Thursday, January 19, 2012

Still Learning…

And here’s another round of things we’ve been learning on this journey.

1) Clean is a relative term.  It’s relative to just how dirty it was to start with.

2) If a bee gets in your RV and you are wondering a humane way to remove them; pick up a stick, lick it and stick it in their face.  They’ll crawl onto the stick to lick your spit and while they are busy you can walk them outside.

3) Fire is kind of obvious.  Carbon Monoxide is not.  So, when your detector goes off all of a sudden it can cause quite a panic.  Especially when it breaks the complete silence of the night by screaming, ‘Warning!  Warning!  Carbon Monoxide!  Warning!  Warning!  Carbon Monoxide!’   By the way, these detectors should be replaced every 3-5 years and / or don’t charge your electric toothbrush on top of one because apparently it emits a substance that mimics CO.

4) You can buy one yellow bell pepper from Wal-Mart for $1.78 or you can buy three of the same brand from the trunk of a car for $1.00.

5) If you set your cans outside at night the ants just might have them clean by morning.  Hmmm… this has got us thinking regarding our dinner plates.

6) When you drive your new-to-you, steeply discounted motor home on the rims because the tires are falling apart or all together missing you are doing the Slab City Shuffle. - Sandi: Slab City Art

7) You really don’t need a lot to be happy.  You just have to live your life the way that you want to and choose happiness.  It’s an attitude.

8) If you open your fridge at night, it will be cool by morning and hold a good temp the rest of the day - Robb: Quartzite Camphost.  Pre-emptive NOTE: This won’t work if you run a heat source in your rig at night.

9) The desert is dusty.

10) Burning your trash is fun and it is also a great way to get rid of your trash.

11) That very big flat rock that you have been crushing your cans on for three days is actually a more efficient can crusher than your little hammer.  We’re pretty sure this one needs a photo series.  Here you go.

IMG_0365STEP ONE:  Lift big rock leaving back edge on ground.

IMG_0362STEP TWO:  Place can in proper position under rock (yes, this does matter).
STEP THREE:  Release rock and scream whatever words of excitement you choose.
STEP FOUR: Observe.  The can is gone.
STEP FIVE:  Reveal and marvel at ‘the crush’.
STEP SIX:  Remove can and return to Step One until the fun is over.

Speaking of the fun being over, it’s back to the lessons part of this post now.

Things we’ve learned, continued…

12) The black wire in a 110 system is positive but in the 12 volt system it is negative. (Thanks, Uncle Al!)

13) It took two months but we’ve finally figured out how to humanely remove flies from the van.  Let them land on your hand, slowly move it toward a window, open the screen and BLOW!  The blow is the key.  It takes them by surprise and they take flight out the window pretty much without a choice.

14) Solar power is really cool!   

15) Cacti come in all different shapes and sizes.

16) Don’t shuffle your feet while wearing sandals in the desert.  (See #15)

17) Want to get the best tan of your life without even trying?  Spend winter in the desert.

18) The Teddy Bear Cactus may be sort of cute as cacti go but it is not really all that huggable.

19) The location that you choose for a fire alarm in a small vehicle should ironically be the one area you don’t expect a fire to start in.

20) “There are no mistakes… It’s ART!”- Sherry, RTR 2012

21) “If you don’t ask for help, you deny the other person the opportunity to be a blessing.”- Bob, RTR 2012

22) The average person uses 10 gallons of water to brush their teeth by not turning off the faucet.  We use 12 oz of water to wash our hair by living in a van.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wild in the West.

Lock up the women (except us!) and children it’s going to get crazy up in here! 

So, Robb’s a bit of a gun aficionado and knowing that we were packing heat in the van threw out the idea that we go shooting.  We, of course, accepted when he threw in the suggestion that he bring a few of his older ones to compare to our newer item.


IMG_0770First on the schedule was an 1871 Revolver (replica).
Two on the plate for Nicole’s first try and Darlene showed her skills by adding a bunch more!
Next it was time to load up Darlene’s H&K for each of us to take a turn.
IMG_0790 IMG_0783
Robb shot his ten off gangster style in about five seconds.  Nicole took a bit of a slower more deliberate pace.IMG_0780
In the end, we all put a few more on the target and in the board.
Ah, the good-stuff!
“Don’t shoot!  It wasn’t me, I swear. I was down at the Oasis.”IMG_0793
IMG_0800 A 1950’s Winchester 30-30.  Now this is more Nicole’s style, for sure.
IMG_0805 IMG_0804 
We had some fun with this one and some lower recoil ammo that Robb had loaded for us.

