Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This n’ That

Jim 059 If you’re one of our regular readers, you have most likely figured out by now that we’re not doing a lot of exciting things these days!  It’s hard to write a blog every day that consists of our lives in the very slow lane.

I’ll hit the highlights of our past week, yes there were a few moments!

The first event that was really a lot of fun was getting a call from Gina last Tuesday with a plea for help.  Seems their freezer had gone out and they “had” to put on a big feed to use up some of the food that had thawed.  Aw, gee, what a shame!  Of course, we always try to be available to help our friends out, so we put our plans on hold (what plans!) and headed up to North Ranch at Congress for a gathering.  We arrived around 4:30 and found the the lot they were staying on.  The McFalls were already there, as were Tom and Sally, the owners of the lot.  We had a wonderful time visiting and, of course, eating!  It was good to see Gina and Rollie again as well.

The rest of the week went by fairly uneventfully, with the exception of preparing a bunch of paperwork related to all of our favorite tasks – satisfying the IRS.  We got a nice letter from them, wanting a little more money.  Their gimmick was trying to convince us we took a “premature” withdrawal from our Health Savings Accounts.  Jim’s theory is that a trainee got our return to review and just chose something to pick at.  Anyway, I speeded up my paper organizing project and got all our receipts pulled together, scanned, and sent off to our accountant for her to handle.

We also spent some time planning.  As much as I dream about not having a plan, I live with someone who makes lists to keep track of the lists he makes, so we typically have a plan of where we’ll be, complete with reservations!  This summer is his 40th high school reunion, and some of his friends have been asking him to go – it’s in Amarillo in July.  Well, our dear friends Karon and Dan are also in Texas this summer, so we made a deal, I get to see Karon and he gets to go to his reunion!  Our plans are therefore set until near the end of July.  After that – so far, no plan!

My niece, Tammy’s birthday was Friday, and we were invited to her house for dinner, so we took a nice chocolate cake to her.  It was a delicious steak dinner and we got to spend more time with family.

Saturday was a play day, we attended the Outdoor Expo at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility just north of us.  There were representatives from many different organizations specializing in all sorts of outdoor type activities, from fishing to 4-wheeling, cowboy shooting, and just about any other kind of shooting you can think of.

Otherwise, our days consist of working on the waxing and polishing of the Castle – no, we’re still not done with that.  We’re parked with the driver’s side to the south, so that side gets sun pretty early in the day.  We work for a few hours until it gets too hot, then move on to other activities for the rest of the day.  Today we finished with that side, so I expect the rest of the job will go more quickly now that we’ll be working on the shady side of the coach.

We are enjoying life in this slow lane!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Castle Cleaning

ellie 032 After our exciting and fun times jeeping and shopping, our pace has slowed just a little, and the activity agenda has shifted to more mundane matters – the ever popular washing, polishing, waxing and otherwise spiffing up the Castle.

Yesterday we pulled in the slides and washed the entire outside, from the roof down.  It was a little tricky, considering how close our neighbors are. However, the closest neighbor really doesn’t mind, she came out and visited for a little while as I polished.  This is the 96 year old who lives on her own and still drives (but I think she only drives over to the clubhouse!).  We managed to get the job done without spraying down all the neighbors.

Jim got up on the roof and super cleaned, polished and waxed all the top edges of the Castle, skylight, satellite dome and so forth.  We got started on the polishing, but didn’t get that finished, so we’ll continue with that just as soon as it stops raining.

Yes, we have a much cooler day today with rain showers supposed to end by noon.  It’s a good morning to relax and conserve energy for the tasks ahead!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

We Go for a Ride!

My niece, Tammy and her husband, Alan, are 4-wheel drive Jeep enthusiasts, to put it mildly.  Their wedding took place on one of their favorite jeep trails around Saguaro Lake, and that’s where we went today to go on a ride with them.  Since it was our first time to go 4-wheeling, they promised to take it easy on us. Ok, Whatever.

We were to meet them at 10:30 this morning at a gas station across from the Ft. McDowell Indian Casino, which is about 30 miles from us.  We were early, and so were they, so we actually got started a little sooner than planned.

