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Monday, March 27, 2017

On to the FINAL FOUR!

7:26 am - PDST - Monday - 54º F, humidity 93%, wind 3 mph from the west southwest......feels CALM.....heavy overcast......seems as if we are getting the traditional 'May/June Gloom' in March.....heavy marine layer in the morning, which burns off by late morning.

We haven't been in an RV park for a long time where one could witness the traditional 'Sunday vacuum' empty out the park in an hour, or so, but that is the way it was this Sunday.....one minute the park is full and the next time you turn around there is a line of RV's driving out the park.

Our kids, those who had stayed over in the park Saturday night, were on their way home early Sunday headed back to their workaday lives, whilst I headed back to the trailer to finish the 'deep cleaning' job I had started Saturday on my Cannondale Bad Boy.  Within about 2 hours I had finished and decided I deserved a good ride up the SART (Santa Ana River Trail)......a clean bike just screams 'RIDE ME!', and who am I to refuse?  I got dressed and was out the door within minutes riding the approximately one mile over to the SART trailhead and then 7 fast paced miles north before I did my turn around.......my goal was not miles, but calories.....1,000 to be precise.  I haven't ridden my bike since our last day at Tecopa Hot Springs before we descended into the 'Valley of the Wind' (Death Valley) the next day......almost a week.  The SART is one of my favorite urban bike trails, and I've put 100's of miles in riding her north and south over a couple of decades.  I was back at the coach in just a shade over one hour having eliminated just over 1,000 calories in just over 16 miles.  There is nothing like a vigorous ride to release some endorphins into your body chemistry, which in turn lift your spirits, and take the edge off of some the chronic pain your old bones feel nowadays as you continue to pile one year on top of another.

TLE essentially took Sunday off, though she did a little stretching.  I took a nice nap, watched some more NCAA March Madness 'elite 8' games, and then another nap.....both games were close and had very exciting endings.....can' ask for much more than that.  We now have the final four teams....North Carolina, South Carolina, Gonzaga and Oregon.....the FINAL FOUR games will be played this coming Saturday, then the final game on Monday between the winners of those two games

It's been a while since we had sufficient broadband to stream Netflix, or Hulu an we had some missed episodic shows to watch so we spent a few hours Sunday evening doing just that.......as TLE remarked about 9 pm.....what a nice day!

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

The whirlwind.....

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7:17 am - PDST - Sunday - 52º F, 92% humidity, wind - CALM.....what a completely different environment we find ourselves in this week!  Heavy overcast with a promise of sun by noon time.

Day two of our whirlwind return to SoCal was well underway by 8:45 am as we drove with Chris and TAR* over to the Mt. Rubidoux trailhead for another speed walk to the top and back down.....this time my daughter Kate, her husband Nick, and her three children joined us.....Nick pushed the baby (Jolene Rose) in a stroller whilst Elijah and Charlise ran circles around the rest of us.....once again TAR* was first to the top.......

Another Rubidoux family summit! (left to right: moi, Kte, TAR*, Chris, Nick, TLE, Elijah - front row: Charlise and Jolene Rose

......Saturday's temperatures were even lower than Friday's....the high was somewhere around 66, or 67º F with partly cloudy skies.....a perfect day for a hike.  On the downhill side I walked with my daughter Kate and we talked and talked......the views, as always, were breathtaking......love the long views.

We were back at Rancho Juruapa by 10:30.....Kate and Nick rented one of the park model cabins for the night in preparation for her husband Nick's birthday bash later in the day at Chris and TAR's site.

Chris' son Christopher arrived shortly thereafter with my latest batch of mail and packages.....one of the packages contained the new 12 volt electric motor to replace the failed one that powered the large 'attic fan'.  I quickly set about transferring the large fan blade from the old motor to the new, and then installed the entire assembly.....it works like a charm and TLE is once again a happy girl......she loves that fan!

I also, for the first time in several months, set up my bike stand as it was time to give my Cannondale Bad Boy a deep cleaning.  I've put a few hundred road miles on her over the winter and there is a lot of road grime to be cleaned off the crankset, chain and 9 speed cassette......I had just finished cleaning the crankset and reinstalling it when a friend of Chris and TAR's*, Phillip, dropped by to ask me a lot of questions about our full time lifestyle....we ended up talking for about 90 minutes really getting 'into the weeds' on the subject....I suspect we will be talking more over the next few months.  

