Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Mexico - soooo happy to be here! :)

We have two new followers!

Welcome to BEE!, who is not showing any information.  Bee, if you have a blog, let us know.  Are you an RVer, or planning a future RV purchase?  Katie and I are happy to have you following along with us on our full-timing adventures.

Welcome, also, to Fernweh!  Per their blog,  Fernweh: in German means "an ache for distant places", which sums up nicely what we want. 'We' are a husband and wife with a goal of living a life of travel. Our plan is to be in an Airstream, wandering North America in 6 years.  Keep your eye on the prize; you'll make it.  Thanks for following Me and My Dog!

Welcome aboard to you both!  :)

First thing, I have to show you a photo of my youngest granddaughter, Lauren, from Vacaville, CA.  She is 4 and quite the gymnast.  Her team was in the local Memorial Day Parade, and I got this photo from my daughter's Face Book page.  Kristy said if you go to the parade, watch for the littlest blond on the team. That'll be Lauren. :)

Lauren, 4 years old, in her Gymnastics parade uniform.

I haven't gotten any parade photos yet, but I thought this one was just darling!

I haven't posted since Sunday, when I was parked in the BLM area on the side of Highway 10.  A lot has happened since then - nothing bad, just a blur of trying to get out of California and onward to New Mexico.

I've spent $698.04 in gas this month - most in the last six days. This is by far the most I've used in a month in the last year. When you consider I spent the first 22 nights in an RV Resort, this last week has been a killer gas-wise and mileage-wise!  I stayed in a different place each night for eight nights in 90+ degree weather, waiting for the holiday weekend to be over so that I could get my blood test results, and then hear from my doctor.  Would I have to drive back to San Diego to see her, or would she prescribe something?  If there was an Rx, I needed to get it at a Kaiser pharmacy so I was stuck in Southern California until I had news.

I finally heard from my doctor's nurse on Tuesday afternoon - the doctor was off, but another doctor was covering and prescribed an Rx for me, a low-dose thyroid med.  I don't have any symptoms, but the pharmacist said I'd have more energy, etc, so I picked it up on Tuesday afternoon, and who knows?  Maybe I have symptoms that I don't know about, and think are normal.  Maybe I'll feel better in spite of myself. :)

At 3:00 pm left the Palm Springs area and headed northwest to New Mexico. We sped north to Needles, CA, then west on I-40 through the Arizona Desert.  The road seemed new, and was not level, so it was an interesting ride.  There wasn't much traffic and the driving was easy, but after hours and hours, I was looking forward to different scenery.

Desert Center - West through Arizona

We drove through Kingman, to Williams to Holbrook, and finally to Gallup, NM.

The speed limit most of the way was 75, and that's how fast we went. The roads were great for the most part, I slowed down when I was on a road that wasn't smooth, but most of them seemed to have been recently repaired and repaved and were great.  Even the big rigs were driving 75 mph.

On Tuesday night we stayed at a gas station right off the 40 in Lake Havasu, then last night we stayed at the Walmart in Gallup, NM, so it took us only one full day for the entire drive, from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon.  I usually take my time, but felt some urgency to get out of the heat and settled in a nice place.  Katie's nose is drying out again even with the ointment the vet recommended, and the generator was going all day to keep the A/C on and The Palms cool enough for us.  You can imagine what that did to our miles-per-gallon!  The worst tank was 5.15 MPG.  :(   Definitely wanted to speed along!

Walmart Camper - this was a young woman who came in late.

For probably the first time ever, I was at a Walmart and didn't need anything, so I didn't even go into the store.  Katie and I took a little walk in the dirt lot alongside the Walmart parking lot, saw a snake, and then stayed on the blacktop.

We woke up early this morning.  I wanted to arrive at the State Park in the morning and have time to find a site, so we got here at 9:00 am this morning and I couldn't be happier to be here!!

I bought the Out of State Visitor's Annual Pass for the New Mexico State Parks for $225. With the pass, I can park free in the Primitive Camping Areas, or in one of the Campground areas that don't have hookups, which is what I chose after driving around the areas.  I can also change to an electric site for $4/night if I want to.  This pass is good for an entire year, or through the end of June 2013, at any of the New Mexico State Parks.  I am thinking between the Arizona/California Long Term Visitors Permit and this annual pass, campsites will be pretty inexpensive for the next year.

