Wednesday, February 27, 2008

London Bridge Has Not Fallen Down

We are sure about that because we saw it today. Well, maybe it was taken down, moved, and reassembled, but it is still doing its job in the Arizona desert. Most people are aware of the fact that the bridge was moved from London to Lake Havasu almost 40 years ago. We first visited the area sometime in the mid to late 1970's. At the time the McCullough Company was promoting a land development on the eastern shore of Lake Havasu and thought the bridge would draw people to the area. It did, and now the city of Lake Havasu is a city. I am guessing it is the largest city on the Colorado River except for Yuma.

The weather was forecast to be really nice today so we planned a scooter trip. We left about 11 AM and stopped first in Parker, AZ, about 35 miles from Quartzsite, for a short break. Then on to Lake Havasu City, about another 40 miles north along the river and lake. Lake Havasu is formed by Parker Dam which is located about 18 miles north of the city of Parker.

Our first stop was at a Red Robin for lunch, and then we wandered around the shops at the foot of the bridge. We both remember it being new and interesting when we were last here about 25 years ago, but things have fallen into a state of decline. Many of the shops are closed and they are apparently planning some redevelopment of the whole area. It needs it.

Interestingly, there is a candle shop there where we bought a Christmas candle about 30 years ago. The candle shop is still there and the same people own it. It is probably the biggest and most successful shop in the area.

Here is a picture of Dianna standing below the bridge.

We then rode around the island where the bridge goes. It is a large island and has many RV campgrounds, golf courses, marinas and condos, with more being built all the time. We then made a stop at the local WalMart before heading south again. We turned off at the spur road to Parker Dam and crossed over to the California side for the 19 mile ride down to Parker again. The road is much older and follows the river so it is a much more enjoyable ride on the scooter. Crossing the dam is only permitted for passenger cars an motorcycles. It is obvious 9/11 has had a huge impact. There are big barriers you have to weave through before arriving at the bridge itself, and there are guards standing around. They don't even allow people to walk across it anymore, even though there are sidewalks.

In Parker we stopped at McDonalds for hot fudge sundaes and then we rode home, arriving back at our trailer about 5:30. The total trip was about 160 miles and both of us are a little saddle sore, but it was a fun ride. The temperature was about 80 degrees this afternoon and there was no wind to speak of. Great scooter riding weather.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Quartzsite Again

We have been in Quartzsite for about a week now. It is a pretty boring, yet somehow satisfying place to spend some time. It is boring because there is not a lot to do, especially this time of year. Most of the shows and booths are held in January. By the middle of February many of the people are gone and it is just the hardy, long term people who are still here. Many of them stay the whole season, starting in October and staying until the middle of April.

It is somehow satisfying because we use only electricity from the sun, yet have all the power we need to be on the internet all day long and to run both TV's from about noon till 11:30 PM. The only time we have run the generator is when we do laundry. The water source and the dump station are only 1/4 mile from us so we make that run every three days or so. We did move the trailer a bit today. When I parked it originally I thought I was pointing east, but soon realized that I was looking at the wrong mountain pass and we were pointing about 30 degrees south of east. That kept the sun from hitting the solar panels, which are tilted up toward the south, until about 9:30 AM. That meant we did not get any solar charging until then so it has sometimes been the middle of the afternoon before we could start watching TV. It was not a real problem, but I hate to waste two hours of sunshine each morning.

Yesterday I did finish one project for which I had purchased the parts in December. Our water heater is the instant on type, which means there is no tank and water is heated only as it is required. Although it provides a never ending supply of hot water, it takes a few seconds initially for water to get hot. The bathroom sink is also quite a distance from the water heater, and with the few seconds required to heat the water initially, it takes more than a gallon before the very hot water arrives at the sink. I hate to waste that much water, especially when I have to haul it all in and out. So, I installed a bypass valve on the side of the bathroom vanity and added tees and tubing to allow the water from just below the faucet to circulate back to the water tank when the valve is opened. That allows the lines to fill with hot water without any water going down the drain. Now we just open the valve for 15 seconds or so before we are ready to wash, and then we have hot water almost instantly. Now we can wash our hands in hot water without wasting a drop. Some homes have recirculating systems that accomplish much the same thing but they would not work with the instant on water heater and would use a lot of power to run the pump all the time. This works quite well for us.

