Gorilla mother and daughter, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, 2018

Sunday, March 18, 2018

It is Easy to move when your house has wheels!

And moving is just what we did on Saturday.

When we bought in as new members of the Escapee RV Club park Jojoba Hills, we came in on site 719.

Site 719 had both good and not-so-good aspects. We could have solved some of the negatives, but decided to look at other sites as they became available.

The best aspect of 719 was the large west exposure which made seeing and appreciating the beautiful sunsets easy. 

Our last sunset at Site #719 Mourning Dove Way, Jojoba Hills
But the same Western exposure was a problem, in that we had full sun on the side of the Alfa every afternoon. We were concerned about the stress this put on our refrigerator, and the cost of running the air conditioner to keep the rig at a livable temperature. Also, the sun made our patio area uncomfortable.

We were told we could move to another site when one became available. This is where it gets tricky. The park is 100% occupied, and as of March 2018 there are more than 60 on the waiting list. I have heard the average number of people leaving each year is  25 - 30. Most leave because it is time for them to move into assisted living, in with their children, or back into their houses elsewhere, year round. 

There are a couple of ways to get a different site. I call the first "openly available".  When someone releases their membership, their site is listed as available for seven days. Interested members are put on a list, and the interested member with the most seniority gets the site. Their old site goes through the same process until there is no member interested. Then it is offered to #1 on the waiting list. All sites are not equal. With this system it is unlikely a new member will get the most coveted locations.

During  our two winters here, I looked at all of the sites that became openly available, and did not like any of them better than #719.

But, there is another way to get a different site.  That being a member-to-member site trade, which often happens before a site is released. The system allows any two members to trade sites. So, what happens is when someone is planning to leave, they can trade with another member. Then that member gets their site, and the
leaving member releases from their site. I have seen several trades made before the final site becomes openly available. Sometimes it is "who you know" or being in the right place at the right time!

This is what happened for us. Several months ago I learned that an acquaintance of ours was planning on leaving at the end of the season. She shared a membership with her elderly mother, who was tired of traveling back and forth from Alaska. They had a trailer with an attached deck on the site, and their hope was to sell it to someone from the park. But as it turned out, no one wanted the trailer, including us, and so they sold it to someone who came in and removed it. We agreed that if that happened, we would trade sites.  It happened, and as of Saturday we have a new home, site #603.

As the saying goes: "What's not to love?" 
 603 is larger than 719. Let me show you around:

On the West side, this tree gives us some privacy on our bedroom window. We can see through it from our dining table, and see the  hummingbird feeder I hung there. The tree will block the full view of the sunset from inside, but it also provides some afternoon shade. 

The east side has two grapefruit trees, and overlooks the valley at the edge of the park. Our cement patio slab is in full shade in the afternoon.

I know this tree is dead, but it has so much character! I told Craig we have to look for some fun Mexican yard art when we go down to Los Algodones next week. 

As I walked around the site on our first afternoon, I saw this guy in the dead tree. Not the best picture, but the first hummer I have ever caught in focus. It is a Ruby Throat, but I did not capture the bright red of its neck.  It fluffed up to keep warm.

Back to the site tour: 

The neighbors across the street have a beautifully maintained site. In the past I noticed their well-cared-for roses booming prolifically.

The view from our windshield is of the tree-lined edge of one of the Jojoba ponds.

It is one of my favorite places in the park.

Another view of the front of our lot. Yes, we are on the edge of the road, but the speed limit is 9 1/2 MPH, a lot of the traffic is golf carts, and everything closes down by 9 PM! We are old people.

I am really looking forward to our times here on our new site.

I'm ending this post now so I can walk up to Friendship Hall for the Sunday Zumba class.

But first:

Another shot of the Hummer.

and Craig with his St. Patrick's Day Corned Beef and Cabbage.