By that time it was closing in on 3 pm and I realized it was time to head over to Chris and TAR's* site for the aforementioned birthday festivities, so I got cleaned up and headed over to find the party well under way.....as the afternoon wore on more and more family and relatives arrived including my daughter Meredith, and Tim, my son, accompanied by Laila, his fiance.....we love Laila like one of our children and are so looking forward to her wedding to our son this October.  There must have been 30 people there at one time.  We had a wonderful birthday celebration, and I spent time moving from one conversation to another.  About 9 pm TLE and I called it a day and returned to the Newell for the evening where I promptly fell asleep in my recliner only to be awakened about 11 pm by TLE advising she was going to bed......sigh....time to get up, set up the coffee maker and head off to dreamland once again.

Thanks for stopping by!

*TAR = The Amazing Rochelle

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

'It is, indeed, a wonderful life'

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6:12 am - PDST - Saturday - 50º F, 91% humidity (that is like 4 times higher than we've experienced for the last 6 weeks!), wind - CALM....wait what?  No wind?  Forecast high for today is 66º F.....something else we have not seen for a few weeks.....we are no longer in the desert!

I woke up Friday with the goal of being on the road by 8:30 am and on our way to Riverside, CA where we will spend a week seeing our kids, grandkiddys, and great grandkid.  From Baker it is about 146 miles.....a rather long day for us based on the past few weeks don't you think?  Just before 7 am it was 47º F, and that was cold enough to turn on a heater to take the chill off the salon.

As I was getting ready to fire up the DD I noticed the odometer had just passed 150,000 miles the day before on our way from Death Valley down to Baker.......in reality it should read 158,000+, but the speedo was broken for about a year.......nonetheless it is kind of a cool milestone.  When we bought our Newell it had 103,500 miles on the odometer, so we have put over 55,000 on her in just over 9 years.  According to Detroit Diesel their Series 92 engines (ours is a 6V92) are not considered broken in until 150,000, and will not need an 'in frame rebuild' until 500,000 miles......I don't think I will still be above ground by the time the odometer reads 500,000.  Personally I think our 6V is running better now than it was 9 years ago......she just purrs down the road.  When I have my drivers side window open I can hear what I call this 'solid, silky, deep throated roar' emanating from the large chrome exhaust at the rear of the coach.....very reassuring.  A Detroit 2 stroke engine has a unique sound which is easily differentiated from a 4 stroke such as a Cummins or Cat, and no matter where I may be, or what I may doing when I hear that sound I am compelled to look up to find out where that two stroke sound is coming from.



Thank you for bearing with my digression.....anyway, we were, indeed, on the road by 8:28 am and 'running like a horse for the barn' towards Riverside, CA on I-15 westbound.  This is most time we have spent on an Interstate in over 2 months, and I did not miss it one single bit....we love those secondary roads!

Our goal when we are rolling our wheels is to strive to use the term 'uneventful' at the end of the day when describing our drive, and that is exactly what we got.....all I did was set the cruise control, hold on to the steering wheel and enjoy the ride as we seemingly floated down the road mile after mile.

We arrived at Rancho Jurupa Regional Park, our destination for the next week, by 11:20 am.....just under three hours to cover 146 miles (of course there were a couple of potty breaks along the way, right?  You don't really ever own coffee.....you just rent it for an hour, or two at a time.)

Just as we were unloading the VW from the trailer my son Chris and his wife, The Amazing Rochelle, (hereinafter referred to as TAR) had just pulled into the park in their 2007 Fleetwood Expedition (39', four slides).....they had managed to snag, with my assistance, a site just a few down from where we will be for the weekend.  We had both just barely set up when I walked over to exchange hugs and greetings....TAR* immediately asked when we were taking the Mt. Rubidoux hike she has been reading about in my blog for years.....I said "How about right now?"....and that was it....within a few minutes we were in the VW heading over to the Mt. Rubidoux trailhead. Chris and TAR* are walkers, too, and TAR* set a blistering pace up and down the mountain......


.......thankfully she waited for us at the top for our 'summit usie'......in all we covered 3.3 miles in about 52 minutes......TLE and TAR* beat Chris and I back to the car by a couple hundred yards, but that was okay because I got to spend time talking with my son, and that is something I miss every day we are on the road.....sometimes I can't believe I am the father of such a cool guy who, though will always be my son, feels more every time I am with him like a very, very good friend whom I have known literally for 44 years.