This is our campsite.  We are the last campsite in the Scenic Overlook Campsite.  There is an empty site right above us, and others down the road, mostly empty, so it should be pretty quiet.

We have a beautiful view of the lake out the window.  Views of large and small birds flying from tree to tree and over the lake are constant, and we've already had a small ground squirrel and a large squirrel visit our site.  After the blazing hot weather for the last month and a half, this warm, breezy 80ish weather is perfect. From what I can see, the forecast for the next three weeks is pretty much all 80's with cool mornings.  Nice.

View from the dinette window.

This is the first time since I've had my solar panels that I've been parked under a tree.  I get full morning sun, then shade in the afternoon.  I may move The Palms out further to get more sun. I'll see how it goes, and if I have enough sun for what I want to do.  I love this campsite, and don't know if I want to move.  Quiet time is 10 pm to 7 am, and generators can be used the rest of the time, so if I need to use my generator to watch TV, I can.  I don't like to run it for very long, though, in a place like this.

Also, the bonus is:   the Verizon signal here is great.  So far this park has everything I need and I'm really happy to be here - FINALLY!

And now I'm going to sit outside with Katie and my Kindle and enjoy this beautiful area.

From Me and Katie, have a great Thursday, everyone!  :)

P.S.  I just had a temperature pop-up from Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs - 111 degrees!  Whew, glad we're not there today.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Brief stop at Joshua Tree National Park


Katie and I left the Sam’s Club parking lot early this morning (Saturday).  I wanted to find a place we could stay through Tuesday without having to move.  Looking at my Atlas, Joshua Tree National Park (the southern entrance at Cottonwood Spring) wasn’t too far away.   First we drove through some small towns and entered Box Canyon Road in Mecca, CA.  We drove past the agricultural area into the actual canyons, which are a BLM area, I think. 

I haven’t been in an area like this before, the landscape was pretty barren, and I think you can just pull off the side of the road into one of the open areas and park for 14 days.  The only problem is that, even though this is a holiday weekend, there was no one there.  I passed two empty cars, probably hikers, and then further on, another two cars back by the hills. That was it.

I didn’t want to camp in an area where there were no RVers, so I continued on, crossed Highway 10, and kept going until I reached the Cottonwood Visitor Center.  This is a “United States Department of the Interior National Park Service” area, and my Senior pass got me in free, with half price on the campsite, which is $15 (or $7.50/night for me).  The closest campground is one-half mile behind the Visitor’s Center.  These campsites are level, paved parking areas with a picnic table and barbecue.  There is a restroom with water, fresh water faucets every few campsites, and a dump/fresh water station nearby.  It was almost empty, there are 62 sites, and I’d say maybe 20 at the most were taken when I got here this morning.  The Ranger I talked to when I checked in said she was surprised, she thought they would be crowded this weekend.

Cottonwood Spring is a typical desert landscape with lots of different kinds of cactus, bushes, flowering plants, very interesting terrain.   There are lots of birds, and when we got settled and were walking down to the pay station, I saw a chipmunk, lizard and a couple of big jackrabbits.  I can see Katie and I taking a lot of good walks here.  It’s all flat, there are lots of trails, but dogs have to say within 100 feet of the roads, so we will stay on the paved roads.  That’s fine with me. 

Our camp site:

View out our kitchen window

(Can  you see the two tables behind our site?  When we got here, they were empty, but by Sunday morning, there were lots more people in the campground, and the space got smaller and the noise got louder.)

The other campgrounds are 30 miles down the road, into the areas where the Joshua Trees are.  I’m sure there's more going on there this weekend.  Those are the North and West Entrance Stations off Highway 62, where they have a bunch of campgrounds.  I just headed out this morning in this general direction, and ended up at the Cottonwood Spring Campground, which was good because it is quiet and has the only dump station in the park, which I’ll use when I leave.

The only problem is that I don’t have a Verizon signal here, at least in my campsite, so I can’t get on-line or receive phone calls, so I won’t be able to communicate with my doctor.  I’ve paid for four days, through Tuesday night, so on Wednesday morning, I’ll head back to where I can get a Verizon signal to see if I have a message from the doctor.  Then I will have a plan.