The whole trip was probably not more than 8 or 10 miles, but it took pretty much all day.  There were 3 jeeps going today.  The yellow one in the middle is Alan and Tammy’s, we rode with them:

Jim 010 

The crew from left to right: Alan, Rob, John, Dee (Tammy’s mom), and Tammy:

Ellie 008

After we’d climbed this hill, we stopped, and the other two jeeps came up a more difficult way.  Alan got out to guide the others up and I got out to take pictures.  Jim rode with Tammy, still in the yellow jeep:

Ellie 013 

They promised us some beautiful scenery:

Ellie 066_1

A view of Weaver’s Needle (upper left of the photo), with Saguaro Lake in the middle:

Ellie 023

We crawled up to this area with a beautiful view of the Four Peaks:

Ellie 054

Looking back at the trail we just rode:

Ellie 055

We’re going up THAT???

Ellie 028

In another area, I got a little nervous about crossing this stream:

Jim 073

No problem for these jeeps!  They went right through, with Alan’s great driving and Tammy’s navigating skills.

We had a great day and enjoyed our brand-new-to-us adventure! Thanks, Tammy and Alan!

Friday, March 19, 2010

We’re Adjusting

Ellie 020_1 Life is settling into some sort of routine.  Yes, it’s very, very different from our desert routine!  One of the wonderful aspects about this gypsy lifestyle of ours is that we have the opportunity to experience so many different things in this great country of ours.  Luckily for us, we enjoy a lot of different types of experiences.

I’ve attended a Weight Watchers meeting near us.  That’s always an interesting experience, one of those “same but different” things.  I nearly always pick up some new tidbits and a renewal of motivation, and I enjoy getting to know different leaders’ styles.  We are picking up on the culture and routine here at the RV park.  There is a very interesting mix of people here.  The lady who lives right next door to us is 96 years old – and still drives!  She stopped by on her walk a couple of days ago.  She was on her way to the office to pick up her mail.  About 45 minutes later, she made her way back.  She doesn’t walk very fast!  Many people are snowbirds, now making preparations to head back “home”.  One section of the park is all short-term RV folks who are just here for a few days or a week.  Interspersed throughout the park there are park-model homes and RV’s, some of which are clearly not going anywhere soon.  People are generally very friendly, almost everyone greets us as we walk around.

There is a large swimming pool and Jacuzzi here that are both indoors, but have a patio area outside.  We’ve been over there a couple of afternoons to swim and sun.  I’ve established a walking route around the neighborhood surrounding the park for myself and the dogs.  We still have lots of exploring to do though, and I’m so looking forward to getting out on some trails.

We’re working on the various clean-up items on our list, including getting caught up with all of the laundry, giving both dogs a bath, cutting my hair and Jim’s too.  Jim has started the outside cleaning of the Castle,  including buffing the scratches in the paint from getting too close to some bushes in our desert hang-outs.  I’ve started the inside cleaning, taking one section at a time to do really deep cleaning.  We are making progress but not working too hard!

Today we went to a large mall and walked from one end to the other at least a couple of times.  I was looking for a sun hat and new swim suit – both items found.  We discovered a large wine/liquor store, Total Wine & More, across from the mall, so we spent some time browsing in there too.  It is a national chain, so we’ll be able to visit some of their other stores in the east. 

The noise and traffic of the city hasn’t bothered us as much as we thought it might.  Even though we are close to major highways, we don’t notice the traffic noise.  There is some air traffic, and of course, the local folks walking and driving by, but, we are adjusting!  Even Jasmine has settled in and isn’t quite so jumpy as she was the first couple of days we were here. As we most always do, we’re enjoying life!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Dutch Oven

If you know Jim, you aren’t surprised that, once he saw Rollie’s Dutch oven in action, it wouldn’t be long before he’d be shopping for one of his own.  What we got is a Lodge Logic, seasoned, 5 qt., 10” diameter “Camp Oven”.   At Sportman’s Warehouse, we paid about $50 for it.  Yesterday was the trial run, using a very slightly altered version of a cake recipe from the little owner’s manual that came with the oven.  Here’s how it went.

First, we sprayed the oven with cooking spray, including the inside of the lid.  Then we dumped a can of no sugar added cherry pie filling into the oven.  We sprinkled about a third of a reduced sugar chocolate cake mix on top of the pie filling, and mixed the rest of the mix with about 2/3 can of diet cherry 7-up and spread that over the top of the mess.  Jim added a few walnuts and pieces of a Hershey’s candy bar.

