Thursday, February 27, 2014

Enjoying the Southwest

Hi All,
It has been a while since we have reported in; for over a week we had no reception.   So I'll start back where we left off.

Thursday, 13 Feb
We left Casa Grande and met up with friends in Maricopa to head west to Quartzsite, AZ for four days of boondocking in the desert.  Boondocking is described as having no hook-ups:, no water, sewer or electricity.  It was a very different experience for us and we had a great time with our friends, former Quad-Citians. 

We explored the various vendors, that frequent Quartzsite during the winter months, one afternoon and found a few good deals.  There are dozens of vendors there at any one time and during some of the big events, such as the Gem and Rock show or the RV show, there will be hundreds of vendors to satisfy the shopping needs of thousands of boondockers.

Another day we explored a little of the vast area of BLM land that surrounds Quartzsite, which is where all the boondockers camp while in the area.  For more information about Quartzsite check out this link:  Quartzsite  This article was written back in 2006, but it is still pretty accurate.  Would we do it again?  By ourselves, no, I like hook-ups too much, but with friends or part of a rally for a few days, yes.   The good was we sat around and caught up with our friends who we hadn't seen in four years, cooked and ate some nice meals and enjoyed the evenings under the stars until we got chilly and then went inside for our nightly Mexican train domino contest.  One night the moon was full and so bright, we couldn't see the stars.


Monday, 17 Feb
This morning after another delicious breakfast (we shared some good meals for boondocking),  :) we all packed up and headed north to an Arizona state park, Cattail Cove, near Lake Havasu City, AZ.  This town is known for the town developer that bought the London Bridge and brought it brick by brick back to Arizona and had it erected and a water way constructed under it.  The whole town developed around this attraction.

Wednesday, 19 Feb
After bidding our friends a farewell, we left for Joshua Tree National Park and camping for one night at Joshua Tree RV and Lake Park.  Oh my!!! The wind was horrible when we arrived in the area.  We could hardly walk the dogs or open the door to the Airstream. Sand and dirt blowing everywhere; what grit!!! UGH!!! Since we planned to head out again the next day, we spent the late afternoon touring the park and then had a late supper at a Rib joint.  Really good ribs, they just fell off the bone.  Our plan was to get up with the sunrise and explore the park for a couple hours in the very early morning for the best sun exposure on the granite rocks and the Joshua Trees. 
When we got up, Dave wasn't so sure we were going to make it as I was feeling sick for a good portion of the night.  We made it though, I was feeling better than I though I would and since we drove thousands of miles I didn't want to miss the experience. The trees are so unique and the groves of them in the park make for a surreal viewing experience.  At least for this Midwest girl! 
Dave has some really good pictures on his camera so anyone interested, I'll show them when we are back home. 
After touring the park we returned and hooked up the Airstream and headed for our next destination which was Borrego Springs State Park just south of Joshua Tree.  Quite a few people raved about this park, but after spending a couple days in the area, I just don't see the attraction unless you like ATVing in the desert.  The town itself had a nice little Farmer's Market where we bought some just picked Clementines.  They are so good!!!  We also purchased just picked strawberries and I made a shortcake when we got back to the campsite.  Oh so good!
The best part of these two days was the park itself, Leap'in Lizzard.  It was so nice for being in the middle of the desert and nothing but sand.  They rack and sweep the sites daily; the whole park is immaculate!!!   Peaceful, but only because there were no ATVers staying there at the time.  
Saturday, 22 Feb
After a restful and enjoyable two days, we started our trip to Jojoba Hills Escapee Co-op where we intended to stay for two weeks.  The route was exhausting!!!  It was very slow going because even though the elevation only ranges between 2300 - 5000 the roads are narrow, curvy, winding, and up and down the whole way.  Jojoba Hills is beautiful as a RV resort can be; built into the side of the mountain, the views are very nice. 
After two days there though we were enjoying the place it was evident we would have to leave after only one week instead of two.  A local farmer has a cannon boom on a motion detector to scare away wildlife from his crops.  Nacho was freaked out the whole time!!!!  He didn't want to leave the Airstream.    We did spend Tuesday traveling to Oceanside and San Juan Capistrano where we enjoyed some ocean views and walked along a beachside walkway. 


