools & went to work. Very tight quarters, with a vent pipe in the way. My plan was to use the mending plate on the inside as a drilling template, then mount it on the back side, but I found that the plate cleared the drawer while mounted on the inside; much easier to do (and, I could have used screws to mount it; much easier since I had them & they were Robertson). Tough on the knees, even with a foam kneeling pad (I can remember when I could spend an entire day in the garden on my knees pulling weeds, but that isn't happening any more!)

Anyhow, after about an hour the project was done and I no longer have to align the drawer every time I close it. I do have to say that the method Escape used to assemble the drawer frame is one of the first poorly constructed parts of the trailer I've discovered. They used a single staple to bridge the two parts of the frame. One too many bumps along the road of the drawer broke the joint. It may have been glued but since it was two edges of plywood, glue would not be the most effective way to make a joint.

It is 2:00PM, and pouring outside. Not enough rain to make puddles, but that is probably in the future since the prediction is 80% for rain tonight. Since the desert here looks like sand, you would expect that the rain just soaks through it. Nope, it is hard packed enough that it absorbs little, lots of run off forming washes throughout the camping area that combine to large run off trenches that look like dry river beds most of the time. Woe to anyone that decides to park their trailer in a wash - what looks like a nice, sandy flat area becomes a raging river! Another interesting thing is that what looks like sand sometimes becomes an unsuspecting 6" deep mud pit when you step in it. It is hard to tell the difference between walkable ground & mud.

Dinner will be the other half of the Taco dinner. They come with 10 soft tacos, & enough "stuff" to make that many, but I can't eat that many. At home I cook the entire package, and reheat the meat in the microwave, but this time I tried to split the ingredients to make 2 meals of 5. We will see how it worked a bit later. It will probable be cooked inside since it is still raining.

By the way, for those that post comments, they may take awhile to appear. I have had to set up screening because of a couple of spammers that keep posting to the site.  I couldn't keep up with deleting their posts, so I now have to pre approve all posts.  If I'm in a non internet area, that will take some time.  Please keep the comments coming - I enjoy them!

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Day 51, Tuesday, December 20, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 3

Tuesday, December 20, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 3, 0 Miles, 3,855.7 Miles For the Trip

Another relaxing day at Quartzsite! I didn't start my walk to coffee until almost 9:00AM. Still cool enough to wear a insulated vest & gloves, but a bit warmer than yesterday. After breakfast & did my usual reading of forums & blogs, then hopped in the truck for a run to one of the entrance stations to trade some books, and into town to buy a pound of ground chuck to use to make tacos for dinner.

The rest of the afternoon was sitting out in the sun and reading. It is a cool, hazy sun with thin clouds, enough that the solar panels didn't put back what I used overnight & this morning. As of 4:00, I'm down by around 12 amp hours from full.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, things will get a bit boring, but I do enjoy reading, and there isn't a whole lot else to do, at least here in the LTVA. No pictures today.

As expected, dinner will be ground beef tacos with all kinds of vegetables & the rest of the refried beans, washed down with an Alaskan White beer.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, December 19, 2016

Day 50, Monday, December 19, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 2

My Quartzsite Location
Monday, December 19, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 2, 0 Miles, 3,855.7 Miles For the Trip

OK, this is (if they haven't been already) where the posts get a bit boring. I don't know how soon I'll do anything interesting, but for awhile I'm going to hang out here at La Posa West in Quartzsite. I have to get used to cooler temperatures at night - when I ran the electric heater (which I've been doing since Big Bend National Park) I usually set it for 70°F. While I could do that for the propane furnace, I'd be going through far too much propane. As it is, with the thermostat set at 57°F, I go through a 20 lb tank per week while dry camping. Since it cooled off quickly (31°F at 7:00AM this morning) I suspect I will be refilling the tanks frequently. Propane is $2.04 in town, so the price isn't too bad.

I made my traditional (if you can call something that you have only been doing for a year a tradition) walk to the 76 gas station on the corner of AZ 95 & Main st (about a mile from my campsite) for coffee. By the time I get back to the trailer with my insulated Bubba mug, the coffee is cool enough to drink. At $.65 for a 24 oz mug, it is a deal!

I spent the rest of the morning reading blogs & forums, and tiding up the trailer & site. I found a broken drawer support that is going to be tough to repair without pulling the furnace. I haven't got my stapler here anyway, so it will probably wait until I get back to Oswego in the Spring. After that I drove around town checking things out. Not much has changed from last year.

With the combination of microwaving last night's dinner & lots of furnace running time overnight, I was down 45 amp hours by this morning. According to the TriMetric Battery Monitor, I'm back to 100% at 3:00PM. No photos today.

Dinner was a NY strip steak, steamed snap peas, and refried beans.

