Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Gathering Place

Here we are in Quartzsite, AZ, known as the gathering place.  This week is the annual RV show and the BLM land is very busy with RV's of all styles, and models.  Many groups gather and meet this week which is why the name - gathering place.

In addition to the dozens of vendors, there is an enormous tent full of vendors who are vying for the attention of the RV'er.  There are also dozens of RV's to go through and check out and hopefully for the vendor, many will want to purchase one.

And we are here, to meet a group of folks who drive 4-wheel drive vehicles - mostly Jeeps.  During the day we go off on a trail that someone is willing to lead and explore areas off the beaten path.  It is amazing the sights that one sees when exploring the back country.

One day we had lunch at a resort - it started as a concrete slab from a building at a mining site.  Over the years, passers-by have added their personal touch in the way of a chair, or some clothing, or whatever they came up with and then some add specific signs.  Soon it becomes a stopping point for many.

Another day, the trail leader had a scheduled lunch stop at an old miner's cabin.  This time, he provided the lunch with hot dogs.  Here too, folks have added their own personal touch and over the years, the cabin has been well equipped.

The vegetation back in the mountains is quite plentiful and very green - due to the multiple rains.  Now, if there is some nice warm weather, the desert should come alive with flowers.  Hopefully, we will still be here to see this lovely display.

The weather this past week has certainly left a lot to be desired.  The daily temps would on occasion hit 60 degrees (14C) with a cold north wind.  A couple of mornings we woke to seeing frost on the vehicles.  All we had to do is find a spot in the sun, out of the wind, and it was rather pleasant.  However, the prediction is for warmer weather this coming week.

As this week comes to a close I hope everyone had a great week and may you have a great week coming up. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

We Are Back!!

Once again, this will be a rather short summary of our past week.  We arrived back south on Wednesday after a great trip home.  It was great to see everyone and spend some time with the kids.  And being generous, we left them with great weather – temps about freezing, sunshine, and very little wind – about perfect I would say.

 But in doing that, we came back to wind and rain. While the day we arrived was very pleasant as was the next day, that quickly came to an end.  The winds came up and they were predicting more winds and heavy rains.  The great thing about the rain is that the desert comes alive.  The ocotillo, normally dry, prickly branches, are covered with leaves.  It looks like a great year for desert flowers.
After arriving in Palm Springs we went and did a bit of shopping.  We passed a field that looked rather unusual so we went back and it was a field of artichokes – the first time we have seen a field of them.  I also love how they add a decorative touch to many overpasses such as this one in Cathedral City, somewhat a suburb in Palm Springs.  There is often something that adds some colour, or decoration to the structure.

We were planning on coming to Quartzsite on Saturday, but with the prediction of wind and rain we decided to head out a day early.  Don’t know if that was a good choice or not as we didn’t hear if the heavy rains predicted at Borrego Springs actually happened.  On the most part we had good driving although the wind did come up somewhat as we got closer to Quartzsite.  We got here, unhooked, got parked, and the rain started.  At least we didn’t have to drive in it as it makes an awful mess and we didn’t really want to have to wash the motorhome again just yet.  Plus, we took a shortcut through box canyon and I understand that road should be avoided during heavy rains.

 This week we are planning on doing some off-roading.  Until that starts, we did go to the RV show with all the vendors.  Nothing new, nothing interesting.  I guess we are at a point in time that we either have it, or don’t want it, or don’t need it.  Will likely go again another day and tour another area – maybe we will find something interesting.

I hope each of you have a great week and we’ll catch you next weekend.




Sunday, January 15, 2017

Transition to BRRRR

This is a week that we fly home to visit the family, and to remind us why we enjoy going south for the winter.

We started the week still at Borrego Springs.  Almost daily we climb up the mountain behind us to look over the valley below.  The climb is not difficult, particularly if you take your time.  This area is very popular as trails lead in many directions so we follow a different one each day. 

This was also laundry week and as we walk around as the machines are doing their work, you often see some interesting things.  This week  we saw this motorcycle and side car with it's custom paint job.  This would definitely be more comfortable than riding behind someone. 

Mid-week we flew home which turned out to be quite the excursion.  Since the internet had been quite slow, I didn't check-in early so we got to stand in line.  One family in front of us - this should be quick and easy.  What a surprise!  After about a half hour wait, they finally opened up another counter.  We were checked in and on our way before the poor family before us - with two little ones.  Not sure what the problem was?  Then on to Vancouver.  They must have changed their system as it seemed to be the first time they put folks through customs and on to a connecting flight.  The signs apparently were in the wrong places because if you went to where they said, you were directed somewhere else.  Oh well, we had lots of time!  Next stop - Calgary, and then home.  It is getting late, we are on the plane and take-off, only about a half-hour late after we had to wait for some connecting passengers, and then to de-ice.  Oops, there is a fast moving blizzard when we get to Regina.  After attempting to land three times, and circling for forty minutes waiting for a break in the weather, back to Calgary we went.  We were treated very well - we had a new flight once we landed, and we each received vouchers for breakfast.  Finally we arrived home just before noon (only nine hours late) to a wind chill of -43C.  For those not familiar with centigrade temperatures, just remember -40 is equal to -40, regardless of whether it is centigrade or Fahrenheit.  The good news, our daughter Kyla was able to pick us up so we only had to experience those temps for approximately three seconds - easy to handle.

