Nothing stays 'new' forever!

29 Dec, 2016; Imperial Dam LTVA; Yuma AZ

The new car lasted less than a week before it’s first ‘owie’

You know the new car feeling – it smells new, it’s all shiny and clean and perfect.  You don’t park in crowded parking lots and you’re extra careful getting in/out, placing groceries just so.  Then, a truck kicks up a chunk of gravel that hits the windshield at the worst possible place and crack – there’s a crack in the windshield.  And, it can’t be filled – the whole windshield had to be replaced.
I’m still careful, I still love my car – but the perfect new car feeling is gone and it will be years before I get the ‘trusted, reliable old companion feel’.

The first year round-up of trailer mishaps and unexpected maintenance.

I knew that living in the trailer, rather than just traveling occasionally, would mean more frequent maintenance.  But, since this is my second trailer, I hoped that I would at least avoid any expensive rookie mistakes.  So far, that seems to be the case.
I had an electrical problem in July – fixed by a quick trip back to the factory (they could schedule me in immediately, unlike my local RV repair folks).

While staying in a particularly flood prone RV site while selling my house, the stabilizer jacks developed some rust – I’ll have to deal with that soon.  I have sandpaper and bought some rust-resistant paint.

The water pump is experiencing a known problem where water can backflow into the fresh water tank and overflow it when hooked up to city water.  I have a fix for that in progress (not really a problem over winter when I’m boon-docking effectively all the time).

Two mishaps this week:

I was removing the back grate on the stovetop and a chip of the enameled top came popping off.

A chip in the enamel - so sad

Then, I was filling the fresh water tank and the 6-gallon water can slipped out of my hands.  The gravel around here is sharper than I thought – the fall put a pinhole into the plastic near the top.  So far, the duct tape helps – but it still leaks a bit.  So now I’m looking for an effective patch.

I already posted about the wind collapsing my sun shade and bending a couple of the crossbar segments.  Not really expecting anything could be done, I emailed the Paha Que customer service folks – and was happily surprised to hear that they can fix it for me – or send me a few segments so that I can fix it myself.  YAY – great customer service!!

Small upgrades for the new year!

I’ve been thinking of ways to decorate the interior without adding a lot of time in setting up/breaking down for travel.  I got some command-hook strips for hanging pictures and a couple of plastic (lightweight) magnetic picture frames.  While the magnetic part doesn’t work in my trailer, they work well with the command hooks and now I have 2 4x6 picture frames for the back wall.  I’m planning to put up my favorite travel pics in an evolving display.  After their tour on the wall, pics will go into my new ‘En Plein Aire’ travel photo album!

I love ‘command hooks’

I have a really hard time doing any permanent changes to my trailer.  But, I’ve found so many great command hook solutions that let me decorate the interior and still be completely reversible. 

I can see using these little clips in a lot of ways!

These skinny hooks are perfect for my Escape Calendar!

Happy New Year!!!!

There's more than 1 kind of desert

28 Dec, 2016; Imperial Dam LTVA, Yuma AZ

I’m talking about “Food Desert” not Chihuahuan, Sonoran, and Mohave!

I’ve learned that if I find one of my favorite brands while grocery shopping, I need to stock up on as much of it as my trailer can carry!

For instance, I love Peanut Butter.  But, I don’t like to stir it and I don’t like added sugar.  That pretty much narrows my PB selection to Adams No-stir PB – which is not found anywhere down here.  Pretty much all mainstream brands have sugar as the second ingredient; organic specialty brands often also have sugar, but even if they don’t, will require stirring or come without salt.

After shopping in Yuma for the last couple of weeks, I chanced into a bigger-than-normal Fry’s (Kroger owned – a lot like a Fred Meyer or a King Soopers).  I was amazed and thrilled!!   My favorite coffee creamer!  My favorite Soy Milk!!  An olive bar!!!!  (still no Adams PB – oh well . . .)  Most of these favorites require refrigeration – so I’m limited by the size of my fridge – but the soy milk is shelf-stable until opened so, I will really stock up on that before I leave Yuma.  And tea. And . . .