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Day 49, Sunday, December 18, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ

Night Sky Over Lost Dutchman State Park
Sunday, December 18, 2016, La Posa West, Quartzsite, AZ, 177 Miles, 3,855.7 Miles For the Trip

Happy Birthday Valerie (my oldest grandchild)! I tried to connect on Skype, but Karin didn't have her iPad on. I left a video "happy Birthday" message.

I took a few night time photos, but with all the Christmas lights on the nearby trailers & buildings, plus a less than favorable location, there is nothing to be proud of. I'll include a few just because I went out in the cold to take them. With the clear skies, it quickly dropped to the low 40's, and was 37°F at 7:00AM. Made it a little tough to roll up the water hose! More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Not a bad drive to Quartzsite, although the 5 lanes of traffic through Phoenix was annoying. Every time I tried to move over to the right lane, it ended & I had to fight to move over one lane to the left. In any case, I pulled into La Posa West Long Term Visitor Area around 2:00 & bought a $180.00 season pass. While it may have worked out a little cheaper to buy multiple 2 week, $40.00 passes, it is a pain to do it every 2 weeks, and after staying a couple of weeks my average campground cost will go down below the current average. Before the $180.00 pass, I was averaging $24.40 for the trip, higher than normal, but acceptable.

The Arizona State Parks drove the average up, but even though they are a little on the expensive side at $30 - $35 per night, they are very nice campgrounds with clean bathrooms & showers, and sites where the volunteers immediately rake & tidy up the sites as you leave, including making sure all the breakers are off on the power posts.

I drove to La Posa South to dump the trailer & fill the fresh water tank, so I'm good for around 2 weeks. I can't give a site # since there aren't any in the middle of the LTVAs, but I'm on the north side of the La Posa West area not far from where the "Big Tent" will be set up. The additional portable solar panel is out & helping the rooftop panels charge the batteries. Actually, they are fully charged by the truck on the drive here, but the laptop draws almost 6 amps, so I figured it is worth setting it out as soon as possible.

A good 3 bar AT&T signal that is currently feeding the iPhone with KJZZ in Phoenix, a jazz & news NPR station. The choices here in Quartzsite for direct radio are slim. Not that there aren't stations, I have plenty, but they are all religious or country western, with the exception of the local Quartzsite station, which plays boring music, but does have ads for what is going around in town. Verizon provides 4 bars of 4G LTE even without the outside antenna & amplifier. Not the fastest LTE signal I've used & it will be a lot slower when the crowd arrives, but it is usable for posting photos, etc.

I drove through the area looking for people I met last year, but didn't see any of the group of Toyota Class C RV's from California. I did run into Rudy, a Brazilian/Canadian that was here last year. We sat around drinking his beer and chatted till dinner.

There is one problem with a frozen shrimp ring, at least after you opened it & pulled the cover off the cocktail sauce - it tipped over in the refrigerator on the drive & I spent 10 minutes with paper towels cleaning the spilled sauce out of the door & bottom of the refrigerator. Plus, I don't have much in which to dip the rest of the shrimp.

Since the batteries are up, I used the microwave to make a Boston Market Chicken Parmesan & Spaghetti dinner, the only Boston Market dinner I like, although I'm used to cooking it in an oven rather than a microwave. While it is crisper when cooked in the oven, I can't run the toaster oven on the inverter. Microwaving the dinner on high for 9 minutes used almost 15 amp hours.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Day 48, Saturday, December 17, 2016, Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ, Day 3

Hummingbird at the Feeder
Saturday, December 17, 2016, Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ, Day 3, 0 Miles, 3,678.7 Miles For the Trip

A warm night, but during the morning it kept getting cooler rather than warmer. Now, at 5:45, it is down to 53°F. We do have clear skies, so I hope to get out for some star photos.

After breakfast I waited for the 5th wheel in site 19 to move so I could move across the street. They didn't leave until 11:59 (checkout is 12:00) but who ever was taking my site didn't show up so no problems.

After setting up in site 19, I changed the sheets, loaded up the laundry, and headed into Apache Junction to the local laundromat. They use cards rather than quarters, which is a bit of a pain in the neck, but eventually I got everything washed & dried. I also stopped at Fry's for some dishwashing soap, and, of course, bought a bunch of other stuff, including a shrimp ring that was on sale.

I sat around reading for the rest of the afternoon, taking a few photos of birds, and, as the light improved, the mountains. More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a salad, a couple of frozen chicken things (that look like UP Michigan pasties) that I picked up at Walmart. Unfortunately, while they are really good, I tossed the box to save room in the freezer, and have no idea of what they are called so when they are gone, they are gone! I also finished off a bottle of Bogle 2014 red wine, which I don't like as much as the 2013. There is probably no difference other than the name, but...