Wednesday we woke up to a Severe weather alert that San Diego and Riverside Counties were expecting high winds, heavy rains (up to 7 inches) and thunderstorms.  So we chose not to drive in that weather on Saturday, our original day of departure, but instead took off for Casa Grande.  A six hour (supposedly) drive from Jojoba Hills.  The roads out were even worse then the roads in (different route) so it took us a bit over 8 hours to arrive at our destination. 
We will stay here for a couple days relaxing and visiting with our friends again, before we head to Texas where we will stay until we can find a 4 day window to drive back to Cedar Falls.  Our destination right now, for next week is a state park just south of Austin.   We will check back soon, but until then stay warm in the frozen north!!!!
Kisses, KT and Nacho

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Reporting in and catching up

KT here reporting, Nacho is too tired; he is being lazy this morning.  So much to report, so this could be long and Mom said she took lots of pictures and Dad took even more.
When we last reported we were all in Tucson, staying at the Lazy Days KOA for the Aluma Fiesta rally. Mom promised pictures of some of the Airstreams so here they are:

There were rows and rows of Airstreams, but Nacho and I know exactly which one is ours; we have good noses.  


Mom and Dad participated in some of the seminars, catered breakfasts and dinner and attended a few of the evening programs.  Going to everything that was offered would have been too much, a couple things each day made for an interesting day but not overwhelming. One interesting tour was of the Mirror Lab on the campus of Arizona State where the Astrological department is making a giant lense for a telescope to be placed in South American.  Another day they toured Lazy Days RV and did comparison shopping of Fifth Wheels. An enjoyable tour that we got to ride along on was the Saguaro Cactus National Monument.  There were seminars on safety and another on repairs and one on rehab or refurbishing of old trailers. On Friday, they had some area food trucks come to the park: ,Mexican-Asian, German and Indian.

Mom also participated in the Aluminum Chef cook-off, though she didn't advance to the next round.  She made a Spicy Raisin Garlic dip; her required 5 ingredients were: cream cheese, pumpkin, maple syrup, raisins and navy beans.  Everyone seemed to really like it as the plate was empty after sampling.
Here are a few pictures of the National Monument west of Tucson:

The rally was over on Saturday, but we stayed another night so we could spend Sunday visiting with Mom's cousin Holly and her family.  We got to go along again, and WOW, it was so fun.  They have 5 acres out in the country, the desert, and it is all fenced so Nacho and I could run and explore to our hearts content, which was great!!!! We haven't been able to run and explore for a month!!!!  We miss running loose and investigating smells.   They have three dogs also, two Australian Shepherds and a Bloodhound.  The Bloodhound was our defender as the other two dogs didn't like us very much.  Go figure!
I, KT, got in some trouble when I wandered into the donkey, Rosie's pen.  She took exception to me being in there and tried to trample me!!! I was really scared!!!!  So was Mom, Holly and Bonnie, they were all yelling at Rosie and at me to get out of there.  I did, but Mom said she thought I was going to be a dead dog as it was really close!
Then Nacho tried to lick a goat and got head-butted.  He didn't learn very well, as he did it again about 30 seconds later and got head-butted again.  That finally taught him to leave the goats alone.  Next we went to visit the Emus, but Nacho didn't like them as he barked and barked and barked. I didn't care for the Ostriches, but I just turned my back on them and didn't bark like Nacho does.
Holly's family had so many animals, but I was fascinated by the turtles, but they wouldn't let me in to investigate closer.

Tim showing Mom one of the turtles

A few of the goats, though not the one Nacho had issues with  :) The white one is an earless version.
Here is Bonnie and Holly with Rosie, who I had problems with
This is Tim's workshop, cool right, looks like the Old West, which is really how their whole property is landscaped. 
This wagon is in their side yard
Mom was very happy to spend the day with her cousin and family.  We all enjoyed ourselves a great deal.  Hope we can go back again. 
The next morning, Monday, we got up early and drove south near the Mexican border.  South of the town of Ajo, AZ to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Dad says it was even neater than the Saguaro Monument.  We took a 21 mile, dirt and very bumpy road, also narrow and hilly in some areas, to do a back country tour of the Monument.   The campground at this National Monument was really, really nice even though it was dry camping.  The restrooms and showers were the nicest and cleanest of any we have ever seen. Each campsite was incorporated into the natural surroundings and they were paved. 
The cactus for which the park is named:

