12-14-08 Sunset in Quartzsite, AZ

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Sunset as seen from our RV site -- looking west around 5:30pm

Sunset as seen from our RV site -- looking west around 5:30pm

December 14, 2008 — Thought I’d share some photos that I took Friday evening (December 12th).  While every at home was dealing with the ice storm, we had a cloudy day with a few passing rain clouds.  The nice thing about clouds is that you get a better sunset.  Every night of late has been pretty but Friday night was the most vivid.  

 

 

 

 

Here you can see the front -- and a rain storm.

Here you can see the front -- and a rain storm.

I know I shouldn’t complain, but the weather here is a little cooler than I thought it would be.  The evenings are down to the low 40s and the days are in high 50s, low 60s.  Not bad compared to home, but certainly not summer clothes weather — which we have with us.  Our winter/fall clothes are in storage still.  I think I’ll have to break down and go shopping for a few things for us.  I mean, I do have one fleece jacket and Carl has a sweater, so we aren’t that desperate.  

 

 

Standing at the door, looking right, which is north.

Standing at the door, looking right, which is north.

At night we run our heaters (propane built in and one electric radiator).  I don’t know what we would do if we didn’t have these since the RV is not insulated.  We can’t even think about going further north until it warms up! Having chosen to live on our RV means absolutely no more winters!

Standing in front of RV, looking south

Standing in front of RV, looking south

 

 

And about eight minutes later...

And about six minutes later... the sky is all red.

Comments (0) Dec 14 2008

12-4-08 RV Livin’

Posted: under Arizona.
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December 4, 2008 —

Petersen Clark Expedition buys a mobile home!

Petersen Clark Expedition buys a mobile home!

Last Friday, we bought a 2000 36′ Fleetwood Southwind Motorhome and have been living in it and shaking out the bugs since then.  We have been staying in Tucson, near the RV dealer, for this exercise.

 

Tomorrow (Friday) we drive to Quartzsite, Arizona for the winter.  Carl will drive the RV and I’ll follow in the Prius.  

So what do we think?  WE LOVE IT!

I’ll have photos posted soon.

Sorry that I’ve been negligent on this travel blog… While we were making so many decisions it was too difficult to write — we were so all over the shop in the past few weeks, we would have come off truly crazy if I had shared what everything that we were thinking.

Also, I had a weak Internet connection in the hotel that we stayed at, which made it impossible to get a lot done.  This week I bought the Verizon Wireless so now I have no more excuses — unless I exceed my allocated bandwidth…

More soon….

Comments (0) Dec 04 2008

11-8-08 Tucson, again

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From Saguaro National Park -- beautiful

From Saguaro National Park -- beautiful!

November 8, 2008 — We came back to Tucson yesterday. We gave up on Yuma after I called and confirmed that the Microtel rate had increased (as the books said it would after November 1), thus it wasn’t really worth going back.  So, we decided to come back to Tucson and take a room at the more expensive Extended Stay hotel (that $199 for the week price was great last time, but we just couldn’t go bear that stinky room again).  

 

 

Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus -this is a very versatile plant

On the way out of town, we stopped at the Quail Cafe one more breakfast.  Different cook this time, the home fries were not near as good!  But, that’s o.k. I’m supposed to be on a diet.  I forgot to mention that we had dinner at this same cafe the night before.  Told you, it was  very comfortable place.  We stuck with with specials — lasagna (for Carl) and chicken parmesan (form me).  Just like home cooking — well not my home cooking, but somebody’s.

 

 

Another view from our desert drive

Another view from our desert drive

The ride back to Tucson was enjoyable, especially since we took a road that brought us from 10 down to 8 and thus avoided going through Phoenix.  We got to the new Extended Stay Hotel somewhere around 2:00 pm.  We ended up with the last King size bed, which turns out to be a corner unit, handicap room, ground floor.  All afternoon we felt very lucky to have this oversize unit — it feels like an apartment.  Except that because it is a corner unit, the WiFi is weak (can’t upload photos to the blog; but I could update MostlyFiction.com).  And then the woman who is staying in the unit next door came home from work.  The only positive thing that I can say is that she did turn off the (freakin’ loud) music at 11:05. One more minute and Carl was ready to go to the front office.  So this morning I tried to change rooms, but we have to wait until Sunday — the hotel is booked for the weekend. 