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, December 16, 2016

Day 47, Friday, December 16, 2016, Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ, Day 2

After Dark Towards Apache Junction
Friday, December 16, 2016, Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ, Day 2, 0 Miles, 3,678.7 Miles For the Trip

It rained lightly overnight, just enough to wet the pavement. It cleared up around 10:00 when I moved 100' to the new site. I'm now in site 20 until tomorrow. Not as nice a view, but it was available and there is a big 5th wheel in my old spot. After setting up, I made a run to the Apache Junction Walmart for some supplies. Back at the campground I set up a hummingbird feeder & while reading, took a few photos. I also took a couple of photos of some other birds, including a bi plane that looked like it was going to fly into the mountains. (it didn't).

The folks in the site next to me are retired from Idaho, and run a business taking photos and printing them, mostly of car shows. They got tired of just traveling after retirement, so started the business.

The next project was to replace the anode in my water heater. The hot water was getting "Funky" (a technical term). While I don't use it for cooking or drinking, I do use it to wash dishes, and in my water pik - cold water hurts the teeth! So, as long as I was draining the tank to flush it out, I replaced the 3 year old anode. It was tough getting it threaded back in - at home I have a small wire brush to clean up the threads, but not here. I used the "stack of quarters" trick in the socket to put direct pressure on the drain bolt & it worked. We will see if the bad smell has been fixed.

I had a bit of a scare when I hauled out the D700 for a wide photo (I had the 80 - 400mm lens on the D800). Pushed the shutter & it fired about 20 shots in rapid fire (even though it was set for single shot), flashed "P err", and wouldn't turn off. I took out the battery, let it set for awhile, fired it up & formatted the card & it started working again. I hate when something like that happens since I can no longer depend on the camera until I've used it for awhile.

Dinner was a grilled Bubba Burger, snap peas, & a salad.

I waited until dark, then headed out to see if there were any stars. Well, I'm pretty sure they are still there, but the clouds have covered most of them. I did aim the D700 towards Apache Junction & shot a f: 5.6 @ 20 seconds (ISO of 200) image with a bit of fill light from a flashlight on the foreground. A little different, but interesting.  That is today's photo. Probably would have been better if I Photoshoped out the hummingbird feeder!  More images at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Day 46, Thursday, December 15, 2016, Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ

Site 25
Thursday, December 15, 2016, Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ, 95.3 Miles, 3,678.7 Miles For the Trip

I looked up the nearest Toyota dealer in the general direction I was going & stopped at Big Two Toyota in Chandler, AZ. I stopped at a rest stop to do the search for the dealer, and there was a temporary weigh station there. Since there were no trucks waiting, I asked if they could weigh the trailer. No problem - 2300 lbs on the front axle, 2500 lbs on the rear, and 2850 lbs on the trailer axle. All within the ratings of the truck & trailer, and well within the combined weight limit.

The reason for the Toyota visit was I tried to put the Tacoma into low range for the first time on the trip (and probably the first time since I bought it) and all I got was a series of beeps. David, a Service Manager, tried to get it to go into low and didn't have any better luck than I did. We went back to the office, looked for some hints on the Tacoma Club website, and a mechanic who's name I didn't catch wandered by stating the transfer case was probably "bound up". His solution was to put it in 4 wheel drive & rock it back & forth until you hear a loud clunk. I tried that when I stopped at the campground & after unhooking the trailer (better to rock without it), and it worked! So, I can now shift into low range & use the fancy crawl feature. By the way, the half a tank of gas I used between City of Rocks & here averaged 20MPG. Most of the drive was downhill on I 10!

I'm here for the weekend at Lost Dutchman State Park. Since I didn't make reservations, I have to take what is available. I wanted an electric site for at least the first night, but none were available for 3 days in a row. So, I'm in site 25 tonight, 20 tomorrow, and 19 on Saturday, all electric & water sites for $30.00 plus a $5.00 reservation fee each night. I would have been happy with dry sites for the 2nd & 3rd nights, but the volunteer went to so much trouble to find electric sites for each night that I took what he offered. I also bought a "T" shirt.

The Superstition Mountains loom over the campground, making most of the sites very scenic. The last time I was here I was in site 47 for a week. Lots of photos of the mountains behind the trailer on those pages, including a neat photo of the trailer & mountain lighted by the moon & showing some stars. Tonight there is a much fuller moon, and more clouds, so the combined star & moonlight images might not work as well, plus a large Class A is blocking part of the view; still a beautiful site.

After setting up I walked around the campground loop, then settled in the 80°F mixed sun & clouds for some reading. Dinner will finally be my pot pie, probably cooked outside to avoid overheating the trailer. While the chicken drumsticks were very good even on the 3rd day, I'm glad they are gone & I can move on to something else!

