Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Wow, did we luck out! Little did we know it, but we arrived in Lake Havasu, just in time for their annual (2nd!) Balloon Festival! Four days of hot air balloons, arts & crafts, merchandise and food booths, live entertainment and lots of fun! We chose to go on Friday, thinking that it would be less crowded than the weekend with the kids still in school. Good choice, as it turned out to the best day of the four, both weather wise and event wise! And what a GREAT DAY it was too! We could not have asked for a prettier day! We got plenty of exorcise walking from the (very far) free parking lot to the fairgrounds, then all around the many acres of grounds to work off the calories of all the fun fair food that we consumed throughout the day, that's for sure! Several balloons were offering tethered rides all day, but the "big attraction" was going to be at 4 o'clock when all the balloons (40 expected) would be showing up to do their "night glow"! That, we had to stay for! In the meantime we had fun prowling around the different booths, checking out what folks make in the lively city of Lake Havasu...jewelry mostly! Lots & lots of it, it seems! I did find one small unusual treasure to take home with me, a "fabric painting" is the best description I can give it. Instead of using paint to create a picture, the artist sewed pieces of fabric together to create the landscape. Very pretty, and different. I bought a very small one, since space is a premium in our little home. I also managed to find a hat that actually fit me! That's a hard thing for me, as it seems I have a small head (I know that hard for some to believe) and I think I look funny in most hats; but this one is kind of a fun, funky one...like me! I even got a compliment on it later! ;-)

Around 3 o'clock, we decided we better find ourselves "the perfect spot" to watch the balloon launch so scouted around and finally decided on one by a small pond. Once settled, a nice old gentleman joined us. He stayed throughout the evening, sharing his story about how he came to the city and about his family. We enjoyed chatting with 87 year old Charlie from Canada. He made the wait more interesting. Soon the drivers and their balloons began arriving and setting up and the real fun began. This is the first time I've been to one where they not only allowed you to walk around close to all of them, but encouraged you to mix and mingle with the crew, get as close as you wanted, and practically join in on the fun of setting it all up! It really added to the excitement! I snapped away. I couldn't take pictures fast enough! Soon the sun was setting and the sky was competing with the colors of the balloons! They added some skydivers, and some biplanes to the festivities just to liven things up even more! Just as the sky was getting the darkest, and the night glow of the balloons were really making their show, I was running out of battery! Yikes! I was still able to get a few final shots in, anyway. I took over a hundred pictures, so it was probably a good thing it gave out, or who knows how long I would have kept going! The good side, was that it forced me to put my camera down and just wander around and enjoy it all, and enjoy it we both really did. Good job Lake Havasu, you can be proud of yourself on this one!

If you would like to see the rest of the photos, you can view them on my Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/sets/72157629088643837/

...kicking back in Arizona, Marie

Lovely Lake Havasu City!

Traveling is fun...most of the time...but we all know, nothing is perfect. Case in point - Our trip to Lake Havasu...

We have this wonderful GPS system, the Rand McNally Tripmaker but it's only as good as the information going into it. Sooo, when we were given the "address" of the campground, that's what I put into the system. Well, I should say, that's what I tried to put into the system. It kept fighting me (that was my first clue), not "finding" it in Lake Havasu or Parker. As the sun started setting and we started getting closer to Quartzsite we started getting more and more worried that we were indeed lost. With hundreds of rigs heading on the long stretch to Quartzsite, and not a turn-out in sight, it didn't look pretty. Quartzsite was the last place Jack wanted to be, and I was failing fast as the navigator. Tempers were starting to flare! This was not going well. We finally spotted an area large enough to pull over and recalculate the situation. That done, Jack saw a way to pull the rig around and go back the way we came and retrace our route. Long story short, we finally found the place, well hidden, I might add! Once there (Havasu Springs Resort), the staff couldn't have been more accommodating and friendly. Luckily they had a restaurant and it was still open too! Good food, a glass a wine and some live music later, and all was well. Phew! Lesson learned...don't fight the GPS system, she knows best, if she can't find it, the address or directions given were wrong!!

In the light of day, we saw that the campground (called a "resort") was really quite nice! Jack had won this when he was having some work done on the rig in San Marcos before we left, at Camperworld. They had called him on his birthday, no less, and told him he had won $1000 worth of free nights at a Colorado River Adventures campground of our choice. He explained that we were right in the middle of moving, etc. and we would have to call them back to schedule something. When we were in Pahrump, I told him to give them a call and see if we could go ahead and book their Lake Havasu location - that's how we ended up there! We had to attend a "sales meeting", we knew, but what the heck?

