Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Glendale, Quartzsite and back to Mesa

While I was in Yuma after Christmas, my slide and jack system quit. After many phone calls back to HWH it was determined the hydraulic pump motor had quit. Of course, no one in town had one so I had to order one from the company. I had it delivered to Family D&R RV Repair in Glendale (Ron Wicklund does most of my RV work), and just had to live without jacks or slides for the next week and a half.

This little motor is what caused all the problems. 30 minutes and the new motor was installed and everything is working again.
Now it is on to Quartzsite. Quartzsite, a small town about 20 miles east of California on I-10, usually consists of some 2000 people, but swells to several hundred thousand during the last two weeks of January. First there is the RV Show and Flea Market, then the second week is a Gem and Mineral Show. The WINs always have a gathering in January based around these events. This year the gathering started the week before the shows began, giving everyone time to do other activities. And even before the show itself begins, there is Tyson Wells and Rice Ranch Flea Markets which start in December and run through February.
The day before the rally really began we still had quite a few people already showing up. Before the two weeks were through over 150 members or prospective members dropped by. Somehow I volunteered to be co-host and then host of this whole event. Thank goodness this is such a great club and everyone was so great to pitch in and help make the entire two weeks such a success. All I really had to do was stand up each morning and afternoon and make announcements.

One afternoon my friend, Judy Hesse, showed us the newest and latest fashion trend. Notice her red had, pink t-shirt, orange pants and purple crocs.

There were many activities which I did not get pictures, such as the geocache. Some 8 of the WINs and 8 SOLOs searched out 8 geocaches one day. We found 7 out of the 8 and found out later someone had taken the one we did not find. The roads got bad at one point and I was in my little HHR so I had to turn around and go back, not getting to finish the last 2 caches. But it was lots of fun.

Another activity was the hobo stew. I borrowed Trish Master's turkey fryer and everyone brought a can of something which we then opened and added to the pot. You would not think this would turn out great, but it always does. And of course we had some deserts, Nelda made her famous 'better than sex' cake and an oatmeal cake, and others brought breads to compliment the stew.

But the Desert Bar is always a place to be on the weekend. Several of us took the back road in. On the way we saw this jeep, not one of our group, get stuck on the hill. As you can see everyone had to get out and give their two cents worth on how he should proceed.

Along the way we saw these old leaching pits left over from the mines.

Some more leftovers from the mining days.

But this was our ultimate goal. It only took us an hour to cover about 5 miles. Not too bad.

The Desert Bar Chapel. Made of all steel, it is only about 5 feet thick. I understand many a wedding has occured at this chapel, but I guess not today.

The Desert Bar is about 4 miles off Hwy 95 outside of Parker, AZ. It is only open Nov-Mar, and only on Saturday and Sunday. Powered only by solar the bar opens at 11am and closes at sunset. They serve a basic hot dog and hamburger and have a bar and live music and dancing. What else could one want.

Even the band is powered only through solar power. We had over 60 WINs at the Desert Bar for some good times. I don't think there was anyone else but our group out on the dance floor.

Here I am with some friends line dancing.

One Saturday a group of 15 went kayaking down the Colorado River at Blythe, CA.

Here we are just launched and ready to head downstream.

This Great Blue Heron was just sitting on this bench as we passed by.

On another day a group of about 5 vehicles took a trip to Queens Canyon. Although not a real 4wheel drive road, it did require a high clearance vehicle. Those mountains in front of us was our destination.

They call this lizard rock.

This cave looked like someone might have lived in it at one time. This is where we stopped for lunch.

And of course there was the 'Big Tent' of the RV show. This was the center isle. Lots of stuff, from LED lights, resort offerings, pet stuff, new techno gadgets, etc....

But I liked this place. You could sit down and put your feet on this vibrator and just relax for a few minutes. Of course the salesman did try to sell you one...
In addition we went dancing at Somewhere in Bouse, had steak at Somewhere in Bouse, had the famous fish dinner at the Grubsteak, ate pizza at Silly Al's and danced at the Yacht Club. In fact there was so much to do I am just now getting around to blogging about my last several weeks. But I have moved on and am now back in Mesa for a few days.

Driving down a street I spotted this tree and had to take a second look. Could those be faces on the grapefruit?

Yes, they are. Does someone have too much idle time on their hands?
But right now I have moved into a spot at Valle De Oro RV Resort for a few days of R&R. In other words, hot tubs and pools and relaxing.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Welton, AZ

After New Years I moved with several others out to some BLM land outside of Welton. Last year only about a dozen RVs were there, but this year almost 30 showed up.
Sitting in the desert. I was one of the first to arrive, but by the next day the entire area was filled with RVs.

Kurt lives in the area and he arranged a tour of the local landfill.

After a short film the site manager took us around the area. The site is 640 acres and even with computed growth is expected to operate for about 108 years into the future. Each small area of about 10 acres is excated to a depth of almost 280 feet. Then it is lined with multiple linings, even a space to catch liquids to be pumped out and recycled. This is to keep any contamination from seeping into the ground. The areas are then filled up until they are almost 500 feet above ground. It takes appx 2 years to fill the area with garbage.

The local trash is taken to a transfer station. Then at the transfer station it is sorted for recyclable products before being picked up by large semi's. Currently it is the slow period and only about 60 semi's a day are dumping, but they can accomodate up to 200 per day.

