Monday, January 16, 2017

Fun with Friends in Quartzsite!

The Long Term Visitor Centers are really starting to fill up. With this comes seriously slooooow internet. It is so bad that several of our friends who work out of their rig and rely on the internet have vacated the area. This will continue until after the show.

Along with this influx of people come a number of really cool, unusual and truly bizarre accommodations. I say accommodations as you cannot call some of these rigs. You everything from $500,000 rigs to tiny houses, people living out of van and other living in tents.
Easily over a million dollars of buses in this shot
A couple of tiny homes even dot the landscape

And you even have your tenters.....

The line at the dump stations is also growing. The wait at the peak of the show can be up to 2 hours! If you time it right, you can still get in and out in a few minutes as it seems everyone rushes to the dump and water stations first thing in the morning but in the late afternoon (happy hour/dinner time) you can usually drive right up without a wait.

More new arrivals means more happy hours! Friends Harry and Vicki arrived this week, we celebrated by going to the Desert Bar. For those of you unaware of this bar it is located several miles outside of Parker and several miles down a VERY rough road. The bar is totally off grid and operated solely on propane and sun power. The number of solar panels there is incredible!
Following Harry up the rough and dusty road

One of several solar covered patios

(l-r) Sue, Les, Ray, Deb, Dianne, Steve, Vicki, Harry and Barb

The band played everything from Johnny Cash to Grand Funk
Our most bizarre incident of the week when we were on a wheeler ride with Steve, Dianne, Roger and Cindi. We were giving Roger and Cindi a tour of some of the local attractions; Erdman Mine, Yum-Yum mine, the Indian grinding holes and a couple of stone houses.

Indian Grinding Holes

The Yum-Yum mine goes pretty far back into the hill, probably a few hundred feet. You can see fairly well the first 50 yards or so but after that you need a flashlight.

The entrance to Yum-Yum Mine

Light at the end of the tunnel
A chute deep in the mine
We get in about 100 yards and you cannot see your hand in front of your face without a flashlight and this creature appears on the side of the cave wall!

We don't know exactly what it is/was but think it is a coyote based on the pointy nose. It had either died in the cave or if someone brought it in but seeing that was definitely bizarre!

After that encounter we all decided that we needed a beer and headed to Beer Belly’s for some refreshments and music.
Barb relaxing in the giant chair

then Cindi gave it a try!

Speaking of beer, as many of you know we love to visit breweries but this area of Arizona seems to be devoid of such establishments so instead of driving hours to find one, we brought the brewery to us! We had our first (of what I hope is many) Quartzsite beer tasting. When Barb was at Total Wine and More in Phoenix, she picked up a variety of beers using their Build You Own Six Pack promotion. Now we just had to find someone who appreciated beer...hmmm....The Colibaba's!

So we had then over for this event and tasted a variety of beers.

Deb and Ray stopped by as well rounding out our group and making for an enjoyable evening. Each night we sit outside and wait for the sunset to see what lightshow nature will provide, we are rarely disappointed......

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Confessions of a Full Time RV Newbie

What constitutes a Newbie? Someone who is full timing less than one year? Two years? Five years? Meeting Cindi and Roger last week who like us, are starting out with minimal RV’ing experience reminded us of all the mistakes we made our first couple of years. Mistakes that most everyone has probably made over the years but definitely learning experiences. Our motto has always been to learn from our mistakes and never repeat them but more importantly learn from the mistakes of others and never make them yourselves.
With almost three years under our belts now, we have had our share some of which I have confessed to and others up to today have kept to ourselves. Our first mistake and one that we continue see is that you should not trust your GPS 100% of the time, there are times it is just plain wrong. Within our first month on the road it led us down a gravel dead end road in California that resulted in some serious scratches on our brand new rig and our first melt down leaving one of us crying on the side of the road. Then there was the time we were passing through Chicago when the GPS guided us onto the express lane during rush hour. Not a place you want to be with a 40’ rig going 60mph. There have been other examples of when the GPS has tried to lead us astray but now our policy is….if it does not make sense, double check.
Where to turn around......
Pulling into a new campground can be intense no matter how long you have been on the road. Three things we have learned about pulling into a campground….1) Never pull in hungry. The anxiety level of most RV’ers is highest when pulling into a campground and finding a site. Barb and I have a pretty good system for pulling into a site but it can be intense and there is always a crowd who loves to watch the drama unfold should things go wrong. Pulling in hungry just adds to the stress and shortens the fuse to a meltdown. Now if it is even close to lunch or dinner we will pull over and eat before entering the campground. 2) Never pull in after dark. For obvious reasons this is not a good idea and we have never intentionally planned a trip where we pull in after dark. If we are driving somewhere until dark we will usually plan the nights stop for a Walmart or Cabela’s and plan a midmorning arrival to our destination campground. 3) Just because you can does not mean you should. Even when everything is going right you can get yourself into trouble. On more than one occasion we have been assigned a campsite the office said would be no problem to pull into. But maneuvering a 40’ rig within inches of a poorly placed rock or low hanging branch has caused more than one intense moment. In the beginning I would be stubborn and say, “I can get in there” and in each case we made it in. But just because you can does not mean you should….. we will now go back to the office and ask for a different site if we find it too tight.
This is what happens when you try to squeeze in tight spots
Some of our most disgusting incidents involved emptying the black tank. Being newbies we had never used a blueboy before. Did you know you have to open the vent before you take the cap off the hose when emptying the blueboy? Well, if you don’t, the resulting pressure creates a fountain of poo when you take the cap off and let me tell you, a fountain of poo is no good.
Did you know that when you are filling the blueboy you have to watch it carefully and shut off the valve on the RV when the blueboy is close to full? Do you know what happens when you don’t? Your blueboy is full, the hose is full, the pipe on the rig is full with no place for it to go….result, more poo everywhere. No happy hours at our rig that week!