Hard to tell the count at the end of the day once Darlene started grouping them so tightly and basically shooting the same hole more than once.  The girl’s got skills.  Nicole is glad she’s on her side!  Besides hitting the target a few times herself, Nicole hit the leg of the stand and flipped the whole board in the air once in trick-shot style which was actually pretty cool looking.  She also managed with the rifle to hit a rock off in the distance that Robb had pointed to on the second shot (1st one was 1 inch to the right… good thing she told it to ‘Sit’ and ‘Stay’ the second time).  Thirty or more on the plate and many more on the board sure made for a great day!  Next time, Robb show’s us how to fire his black powder pistol.  Meanwhile… it’s on down the road for us.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Welcome to the Rubber Tramp Resort and Random Desert Wanderings.

Right this way ==|>

It was only the third night of our five and a half day stay with the Rubber Tramp crew when Nicole said, “With all of the seminars, group dinners, great people and neat stuff scheduled to learn or do each day, I feel like we are at an all inclusive resort!”  Actually, we were so busy enjoying ourselves that the only photos we took were bragging rights on two classes of wire-bending that we took. 

IMG_0711Day 1… We learned loops and wraps…
and we used those skills to hang our own beads.
Day 2… On to loopty loops…
which we used those to create a larger pendant.

We counted some 15-20 vans of all shapes and sizes at this event and no two of them were the same.  In addition, folks lived or traveled in anything from converted box trailers, truck campers, fifth wheels, buses, tents, trucks to even a Prius!  The people that we met at the event ranged from those who still haven’t picked a rig nor hit the road full-time to those that had up to 30 years or so of rubber tramping.  The great thing about everyone gathering in one place like this was that we were able to glean oodles of information on a wide range of topics and in return contribute what we’ve learned so far.  There’s a lot to take in out there and the Rendezvous gave us yet another great dose that we’ll use as we mosey on down the road. 

On the fifth night of our stay, the wind began to blow in that way that it does when it is time for us to move on.  So, by noon the next day, we were packed up and heading on down the road, looking toward new and different experiences.

Next stop… a visit to our friend, Robb, and his dog, Dude.  We spent a few days with Robb and Dude hanging out, swapping stories of where we’d been since we had last seen each other and sharing other tales.  Dude spent several days soaking in the attention of two women and breaking literally every training rule Robb had instilled.  Well, Robb says he’s got time on his hands.  Guess a little re-training won’t get in the way!

IMG_0774DUDE!  Where’s my bone?

By the campfire one evening our stargazing turned into a full fledged lesson from Robb who used to teach astronomy.  It was a perfect night to view the stars, dark, cool and clear.  The milky way and various constellations were easy to spot. 

Given our latest experience, we’d like to state the following for the record.  The guy at the Slabs, who told us we were looking at the International Space Station one night, had DEFINITELY consumed a few too many intoxicants.  We discovered that most likely he was showing us Venus.  We also learned that what we thought we knew all these years indicated that we weren’t far off from the guy at the Slabs, only without the intoxicants.  Not so sure who has the better excuse now?! 

In Nicole’s opinion, probably the most amazing thing we saw was the Dog Star which sparkled white, green, red, white, green, red, white, green, red.  It was absolutely beautiful.  Darlene just thought it was all pretty awesome.

Robb gave us information about great camping areas which would provide us the kind of experiences we are looking for on this journey and we shared what we had experienced so far (a few places of which he actually had not yet visited in his 20 some years on the road).  This had us pulling out the map and dreaming of the many options.  Too may to count or make plans by so we put it away and decided we’d just keep going where the wind blows us.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What Day Is IT? What Time Is IT?!

Bouncing back and forth between time zones can do quite a number on a person.  Between watches, cell phones, computers and the differences in sunsets and rises by only crossing the line from California to Arizona and back again we’ve finally given up on knowing what day or time it really is.  Occasionally, we actually do lose a day here or there and are quite surprised to find out that one went missing.  While staying at American Girl Mine our cell phone couldn’t quite figure out if we were in CA or AZ and at any given time we would be catching a tower from a different time zone and not even know it until later when the sunset or sunrise just seemed a bit ‘off’.  Not that we’re complaining.  There is something nice about not knowing what day or time it is.  While in Yuma, our latest citified stop over, we took advantage and enjoyed an even slower pace than usual.  We quite enjoyed Yuma and did our best to get a small bit of just about everything the town has to offer.  Beginning with the first thing we found… West Wetlands Park. 

