Saturday, January 26, 2013

RV Driving School Gathering, and the Rains Came

Yesterday we moved the short distance (1/2 mile?) from the Alaska group to the RV Driving School group. Happy Hour didn’t go as planned because rain clouds moved in and drenched us. It varied from a slow drizzle to a downpour through the night. Some of us did some ‘awning hopping,’ moving from rig to rig to meet and visit each other and share snacks and beverages. The skies remained overcast all day and the storm intensified overnight. Oh well, the desert smells amazing when it rains, and it will be a spectacular spring with wild flowers and cacti blooming.


This morning (Saturday) began with an instructors’ meeting in George & Valerie’s motorhome (owners of the school). It was nice to meet and get to know some of the other instructors, and to be recognized as the only woman member of the group. We shared ideas, questions and solutions, as George imparted plans that he and Valerie have for the future.

Don and I ate a quick snack then went to see our friends Larry & Carol Jennings at their ‘Shoe Box’ RV in the LTVA (Long Term Visitor Area). Sorry, no pictures, but here’s a link to the blog Carol writes. It’s amazing how the two of them can travel for extended periods of several months and be perfectly comfortable in such a small space. I tend to get a little claustrophobic, but I admire how well they get along and are happy to be very mobile in their small but well-appointed rig. I stole this picture of their Shoe Box (Big Foot slide-in camper and truck) from her blog.

The Big Foot Camper

After drizzling rain for most of the day, the clouds started to clear a bit in time for our pot luck dinner around 4 pm.


In true RVers’ fashion, there were lots of yummy dishes to be shared. Marilyn was just putting her yummy deviled eggs on the table.


There was even a birthday cake for Carol Hill’s upcoming birthday.


Did Carol start with birthday cake or was it the wine? Life’s short; eat what you want first!


George tried not to look as he drew names for door prizes awarded by Valerie.


Carol’s name was drawn for a bottle of wine as a door prize! What a lucky gal!


Pat’s name was drawn for another bottle. Hey Girls, let’s find a corkscrew and start working on those!


Larry finally got an RV Driving School cap!


Dennis was awarded an RV Driving School shirt in his favorite color.


Mary & Gary’s granddaughter Sarah once again stole the show.


Dennis got into the act, showing some fancy moves while Sarah, Grandma Mary and Tom looked impressed.


Ta Da! Grandpa Gary is getting some good pics.


Father Mulcahy (aka Steve) made an appearance.


Buns were warmed next to the blazing fire.


Carol has much nicer buns than either of these guys.


It’s nice to see Dennis without an ear bandage and only a little swelling, and most of the ugly stuff is down inside his ear.


Lorrin probably got a good shot from his vantage point.


The sunset was nice, although not as spectacular as some.


Friday, January 25, 2013

CARE Auction, Balloon Plans, Alaska

It’s been a busy two days. Don and I drove out to Boomerville to attend the CARE Auction on Wed. afternoon. Lots of usable items were laid out on tables for inspection.


And lots of Boomers brought their chairs and got a bidding number preparing to take advantage of bargains while at the same time counting the money spent as a tax-deductible donation to Escapees’ CARE Center (Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees), similar to an assisted living facility, where people live in their RVs instead of in an assistance home.


Fortunately, blue skies and sunshine were abundant, with only a few clouds.


Just before the bidding began, Judy Rinehimer announced that Don & I with our friends Frank & Gloria King would be taking responsibility for the Boomers’ participation in the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in October. Judy and husband Luke have been leading this group for several years, and it’s time for them to take a back seat and a well-deserved rest.


The bidding was fast and furious on some items.


A few things just had to be modeled.


And this beautiful hand-carved walking stick was a popular high-end object.


Even the boots hanging from the leather-wrapped hand grip were carved with great detail.


One feature of the gathering that helped encourage bidding was a wine bar at $1/glass or $5/unlimited.


Total proceeds from the auction were donated to CARE: $3,123 + $155 for wine donations = $3,278.00!