Views along the route we took:

Flowers were starting to bloom:
This is our campsite:

Sunset over the desert:
After spending the day and night, we were up early for a morning hike around the perimeter of the park (only space us dogs are allowed) and packed up quickly for the return trip to Casa Grande.  Mom has cleaning, laundry and some chores to do before we head out with friends to boondock (dry camp) in the desert on BLM land near Quartzite, AZ.  Guess that is the "thing" to do at least once, so we will do that for a few days.  Dad is having the truck inspected as we have had oil issues the last couple days, and we don't want to break down along the road.  We did that last year and it was no fun!!!!!  We will check back soon with our adventures in Quartzite. 
Stay warm, we are!!!  Sorry, couldn't resist!  :)
Kisses,  KT

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sunning in Tucson

Aussies here checking in from sunny Tucson, though it was only a high of 56 today, it was still a nice day.  Much better then the cold and snow in IA and IL!

Well, on Saturday we took a drive on our last day in Casa Grande and drove to Picacho Peak State park.  Airstreamers from the Four Corners unit recommend this state park and have held some rallies there.  

It was a nice park, with some roomy sites with electricity.  After getting a few groceries we headed back for our last evening at the Escapees Co-op.  Folks were friendly, the sites spacious and extremely quiet after the noise of being in a park in the city in Mesa.  Beautiful star filled nights out in the desert. Only negative is the cattle finishing lots.....the smells drifting our way at night left a lot to be desired.   

We are now back in the city, Tucson, in a park that we believe is the largest we have ever stayed in.  There are bigger ones around the US, but we have never stayed at a park this large.  The sites are full hookups, roomy with patios and a patio table and chairs. We even have an orange tree!  :) We are located between the Air Force base and the International airport.  Lots of planes taking off! 

I need to get some pictures to post, but here is the main building. 

Met up with my cousin Holly on Monday and we are hoping to get together on Sunday, so I am really looking forward to spending time with her family.  Today, Tuesday, was the first day of Aluma Fiesta.  The park has LOTS of Airstreams, some new and some really old.   Ours is in the middle, not the oldest, but definitely not a 2014 like the one two sites down from us. 

The activity that I registered for was a introductory class on glass blowing.  I had the privilege of having the director of the school give me my lesson.  He was great.  Really young, 36; he told me he started learning the craft in high school and has been blowing glass for 20 years.  So I am going to share a few photos, in order of the process as he works with me on a bowl.  The furnace has a temperature of 2050 degrees!  It was a bit warm standing near it grabbing glass and warming it.  

First blow

Warming again,

Gathering color,

First shaping,

Adding more hot air!  :)

He left me alone to shape while he got more glass for the base.  Scary!

Adding the base,

Shaping the bowl,

Final heating, (someone has a sense of humor, notice the drawing around the furnace?)

The final shape before it comes off the pole.

The bowl now goes into a 910 degree oven, to slowly cool it.  The temperature in the oven drops 50 degrees every hour until it reaches room temperature.  A slow cooling is necessary to keep it from cracking.  It should be ready for me to pick up on Friday!  It was fun and very educational.  The instructor was great about explaining the steps, and answering my questions. 

After the class we rushed back to the rally for the last half hour of announcements and drawings for door prices. Dave won a book published by Airstream Life.  

Otherwise, it has also been busy with phone calls related to the new house.  Since we have accepted an offer on the house (it was a busy day Sunday, moving to Tucson, talking multiple times with our realtor regarding an offer and our counters and then acceptance of the offer). We needed to reconfirm our building loan, talk to the builder with a couple questions and attempt to get another storage unit, so we can move out before 28 March.  Whoa, busy!  Dave is so prepared, we hopefully will have smooth sailing once we get started.  :)

That's it for the last three days, but should have more to share from this week with over 150 other Airstreamers.   

Another fun little thought though..... Our sweet Aussies are real attention getters here in the park.  On every walk we get stopped multiple times by people inquiring about the breed or just to say how handsome and cute they are!  So proud!   :)

Stay warm and safe!   We'll check back soon!