Our Beetle's interior and exterior have been neglected for several months now, and after all that time of desert living was filthy inside and out.....and in addition to that her gas tank was strongly hinting that more fuel needed to be added soon, or I might find myself hitchhiking to the nearest gas station.  After getting home and doing a little more setup I got in the VW and drove over to the local ARCO station where I took on 12 gallons of 92 octane gas at $2.99/gallon....yup back in SoCal where all grades of fuel are at least 50 cents more than Arizona, or Nevada.  On the way back down Mission Blvd. I stopped in at a small 'mom and pop' car wash I had been passing for years and had the Beetle hand washed, and the interior given a deep vacuuming.......she is smiling again.....all for the low cost of $14, which included tire dressing!

She's smiling again!

I was back 'home' by 3 pm and did a little more setting up before taking a shower, and getting ready to go drive out to Pomona to meet my brother Philip and his wife Jeannie for dinner at our favorite restaurant, the Pomona Valley Mining Company, which is perched on the side of a hill high above I-10 just a few blocks from the L.A. County Fairgrounds.  As we always do, we had a lovely conversation and the time just melted away.  An interesting fact.....my brother Philip is 14 years younger than I and is closer in age to my son Chris than he is to me.....Chris is only 8 years younger than Philip, and they have been good friends since they were both young.


 You can see I-10 way down below!

TLE and I were home just after 10 pm.....a whirlwind first day back in SoCal.....Saturday will be another whirlwind of familia activities....stay tuned!

As I sit here at the end of today's blog I can't help but reminisce how just over six years ago (February 1, 2011) TLE and I drove into Rancho Jurupa Regional Park in our 1982 Newell to spend one year as camp hosts.  We had just signed a 12 month lease with two of our children and two of their friends on our home, so we could live in the Newell together for a year before we hit the road.....TLE wanted that time to be sure she could live with me in a small space......as one might correctly surmise, I passed the test.  We left Rancho Jurupa exactly one year to the day and have been living full time on the road for over 5 years now.......seems like yesterday to me......what a wonderful life we have!

Thanks for stopping by!

*TAR = The Amazing Rochelle

You will notice a new link at the very top of each daily blog post, and one just above the 'Page View' counter to the right of my blog....."Our Amazon Affiliate Link".....if you do shop Amazon please use my link when you do, and I will receive a portion of any purchase you complete.  If you are viewing my blog on your phone, or by email you will not see the link, it is currently only visible on the 'web version' of my blog.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Squeakers.....

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6:53 am - PDST - Friday - 47º F, humidity 51%, wind 3 mph out of the southeast.....clear blue skies from horizon to horizon......moving day once again.....we will be leaving for Riverside in 90 minutes!

I was up well before TLE Thursday morning typing my latest missive, and then moving a couple of things in the trailer in preparation for VW insertion.  Our Jello plan was  to be on the road making the 20 mile climb out of Death Valley aka: Valley of the Wind by 9 am.  Our elevation at Furnace Creek was about -180' below sea level.....the elevation at the summit 20 miles distant was +3,100' elevation......3,280' of elevation gain in a shade less than 20 miles.  Best to do that kind of climbing while there is still coolness in the air.

By 8 am we had the VW in the trailer and were ready to roll, and so we did.....just about 200 feet over to the dump station to dump both tanks (always like to arrive at a destination whenever possible with empty tanks) and take on fresh water (again, always like to top of the fresh water tank whenever possible).....ironically, in one the lowest places in the Western Hemisphere the water quality at Furnace Creek is quite good.

By 8:40 am we were finished and merging on to SR-190.....the climb begins immediately outside Sunset Campground and I settled quickly into 3rd gear at about 2000 rpm's for our 20 mile climb to 3,100' elevation.  Red line on the Detroit Diesel Series 92 engine is 2,100 rpm's.....by keeping her at 2,000 rpm's the enormous belt driven fan forces a greater volume of air across the cooling fins of the larger than life rear facing radiator thereby keeping our operating temperature around 195º F for the entire climb.  You do not want to 'lug' up a long climb at low rpm's with a series 71, or 92, because they will quickly overheat, and if the temp gets over 250º F you will suffer, most likely, catastrophic engine failure.

