The real world of scrounging for WiFi


Trying to save on smartphone data by using public wi-fi

Lots of places have wi-fi; rarely is it very fast.  I’m trying to complete a Red Cross orientation in preparation for some training in March at Escapade (the Escapee rally in Tucson).  If only the Red Cross had offered a pdf file with the materials – but NO!  They had to develop a very resource heavy presentation training with a LOT of imbedded Flash videos.  And no way to buffer them up ahead of time, or download the presentation to play off-line (who are these people!).  So, over the libraries wi-fi, it was taking on average about 20-30 minutes to view each tiny 3 minute video – after 2 hours, I’m barely 1/2 way through the orientation (estimated at 70 minutes, including the tests at the end of each module). 

Very annoying.  Almost as annoying as the guy sitting at the desk next to me – surfing dating sites, looking at the photos, examining profiles, and crafting messages to various women – probably 1/2 dozen while I was there.

Next, I tried copying my smartphone photos over to my laptop to resize and paste into an offline blog entry (this one!).

It worked!  This means I can set my phone to upload only on wi-fi but still have access to the photos whenever I want.

London Bridge is alive and well, in the middle of the Sonoran Desert at Lake Havasu City, AZ

A London Bridge has spanned the River Thames in London since Roman times.  When a new bridge was needed in the 1960’s, the old bridge (which was sinking into the mud of the river) was purchased and brought over (granite block by granite block) to Lake Havasu and faithfully reconstructed near the Colorado River as a focal point for the lake Havasu planned community.  A channel was dug so that the bridge spans the Bridgewater Channel Canal over to a small island.  Small period ‘shoppes’ have sprung up around the bridge.  It’s very much like touring a theme park in Disneyland.

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End of the day – more sunsets

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Hey, You got to the new blog address!!


When I found out how easy it was to change the URL, I couldn’t resist!

I have been unhappy for a long time with the convoluted, hard to type URL I had for the blog.  But, Blogger help seemed to make it a very complicated process to change.  Until today, when apparently I used the magic words when searching and found very short, very simple instructions on how to change the URL.  Now it matches the Blog Title which I think is a lot more intuitive and will be easier for folks to find using Search.

Where I am today:  Lake Havasu City, AZ;  BLM land South of town

Two things you never want to hear in conjunction – I’m camped in a wash; It’s raining.  Well, the wash is very wide and I’m camped between 2 deep gullies so I’m pretty sure I’m OK with the light rain they’re predicting (and we’re getting) for the next day or so. 

More new stuff

I’m trying to write the blog offline using Windows Live Writer on my laptop.  Hopefully, this will let me save some data as I do most of my editing on the laptop.  For sure, I’ll be able to do a bit more photo editing and get their sizes down for quicker web access (all of our data plans will appreciate THAT).  And, I won’t have to struggle with my tablets strange interactions with the blogger editor (less cursing on my part).  But, no pictures today.  I’m spending all my time dealing with software weirdness in getting all this to work.

Chores and new places to boondock

Where I am Today: Quartzite, AZ
Where I am going next: Havasu City, AZ in a few days (our 14 day stay on Plumosa Rd is almost up.)

Even mundane chores are interesting in new places

First, I list out all the chores I'd like to get done today.  Then, I check on Yelp to find the closest locations where I might accomplish these things.  Consult with Julie, who also has a list; figure out  that Parker, AZ (about 1/2 hr north) is the closest place to get everything done.  Check addresses and maps and off we go.  It feels good to check off chores on the list after a few days of being lazy around the campsite.

Julie's smartphone app tells us that this is a 'Fairy Duster'  - lovely name!

I want to find a place locally to accept an Amazon package delivery

There is an office services, tax and accounting place right on Highway 95/Central Avenue in Quartzite that provides this service.  For $5, they will accept a UPS/Fedex package and hold it for you.  Perfect!!  I get the address information and their hours, they take my contact info and I'm all set.  The place is IronWood Output and it's right next to Horizon Bank.  The package should be there by the next time I swing into Quartzite in a week or so.
UPDATE:  I attempted to have 2 packages delivered; both of which were returned to sender. Apparently, if you don't rent a PO Box from Ironwood, delivery is dependant on the whim of the P.O. and whether they want to recognize the address that day or not!

Next, it was off to explore a couple other boondocking locations I had heard about in the Quartzite area.

In Arizona, there are apparently, State land trust areas where one can camp for free for up to 21 days (with a permit).  Driving west off Highway 95 on Tyson Road, there are several access points to a patch of this State Land Trust Area.  Very convenient to town!  The signs have a phone number that I will call to get the specifics on how to get a permit, etc.