Ready for the fire!

Ellie 006

The fire maker is one of those charcoal starter gizmos.  Put newspaper in the bottom and the charcoal on top.  The number of briquettes is a key factor in setting the oven temperature.  Jim used the chart in the book to determine he should use 7 briquettes on the bottom and 14 or 15 on top.  Since heat rises, fewer coals are used on the bottom so that the heat is more evenly distributed.  Jim used remarkable restraint about that liquid fire starter he likes – with this cooking method, he read that the liquid causes the coals to burn hotter and faster, which is not a good thing.

The fire starter:

Ellie 003

The coals were put into the bottom of the Smokey Joe barbeque, then the Dutch oven, and finally, the coals over the top.  The Smokey Joe lid was not used.

Fifteen coals on top:

Ellie 008

About every 15 minutes, the oven needs to be turned about 1/4 or 1/3 of a turn.  The book says to turn the lid in the opposite direction.  For recipes that need several hours to cook, you have to keep adding more coals.  These coals were about done in by the time the cake was baked, about 40 minutes.

It’s ready!  Yum:

Ellie 014

This turned out pretty good.  I can’t wait to see how it does with chicken, stew, beans, roasts, oh my!  It’s not quite the open desert, but we can keep a little bit of that camping lifestyle going, even in the big city!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

City Life

I always enjoy getting comments from friends/readers.  Yesterday’s entry brought some especially interesting and heartwarming sentiments.  Jo Wishnie thinks the pavement princess isn’t really back, just that “Desert Ellie” is only missing for a short while.  KareninTheWoods suggests closing all the blinds and pretending to be out in nature.  The Bayfield Bunch sent their “thoughts and desert rocks” to comfort us.  Thank you all, and everyone else who sent sympathy for how close we’re squeezed in here.  We will get through it, I know.  Oh, yes, Jim wonders about all these “old” people around here, and did I put him into a “retirement home”? 

To comfort ourselves, we did what every normal, red blooded American does in the city – we went shopping!  Besides a Costco just across the street in back of the RV Park, Jim discovered a Sportman’s Warehouse right next to it, so off we went after all our errands and chores got done this afternoon.  We found a cast iron Dutch oven and a camp table that rolls up and stores neatly in a bag.  We almost bought a portable propane heater, but since it was over 80 degrees today, we decided that purchase can wait!  Janna, the weight of the Dutch oven and camp table just about equals that of the chair we gave you!

The car got super-cleaned today and the oil changed, along with a new air breather (dusty roads out in the desert, you know).  I started on the Castle and made some progress on deep cleaning.  I admit, being able to run the vacuum cleaner without worrying about the generator fuel is nice.  So is running the water until it’s scalding hot – without having to heat it on the stove.

I think the family member who is having the most difficulty adjusting to the total about face in our life is Jasmine.  She has had a very hard time today with re-learning about people and cars constantly going by our house.  She tends to have a short fuse anyway, and it’s been even shorter today.  We’ve had several little talks about “No Bark!”  to the point she’ll start to growl and turn to look at me as if to remind me that growling isn’t the same as barking.  Mr. BoJangles takes it all pretty much in stride, just more smells to explore, as far as he’s concerned.

It isn’t all bad, however, I was able to enjoy a beautiful sunset this evening:

Ellie 001

I’m about ready for a day trip out to the boonies, though!

Monday, March 15, 2010

What Happened??? or, The Return of The “Pavement Princess”

Ellie 013 On Saturday, Rollie put a big turkey in his smoker (yes, he has space in his truck storage area to carry it!) and smoked that turkey for about 10 hours.  They provided sides of home-grown corn, beans, cornbread and more for the six of us.  Since Janna and Mike had planned to head out early Sunday morning, this was our last get-together.  What a great time we had!  The food was incredible, the company and conversation lively and entertaining.  We will always remember and cherish the entire time we spent with both couples.

As with all things, though, the good times evolve, and it was soon time to say farewell to Janna and Mike as they enjoyed their last sunset with us:

Ellie 019_2 

They  were on the road very early Sunday morning, when we got up, it was so empty out in front of us!  We went about our usual morning routines, knowing it was the last routine morning for our desert experience.  Then we started our pre-departure routines, packing up our outside things and getting started on the inside jobs.

