Saturday, March 31, 2007

Trolling By Cat

Okay, it's not the world's best picture, but Patches had just climbed up into the overhead cupboard by clawing her way up my body and then on up into the cupboard. By then I was laughing so hard I couldn't keep the camera still. What on earth did we do for entertainment before we had a cat?

It's been quiet here lately. This area is not big on museums, natural wonders or even geocaches. We've done the Blythe Intaglios and have found the geocaches that are accessible by our truck (many more need 4X4s or ATVs due to the sandy washes that you need to follow to find the caches). Quartzsite's flea market/rv show/gem show extravaganza has closed down for the season and the 100,000 rigs in the desert have winnowed themselves down to a mere 100 or so.

All of which means Patches can enjoy walking around a campground that's only 2/3 full. The two of us were wandering around at dusk the other evening and chanced upon a fox which surprised all of us. I wouldn't have thought the desert was a climate suitable for a fox, but the river might provide sustenance as well as shade trees. I'm still hoping to see another river otter like we did two years ago, but that may have been a fluke occurrence.

It's interesting to walk the campground with Patches on her leash. Most people are surprised to see a cat walking on a leash, as are many of their dogs. It's always easy to separate the cat from the dog people when you walk, but there are a surprising number of folks who have both dogs and cats and so their dogs usually want to make friends with Patches and so far she's not having any of that. She is starting to get closer to the dogs for a sniff or two, but it's done in full archy-back, poufy-tail mode and occasionally she'll toss in a low growl to add to the intimidation factor. I'm working on getting Patches acclimated to dogs so she'll be able to enjoy walking outside. It's either that or she'll be stuck inside the fifth wheel and for her, that's not an option.

Now if you'll excuse us, we have some hummingbirds to watch.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Little Bit of Home

As I was leaving the campground office on Monday after signing in for our reservation, I complimented a man I passed on his aftershave. Actually, I told him he smelled good as I walked by. Taken aback, the man stuttered a bit and thanked me and I went on. Following us back into the campground, he stopped to chat while Denny maneuvered the rig back into our site (on the first try, thank you very much) and we started to unhitch the fifth wheel and get all hooked up and settled in. It turns out he noticed our Ohio license plates and wanted to know where we were from in Ohio. Introducing himself as Roger, it turns out he was born in Dayton (as was I) and worked for many years in Cincinnati (where Denny grew up). We chit-chatted a while, but then Denny and I had to finish getting our set up chores completed properly so Roger took off.

Yesterday in the midst of our howling wind/dust storm (winds gusting to 50 mph) there was a knock on our door and Roger stood there outside. Inviting him in, Roger then proceeded to entertain us for the next two and a half hours. An insurance salesman and business owner by trade, a b-s'er by nature, Roger dropped names and told stories non-stop. Now you have to understand that Roger was born a generation ahead of me, but the Dayton he knew was the Dayton of my childhood and I could relate and remember as he talked of chats with Woody Hayes of OSU football fame, and of meeting Caeser Romero when he was in town performing with John Kenley's Kenley Player productions. That was Dayton in the days when you dressed up to ride the bus downtown to go to the RKO Keith theatre to see the latest Disney film with your aunt and your cousins and had a lunch at Kresge's soda fountain counter afterwards. Roger also was familiar with many of the Cincinnati landmarks of Denny's youth like the Cincinnati Zoo, Coney Island and the Conservatory, places that my grandparents would also take us as kids. It was fun to talk about the places we loved as children, most of which are long gone now.

Roger and his wife Darlene will be moving on tomorrow, but because I took a moment to appreciate the fact that he smelled good, Denny, Roger and I spent an enjoyable afternoon reminiscing and we made a new friend.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Something to Make You Smile on a Monday

Everyone should start their Monday with a smile so try this. Push the button.

