Monday, January 27, 2014

Quartzsite..the bad, the good, and the dusty

We had been looking forward to attending the "big RV Show" in Quartzsite AZ for the last year, hearing that thousands of people from all over the country came to see hundred of vendors sell you all sorts of cool stuff you didn't even know you needed!  We had visions of tools, gadgets, mats, chairs, shades, stuff for inside the rigs and stuff for outside.  Things to make it go faster, smoother, give it better gas mileage, etc.  Patio furnishings from lights to fireplaces to screened in decks with flags.  BBQ grills of all kinds and sizes, with every kind of gadget to go along with them.  Outdoor TVs, music speakers, and any other kind of entertainment we hadn't seen or heard of.

We were ready to be thrilled.  We (all three couples) expected to see and hear about new things that would "wow' us beyond our expectations.  With money in hand, once parked and settled, we all hit the show!  Dust was flying as we took off in our cars to find parking along with the hundred of other hopeful shoppers.  Well...

It didn't take us to long before we all looked at one another and said, "so, where is all the RV stuff?"  Lots of T shirts, cheap jewelry, gadgets, "stuff" you see at every swap meet or fair everywhere, but nothing "new".  Eventually we found some things, and we all managed to spend money, but the "wow" was never found.  We traversed the various parts of the show each day, finding areas we hadn't been to, finding a little thing here or there to buy.  Our biggest success was purchasing LED lights and exchanging all of our old lights out for them at a really good price (I love the new white light inside now!).  Our friends got new Direct TV antennas installed.  The rest were small purchases.

Our friends that came for a couple of days to see if they could find an RV to purchase - did.  They found a 2008, 42' Fleetwood that they liked and put a down payment on.  They are having a couple of second thoughts about it, but I think it will all work out ok for them.

The time together with our friends was the best.  Bringing other couples together that have never met before, for a week, was a gamble, but it worked out great!  Everyone got along super and we all spent a lot of time together laughing and telling great stories.  Each night's meal was incredible and I'm sure I've already gained 5 lbs!  It will be lonely when we all go our separate ways again.  I'm glad I will get one more week with one of the couples before they head back to their home in Utah...that will help ease the break a bit.

The weather treated us nicely with sunshine in the 70's, but oh my was it dry and dusty!  Our campground was just a pile of dirt with some loose rocks on top to (kind of) hold some of the dirt down.  Of course the whole town is that, so every car throws it up and it's constantly in the air.  My nose is so sore from sneezing and blowing it, I look like a clown.  I will be glad to get to Parker to wash all this off and be around grass again, I must say!

All in all, it was an experience, and I'm glad we did it.  Not sure I want to again...but now I can say "Quartzsite?  We've been there!"

...on the road in Arizona,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:   

Friday, January 17, 2014

Welcome home!

Although San Diego CA is not our "legal" home state, it is where we spent the last 40+ years (husband) and 55+ years for me.  So, every January we come here to visit friends and family and to "thaw out" from the last couple of months of the cold, damp weather of the north.

We don't usually drive an 8 hour day, not our style.  If you follow my blogs, you know it's all about enjoying the day, so usually we drive about 4 hours, settle in and see our surroundings.  Well, we were a bit anxious to get there, so we pushed it - 8 hours!  We were familiar with the drive, reminded of the traffic (ugh) and determined to get into town in time for the sunset.  We weren't disappointed - it was beautiful!  I didn't bother taking my camera, I just dashed to the water's edge (we always stay at Mission Bay RV Park) and just enjoyed it.  I leaned against the fence and said to myself "welcome home Marie".   It was warm, the sky was orange and for the first time in weeks all I had on that evening was a long sleeve shirt.  Lovely.

Don't get me wrong, Southern California isn't "perfect", it's crowded, over-priced, noisy, has crazy politics and probably a bunch of other problems, but...the weather is heaven!  After driving all over the country, enjoying low gas prices, "normal" traffic, reasonable food prices, etc, coming back into California, especially through Silicone Valley for three weeks, it was almost a shock to our system!  There were times when the traffic was so bad that I had to close my eyes for fear of screaming - and I'm the passenger!  My daughter told me to stop grimacing and scaring her, that this was "normal" here!  I'd forgotten how awful the drivers were here!  Last night, in San Diego, there were a couple of small accidents and all of the side roads, freeways, etc were bumper-to-bumper for hours! For hours!  I remember those days, yuck, no more, thank you.  Yep, it has lovely weather.  Keep reminding yourself of that. You don't even want me to get started on the price differences on food and gas!  ha ha

But...our wonderful friends and family live here, so we get the luxury of visiting and enjoying this great weather, in January when the rest of the world is freezing (I'm so sorry).  Seeing the Zoo, seeing how the progress is going on the San Salvador with the Blacksmiths, going to lunches and dinners, seeing all the changes in the city since last year (and in our previous jobs).  Then there's always the job of weeding all the "stuff" out that we've collected along the way (how does that happen?) and taking it to storage.  Good ol' spring cleaning!  Then...we're off for the next year's adventure!