Yumm - stuffed olives!

Still on the hunt for individually-sized diet mixers (ginger ale, tonic).  Easy to find in the big gigantic size – but they go flat before I finish them.

Who can resist a beautiful sunrise!

Even if the rest of the day looked like this:

A walk around the LTVA

27 Dec, 2016; Imperial Dam LTVA, Yuma AZ

Over a month’s normal rainfall in one day (still only .5”)

I thought the parched ground would just suck up the rainfall – but apparently the ground is so packed and rocky, it’s more like concrete – except for the sandy washes and some sandy spots on roads, the rainfall just sits in big puddles.

More signs of the elusive burros

My neighbor points out some sandy circular areas where the rocks have mostly been brushed away.  Theses areas are used by the burros as wallows for rolling.  One year the burros became so pesky, my neighbor raked rocks back into the wallows near his camp site to discourage the burros from coming around.  He also told me that persistently pesky burros are rounded up and taken to BLM adoption centers – maybe that’s why I haven’t seen any this year.

One morning I was visited by a bunch of red-winged blackbirds - this is just a few of them by my burro wallow - currently a puddle.

How to find your trailer in the dark

I’ve posted before about how hard it is to find your way around these unmarked, vague dirt roads at night – I lost my trailer one night in Quartzite a couple of years ago!  The “roads” are sometimes hard to see in the daylight, and, in the desert, there are no streetlights and the trailers are often dark as well.  Night here is a lot darker than night in the city.

So, in addition to keeping outside lights on the trailer  when folks expect to be back after dark, I see other solutions as I walk around the LTVA.

People build rock cairns at significant turn-offs, often adding reflectors or solar lights

More Solar lights - some people outline their whole site with these

And, as long as you're out there, might as well construct a desert 'intaglio' of a guitar - or whatever, you're into!!

High Winds and a Brown-out

18 Dec, 2016; Imperial Dam LTVA; “South Florida Flats”, Yuma AZ

It started out sort of ‘Breezy’ . . .

The forecast was for ‘Breezy’, then ‘windy’. As the day progressed, the dust filled the air and soon the mountains and even the farthest row of trailers were lost behind the wall of brown dust.  The wind kept getting stronger – I checked the stakes on the Paha Que and then checked the owners manual – it should be OK in the winds that are forecasted.  I’d hate to have to go through all the steps to take it down in this wind!  I did take down the sun-blocker screen to reduce the wind resistance.

I moved the car to act as a wind break – then went over to the neighbors to watch the sunset and share a fire.  We took the wind as long as we could, but it was a short evening. 

As I approached the trailer, I saw that the Paha Que had wrapped itself around the trailer!  The wind was so strong that I couldn’t move it away from the door far enough to get in.  I didn’t have a flashlight or access to any tools.  Slowly, I managed to get part of the Paha Que untethered – enough so that I could squeeze into the trailer and get a flashlight and some tools.  The wind was really ripping – which made it quite the adventure getting the awning dismantled and jammed into the car.  One of the cross-bars had bent under a gust of wind allowing the whole thing to collapse and glue itself to the side of the trailer. 

I should have known better and taken it down when the wind first kicked up!  I didn’t sleep well that night – the trailer was really rocking-and-rolling!  The next day I realized I wasn’t the only one to delay taking something down. My neighbor to the East lost their screen tent.

No wonder the landscape is so barren – these winds must take just about everything down!!  The winds were only gusting to about 30mph – I guess I was lucky.  One of my neighbors said his weather center recorded steady 50mph winds gusting to 75mph last year (don’t know what I’d do in that kind of wind – 30 was scary enough!)

The skies are finally clearing – but there is a fine grit throughout the trailer – I remember this from sandstorms in west Texas when I was a kid.  We’d clean for days to get the sand that had filtered into the house off the surfaces.  My lungs feel a bit clogged up and my cough is back – nothing like breathing dirt for several days!