Edited at 2:18 PM. Okay, so we got involved with packing up and moving camp so I didn't get this out first thing. It's still cute.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Lazy Sunday in Yuma

I had chosen my pictures and uploaded them for today's post when I received a brief e-mail from my mother (after all, it's only 6 AM here) telling me that my aunt, Dona, had passed away. Officially, she was a former aunt-in-law but she's always been family. Dona had suffered from Alzheimers for several years; while there are many horrible ways to die, there are also horrible ways to live. I guess there's a theme in these pictures after all.

This tiny little chapel sits way off US 95 between Yuma and Quartzsite. A sign near the road invites one in to rest and meditate.

Yuma's fields of crops are cycled non-stop. As soon as the lettuce and cauliflower are picked, the fields are tilled, irrigated and reseeded to start over. Now that it's getting hotter, the farmers are planting tomatoes and bean in place of the more delicate crops. But on the way to the Yuma Proving Grounds Denny and I discovered three large fields of white (and the occasional pink) poppies. What a surprise in the desert!

An ocotillo plant stands alone on BLM land near Pilot Knob, a rocky outcropping just a few miles into California. In attempting to find information on the name, I googled Pilot Knob and found there are Pilot Knobs in Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Tennessee and Texas. So I guess the name is simply generic for any landmark used to navigate.

An unusual cloud formation at sunset over the Yuma Lakes Campground.

A golden sunset. For some reason there aren't always a lot of clouds in Yuma which to me are mandatory for a great sunset.

The same shot as above without the zoom. I find that it's often difficult to get a good picture without power lines interfering, but sometimes the lines integrate well.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

YPG and the Heritage Center

Dry and dusty, windswept and hot, the area near Yuma, Arizona was deemed perfect for testing military weaponry, vehicles and munitions that would be used in desert conditions in other countries after World War II. Prior to this new weapons were simply given to men in battle without a lot of field testing with sometimes catastrophic results, so the government decided to use areas with three different climates to test military equipment and train their troops; tropical, arctic and desert. Thirteen hundred square miles of land allows the military to test equipment without interfering with civilian life and towns just a few miles away. Each day hundreds of tests are on-going while the world outside goes on about their business oblivious to it all.

The Yuma Proving Grounds has had different names but operated under the name of Yuma Test Branch when men were first stationed here in 1943. The original intent in coming to the area was to use the Colorado River to test moveable bridges to be used by heavy military equipment to ford rivers and possibly to cross rice paddies. Since the Colorado River was controlled by the nearby Imperial Dam, engineers could use the hydraulic system of the dam to control the conditions of the river, making it as calm or as wild as needed to test the strength and durability of the steel treadway bridges the military was creating. Testing was successful and the Test Branch continued to be used after the war. Eventually it was closed, but reopened with the advent of the Korean War where the emphasis was placed on testing weaponry and vehicles.

twin concrete tracks leading up the hillside that is the test track for military vehicles and you'll probably see the dust tracks of a tank or two blasting full bore across the desert floor. Once you've driven about 4 miles or so you'll see signs for church services and the travel pThe Heritage Center at the Yuma Proving Grounds is a pictorial history of the area and the men and women who trained here. Finding the Heritage Center is a bit of a challenge as there is no sign pointing to the turn off leading to the center. You enter the Yuma Proving Grounds off US 95 northeast of Yuma and turn left onto the grounds between the huge cannons. You'll pass theark (campground) on your right and that is where you'll turn. The guard will point you in the right direction and you'll park on the street in front of a smallish, nondescript building with a dark red roof that is the Heritage Center. You walk through the propped open doors and meander through small rooms filled with photographs, models and memorabilia from the beginning of Camp Laguna to the present day usage of the grounds. And if you are very, very lucky you will bump into Bill N., the director of the Heritage Center who is the most valuable commodity there as he is a veritable font of information not only about the Heritage Center but of the Yuma Proving Ground itself. Bill guided us from room to room, explaining the pictures and even a little of the people who donated the pictures, as well as where he would like to take the Heritage Center in the future. While Denny and I would have learned a lot just reading all the descriptions and information given at the Center, Bill fleshed out the bare bones and made the history of the area come alive for us. I could just point at a picture and Bill would give us a story or the background or the purpose of the test the picture portrayed. Bill has plans for adding on to the building to create new displays and perhaps to add vocal histories from those who worked and trained here in the past. There is a film clip available that explains more about the current use of the Proving Grounds.