Then, we had been told that there was additional BLM 14 day boondocking starting at about the 10 mile mile-post east on Plumosa Road towards Bouse, AZ (first there is the close in, register with a host, 14 day area; then there is about 7 miles of day use only land; then more camping).  The second area is just over some hills and is very pretty desert.  Close to the hills for hiking, and with a much greener, more vegetation surrounding.  There was a lot of choya, ocotilla, and more trees (palo verde, mesquite, and perhaps ironwood or something).  A lot prettier and quieter than most of the camping around Quartzite, if somewhat less convenient to town.

A beautiful day in the desert

It rained off/on yesterday and was very cloudy and foggy this morning.  But, the sun came out in the afternoon and the delightful smell of the creosote bushes scented the air.  Time for a glass of wine!

The day started out foggy

But lovely sunsets are almost always on hand!

A day during which I do not lose my cat

Quartzite, Az

My biggest fear in traveling with a cat is that she'll get lost

I didn't get so worried about the dogs - they might get scared and run about - but I didn't worry about them hiding from me.  Cats, by nature, hide when scared; and, being small, they can hide really well.  So, for the last year, whenever I have traveled with Fay Wray, I carefully watch the doors.  I make her wear a harness in addition to her collar (she's also micro-chipped).  When she is allowed outdoors, she is on a long leash and I watch her carefully to ensure she doesn't go up a tree, down a hole or get snatched up by a coyote.

But then, a few days ago I somehow forgot I had a cat 

It all started when I had to take the trailer into town to dump, get propane and water.  I packed things up, hooked up and off I went.  I got the RV Pit Stop and got out of the car - leaving my door open.  I opened up the trailer and started my routine for dumping - leaving the trailer door wide open.  For the next 20 minutes or so, I'm in  and out of the trailer as I dump, unhook the propane bottle to get it filled and carry water jugs over to the fresh water fill area.  Then, I close up the trailer and head back to my camping spot.  As I finish re-parking the trailer, I finally remember Fay Wray!!

I hadn't put her in the car before heading out to town!  

I hadn't remembered her at all and so she had ridden in the bouncy trailer all the way into town!  Then, I left the trailer door open in a scary, loud place to terrify her even further.  

I was convinced that I had lost her when I opened the trailer - I was sure that she wouldn't be there - that she would have been frightened by the bouncy ride, the scary dump station, and would have bolted.  

But, to my surprise and great relief, she was sitting on the dinette - probably wondering why I had put all her food away in the fridge.

Faye Wray, relaxing in the sun after her harrowing experience

"Dance at own risk" - Quartzite, Az

I never suspected that dancing was such a dangerous activity

Even in my mother's home, a memory care unit that she used to refer to as 'God's waiting room', dancing is encouraged at every turn.   But, here at the Senior Center in Quartzite, I guess they're a more cautious lot.

No Smoking I can understand, but dancing??

The Senior Center was hosting a great concert

Last year, I met Paul Winer, the owner of the Readers Oasis bookstore here in Q, also known as the 'naked man' bookstore.  Paul is a nudist known for often wearing only sandals and 1 sock (use your imagination).  Turns out that Paul's previous career was as a musician and he and some friends put on a great evening of boogie woogie/blues and humor. You can hear a bit of Paul's music and read more of his story on Paul Winer "Sweet Pie" - My Nothing   He was accompanied on tuba and trumpet by Buddy Apfel,

In case you're wondering, Paul was dressed for the performance - even starting to play his first piece before he realized he was still wearing gloves!

Getting (almost) lost in the vast, untracked desert.

During the day, the trailers along Plumosa Road look almost organized.  There are a number of BLM roads that fork off Plumosa and wind out into the desert, crossed by vast expanses of 'desert varnish', patches of green lining the washes, and other, smaller 2-track spurs sprouting up kind of randomly. Throughout, there are RV's - singles, small groups circled like wagons, larger groups lined up row after rows like a suburban neighborhood.

However, coming home after the concert, with no street lights and most of the trailers dark, we realized that finding OUR trailers after the first 2 turns off the road was not going to be so easy.  It turned into a group effort, "I think we've gone too far", "try over to the right".  Fortunately, we didn't run over any cactus or get stuck in a wash before finding our trailers.  Now, I understand why some RV's sport colored lights up high on flagpoles - a great way to find your way home after dark!

There are probably a hundred motorhomes in several very neat rows here.

They even erected this HUGE tent with tables, chairs, a stage and sound equipment!!