Still a little windy a couple days later - but the sunset was lovely

Christmas in the LTVA

26 Dec, 2016; Imperial Dam LTVA, Yuma CA

Christmas Light Parade

Reminding me of the decorated ‘boat parade’ in Portland, the Christmas Light Parade here consists of decorated cars and trucks that parade around the LTVA for several nights before Christmas.  It was lots of fun and, along with trailers that decorated outside with lights, helped increase the holiday feeling.

Not my picture - it was too dark for my camera

So relaxed that I forget the ‘real’ world . . .

A couple of days ago I was heading into town for some last minute shopping when it started to rain.  I had to really think about where the wiper control was and how to operate the intermittent wipers!

The only decent pic I could get of some of  the outside decorations

What was I thinking!!!

Shopping on the day before Christmas!!!???  Somehow I had totally spaced out that this is never a good idea.  But, there I was – traffic, lines – desperate people rushing about for last minute presents or forgotten dinner items.  In addition to the people, this was one of the few cold, rainy and very windy days I've experienced down here.

While I was waiting in lines with Christmas music blaring from loudspeakers, I composed the following:

Oh, it started out so relaxing
But the lines, they were so taxing
And since I still have more to buy
Oh it blows, Oh it blows, Oh it blows

Oh, the weather outside is frightful
The furnace inside delightful
And since I’m real happy right here

Let it blow, Let it blow, Let it blow!


Fay Wray got her favorite treat and a new catnip toy - treat appreciated; toy ignored.

A photo album for 'En Plein Aire', some photo frames for the wall, socks and (of course) jewelry

Meeting the neighbors

16 Dec, 2016; Imperial Dam LTVA; “South Florida Flats”

Winter is coming . . .

So, the winter season is deepening and this means that the LTVA’s will only continue to fill up.  Rigs are popping up like mushrooms after a rain (not a particularly apt metaphor here in the SW where the average annual rainfall is less than 2”!).
My neighbors to the South are John and Karen from Long Beach, Wa!  They’ve been in the exact same spot for several winters in a row.  My neighbors on the other side are Mike and Karen from Idaho (also chihuaha mixes Chico and PJ!).

I haven’t decided whether to stay in “South Florida Flats”

I love everything about this site – except the big Class A a couple hundred yards to the east.  This newbie runs his generator for about 14-16 hours every day!!!!  It is so annoying!! 

I may move sites when I have to dump at the end of the week.  I’ve been walking and biking around the LTVA looking for available sites with no generators near-by.

North Shore is additional $$ – but SO pretty!

A little further out and over some rough road – but North Shore CG is right on the water and each site seems to be in it’s own little cove on the reservoir.  Unfortunately, only a few sites are level enough for the rig – but they would be great for paddling.  I could launch right outside my door!

“Hurricane Ridge” is another nice area

I met a really nice Canadian guy while I was looking around this area.  Up higher, I would have a view of the reservoir.  But, I worry that the name ‘Hurricane Ridge’ might be too apt.  Where I am, the wind is bad enough!   Seems like a fun neighborhood though!

Hunting for Wild Burros!

15 Dec, 2016; Imperial Dam LTVA, Yuma AZ

I know they’re around

There is Burro poop all over the place!  But, if I were a wild Burro, I wouldn’t come through the campground until nightfall when all the dogs are inside.

Where else can you get pics of burro poop!

So, I head out into the desert.

Are they in the washes?  Again, I see lots of fresh poop – but no Burros.

I see some interesting cactus and a mysterious bone

Most of the vegetation here consists of tumbleweed (if I was a plant, I’d want to get up and leave too!), creosote and ironwood trees in the washes.  I only see two saguaro as far as I can see.

I think this is a small 'blind prickly pear' - protected from the worst of the wind and sun by surrounding rocks - it is stunted, but clinging to life.

Whatever this was, it lost it's fight.  It's surprisingly stout for such a short bone.