Here it is, three days later and the temperatures have warmed to a low of -15C.  The days are sunny and bright, with no wind, and a prediction of a January thaw this week.  That will be so nice for the folks that have been cooped up for the past couple of weeks because of the terribly frigid weather. 

We head back mid-week to enjoy the rest of the winter.  I hope you have a good week!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Borrego Springs

This past week has been spent at Borrego Springs - a neat little California town just south-west of Palm Springs.  We met up with a group of folks from our 4-wheeling club and spent some time out on the trails.  Of course, anything we go on is relatively easy - especially in comparison to what some of them can and like to do.

While the area is all desert, it is amazing the different kinds of terrain that entails.  We go near sand dunes (or on them if we wish) and I love the design the wind makes as it blows the sand around.  On occasion, we find a source of water and one or more palm trees take root and grow.  We went on one trail where we found Una Palm (one palm although that is no more), Five Palms, and then Seventeen Palms.  At Seventeen Palms there is a mailbox which contains a number of notebooks that people have signed over the years.  There are also areas of canyons - some you can drive down, and some you can only walk down.  I tend to avoid the walking ones as they are very narrow with high, straight walls - a little too close I must say.

We are currently parked along some hills/mountains.  I'm not sure exactly what they are other than they are quite rocky and have dozens of walking trails.  On the top of one there is 
a nice flat spot where someone became quite creative and built a huge rattle snake.  Over the past few years, other things have been added such as a flower, truck and camper (which recently has been dismantled for some reason) and a ram's head.  Some folks can be very creative when making a photo out of rocks!

Normally we have a potluck brunch on New Years Day - well unfortunately, this year it got cancelled.  The wind would have carried the food away.  In fact, we have had a couple of pretty windy days.  It's surprising how many things tend to bang and rattle in the night.  Sometimes that loud bang(s) is nothing more than the fireworks from New Year's Eve.

Dick Avery (from Avery labels) lived in this area and a number of years ago he commissioned an artist to make some sculptures.  They are all around the town and are terrific.  I have included a couple of them as they are certainly something to see.

We stopped at a service station to put some air in our tires.  While there, this unusual vehicle pulled up so I went to have a look.  It was a car/motorcycle sort of thing - two wheels in front and one in back and made by Polaris.  I asked if I could take a picture and the driver was more than happy to oblige.

While the weather has not been real warm, it has been pleasant (the days the wind doesn't blow), and sunny.  And if we think it is cool, we just check the weather at home and decide that we will enjoy this great weather.

I  hope everyone has a great week!


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!!

It’s time to say good-bye to 2016 and to look forward to 2017.  As we look back, we are thankful for many things – our family who are always a source of pride and joy;  our friends with whom we  enjoy visiting; our own good health which has allowed us to have new adventures and to enjoy life as we prefer.

Afternoon coffee Christmas day

We just celebrated Christmas with friends in Yuma.  The day was pleasant – sunny and mild, the meal was delicious, and the friendship was fantastic.  It is almost the perfect combination.  Throw in some family and the grandkids and one couldn’t wish for anything more.
Fresh roasted coffee beans

One of the gifts we got was some hand roasted coffee.  While the entire process takes a while and probably takes more care and time than I would like, it makes a  marvelous cup of coffee and  the smell of the ground coffee is unbelievable.

 Our plans were to head out to Borrego Springs mid-week but that ended up being delayed.  A bit of a glitch held us back a few days as we had to wait for some parts.  Once they arrived and were installed we were on our way.  An early morning windstorm was a bit threatening  but it quickly lessened, the wind changed direction so we now had a tail wind which is the ultimate conditions when driving an RV.  There was some rain for about two-thirds of the way – more like a drizzle but enough to make an awful mess of everything so both Jeep and motorhome received another wash.

We passed a field of lettuce being harvested and I can’t imagine having to make a living as a vegetable field worker.  Every single head of lettuce is hand picked and wrapped in plastic before placing it on a conveyor belt only to be taken by hand and put in a box to go to the distribution centre.

 Then we pass the Algodones sand dunes.  With it being New Year’s weekend, they are full of all sorts of vehicles as enthusiasts race up and down the dunes.  They are also quite spectacular to see with miles of huge mounds of pure sand.

 At Borrego Springs we meet up with some folks and we will do a bit of off-roading.  Today we went up Grapevine Canyon – an easy trail up to the top of the mountains.  The view is every-changing, and beautiful – definitely one of my favourites in this area.  Tonight we celebrate New Years Eve –likely watch TV and see the ball drop in Times Square in New York – that is only 9 pm here so the timing is perfect.

I would like to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2017.  Happy New Year to all!!!