When I checked in at the Visitor’s Center, I looked at the books offered for sale. I’ve been looking for a Sibley Field Guide to Birds, Western North America (thanks for the suggestion, Judy!) and there is was!  I bought it, and the first bird I saw here was a Black Throated Sparrow. Very pretty bird. So, along with my Birds of Arizona Field Guide, I’m in pretty good shape when I want to identify the birds I see.  Sometimes I’m too lazy, but I feel like I’ve learned something new when I do find one in my books.  Here he is:

There are three young foreign men across the street from me.  The first thing one did is walk through my site, right by my door, around The Palms, checking out my site. He continued through other sites, and went back to his. Later when Katie and I took our walk, I asked him if he lost something. He said, no, he was just looking for firewood.  1.  Don’t walk around in other people’s campsites. 2.  Do NOT collect anything in this desert. Bring in your own firewood. Those are the posted regs.

Later they got out their football and the wood gatherer stood right in front of The Palms to catch and throw the ball.  He was not a good football catcher, but luckily the ball hasn’t hit The Palms.

There are Blacktailed Jackrabbits here, too - I've seen quite a few of them, but they keep moving, so by the time my camera is pointed at them, they are gone or behind a bush. They're big, and have long legs.  They seem to move slow, but considering I haven't caught one yet for a good shot, I guess they're faster than they seem. 

Some random empty sites - it seems like all the sites are good, but if they were all filled, it would be pretty close.

 Back-in site

 Pull alongside site




It was nice and cool last night.

 Katie, all covered up.

I learned something new last night and this morning.  I like campgrounds with RVs, not tents.  There was a group of young men behind us - they were very active yesterday playing catch with their football, too - but they were far enough from The Palms that I wasn't worried about them.  As soon as it got dark, they got loud.  I finally fell asleep, then woke up around midnight and they were still at it.  Then I couldn't fall back asleep.

RVers seem to be in their rigs after "quiet time,"  or they are just quieter.  Maybe it's because a lot of us are older and talk quietly outside.  But tent campers don't have anywhere to go, their voices seem louder and so their conversations carry to the other campsites.  

I finally fell asleep, and was awakened again before 6 a.m. to the sound of male voices and laughter, and the slap of a football as it was being caught.  Over and over again.  Jeez!

I finally got up, heated my water tank and washed my hair, emptied the garbage, refilled my gallon water jug, got ready and left.  I paid for four days and only stayed one, so I didn't feel bad not paying the $5 for the dump station, which I used on our way out. I also filled the fresh water tank.

Due to the lack of a Verizon signal, I don't think I'll be back, unless I want to be without my phone and the Internet.  But... if that wouldn't bother you, it is really a beautiful area. Next time I'm in an out-of-the-way area, I'm going to check for phone service before I pay.  I don't like being out of touch for more than a day, and not having a phone signal in an emergency isn't good when you're alone.

So I'm parked in the BLM area right near the 10, where I have a good signal. I wanted to check on the other test result, and it's not back yet.  Rats again!  I'll have to wait until Tuesday for that one.  I think I'll head back to a Casino where I can wait; it will be quieter, there will be no football, and I'll have a good Verizon signal.

It's hard to admit, but I'd rather have all my conveniences than a beautiful view. 

From me and Katie, enjoy your Sunday! :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Blacktopping it - just hanging around :(

I took a few final photos before we left Distant Drums RV Resort.

This moon was just a sliver, so pretty.  When I zoomed in, I could see the whole circle, but to the naked eye, only the crescent showed.  

There were a lot of planes overhead during the day with these chem trails - I tried to get a photo of the actual planes, too.   In this one, you can barely see the plane.

When Katie and I were taking a walk, a colorful insect flew by, with the sunshine highlighting iridescent colors.  He landed on the lawn. I wish I could have gotten him flying - he looked a little like a firefly.

We left Camp Verde, AZ on Wednesday morning, and drove toward Quartzsite, through Blythe and onward, until we arrived in Indio, CA.  It was such a nice drive!

Every time I drive The Palms, it's like a spiritual experience, I feel so free and just love seeing the countryside, whether it's desert, forest, or city, there's always something interesting to see.