After I asked about a striking shot of a huge cannon, Bill told us to search for the video clip online of the atomic cannon test conducted in 1953. One of the seven remaining atomic cannons sits at the entrance to the Yuma Proving Grounds today. While you cannot go into any of the testing areas for obvious reasons, the Yuma Proving Grounds web site has a great deal of information and history about the grounds and what they do there. However your best source of information is that friendly man wandering the halls of the small building behind the gas station. Stop by, look for Bill and be prepared to walk out of there knowing one heck of a lot more than you did when you walked in.

These twin tracks are used to test large vehicles for speed, agility and durability.

Can you see the tank in front of that large dust cloud?

Obviously, we weren't this close to the training area; I used the zoom feature on the camera.

Not only were American troops stationed here at the Yuma Proving Grounds, but there were also Italian prisoners of war who served as cooks and wait staff for the people stationed here. Of course there were stone masons among them so they were asked to build an underground vault for paint and supplies kept on the grounds. There was a serious danger of the paints and thinners exploding from the heat of the desert, so an underground storage area was required. However, the castle-like structure above the vault was purely an invention of the stone masons who were bored with their life here. The remains of the "castle" still stand, although the conditions of the desert climate are slowly destroying the walls of the structure which is now secured behind a locked gate.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Look! See Our Picture on the URL?

Favicon maker- Create a favicon from any image

Yes, I've found a new toy (I love Stumbling on Firefox!). See the teeny-tiny picture of Denny and I up there on the address bar in front of our URL? I created it using the Favicon button I've posted here. Its permanent home will be down on the right side of the page below the Cluster map. It's just a doofy (don't bother to google that word, it's a Linda-ism) little program to add visual interest and make me learn something new.

Now if only teaching myself the peyote stitch in beading was that easy...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

An Ugly American in Mexico

Denny and I ran over to Los Algodones in Mexico today. It's just a few miles west and south of Yuma and you can park on the US side and walk across the border for a quick shopping trip. I was shopping for a specific purse I had seen last year and passed on, but this year only one shop had them and they were twice as high as last year. So we wandered the stalls and finally ducked into a liquor store to search for Triple Sec and Cream of Coconut to make Chi-chis, a drink we were introduced to on a cruise around Hawai'i several years ago. Major yum. We discovered 16 ounce bottles of pure vanilla for $1.31 and prices on tequila were terrific. We just didn't bring a lot of cash because we're kind of cautious that way so we'll have to come back sometime and take advantage of good prices. We did buy some fresh asparagus from a vendor and indulged in pescados and camarone (fish and shrimp) tacos for lunch. Mmmm.

Returning to the border we discovered a long line of about 150 people waiting to cross back into the US. The day was pleasant so the wait wasn't bad until we got to the corner and made the turn towards the border patrol station. There was a second lane on the sidewalk at the turn for handicapped people to line up and as Denny and I arrived at the corner a lady wearing an oxygen tank walked up the handicapped lane with her husband and attempted to merge into our line. That's when we heard the Ugly American woman ahead of us begin to harangue the lady with the oxygen tank for using the handicapped lane when she wasn't handicapped. There was a lot of back and forth conversation that I won't repeat, but the U.A. claimed that she had had a heart attack yet would never have thought to use the handicapped lane and that as long as the lady with the oxygen tank could walk she had no business using the handicapped lane either. Arrrggghhh. I was so tempted to ask the woman if the doctors removed her heart after her heart attack but I figured it would go over her head. In the end the U.A. pushed back in front of the woman with the oxygen tank so she was happy again. So she got through the border crossing 15 seconds in front of the other lady. Good for her.

