Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sunshine, flowers, no dust and....Physical Therapy!

Flowers blooming!

Well, we are settled in a SunLife Resort in Mesa, Az, which is on the eastern side of Phoenix. The days are mostly sunny, warm and lovely with bright blue skies. On Sunday it rained all day long, which is most unusual for this area. It was the remnants of the California storm visiting this area. It should make the desert bloom brightly soon!

This is a great park...lots of flowers and perfectly manicured streets and sites.........never a speck of anything out of order! Such a welcome contrast to life in Quartzsite!

We have seen Dawn (Bob's niece) several times and really enjoy our visits with her. We got a call from Ronnie, Bob's brother, in Cottonwood letting us know that he has been in the hospital and deathly ill, due to a complication of a toe infection (he is diabetic) and a subsequent blood clot to his heart. So we will be heading that way to check on him.

I have been looking for a Physical Therapist to start therapy on my shoulder and have found a winner here in Mesa. Just across the street is Maughan PT and what a facility and staff they have! These folks are really something. It is a first class facility and the staff is so energetic, upbeat, friendly and professional. Burke Maughan is my therapist, and he has someone constantly working with you and motivating you to press on; they all have such a positive manner and a special way of making you want to excel every moment.
I am truly grateful to have discovered this therapist and will remain here for PT until February 7th, when we head for Casa Grande. They have provided a challenging assortment of daily exercises (full of pain, needless to say!) that requires full effort every day. I'm so glad to get to this stage, in order to get the strength back in my arm!

We have mostly been running errands and cleaning the MH from top to bottom, scourging the dust from Q. The carpets were cleaned yesterday so hopefully we are finished with the cleaning projects. (At least for awhile:))

We have been enjoying the pool and hottub and reading in the sunny afternoons!

Tomorrow brings more therapy and sunshine...we are grateful for every day!

The American and Canadian flags fly in the clear blue sky!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Twelve days in the desert.....

The USA Flag and the Virginia Flag fly in the Arizona desert

One of many Pot Luck dinners!

Well, time has flown this past week.... we've spent the last 12 days having so much fun in the BLM lands in the Quartzsite desert that I've not taken the time to write on the blog! We'll be heading out to Phoenix now, leaving behind the fun, friends, and great times, along with the dust, dirt and wind!!

Bob, Jim and Joe relaxing on The Mat

As many have said before, it is a love/hate relationship with the desert lands here. We love the stark beauty of the desert and the mountain scapes; love the fun we've had laughing and cooking and sitting at the campfires everyday; love the exploring of the desert lands and the vendor tents up in town; love the absolute blackness of the desert sky at night, making the stars vivid against the black night; but one soon tires of the blowing wind and dust EVERYWHERE! And of course, since we are boondocking and using solar energy and generator power, we have to be very stingy with our energy and water use. It will be so nice to take a long hot shower, instead of the momentary "Navy" showers we take every day! We will miss our RV buddies, and the new friends we've made here, but it will be so nice to see green again and have "hook-ups"! Water, sewer, and electric will be such a

We gals have had so much fun together.....planning meals....forming the T.E.C. (The Estrogen Club)...laughing at the men and all of their 'projects'. We laughed so much that we surely exercised our stomach muscles quite well. We actually went into town to the Too Crazy Ladies name tag booth and had little tags made that say "T.E.C." Charter Member! We have worn these tags all week and made many memories in the process!

The pain in my shoulder has finally begun to ease up a little. I can use it a bit more and am sleeping much better at night, as it does not feel like it's going to rip out of the socket every time I move! I have to exercise it every day by raising the arm and pushing it up as straight with my right hand. After watching me do this many times, everyone began to do the same, raising their left arm up, and began to call this the "Molly Wave". It's great to have support from your friends! :) Thanks, guys!!:)
Everyone does the "Molly Wave", exercising the shoulder per doctor's instructions!

So, we will depart for Mesa, AZ, to spend some time in a nice RV Resort with all the amenities, and to spend some time with our niece, Dawn, and to see Bob's brother, Ronnie in Cottonwood. We will take wonderful memories of Quartzsite with us, but we'll sure be glad to leave the dust behind! :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Rockhounding (Geode digging) and other desert entertainment

< Monday morning Jim and Bobbie Chapman of Alamosa, Colorada, prepared a terrific breakfast of homemade biscuits and sausage gravy. The morning was cool but this treat was enjoyed by all and Yum...Yum...good!