Gina and Rollie invited us over for leftovers so we wouldn’t have to cook on our last evening.  Again, we enjoyed a wonderful meal and their company!  Too soon it was time to head back to our coach to finish our preparations.

Now, for the culture shock!  Here’s a “before” picture, our spot in the desert, looking towards Gina and Rollie’s rig:

Ellie 026

We rolled out of this beautiful, open, quiet, space at 8 this morning and headed off to Interstate 10 and the Phoenix area.  We had one stop to make at the Freightliner facility to take care of a minor recall issue:

Ellie 009

And here is the “after” picture in our new home for the next few weeks:

Ellie 012_1

Yes, our neighbor’s carport awning is so close, we can’t open our window awning!

Oh, My, Gosh.  We are across the street from a Costco, just blocks from I-17, and a stone’s throw from a dozen neighbors!  Yikes!!  But, we signed up for this and we will adjust.  The air conditioner was turned on for a little while this afternoon so the dogs would stay cool while we went and got a bite to eat.  Speaking of the dogs, Jasmine is going to have to adjust to the frequent walkers who cross in front of our coach – she really got used to the quiet and solitude and is jumpy about all the people and cars around now.

I told Jim I will absolutely need frequent day trips to the outlying areas around here, both to explore them, and to check out possible places for us to stay on future trips.  But for now, the 50-amp, Pavement Princess and her Prince are settled in (or is that squeezed in) to sidewalks and paved streets.

I’m sure we can find some sort of adventures around here!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Countdown Begins

Jim 006 I’ll get to that shortly.  But I’ve received some questions from readers recently and will try to answer those first.  Fred wanted to know about the noise.  In my last blog I mentioned Janna and Mike moved a little to see if they could avoid hearing the noise at night.  Yes, we are close enough to a train track and highway to hear the noise at night. I think we’re about a mile away. With our windows closed, we really don’t hear much. However, I have been awakened by the train a few times.  Depends on which way the wind is blowing as to how well we hear it.

Cindy asked about “critters” like snakes and scorpions.  Yes, indeed, we watch out for them!  During the coldest part of the year, those creatures are not very active and aren’t seen so often.  But as the weather warms, we can expect more chances of encounters.  When I’m out walking, I keep the dogs on leashes and try to keep them from sticking their little noses into the many critter holes around.  I wear long pants and hiking shoes.  I make noise and watch where I’m walking.

And Penny asked if we ever thought we’d be boondocking for more than just a few days.  No, we really didn’t think we’d be here this long.   We’ve learned a lot – about boondocking and about ourselves since we’ve been out here.  We know that we will be incorporating this form of “camping” into our lifestyle from now on.  But, we will also still want to be in those full-hookup places too.  We’re not cut out to be without the everyday convenience of running water, sewer and electric all the time.  I have a new respect for conserving our resources though, and a realization I can live perfectly well without so much!

We’re starting to make preparations to return to civilization.  Oh no.  Oh, yes. Jim and I have discussed our choices and have made the decision to go to Phoenix for the next few weeks.  A full-out RV Resort.  I have a feeling we’ll be experiencing some re-entry shock for awhile.  It’s one of those places where there are rows and rows of park models with RV’s scattered throughout.  It’s near an interstate highway and lots of businesses.  It’s just the sort of place all the hard-core boondockers we know avoid like the plague.  But we’re still going.  I’ll be flying out of Sky Harbor Airport in a few weeks, leaving Jim with the dogs for a week.  We can wash the Castle there, which is a big plus.  On Monday morning, we’ll pull up our jacks and roll the Castle out of the desert and back to the pavement.  Not without looking back at our hills and rocks with some wistfulness at leaving though.

We have loved our desert experience, most especially since we’ve enjoyed it with good friends, Janna and Mike and now Gina and Rollie.  Yesterday was Gina and Rollie’s 28th wedding anniversary so we celebrated with burgers and hot dogs and a chocolate cake at our place last evening.  We wish them many, many more years of loving life together.

