Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Almost time to fly to Tucson!
I thought I would leave photos from the past with some of these posts, until I have some more current things. Most are of things that them not being current won't make much difference. I will start out with a photo of the London Bridge from Lake Havasu City, Arizona. This was taken 6 March 2004 but it still looked the same in '05 when we last stopped at the English Village located below the bridge. As to the name of it, I guess it is actually an old bridge from London that was taken apart, shipped to AZ and re-assembled in the desert. After the bridge was in place, the waterway below was dredged out allowing water from the Colorado River to flow in and make a lake. My understanding is that it really isn't "The London Bridge" but it is an actual London bridge. Here it is:
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Birthday parties are fun
Presents are a big part of a child's birthday and here she is opening one of those I bought for her. Annie used to do most of our selecting of presents and I have found it to be kind of hard to do on my own. I don't know what a nine year old girl wants nor what she already has, so I was tempted to just go the gift certificate route. I kind of split it, buying four different presents and giving her some cash in her card. I guess I did okay:
It was nice to attend my home church on Sunday and the people there seemed genuinly happy to see me back. Annie will be intered in the new Memorial Garden being prepared at our church, as I will eventually, and there was a meeting before the service of the committee working on that. It is getting closer. I went to Starbucks with friends after the service which is a long time tradition for me.
I got my lawn mowed yesterday. The rain from late last week held off for it to get at least partly dry and it needed it's first cutting of the season. I will be gone for a week and a half soon and that would be way too long to wait, so it was good to get it done. I also had lunch with a friend at Easy Rider Cafe, the cafe located in Steel Dreams, the motorcycle shop where I bought my Honda moped last summer. Son B came to spend the night before returning to work this morning.
Today I got together for a mocha with L, the instructor from the digital imaging class I took last fall at the local college. We are going to go on the MG Car Club 25th anniversary run of the annual Tulip Rallye put on here in my local area on April 22,which will probably be the first real outing for me with my new Miata. It is a gimmick rally that I have been on many times in the past, with Annie, and in various sports cars we have owned over the years.
Neighbors D & B returned home today from their Snowbird RV trip. We met in Quartzsite on 1 March where they were spending a few days & I drove my car up from Yuma. They are good with Huggy and know her well, so during the time I am gone south to get the Miata & son B isn't here, she will be able to do it. I know Huggy will be in good hands. Speaking of my trip, I have a reservation to ride the shuttle from Mt. Vernon to SeaTac airport for my 08:10 flight, but I have to get up EARLY. The shuttle leaves Mt. Vernon at 04:50! Maybe I can sleep on the plane.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Life on Wheels, Tucson AZ and the trip home
The second photo shows how the RVs were parked in the large lot. All were dry camping with no hookups but all are self contained and most have generators and/or solar panels to recharge batteries:
A couple who attended the conference who lives in Tucson invited the teachers and staff to their home for a get-together Thursday evening after the class sessions ended. I was on the parking crew so went along. This was a great opportunity to see a beautiful example of a Tucson home, although I think these are above average examples of houses there. This first photo is of one of the houses located in the same cul-du-sac as the one we went to. This one is a bit unusual as it has palm trees. Palm trees are common in California but Arizona seems to use cactus' more in landscaping, probably because they require less water:
Here is part of the front of house we were going to. Notice there is a two car garage for regular cars plus a two RV garage, the part with the larger doors. This home is 18 years old so the landscaping is pretty mature. It is also larger than it looks from this view:
Desert landscaping must pay close attention to water needs. Plants are selected that don't require a lot of watering. This also tends to lead to easy maintenance type gardens. The home had a beautiful example located behind it, with patio's mixed into the garden, all enclosed by an adobe wall. This is just a part of that area but I think it will give you a good idea what it looks like:
Not long after we arrived, the sun set. This next photo was taken over the adobe wall at the rear of the garden and shows the tremendous view from there of the mountains to the east, with the warm toned setting sun on them. The roof you can see is a neighbors home but it is not too close nor too noticable:
I attended my last class on Friday, a two session one on Digital Photography. After that we had a wrap-up session where it was announced that LoW would return next year to Tucson and should have more space. There were about 150 turned away due to the amount of people they felt could be accomodated reaching the limit. I went back to the RV and got away about 13:30. I wanted to get started but didn't want to start too late on a Friday afternoon and start out in the worst of the rush hour traffic. This was early enough that traffic wasn't bad.