 

 

Greetings from the Saguaro Cactii

Greetings from the Saguaro Cactii

We went looking for an RC airfield this morning out in the Saguaro National Park that we last visited a month ago on October 7th.  This drive was just a beautiful as the first time, though it has cooled down to a reasonable 80 degrees or so.  We love the Saguaro cactus — they make us laugh with their funny “poses.” I am pleased that I haven’t forgotten the names of the Sonoran Desert plants in the time that we’ve been gone.

 

We never did find the airfield, but we got the Prius plenty dirty trying since we ended up going down an interesting dirt road. So, we stopped at the Ina Road Car Spa that we visited last time (and lived next door to when we stayed at the cheap extended stay place). But first we went to a brand, spanking new Starbucks that just opened yesterday for a cup a coffee to sip while waiting for “Miss Pris” to get pampered at her spa.  I love sitting outdoors here — so, so pleasant to do mundane chores. So much better than last weekend’s weather up in in Portland, Oregon.  (Can you believe that was only a week ago? No wonder we are exhausted!)  

 

Carl researching trailers and RVs....

Carl researching trailers and RVs....

We came back to our room and relaxed. Carl is now researching trailers (the kind pulled by a truck).  Can you imagine us driving a truck?  Yup!  That’s what we are considering now.  (Sorry Devon, we might have to sell “your” Prius.)  Anyway, we are long way off from deciding, but you can’t say that we aren’t looking at all options. (If you are wondering if we are considering a “fifth-wheel” rig, we did but we have crossed that off the list because it requires a super truck — the whole thing is more than we want to pay.)  

 

 

Judi working on blog...

Judi working on blog...

I took the afternoon to read (THE DART LEAGUE KING) , nap (! I never do this!), and call my sister Lori.  Of course staying in a handicap room does all kinds of things to my psyche but most of all makes me miss my little sis.  She’s at Spaulding Rehab for two weeks.  Her rehab was cut short last year when she got the bed sore and thus this is a chance to catch up. But as she told me this afternoon, she’s had to start from scratch and there is no way to fit a 2 month program into 2 weeks. She’s not interested in being away from home for that long so she’s just getting what she can from her quick stay.  I’m glad that she’s trying it, anyway. I’m just happy that she sounds happy. (Miss you kiddo!)

 

 

View from the front of our hotel at sunset.

View from the front of our hotel at sunset.

Anyway, we are slated to stay here at least a week but have not ruled out longer.  We actually signed up for a month but that’s because it’s a better rate this way.  If you sign up weekly and end up staying a month, you get stuck with the higher rate.   

 

We are located on the eastern side of Tucson this time.  It’s closer to the older original section.  It is a large city but since it is laid out on a grid, it is easy to figure out. Our new neighborhood offers a Trader’s Joes a few (large) blocks down and we have gone there last night and tonight to pick up dinner.  And now that we have a kitchenette, we can make our own breakfast (Trader Joe’s Organic Raison Bran cereal).  This is not to say that there aren’t hundreds of places to have breakfast, lunch and dinner.  But we are on a diet and budget…

 

So, here we are in Tucson. we just enjoyed an 81 degree day and 68 degree evening.     Ahhhh!

Comments (0) Nov 08 2008

11-06-08 Quartzsite, again

Posted: under Arizona, Quartzsite.
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Hi Jolly Monument

Hi Jolly Monument in Quartzsite, AZ

 

November 6, 2008 — After checking out of the Super 8 (and a horrible sleep for me — mattress was too soft), we went for breakfast at the Quail Cafe.  Lucky for us, they had Eggs Benedict for a special.  These days, most hotels offer a decent breakfast and we tend to eat in the hotels but after 7 weeks, it does get old.  We know what to expect in each chain and we know how to make the most of it, but still.  The Super 8 is the least of the breakfast offerings but even if it was the equal of the Holiday Express, I think we would skip it.  We were really ready for a sit down breakfast with an egg that wasn’t made about three hours earlier.  