But by far the most disgusting incident involves the first time we used a macerator pump. There are three hose connections; an in, an out and one I later learned was the fresh water rinse. Let me tell you, if you hook them up wrong…..let’s just say you don’t want to ever do that because the result is… guessed it, a poo shower followed by undressing outside your rig and throwing all your clothes, shoes included right into the nearest dumpster (after showering (twice) and getting dressed).
Our scariest incident occurred as we were driving west for the first time. We were just outside of Laramie Wyoming when we drove into a snowstorm that progressively got worse. To the point where we were in whiteout conditions and the rear end was slipping going up the Happy Jack Pass. Never again will we drive into a snowstorm again!
Never again!
On one occasion our fridge stopped working. No problem we bought this really fancy extended warranty that covers “everything” so we make an appointment at an authorized dealer to get it fixed. Several hours later it was fixed and we were presented with a $90 invoice for a fuse. Needless to say the extended warranty does not cover blown fuses. To be fair, I did check the fuses in the rig but did not know there was an inline fuse behind a panel on the fridge. Lesson learned.
One mistake that was narrowly missed but for the grace of Barb. We were at our daughter’s house and getting ready to leave. I got the rig ready to roll and told Barb she was good to go and I was going to take the jeep to the storage area where she was going to pick me up. ½ way there I realized that I did not put the dish down. Our 13’ clearance now became something closer to 17”. With no phone and no way to contact her I am panicking as I am passing under bridges that would clearly rip the roof wide open on our rig. I turn around somehow trying to think of how I was going to stop her. When I finally did see her coming down the road the dish was down! She said she saw it at the last second as she was getting into the truck. Whew!

These are just a few examples of mistakes we have made and in comparison to others we have seen or heard about they are minor in comparison. We have had friends forget to put in their awning and drive away or leaving the awning out in high wind both resulting in the awning being torn off. We know someone who ripped the roof off their rig due to low clearance and two people whose 5th wheels drop on their beds of their truck due to not being securely fastened and of course the dreaded putting gas into a diesel truck. I now touch the word diesel on the pump twice before starting the pump.
Looking back, most of these happened within our first year on the road. Does that mean we are getting older and wiser or just lucky?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Happy Hour Week at Quartzsite!

One of the things we love about this lifestyle and especially Quartzsite is all the new people you meet.  We have met more new people this week than we have in a long time. At least I think they are new people……..with the multiple blows to the head last week I am not sure if I am meeting them for the first time or we have been friends forever!
I think we went to someone’s rig for happy hour every night this week. If this keeps us we are going to have to make another run into Phoenix to Total Wine and Liquor! The first people we met Roger and Cindi, first timers to Quartzsite who had contacted us through RVillage and had some questions on the logistics of Quartzsite. They are a great couple who are new to FT’ing. They have two dogs, a quad and love geocaching, we found we had a lot in common with them and we shared stories and experiences laughing at all the similar mistakes we each made starting out FT’ing.

We also met their friends Jim and Brenda who are seasoned FT’ers of over 14 years. Both couples have Momentum Toy Haulers which are really handy when traveling with toys. Jim and Brenda’s has a large garage and a deck while Roger and Cindi’s is a new design with a tuck under garage which fits one side by side.
We really liked this design and had it been on the market when we bought ours we just might have bought this instead.

The next night we were invited over to happy hour at fellow FT’ers/bloggers Rick and Kathy. They had been following our blog for quite a while and when we were finally in the same area, it was time to meet up! They are a great couple from Winsor Ontario who are new to FT’ing but have been PT’ing for quite a while. Rick is quite the handy guy and has been busying installing solar to their new rig and making other modifications.  Unfortunately it was dark and we were unable to get a picture….next time!
The next night was back over to Cindi and Roger’s who had organized a get-together on RVillage for anyone that was in the area that wanted to come. About a dozen couples showed up. The interesting thing about events like this is that you have quite the variety of people attend. Steve and Dianne were in attendance as well, we met some great people and made plans to do some riding and geocaching with Roger and Cindi in the near future.