IMG_0606We spent a few afternoons at this beautiful park.  The lake above is stocked with trout and bass and the shores around it are stocked with hopefully fisher-people. Remote control sailboat folk also gather here to have fun.IMG_0620We lay for a while under Palo Verde Trees to watch the hummingbirds play in the garden designed just for them.
One of the locals.
Jane, the bees LOVE these flowers but we haven’t found out their name yet.
IMG_0605Annie’s Solar Panel = 135 watts.  Yuma’s Solar Garden = 121 KILOWATTS.
Alright, Yuma.  You win that one.  But we’ll be back!
The opening of the Ocean to Ocean Highway Bridge in 1915 made it possible to cross the lower Colorado river.
Prior to that another 1200 miles had to be forged to get across.  Just under the bridge is a wonderful walking path.
East Wetlands Park is yet another of the reclaimed land restorations taking place in Yuma.
There is a trail walk for about three miles along the Colorado River.
Cottonwoods line the Colorado and make an incredible sound when the breeze blows.

For our ‘free stay’ RV friends out there, Yuma has one Cracker Barrel (which after our first and last night there Nicole nicknamed the Roadway Inn… if you’ve ever stayed at one and took note of their location and noise level you’ll understand).  It also has three Wal-marts in different parts of town and based on where we were exploring we took advantage of their friendly toward RV’ers hospitality.  It was at one of them that we spotted a van with a top identical to our Annie.  We were so excited that we actually stalked the driver from Wal-mart all the way to the oil change place before we could talk to her.  Boy were we glad that we did!  Linda, also known as Tex or Texas is a remarkable woman of seventy-ish or so who has had a stroke and was told that she would not walk or talk much less drive her 40 foot RV again.  So, ‘forget you doctors’ she says, teaches herself how to walk, talk and then downsizes to a van and off she goes.  We were so inspired by her, excited to have met Annie’s half-sister and spent the next day with Linda walking around the outdoor market place and hearing tell of all of the great places to park for free.  
Turtle-Top is the name of Linda’s rig.

When we could pull ourselves away from the beautiful parks and fresh markets in town we did our best to explore some of the free or donation based set ups.  The first was the Moody Demonstration Garden where you can walk through a fully labeled garden of desert plants. 
Nicole was busy taming wild animals so we didn’t get many shots of this area but it was very well laid out and we learned the names of many of the local plants we’d been seeing for a few months now.
At the Yuma Conservation Garden we were greeted by Karen and enjoyed a wonderful talk with her about the gardens,
the history of Yuma and full-time rv’ing.  We also learned from one little girl there that when you are done feeding the ducks in the pond you simply toss the bucket in too because after all when there’s no food in it, what good is it?!
This guy was all up in arms about something!
A turtle resides at the Garden.  He wasn’t allowing photos the day we were there so we got these
guys to stand in for him.  We kept telling them to just act ‘natural’ in front of the camera but they were a little stiff.
Un-screwed bean.
Wanna hug THIS Teddy Bear?
The guy who named this one has quite a sense of humor!
Crochet anyone?
YOU try to tell a cactus not to point THAT finger!
Cousin IT.
The Duck Pond.
Apparently our bubbly personalities were of no interest since we carried no edible gifts.

Yuma is an enjoyable city rich with history and loads of outdoor activities most of which we still have not had opportunity to explore.  Since we know we’ll get back there one day in the near or distant future it is nice to know there is more to learn about and experience in the area.  We spent all total about a week in Yuma exploring their gardens, parks, local fresh markets, historical landmarks and other offerings before deciding to head out for uncharted waters.  We had heard tale of a lake / pond called Fortuna and thought it worth a run.  Following written directions, we were quite surprised to realize that it was only three miles from town and got a kick out of yet another of our ‘long drives’ to our new destination.  
A room with a view.  Ain’t life grand.
A morning visitor eating breakfast in front of our site.

While at Fortuna we met a super fun couple named Dale and Gayle (say that five times fast, we dare you) and hit it off with them like we were old friends from the start.  Gayle is a wonderfully creative artist and we were impressed by all of her innovative designs.  Dale is a rockhound and offered to take us hunting for fire agate the next day.
Our fearless leader, Dale, assumed the position.
And so did everyone else!
This is pretty much what we all looked like the rest of the day.

We learned a lot on our first ever rockhound outing. The next afternoon Dale showed Nicole how to cut open and polish a geode and one of the rocks that we had found on our hunt. 
The outside.
And yet another great example of why you should never judge a book by it’s cover.

Just before we headed to Fortuna we’d heard word of a bunch of rubber tramps who live in vans that were gathering in the desert about 60 miles away.  The opportunity to meet them, get ideas and show off our girl was one that we just couldn’t pass up.  So, after only a few days by the water we headed for dry land once again! 
We’ll let you know how it goes.