 

 

So, we meandered on the Quail Cafe and were rewarded with some of the best home fries I’ve ever had — made with onions, peppers, and lots of garlic.  Although not the best hollandaise sauce, it was better than the Swiss Knorr package kind that I make. The personality of the cafe probably added to the enjoyment as much as anything.  You just felt good here — it was like we always felt in the Keys.  Even though we didn’t know these people, we could see how easy it would be to become part of this community.

 

 

Hi Jolly Sign

Hi Jolly Sign

As we payed for the breakfast, we studied the For Sale information on the wall next to the register. And that dictated the rest of our day. Actually, we went out to the car, started to leave and then I went back in to the the telephone # and addresses off the flyers.  They were for mobile homes in the park behind the restaurant.  While writing this information, I talked to the woman at the register and said we were on a quest to find our new home, and that we were considering RV living. Of course, she filled me in on her experience and called a man over to ask him if he knew of an RVs for sale in town. In gave me directions for the other side of town for a “diesel pusher” that a friend of his might be selling.  

 

 

Wooden Grave Marker at Hi Jolly -- this has been here since 1863

Wooden Grave Marker at Hi Jolly -- this has been here since 1863 -- things can last forever in the desert!

Loaded with this information, we begin driving around Quartzsite to see if there was an answer to our quest.  We looked at a newish “double-wide” on a lot that only cost about $1500 for the year.  We had been told that he wanted $58,000 for it, which actually didn’t sound to bad to us.  On the same street, there were four others for sale but this was the only “double-wide.”  One of the older ones was only $22,000 and same $1500 lot fee — we turned this one around a bit since it would be such a CHEAP way to live.  

 

 

Quartsite's Hi Jolly Cemetery

Quartsite's Hi Jolly Cemetary

We found the diesel-pusher.  I had to laugh that part of the directions was to “go over the wash and then take a left.”  Living back in NH, I don’t think I’d ever would have heard a direction such as this — but out here in the desert, “washes” are everywhere — these are places that fill with water when it rains — but make good riding for off-road vehicles when its dry.  Anyway, we did find it but decided it was older than we wanted.  But this led us to a new neighborhood and as we explored, we found more and more neighborhoods.  Understand, when I say neighborhood, I am speaking of lots with either RVs (full motor homes, Fifth-wheels, trailers, and home made variations from school buses) as well as mobile homes. Rarely is there an actual house, but where there is, it often made of adobe and really, really cute.  

 

 

Quartzsite living...

Quartzsite living...

Mexican brick fences are very common here.  In fact, there were many lots that were outlined with these bricks fences that were for sale.  I had picked up some real estate sheets at the chamber of commerce and we learned that these often went for $100,000.  A bit more than we would be interested in or we could believe it would be worth.   

 

We finally exhausted ourselves and felt we had covered every single park and neighborhood in Quartzsite and decided to end our day with a trip to the Hi Jolly monument and cemetery to find out why all the references to camels in this town.  After that, it was just too late to drive to Yuma, so we went back to the Super 8 — and paid $10 extra to get a better room.

My main regret for the day is that I didn’t take photos of the places that we looked at — nor did I get a photo of the family of quails that crossed in front of us.  They were so cute! I think it is one of the things we will laugh about for a long time. I do have photos, though, to share with you, but the current Internet connection isn’t strong enough to post them.

Comments (0) Nov 06 2008

11-5-08 From Blythe, CA to Quartzsite, AZ

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Back in Arizona!

Back in Arizona!

November 5, 2008 — It took us all day to go from Blythe, CA to Quartzsite, AZ.  That’s right.  I know if you look at the map, you’ll find that these two places are only 30 minutes apart.  So, why all day?

 

Well, if you read about our adventures yesterday, you’ll remember that the GPS went on the blitz post L.A. So we decided to go to Phoenix to get a new DVD — the one we had was suspect, anyway.  This would then eliminate or highlight the DVD player as the problem. Then we were hoping that the this would be covered under our warranty.  Since our plan was to head for Tucson, this all made sense.  

Instead of just passing by Quartzsite on the highway, we decided to drive through and see how much more it had filled up since our last visit.  We noticed that there were more RVs for sale, solar panels and even information on setting up a Montana LLC (a way to register the RV when you don’t have a permanent address).  So we left and continued on to Phoenix.  While we were driving we started talking about maybe Quartzsite as a place for us to spend some time.  It was the first time that we noticed that there was a Super 8 Motel.