We then hopped in their truck and drove about 20 miles into Blythe, CA for groceries, mail and such. Blythe is a pretty little desert town, but we all found out very quickly that one you cross the California line the price of everything goes up by about thirty percent! We could not believe the prices! Eggs were $3.29 a dozen and milk was over $6.00 a gallon. Even the price of produce was inflated! So we got what we needed, had a great little Mexican lunch at Maria's and then headed back to Quartzsite. We will be spending as little time as possible in the great $tate of California.

Karen & Gary Crenshaw in the Rhino desert vehicle

Fellow RVers Gary and Karen Crenshaw (Texans) have introduced us to Geode Digging or rockhounding, as many know it. She is an avid rockhound and will take you out geode digging most anytime. Joe and Marcia Jones (Kentuckians) went with them, driving about 70 miles into the California desert then continuing 17 miles off the road into the desert to a geode site.
They search for many types of gem or quartz formations as well as fossils and other rock types. Karen showed us some amazing prehistoric fish fossils from previous digs and many lovely stones which she has cleaned, sanded and finished into lovely gems.
There are an abundance of rainbow colored stones in this area; inspecting the loose stones around our camp area you will easily find beautiful turquoise, lavender, and red hues stones. So we have all learned a little from Karen about the geodes and gems of the area.

Marcia & Karen with their Geo finds Prehistoric Fish Fossil

There has been alot of relaxing in the sun, a little shopping and generally having fun going on! Lots of campfires too!

Monday, January 14, 2008

A 'novel' bookstore and the naturalist proprietor....

Caution...there may be adult photos on this page!!

We continued exploring the intricacies of Quartzsite, shopping with the vendors, and stopping at a local used bookstore, The Reader's Oasis. We were amazed at the vast collection of books contained in this store and the orderly and pleasant way they were catalogued and displayed.
Now, we had heard that there was a bookseller in Q that was a "naturalist" but we assumed it was in the flea market vendor area. We spent some time selecting books to purchase and enjoying the store...and out walked Paul Winer, the proprietor, to assist us with our purchases. What a kind and soft spoken gentleman he was.....but he was wearing only three red socks! Now we girls got quite a giggle out of this, as we have never seen such a thing before! So of course, we asked if we could have a photo taken.....I know, I know.....but I'm sure we'll never have the chance again! (You don't have to look if you don't want to!)

We were most impressed with Paul's knowledge and helpfulness. There are over 150,000 titles in his store and he can locate every one of them instantly for you! He has many old and collectible books, games, sheet music and videos, maps, puzzles...just about anything you might desire to study. We were most impressed with him and his operation. He is also an accomplished pianist and a published poet.

We later discovered that there is a garden in Quartzsite called Celia's Rainbow Gardens. She died in 1994 at the age of 8 years of a heart complication. The garden was established in her memory by her family. Her name was Celia Winer, and her father is none other than Paul Winer, the pleasant naturalist and bookstore owner.
We are daily reminded that we should never judge a book by it's cover (or lack thereof).

We started our morning with Bob's creamed chipped beef for breakfast. He had some of the Applewood smoked beef left from our trip to Lancaster, PA, which had been in the freezer. With sourdough bread toasted on the outdoor grill, then topped with the chipped beef we all had a tasty and filling start to our morning. Bob has become a great outdoor cook!

We finished the day with a Baked Potato Dinner....everyone brings a baked potato and a topping to share. We had Bacon, mushroom sauce, a wonderful beef stroganoff topping, meatballs, broccoli and cheese...this was a simple and tasty dinner that we all enjoyed. No campfire as the wind had picked up and was blowing a little dust so we retired to our rigs early for the evening.

Tomorrow Bobbie and Jim make sausage gravy and biscuits and we'll head to Blythe, CA to do a little grocery shopping!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Exploring Quartzsite......