For today, I plan to soak up some of this wonderful desert sun and warmth!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ellie Takes a Hike


I spent some time on the Geocaching website this morning, trying to determine if there are any Geocaches within walking/hiking distance of us.  I found one with a title that included the word Arrastra. It seemed like it was a do-able hike or walk of about 2 miles from here, so I made the rounds this morning to see if anyone was up for the distance.  Janna and Mike had already taken off in a different direction, Jim was getting ready to refresh our water supply, and Gina was just getting ready to wash her hair. That left me, my phone, my trusty GPS and the dogs.  Off we went.

I pretty much followed a straight line the whole 2 miles, which meant down and up the steep sides of the many washes between here and there.  Finally, I came to the place in the picture above.  I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the heck that circular, concrete structure could be, out here in the absolute middle of nowhere in the Arizona desert.  Ok, so it’s really only a few miles outside the little town of Bouse, but after all the time I spent hiking, it sure seemed like it was the middle of nowhere.  To the right of the area pictured was a pretty deep hole in the ground, deep enough that I was very glad I had the dogs on leashes.  Eventually, I found the Geocache and signed the log.  Later on, I looked up the word Arrastra on the internet and found that it is a structure used in the milling of ore. One web site described it, “Arrastras were first introduced into the New World by the Spanish in the 1500's.  To use the arrastra, ore was broken into walnut-sized chunks with a sledge hammer and placed into the circular milling area.  Three drag stones, chained to a post in the center of the milling area, were rotated by hand or mule.  The drag stones crushed the ore into a fine powder and water was added until a thick slurry was produced.  Mercury (quicksilver) was then introduced to the mixture which removed and amalgamated any gold found in the ore.” 

I have no idea if any gold was actually found in this area, but maybe if we make it back to the Bouse museum, I may find the answer there.  Someone certainly put a lot of work into building this interesting structure.  When the dogs and I got back to our camp, Jim was just returning with his second load of water, so we’re all set for a few more days.  We still do not have any set day to return to civilization, thank goodness.  I can relax and enjoy my wide open spaces for awhile yet.

This afternoon was spent relaxing and reading.  Janna and Mike went to dump their tanks and fill with fresh water today.  When they got back, they moved just a little ways down from us, in a slight depression where they may have less noise late at night.  Janna invited all of us to their place for dinner this evening, and what a wonderful treat it was.  If anyone thinks we are suffering out here in the “wilderness”, please be assured we are definitely not!  Janna prepared an absolutely wonderful meal that included grilled steak, garlic mashed potatoes, salad, asparagus and homemade bread.  And, for dessert, there were fresh strawberries and angel food cake.

The weather forecast promises even warmer, sunnier days ahead, yes, there is definitely no suffering going on here!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dogs’ Day

We don’t have many frustrations in this lifestyle.  However, sometimes getting good customer service in the medical arena, whether that be for people or dogs, can be a challenge.  Jasmine takes one medication, and we were nearly out of it.  It’s also time for their annual vaccinations, so I’ve been looking for a good veterinarian nearby.  Last week, when I took them to the groomer, I was given the name of a vet over in Blythe.  When I called them, the voice on the phone was less than friendly, and in a rather abrupt manner, informed me they were making appointments for late April.  I thanked her for her time and hung up.  My next call was to the animal hospital in Havasu City where we bought Jas’s food last week.  Total opposite tone of voice here.  As it happened, there was a cancellation for this afternoon, so I booked the time and we headed off to Havasu City to get the dogs all fixed up.

We had time for lunch first, and a stop at Lowe’s for some pieces and parts.  Then we headed over to the Havasu City Animal Hospital.  We were treated like old friends by the efficient and smiling receptionist, vet tech and veterinarian too.  What a delight!  The vet spent a lot of time gently examining the dogs and talking to me about various conditions and recommendations.  The dogs are both in great condition and now have their vaccinations all done.  Jas has her medications for the next three months, so we’re all set.  And I’m pleased that we were treated with such respect and consideration.  I made sure to tell the staff, doc included, that I was very impressed with their customer service, and if we’re back in this area again, I’ll definitely consider them first for our veterinary needs.

Ellie 019_1 Ellie 020











We headed back home with a quick stop in Parker at the Walmart and gas station, both businesses we’re heavily supporting these days!

The sun is finally shining again after a cool, cloudy, windy day, and we happily settled in for the evening.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Day After the Rain

Yesterday was an inside day, with wind and rain the main events outside.  Jim made a pot of chili and the gang came over around 4 with their contributions of cornbread from Janna, Fritos and cheese from Gina and wine from everyone.  We had a feast while it rained and even hailed a little bit!  Gina and I both made brownies, so we had chocolate galore for dessert.