Not exactly wilderness camping

Lots of people in Quartzite this time of year (I hear that the summer time population of 3,600 swells to over 200,000 in winter; In Jan-Feb, Quartzite receives over 1.5 million visitors!  Traffic isn't as bad as I had feared, but there are lines in the stores, and the hum of generators is omni-present.

But, I'm having a great time meeting and spending time with Julie's friends from the Escapee's Doves group.  

Sunset drama not in the western sky tonight

The setting sun lights up the rock and casts fire red reflections onto Lake Mead.

The various shades of blue water were replaced by the red, orange and brown cast shadows from the surrounding canyon rock walls.

Sunset on Boulder Bay, Lake Mead, Nv

Hoover Dam

Despite some ambivalence about dams in general, I can't deny the engineering and construction expertise that went into the creation of this massive dam.  I'm in awe of the hard work and precision engineering and machine work that were required to build this structure successfully.  And, as a former project manager, I'm amazed that it came in over two years ahead of schedule and apparently without massive cost over-runs!  It probably helped that it was built during the depression when folks were desperate for work and anyone complaining about working conditions could just be summarily fired.

Death Valley isn't dead

Beautiful weather and gorgeous scenery!

It may be cool, or downright cold many places, but Death Valley is balmy this time of year.  I didn't even drive around very much this year; the view from my campsite was so lovely!  We did take in a couple ranger talks and a bird walk (didn't seem like a lot of birds until I added them up: over a dozen different varieties).

We also saw lots of coyotes; some very close up!  Apparently, they're getting used to tourists feeding them.  I saw a couple just on the other side of a row of trees by the golf course; a couple more were meandering through the date farm (fallen dates are a big part of their diets this time of year).

Artists palette viewpoint, this mid-day photo doesn't give justice to the variety of color.

Me, at Badwater Basin, the lowest spot on the western hemisphere (282' below sea level)

Another nice sunset!

My trailer is quite the prankster!

Sophomoric sense of humor

Yesterday, I found the toilet paper unrolled; today it was the paper towels.  After a few months of living in a stationary home, I've forgotten all the adjustments one makes to keep things in place as I bounce down the road.  OK, so it's all my fault as much as I'd like to blame it on the cat or gremlins in the cupboards!

Sportsmans Beach campground, Hawthorne, Nv

Stopped here for lunch; what a sweet spot!  Facilities include vault toilets, picnic shelters with fire pits, camping areas with covered picnic tables and fire pits, dumpsters, and a boat ramp.  The picnic areas are close to the highway, but the camping areas are down on the lake and would probably be quiet.  No one was there today.
Day use is free; camping in the established campsites is $6($3 with the geezer pass!) or you can camp on the beach for $4($2 with the geezer pass).

Picnic area with parking alongside


Walker Lake

Small 'oops' to round out the day :-( 

Apparently, I didn't get my jack fully retracted the last time I hitched up; leaving a gas station this morning I heard a loud scrape.  Sure enough, I hit bottom- but this time I hit hard enough to bend the jack :-( 
It still works, but I've put another ding on my rolling home which makes me sad.

You can see how the jack assembly isn't completely vertical anymore.

A day on the road does not disappoint

Even chickens get to go camping!

I saw this converted bus at a rest stop in southern Oregon; it looked a lot like a multi-colored Dr. Bronners bottle, covered in small snippets of what I imagine to be drugged-induced philosophic meandering.  The built-on boxes on the roof of the bus are actually chicken coops, complete with clucking hens.  Lots of barking dogs inside the bus.

Ya never know what you'll find in the trailer after trundling down the road awhile.

Today, I walked into the trailer to find that the toilet paper had decided to unroll all over the floor!  I was grateful that the trailer prank was easy to clean up (unlike the day my fridge decided to vomit it's contents all over the floor).

Walmart stay in Redding a bit 'iffier' than last year.

Apparently, there is an ordinance prohibiting overnight camping; police were knocking on rv's and told my friend (traveling with a friend this year, both in our own trailers) that they were concerned with homeless folk who stayed more than overnight.  While he couldn't give us permission to stay, he pretty much said we wouldn't be bothered if we left in the morning ( that is the plan); he gave some advice on being safe - thank you, sir!

Tomorrow we're off to Nevada, most likely just past Reno.  So far, the driving conditions have been good; lots of fog, but nothing dangerous.  The sunset on Mt. Shasta was lovely; pink and then lavender alpenglow.  No pictures (No place to pull over and I don't think I could take a moving pic without driving off the side of the mountain.).