We are so excited for 2014!  Several of our friends are getting back into RVing and I think that we will be seeing them more this year, which we are really looking forward to!  We've also made some new friends along the way, who are making plans on meeting up with us as well, so that will be great too.  It's always nice to have company!  After we leave the San Diego area we are heading to Quartzsite AZ to one of the largest RV shows there is.  About 150,000 folks converge on this tiny desert town for a week to see every possible thing that you could ever even think you might want for your rig, or maybe a brand new or a used rig to buy!  We are meeting 3 other couples there for the week!  I'm really excited - both for the experience of the show, but also for the first time of being with friends camping for the week!  Cool!
This is last year at Mission Bay, it always looks the same!

Our day at the Zoo!

Jack catching up with his Blacksmith buds at the San Salvador site
 See, 2014 is going to be a great year!  Glad you are coming along with us!

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:   

Monday, January 13, 2014

Goodbye 2013...

2013 was a very different year than 2012. We had planned it that way, wanting to spend more time visiting National and State Parks and spending more time at less places.  We also had family that was very ill and knew that we didn't want to be to far from the west coast at any given time.

The year started off spending a couple of months in California.  One of the things we learned was that when you stay long periods of time in one location, the opportunity to meet and get to know people rises.  "Snowbirds" from Canada flock to California in the winter, and the campground was about 75% Canadian and 25% US!  One lovely couple camped next to us was from Calgary and we had the joy of getting to know them.  When I shared that I had always wanted to visit Calgary and see the Stampede they invited us to their home and to come see the Stampede.  Their daughter works for it as well!  We ended up taking them up on their offer, and even leaving the rig there for an extra few days and traveling on up to Banff and Lake Louise.  Our friendship has continued and we will be meeting up with them again this spring in the US.

We were able to see 9 National Parks in 4 states and enjoyed every one of them!  Each one different from the other.  Yes, we have a favorite (always asked that), it's the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.  They just took our breath away.  I've gone on and on in other blogs about our National Parks, so I won't again here, but let me just say one more time, that what a blessing we have in this country.  The natural beauty is only something you can truly enjoy in person, no picture can do it justice.  If you can give yourself one gift, give yourself a trip (s) to our National Park (s), you won't ever forget it.  Better than a trip to Europe - honest!

We also went to our first BIG RV Rally this year.  It was put on by the Family Motor Coach Assoc. and held in Gillette WY.  Hundreds of RVs and people gathered togethers for 4 days in the rain to have fun and attend classes and shop!  The "campground" was a big dirt field that quickly turned into a mud pond that was a hoot getting out of, but get a bunch of RV'ers together and what you have is a bunch of "friends" helping each other, laughing and having a good time doing it!  It was informational and fun!  We even ran into friends there we had met the year before in Red Bay AL (at the Allegro Manufacturing Plant) - and ran into them a couple of times in our travels!  Love that!  I'd post on FB a picture of our day, she'd see it and say, hey, we are here too, where are you?  Then we would find each other and get together!  What a hoot!

We camped at 270 campgrounds this year and spent a little under $7900.  The most expensive campground was in Canada at $57 a night, in the US, it was in San Jose CA (big surprise!) at $45 and the lowest was in eastern Washington at $10.  We traveled 6000 less miles this year, for a total of 11,569 and spent a little under $6800 in gas. 

We celebrated two weddings and two baptisms and the news of an up-coming new grandchild.  The tough part of our year was that we lost 7 dear people.  3 family members and 4 special friends.  That hurt.  It reminded us how precious life is, and how important you have to live each moment, share it, and love those around you - be in the moment.  That's why we do what we do.  That's why we are continuing on for another year.  We are still loving this life we lead, there is still so much to see!  There are 10 states we still haven't gotten to!  Friends and family we need to spend time with., 2014, here we come!
...kicking back in California,  Marie