I drove to Gila Bend where I filled the gas tank, then to Quartzsite where I pulled into a BLM area north of town just after sunset. It was a nice place to stop for the night. I got away Sat morning just before 7 & figured to stop at the mocha stand in Parker, about 1/2 hour away, but it wasn't open yet! I drove on to Lake Havasu City where I stopped at a Starbucks outlet in a Safeway store where we have gotten mochas in past years. When I arrived at I-40 I was less than ten miles from California where I knew gas would be more expensive, so I filled up the tank again there. Then east on I-40 and CA SR-58 to Bakersfield and north on SR-99 to Kingsburg where I stopped for the night in a full hookup campground, the same one I used while southbound. It gave the opportunity to empty my holding tanks and have shore power to the rig.
Here is a photo of Huggy riding on the front passenger seat of the RV. She likes her basket on the dashboard but it tends to get too hot there when the sun is shinning through the windshield onto the basket. This photo was taken while we were driving north on SR-99 after leaving Kingsburg:
Sunday morning I had the local TV news on and the weather report said that day would be great weather all through Calif. but there was another storm expected to arrive that evening. I was concerned about getting through the mountains in northern Calif. and southern Oregon as there can be snow & ice this early in the spring. That made for another long day. I found myself in northern Calif. shortly before sunset time with the sun still shining on Mt. Shasta. I stopped in a highway rest stop and took some photos, here is one of those:
I drove on, crossed Siskiyou Summit (4300' elevation) before dark, and stopped in a highway rest stop at milepost 112 on I-5 in Oregon where I got six hours of sleep. I got up about 03:15, left at 03:30 and arrived at the gas station I like in Roseburg about half an hour later to fill the gas tank and get a large mocha at Dutch Brothers coffee stand. Both the gas station and mocha stand are open 24 hours a day. I arrived in Portland, the next big town, a little before 07:00 and was passing through Auburn, WA at 10:26 when spring officially arrived. I got home just after noon. There was a small amount of rain while going through Tehachapi Pass in Calif. between the Mohave Desert and the town of Bakersfield, but otherwise it was clear and sunny all the way. There was frost in the early hours Monday but it didn't present any problem to me on the highway. I don't like to move that many miles in that short of a time but it was good to be back home and to have good weather all the way. Huggy likes the much larger space of the house to roam around in and it doesn't get as cold overnight as the RV, either.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
We made it home to Mt. Vernon
I have a few things to get done including working with the last photos and I will try to get to them today or tomorrow, and then get them posted. Huggy seems glad to be back home to the house where she has a lot more room to roam and it never gets as cold overnight as the RV often did.
A question was asked in one of the comments as to what I was going to do with this blog when I returned home and was not RVing at the moment. The answer is that I don't know but I expect I will continue it with ongoing activities. In a little over a week I will head back to Tucson to drive the Miata home and that should generate some different things to write about, but Huggy will not be along.
Friday, March 17, 2006
On the road again...
I had thought I would go to Gila Bend & spend the night but I got there just after 15:30, got gas, and kept on. I pulled into Quartzsite about 18:35, bought a hamburger to go at Mark's Family Diner and drove north of town on Hwy 95 to a camping area. I am boondocking again on BLM land but the price is right (free) & I don't want any amenities as I'll just get up early and go. Tomorrow I will enter California after two & a half months in Arizona. I should make it at least to Bakersfield & maybe Kingsburg, near Fresno.