But this morning, it was different, the sky was on fire!  What an incredible sunrise.

Ellie 012

When it rains out here in the desert, the next day is extremely fragrant and fresh.  Everything seems cleaner, brighter, and most definitely greener.  Today was no exception, as we woke to a beautiful day.

Jim had laundry on the agenda, and I wanted a super-vacuum session, so it worked out perfectly for us.  He’d decided to try the Laundromat in Quartzsite today, and by 7:30 this morning he had everyone’s trash bags loaded (Monday is also one of the days to drop off our trash at the refuse transfer station in Quartzsite), and our laundry in the car.  Before the car had cleared our little desert area, I had the vacuum cleaner running.  I was done by around 8:30 and was ready to go on a power walk.  I found Gina, but she was not quite ready to go yet.  So I walked the dogs around for a little while until Gina was ready to go, and we took off.

This is one of our views from up the way:

Ellie 019

Turn 90 degrees and this is another view:

Ellie 033

Gina is just a little bit into the rocks around here, so no walk with her is complete without a little rock-hounding.  And, around here, she has LOTS of rocks to sort through!

Ellie 056 

The desert is starting to bloom, even though yesterday’s storm beat up the blossoms, they are still colorful:

Ellie 024

By the time we got back from our walk, it was time to grab a quick bite of lunch.  My new router had been delivered to Janna’s friend’s address just north of Parker, so I drove and Janna navigated me to her house to pick it up.  We stopped in Parker for fresh water for Janna and Mike and cold beer for Jim.  We all have our priorities, you know!

Router in hand, we headed back home.  Janna and Mike had planned on leaving us tomorrow, but have decided to stay a little while longer, it’s still a little cool where they had planned to go, down around the Tombstone area.  See, we’re all finding it very hard to leave this area! It’s hard to beat perfection, and this is still a pretty darn perfect set-up as far as I’m concerned.

The six of us gathered at our house again this evening for a dinner of leftovers, including what I call refrigerator soup – I cleaned out my fridge of leftovers and turned them into a chicken vegetable soup that everyone seemed to enjoy.  We even had a few brownies left!

Ahhhh….life is definitely good.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

We Preview Our Next Move

If you’re wondering when we will give up our isolated, spacious spot in the desert, we don’t know yet, but we do know our time here is going to end, probably within the next week or two.  We need to do some heavy duty washing and cleaning of the Castle and the little Saturn, so we’re going to need to be somewhere with full hook-ups and the ability to wash the rig.  It looks like our next stop along the way will be at the Escapees Park, North Ranch, in Congress.

Yesterday, Janna came by and asked if we wanted to go to Wickenburg and Congress on a little day trip.  Sure, so around noon, she and Mike and Emmi got in their little car;  Gina, Rollie, Jim and I all piled into the little Saturn and off we went:

ellie 003

From our desert home, it’s about 90 miles to Wickenburg, so predictably, lunch was the first item on the agenda once we arrived.  Janna and Mike have been to Anita’s before:

ellie 009_1

Good choice!  While we were at lunch, Caryl and Jerry, friends of Janna & Mike, stopped by to visit and pick up a quilt Janna had quilted for Caryl.

After lunch, we toured the sights of the town, especially the painted bronze statues that are placed in various locations around the downtown area.  Some of the statues include a speaker box where you can push the button and hear a short talk about the piece of history associated with it.  Very interesting!

Gina and Rollie with one of the statues:

ellie 010

Janna, myself and Gina stopped for a picture opportunity in front of a giant Saguaro:

ellie 023

We made a stop at a small quilt shop to look at some of Caryl’s work, and also a quilt that Janna quilted.  Then we drove out to the Vulture Rock area to take a quick look at some possible future boondocking spots.

The next stop was about 12 miles north of Wickenburg, to the Escapees North Ranch, just outside Congress, Arizona.  Janna and Mike left us there to look around before heading back to our desert.  We will probably stay at North Ranch for a week or so before moving closer in to Phoenix in April.  I need to be in Phoenix to fly out of Sky Harbor in mid-April.  I have to say it didn’t excite me much to see “regular” RV sites, they sure seem packed in close together there.