We reached the summit without incident, and I quickly upshifted into 5th gear, and set the cruise control at 60 mph.....we stopped in Shoshone around 9:50 am to take a brief potty break, and were back on our way shortly after  10 am for the final 57 miles into Baker, CA, our destination for the day.

Why Baker, CA you might wonder....well, two of our nomadic friends, Steve and Candy, would be there for two days preparing for the annual 'The Challenge Cup, Baker to Vegas Relay' as volunteers, along with Ron and Karen (Ron is the Fontana/Rialto Elks Lodge exalted leader).  We were invited to stay with them at the Baker High School grounds.....below is a picture of all the RV's already there when we arrived.....Steve and Candy's RV is just on the other side of our Newell.


By noon time we were parked, and I was receiving one phone call after another....mostly about this summer at TVC from prospective employees, and from Victor, our assistant manager.  By 1:30 pm I was finished with phone calls and went outside to greet our hosts and talk for a while.  Around 4 pm I excused myself to go inside and watch some more 'March Madness'....first up was Michigan vs. Oregon, but about 4:45 pm I had to pry myself away from the TV for the evening's potluck dinner sponsored by the race events organziers.  We had a lovely time talking and eating until after 6 pm when we headed back to our respective domiciles for the evening.

I caught the very end of the Oregon game in which Oregon barely prevailed 69-68.  Next up was West Virginia vs. Gonzaga and once again Gonzaga barely survied 61-58....the game could have gone either way.  Kansas creamed Purdue by 32 points.....boring....and in the fourth game favored Arizona was upset by Xavier 73-71.....so 3 of the 4 games were 'squeakers'.......very interesting games right down to the last second....looking forward to Friday's matchups!

We were in bed by 10 pm and already thinking about a week with our kids and grand kiddies....thanks for stopping by!

You will notice a new link at the very top of each daily blog post, and one just above the 'Page View' counter to the right of my blog....."Our Amazon Affiliate Link".....if you do shop Amazon please use my link when you do, and I will receive a portion of any purchase you complete.  If you are viewing my blog on your phone, or by email you will not see the link, it is currently only visible on the 'web version' of my blog.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

'You don't always get what you want....'

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11:36 am - PDST - Thursday - 64º F, 31% humidity, wind 6 mph out of the west........partly cloudy skies.....we made it from Furnace Creek to Baker, CA in just 2.5 hours......wonderful drive today!  The forecast high in Baker today will be 77º F.....we are definitely, finally in a cooling trend.....the forecast temps in the Riverside, CA area where we will be for a week beginning Friday are in the 60's and 70's......and no wind forecast......wonderful!  Of course, the day we leave Death Valley aka: 'The Valley of the Wind', the wind finally dies for the first time in 4 days.

After 3 days of continuous winds in the teens TLE succumbed to her allergies......I closed all the windows first thing Wednesday, and turned on A/C to the low fan setting to hopefully filter all the dust and pollen out of our interior air, and that seemed to help, but by that time she had a sinus headache to beat the band, and spent a large part of the morning in the darkened bedroom with a pillow over her eyes.  Regrettably that ended our site seeing plans for the day......I got a chair out and sat outside in the sun reading for a couple hours in the still cool early morning air.

That was pretty much my day Wednesday, other than checking on TLE periodically to be sure she had not succumbed to anaphylactic shock.....she did not.  By early afternoon she was beginning to feel slightly better and joined me in the salon.  Later in the afternoon I busied myself with putting away what little stuff we had deployed, which was not much, in preparation for our liftoff early Thursday morning.

We did watch the latest episode of 'Survivor' at 8 pm, and were in bed by 9:30 pm.  In retrospect our stay in Death Valley did not turn out the way I had hoped.......the weather just was not conducive to much more than we did.  I'm grateful we drove into the south end of Death Valley in the VW the day before we drove in the Newell to see Badwater.  Sometimes things don't work out the way you envision them.....as the Stones' lyric says in their immortal song......'You don't always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.....'

Thanks for stopping by!

You will notice a new link at the very top of each daily blog post, and one just above the 'Page View' counter to the right of my blog....."Our Amazon Affiliate Link".....if you do shop Amazon please use my link when you do, and I will receive a portion of any purchase you complete.  If you are viewing my blog on your phone, or by email you will not see the link, it is currently only visible on the 'web version' of my blog.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"Light My Fire"

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6:55 am - PDST - Wednesday - 64º F, humidity 47%, wind 8 mph out of the south southeast........change is good! Forecast high is 79º F.....now that is change I can really get behind!  The wind died about 5 am, but it was a good night of sleep!