On Thursday, we moved to the area south of town to join the group Dennis & Carol Hill invited to discuss a planned trip to Alaska in 2014. Almost all of the people who went with them in 2011, as we did, were there – only Pat Livingston and Jim Smith were elsewhere and couldn’t come. And several who are interested in going the next time were there.


We shared stories from our trip, advice on what to wear and bring with, and what not to do. Oh, yes, there were also lots of food dishes and a few beverages involved. Mark brought his home brew and Carol provided hot chocolate fixin’s and some things to spice it up, like Amaretto and Kahlua.


Molly’s Santa Fe soup was a big hit.


And lots of desserts were shared.


Dennis’ ear patch hasn’t slowed him down much.


And Gary’s still up to his old tricks with ever-tolerant Mary.


Dennis showed the guys some of the routes we took.


Gary & Mary’s granddaughter made an appearance.


And we shared a couple of smoke-free campfires.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ahhhhh! Full Hook-Ups, Bob Tiffin and a Boomer Chili Cook-off

After spending almost a week without water or sewer, and almost another week with no hookups, Don and I decided to treat ourselves to a FHU site for 3 nights. We got lucky and found a site due to a cancellation at the Park Place RV Park on the east side of Quartzsite.

It’s a fairly nice park for Quartzsite, but I have trouble agreeing with their claim of being “Arizona’s Finest RV Park.” There’s no pool or hot tub, no trees or even cactus, sites are level and adequate but not overly large, and no concrete patios or picnic tables. The ground cover is pea gravel, a little thin in places so it’s fairly dusty, and this type of gravel is my least favorite because it gets inside your shoes (ouch!) and travels into your RV easily by sticking to the soles. We haven’t experienced weak power like Dennis & Carol reported, but the water pressure is very puny. Still, it’s definitely comfortable here, compared to no hookups.

Taking advantage of the situation, I’ve done 5 loads of laundry so far, vacuumed and mopped the floors, and cleaned the bathroom. Don has dumped and flushed, and filled our fresh water tank for returning to boondocking on Thursday. We still have a nice view of the desert since this side of town hasn’t yet been developed heavily. And it’s very quiet as it’s about a half-mile from the freeway with buildings helping to block the sound. Sorry, no pics but maybe I’ll take some tomorrow.

This morning we had breakfast at Bad Boys Café.

Bad Boys

Then we went to La Mesa RV, where we bought our Tiffin Phaeton motorhome last year.

La Mesa quartzsitestore

Bob Tiffin, founder of Tiffin Motorhomes, was here for 2 days and we found him standing outside chatting with folks. Bob is a genuine southern gentleman, and we’ve enjoyed visiting him in his office at the Tiffin plant in Red Bay, Alabama. Although he’s probably a mega-millionaire, he talks with everyone like they’re very important and deserve his undivided attention.

I reminded Bob that we now own our second Tiffin (he can’t remember everyone, although he seemed to recognize us), and that Don’s son and wife also own their second, so there’s a history of 4 of his motorhomes in our family. I said we are very happy with the Phaeton we bought 11 months ago from this very place, but there’s one thing I wish they’d done differently: the tankless water heater. When we are boondocking, it wastes water while waiting for it to get hot because it requires .5 gal/min flow to turn on. And navy showers are uncomfortable – you wait for the water to get hot, turn it off to soap up, then wait again for it to get hot again to rinse off.

He agreed that it wasn’t the best device for boondocking and said they can swap it out with a traditional water heater. He even said that winds of 20-30 mph can cause the flame to burn up the wiring and cause the unit to fail. He described the process of replacing the unit, which matched what one of the techs had told us when we were at the service center last September. His detailed knowledge of manufacturing details amazes me.

I asked whether Tiffin would cover the cost, and Bob said Yes! I told him he just made my day! Don later made an appointment for May, when we’ll be in that neck of the woods, and we’ll look forward to getting the job done.