Just when you think the fun is over it continues! We had another happy hour the following night over at Steve and Dianne’s welcoming some more friends of ours that came in over the past few days. Les and Sue who we had met last year and caught up with in Homer Alaska again this past summer as well as Donna and Allen, and Deb and Ray who we had also met last year. We also met Susan and Guy who we have been Facebook friends with for quite a while but this was our first time meeting in person.
Daisy and Dakota even attended!

(l-r Dale, Sue, Les, Steve and Allan

Susan, Donna, Nancy and Ruth

Steve, Allan, Ray, Deb and Steve C
We also got out of the quads one afternoon going on a 50 mile trip with Steve, Dianne, Bob, Sue, Earl and Allison. We went to Crystal Hill down in the Kofa area. The area is known for the crystals you can find on the hillside. We did a little rockhounding for about an hour and Barb was able to find several small crystals. This was the first long ride for Dakota and she did great! She rode in the back for the most part but every once in a while she would sneak up to the front seat with the rest of us which made for some tight riding!

The view from a tower hill

A working windmill provides water to the wildlife

Lunch stop at Crystal Hill

A couple shards of crystal Barb found
The weather finally started turning a little nicer with highs in the upper 60’s and I was able to get up on the roof to start resealing the edges of the roof line. Over time the sealant will develop cracks and deteriorate. I noticed a couple spots last month when I was tilting the panels so I figured it was time to put a little added protection on the joints. Let me tell you that Eternabond tape is some sticky stuff, once it touches something it does not want to let go and if it touches itself, forget about it. I got about ¼ of it done the first day and will slowly complete the rest as weather permits.
One of the corners that was giving us problems
The Big Show starts in a couple weeks and the desert is really starting to fill up. We have more friends showing up over the next week or so and I am sure there will be plenty of happy hours to greet them!

Caught  this guy trying to sneak by the rig one morning

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

New Year's Resolutions......

Although she didn’t tell me I figured out Barb’s New Year’s resolution. To try and kill me……In the last week she has tried  not once but twice! Both involved head trauma, both could have been passed off as “accidents” and both were initiated by her. The first attempt occurred as I was outside organizing the belly of the rig. She was inside and called me so I stick my head in the door, am talking to her when BAM! I am struck on the head by a heavy object. I go down holding my head and looking at my hands for blood. Luckily I there wasn’t any but it certainly hurt like hell! Once I was able to get to my feet again I look inside the rig to see the wooden plaque that hangs above our door on the ground. It has decided to fall of the wall at the very moment I stuck my head in and bonk me square on the top of my head! Accident? I don’t think so……
Imagine that hunk of wood dropping from 7' and hitting you on the head!
Fast forward an hour…. I have recovered and have a nice lump on my head when Barb asked me if we have room under the bed to fit some stuff. So being the dutiful and wonderful husband I am I dropped everything to comply with her request. Our bed lifts up but the gas struts that hold up the bed are not strong enough to hold it up. No problem we have fishing rods in 4’ aluminum tubes under the bed so I use one of those to prop it up. I am under there organizing stuff to fit what she wants to put in there when she walks in and “accidently” kicks the tube holding up the bed causing the bed to crash into my head and pinned me there momentarily until she lifted it up to see if I was still alive. Does she express concern? Does she apologize? No, she laughs! An evil maniacal laugh!
Reenactment for visual purposes only.... 
So my friends, this could very well be my last post. If I do meet my demise in the near future, it has been a good run and please have them thoroughly investigate! For my part, my resolution is to be a better husband than I was last year.....hopefully it will work and she will keep me around!
We rang in the New Year “New York Style” meaning we watched the ball drop in New York and called it a night. We woke up about 1:30am, (1:34 to be exact) to high winds and a torrential downpour. The awning was bouncing around a little so I went out and secured it. After the initial surge the wind died but the rain continued until about 6am. We awoke to the sound of running water and it took a minute to figure out what it was, we now had a river in our backyard! Amazing how a couple hours of rain can change the landscape!
What the wash normally looks like

The morning after the rain
With all the rain came a lot of indoor time and it appears as though Dakota and Daisy have fully bonded, I am not sure they could get much closer!

They both have their paws crossed like little ladies

The New Year’s wind also blew in the Colibaba’s from British Columbia. They stayed up there to spend Christmas with their kids but were ready to head south to escape the cold weather. Barb and Ruth planned a happy hour for their arrival, it is great to have them here!

Steve, Dianne, Ruth and Dale
Bring on the Happy Hours!