1 – 4 November 2010 Our stay in Casa Grande was a busy one… Not only did we have the opportunity to see and enjoy old and new acquaintances, we drove up to Phoenix for a Costco and Trader Joe’s shopping experience and down to Tucson. In Tucson we were checking out Camping World and looking for a place to take the coach for that transmission radiator leak. It seems that a place called WW Williams is that place so we’ll see them early Monday morning. So Sunday we pulled away from Casa Grande and headed to Tucson and waited for the arrival of Sol and Carol in the afternoon. WW Williams also offered us electrical hook-ups so that if we needed to run our air-conditioners we would have them…pretty nice of them. As it turned out, when Sol and Carol arrived, they decided to have their truck serviced here so that they don’t have to search all over town for someone else, and besides Sol thought the price was right. Well as it turned out, the fitting that went into the transmission radiator wasn’t the only problem…the weld that the fitting goes into cracked. They had to take the cooler off and send it to Phoenix to be re-welded…
all that, 3 nights stay, and we’re finally underway less $740…easy come???-easy go !!! Well we had “Free Hook-ups” . On the 4th we left Tucson and headed a little further (15 miles) down Hwy 19 the the Desert Diamond Casino for a night. Boy, as far as the parking lot for RV’s, it was almost vacant… With that being said, the gaming rooms were pretty busy. For me that meant I had a happy wife, and I had some time to practice my flute…please don’t laugh !!! Fortunately Lou did came back with a few dollars ahead so all was GOOD !!! In the morning we head for the border and Nogales, Mexico…
_28 October 2010 The afternoon when we were having our windshield replaced, we received a special guest… Bob Rea stopped by. We first met Bob and Marlene about 3 years ago at the Western Horizon campground in Benson, Arizona. A year later they decided to buy a house here in Casa Grande. A little while after they moved in and a couple of days of our arriving in Casa Grande, we were invited over to enjoy a great dinner in their new dining room. Well here comes Bob again with a big smile and another invitation to join him and Marlene for dinner once again. For the second time, Louise and I found ourselves thoroughly enjoying a wonderful couple and another great dinner…Thanks again and we looking forward to getting back to Casa Grande real soon.
26 October 2010
4 days ago we arrived here in Casa Grande, Arizona after spending a night in the parking lot of a casino just outside of Casa Verde. Fortunately Louise was able to come back to the coach with more money in her pocket than when she went in. About 10:30am we pulled into Casa Grande and the first thing we did was to pull up to the fuel pump at Fry’s and “filler-up” please… we found diesel being sold for $2.91 and $2.51 for regular. The funny thing about this is that we could save another $.10 a gallon if we had spent $100 for groceries. Unfortunately we didn’t notice the discount until after I had already put 20 gallons of diesel in the tank. I doubt we’ll be able to use this discount by the time we come back out of Mexico next April/May…nuts ! We had a big list of things that we had to accomplish before this next Sunday so we had to jump right on them. Among them was to purchase our Mexican vehicle insurance, supplemental health insurance, and put “on vacation” our TV and internet satellite systems. I also had to have the oil changed on the Suzuki and the driver’s side windshield replaced on the coach (a gift from a rock coming off of an on-coming trucks wheel). As of today we’ve accomplished all the above and we both will sleep better because of it… We heard from Sol and Carol this afternoon and it seems that they have just had some of that stuff they call “SNOW”…come on guys, get the hell out of there before it gets too deep and let’s head south.
_3 November ‘09 A couple of days behind our “schedule”, but we’re still doing great !!! Tonight we’re parked in a campground within 50’ of the border crossing in Lukeville, and we’re the only guests staying here. At one time this must have been one heck of a campground. I would guess that there is more than 250 sites here with water and electricity and plenty of shade trees to handle the harshest of bright and hot sunshine. We left the great company of Mark and Susan this morning, stopped for propane and some antibiotics, and a small box of Amish pastries before heading east on Hwy 8 for Gila Bend. The high temperatures of Yuma (in the low to mid 90’s) are still hanging around and we will be carrying them with us to the border town of Lukeville…all this without “cab air-conditioning”. We must be getting a little tougher because the highs of the day didn’t wipe us out as it did when we first arrived in the south. The drive was scenic but un-eventful. Arriving in Gila Bend about noon, we stopped for lunch, topped off the fuel tank, and turned south for the border. Tomorrow we’ll be crossing early and heading for the tourists offices to get all of our paper work in order for our 6 month journey.