We found a new Toyota dealer in Avondale (outside of Phoenix) and stopped here, rather than driving all the way into Phoenix.  Turns out that we must wait a week to get the DVD. We ordered it anyway. (Staying in this area for a week is not a problem.) Over lunch we decided to head back to Quartzsite, so we drove the 100 or so miles back.  So here we are for tonight.  Though I think we might go to Yuma tomorrow since the Microtel hotel down there is less expensive than this Super 8 and far better.

Comments (0) Nov 06 2008

10-23-08 Lake Havasu

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Boondocking in BLM LTVABoondocking in BLM LTVA

October 23, 2008 — We woke up to a perfect day — the winds had stopped and the sky was very clear again.  

 

 

 

Catcus Garden at Buckskin Mountain State Park

Catcus Garden at Buckskin Mountain State Park

 

So what did we do today?  

We drove north up 95 retracing our route past the Yuma Proving Grounds into Quartzsite.  We stopped at the BLM La Posa LTVA (Long Term Visitor Area) office on the outskirts of Quartzsite to find out more about boondocking.

 

Buckskin Mountain State Park

Buckskin Mountain State Park

Boondocking is “dry” camping, usually free.  The Bureau of Land Management has come up with a way to allow people to boondock but still have some of the services available, for example there are toilets and a place to empty the holding tank, but they are not close and convenient.  BLM charges $40 for 14 consecutive days or $180 for Sept 15 to April 15 stay. The main rule is to not park too close to a neighbor.  Unlike traditional camping, they don’t have sites with numbers.  We drove through the LaPosa area and found it to be a very attractive idea.

 

Original machining for breaking down Iron Ore for Gold

Original machining for breaking down Iron Ore for Gold

It has only been about 4 days since we went through Quartzsite last, but it has already changed alot.  More businesses seem to be open.   And it seemed to us like more RVs had set up home as well, though still far from full.  We also drove through the new housing development.  It has to be strange for the people who have been living in Quartzsite since the early days to now have actual homes being built.  Anyway, the BLM lands at Quartzsite are something that we are thinking about — after we get an RV, of course.

 

Parker Dam

Parker Dam

As I work on this, Carl is perusing the ‘net again for RVs.  He’s following e-Bay auctions. I think he’s getting closer to maybe bidding on one.  Maybe.  I’m not allowed to visit eBay because I’m much more impulsive.

 

After Quartzite, we continued north on 95.  This was new area to us — not yet driven.  I can’t say that I did a lot of sightseeing at this point because I read, aloud, the information on BLMs.  Oh and on camping in Mexico.  Another thing that sounds fascinating to us.  

 

Tall Grasses

Tall grasses swaying in the wind

(This is one of the amazing things that has happened this trip.  I can read without getting carsick!  I can’t figure out why but for the first time in my life I can read in the car.  I know I couldn’t do this even a short time ago — opening mail in the car, reading a menu, even the back of a CD, would just ruin my day.  But this whole trip, I’ve been reading maps, books, etc without a bit of a problem.)

 

 

London Bridge

London Bridge

Just before Parker, we saw a sign saying that we were in the Colorado River Indian Reservation (confirmed shortly by a casino).  The area was so green, we knew we couldn’t be too far from the Colorado, which was true.  We went through Parker, and the road turned northeast following the Colorado River — also the start of a designated scenic highway.  We did not disagree with description. For once, though, it didn’t involve great vertical heights!

 

 

London Bridge

London Bridge

We stopped at the Buckskin State Park for the allowed 30 minutes before we would have to pay a fee.  I stuck my feet in the Colorado River, even.  This place also offered a variety of camping options including “roofed” areas for tent campers.  Very pretty.

 

Shortly after leaving the State Park we came to the Parker Dam.  This is the deepest dam in the world.  They built it as such so that it would not destroy the natural beauty of the area.  This is another Bureau of Reclamation project.

 

Lake Havasu from city municipal park

Lake Havasu from city municipal park

From Parker Dam we continued along 95 until we reached Lake Havasu City — and the London Bridge! I remember hearing about this as a kid — it was always presented almost as a joke that some place in the desert bought the falling down London Bridge.  Seeing it today, I’d say it was an ingenius marketing plan — this is a regular city now.  