This was a no-mocha day but tomorrow I only have about 30 miles to go to get to Parker & I know where there is a good mocha stand there! I'll fill the gas tank just before I get to I-40 as gas is usually a lot cheaper in AZ than it is in CA.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Life On Wheels Conference, Tucson Arizona
This has been the first Life on Wheels conference in 2006 and the first ever in the state of Arizona. There were 237 registered to attend and close to 150 were turned down due to lack of space. We have been told the conference will return here next year and more space to park RVs will be made available, so there should be more in attendance in 2007. While the session at the University of Idaho in Moscow is a full week long, the four satellite conferences are only two & a half days worth of classes. But that gives an opportunity for the attendees to select one of nine or so different classes that are offered each class period for a total of ten periods. In Moscow there are eight more sessions available.
There are commercial sponsors who help support this program so that all the costs do not have to be covered by the tuition paid by attendees. Tuesday evening, after the Introduction session, all were invited to Beaudry RV for a nice catered lasangne dinner, followed by cheese cake for desert next door at Camping World, which stayed open late to give us an opportunity to shop after dinner.
There were four class periods yesterday, four today and there will be two tomorrow, followed by a wrap up session. I have talked with many here who are intending to go to another conference. With nine or more classes offered at once, it can take a few return trips to attend all of them you want to. This is my fifth session and there are still some I haven't managed to fit in, plus there are new ones all the time, too. You also get to know many people who attend and those who work to make the conference happen, so it is a fun social event as well as a great learning experience.
I hadn't had a mocha since Monday night, until this morning. My friend D, who I worked with for years at Metro Transit in Seattle, celebrated his 56th birthday yesterday. We both needed to buy a few things at a couple of different stores, so we "cut class" second period today and started at the Seattle's Best Coffee cafe at the Border's book store where I bought him a mocha for his birthday, & me one too. I will hit the road for home tomorrow afternoon or for sure Sat morning & my mocha stops then might not happen daily. When I get home I may need to have more than one a day to make up for the shortfall!
Monday, March 13, 2006
A visit to Biosphere 2
This was financed by one man from Texas with a cost that exceeded $200 million to build. Planning started in 1984, construction in 1987. It is constructed to be tighter than a submarine or space craft. The first group of eight people entered the closed environment for a two year experiment of living totally inside an enclosed self contained environment. There were a few problems that developed but they did make it through the full two years.
This first photo is of the sign you see as you approach the entry building:
This photo was taken inside the project in the African Savannah area. You can see the rain forest area behind the plastic sheet to the rear of this photo but we did not tour that part. It was also visible from outside the building:
Here we are still in the African Savannah but looking down on the indoor ocean which duplicates a part of the Caribbean Ocean:
This desert area actually duplicates a part of Baja, Mexico that is at 23 degrees latitude. There are some unique plants in all of these areas and this one is no exception. We are now in the dry time of the year there so it is also dry here. Precipitation comes mostly in the form of fog or mist, so there are misting nozzles located high on the ceiling that will provide a measured amount of water, starting in November to duplicate the actual environment at that location. All water is recycled and no additional water was needed to be added over the two year experiment:
Biosphere 2 is located in a desert where it gets hot outside in the summer. There was concern that with the enclosed environment and all the glass to let the sunlight inside, the heat buildup would get so high it could blow out the glass of the building. Two "lungs" were designed to allow the air to expand, raising the large disk in this next photo as much as 50 feet during the daytime while the heat increased. At night as the interior temperature dropped the disk would drop back down. This works much as a hot air balloon does. There are two of these. The red pumps are to provide fire protection and are capable of pumping water from the tank below them through the fire protection system:
There are viewing windows located outside the ocean where you can observe coral, fish and other undersea plants and animals. This is a view looking into the undersea area from one of those observation points:
There are some walkways outside the undersea viewing areas that have displays setup to see. This was taken in one of those passageways:
This view is of the main building taken from near some rooms built for college students to occupy. Columbia University operated the Biosphere 2 for some years and they built these for their students. We did not get to see the living quarters of those who lived in the Biosphere 2 for either the two year project nor the later six month one. There is a lot of information available about these projects and it does make for some fascinating reading. Try a Google search to find more info:
There were unexpected problems, like the slowly curing concrete was removing too much oxygen from the air, reducing the percentage of oxygen and making those inside live with high altitude sickness. The problem was recognized and extra oxygen was put in to offset the lowering percentage of oxygen. The inhabitants were going to eat a primarily vegetarian diet but there was some meat eaten. They had chickens and those that did not produce eggs were eaten as they were using resources and not adding anything. Electric power from the outside was necessary to operate the whole system. There also were some relationship problems with the four females and four males who made up the "crew" in the two year project.