As I was sitting in my recliner reading Tuesday night a song by the Doors, Light My Fire, came on Sirius/XM Radio's Classic Vinyl channel.......and these words described perfectly the mental process I had just been through......"The time to hesitate is through.....no time to wallow in the mire....try now we can only lose....".......it's been a long time since I was so unhappy with a location that I wanted to leave the minute I arrived.....it's been a long time since I forgot to live in the moment......it's been a long time since I failed to look for Miss Serendipity in a situation, but that is what happened to me when we arrived in Furnace Creek late Monday morning.  It was hot, windy and miserable......I hated all the campground options,  and all I could talk about for the first 24 hours was leaving first thing Tuesday for a better location and better weather......I sat around stewing in my juices all day Monday.....I 'wallowed in the mire' so to speak........all day, into the night and early morning Tuesday before I decided 'the time to hesitate is through'......what have I got to lose?

Tuesday morning cloud formation

The first thing that brightened my outlook Tuesday was finding a  'open' WiFi hotspot across the highway called "Furnace Creek Guest Access" that I was able to connect to using my 'Hawking Dish'....now one might wonder 'what the heck is a Hawking Dish?', and one would be in order to do so.....here is a picture of my 'Hawking Dish'......

My 'Hawking Dish' aimed across the highway towards Furnace Creek Ranch Resort

....a 'Hawking Dish' is essentially a USB directional WiFi dish antenna designed to inexpensively magnify a WiFi signal from a distance and can magnify the signal by up to 300%.  Without the 'Hawking Dish' plugged into one of my USB ports I cannot even detect one WiFi signal, but with it I can pick up no less than 7 including the aforementioned open hot spot.  Using my 'Hawking Dish' enables me to continue writing my daily blog posts without having to walk across the street.

The second thing that brightened my outlook was less wind, and slightly lower temperatures.....at any rate, once the blog was up TLE and I hopped in the Beetle for a 20 mile drive over and up to Stovepipe Wells......I say 'up to' as Stovepipe Wells as it is at Sea Level, and we are 100'+ below Sea Level at Furnace Creek.  We arrived there in about 20 minutes......our intent was to check out their 14 full hookup sites......years ago (probably about 11) we stayed in one of those sites when we had our 1986 Fleetwood Tioga Class C motorhome....at that time these sites were 'first come, first served'.  There were several sites available, it appeared, but upon checking with the nice lady at the Registration Desk we found out they are now reservable, and that all 14 sites were reserved for Tuesday.  

Since there was free customer WiFi there TLE and I let our phones update before make the drive back to Furnace Creek.....



.....standing in the Stovepipe Wells parking lot see the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in the distance.......


.....as I gazed at them I was reminded of a trip TLE and made to Stovepipe Wells back in January of 2006......seems like a lifetime ago now......

January 5, 2006....on top of one of the dunes

.....on the spur of the moment we decided to stop in the Mesquite Flat Sand Dune parking lot to snap a few pics........




......the parking lot was already full this day, and many folks were taking the hike out to the highest dune (see it in the background).

Upon return to Furnace Creek we drove into the resort to see what was there and found there was a large warm spring fed pool there.  I decided to go into the office to see if one could buy a day pass to the pool and was advised one could do such a thing for the small charge of $5 so I bought passes for TLE and I to be used later in the day when it got warmer.

About 3 pm we decided it was warm enough and drove over to the pool where we spent a couple of hours reading in between dips in the pool to cool off.....they also had very nice showers which we both took advantage of just before it was time to leave.....ironically it began to rain just about that time.......




.....it only rained for about 10 minutes, but it was a nice way to end the day.....even if the wind had come back up again......


.......my whole attitude has changed and I am back in the moment enjoying exactly where I am, and not wishing I was somewhere else........thank my Lovely Elaine for being patient with me, and for letting me work through my issues........


Our site for 3 days......large barren dirt parking lot

.....once again the wind howled at times, but it seemed a little less windy than the night before, and a little cooler, too.....

Thanks for stopping by!

You will notice a new link at the very top of each daily blog post, and one just above the 'Page View' counter to the right of my blog....."Our Amazon Affiliate Link".....if you do shop Amazon please use my link when you do, and I will receive a portion of any purchase you complete.  If you are viewing my blog on your phone, or by email you will not see the link, it is currently only visible on the 'web version' of my blog.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Into the Valley.....