Life is good!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Eagle Scout, a new card, and PT in RV

We are very proud of our oldest grandson Jeremy. On Saturday we attended a Court of Honor to celebrate his advancement to the rank of Eagle Scout, along with four of his fellow troop 500 members.
Andrew, Jeremy, and Deidre
Being very aware of the horrible events in Florida this past week, seeing these remarkable young men was even more precious. My heart aches for all those families. We are so lucky.

At the ceremony, one of our friends took a good picture of us. It is indeed rare for both of us to look this good! 

I decided it was a good image to use for a new card. Our old one was at least five or six years old.

This is the result of a couple of hours playing with Photoshop. 
We both had haircuts that morning! 

On another front:

The exercises for the Physical Therapy for my shoulder are going very well. I have advanced from simple stretch movements to using an elastic band to give me some resistance. In the RV, I have found a cabinet handle that is just the right height for this. 

Last week I have also started using a pulley system for range of motion work. It fits over the door to the closet hallway. My step stool that I use to help reach the higher cabinets, is a good backless seat.

When I advance to stand up exercises, this may not be high enough, but the ladder on the back of the coach should work just fine.

Overall the recovery is going well.  Slowly, but progress is being made. 

Next week we travel down to the Yuma area so we can visit Los Algodones, Mexico for some dental work. 

It will be interesting to see if our new AGM batteries charge faster when we are dry camping at the Casino.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Winter Blast at Lake Havasu City, AZ

I really was not sure what to expect when we reserved our space at the Lake Havasu City Rodeo Grounds for the Winter Blast event. I knew it featured three or four nights of what I had heard were very good fireworks, that you could watch right from your RV.

Well, that was not 100% true. On the first night we did join our fellow Alfa owners' group, sitting around our fire just outside our rig.  We could see the fireworks, but they were pretty far away and we could not see any of the ground works.

Friday and Saturday nights, we drove to the upper edge of the RV parking area and had a much better view.

Craig shot about 1400 images on those two nights, using a tripod and a rapid fire setting.  He deleted more than a thousand of them. I had a hard time picking out a few of the images of fireworks that I don't think I ever saw before. 

The Winter Blast is all about the fireworks, and not much more. We were on our own as far as activities during the day. As I mentioned in my last post, we did go to town and took one hike. The other days we were just lazy and relaxed around the coach, reading and playing with computer stuff.

We also bought the three night meal tickets for $25 per person. The food was pretty good considering the cost. It was made and served by locals and we ate at tables outside. It was nice to not have to cook for a few nights!

The fireworks were very special. From what I understand, different vendors and manufacturers of fireworks take turns setting up their shows, and trying out some of their newest products. Each night, they started before dark and continued well past 10 PM. We watched until we were too cold and a bit tired, went back to our Alfa, and listened to the booms for some time after.

We made reservations last November on the advice of one of our Alfa Facebook friends. Good thing, because the RV parking sold out. We were given information about reserving a space for 2019 when we checked in! We heard that many of the spots along the top rim have been reserved by the same people for years. We noticed many large groups of people having get-togethers up there.  There was plenty of room for everyone to set up front row chairs along the walls.

[From Craig] Is that an alien observer in the upper right?

Although we arrived on Monday, we noticed that many rigs did not come in until later in the week. The price was the same, $150, for one night to seven nights. We pulled out the following Monday. Our appointment in California, to get new batteries installed and have a few other things looked at was on Tuesday, so we were in no rush. 

I am posting this from the Leisure Coachworks (formerly Alfateers) parking area. We have met other Alfa owners who are also parked here to get work done. Looks like it will be a congenial group.

As almost always among RVers!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Yes, You Can Take It With You When You Go!

If you live in an RV that is! For me, one of the best aspects of living in our motorhome is we can take almost everything we have with us when we go, on a short or long trip. Our bed, our clothes, our kitchen, my craft materials, and our computers. I don't have to pack or make decisions about what to bring and what to leave behind. 