Other than taking some walks, we have made a few trips into town on the scooter for groceries and to look around. Not much has changed since last year.

We will probably stay here for a little longer and then, when the mood strikes, move down to the Yuma area.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Visiting Mesa andPhon D Sutton

We have been in Mesa for about two weeks now, and plan to leave tomorrow for Quartzsite. We have been staying at a recreation area named Phon D Sutton which is located along the Salt River about 6 miles north of the developed part of Mesa. During the summer it is a parking lot for day use visitors, most of whom are riding the Salt River on inner tubes. During the winter season dry camping is permitted in the parking lots. We are using our solar capability to good advantage, and have found a service station in Mesa where we can dump our holding tanks and get fresh water. With our satellite set up we are very comfortable, although cell phone service is touch and go.

We have visited Mom a couple times, had dinner with Mom, Daryl and Donna; hiked the nature trails here along the river and gone to Gardunos Mexican Restaurant to celebrate my birthday and Valentines Day.

Today we went for a hike with Daryl and his botanist friend Les. We drove a short distance up the Apache Trail and hiked into the Superstition Mountains a ways. We started out on a very busy trail, but soon left the trail and followed a mountain stream up hill for about half a mile. It was rough going in spots, and the water was really flowing since we have had a lot of rain in the past couple days.

Tomorrow we plan to continue our journey west. This has been a good place to spend a couple weeks. Maybe in future years we may spend more time here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Big Blow

We had planned to leave Denton on January 29, but by the time we had everything ready to go the wind was howling. We decided to stay put for a day and we are glad we did. There was lots of damage in the Dallas area and it would have been no fun at all driving in it. That afternoon Dianna received a call from her Dr. asking her to come in to discus lab results. They made it sound like it might be important so we arranged to stop the next day on our way out.

The Dr.'s appointment was no big deal. I think they just wanted to charge for an office visit. There was nothing in her results that could not have been communicated by letter or a phone call.

After the appointment we headed west into a still very strong headwind. We stopped at a free campground in Abilene, TX for the night and the next day we continued to fight the wind as far as Pecos, TX. We decided to spend a couple nights there and the winds died down the next day. It was actually pleasant.

The next day, Feb. 2nd, we continued west as far as Deming, NM. Again, we fought headwinds.

On the third we drove into Tucson and found a place in the desert to spend the night. A big winter storm blew in and it was rainy and cold during the night. We awoke to snow on the Catalinas and Rincons and it continued to rain most of the day as I visited the Pima Air Museum. I grew up looking through the fence at planes in the DM boneyard. It was nice to see some of them up close. The museum is the third largest in the country (world) and I spent the entire day there. Dianna spent the day in the truck, reading and working on needle work.

That evening we drove south from Tucson toward Nogales and spent the night in the desert off the Duval Mine Road. Yesterday we went to the Titan Missile Museum and toured the last remaining Titan Missile silo. It was very interesting, especially since our tour guide was a retired Air Force officer who had served as a silo commander at one of the silos near Oracle. It was fascinating to hear about the place from someone who really knew what she was talking about.

After the museum, we drove up the back side of the Tucson Mountains to Avra Valley, and then back to I-10 in Marana. We decided not to come all the way to Mesa since we would arrive during rush hour traffic and late in the day, so we spent the night at an RV park in Picacho. It was the first day of the trip that we have not fought headwinds.

This morning we stopped at the Flying J truck stop for fuel, and then drove to our campsite for the next week or so. We are at the Phon D Sutton Recreation Area, which is located about 8 miles north of the 202 on Power Road. It is just a large parking lot that is used during the summer by people playing on the Salt River. The river is right next to us. There are no hookups, but we have everything we need, and the cost is only $6 per day.

We plan to visit Mom tomorrow. She should have some mail for us. We look forward to visiting with the rest of our relatives in the area during the next week or so, but have not really made any definite plans on when we are leaving.