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7:11 am - PDST - Tuesday - 69º F, humdity 35%, wind 7 mph out of the south southeast-----very, very windy most of yesterday, and all night long.....very hot yesterday....over 90º F.....not sure if we are going to stay another day in Death Valley.....forecast orginally was for 80º F today, but has changed to 88º F with high winds.....not a formula for a lot of outdoor fun.  I was able to connect to the Furnace Creek Guest WiFi across the street using my 'Hawking Dish'.....costs $4.95/hour so I've got to get this done quickly.

We were up and at them early Monday in anticipation of leaving before 9 am and driving 66 miles into Death Valley, specifically to Furnace Creek where there are a number of campgrounds.  There was very little traffic as we merged our 62' on to SR-127 north towards Death Valley Junction where we would turn left on SR-190 and begin the 30 mile plunge into sub sea level elevations.

In all it took just over 80 minutes of driving to reach Furnace Creek which sits just over 100' below sea level.  We parked directly across from Furnace Creek Ranch to figure out in which of the four campgrounds we wished to spend the next 3 days.  We settled on the one we were parked directly across from.....Sunset Campground.  This is basically a large dirt lot with sites marked off with white chalk.....most are back in sites, but there are two rows of pull throughs that are about 70' long, and we ended up on the very back row (M) in site 10 facing west northwest.....not the best angle for our solar panels, but passable.  

As we began to set up we noticed the wind picking up, which is not an altogether bad thing when it is going to be quite warm.  Unfortunately, that wind kept increasing in velocity all afternoon until it was consistently in the 30's with gusts into the 40's.  That wouldn't have been so bad, but the wind was coming basically from our rear which meant we were not getting much breeze inside to keep it cool, so we ultimately turned on the big propane generator and ran the rear A/C all afternoon.

We did drive over to the Inn at Furnace Creek to see if we could get dinner reservations, but the earliest time they had available was 8:15 pm, which is later than we like to eat by a long shot, so we decided to return about 6 pm and just order a bottle wine an a couple of apps in the bar area.


Our first visit to The Inn at Furnace Creek 

The Inn at Furnace Creek from a distance



.....after our short visit to the Inn we returned our campsite then walked across the street to get our entrance pass.....all National Parks have an entry fee to obtain an entrance pass.....with our Senior Pass that fee is waived, an the campground fees are discounted 50%.....so, we saved the $25 entrance fee and only paid $7/day for our campsite.....a $46 dollar savings.

We spent the afternoon reading, and napping.....much too windy and hot to do anything outside, and as planned, headed over to the Inn at 6 pm for our wine and apps......this restaurant is quite expensive....$48 for a small filet mignon....$18 for shrimp cocktail which gives you four shrimp.....you get the picture, I'm sure.....


....there was some sort of vintage car rally staying overnight at the Inn, and these were their cars out in the parking lot.

We had a lovely time enjoying the view and the sunset before heading back home for the evening where, once again due to the heat and high winds turned on the big generator and the A/C which ran until 10 pm when we went to bed....still trying to decide if we will stay another day.....

On a side note....thank you to all those who have shopped Amazon using our affiliate link....it is appreciated!

Thanks for stopping by!

You will notice a new link at the very top of each daily blog post, and one just above the 'Page View' counter to the right of my blog....."Our Amazon Affiliate Link".....if you do shop Amazon please use my link when you do, and I will receive a portion of any purchase you complete.  If you are viewing my blog on your phone, or by email you will not see the link, it is currently only visible on the 'web version' of my blog.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sunday.....

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6:56 am - PDST - Monday -  65º F, 31% humidity, wind 2 mph out of southeast.....feels like calm.....forecast high for today is 86º F.....a break in the heatwave and time to head to Death Valley!  A side note....there is some WiFi available in Death Valley, but only in the campgrounds with hookups of which there are few, so I have no idea if I will be able to get online until Thursday when we leave Death Valley.

I started off the day with an 18 mile bike ride into Shoshone and back in which I averaged 15.5 mph, burned 1158 calories, and did it in one hour and 9 minutes.....a very good day.....nothing like a windless day to up the averages and totals!