We were up early, but we took our time getting on the road Monday morning. The 275 mile drive to Lake Havasu City for the Winter Blast Pyrotechnic Festival, was uneventful. We were parked and set up at the rodeo grounds by 4 PM. 

Although this was not an official Alfa rally event, one of the Alfa owners, Dave Volker, worked with the lady who set up the parking, so that the Alfas were parked together. We also had a space for a campfire location. On Monday it was fairly cold and windy and most of us had just arrived so we didn't gather, but as the week progressed, the weather got better and the group grew. We always enjoy sharing technical information and stories with other Alfa owners, and it is fun to have faces to go with Facebook and Yahoo Group names.

Tuesday, Craig and I went over to see London Bridge. We have been through this part of Arizona several times, but have never stopped.

We both remember when in the 60's, Robert Paxton McCulloch who seemed like a crazy man, bought the bridge from the city of London, and had it reassembled in a desert town that had only a few residents.  He also moved his chain saw and outboard motor manufacturing plant to the town.

A dam was built, and he had a channel dredged to divert water from the Colorado River. After a few years, Lake Havasu City became a recreational destination.

What kind of bird is this?
 It was sitting on a post at the bridge.

I am going to have to ask my friend Judy Bell to identify this bird for me. I looked at pictures in my Audubon Field Guide and he looks like a Rusty Blackbird. But the guide shows its range does not include Arizona.  Does anyone know what it is?

On Wednesday we took a hike along some of the many trails in Sara Park. 

From the parking area where we started, there were about five fairly easy trails that seemed to be intertwined. Some had tracks from ATVs.

After about a mile, the trail led into a creek bed wash that was pretty easy to walk.

Craig sat down to rest while he waited for me. I kept stopping to take pictures of all the neat rock formations.

About a mile and a half in,  the trail got a little harder as it went through a slot canyon. Unfortunately by this point my shoulder was beginning to ache and I was reluctant to  go down a steeper place, lest I slip and have to steady myself with the pole in my left hand.

All in all we hiked more than three miles. The weather was beautiful. The rocks were interesting,

but the best sight was the Jeep at the end.  I was really tired when we got back to the rig. But after a little rest, I was ready to enjoy the company around the campfire once again.

RV friends are good.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Safari Park Pix 2

Nikon D850
When Craig wanted to add more pictures to my last post, I asked him to do a post of his own.

I think ten pictures is enough for one post.

So here are more:

Bluebird of happiness near the entrance.

Cheetah   Sony RX10

Sony RX10

Sony RX10

Nikon D850

Nikon D850

Actually I can carry more than these!  Nikon D850

Something about this landing felt funny in person and in this image.  Nikon D850

Waterfall at 1/3200 of a second.  Nikon D850

This bird could serve as an ending for almost any post  🙂  Nikon D850

Friday, February 9, 2018

I'm So Excited!

On Thursday we went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park with the objective of enjoying a pleasant day and giving our new cameras a workout.  I got mine in late September, and Craig got his for Christmas, but with my shoulder healing from surgery, I really haven't had the chance to experiment very much.

The Safari Park is about an hour's drive from Jojoba Hills, and is a perfect place to photograph animals. It was a beautiful day, and the park was not crowded. Most of the animals we observed were awake, and the enclosures were large and photo-friendly. 

Below are ten images.  I could easily have added another ten from the day's shoot! It looks like our biggest problem is going to be deciding which to keep and which to delete. 

I love digital photography!

Sony RX10

Sony RX10
Sony RX10
Sony RX10
Nikon D850
Sony RX10
Sony RX10
Sony RX10
Sony RX10
I don't know this boy, but he reminded me of a boy I once knew
Sony RX10

I am really looking forward to taking lots of pictures on our travels to the Northwest this summer, and sharing them with all of you.

Next week we go to the Winter Blast in Havasu City, NV. I hope we can do some hikes during the days at the beginning of the week. I think the fireworks don't start until later in the week.

Looking up!