It was time to get back to our desert and all our dogs, so we didn’t spend too much time at the RV park.  Back on the road to our spot, we were treated to a light show, previewing our expected storm:

ellie 066

The storm arrived pretty much on schedule, so today will be an inside day as we watch the desert get watered.  Should be beautiful and green tomorrow!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Busy Day

Trying to conserve water, I decided to take the dogs to a groomer.  It had been over a year since they’d had a "professional” job done on them anyway, and I thought it would be a good time to do that.  Yesterday was their appointment, 10:00 in Parker.  We had no real plan for what we’d do while they were getting their new do’s, but we did know grocery shopping was going to be part of the day. 

On the road to Parker, this is our familiar view:

Ellie 002

Jasmine is getting low on her medication and food, as well, so when I dropped them off at the groomer, I asked for a recommendation for a veterinarian in town.  She told me that the nearest good vet was in Blythe.  That is in the complete opposite direction, so after we talked about it, we decided to go up to Lake Havasu City and try the PetSmart there.

It was a beautiful, sunny day for a drive, here are some sights along Hiway 95 between Parker and Lake Havasu City:

Ellie 009

Ellie 006

Coming into town:

Ellie 014

The PetSmart did not have a Banfield’s Veterinary clinic, so no food or meds for Jasmine.  Just so the trip wouldn’t be completely wasted, I stopped in Dillards and bought a couple of new lipsticks!  We did find a veterinary clinic  in town, and at least got Jasmine’s food.  I’d forgotten to bring the prescription for her meds, so that will have to wait until next week – another day trip! Then we stopped in at Red Robin for lunch since we had a gift card.  The meal was ok, but the service was not!

It was time to head back to Parker for our grocery stop before picking up the dogs.  We went to both Safeway and Walmart, got all the groceries and then got to the dog groomer’s right at the time they were supposed to be done.  The groomer saw me coming in the door and hurried me right back outside with the bad news that somehow Mr. BoJangles hadn’t been bathed, so he wasn’t done yet!  She thought it would be about 50 minutes and he’d be ready to go.  We had cold food in the car, and did not want to sit in the sun for nearly an hour, so I told Jim I’d take him back and come back into Parker to get Mr. BJ.  It was a little over an hour before I got back and the dog still wasn’t done.  I had to wait nearly another hour. Grrrr…. On top of all the delay, I wasn’t very pleased with the job she did.

I was very happy to get back home and have a delayed happy hour!  Gina made a pot of taco soup, so Jim and I went over and had a quick dinner with them before calling it a day.  In spite of the frustrations, it was a good day!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Beautiful Day Again

Jim 008 I feel decadent and spoiled.  How can I say that in a place with no electrical or water hook-ups?  Who would have thought we’d last a month in the desert, boondocking!  Well, not only have we been out here a month today, we get to liking it more every day!

Today was another beautiful, warm day.  I took my time getting started and never got to moving very fast, I admit.  Jim added 20 gallons of water to our fresh water tank and I took a long walk up the road to see what’s there.  Everyone else had their own agenda as well, but once again, we gathered for our evening meal, which was leftover gumbo and rice, plus cornbread and potato salad.  Peach cobbler topped it off for dessert.

We appreciate the comments about our internet issues, including the suggestions to get the Verizon MiFi instead of a router.  I spent some time researching it this morning and talked to a Verizon customer service rep about it.  (Yes, I actually made another phone call to a big company!)  After looking into it, we’ve decided not to go that direction, at least for now.  Reason #1 is that it would cost us about $270 for the device right now.  Reason #2 is it doesn’t have an external antenna port.  We know that our antenna has really increased our signal in more than one location, and we would not like to lose that option.  Reason #3 is that it would “probably” take us out of our current “grandfathered” status of unlimited data and move us to the 5 gigabyte limit plan. Although we typically don’t use that much, we don’t want to let that go.  The reason I say “probably” is that the Verizon rep said the only way to really know if that would happen is to order it and see what happens.  Not liking that option!

We did order another router though, and will use the warranty replacement as a back-up, whenever we get that one.  The new one cost less than $100 and will be delivered within 3 to 5 business days.  So, I think we can manage to share our internet access for a few days and things should then get back to normal.