Biosphere 2 covers over three acres on the main floor area and has a two acre basement where the mechanical systems are located. The cost to operate the Biosphere is about $1 million a month. The purchasers of the land are doing a study to determine if it is feasible to keep it or if it should be torn down. They expect to know it's fate by sometime this August. I hope it does continue but am glad that I did have the opportunity to see it.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
A "test" for what kind of a car are you
I'm a Mazda Miata!
You like to soak up the sun, but your tastes are down to earth. Everyone thinks you're cute. Life is a winding road, and you like to take the curves in stride. Let other people compete in the rat race - you're just here to enjoy the ride.
Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.
It was quick and fun. You can take the quiz by clicking on the link above. To see more, check out her blog. There is a link in my side bar that will take you there. I don't know how she does it but every day she has a new subject with lots of fun sites linked. Go check it out!
Saturday, March 11, 2006
My Miata and another desert sunset
Fast forward to today, in Tucson (pronounced too-sone). The sky is dark & threatening rain. The weather forecast now says we have a 70% chance of rain today but the normal Tucson weather should be back by Monday. If that holds true it should be nice for Life on Wheels that starts Tuesday. The rain will settle the dust down so it will be really nice. Here is my RV with the new Miata parked beside it, taken this morning in our site at Prince Of Tucson RV Park:
I'll post a couple of other photos of the car. The first is an interior showing the dashboard area. The top is up (rain is coming!) so it doesn't show all of the passenger compartment. I'll do one of those later when the top is down. It is snug but there is a comfortable amount of space once you are inside. The second photo shows the engine compartment with it's 1.8 liter in-line four cylinder engine, with rear wheel drive. These cars are not high powered but still are a lot of fun to drive. Due to their relatively low power, insurance companies consider them economy cars and price their coverage accordingly. Here are the photos:
I will be leaving the RV about noon today to go get lunch & a mocha, then drive to cousin J's home near the town of Oracle, about 25 miles north of the RV park. We are going to visit & tour the Biosphere II project that is 2 miles or so from his house. Biosphere II has been sold and will be torn down to build more houses, so if you want to see it yourselves, come to Tucson soon. I plan to take photos and I still have the big PC setup so should be able to move them to Photoshop, reduce them in size & transfer them to Flickr & onto my blog before Life on Wheels.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Midnight At The Oasis car show in Yuma
This first one is a classic hotrod, a Ford Model T roadster bucket pickup that is powered by a flathead Ford V-8 engine:
The next one is a classic British two seat sports car, a Triumph TR-3. This was the first model of the TR-3 with the narrow grill:
This is what I call a hotrod sports car but it was factory built. The Sunbeam Alpine was a typical British 2 seater powered by a four cylinder engine. They decided it needed more power so bought 289 cubic inch Ford V-8 engines that made quite a different car out of it. The engine was light enough that the car still handled much as the original did on the road and was called the Sunbeam Tiger:
I call this car a newer hotrod. Not because the basic car is any newer than the other one but the engine is a newer overhead valve V-8:
This is a more modern sports car, I think a Pantera but I didn't write the name down. It is powered by a V-8 engine mounted in the middle of the car. They are very fast:
This car was built by some Arizona Highway Patrol officers. I think they just race it on the drag strip but I am sure it could catch almost anything that tried to outrun it on the freeway:
I enjoyed the show. Many of the cars were for sale but prices seemed to start around $35,000 and go up, so they were out of my price range. I did go to Phoenix yesterday with my cousin, J, and bought the 2001 Mazda Miata. I drove it back to J & V's home, then to the RV, leaving the Saturn there. Today was a day to read the owners book and drive the car. I did check out where I am to go Tuesday when I move the RV to the college for Life on Wheels. I thought after dark that I should take a photo of my parking spot here at the Prince of Tucson RV Park. It would show both the park & the car in one photo. I will try to take it tomorrow.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
I go pick up my Miata today
I did get out yesterday to do a little exploring around my area of Tucson. I found a Starbucks so had my first mocha since Sunday and I ordered a big venti one. There is a Walmart near the Starbucks so I made some purchases, then drove across the street to Crackerbarrel for another late lunch (a lunner) then drove a different route through town off the freeway.