The pot pie is in the oven, and while I was hoping for some nice light on the mountains during sunset, there were too many clouds. No more photos unless it clears up for some star light stuff tonight.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Day 45, Wednesday, December 14, 2016, Picacho Peak State Park, Picacho, AZ

Sunrise at City of Rocks State Park
Wednesday, December 14, 2016, Picacho Peak State Park, Picacho, AZ, 282 Miles, 3,583.4 Miles For the Trip

I woke up early enough to take a couple of sunrise photos. Unfortunately, the wide images that showed more sky included the park office & bathrooms rather than the rocks, but this crop does include a crow on top of the one column.

It was a longer drive than usual, but I wanted to hit Picacho Peak State Park for the night. I'm in my usual site (B1) which I've stayed in twice before. A great view of the valley, far enough away from I 10 & the railroad so the noise is barely there, and close to the showers. All the sites are electric only for $30.00 per night. The WiFi here at the campground is the fastest I've had on the trip. That might be because there are very few RVs in the park. In any case, I appreciate it!

I defrosted the refrigerator, hoping that I'll need to do it less often now that I'm out of the humid south. The weather is great - 72°F this afternoon. Far better than home, where it is 25°F this afternoon & going to the single digits tomorrow night. It does get cool here at night - the prediction tonight is the high 30's.

I was going to cook my pot pie since I have electricity, but being a waste not type of guy, I ate the last chicken leg from the other day. I still can't get over a single drumstick being a full meal's worth of meat!

After dinner I had a shower, then waited for the moon to rise for a photo. Too many clouds for a good moon rise picture, although the colors just before it appeared almost looked like a sunset. That vertical line on the moon is a cactus.  Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Day 44, Tuesday, December 13, 2016, City of Rocks State Park, NM 105 Miles

Site 1, City of Rocks State Park

Tuesday, December 13, 2016, City of Rocks State Park, NM 105 Miles, 3,301.4 Miles For the Trip

I got an early start this morning - up and ready to go at 7:00. It is the time zone change coming out of Texas; I'm now in Mountain Time so my body still thinks it is 8:00. In any case I was on the road by 8:00.

I'm also starting the journal page early while I still have an internet connection, and will add to it if this evening's sunset or night sky provides useful photos. I spent the entire drive on I 10, stopping in Deming, NM for a haircut. I went to Frank's Barber Shop, but Frank wasn't there. There was 4 people ahead of me & the place never emptied. I can't really say how good the barber was since my usual haircut is to take a #3 clipper & buzz the entire thing - not much skill involved.

After that it was a short 30 miles drive north to City of Rocks. I was hoping for an electric site so I could cook a pot pie, but all the reserved & first come sites were taken. I'm in Site #1, one of my favorite dry sites. A big boulder to block the wind an a great view of the rest of the park. $10.00 for the night. While the site is dry, they do have showers. I ended up using the handicapped shower because the water in the standard one never got hot (a single push button valve). Very soft water - you spend lots of time rinsing.

Strange cell coverage. A very weak AT&T that comes & goes, and a good, reasonable fast Verizon 3G, at least with my iPad. I fired up the Verizon Jetpack with the amplifier to use the laptop, got a 4G LTE signal, but it was dead - no mail, no web pages, Google, etc. Unplugged the amplifier & restarted the Jetpack, it went to 3G, and it seems to be working. We will see if it will post the pages. In any case, there are a few more photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Found a very large cricket or grasshopper (about 2" long") on a rock next to my site. As usual, the light & sky is great here, we will see how the rest of the day goes.

It wasn't the best sunset ever, but I took a few photos anyway. The moon rise looked great, but was in a lousy location for pictures.

Dinner will be one of the left over chicken legs.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, December 12, 2016

Day 43, Monday, December 12, 2016, Western Sky's RV Park, Vado, NM

Site B2, Western Sky's RV Park
Monday, December 12, 2016, Western Sky's RV Park, Vado, NM, 231.9 Miles, 3,196.4 Miles For the Trip

A long, mostly boring drive west on I 10. I decided it was time to get out of Texas, so I drove a bit further than usual to reach Vado, just across the Texas, New Mexico border. I don't have anything against Texas; I've had a great time here, but I've been in the state for almost a month.

The campground is just a few minutes east of my favorite Mexican restaurant, Chope's, however they are closed on Sunday & Monday. I don't know how I do it, but every time I drive by Chope's it is either a Sunday or Monday! I could hang around until 11:30AM when they open for lunch tomorrow, but I'll probably move on.

I made a run to near by Las Cruces to get a haircut, but the barber shop I found using Google was shut down. I did drive across the street to a car wash & spent $4.50 washing the truck. The bay was high enough for the trailer as well, but it was back in the campground. Another quick stop was the local Walmart for some supplies, including a pair of winter underwear. I keep forgetting to pack a pair for the trip (probably my way of deciding it isn't going to be cold), so I have quite a collection at home. Of course, since I bought a new pair, it probably will not get cold for the rest of the trip (I can only hope!)