One of 2 saguaros I saw on the horizon - again - it has had some sun-protection from the bush in front.

Here’s a well-traveled burro trail

I find fresh tracks in the sand – but still no burros.

Desert hiking is good for the ‘directionally-challenged’

Everyone knows that I don’t have the best sense of direction – where else but here can I hike for an hour, turn around and still be able to see my trailer.  Yes, it’s that flat and empty here!!

The hunt continues . . .

One of my neighbors tells me that he heard Burros braying out in the desert.  Laughing at my efforts to find them no doubt.

All Showers are not Equal

14 Dec, 2016; Imperial Dam LTVA, Yuma AZ

I have 3 different shower options here

I always have my trailer wet-bath of course.  I always use it for quick everyday essential hygiene and washing my hair, but rarely use it for a full-blown shower.  When boon-docking, a full shower uses too much fresh water and fills up my grey water tank too fast.  Developed campgrounds often have showers which are bigger than my trailer shower, don’t impact my grey water and have unlimited hot water.

My teeny-tiny, but functional, shower!

Another issue with using too much water in my trailer right now is that I’m having problems with my water pump.  The first issue occurred when hooked up to city water at the RVing Women conference in October – put it only happens when using city water.  So while I wait for a part from the factory, it’s not an issue because I’m boon-docking and not using city water. 
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed water in the aisle!  Investigating, I found that the water pump is seeping water at the main gaskets (that hold two parts of the pump together). 

Ackk!!!  I cleaned up all the water, let things dry out – fortunately, that happens quickly in the desert.  Then, I tried to notice when it happens – it doesn’t happen a lot – but always if I do a whole sink full of dishes or for sure, dishes and then a shower.  So, I’m trying to limit my use of the water pump. When I get the part for the first problem, I’ll take the trailer into an RV repair place and have them take care of both issues.

Back to showers . . . .

Here at the LTVA, there are also showers – outside by the main road (in full view of everyone passing by and cold water to boot!  Suitable for rinsing off after boating in the reservoir perhaps – but I can’t imagine using them otherwise.

Outside - by the main road!

But, I found a 3rd, pretty much perfect, option that also exists here.  Less than a mile away, Squaw Lake Campground has very nice pay showers.  For only a buck, I got a dressing room
and 7 minutes of deliciously hot water.  This will be my shower option while I’m staying at the LTVA!!!

And, if it's crowded when I go to take my shower, there is a delightful lake to sit beside while I wait.

Sunset Watching Protocol

13 Dec, 2016; Imperial Dam LTVA, Yuma AZ

Step 1: Gather Materials

Collect your chair, drink, appetizers and camera – set them up anywhere facing west.

Step 2:  Remember to look around (360) – especially behind you

The hills in the east will glow a lovely pink before the sun actually sinks over the horizon.  It’s good to enjoy the view to the east, because you’ll go blind looking to the west while the sun is still actually up. 

Remember he sunset doesn’t just happen in the west – the sky will look amazing for at least 180 around the point of the sunset.

Ackk!!!  Become distracted by some bozo with a loud generator which he runs, no lie, like 10-12 hours per day.  Curse him like a sailor and all those like him.
Take a deep breath; Resolve to be a kinder, more understanding person.
Aim a rude gesture in his general direction; take another deep, calming breath. 
Resume with Step 4.

Step 4: Watch the sun set and the stars come out

Enjoy the biggest light show around.  Savor your drink, appetizers and chat with your friends (in person, or perhaps call someone).  Enjoy the fading of the light and spectacular color changes in the sky.  Snap way too many photos.

Depending on the weather:
  • Continuing to enjoy the sky as the stars come out; wish you knew more about astronomy
  • Light the ‘campfire in a can’ and make a  ‘first star I see tonight’ wish before dashing inside to warm up
  • Scurry inside for a warm dinner and hot tea

Step 5: Keep looking behind you – you never know what’s sneaking up on you.

Full moon rising over the campground

It's not even officially a 'super-moon'