We were happy to see Bobbie & Jim Chapman, whom we hadn't seen since Goshen along with Ron & Linda, Joe & Marcia, Norah and Howard and others who have arrived at our campsite in the desert.

We explored the town and markets of Q, which are so vast it could take weeks to see them all! Of course, we had to see the RV vendors and the many food vendors....Bratwurst and Indian Fry Bread.. and ice cream...Yum!
Bobbie & Jim enjoy ice cream!

We had heard much about this character called Hi Jolly and so we set out find his monument and see what he was about, in relation to Quartzsite. It was not an easy find, as the old cemetery in which he lies is at the end of an unmarked dirt lane.

Around 1857 the army decided to train camels to be pack animals in the desert and imported many of the desert animals to Quartzsite. Along with them came a Syrian by the name of Hadji Ali, who came to be know as "Hi Jolly". The camel experiment was interrupted by the Civil War and eventually abandoned, primarily because camels are not well suited for walking on rocks as their feet are simply too soft, and they are difficult to control with the noises created by horses, coaches and wagons, but Hi Jolly stayed in Quartzsite after the camels were released into the desert. He died in Quartzsite in 1902 and there is a monument erected at his gravesite in the desert memorializing him.

Desert cemeteries are unlike those in the east...they are sandy and brown with rock or cement covered mounds, just as you might expect.

The cemetery in which Hi Jolly lies was rather old and had many old gravesites. Many were marked with simple crosses or held concrete collages of colorful desert rocks with turquoise, amethsyt, quartz and many others. We took some photos of some of the most colorful ones.....

It was an interesting side trip!

Later that evening we had a huge pot of Hatteras Clam Chowder with Corn Bread and other fixins' then spent a nice evening around the campfire. The night sky is filled with stars and it is VERY dark here, as there are no electric lights in the desert. It makes the night sky very vivid. We don't go out at night (from our camping area) as they say it is very difficult to find your way back to your site in the desert darkness. You must carry a flashlight to get to and from the campfire, as it is so dark you cannot see your rig!

This is a new and wonderful experience, camping here in the desert!

Can't wait to see what tomorrow holds!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Meeting friends and getting ready for Quartzsite...

Wednesday, and Thursday found us getting ready to travel the 65 miles North up to Quartzsite. We spent Wednesday doing laundry and getting the coach ready to move. We have enjoyed our time spent here in the Foothills of Yuma with JoEllen and Jim.... they have been such wonderful hosts and we will miss them, but it's time to meet up with our group in Quartzsite.

Wednesday we also discovered that Phyllis & Bob (from Washington) were staying just around the block from us. So we decided to drop by and see them before we left Yuma. What a lovely couple they are!

They showed us their "patio" which is enclosed with a six foot stone fence in the rear and a wonderful "campfire" area! She had been telling us about the campfire "stoves" they create using old Maytag washing machine tubs. Wow! What a neat idea to create a warm and spark free fire! They had built a "deluxe" model using two tubs and had even installed a hinged door to insert the wood. We are definitely going home and collect all those Maytag tubs that usually get thrown out! We love campfires and this is a great idea!
It was great to visit with Phyllis and Bob and see their winter "campsite"!

We ran some other errands, had a wonderful Italian dinner with Jo & Jim and got ready to travel, then hit the road for Quartzsite!

We followed State Route 95 north from Yuma straight (and I do mean straight)

to Quartzsite.

There is nothing between the two except for one small pull off called Stone Cabin and the US Army Yuma Proving Grounds. It is a beautiful desert drive surrounded by rock peaks in the distance.

We took many photos on the way as the landscape was interesting. We were hoping to spot a tank maneuvering on the Proving grounds, but we only saw some jeeps and fuel tankers (of course).

It was exciting to arrive at Quartzsite...

where we will "boondock" (camp without hookups-electric or water) for the next two weeks with our group. We will be on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land with about 100,000 other campers. We have long heard about camping in Quartzsite and the big Flea Markets, RV shows and Gem and Mineral shows so now we get to see what it's all about.