I found the Foothills Mall and a very large, two-story Barnes & Noble Bookstore. They told me it is the tenth largest bookstore in the US and it is large. But they didn't have any books on the Miata! I did order two of them from Amazon.com on Monday and since they were being shipped to Arizona (cousin J's home) there was no sales tax. Saving the tax, I paid extra for two day delivery so they should arrive today. I don't get the immediate use of a new book when I buy from Amazon but they sure have access to almost any title you might want.
The weather here has cooled with the arrival of a large storm from the north Pacific to California. Clouds at least have extended this far east and yesterday the high temp was only 61 with sunshine, which felt pretty good to me. Overnight it got down to 39 and today is only to go up to the low 60s with a 20% chance of rain. It sounds like there is a higher chance of rain over the weekend. What a time to buy a convertible car, eh (that's for my Canadian friends!)
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Boy, the Internet can be expensive!
I had pretty much decided to buy another Mazda MX-5 Miata but figured I would wait until I got home in May to start looking. In talking with a friend Sunday he pointed out that is the expensive time to buy a convertible sports car as the good weather is when everyone goes looking. I thought it couldn't hurt to look on eBay to see what they had. There were about 80 of them listed, from all over the country and all model years from the original 1990 to 2006. My other two were both 1990 models and I wanted one a bit newer and also a low mileage car. I found a 2001 crystal blue metallic car with 31,337 miles and it is located in Phoenix, AZ! I was just south of there in Gila Bend and Tucson is only a 2-hour drive away.
I looked at the NADA site that lists used cars and found the "Buy It Now" price, which I expect was the same as the reserve on the auction, was about $3,500 below the NADA average retail price. It is at Midway Chevrolet & I called and talked with the salesman today, to make sure it was not a car from the floods caused by hurricane Katrina. It was originally sold in Oregon & was traded in by it's second owner on a new Corvette. This was his third car so the mileage was fairly low. It all sounded good, so I bought it. Now I have to get it home to Mt. Vernon, WA.
I may fly one of my sons down to drive it home, or I may see if I can leave it a couple of weeks at my cousin's home here in Tucson, head home and fly down myself to drive it home. At any rate, I will be heading home after Life on Wheels and cutting my Snowbird trip short.
I do have a couple of photos of saguaro cactus to post. These were taken in Quartzsite but I forgot to include them in the post from there. I still have to go through all those photos from the car show and the fabulous sunset from last night at Gila Bend but I haven't setup the big computer yet. Maybe tomorrow. Today was a drive & buy a car kind of a day. By the way, the way to pronounce this cactus is sa-waro. They store water inside themselves by expanding during the rainy season, so become very heavy. The first arms start to grow at about age 70 and I understand the purpose of the arms is to maintain balance so it doesn't fall over. Here is the first one:
The second one is the same cactus but a closer & slightly different angle view, showing a small bird right in the center who has built a nest in there:
There sure were a lot of these along the highway today driving into Tucson.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Hi from the true center of the Universe
Annie & I have had two Mazda Miata's and we belonged to the Puget Sound Miata Club which was pretty a active group. I think I will buy another Miata & re-join the car club. Miatas are very reliable, pretty economical to drive, and FUN. The club is still there - we have some 25-year friends who are active in it & I talked with him for an hour last night about my idea. Now I need to find me a car!