It ended up to be a good call. We met with some very nice folks, explained our new style of living for the next year or so, and actually worked out a really good deal for us (and them, of course). We decided to go ahead and purchase their membership. It's through CRA (Colorado River Adventures) and covers RPI (Resort Parks International) that includes Thousand Trails and Enjoy America campgrounds as well. That along with our KOA membership should pretty much cover us across the US! I was actually a little concerned about "peak season" camping, but now I don't have to be, yea for us! And that's now at $10-$15 a night even! I'll keep you posted on how it all works out.

...kicking back in Arizona, Marie

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Time to say goodbye...

Time to say goodbye to Nevada and to our friends, for now... Both have shown us a great time, and left us with wonderful memories that we will cherish for a very long time!

One of the things you realize when you are "on the road", knowing that you are not going to be seeing your friends for awhile, is how very precious each one is. I think we take our friends for granted most of the time; believing that they are "always there" so we can put off that call, or visit until a "more convenient time"...but is there really one? Sometimes not...and then the time is lost, and perhaps the friendship. A lesson, I fear, I've learned the hard way, as I found when we reached Phoenix (more about that later).

Although our time together was short, it sure was fun! Aside from the "tourist-type" stuff, hours were spent just talking, drinking wine, sharing stories, laughing, cooking together and enjoying the company of old and new friends. Working full time with the addition of the long commute, had changed our lives so much that I had gotten out of the habit of really cooking anything that took longer than a few minutes, and when we got together with friends, we almost always went out. Being with 6 others, who all chimed in that they "didn't cook, but would help" made making dinner again, fun! Meals I hadn't made in a long time; simple, everyday fare, made special because of the people, the laughter and the joy of sharing. I'd forgotten how much I'd missed that.
Even tho it's just the two of us again, back in the tiny rv kitchen, the freedom of "having all the time in the world" to cook (or not) is like a new found joy.

As we left Pahrump, and headed in to Lake Havasu, and as usual, the Arizona sunset greeted us...

...on the road in Arizona, Marie

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Funky, Fun & Delicious!

Kay, being an old and dear friend, who knows me well, says, "I've got a great couple of places to take you! We'll leave the guys here, and just the two of us will go have some FUN!" So off we went! First direction, back to California! "Tecopa" to be specific. We "checked out" the options for the various "hot springs", but turned up our noses and drove on to China Ranch Date Farm. THAT was the real beginning of our adventure! You practically need a 4-wheel drive to get there, but Kay knew the way, and v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y drove through the soft rocky road to the ranch. All along the "road" are steep walls of gypsum that had been mined out long ago, leaving a pretty interesting entrance to this place, I must say! We finally reached the "entrance sign" so I knew it couldn't be much further, then turned a corner, and WOW, rows and rows of beautiful date palms! Now, it's not like I haven't seen date palms before, but I can tell you, I haven't seen any with clothes hanging in them! What a hoot! Instead of burlap bags or other "plain" material to cover the dates until picking time, they use old clothes! Guess it's easier? cheaper? a good marketing idea? Anyway, it does make a good "impression", that's for sure!

After driving around enjoying the trees, we went over to the "store", such as it was. Nothing about this place is "fancy" that's for sure. But one this is for sure, the dates are plenty, the variety is huge, and the taste is wonderful! They make date shakes (of course) and bread (all day, every day) that I couldn't resist (sorry Jenny Craig). A few other fun little "sights" to see and chuckle over and off we went, on to the next "location" of my surprise adventure!

A few miles away, we came to this little, I mean little town called Shoshone. We missed the museum being opened, but I still had a good time walking around and seeing "everything". The BEST was this art! There really wasn't any signs up about it, and the best I can gather from my research, is that it must be left from Jill "Lady Buffalo" Thacker, who was commissioned to weld the names of local mines onto a railroad rail for a footrest at the base of the bar next door. Maybe it was her, maybe it's just a "local artist" expressing them self, but I got quite a chuckle out of seeing all these just lying about in the desert!

We decided that was enough fun for one day and took the poor van in to be washed before we brought it back to the guys! A fun day had by two happy gals!

...kicking back in Nevada, Marie

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Valley of Fire!

So, cousin David says, "What have you seen since you've been here?" "Have you seen The Valley of Fire yet?" We told him that "no, we hadn't, but that we had spent the morning at Red Rock Canyon and thought that was beautiful." "Oh, that's nothing! You need to see The Valley of Fire! Let me take you there tomorrow. You like to hike? We can spend the day, up for it?" We agreed and plans were made.