This time the best part was the continual forest of flowering Saguaro Cactus.  I stopped a couple of times to snap some photos.

 Pretty flowers, see the bee on the left?

 These unopened flower buds are very pretty up close.

The Saguaros mostly had flowers just on the tops of their stalks (or arms?).

 All the arms had lots of flowers on the top, beautiful.

This one has lots of arms, and tons of flowers. 

We stayed Wednesday night at Fantasy River Casino.  The RV overnight parking is a plain parking lot right outside the regular parking lot for the casino. I called, and they said parking was fine, I didn't need to check in with anyone. I didn't see any security or casino vehicles come by.  It was very windy and super dusty. Really noisy all night. The parking lot is right off the freeway, and next to the driveway that all the cars going to and from the casino used, plus the big rigs that came and went during the night.  It was so hot, I needed the bunk window open to cool things off a bit, but that increased the noise, and I worried about dust being blown into my bed.  

 And you should have seen the gusts!

I didn't sleep well.  But it was free, and I appreciated being able to overnight there.

The next day I went to the lab to have my blood test done.  Then I went to Costco in Rancho Mirage and returned my TV. It was too big for the spot it was in. I bought a new one from Walmart a few days ago, a duplicate of the first one I got.  It's lighter and smaller and fits much better.  It also has a better picture.  So I returned the Costco one and while I was there I bought a ton of fruit and some fresh asparagus.  I have so much fruit, I can't fit it all in the fridge.  I always eat a lot of fruit, but since I've been trying to shop only every other week, I'm trying to make it last.  I was really craving strawberries and avocados, and now I have tons of both, plus blueberries, six small cartons of raspberries, bananas, blackberries, apples, oranges, etc. 

When I went through the checkpoint back into California, the Border Patrol agent asked me if I had any produce. I said, "Yes, what is not allowed?"  He said, "What do you have?"  I thought a minute and said, "Apples,oranges, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries."  He thought a minute and said, "Have a nice day."  As I drove away, I realized I only told him about the fruit. I also had lettuce, two kinds of tomatoes, an onion, garlic bulb, and other veggies.  Oh, well.  Then I go to Costco and get more! 

Right across the street from Costco was a Walmart, so I called and asked if I could overnight in their parking lot.  She said, yes, but it's best if you park by our gas station.  I didn't see a gas station, so I parked at the edge of their parking lot.  It was quiet all night, and Katie and I slept in until 9:45 this morning. 

I spent the day here, until early afternoon, checking on-line for my test results.  The lab said one would be available in a day, the other on Saturday.  Unfortunately, the first one I was able to pull up on line is higher that the February test, so that wasn't good.  Rats!  I sent an e-mail to my doctor to see if she would need to see me, or if I'd need meds, or if we would just wait and see again.  I got an answer from her staff, stating they would wait for my second test result and then forward my e-mail to the doctor.  

Unfortunately, since it's a holiday on Monday, the doctor won't get my test results or e-mail until Tuesday, so I'm stuck here until at least Tuesday.  No point in driving anywhere until I know what I need to do. 

This afternoon I needed to move to another location, and as I was driving past the Walmart, I realized there was a Sam's Club in the same parking lot, with a gas station, so that must be what the woman on the phone meant.  Since it's a completely different area, I decided to park here for the night.  There are also a few other places in the area where I can blacktop park until I need to leave.

I hate just waiting around, but really, I'm retired, it's not costing me anything, and I'm probably doing about what I'd be doing if I was in a New Mexico State Park, I just don't have a pretty view out the window.  So it's not such a big deal.

Memorial Day-12

From Me and Katie, Have a Happy Memorial Day Weekend, everyone!  :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Busy day and beautiful plants

Today was really busy.  I was up earlier than usual and full of energy, so I decided to defrost the refrigerator.  The fridge and freezer are pretty empty, I'm shopping tomorrow, so this was a good time to get this done.  I had some small plastic containers in the freezer (for my cold drinks - these are bigger than ice cubes), so I took everything out and put them in the sink, covered them with ice cube trays and the plastic containers, and covered it all with towels.  The freezer was already done, so I only had the fridge.