Quartzsite started out in the early 1850's as a stage stop in the middle of nowhere for weary travelers enroute to the California Gold Rush. Over the years, prospectors and other pioneers made their homes here and discovered they could get together and sell their merchandise, so in 1967 they organized their first "Pow Wow" and thus started what has become the "World's Largest Swap Meet" and has continued for 43 years. In the many years in between, it has evolved into a mecca for winter "snowbirds" who converge upon it in the winter months to enjoy the warmer climate, camp in the desert and peruse the many tents and booths for treasures.

We can't wait to see what Quartzsite holds!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Crossing the border to Los Algodoches...

Tuesday morning we all met at Dairy Queen for breakfast. Now, there are no Hardee's in Arizona so Bob has missed his morning "Liar's Club" meetings, and his Sausage and Egg biscuits. DQ will definitely give Hardee's a run for the money on breakfast! We had yummy biscuits and gravy and big breakfast plates, and even burritos stuffed with ham, bacon, eggs and hash browns that were delicious and "cheap"!

So, being suitably stuffed we drove the 15 miles or so to the border crossing in California, parked our vehicles and walked across the border into Los Algodoches. This town is situated right on the border and caters to the Americans who come over to buy drugs and have dental and medical treatments done. There must be 20 or 30 pharmacia's with English speaking staff who will prescribe your drugs on the spot and give you up to 90 days supply at about 1/3 the cost of our prescription drugs at home! We spent a great deal of time checking out Bob's Lotrel prescription to make sure it was correct. We looked at the packaging; they were all fresh, sealed cartons, manufactured in Brussels, Rio, or Canada and had long term expirations. So we decided to buy a 90 day supply and give it a try. We will monitor his BP on his American drug for several days and then try the Mexican version and continue the monitoring at the same time each day to be certain that there is no change. We'll let you know what the results are.

We also bought some Ibuprofen and other little things which are much cheaper there. It really is confounding that other countries can offer phamacueticals so much cheaper than the USA....just doesn't seem right!

After we all shopped for drugs, we met at the little garden restaurant and had a Mexican lunch. It was a nice, sunny day and we enjoyed sitting there with our lunch, but the food was not as good as other that we have enjoyed in Texas and Arizona. We then left to get in the line to return to the USA, which took about 50 minutes to re-enter the country. It takes much longer to re-enter with an automobile, so for this reason most Americans simply walk over. There were also many Mexicans re-entering the USA. The border seemed well manned and at one point a Black Hawk helicopter hovered over an area for about 15 minutes. Not sure what they were looking for as we saw nothing out of the ordinary.

All in all a very pleasant and informative day!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Historic Yuma Territorial Prison and growing veggies....

On Monday we drove about 12 miles into Yuma to tour the Yuma Territorial Prison. This historic prison was the Arizona Territory's first prison, built in 1876, and housed many "outlaws" of the desert terrain. This was a prison the bad guys wanted to avoid at any cost. A stark, stone and iron structure, with beds stacked 3 high and 6 each, to a 6' X 9' cell, it had an infamous reputation. Despite it's reputation, written evidence indicates the prison was humanely administered and was a model institution for it's time. The only punishments were confinement in a "dark cell" which was a dungeon type cavity with it's only light coming in through a 15" diameter hole in the top, through which food and water were lowered to it's inmates, and the ball and chain, which was used for prisoners who tried to escape. Seems it might still be a "model institution" for some today!

On the drive into Yuma we were amazed at the agriculture in the area, and the infrastructure supporting it. There are vast, green fields being irrigated and growing many varieties of lettuce, cauliflower, turnips, cabbage, and many other veggies. On the other side of Interstate 8, there is a legion of packing and shipping docks called "cold plants". There are hundreds of trucks lined up and waiting to receive their load and expedite the fresh produce to the rest of us across the country. The packing and loading goes on until late in the night, until all the produce is shipped.

On the opposite side of the road from the docks are vast lots filled with crates of flattened cardboard boxes from Georgia Pacific and Westvaco. It seemed like miles of crates stacked high with the cartons awaiting their turn to be assembled and filled. This industry never stops, as the growers, packers, and truckers perform their intricate little dance so we can have fresh salads at home in the East!

Tomorrow we will cross the border into Mexico!

Church and a Clambake in the desert....