This large composter and grader crushed the garbage and packs it down. At the end of each day they cover the trash with a layer of dirt. Each small section is built up 15 feet moving down the row to the end, then they reverse the process. They also have areas where they take liquid waste. It was an interesting tour and surprisingly there were no birds around and it didn't smell like I expected. It did make me more aware of how I should be recycling and watching how much garbage I throw away because at this rate, one day our entire planet may be one big landfill.

Another day we went on a 4-wheel drive trip into the Barry Goldwater Range. Since I posted about this last year I will try to not repeat myself too much. Part of the road is El Camino Del Diablo or The Devils Highway. This was a road running from Yuma down to Mexico and dates back to before the 1800s. Originally the early natives used it to transport salt and shells from the Gulf of California. Spanish soldiers used it in the 1500s, then gold prospectors used it in the 1800s. It is estimated over 400 people died of thirst on this road in the 1850s.

And of course, we made it to The Wall between Mexico and Arizona. Not made to keep people from crossing since you can walk around the wall very easily, it was designed to keep vehicles from traveling across passes. Again this year, within a few minutes of arriving a border guard appeared to check and see what we were doing.

We even saw some cacti blooming.

The Barry Goldwater Range is still used for training today, but not live boomings, only laser targeting. Around one of the large, fenced off radar sites was this modern day outhouse. Notice the sink and even towels? You just never know what kind of modern devices you find in the desert nowadays!

This year we had about 30 people and 8 vehicles and we were out on the desert for 6 hours. We also visited high tanks, but if you want to read about that check out last years blog.


More Yuma Activities

We gather in the morinings for hugs and mugs and to find out the activities planned for the day.


Just a small gathering for happy hour.


















Having lunch in Algondones, Mexico.

And then their was the Talent Show. About a dozen people showcased what they can do. Some sang, some played and sang, some told jokes and one even read us one of his poems. Here is Bob entertaining us on his banjo.

Here he is playing the guitar. He also played a tune on his mandolin as well.

The president of the WINs, Sharon, and Dick sang us a duet.



James made us laugh with his storytelling and jokes.



Freddy played the fiddle.



Joanne sang us some old favorites.



And Paul was our MC. Sorry to those I did not publish, but I didn't get pictures of all the participants.



Another activity was the trip to Yuma Territorial Prison. In 1876 the prison inmates built this prison in which they were incarcerated. Very little is left of the actual prison since it was long abandonded before becoming a historical site and museum in the 1939. The view above is from 1895.




Only in operation for 33 years, it housed over 3000 inmates, including 29 women. Although many were in for murder, no capital punishment or executions were done at the prison. If someone was to be hung, they were taken to the county jail and hung. The nickname for the prison was 'hellhole of the west', but it wasn't due to lack of facilities or treatment of the inmates, but from the intense heat they endured during Yuma summers. Actually this prison was state of the art for its time, having electricity and flushing toilets and even telephones. The inmates were required to work in fields or on building projects, but they could earn money by creating various crafts, such as woodworking and basket making and selling these to the locals. Except for basic meals and clothing, the inmates had to purchase all other goods. The inmates had access to good medical care, a library, wood working shop and many other shops, since everything a prisoner might need, was made on site.


Not much is left today, but there are cells you can walk though and the yard where they could exercise is still there. Even the dark cell, where the inmates were sent when they misbehaved, is still standing.

Following the closing of the prison in 1909, it was the local high school from 1910-1014. Appropriately the high school sports teams are called the Yuma Inmates. The place was largely abandoned and many of the buildings were ransacked. In the 1930s it was the site for many western movies starring such actors as Gene Autry and even John Wayne.



One story told was about the time movies were being made. Since many of the actors were actually quite short, the doors were lowered so the actors would look bigger on screen. Many of the doors today now have 'low doorway-caution' signs as you go through.

Morning Walks at Yuma

The WINs gather at the BLM land behind the Yuma VFW every year for Christmas and New Years. It varies every year, but it is not unusual for about 70 plus to gather there. Many of the WINS who are staying in town also join us daily for hugs in the morning, our activies daily or circle in the evening. The VFW has a live band and dancing daily from 2-6 pm. So if nothing else is planned you can always drop in for some dancing. But every morning the people with dogs as well as those who just like to start their day with a walk gather at 7:30am. Some only go on a short walk, then head back, but some of us make this an early morning hike.
Here I am, second from the front, hiking up the mountain headed for an old mine. It may be warm (in the 70s) during the day, but it was usually around 40 degrees this early in the morning.

Just one of the old mine shafts we found. And no, I did not explore. No flashlight!

Yuma after Christmas

One day while at Yuma about 5 carloads decided to explore the area. We traveled about 75 miles roundtrip through Yuma Lakes, Mittry Lake, up to Squaw Lake and Senators Wash (a long term boondocking area), and finally to the Imperial Date Farm for a date shake before returning back to the VFW where I was staying.
This early dam and canal system was built by the U.S. Reclamation Service in 1907.

On Mittry Lake is an area called Betty's Kitchen. From the 1930s through the flood of 1983, this area was a small community of about 10 permamnent residents, which included the restaurant, Betty's Kitchen. It was a popular stop for those coming up to fish on the river. But the flood of 1983 washed away the entire community and since they leased the land from the government, their leases were not renewed and now the area is a National Wildlife and Interpretive Area.

Pieces like this are all that remain of the community today.

The Imperial Date Farm has a store where you can buy local dates and other products.

But most people go there for their date shakes.

While on the way to Squaw Lake we stopped at Senators Wash. In this area it is not unusual to site free roaming burros like these.