I went up to the hot pools around 10 am to take a soak, and was back before 11.......then it ws time to take a 130 mile round trip into the southern end of Death Valley......we drove SR-127 north to SR-178 and then westward into the Valley of Death......from the turnoff it is 55 miles to 'Badwater', the lowest elevation point in the Western Hemisphere.......first stop of the day was the old Ashford Mill Ruins.....yes they did mine gold at one time in Death Valley.......






........the road in the southern end of Death Valley is rough, windy, and extremely narrow so the posted speed limit is 45 mph from Ashford Mill to Badwater....by the time we arrived at Badwater the temp had slowly climbed to 111º F......


......the parking lot was packed!  If you click on the next picture to enlarge it you can probably see the SEA LEVEL sign way up on the mountain side........


Very windy....had to hold onto my hat!

.......it's only a short walk down a concrete ramp to view the namesake of this iconic location......Badwater.....



......at 262' below sea level this lowest point in the Western Hemisphere.....and it is less than 60 miles as the 'crow flies' from Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the Continental USA.......


I'm sure it seems like a long way to drive to see just a couple of sites, but that is how we roll......I needed a break from wall to wall NCAA March Madness, and this was the perfect diversion.  We were back by 2:30 pm and I was back in front of the TV.  USC lost their very close second round game, but UCLA won their game handily to advance to the 'Sweet Sixteen' which starts next Thursday.  One shocking loss was Duke losing to Southern Carolina....I didn't see that coming.  So here's to cooler temperatures and a fun three days in Death Valley......where we will be parking the Newell I have no idea.....we will make it up as we go.....there are literally hundreds of dry camping opportunities and only a handful of hookups available for which you must make a reservation months in advance to get......that doesn't work for us so here we go......"see you in a few days" if there is no WiFi.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

A 'near death' experience.......

(CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE)

6:58 am - PDST - Sunday - 59º F, humidity 35%, wind 3 mph out of the east......partly cloudy with a forecast high of 90º F.


Sun just hitting the mountains to the west Sunday morning

I was up by 6:30 am Saturday thinking about the few things I had yet to do in order to be ready to roll our wheels by 10 am.  We only had about 37 miles to drive back to Tecopa to get some more hot springs action before descending into Death Valley and its many below sea level attractions.  Originally we had wanted to spend the better part of a week in Death Valley, but a heatwave changed our minds.  We have not run our A/C since late November whilst we sojourned at the Elks Lodge in Fontana, CA and we work quite hard at avoiding those situations.  If we must run our A/C we prefer to be attached to an electrical outlet, as it gets quite expensive running the Kohler propane generator for hours on end, plus who wants to be anywhere where A/C is required more than an hour, or two each day.  Hence the two day sojourn in Pahrump, and now two more days in Tecopa before we hit Death Valley on Monday at the end of the heatwave and a return to more seasonal temperatures in the 70's and 80's. 

After dumping our black and gray tanks at the Elks Lodge dump station we were on our way down Basin (departure time 9:58 am) for a few miles, then left on Linda over to SR-372 and a fuel stop at the local Fastrip where we took on 80 gallons at $2.41/gallon.....probably the best price we will see between there and Lake Tahoe a month from now.  After that short stop we found ourselves arriving at Tecopa Hot Springs Campground and Pools around 11:30 am......we parked in site D-6 once again, plugged into the 30 amp receptacle, and immediately turned on the A/C to cool things down inside.

We spent the afternoon watching more NCAA March Madness.....a perfect alternative to being out side in the 90º+ afternoon......around 2 pm, however, we walked up to the bath house for our first soak this time around.  I don't know if I mentioned this the last time we were here but the soaking pools are gender segregated, and clothing is optional.....in other words women have their soaking pools, men have theirs and no one wears any clothing.....:-)  



We were both back a little after 3 pm, and by 4 pm we were on our way to visit Death Valley Brewing Company over in Tecopa proper (next to the USPS office).  When we were here a week, or so ago they were not open on Thursday, and we failed to get over there again on Friday when they were.  You can purchase one of their mugs for $7, which TLE informed me we were.....for her anyway....she chose the Peach Habanero Ale (shown below), and I chose the Caramel Pecan Porter (I had this last time at the neighboring steak house)......



.....it was still a little warm at 4 pm so we sat outside......like that was a difficult choice for us....we always go for the alfresco experience.......

TLE enjoying the alfresco ambiance

.......notice in the picture below the wood sculpture which appears to be a mug of beer overflowing....very, very cool.......