I only had a little over 100 miles to drive today so I didn't worry about getting an early start. I took a liesurly shower, washed dishes, emptied & flushed the holding tanks and pulled out a little after 13:00. I stopped to fill the propane tank (11.6 gal at $1.81 plus tax) and hit the freeway about 13:30. I arrived here in Gila Bend about 15:35 and checked into a small (24 spaces) RV park that is along with a Shell gas station & truck stop. There is free space for the trucks but my cost for a full hookup site, with electricity, is only $7.50 plus tax, so I sure can't complain. I got into a pull through site so don't have to unhook the car & can just drive off tomorrow when I am ready to leave. I will get started earlier tomorrow but there won't be much getting ready to do so it will be simpler.
Today has been cloudy all day but not cold. I guess it is in the mid-70s. It "smells" like rain so there may be some but the forecast this morning in Yuma only gave it a 10% chance. I would guess Southern California is getting hit hard with rain. There is a cafe here so I think I will eat dinner there. I have a tree beside me that probably blocks the satellite antennae so I will play on the Internet & watch a DVD movie tonight. This life style is rough (NOT.)
Friday, March 03, 2006
Return to Quartzsite
This is a closer view of two of those tables. I think the things here are glass:
There are a lot of homemade craft items sold there, some with prices that I feel are too high. Years ago a friend told me an artist might as well not sell a painting for $600 as not sell it for $6. But I am not usually willing to offer a way lower price that I might be willing to pay, so don't buy much of this type of thing:
We had ice cream deserts at Dairy Queen in the afternoon and then went to Silly Al's Pizza for an early dinner. I bought a medium which fed me two dinners. I headed back to Yuma before 18:00 and arrived at the RV just after dark at 19:10. Huggy was glad to see me, knowing she would get her special food!
Thursday I finally went back to the Arizona Marketplace. It has grown larger each year. I thought about going on Tuesday but they are only open Thursday through Sunday. These vendors are under a metal roof which keeps the sun away but it is fairly open so the breeze blows through helping to make it more comfortable. The products sold here are generally of a higher quality those most sold in Quartzsite. Prices are very good and it is a fun place to go browsing. I bought two pair of shorts for me, some T-shirts and of course books. I also found a place where I couldn't pass up an ice cream cone! Here is a view looking down one of the covered vendor areas. There are about eight of these and this photo shows only about half of this one:
Here is one of at least three book sellers there. This one is for sale! I think the owner, a retired teacher, wants to fully retire now. Most used bookstores now sell paperback books at half their retail prices. The three I visited here ranged from $2 each to individual prices but the ones I bought were $2.50 each:
I left about 15:30 (most places close at 16:00) and drove to Walmart for some shopping before stopping at the Zodiak Internet Cafe for my daily mocha. Here is a photo of the counter area at Zodiak with today's barista:
They have six PCs hard wired to their router plus they have WiFi this year for customers with their own laptops. The PC areas are to the right of this photo and along the wall on the right side, plus along the front wall, behind where I stood to take the photo.
After the mocha I went on home for pizza for dinner & to watch the DVD movie I bought at Walmart, "Walk The Line" about June Carter & Johnny Cash. So far this morning I have washed clothes again using that clothesline thing, moved photos into Photoshop Album, reduced them in size to transfer to Flickr and written this. I still have my paper journal to do. It doesn't seem possible that I have been in Yuma almost a month but I do leave on Monday after one month.