Denny and I are fortunate to enjoy excellent health and we no longer are in a hurry to get anywhere because we have all the time in the world. If a handicapped person wanted to get in line in front of us, well, more power to them. They have a much harder road than we have and I hope that if something would happen to Denny or I that someone would be kind enough to allow us to merge ahead of the line. It was a matter of seconds, not minutes or hours.

Don't we all have the time, really?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Quirky in California

Bobbie, one of my water aerobics buddies, mentioned that there was a geocache located at the center of the world. Hmm. I knew that there was one a couple of miles down in the Atlantic Ocean but the center of the world? Indeed there is, because the center of the world is officially at Felicity, California--there is a law that says so.

Felicity, California, population ? and elevation 280 feet is just a few miles west of Yuma, Arizona and sits on the frontage road parallel to Interstate 8. There is a post office, a church, a pyramid and a section of the original stairs of the Eiffel Tower. Quirky indeed.

The town of Felicity is named after the wife of the mayor of Felicity. The mayor of Felicity also wrote a children's book called "COE, the Good Dragon at the Center of the World". He also owned a lot of desert property and when he asked what he should build on his desert property, his wife responded, well, a pyramid of course--for what else goes in a desert? And so he built a pyramid, and since he had written a book about the center of the world, his next project was to have a spot in the middle of his pyramid designed the center of the world, and the county of Imperial has made it official.

For $2 a person, you are given the opportunity to watch a six minute film clip about Felicity and the granite walls that are a part of the complex and the lady at the gift shop will unlock the pyramid allowing you to stand on the bronze plaque that designates the precise center of the world spot where you make a wish, take your picture if you desire and as part of your entrance fee will give you an official certificate acknowledging that you stood at the center of the world. This certificate allows you to return and visit the pyramid for free at any time. Whoo, boy, who could resist that? Talk about cheap at the price!

All kidding aside, the granite walls are amazing pieces of work. An artist is slowly carving pictures onto the panels to correspond with the historical information that has been documented on the panels of the walls. There is a Korean War Memorial wall, the Foreign Legion wall, the Quest for the Sky wall, the Wall for the Ages as well as walls dedicated to personal family plaques and information for a price. Jacques-André Istel has taken his fairy tale story and turned it into a town and fascinating attraction that will entertain and educate you.

We went for quirky and returned enlightened.

This three dimensional representative of the arm of God from Michaelangelo's painting on the celing of the Sistine Chapel is the hour pointer on the huge sundial in front of the town of Felicity.
This is a twenty-five foot section of the staircase from the Eiffel Tower. The staircase was removed when its weight caused the tower to start to sway. Elevators were installed in place of the stairways.
This small church built on a hill will always be the highest point in Felicity. The church should be opened sometime early in 2008. The structures you see in the lower third of the picture are several of the engraved walls of granite.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Vicki's Day

Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday Dear Vicki, Happy Birthday to You. You too are now eligible for the 55+ senior RV parks! Now sell that house and get out here and join us on the road!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

More Scenes from Arizona on a Lazy Sunday

Whoowee! It's been hot this week. We've gravitated from the swimming pool, to the air conditioned truck to run errands and back to the air conditioned rig. Denny's been watching college basketball, of course, and I've been perusing beading websites to teach myself the peyote stitch and obtain ideas for making some bracelets--the urge to be creative has returned. Now how all that is going to work with Patches around I don't know. I have visions of hundreds of size 11 Delicas scattered all over the table and floor after one pounce on the table to investigate what "mom" is doing. Not pretty.

The full moon rising over Parker, Arizona. I know we had pretty sunsets in Ohio but out here in Arizona they are almost a given on a daily basis.

Windmills and palm trees--not something you normally see together, right?

This flowering plant at the Superstition Mountain Museum had a plaque calling it a firecracker plant. I'm not sure that's an accurate name. Anyone have any idea of its true name?

The last of sunset in Yuma. This was taken along the route we take to the campground, which is lined with acres of lettuce, winter wheat and cauliflower. We noticed that this year the land owners have started a section of organic crops, yet last night we heard the crop dusters flying nearby and wondered just how organic the fields are going to be.