We arose early Sunday morning to attend 8:00 services at Foothills Baptist Church, just down the street. We truly enjoyed it and right after Church we met Jo & Jim at the little Mexican eatery for a late breakfast! The Mexican restaurants here do a great breakfast...Omelets and burritos with eggs well disguised--just the way I like them! (It's not quite the same as our Sunday-after-Church lunches at Los Portales in Warsaw which we miss very much....so save us a seat! :) )

Since it was JoEllen's birthday, Bob decided to do a Clambake to celebrate in her honor. Only one small problem...no clams to be found in the desert! So we had the Clambake with out the clams....I suppose it was just a "Steampot"....but it was still yummy! Lots of corn on the cob, potatoes, carrots, onions, chicken and shrimp with OleBay! We made Spoonbread and had lots of other dishes. It was a beautiful sunny day and there were about 18 of us to enjoy the birthday party, many of whom had never partaken of the "clambake" type dining (nor the spoonbread) so it was great fun to share something new with our RVing friends, and especially with Jo, the birthday girl! Afterwards the guys built a fire in the pit and we all sat around the campfire until about 10 PM. Campfires are a true luxury here, as there are no trees within miles, thus no firewood! So we got a case of firelogs from Wal-mart and Jim rounded up a few pieces of wood and we kept the fire burning for a few nice hours!

Another lovely day in the desert!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Picking oranges in the grove....

Saturday brought a little overcast to the skies, as the cold and snowy weather moved into Northern California and Sierra Nevadas. The temps in Yuma and the Foothills were still pleasant.

We've located the Wal-mart and grocery stores, etc and run a few errands. Then Jo & Jim suggested we go pick oranges (tangelos) at a little family owned grove. So off we went, picking up Ron & Linda, and arriving at Mr. McCullogh's Tangelo Grove. Never before had we seen such fruit laden trees. The limbs were drooping to the ground under the abundant weight of the tangelos! We each (not Molly as the shoulder still won't allow such stuff) picked , or rather cut, five gallon buckets full of tangelos ($5.00 per bucket). These are the sweetest, easiest peeling fruit we've had! We had great fun filling our buckets and eating our fill of the tasty citrus.

The latest shoulder update is: It still hurts like crazy; I can't do much with it; I still do my "exercises" of pulling it up over my head and trying to get it as straight as possible; It still hurts like crazy; It is painful to type too much (or do much anything)......You get the picture! What I thought would just be a "minor" procedure has turned out to be a major issue....but it's all good, as I am (I think) getting better each day and it should be healing up soon. Dr. says I can have therapy after 6 weeks (it's only been three.....it just seems like it's been three months!) and then about 4 months till recovery. I try not to whine too much.........and remember that "It's all good".

Saturday evening was "Chicken-n-Dumplins" night; Bob helped cook! I made a Hummingbird cake (with Bob's help) for Jo's birthday, which is Sunday, and Jim & Jo joined us for a simple Southern style dinner.

On Friday we toured the old downtown area of Yuma including the old Lutes Casino, which was a casino and saloon at the turn of the century and has been pretty much preserved. It is no longer a casino but still operates as a saloon or grill in the old town area. We then met some other buddies at The Happy Greek Chef for a great dinner in town and headed back to the Foothills.

We plan to get up for early (8:00) Church tomorrow and then meet for breakfast at the Donut shop after Church. It is Jo Ellen's birthday so we will celebrate with her. Looking forward to tomorrow!

Friday, January 4, 2008

We've arrived in the Yuma desert....

We arrived in Yuma, AZ on Wednesday afternoon, January 2, 2008 after traveling 10 days across the country!

We crossed the last pass of mountains into the Yuma valley Wednesday afternoon. What a beautiful desert valley....brilliant blue sky and bright sunshine and warmth! We were glad to be at our first destination!

Our friends, Jim and JoEllen Gass had very graciously invited us to stay with them on their lot in the Foothills section of Yuma. They welcomed us to their lot and helped us get set up.
This is a unique area, such as we have not seen before. It is a lovely combination of residential Southwest type homes and RV lots mixed together. Many of the "snowbirds" from Northern California, Washington, Idaho, Oregon (and many other) states have lots or homes and spend the winters here. Most of them are, of course, retirees, some younger and some much older.
It is very interesting to see how active these "retirees" are. One of their most popular pastimes is "four wheeling" in the desert area here. It's not unusual to see a group of 8 or 10 riding the streets, picking up their group and heading out for a 40 to 60 mile desert ride! These guys know how to have fun!