_31 October ‘09 HAPPY HALLOWEEN…. Tonight Louise and I are parked in the driveway of Mark and Susan’s and giving out treats to all the little “tricker treaters” of the neighborhood. Having Halloween here in Yuma vs. the Seattle area is quite different with tonight’s temperature hovering close to 80 degrees and all the tricker treaters dressed in their costumes without heavy/rain coats covering. It also gives us a chance to watch a little bit of the World Series (game 3). Mark and Susan are at a Halloween party tonight so we’re handling the door and giving out the treats. We have been busy getting the coach ready for our journey into Mexico this last week. Over the last couple of days I’ve changed out the shower, bathroom sink, and the kitchen faucets. Tonight I changed out the electrical power converter because we’ve had to put up with a noisy one that can keep you awake throughout the night. In the morning I’ll go back onto the roof and re-caulk the screw heads on the skylight and around. They’re flaking off and I’d better get it done before we get some rain. Louise got news this afternoon that her meds wouldn’t be available until late Monday afternoon, so we’re not going across the border until Tuesday now, buts that’s ok since we’re enjoying Mark and Susan’s company and the great food of the area. Yesterday we took a short trip into Algadones for a margarita, a taco, and a little shopping of no description.
_28 October ‘09 I think we could almost call Yuma our “second home”… Since coming back to the states and doing our thing, we’ve found ourselves staying in Yuma for at least a couple of weeks. This time is no exception, we’re here for at least two weeks. We spent the first four days and nights sitting in Mark and Susan’s driveway and now we’re back in our campground at Pilot Knob. The weather has been hot, but who’s complaining??? We’ve been in the low to mid 90’s but it gets down into the 60’s for our sleep. Yesterday the winds came up because of this approaching cold weather front and dropped the temperature down to 75 for today’s high. They called for the winds to really get with it, but fortunately it wasn’t too bad. With the Imperial Sand Dunes within sight, we could have been buried… While at Mark’s, I took gross advantage of him having a great tool selection and got caught up on doing some little projects on the Minnie before our heading across the border. The only problem I had was getting as much accomplished as I could before it got too hot to work. I installed 2 roof cap covers and did some caulking on the roof and a little on the front side along with cleaning all the exterior windows of the hard water stains (that was one Hell of a job…). Since arriving here at Pilot Knob, I’ve worked more inside than out. The shower faucet had to be replaced and I cleaned all the vent and hood screens. Last night I took Louise to one of the local casinos. I left ALL I waged behind (as usual) and Louise broke even…
_23 December ‘08 Tuesday
We really enjoyed our time at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument but it was time to leave. Our drive took us back up Hwy 85 and then junctioned with Hwy 86. The roadway was pretty flat as we traveled through the Tohono O’Odham Indian Reservation. Their land stretched on and on, in fact we joined it just outside of OPCNM and stayed within it all the way to Casa Grande. The lands bordered the Mexican border and as we traveled the roads we saw signs like “You Are Traveling in a High Surveillance Area”. Now they weren’t kidding, as there were Border Patrol vehicles and towers just about everywhere you looked and every once in awhile you would see 3 or 4 pickups stopped alongside the road with someone in cuffs. The area was mostly scrub grasses with Saguaro Cacti mixed in.
_This is mostly cattle country although we didn’t see any cattle…Must be the “rustlers”. This is the 2nd time we’ve visited Desert Shadows RV Resort in 2 years so we didn’t have any trouble finding it. Last year I was able to sell 2 kayaks here during one of their “Garage Sale Saturday’s”. This last Saturday I wasn’t so lucky but while trying, I was met by a couple that we had met last year…”Joel, is that you???” It was Sue and Dave…
_They are also from the Northwest and are now traveling with their 5th wheel. Louise and I joined them for a glass (or 3) of wine and we also were introduced to some friends of theirs. Pat and Stan, who were also out of the Northwest and are now also traveling in their 5th wheel. Pat, Stan, Sue, and Dave met originally in Yakima where they were working and living at that time living. A little later they decided that they should take some time off of work and bike across the country. It was gutsy but they did it and they still love riding their bicycles once they reach their next campsite. This campground is one of those that seem to have it all together. There is something to do here in the campground all day long if you want and that includes getting up in the morning and having fresh muffins waiting for you at the club house. We also joined them last night for pictures with Santa…
_it was sponsored by the local fire department. The $5 proceeds for the picture with Santa goes to the local “Fire Victims Fund” and that was easy to give to. The night before we went up to the clubhouse for an evening with "Whistle Stop". Whistle Stop is a Bluegrass / Gospel band that is made up of Mom, Dad, 2 daughters, and a very good banjo player from "outside" (the family that is...). They were good enough that we were enticed to purchase their CD. Last night we received an email from another couple that we had met last year. Bob and Marlene have now purchased a new “winter home” here in Casa Grande and invited us over. It was really good to see them again. Their new home is really wonderful…what a find!!! They have always been great hosts and today wasn’t any different. Marlene also surprised us with lunch, an incredible Chicken Salad. We will definitely make a return visit…
_18 December ‘08 Thursday
A lot of time has passed since our “Garage Sale” at Pilot Knob, and a lot of miles have passed under our wheels. Right now we are sitting right in the middle of some spectacular cacti’s at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, but I want to do a little catch-up. While in Yuma and camped at Pilot Knob, we had a chance to get together with Mark and Susan for dinner a few times. We joined them at their new home for dinner one night and had a chance to see all the wonderful new landscaping they had just put in, and their “spool” (swimming pool/hot tub).