On the way back I stopped at a Chrome Outlet gas station & picked up 3 of the largest chicken legs I've ever seen. The looked like turkey legs, but tasted like chicken. The only sold in lots of three, and all I could eat (with a small salad) was one. Two are in the refrigerator for the future. I took the campsite photo showing the almost full moon through thin clouds. I'm at the Western Sky's RV Park, within a couple of 100 feet of I 10. Noisy, but convenient. One of the few quick stop RV parks that includes a picnic table. Site B2 with full hookups for $20.28 for the night. Free, fast WiFi is included, but no 30 amp receptacle. Again, I used my 50 to 30 amp adapter. I'm glad I carry it!

Until Tomorrow -

Day 42, Sunday, December 11, 2016, Davis Mountain State Park, TX

Site 36
Sunday, December 11, 2016, Davis Mountain State Park, TX, 140.8 Miles, 2,964.5 Miles For the Trip

I was hoping that once I left Big Bend, I would have an internet connection that would let me post the last 4 days of journals & photos. Unfortunately, although I stopped a couple of times at places that showed a cell signal, none of them were fast enough for the photos. Here at Davis Mountain State Park, they have WiFi, however it is very slow & won't pass either mail or my posts to my ISP. Strangely enough, it does let me read & post to forums. So, it won't be until tomorrow for the updates.

This morning was warmer than yesterday, actually above freezing (just). Overnight I left the D700 outside on a tripod, hoping to do a star trail type photo after the moon set (at 4:30AM). While I woke up in time to do the photo, there was so much condensation on the lens and camera that it was impossible. I did take a photo to show the effect of a fogged lens. Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

The tree crew arrived around 8:00 & started cutting at the other end of the campground. I packed up the trailer & headed out. My first stop was when my AT&T iPhone showed a signal. Unfortunately, neither AT&T or Verizon actually had a usable connection. While stopped, I met Kelly, a hiker who has spent the last 14 days hiking around Big Bend. He asked me to call his wife when I found a cell signal that worked and let her know he was still alive. Seems tonight was the date she was suppose to call the park to send out a search team unless she heard from him. He is doing OK, but was delayed 3 days by snow & freezing fog. She was glad for the call.

I debated with myself (the best kind of debate since you always win) about stopping at Davis Mountain or going on closer to 200 miles. There wasn't much in the way of campgrounds at the 200 mile distance, so I stopped here for the night. I'm in site 36, a water & electric site for $26.00 per night. I did hook up the water, hoping that it won't freeze overnight.

I'm going to spend the afternoon reading for a bit, waiting for the shower room to warm up. It is nice out at 69°F, but the bathroom is holding last night's cold.

The showers were well designed with plenty of hot water & standard shower heads, however the bathroom was still much colder than the outside air at 3:30. Still, nice & refreshing after 3 days dry camping.

Dinner was a couple of grilled cheese & peanut butter sandwiches and a salad. Yes, grilled cheese & peanut butter. I've heard of putting just about anything in with the cheese in grilled sandwiches, but is seems only my family has carried on the tradition of peanut butter & grilled cheese. Try it! A good combination.

Until Tomorrow -

Well, I'm finally in a Verizon serviced area that is fast enough to post. No AT&T, so no phone calls, but here at the junction of US 90 & I 10 at least I can get the last 5 days of pages posted.

Day 41, Saturday, December 10, 2016, Cottonwood Campground, Big Bend National Park, TX, Day 3

A Javelina
Saturday, December 10, 2016, Cottonwood Campground, Big Bend National Park, TX, Day 3, 0 Miles, 2,823.7 Miles For the Trip

I'm getting tired of saying "another cold night", but it was 27°F at 7:00AM. It warmed up quickly since, for the first time since I've arrived at Cottonwood, the skies are clear. The cold weather cleared out the campground - only the Toyota Class C from Florida & myself are left. I took a new campsite photo to show the clear blue sky. I also made a couple laps of the campground, carrying the D800 with a 80-400mm lens to photograph some of the birds. I also got a photo of some serious birders with much larger glass (lenses) than I carry.

While one of the campers yesterday said this was a Scarlet Tanager, my iBirds Plus app tells me it is a Vermillion Flycatcher. In any case, a pretty bird. Again, using the iBird Plus app, I believe the woodpecker is a Ladder-backed male. I'm not sure of the first one, but if I had to guess, I'd say a Bell's Virgo. I'm sure any of you that know will correct me! While I've looked for it, the Great Horned Owl has not made an appearance.

As I was leaving to hike to the Santa Elena Canyon, the Javelinas were back in force.

The sign at the start of the trail to Santa Elena Canyon stated the Terlingua River is usually dry, but can have water after a rain. Well, it is after a rain. Not too deep, but if you want to keep your feet dry, you need to hop from rock to rock. I made it.

After the hike I stopped to take a photo of the Desert Mountain from the "official" viewpoint, then headed to the Ranger Station, Store & Visitor center for a few more photos.  Lots more photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I may be able to post the last 3 days of my journal tomorrow - I hope to make it to civilization!