We weren't disappointed. The day started out with a big "Las Vegas style" breakfast, then off we went in his big truck to the Mojave Desert! Like Red Rock Canyon, and other areas, red sandstone is abundant, but the formations are very different. Also different than the Canyon, it's not a "driving experience" it's "a stop, get out, and walk to see experience". One I was glad I wore my hiking boots for! I definitely worked off those morning calories! Yea me!!

The Valley includes a variety of formations (that a good "marketing dept" must of had fun naming!) along with evidence of prehistoric users, including some wonderful petroglyphs. Hope this is not to many pictures...but hard to cut it down to just a few...hope you enjoy!

Each new area David took us to was different from the last. Between David's "wait till you see this one!" and our "Oh my's!" I'm not sure who had more fun, us or David! Either way, it was a full, GREAT DAY!

These are called "Beehives...

Jack & David...

Some great petroglyphs...

The Arch (wedding photos popular here)...

Cabins made by the CCC's in the 1930's for passing travelers...

And we ended our day seeing the Starship Enterprise!

...kicking back in Nevada, Marie

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Red Rock Canyon in the morning and Las Vegas at night!

On our way to visit my cousin in Las Vegas for the evening, it was suggested that we make a stop at Red Rock Canyon; that I might like to take some pictures there. Wow! What an understatement! What we thought was going to be a "short stop" turned out to be a full morning, well spent! Their motto is "It's not called the scenic drive for nothing..." is so true! 13 miles of stunning views and geological wonders. Every stopping location was an opportunity for more and different photos. Hours went by before we realized it and pulled ourselves away from it's mesmerizing beauty.
They actually attempted to quarry the sandstone at one time!

Luckily we were to meet my cousin late in the day to visit and be shown around Las Vegas a bit. We hadn't seen each other for many years, so it was really a great treat to get together. I took a couple of pictures driving into Vegas, but left my camera in the car, thinking it would be in the way at dinner...fool that I was! I took some shots with my phone, but it's not a "high-end" one so the photos are not very good. The Bellagio and other's had just done up their interiors with Chinese New Year's decor and it is gorgeous (of course!). My cousin took some great pictures with his phone, but he hasn't sent them to me yet (I'll add them to the Shutterfly when I get them). Sorry they are not better...but you can at least get an idea...My cousin and his wife were both dealers (she still is) and shared some fun stories with us including how Bill Gates had to be "bumped" from his room because a "whale" came into town and wanted his lucky room, and that was the one Bill was in. To bad Bill! "No, he couldn't pay for it, it was the whale's!" David even pointed out a real Vegas "mobster" to us! Ahhh, the life and times of the "insider's of LV" ;-)

...kicking back in Nevada, Marie

Monday, January 16, 2012

A day in Death Valley

First a stop off at Furnace Creek Visitor Center to purchase our "Senior Pass" and acquaint ourselves with that area of Death Valley, then off to see what we could see for our day-trip to the valley!

Surrounded by a maze of wildly eroded and vibrantly colored badlands, the spectacular view of Zabriskie Point is one of Death Valley's most famous stops. It was the first stop for exploring some of the sights of this beautiful valley.

After hiking around this area, we headed out to see Ash Meadows, the National Wildlife Refuge. It's the only area left that has the endangered Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfish. Ash Meadows is 23,000 acres of spring-fed wetlands and alkaline desert uplands. The name refers to the ash trees that once were found in the area. Warm water from underground bubbles up through the sand into clear spring pools, where the tiny silvery blue pupfish dart between swaying strands of dark green algae. Birds flit among the nearby mesquite trees and lizards scurry along the white powdery ground. It's quite a haven, for the wildlife and for the visitors! We spent a nice long time here, wondering around enjoying the springs and the sounds.

En route back, we drove through Death Valley Junction and saw the Amargosa Opera House. This, if you haven't heard about it, is the "famous"opera house in the "middle of nowhere" that a woman named Marta Becker took an old dilapidated building she found in 1967 and made it into an opera house where she performed for 45 years. It made the National Registry of Historic Places in 1983. She is officially retiring this February, but the house will continue to operate (tours)and have other artists perform. Unfortunately it was closed the day we were there, so we couldn't see the interior, but at least I got to see the outside and say "I was there!" One more thing I can check off my list!" ;-)

One last "fun stop on Long Street in Amargosa Valley to see one of the "what is THAT doing out here?"

Leaving the valley...

A nice full day, well spent. mmmmm

...kicking back in Nevada, Marie