Meanwhile, we’ll just continue to enjoy each day as it comes and share our joy in the beauty of this place.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Friends Arrive and More Internet Woes

Yesterday was a beautiful weather day.  We got settled into our new spots and spent a lot of time admiring our view and new yard:

Jim 001_1

Sometime in the afternoon (I hardly ever know what time it is anymore), my phone rang, and Rollie was on the other end of the conversation.  He and Gina had made it to the desert last night and parked near Quartzsite.  He was just describing their location when we lost the phone connection. So Jim and I jumped in the little car and headed off to see if we could find them and invite them to move over to our sweet place.  We’d just about arrived to the mile marker Rollie said they were parked near, when we saw their big truck coming towards us.  It’s hard to miss that!  They were headed the opposite direction, hoping to come find us.  We made a quick turn around and we all pulled over to the side of the road and got out to have a meeting of the minds.  We all decided they should follow us out to check out our spot and maybe move over.

And that’s just what they did:

Ellie 005

Right at sunset they pulled in and picked out a spot to settle.  Then they joined the rest of us for dinner and conversation. 

This morning started out as usual, that is until Jim asked me why he couldn’t get connected to the internet.  With one eye half open and my first cup of coffee barely touched, I started trying to figure out what was going on.  Both computers said they were connected to the network, and the router indicated it was connected to the internet, but it wasn’t.  Great.  Coffee basically ignored, I hemmed and hawed, plugged and unplugged and finally decided a call to technical support was going to be required.  But that takes a little getting used to…if you know me, you know I’m not a big fan of technical support.  I needed a little time to get used to the idea, so I slugged down more coffee and went to get dressed while I worked up my attitude to make the call. 

Then I decided maybe I should try a complete reset of the router before taking such a drastic step as to actually call technical support.  I chugged a little more coffee and tackled the complete reset.  No go.  Sigh.  Dial technical support.  The good side of this is that with 3Gstore.com, you actually don’t have to jump through more than a couple of hoops to talk to an actual, English speaking human being who might just have an idea about what they are supporting.  What a concept.  So, even though it’s still calling technical support, I had at least a little confidence we might be able to communicate and solve the problem.

After going through the entire reset and re-setting of our network with the guidance of the tech, it was beginning to look like we might be in business.  But, not to be.  Finally, even technical support had to admit defeat and advise me to seek a warranty replacement.  Complete with a warning that I could be on hold for up to 30 minutes if I chose to call Cradlepoint.  Or, I could go online to the Cradlepoint website and do a support chat.

Well, that action really required more than a slight attitude readjustment, so Jim and I took the opportunity to get out for a little walk before I even thought about that next step.  We went out and found Gina doing a rock search in the nearby wash.  We chatted a few minutes while she shared her treasures, then we went off for a short desert walk.

Back at the Castle, I felt ready to tackle the online support chat for Cradlepoint, and a mere 45 minutes later completed the conversation with Jared.  I needed to send him an email detailing the whole story one more time, and he would then forward that email to operations, who will then, in a day or so, whenever the mood strikes them, email me with a number and instructions to send them the bum router.  Once they receive it, in their own good time, they will send me a new router.  Since I really don’t know how long it might take them to get around to sending me this new router, which will come via Fed Ex, therefore must be sent to an actual street address, and not “third bush past the second line crossing of the electric lines out in the desert near Bouse, Arizona”, I opted to have it sent to our legal address in Livingston Texas.  Which means I will then need to have it forwarded to wherever we might be at the time.

As I was discussing this scenario with Janna later on, she suggested it might be easier to just order a new router and have it sent to their friends’ house in Parker.  Hmmm…now that’s a distinct possibility.  Whatever we do, until a new router appears, we will be sharing our one Verizon air card.  Now, that’s roughing it!

The day was not all lost, though.  Gina announced that she would be providing tonight’s dinner, which was an amazingly delicious gumbo with rice and a side of potato salad.  Oh my gosh, that woman can cook.  And, there are leftovers for tomorrow!  I’m sure glad they arrived and decided to be our neighbors!  We had a wonderful evening talking with them at their place before we said good night.

From our walk this morning, a desert view:

Jim 007

  I call this the “Moose Tree”:

Jim 002_1

It’s been another beautiful day in the desert!