While it is early yet, dinner is going to be a microwaved burrito. With all the sunshine, the batteries are back at full for the first time in 3 days. Now I'm going to sit out in the sun & read for the rest of the afternoon.

Until Tomorrow -

Day 40, Friday, December 9, 2016, Cottonwood Campground, Big Bend National Park, TX, Day 2

Site 14, Cottonwood Campground
Friday, December 9, 2016, Cottonwood Campground, Big Bend National Park, TX, Day 2, 0 Miles, 2,823.7 Miles For the Trip

The furnace got a good workout throughout the evening, overnight, and most of the day. At 2:09PM, it hit the high for the day of 50°F. I thought this part of Texas was suppose to be warm! Last night I slept wearing a knit hat.

I did get out for a couple of laps around the campground. On one of the circuits I saw some Javelinas munching the grass on one of the sites. I've been looking the Great Horned Owl that lives here at the campground, but while a neighbor saw it yesterday, no such luck for me so far.

I did notice that here at the Cottonwood campground I've found the first "smelly" vault toilets in the National Park System. The design includes good ventilation with a chimney built in that, as long as users close the toilet lids, keep oders down. The difference? These have urinals build into the toilet & since there is no cover to make the air flow work, they stink. At least the toilet seats won't end up wet!

The tree trimmers haven't showed up yet so the place is very quiet.

Last night we had a Toyota Class C RV from Florida, a guy in a Honda that was camping in the back of his car, a Class B towing a Jeep, and a site with three guys in tents. All but the Toyota Class C left during the day; for awhile I thought it would be just me & the guy form Florida, but a Unimog type RV from Switzerland and a tent camper moved in next door. There are only about 4-5 sites that are not closed for the tree work. Lots of people drive through, but don't stay.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

While it is still early, I'm typing this while my fingers are still flexible enough. I have the thermostat set for 56°F to conserve the battery & propane, and with the outside temperature at 50°F, the trailer is at 59°F and not expected to get much warmer. I'm going into the evening with the batteries down by 18 amp hours.

Until Tomorrow -

Day 39, Thursday, December 8, 2016, Cottonwood Campground, Big Bend National Park, TX

Santa Elena Canyon
Thursday, December 8, 2016, Cottonwood Campground, Big Bend National Park, TX, 55 Miles, 2,823.7 Miles For the Trip

I have to start this exactly like I did yesterday - another cool night. It was 40°F outside at 7:00AM. The only problem is unlike yesterday when it warmed up to 72°F by 1:00PM, the warmest it got today was 45°F. I'm actually running the furnace during the day to make my fingers warm enough to type!

I'm in site 14 at the Cottonwood Campground (still in Big Bend National Park). A very pretty drive along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive between TX 118 & the campground. I'm here for 3 nights at $7.00 per night with the senior pass. More primitive than Rio Grande Village Campground - Vault toilets, and only one drinking water tap - the rest are unfiltered water. It looks like I'm not getting away from the tree trimming crew. The plan is for them to arrive tomorrow and trim the trees on well over half the sites. It may be a noisy morning since there is a completely dead tree on the site across from me. They are suppose to be done Sunday, the day I'm heading out.

After setting up the trailer I drove to the Santa Elena Canyon Overlook, checked out the Rio Grande boat launch, and the Dorgan-Sublett Trail. On the way back I stopped at the Visitor Center & the store. While the store is larger than the one at the Rio Grande Village, it has less "stuff". I did pick up another gallon of drinking water. More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I'm now trying to decide whether to fire up another blast of the furnace to keep warm, or conserve the batteries so I'll have heat in the morning. There was no sun today, so the batteries are not back to full - they are down about 8 amp hours. Here is hoping the sun will come out tomorrow! (My apologies to the musical "Annie".)

Dinner will be a bowl of soup since I had a large lunch, and cooking on the inside stove warms up the trailer.

Until Tomorrow -

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Day 38, Wednesday, December 7, 2016, Rio Grande Village, Big Bend National Park, Day 2

A Muddy Rio Grande
Wednesday, December 7, 2016, Rio Grande Village, Big Bend National Park, Day 2, TX, 0 Miles, 2,768.7 Miles For the Trip

Another cool night. I went to bed with the outside at 66°F & inside the trailer at 70°F. At 6:00AM it was 40°F outside & 49°F inside. I fired up the furnace for the first time since last February, and it smelled like it. Eventually, the dust burned off. I went back to sleep until the tree trimmers woke me up at 7:30.

I took a long walk around the campground - it is about 3/4 empty, with quite a few reservations for the weekend. Many of the first come sites are available, however a number of them have signs that they are closed for tree trimming. I did notice that immediately after the trimmers were done, the closed signs came down.