Last but not least, here is Patches. Patches is not allowed up on the counter tops in the kitchen so this is how she works around that restriction. See, theoretically she's not "on" the counter because her rear paws are still on the chair. Notice her watching me to see if she's going to get away with this. She didn't.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Broiled or Baked?

What's the reverse of hibernation? Or can you hibernate in times of intense heat? The temperatures have been climbing steadily and will reach 100 degrees by Saturday, if not sooner. Denny and I do not function well in those kinds of temperatures so we've been chilling inside.

Blog posts may be a bit erratic here until it cools down a bit. I must say, water aerobics have been enjoyable first thing in the morning, especially because a couple of my pool pals from other campgrounds turned up here too. Having someone you know waiting for you is a good incentive for insuring you'll show up instead of putting off the exercise for another day. It also means you can't sneak in a free donut from the RV display the dealers put on in the parking lot every morning because your friends will be watching to see if you cheated!

If it ever cools down here, there's a ton of new geocaches all over the area, the Links of Coyote Wash golf course back in Wendell is finished, playable and affordable, there's some rv maintenance to be done and of course Patches is always ready for a walk. In the meantime, thank goodness for air conditioning.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Okay, Now It's Too Hot

That's Patches en route from Apache Junction to Yuma. She hate riding, can you tell? Heh. The way she looks is the way I've felt the last two days. Kinda wiped out, kinda lazy, and real hot. The temperatures have been in the mid 90s (yeah, yeah, it's a dry heat) and we're working on adjusting to it.

Denny and I had an unusual weekend--we did something. Saturday was the big 70th birthday bash for Rene, arranged by his lovely wife Barb, and it was a family and friends get-together that ended up being noisy, full of food and vino, and fun. Sunday our online acquaintances, Bill and Diane, stopped by for an afternoon visit allowing us to get to know each other better in person and the hours simply flew by. It was such a change from our normal, quiet weekend routine and it felt good to be with friends.

Yuma is still crowded with winter visitors, 90 per cent of whom were at the grocery store when we needed to run in for one item after a frustrating afternoon (another fight with the DirecWay system). You see, there was a man selling fresh strawberries at a roadside stand a few miles from the campground, which meant we were obligated to buy some, necessitating a trip into town for Bisquick for shortcakes. Because Denny cannot have strawberries without shortcakes (none of this namby-pamby spongey cake stuff for him!) And strangely enough, all these winter visitors who have had all day to shop were at the store when I just wanted to run in, grab the Bisquick and run out again. Sigh. Crowds make me grumpy. Old, slow, what-did-I-want-in-this-row, hmm-let-me-stand-with-my-basket-in-the-middle-of-the-aisle-blocking-traffic crowds make me mutter to myself under my breath.

And yes, I know that someday I will be standing in the middle of an aisle in a store wondering what it was I wanted there. I'll probably be the one drooling to boot. But yesterday all I knew was that if Yuma was going to be like this from now on, I wanted no part of it anymore.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Lazy Sunday in AJ

It's been an emotional roller coaster this week; my friend Marilyn is experiencing a severe reaction to her chemo treatments and her condition is grave . But yesterday we celebrated the 70th birthday of a newer friend Denny and I met on the road, our tax return came in, we spoke with both our parents on the phone and they seem to be doing okay and it looks like the part to the stupid couch may be in. So many of the things we experience in our lives are beyond our control no matter how badly we want to fix it or go back for a "do over". Sometimes all we can do is enjoy the here and now and pray that everything will work out.

The world's biggest hummingbird. Okay, so it's a Gila woodpecker. Actually, there were two on the feeder at the same time but one flew off before I had a chance to grab the camera.

This saguaro cactus appears to be wearing a wreath at its crown. The saguaro doesn't start to grow "arms" until it reaches about 15 feet in height and is about 75 years old.

The buds of the saguaro arms on this cactus encircled the entire top of the stem which is very unusual.