 

 

Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu

Lacking further goals, we decided to stay here tonight.  In our effort to spend less money on motels, we are staying at a Quality Inn tonight.  This is part of the Comfort Inn chain, so we still get points but are paying a bit less. It’s not bad for an older place. 

 

After checking in, we went over and had lunch/dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.  Nicely decorated, average food, good price.

 

Two Birds in a Palm Tree -- these entertained us while we sat on bench looking at Lake Havasu

Two Birds in a Palm Tree -- these entertained us while we sat on bench looking at Lake Havasu

Then we went down to the municipal park located on Lake Havasu.  Very impressive — they have a bit of everything for the family: ball parks, jungle gym, model sailboat area, electric car racing, paths for walking/jogging etc., benches and picnic areas by the water, water sports, etc.  While we were there, several families were gathered post game, high school kids were running, and an elderly couple were sitting on a bench looking out at the water.  It was all very peaceful and friendly.

 

And that was our day.  

We don’t have a clue about tomorrow yet….

Comments (0) Oct 23 2008

10-21-08 Yuma, AZ

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The Ford Four Cylinder, Twenty Horse Power, Five Passenger Touring Car

The Ford Four Cylinder, Twenty Horse Power, Five Passenger Touring Car sitting on plank road

October 21, 2008– Yuma, Arizona.  One of the hottest places in the U.S.  Not too bad this time of year, it’s low 90s right now.  

 

 

Photo of Ford on plank road -- the plank road was used to cross the sand dunes in the desert.

Photo of Ford on plank road -- the plank road was used to cross the sand dunes in the desert. The turnouts were every half mile to allow passing. The process of stop and go meant it too hours to go ten miles.

We started off the day at Starbucks — not much of a breakfast in this hotel and we’ve gotten pretty accustomed to our morning ritual.  There are 3 Starbucks in Yuma and so we chose the one that seemed like it would bring us closest to downtown so that we could explore after.

 

 

The Quartermaster's House. Inside is a museum of how the house looked when it was occupied.

The Quartermaster's House. Inside is a museum of how it looked when it was in use. The kitchen is not attached to the house so that the house would not heat up when food was prepared. Ironically, there is a fire place in every room. Not sure when these were needed!

Yuma is pretty much like any small city though it has an interesting history mainly predicated on the fact that it was the best place to cross the Colorado River. (It was originally called Colorado City.)  It was during the Gold Rush that the place got on the map — when so many people were passing through to California. The town decided they didn’t like everyone just passing through so the officials decided that anyone who couldn’t prove that they had enough money to stay in California, couldn’t cross. That’s one way to populate a city!

 

 

Covered Wagon

Covered Wagon

Yuma has always played a key role in the military.  Fort Yuma overlooked the strategic river crossing. In 1854, the Gasden Purchase was ratified making Yuma part of the U.S.  The U.S. Army determined the easiest way to bring supplies to new forts in the lands taken from Mexico was to bring supplies by sea up the river to Yuma. From Yuma, thousand of tons of supplies were then transported by 20-mule teams throughout the southwest.

 

 

Dining Table inside the Quartermaster House

Dining Table inside the Quartermaster House

The U.S. Army Quartermaster Depot — which we visited today — was in operation from 1860s to the 1880s.  During this time, before the Colorado River was all dammed up, they ran steamships right to the Depot.  

 

 

Original train from this period.

Original train from this period.

It was quite by accident that we ended up at the Quartermaster Depot.  We decided to drive over the border into California (hey, I should have “text” my sister Wendy to let her know that I was in a new state!).  Meanwhile, we realized that Mexico was just “over there” — maybe was even responsible for the haze of smog hiding the mountains.  We tried to get a picture but nearly ended passing through the border — so we turned around quickly before things got complicated. 

 

As we came back over the Arizona border and noticed the entrance to an historical park. So, we drove in.  We hesitated because they wanted an entrance fee — but when we realized it was only $3 each we decided to see what they had.  And, it was money well spent.  We spent hours here, it was so fascinating. My only regret was that I hadn’t grabbed water before we started. 

 

Model of life at the Quartermaster Station.  Model made by a lucky high school class.

Model of life at the Quartermaster Station. Model made by a lucky high school class.