I got my hair dryer out and pointed it at the ice on the fins, and waved it back and forth.  I was surprised that it didn't take long. I put flat plastic containers on the highest shelf to collect the water, but everything that melted went into the little tray with the hole that takes the water outside onto the ground.  It was really fast and very easy.  I think, now that I know you aren't supposed to let the ice get that thick and it's so easy, I'll probably do this more often. 

While the fridge was empty, I wiped it down so it's all clean and ready for the groceries tomorrow.

Then I got all the laundry ready, rugs, towels, clothes, etc., and walked down to the laundry in the park.  I did three loads, put everything away, and then vacuumed everything.  Washed the floors.  The Palms is smiling today.

I went outside and filled the batteries with distilled water and added oil to the generator. I have a "task" pop up every two weeks in my Outlook program to do these two tasks so I won't forget, but I skipped it since I'm here in an RV park and not driving or using the generator.  I've been on electricity for 30 days, and wanted to make sure they were both topped off before I leave on Wednesday morning.  I was surprised at how much water the batteries took, and how low the oil was.  I wonder if the high heat causes this.  Anyway, I'm back on the "every two week" schedule now.

I'm finding I'm not as much in control of my rig when I'm in an RV park.  When I'm boondocking, I keep track of everything, the distilled water in the batteries, the oil in the generator, the solar, the fresh water tank, and the grey and black water tanks.  It becomes part of the normal routine.  Since I've been here with full hook-ups, I've backed up my grey water tank into my shower and my distilled water and gen oil got low.  That never happens in the desert. I'm going to have to get back into the routine again. Starting Wednesday.

I left one of my tablets (I have a few of them) at Walmart a few weeks ago when I was checking out, so I need to see it it's in their lost and found.  I put everything in these tablets.  Whichever one is closest gets written in.  Places I want to go, mile markers to look for, shopping lists, bills, people's names I want to remember, tips I hear, pretty much everything I might want to remember.  Sometimes I'll pick one up and look through, and remember a freeway I traveled with all the possible places to turn off and camp for a while. I'm always finding things that bring back good memories, or things I'd forgotten about.  I don't know what's in the one I lost, but I'm going to check tomorrow and see if they have it.  I'd like to get it back! 

So, tomorrow all we have to do is go to Walmart for groceries, and then top off our propane tank here in the park, then we'll be ready to leave Camp Verde, AZ.  I'm going to have a follow-up blood test at a lab in Palm Springs, it's a leftover from my annual physical in February.  Two readings were a little low, but in doing research on the web, one cause could be my surgery. I guess major surgery can knock the numbers off for a while, so this is just to make sure they are back to normal.  I'm going to overnight at the local casinos while I'm in that area.  Hopefully I'll have results in a few days, then I'll head to New Mexico.  WHERE IT'S COOLER.

Katie smells like lavender.  I couldn't figure out what she smelled like after each walk - when she was chasing lizards and running around bushes - until they started blooming.  I had a lavender bush at my condo, and it's a different variety, but smells the same.


That made me think of how unusual it is for Katie and me to walk along manicured paths with such beautiful trees and plants and flowers, and since we're leaving, I decided to take photos of them.  Most have just started to bloom, so this is a good time of year to be here.




It's been nice to be here for 30 days, but Katie and I are ready to leave. She must sense that we're leaving soon; the last couple of days, every time I start putting things away, just normal regular things, Katie gets up on the back of the dinette seat in her  "ready to ride" position. She starts out here and then ends up in her bed when we're on the road.  She looks at me like, "Hurry up, I'm ready!"  She's a great traveler.

From me and Katie, have a great Monday, everyone!  :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Solar Eclipse

I took some photos of the solar eclipse this evening.  From my location in Camp Verde, AZ, and with the mountain on the horizon, I didn't get the total eclipse, but it was still pretty cool.   There was  a lot of smoke in the sky from the nearby fires, so it has some orange and peach in the sky from the smoke.

This is what it looked like to my naked eye (on the camera screen):

Then I changed to a "closeup" view and it started changing.  The changes weren't obvious unless my camera was on closeup at the 18 x zoom.

 It sure looks like a rising moon, not a setting sun.

Then it went behind the mountain.  Since I've been full-timing, I've seen a lunar eclipse at Quartzsite, AZ and now a solar eclipse at Camp Verde, AZ.  I'd never seen either before.

From me and Katie, good night.  :)