Notice the fan formation at the top of this saguaro? It's not known if this is a genetic anomaly or caused by damage to the plant such as a lightning strike, but it only occurs in about 1 in 250,000 cacti. This crested cactus is located on the grounds of the Superstition Mountain Museum.

While we're on the subject of cacti, this is the teddy bear cholla, or jumping cholla. The cactus looks rather soft and fuzzy from a distance, but is covered with a thick mat of spines and if you brush up against the plant a small segment of the cactus will attach itself to you, seeming to "jump" off the body of the cactus. I've heard that if you step on a segment the spines of the cactus will pierce your shoes. I give them a wide berth, regardless.

I'm not quite sure if this is parking for a handicapped horse or a handicapped rider. Both? This hitching post and sign can be found at the Superstition Mountain Museum.

Okay, this is another one of my "when I win the lottery" purchases. This home has a terrific view of the Superstition Mountains and is currently far away from the hustle and bustle of the suburbs of Phoenix. I suppose that won't last long, given the current rate of new development in the area.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Day at the Museum

Denny and I have been coming to this area of Arizona for five years but we had never stopped at the Superstition Mountain Museum. Yesterday, we rectified that mistake.

The museum is located on Apache Trail (Rt. 88) east of Apache Junction and is housed in an unassuming little building. This year your eye will be caught by the bright white church building sitting on the grounds, which turned out to be one of the two buildings from the Apacheland Movie Ranch that didn't burn to the ground in a fire that occurred in 2004. If you see the church, you know you're at the right place.

The museum is staffed by knowledgeable and friendly volunteers who will charge you $4 per person (senior price, $5 adults) and give you a little bit of history before you walk through the gated entrance to the museum. As you wander through the museum you'll find sections on the geological formations of the Superstition Mountains, a display of mounted animals native to this area, a display about Jacob Waltz's Lost Dutchman mine that included several hand drawn maps purporting to show the location of his mine based on information he gave and stone "maps" that were located within the valley. There's also a display of gold ore removed from the various gold mines that were once located in the Goldfield area which I found quite interesting because the ore doesn't look at all like gold. Throughout the museum there are small tape players with brief bits of information about the displays--be sure to listen to the one about the native animals with the recording of the sound of the roadrunner.

When you've finished reading all the information available inside, it's time to wander the grounds to the rear of the museum. There is a short walking trail with a great view of the Superstitions as well as the huge ore crushing machine that was moved from New Mexico for display here. The staff is rebuilding what is called "The Rifleman" barn on the grounds which is the other building that was donated from the Apacheland Movie Ranch. There seems to be a difference of opinion on whether or not the TV series "The Rifleman" was filmed at Apacheland, but to be sure the barn was seen in several Westerns.

That small white chapel? It's called the Elvis Chapel due to the fact that Elvis' one "cowboy" movie used the church--the church steeple was blown up in the movie "Charro". There is a volunteer stationed inside at all times to give you a brief history of the building and of the Apacheland Movie Ranch.

If you stop by the Superstition Mountain Museum, you'll certainly get your money's worth from your entrance fee. The 20 Stamp Mill, an ore crusher which took five men 28 days to disassemble and move to Apache Junction from New Mexico. The museum hopes to one day restore it to full working order.

The Elvis Chapel on the grounds of the museum. While the original building was more of a "false front" the chapel has been rebuilt with a sturdy frame to be used for display. The chapel has hosted a couple weddings since being moved onto the grounds here.

This gallows was used in many a cowboy movie from the 50s.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Concept of Neighbors

One of the first things that we noticed about rvers, after we purchased our first motorhome, was that how helpful they are. If you were to walk around a campground and see a motorhome with its engine hood up, within minutes there would be a group of men gathered around peering inside the engine compartment. Pretty soon someone would walk away and return with the specific tool needed to attempt to repair whatever might have been wrong and after some tinkering and talk the problem would be fixed. You can be assured that if you have a problem and stand around scratching your head, pretty soon someone will be by to help you fix it.