There museum shows changes in transportation (wagon train, steamboat, train, auto, trucks), communication (pony express, telegraph), as well as the duties of the quartermaster station and changes in soldier uniforms and equipments.  Looking at the displays in the buildings gave the imagination quite the fun work out.

 

 

Original Telegraph Pole -- dry air means wood does not rot away

Original Telegraph Pole -- dry air means wood does not rot away

After visiting the Quartermaster Depot, we went looking for the historical downtown area — it’s small but really cute.  You can see what Yuma is trying to do to set it up as a visitor’s attraction. The rest of Yuma, however, is not that attractive.

 

We saw more of the farmland today.  One thing we can say about Yuma is that it has water — a lot of water.  After all the desert for the past few weeks it is actually overwhelming.  You should see how much water comes out of shower — and that’s not to say that we’ve had bad showers up to this point  — but this one most certainly does not have the water saver installed.  Because the plants are just being started, I don’t know what they are but I looked it up and they are grow grain, hay and cotton and, of vegetables are playing more of a role.  So, they could be planting anything.

 

This water is coming out of a tunnel that was dug under the Colorado River in an inverted siphon to distribute water.

This water that is coming out of a tunnel that was dug under the Colorado River in an inverted siphon to distribute water for farming. The Water Reclamation Project was responsible for coming up with this unique idea and making the tunnel in 1903.

We came back to the hotel and I went to the pool and read a book (The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo) for awhile. Oh, how nice!

Comments (0) Oct 21 2008

10-20-2008 Quartzsite, AZ

Posted: under Arizona, Quartzsite.
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Crystals

October 20, 2008 — We took advantage of the great Internet connection yesterday (about the only thing that I can say that was good about our room) to work on our computers — and for me, to catch up on MostlyFiction.com.

 

Fish fossils

Fish fossils

We moved out of the cheap motel room this morning.  Amazing how much stuff we accumulated staying in the same place for one week!  Paper plates, plastic cups, paper towels, kleenix box, toilet paper, snacks, towels, desk lamp.  Practically needed to have a yard sale just to move out!

 

Kyanite

Kyanite

 

So after our breakfast at Starbucks –Cappucino and Oatmeal — we headed west on I-10 to Phoenix and beyond.  Our goal was Quartzsite, Arizona.  This place started as just a bunch of RV owners collecting together in the desert. Carl took the Quartzsite exit by chance about 20 years ago and found that it had no gas station or anything except for one auto repair business. Everything else was RVs.  He was curious as to what it had grown into, since everything has grown, and also if this might be some place we would want to stay if we were to buy an RV.

 

I think this is Agate

I think this is Agate

Anyway, the drive to Phoenix was nothing new — we had just taken this road last week to pick up Carl’s Macbook.  However, I think I forgot to mention that just outside of Tucson, they grow cotton and milo.  Cotton is so pretty. We love all the care that the city takes in uniquely decorating overpasses and all the plant life that appears in the medians and alongside the walls.  This is something that you rarely see in New England.  The older part of the city is not as nicely decorated, but it is also is not plain, either.  

Interesting collection of Geodes, Crystals and Fossils

Interesting collection of Geodes, Crystals and Fossils

We still had another 90 miles to go to get to Quartzsite after we passed Phoenix.  More mountains and Sonoran desert plant life all the way.  I’m getting better a putting names to the plants — though I’m not sure I am pronouncing them correctly.

 

 

I forgot what these beauties are called!

I forgot what these beauties are called!

As expected Quartzsite had grown.  Of course, I could have told you that just from looking at our camping guide.  It’s interesting that they are now a full blown town with courthouse, schools, police department, water department, etc.  There are also some real homes, but not all that many.  This is early in the season and thus there were a lot of open lots, but my understanding is that this place will fill up with RVs over the next couple of months.  

 

 

Fossils and Geodes in the background

Fossils and Geodes in the background

The only grocery store that we saw is a “surplus” store.  Also of interest and unique is an area of Quartzsite that is officially for RV owners who want to set up shop and sell things — like an RV mall.   This is only partially filled at the moment – again its too early in the season for the full effect.

 

Quartzsite does have their own radio station. At least while we listened to it, it was all 50s and early 60s music.