After breakfast, I put together a basket of laundry. $2.50 to wash & $.25 per 8 minutes to dry. They had a give away table at the store of stuff that was past date, or cans that were dented. I took a can of SpaghettiO's, something I haven't eaten since I was a kid. Also some bottles of tea, and some snack bars.

After putting the laundry away & making the bed, I headed out to do some hiking & back roading. You may recognize some of the photos from last year's stop - the clouds are different, but I did go to Boquillas Lookout & the hot springs on that trip. The Rio Grande was much faster & muddier than the last time due to recent rain. Many more photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After that it was back to the trailer to make up today's page, then a trip to the store for a shower, and to post today's page.

Dinner will be a couple of Beer Brats, and some peaches.

By the way, the plan is to move to the Cottonwood campground tomorrow. Since there is no WiFi or other access to the internet in the area, yo uprobably won't here from me for a couple of days.

Until Tomorrow -

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Day 37, Tuesday, December 6, 2016, Rio Grande Village, Big Bend National Park, TX

Site 93
Tuesday, December 6, 2016, Rio Grande Village, Big Bend National Park, TX, 255.5 Miles, 2,768.7 Miles For the Trip

The first dry night in a couple of days. Cool, down to 41°F by morning. I headed out around 9:15 on US 90, and stayed on it until the town of Marathon, where I stopped at the French Co grocery store for some supplies, then south on TX 385.

The plan was to stop at the Stillwell ranch, a campground along TX 385 that has hookups, but after getting almost to the park, I decided I might as well look for a site there. Of course, with Big Bend, almost to the park is relative - it is another 45 miles to the campground. I'm in site 93 at the Rio Grande Village campground, a dry site for $7.00 per night with the Senior Park Pass. I'm here for two nights, after which I'll try for a couple of nights at the Cottonwood Campground.

There is no FM radio, WiFi, Cell coverage; the only contact with the outside world here at the campsite is XM Radio. There is WiFi available at the campground store, about 1/2 mile from my site. I'll head over there to try to post this when I'm done.

Dinner will be a grilled chicken patty along with a salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Monday, December 5, 2016

Day 36, Monday, December 5, 2016, Lonesome Dove RV Ranch, Del Rio, TX

Site 28
Monday, December 5, 2016, Lonesome Dove RV Ranch, Del Rio, TX, 209.1 Miles, 2,513.2 Miles For the Trip

It rained most of the night, but stopped in time for me to pack up the trailer for travel. No interstates today, with most of the driving on 70MPH 2 lane roads. Lots of oil wells along the drive. I don't know if it was the gaining of 1000' of altitude or headwinds, but today's mileage was only 11.1. I'm at the Lonesome Dove RV Ranch, just off US 90 in Del Rio, TX, Site 28, a full service site for $26.00. The place is a long term park, but they have a few sites for travelers. They also have a huge library where I traded a bunch of books.

After setting up the trailer I called the Del Rio Toyota dealership to see if I could get my 10,000 mile service. I'm a few miles short of the 10K, but won't be near another dealer for many miles. They did the service & a TSB that adjusts the transmission shift points - it has been hanging in lower gears after down shifting longer than necessary, particularly when not towing.

No picnic table at the site, so I set up my roll up table to grill a steak for dinner (along with peaches & a salad).

Until Tomorrow -

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Day 35, Sunday, December 4, 2016, Choke Canyon State Park, Calliham, TX

Site 119, Choke Canyon State Park
Sunday, December 4, 2016, Choke Canyon State Park, Calliham, TX, 199 Miles, 2,304.1 Miles For the Trip

Well, it is finally time to move on. The Matagorda Madness is pretty much over. It rained off & on all night, and into the morning. I disconnected the utilities & got the trailer ready between rain bursts, staying mostly dry. I headed out around 8:30, taking mostly 2 lane Texas roads (with 75MPH speed limits) poking along at 60MPH and stopped for the afternoon at Choke Canyon State Park.

Speaking of Texas, I talked with more than one fiberglass trailer owner here that felt there was no reason to tow their trailer out of the state. At first glance, that seems to be a bit narrow, but when you think about it, Texas is large enough and varied enough that you can get just about any scenery, weather, temperatures, etc without leaving the state. It is one of the few places where the road signs that label the exits by mileage has exit numbers close to 1000! Actually, you can get all the seasons (well, except for snow this year - they had it in the past) here at Matagorda in December. In any case, I enjoyed my stay and the rally.

I was concerned that I might have a problem getting into Choke Canyon State Park without a reservation since it is near San Antonio. No problem, there are only 3 trailers in the RV loop. I'm in site 119, a water & electric site for $22.00 + a $5.00 park entry fee. The 30 amp connection was dead, but I carry a 50 to 30 amp adapter, so I still have electricity.  The campground is on a lake that is currently 19' below normal so while I'm on a site that borders the lake, you can barely see it.