What I didn’t tell Bob is that we were told it would be about $1800 to swap out the water heaters. But he’s a man of his word, he probably knows what it will cost in actual dollars for labor and parts, and we’ll happily take him up on the offer.

I’m a Happy Happy Tiffin Owner!


Later we drove about 20 miles to Blythe, California, to pick up our mail and do a little grocery shopping. Quartzsite has 3 markets, but supplies and variety are limited and prices are high. The next closest food market is Albertson’s in Blythe.

This afternoon, we visited “Boomerville” where a lot of our friends are parked. The Boomers, an Escapees group, are loosely organized and comprised of folks who love life and enjoy having very few rules for their club and its gatherings.

The main event today was a Chili Cook-off. Appropriate garb was worn by some of the participants.


Chuck Moore, far right, hosted the even and introduced the 6 judges.


This year there were lots of chili cooks entering the competition. And the rest of us brought side dishes to be shared. Three long tables were required to hold all the goodies.


1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes were awarded.


It was great to see many friends, and I didn’t take nearly enough pictures of all of them. But Don got this shot of me and Jan Moore, who has been dubbed my ‘sister’ by several people because of our similar looks. I don’t know, I’ll let you be the judge. In any case, I’m flattered to be compared to such a pretty and wonderful lady!


Monday, January 21, 2013

Quartzsite: SOLOs Group & Lots of Friends

Don and I served as VCRs (Volunteer Club Representatives) for the Escapees SOLOs group, parked on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land about 7 miles north of Quartzsite on Plomosa Rd. About 60 people who travel in RVs alone were there to share fun and stories of their adventures.

There was a ‘burn your own’ potluck on Saturday (grill your meat on BBQs and share another dish).


There were some good looking pieces of meat on those grills!


And lots of other goodies were shared to complete the meal. When it comes to food, the SOLOs are just like other Escapees – they know how to cook, and they know how to eat!


Photographers flying in ultralights made a few passes overhead. Hope they got some good pics of our group. We’ll know when we go shopping, as they display and sell prints of their work.



Our time with the SOLOs ended today with the business meeting. Before the meeting began, the outgoing president Roy Kannada was recognized with a surprise skit by some of the members.


And he was given a hobo pack and told to “Hit the Road.” Thanks for serving for 2 years, Roy.


Don presented certificates of recognition to Roy…


…and to Carole Tibbets, outgoing Vice-President.


I conducted the installation of new officers: Betty Ogden, President, Dave Anderson, Vice-President, and Dottie Brunner, continuing as Treasurer. The continuing Secretary, Shari Haywood, was absent due to family matters requiring her attention.


The final event was counting money collected for a 50/50 contribution to CARE (Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees). Over $200 was collected by selling tickets for $1 each or 6 for $5.


The winning ticket was drawn.


And the winner was the Treasurer!


Dottie generously donated her winnings to CARE as well, so the total contribution was over $200. Over the years, this group has donated over $28,000 to CARE!

After saying our goodbyes to these folks, many of which are long-time personal friends since Don & I met each other through the group, we picked up jacks, moved the slides in and drove a few miles to an RV park on the east side of town. Not long after we checked in and got parked, Dennis Hill came knocking on our door, as he and wife Carol had arrived and parked a few sites down.


Dennis & Carol are applying to be part of a TV show about full-time RVers and wanted me to shoot a 4-minute video of them for the application. I managed to do it with my Droid Razr Maxx cell phone because it was easier to figure out than my new Canon G15 camera. It would be great if they are selected for the show, as they are a fun and unique couple, with lots of RVing experience. Wish them good luck!

The final event of the day was getting together with about 35 of our closest friends (mostly VCRs) for pizza at Silly Al’s, a Quartzsite MUST to visit. Here are some pictures from our fun evening.









I called out “Hey, Gloria” and both these lovely ladies answered! What are the odds that they would end up sitting across the table from each other?


Here’s what a Goliath-size pizza looks like. It fed 8 people. Two pieces of this pizza are probably equal to a small individual pizza, but a lot more fun.


And then it was over.


Till next time!