This is probably the only “town” left in America without a Walmart, or any of the other hundreds of retail outlets that you see in every other town.  They are not immune to McDonald’s, Burger King, and Carl’s, Jr.

 

T Rocks in Quartzsite, Arizona

T-Rocks in Quartzsite, Arizona

Outside of an RV haven, Quartzsite is a mecca for rockhounds.  Having been a former rockhound myself… well let’s  just say that today was my day to be a kid again.  Of course, living out of the Prius meant that I could only take photos… which I’m sharing with you here.

 

We took 95 out of Quartzsite down to Yuma.  This road includes a “Yuma proving ground” which the military uses for training, shooting, and probably blowing up things.  I couldn’t help but think of the scene in Mr. & Mrs. Smith when the “Mrs.” is up on a mountain/hill ready to blow up the “Mr.” who’s messing around on a 4-wheeler.  Really that scene could have been shot here.

Closer to Yuma, and thus closer to the Colorado river, it suddenly turns into a large agricultural area.  After looking at the desert all day, this is a big surprise.  I’m sorry that I didn’t get any photos because the farms were so perfectly plowed.  I’m not sure what they were growing since it was freshly planted.

 

The T-Rocks store

The T-Rocks store

We got into Yuma after 4pm so we decided to get a hotel for the night and explore Yuma tomorrow. The hotel prices in Yuma are very high, so we decided to see what we could find on Highway 8. You know how I’ve said in the past that we look for newly built hotels, well we outdid ourselves this afternoon.  Carl said he saw a sign for a Comfort Inn on 8 and since it wasn’t in my book, I thought “this will be new.”  Too true. The hotel was still being built! Knowing that we couldn’t go back to town we decided to try a Microtel. Guess what?  It is new and clean and about half as much as a Comfort Inn.  I think we’ll stay again tomorrow night.

 

Tomorrow we explore Yuma.

Comments (4) Oct 20 2008

10-18-2008 Kitt Peak National Observatory

Posted: under Arizona, Kitt Peak, Tucson.
Tags: ,

 

Carl at Kitt Peak National Observatory, finally!

Carl at Kitt Peak National Observatory, finally!

October 18, 2008 —

Mayall 4m Telescope

Mayall 4m Telescope (black dots are birds - click on photo to see)

While waiting for me this morning as I ran in to pick up more water at the store, Carl was looking at the map and came up with a great idea for today’s adventure:  

Take a drive to Kitt Peak National Observatory.  

Tile Painting depicting Mayan view of Astronomy

Tile Painting depicting Mayan view of Astronomy

 

 

 

Kitt Peak Museum

Kitt Peak Museum

 

 

Kitt Peak was selected in 1957 as the location of the first national observatory and today it is the home of the largest astronomical telescopes in the world.  Visitors are encouraged to take free self-guided tours of several of the telescopes.  They have guided tours too, but by the time we made up our minds to go, it was too late to take the tour.  

Satellite seen from picnic area

Satellite seen from picnic area

 

So, we packed our lunch (a sandwich picked up at the Whole Foods store), water and headed down I-10 and then east on route 86, a whole new road we had not yet explored.  This road heads into the lands owned by the Tohono O’odham Nation, of which the observatory leases the land from the tribal council.  Unlike Navaho lands, this is fairly green, with nice vegetation.  

 

 

Art piece in shape of telescope lens with Tohoni oo

Art piece in shape of telescope lens with Tohono O'odham Nation

 And of course, to reach the observatory at the top of the mountain, we had to drive up another switchback road.  You would think that I’d be used to these by now, but for some reason, today’s drive unnerved me more than any of the others. Carl thinks it’s because when you get to the top (6875 ft), there is nothing but open space clear down to the valley.  Yeah, that could be it.

 

Close to the top they had a nice picnic area — lots of tables and views — so we had our lunch here. 

 

View from Kitt Peak

View from Kitt Peak

We checked out the museum first.  I admit that I’m not as wowed about all this as Carl.  He was a kid when this place came into inception and he followed its progress.  It was a place he’s wanted to visit for nearly 50 years. So, my fun was in seeing the kid in Carl today.  We walked up to the Mayall 4m Telescope and took the elevator to the Telescope Catwalk.  We had opened it would be an open catwalk, but soon discovered it is enclosed. So, no good photos from here.  I did try to take a photo of one of the telescope inside, but that is also through glass, so it didn’t really come out well.  