I asked if the showers were heated, and people at the office checked with the rangers to see. The ranger said he would drive over & turn on the heat. Now that's service! Between the Texas State parks and the LCRA organization running Matagorda Bay Nature Center, Texas has the most helpful staff I've ever seen in a RV park or campground.

While Verizon shows a 4G LTE connection, it is the slowest one I've found on the trip. I couldn't load the large version of the campsite photo after 3 tries to 1&1, the ISP for my LakeshoreImages site although it did manage to load here. We will see if the page makes it. Even AT&T has faster service. Too bad I can't tether my laptop to the AT&T iPhone. To do that I would have to give up my unlimited $40.00 per month data connection - it isn't going to happen!

I stopped by a Walmart on the way, and picked up a couple of NY strip steaks. While I was hoping for one for dinner, the rain hasn't let up enough to get out the grill & cook one. I suspect dinner will be a microwaved buritto & a salad.

Until Tomorrow -

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Day 34, Saturday, December 3, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 14

Group Photo #2
Saturday, December 3, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 14, 0 Miles, 2,105.1 Miles For the Trip

Another rainy day. I spent most of the morning reading forums, blogs & a bit of my current book. During the afternoon I stopped over at the tent and sat around for a bit, and, since it was raining, did the group photo in the tent rather than at the Nature Center. We actually took 4 of them since someone arrived late & I had to get in at least one of them. There were a number of people missing; some went home early because of the weather, and some were hanging out in their trailers.

After a bit I headed to the Waterfront Restaurant for a flounder dinner. Unfortunately, it wasn't as good as I'd hoped. While their chicken fried steak was great, the flounder was a bit overcooked & mushy. At least the baked potato was good.

There was an impromptu pot luck dinner at the tent hoping to use up leftovers. I stopped by for some photos & hung out for a bit before heading back to the trailer.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Until Tomorrow -

Friday, December 2, 2016

Day 33, Friday, December1 2, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 13

Rafting on the Colorado River
Friday, December1 2, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 13, 0 Miles, 2,105.1 Miles For the Trip

I woke up early this morning, at least for me, at 7:00. The refrigerator was running too warm, so I decided it was time to defrost it. It is amazing how much frost builds up on the coils here at a humid part of the country. After defrosting, the temperature went down quickly.

I didn't do much today. Too dreary to spend much time outside, although I did a short walk around the campground loop, and took a couple of photos of the group that went rafting on the Colorado River. The tide was running out & the wind was in the same direction, so what was usually a 1 hour trip was over in 10 minutes. To make up for the fast trip, they collected the raft & hauled it back to do the trip a second time.

We sat around in the tent the campground set up for us since there is a wedding this weekend that is using the meeting rooms. The tent is nice - heaters, tables, lights, the whole works. It is a little loud because of the wind. Sorry about the photo quality - they were shot with my iPad.  More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Around 5:00 a bunch of us headed to the Waterfront Restaurant in Matagorda for dinner. I had an excellent chicken fried steak.

Until Tomorrow -

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Day 32, Thursday, December 1, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 12

The Pot Luck Dinner
Thursday, December 1, 2016, Matagorda Bay Nature Park, TX, Day 12, 0 Miles, 2,105.1 Miles For the Trip

It was one of the coolest nights here at Matagorda; down to 52°F. Still fairly windy. After breakfast I made my traditional blueberry pie. It had warmed up enough that I decided to set the toaster oven outside on the picnic table. I discovered that was a mistake. The wind was strong enough that it cooled the oven so much that the heating element stayed on longer than normal, resulting an a toasted top pie crust. About 1/2 way through baking, I moved the oven inside the trailer. I guess it couldn't have been too bad - they ate the whole thing.

After that I made a lap around the campground with the camera for some photos, then did my bills. I discovered that AT&T billed me for an international roaming call. Finally found the call - it was an incoming call that went through a Gulf of Mexico tower in Louisiana made last Sunday. I called & they apologized, then removed the call from my bill.

I thought I still had international roaming turned off on the phone (I can't do it on my phone, but AT&T can do it). They must have turned it back on when I traveled through Canada on the way to Alaska and bought one of their Canada packages, and didn't turn it off after the Canada deal expired. That deal was also interesting - I am probably the only person on the AT&T system that doesn't have a messaging plan - I pay for each message. When I bought the Canadian package it included unlimited messaging so we used it quite a bit on the trip. After getting my bill I discovered that they still charged me for each message since only the Canadian roaming was unlimited. They also removed the charge when I complained, so I can't fault AT&T's customer service. I still have better luck with them than Verizon.

After that it was time to put together a Matagorda Madness page, then head out to the pot luck dinner. As usual, plenty of excellent food. I even had the luck of being first in line - they started at the back tables. Lots of photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was, of course, the pot luck.

Until Tomorrow -