There are lots of great restaurants here...so we went to a great little "Fish-n-Chips" place for dinner, Mr. Fish. It was good and since we are seafood lovers, we were quite happy to have fish in the desert!

It was great to see Jim and Jo again and just spend time with them. They are two of the nicest folks you'll ever meet.....very gracious and genuine and we are enjoying our time with them. They are members of the L.E.O. Club (Let's Eat Out) and we've been having alot of meetings!

Thursday evening, the four of us met up with Ron & Linda, Pam & Smokey Ridgley and John and Doni (all fellow RVer's) at Del Coyote for the Thursday evening Mexican special and had a fun little dinner.

Jim showed us what he refers to as the "Widow's Lot"....two HUGE parking lots here where people take all of their unused "toys" to sell, when they no longer have a use for them. If you were in the market for ANY motorized or pullable toy, it's on the lot! There must be hundreds of campers, motorhomes, toy haulers, four wheelers, motorcycles, golf carts....we've never seen such a variety of big-boy toys! Anything you could possibly want to buy is on the lots. Must be an awful lot of "widows" here! (Needless to say, I managed to keep Bob off the lots!)

So we are eating well and enjoying the company and the climate...We have managed to hang on to Minkie, and have not lost her anymore, thusfar. She has made friends with Jo's dog, Taco, and has established her domain in the MH. So all is good!

Love and hugs to everyone!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Still traveling West...........

Happy New Year Everyone! We are still heading west; are in Casa Grande, Arizona right now and are on the last leg of our journey as we will arrive in Yuma shortly after lunch today where we will join some more Rving friends and will stay for awhile before heading to Quartzsite.

We spent a couple of days in Pecos, Texas then headed west, traveling thru more high plains and ruggedly beautiful flatlands. The sunrises and sunsets are remarkable, as they illuminate the far off mountain peaks and the huge rock formations change from blues to rosey orange. God’s paintbrush is at work everyday. We spent a day in Las Cruces, NM and visited La Mesilla, the old western village where they held Billy the Kid. We had wonderful Mexican food there on New Year’s eve with Ron & Linda. We were never quite sure when the New Year arrived, as we’ve crossed a couple of time zones and never really know what time it is anymore! (This is not a bad thing!) I have not worn a watch since I lost my old favorite watch at Tiff’s house in the summer….I just use my cell phone when I want to know what time it is…..which is not very often! We also had the Texas specialty of Chicken Fried Steak with gravy and mashed potatoes the other night…yum…it was the best we’ve ever had! And I’ve never really been a fan of it, but boy was it good!

We have had quite the adventure keeping up with Minkie, our cat. She has disappeared twice on us and we surely thought she was gone. She might have nine lives, but she is definitely shortening ours as it is just too stressful thinking she is lost to us. She managed to get into a tiny little opening (about 3”x 3”) next to the slide out and we could not get her out. She traveled all across NM and into AZ in that hole. We thought she would surely come dashing out as soon as we stopped and opened the slide…but nope. She stayed tight in that hole. Finally Bob reached in and got his hand on her tail and kept pulling until he got her out. Thank goodness she is wearing Le Press On Nails (Soft Paws) so she could not dig her claws in. He still got his hand all torn up and came out bleeding…but Minkie was just as happy as ever. She seems to be loving this road trip.

We are now crossing the desert between Tucson and Yuma. Yuma is at the very tip SW end of AZ, right at the border of CA and Mexico, in case you want to know where it is. It is WARM and SUNNY there!

We miss everyone and love hearing from you. We have attached our avatar photo, (KK, you can see my very short hair!) which was taken in Las Cruces. (Minkie did not make this photo…she was still stuck in the hole!)

We were very sorry to hear from Dale that Huney Spruell (the “Mayor” at the river) died last night. He called us about 11 pm to let us know Huney’s heart just finally quit. We will miss him at the river.

Love & Hugs to each of you!
Molly & Bob