 

 

View of Road to leading to Kitt Peak

View of Road to leading to Kitt Peak

Now what would be really interesting is to come back at night and to look out at the stars.  We are going to add this to our list of things to do.

4m Mayall Telescope

4m Mayall Telescope

 

 

 

 

Grasshopper on Prius -- Of note, this is the name of our sailboat...

Grasshopper on Prius -- Of note, this is the name of our sailboat...

As I say, I don’t have a strong background in this but apparently it is in my blood.  Until now, I had forgotten that one of my ancestors is Alvan Clark.  Now, that I remember this, we need to go back to Flagstaff and visit that observatory.

Comments (0) Oct 18 2008

10-17-2008 Mt. Lemmon Drive

Posted: under Arizona, Mt. Lemmon, Sky Island Scenic Byway, Tucson.
Tags: , , ,

 

Looking over Tucson valley from first stop -- note abundance of Saguaro Cactii -- we are still lower altitude in Sonora Desert

Looking over Tucson valley from first stop on drive -- note abundance of Saguaro Cactii -- we are still in lower altitude in Sonora Desert

October 17, 2008 — We are still in Tucson, Arizona.  Today, we ventured to the east of the city and took the 26 mile Sky Island Scenic Byway to the top of Mount Lemmon.  This is another slow drive with plenty of switchbacks that started at about 2600 feet above sea level and reaches about 9,100 feet at the top.  Breathless.  

 

Looking up a the road not yet travelled. You can see how this road is built into the mountain.

Looking up a the road not yet travelled. You can see how this road is built into the mountain.

 

I never tire looking at these rock structures.  I think this one looks like a man riding a horse.

I never tire of looking at these rock structures. I think this one looks like a man riding a horse.

However, this was a far more civilized drive than the day we drove Highway 550.  This road is managed by the National Park’s Service (with a $20 entrance fee — thanks again to our annual card we did not have to pay) and thus the road is very well made all the way up (and down).  For example, this one has guard rails and a lot of lookouts. And it wasn’t unreasonable to go 45 miles per hour on the way down.

Looking down at the road where we once were

Looking down at the road that was once travelled.

 

Some have described this 26 mile ride as like starting in Mexico and ending in Canada.  There is a ski resort at the top, so I can see why one might say this!  Can you imagine in the winter you wake up to a nice 80 degree day and then decide to go skiing less than 50 miles away? That’s what altitude will do for you!

Today, the temperature at the top was 61 degrees — and 90ish at the bottom.  (We are loving this weather!)

 

View from Windy Point Vista -- note road below

View from Windy Point Vista (about 6000 Ft) -- can you see the road below?

This is a popular summer destination.  There are SO MANY trails to hike that I think this one mountain range  alone could keep a hiker happy for years.  (Fred, Mom — you would love this place!)  They also have many trails that allow bikes or horses as well as hikers.  If we stay in this area, I promise to check this out further.  I am assuming those trails would be good for a beginner like me.

 

About 7500 feet -- lookout facing east

About 7500 feet -- lookout facing east

Looks like our week here has worked out.  Yesterday, we received mail from our forwarder – though I messed up and didn’t request everything so I am still missing some books (yes, some publishers are still sending books to MostlyFiction) and most my Netflix movies.  So now I have to wait until the next time we are some place long enough… Today I received my new eye glasses that weren’t ready when we left and call got the RV book that he ordered.  We are still wondering if this isn’t the perfect answer to our wonderlust and need to find a home soon.  I catch up my Quicken account with all our trip expenses and balanced my checkbook.  Anyone want to guess how much they think we have spent up to this point?

 

Village of Summerhaven at 7,840 feet -- notice burnt trees from 2003 fire

Village of Summerhaven at 7,840 feet -- notice burnt trees from 2003 fire

I’m not shocked or upset over how much money we have spent so far — but we do have to start trying a little harder to save money.  

 

Put it this way, if we could stay in this place for a week — and make it comfortable enough — then we are ready to step down our hotel requirements a notch or two.

Ski Lift at Mt. Lemmon

Ski Lift at Mt. Lemmon

Comments (0) Oct 17 2008