_They have found out how to really live in Yuma… Louise and I also took a day to have our teeth cleaned in Algodones. We did find a new dentist and found that this was a good change for us as we were really impressed with our cleaning and the chair-side attention that was given. Of course we made sure that we were there for our shrimp tacos and cervasas… We also took advantage of the being here in Yuma to have our windshields replaced
_and pick-up our reverse-osmosis system. After having some on-coming trucks drop gravel in front of us, which took out our windshields, we chose George and Son Glass and RV Connections because of their knowledge, stock, and as it turned out, their price. We are using it to fill all of our water needs. It fills directly into our 100 gallon fresh water tank so that we can have pure and soft water no matter what we are doing, having a glass of drinking water, showering, or even washing the clothes in our washer/dryer. It installed easily but took a couple of days to fill the tank. Prior to installing the system we decided to drive up to Ehrenburg (Quartzite) and I could take 4 or 5 days there to get everything done. It would also give us a chance to hit the “deals” at Quartzite or just to see what was going on prior to the “big tent” on the 16th of January. As it was, we did find a couple of places to spend a couple of dollars prior to heading back to Yuma. We wanted to spend at least one more day in Yuma so we headed back and spent the night in the parking lot of RV Connection. Early Tuesday morning we pulled out of RV Connection and stopped to top off the fuel tank. Diesel prices were $1.94 !!! I really don’t expect that price to last too long so we pumped as much into the tanks and filler tube as possible and hope that we will continue to find good deals as we move east. As I mentioned, we are now in a campground at Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
_In getting here, we drove east on I-10 to Gila Bend and then took a right. AZ 85 took us all the way down to Organ Pipe and yesterday it took us another 5 miles Lukeville and the Mexican border. The storm that has hit the entire west coast has caught up with us as well. From the moment we hit the road out of Yuma, we were in the wind and rain and it continued throughout the rest of the day and the night. As we were driving through the National Monument we could see very little of the cacti that we knew were out there,
_but we were resigned to see as much as possible, rain or shine. Fortunately for us, when we awoke the next morning (yesterday) the sun was out and showed us what we had missed on our drive in. We are surrounded by mountains and in the slopes and valleys below we are seeing the reason we are here…CACTUI !!!
_We’re in the Sonoran Desert and right now, I’m happy we’re here in winter. The late spring to late summer temperatures are very hot, reaching 105 and higher a lot of the time, but the cacti that dominate this area thrive on this heat. Yesterday we took a 10am class on cacti,
_drove 21 miles on a dirt road to see some of the “out of the way” beauty of the park, and…took a 4 ½ mile hike to see a deserted mine. The Victoria Mine sits at the base of one of the mountains and straight across the desert plain from where we are camped.
_The narrow and rocky trail took us through a menagerie of cactus and other desert plants, over hills and down and out of the many “wash” (the areas were the rain water rushes through coming from the mountains). We thought this was going to be an easy 4 mile hike but we were totally surprised. The rocky and narrowness of the trail kept us off balance and if it weren’t for our Nautilus Walking Sticks…it would have been a bigger challenge yet.
_Today took us on another adventure. Our first stop (after 8 miles on a dirt road) and short hike took us to Alamo Canyon. In the late 1800’s there was a small cattle ranch that was located at the end of one of the many canyons here in the park. After hiking a mile further into the canyon, we came upon the remains of the “ranch house”.