Denny and I experienced this first hand this week. I had mentioned (okay, ranted about) our problem in getting our satellite Internet system up and running. We feared we had broken the feed arm when the tripod leg broke and the satellite dish and feed horn smashed to the ground. Online acquaintances Bill and Diane e-mailed us that they were in our area and had a spare feed horn and that we were welcome to come pick it up and try it on our dish to see if that was our problem in getting online. Bill and I have been e-mailing each other for 2 years when we came within a hairsbreadth of meeting each other in Ocean City, Washington but we've never seen each other. Being able to substitute a feed arm on our system would allow us to know whether or not the feed arm was the problem, so we gratefully accepted their offer. Both Bill and Diane were suffering from bad colds but they graciously came out to visit and loan us the feed horn when we stopped by. The two of them exemplify the friendly, caring folks you meet on the road on a daily basis, which is one of the reasons Denny and I don't miss our old neighborhood so much--we have a new neighborhood and neighbors wherever we stop for the week.

Thanks to Bill and Diane, we discovered that our feed arm wasn't broken and after much moving of the dish and fussing with the cables and new cable ends and connectors Denny finally got the satellite dish up and aimed and functioning properly. And it only took two and a half days to do it. Sigh.

Next--get that slow leak in the right rear tire fixed. Sooner or later these bumps in the road will smooth out, right?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Negative Karma

Yesterday I was so steamed about the couch that I didn't even mention the DW disaster. The DW is our satellite Internet service. It consists of a huge satellite dish mounted on a surveyor's tripod which we have to aim to get the strongest signal and then pass online standards to be able to go online.

Lately this has been taking us about 10 minutes total time but yesterday was simply a continuation of the bad new of the morning. Denny and I had the dish set up and we were preparing to make sure the whole set up was level (a requirement to obtain the best satellite signal) when all of a sudden the whole set up fell forward, nearly crashing into Denny, whose back was turned at the moment. Yikes! I grabbed and got smacked in the leg as a result, but the damage was done. A leg had broken off the tripod and the dish and feedhorn had smashed into the ground. When we picked up the dish we saw some cracks around the feedhorn mount and scratches on the dish but it looked okay otherwise. A quick trip to the neighboring Home Depot and we had a new tripod but we apparently have a problem because we were unable to get a satellite signal strong enough to get online after a couple of hours of trying. Thank goodness the campground has wi-fi, but it is unsecured so we want to get our DW service up and running if possible.

I thought all the bad stuff was supposed to end when the year 2006 ended. No such luck so far. I think the travel gods are testing us. Well, ppbbbttthhhht to them.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Couch Saga--Will It Never End???

Making an appointment for 10AM at a business that's located about 120 miles from your campground means you have to get moving pretty darn early to allow for the mass of humanity that moves into, around and through Phoenix on a daily basis. But hey, I had called Camping World on Thursday to confirm the parts were in that were to replace the damaged section of new couch and I was told they were in. I specifically asked them to call me if they discovered there was anything wrong with the parts because we didn't want to waste a third trip to Mesa. Okay, the employee said, we'll do that. HA!

We pulled into the parking lot of Incompetence World of Mesa at 9:30 and had to wait on "slow computers" before our paperwork could be found. We had seen our couch sitting in the service bay as we walked to the service area so we figured this time we might drive away with a couch. Ah, there's the rub. We had a couch, two new arms but no new kick plate for the front of the couch. And no one had noticed that the kick plate was missing until they started to assemble the couch 30 minutes before they were due to install it. ARRRGGGHHHHH!

Long story short; we took the couch with the damaged kick plate. Incompetence World of Mesa is going to have the new kick plate expedited because we told them that after we leave the Mesa area next Monday we're not coming back, so that means the store has to pay to ship the part to us wherever we may be next. Two hours later (slow computers, remember?) we had paid the installation fee (yes, we had to pay an installation fee after all this) and left. No apologies, no contrition, no overt attempts at friendliness, helpfulness, nada, nothing. But we didn't scream and carry on...only because we want our new kick plate. And once it is in our hot little hands, well folks, let the screaming begin.

P.S. The couch looks nice. A picture will probably show up sometime after we get the new part so you can see the new, undamaged couch. Of course by the time we get it, Patches will probably have done a number on the "OptimaLeather" (read, fake) with her claws.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Lazy Sunday Scenes in Arizona

Mountains and sunsets were made for each other. Denny and I take a walk every night, looking for coyotes or wild burros, unusual birds or just snowbirds doing their thing. We look at the colorful, big motorhomes and the tiny trailers that people travel in, we watch the river flow by. It's a time to be quiet, to observe, to breathe.

I have no idea what mountain range this is that lies to the west of Earp, California, but I call the tall spire "The Needle". I like it almost as much as the Superstition Mountains east of AJ.

This is a picture of the homes hugging the Colorado River in Arizona taken while on Parker Dam Road on the California side of the river. When we pulled into the campground the clouds had turned a vivid fuchsia but there were too many power lines and rvs obstructing the shot to take a good picture.

This is the view those who are lucky enough to have a riverfront camp site at Emerald Cove enjoy every evening. The small hill to the very left of the frame is a deep copper-red that glows for a brief time every night but I couldn't catch the intense color and I didn't want to "create" the color artificially.

If you stay in the desert for any length of time, you are going to suffer through a dust storm at some point. This is The Needle at about 7:30 PM when the winds were gusting to 30 mph. Needless to say, Denny and I skipped our walk that night.

A full moon greeted us the afternoon we arrived in Salome, AZ

If you get out of a warm bed on a chilly morning you have the opportunity to watch the full moon sink behind the mountains. When there is no traffic on Hwy. 60 that runs parallel to our campground, there is absolutely no sound; no bird noise, no people noise, nothing. It's almost eerie, but oh so beautiful.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A Stop in the Middle of Nowhere Called Salome

Salome, Arizona is only a short layover for us. Located on US 60, a two lane road that connects Phoenix to L.A., Salome is a dusty little town of about 1600 souls. Founded in 1904 by Dick Wick Hall and Charles W. Pratt to take advantage of the rail line running nearby, today the town is home to the Western Sky Airpark where people have built huge storage sheds for their private planes and have adapted a sort of lean-to building attached to the sheds to live in. There's the Desert Palms RV and Golf Resort, where the owners are slowly adding to the nine-hole executive course to expand it to an eighteen hole golf course. It's a nice course and a nice campground, although we stay at one of our affiliate membership parks on US 60. The area is surrounded by the Harcuvar and Harquahala Mountains and there are miles of ATV and hiking trails, as well as the Alamo Lake State Park to the northwest. There are geocaches in the area, but a 4 wheel drive vehicle or ATV is recommended for many of them.

As you enter Salome you'll see a sign that says "Salome--where she danced--AZ. The story goes that Mr. Pratt's wife, Salome, took off her shoes to walk across the sand which was so hot she "danced" across the desert and thus the town's name was born. Of course, this is all from Dick Wick Hall who was a publisher and the town humorist. Mr. Hall also created the Salome Frog in a poem, part of which read "I'm seven years old and I cannot swim- so don't blame me for looking grim. .....And folks haul water in railroad trains, while I sit and dream of the summer rains ......You can't kid me about this desert land, where Salome danced on the red hot sand........They say it rained, and it may again.......I'm an old bull frog - and dang my hide, I can't swim because I never have tried......

Sometimes you just have to look below the surface before you decide to pass a place by.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Less Than One Hundred Miles Down the Road

We're moving less than one hundred miles today and only staying for three days. Traveling from Georgia to Arizona we ended up settling in on a Friday and since we stay one or two weeks at a time, that meant we moved again on Fridays. For some strange reason we prefer moving on Mondays, I guess mainly because that way we're already in a campground prior to a big holiday weekend. We don't have to worry about not being able to get a reservation that way.

Still no word from Camping World about the couch which is supposed to be installed on Monday. I don't know if the problem is the Flexsteel company or the Camping World's Mesa store but we're not happy right now.

Grumpy today.
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