_It was not the sprawling ranch house of today but given then time and the location…it was more than comfortable (for someone else I’m sure, but not for wimpy me…). We had driven through a small town on our way to the park. It looked really interesting so we wanted to make the drive back to explore. Ajo became a lively little town in 1906 when it became the first copper mine in the state. We drove through town, stopped at the visitor center, enjoyed lunch, and then drove up to the top of the hill to look down into the mine. They told us that it is a little over a mile in length and width and drops over 800 feet. Sitting just off the edge of the pit we found the local museum. The museum is located in what used to be a mission church and a school for the local Native American/Mexican children.
_In a lot next to the museum sits a small observatory, that is, it used to be… Arizona University built this little building and used it for 10 years or so and then abruptly took the telescope and left town. Now all that is left is…
2 December ‘08
We drove 187 miles yesterday to arrive here just after noon at the Pilot Knob Campground (Pilot Knob is located 6 miles west of Yuma on Hwy 8). The drive from Ramona took us through some beautiful areas of rocks. These rocks reminded us both of the rock fields we saw throughout the Baja…HUGE… They stood like sentinels on the mountain and hill sides with some as large as a house. When we were checking in at Pilot Knob we asked were the best prices where in Yuma for diesel as we were getting a little low. I thought we might full the tank before setting up. Boy, we were blown away when we heard what the prices were. The high for diesel was $2.34 and the low…$2.12 !!! I must say, we are getting a little excited at these prices and hope that they will hold, at least for awhile. This morning the campground had a “garage sale” for all of us that wanted to set-up a table in front of our RV’s. Louise started digging in the closets and cabinets inside as I was digging through the basement. We knew we had things to sell, but putting our hands on them took a little effort. Finally we found most of the items we knew we wanted to put on the table and placed them beautifully on display. I even set up the kayak to see if I could find someone that might want to place an order for one of those too. Well when all was said and done, we took in a grand total of $3.50… Well it could have been worse, but then again, it could have been a lot better too. After putting everything into the basement, and ready for next Tuesday’s garage sale, we drove into Yuma to do some shopping at Wal-Mart. We really didn’t need much but maybe a loaf of bread, some wine, and a couple of other small items, but the surprise came when we checked out…apparently we needed a lot more than either of us knew as it filled the car to its maximum load.
18 April ‘08
This morning we pulled out of the campground early so that we could stop for fuel and a stop at the lumber yard to pick up a piece of oak paneling. We had it cut to fit the opening, but unfortunately it was unfinished so I’ve got another project to finish soon. This paneling was to cover the area that once contained a wall of mirror which had to be taken down to install the shower faucet a few weeks ago. After stowing everything, we headed to Lees Ferry Landing. We were to meet Laurie and Bob at the campground in Lees Ferry and get ready for the Colorado River in the morning. The drive from Page to Lees Ferry was taken through some absolutely beautiful territory. We climbed through these red mountains to over 7,500 feet before dropping into the gorge while winding and twisting at a 6% grade, down to 3,200 feet. Lees Ferry is the jumping off place for all the “floats” through the Grand Canyon and in the morning we’ll be in the water too. The big difference is, we’ll (Bob, Laurie, Louise, and me) be picked up by a large river raft and transported kayaks and all up river.
We were dropped off just before the dam
at Lake Powell and from there we could float (and do a little paddling) the river back down to Lees Ferry. Our float/paddle took us just under 6 hours. The river was running at about 5 miles an hour through the canyon so it was easy to just sit back and enjoy the scenery.
When we did paddle, it was to go from one side of the canyon to the other or to beach and explore. On one stop we were able to see some petroglyphs
that we were told date back over 1500 years. Another stop was for a potty break and lunch (not necessarily in that order or importance…). About every couple of miles there was a sandy beach that had a potty…pretty handy huh? It was great to get into the Colorado River at this point and especially to be able to paddle with another kayak. Bob and Laurie have had their kayak
about 4 years now and have been in a lot of incredible areas that we are looking forward to seeing as well. Well, with the day coming to an end, we finally paddle enough to get us back on land, deflate the kayaks, and head up to our RV’s for dinner and a de-briefing of our day on the water. Fortunately, Bob and Laurie will be heading to Hurricane, Utah as well for a few days. We also heard from Dave and Carol Welling (who recently purchased a kayak from us) and they are in Hurricane also. I hope that we will all be able to get into the water somewhere there.