.....we sat on the veranda enjoying our brews and talking for about 45 minutes and then headed back to the coach for the evening just in time to catch the ends of two close March Madness games.  The rest of the evening was spent watching several more games which determined 8 of the sweet 16 bracket spots.....the remaining 8 will be decided Sunday.

So, we are nearer to Death Valley by 37 miles with about 65 to go on Monday......thanks for stopping by!

You will notice a new link at the very top of each daily blog post, and one just above the 'Page View' counter to the right of my blog....."Our Amazon Affiliate Link".....if you do shop Amazon please use my link when you do, and I will receive a portion of any purchase you complete.  If you are viewing my blog on your phone, or by email you will not see the link, it is currently only visible on the 'web version' of my blog.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

It's madness, I tell you!

6:33 am - PDST - Saturday - 58º F, 38% humidity, wind 6 mph out of the south southeast.....moving day!  We have an ENORMOUS 35 mile drive ahead of us....all the way to Tecopa Hot Springs!

For whatever reason TLE and I were both up early Friday.....much too early, but what can you do?  I don't remember the last time we were both up and coherent when it was still dark outside.....I know, you're thinking of our 4:30 am departure from Borrego Springs to drive down to Los Algodones for our dental appointments a month, or so ago......remember, I used the word coherent.....:-)

At any rate we had no big plans for Friday except for me to figure out what was wrong with the 'whole house fan' that stopped working Thursday afternoon, and for TLE a laundry run.  I have been carrying around a spare 12 volt motor for about 5 years now, and was hoping it would be a match for the one that powers the 'whole house fan'.....it took me a while to find it, but as it turns out it is a smaller version with a shaft that is too small in diameter for the large fan blade.  At any rate I removed the fan motor and bench tested it on my 12 volt power supply and confirmed it is dead......well, it was 35 years old.  I was able to find a suitable replacement motor on eBay for $24 plus shipping so I ordered it, and should have it within a week, or so.  


Once that was done TLE and I both decided to do a workout after which I took a 15 mile bike ride.....the workout thing is good, and seems to work for TLE, but I need to burn 1,000 calories every day to continue my weight loss program.  By the time I returned 60 minutes later I had reached my goal, and TLE was ready to head off to the laundry.  I took a shower, then went into the Elks Lodge to pay for our second night, and to make arrangements to use the dump station Saturday morning.  They have to keep it locked here as there are a number of boondockers in the area who will come here and steal a 'dump' (not pay) when they are closed (they are open from noon to 9 pm every day). By the by.....TLE managed to be more disciplined than I in Las Vegas and maintained her weight, but I gained a couple of pounds....too much rich food....I am soooo weak.....:-)

With that done I settled in to watch another day of 'March Madness' and what a day it was.....both the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins won their games......the Trojan game was a 1 point victory and also an upset victory for the them.....it is the first time they have advanced to the round of '32' since 2009.  UCLA won handily by 17 points as expected.  Of course there was one delicious nap thrown in for good measure, and it ended with my phone ringing.....one of our future employees for TVC was calling with questions.

We were treated to another spectacular Pahrump sunset.......



.....I spent about an hour outside taking pictures of this beautifully evolving sunset!

The last NCAA game ended around 9 pm, and we were in bed by 10:30 dreaming of changing our view once again without going through escrow.

Thanks for stopping by!

You will notice a new link at the very top of each daily blogpost.....an Amazon Affiliate Link.....if you do use Amazon please use my link when shopping and I will receive a portion of any purchase you complete.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Rousted.....

(CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE)

6:49 am - PDST - Friday - 52º F, 43% humidity, wind 2 mph out of the south southeast.....completely calm where we are......




....I was up early Thursday as I often am on getaway days thinking about what needed to be done to be moving to our next view by 9 am.  

It occurred to me that I forgot to mention in my blog post for Wednesday that when we were sitting outside with our friends that night saying our 'until next times' two security guard vehicles suddenly appeared.  As a matter of context since we arrived Saturday we have seen security guard vehicles patrolling the extended stay parking lot on an hourly basis.....not once had any of them stopped to talk with us, or question our presence.  In the 5 years we have been traveling full time we have only been rousted a couple of times previously.  We always ask permission to overnight in any parking lot, and we actually asked permission twice this time....the first time we discussed parking and staying in our RV with a nice lady in the group sales department that was handling our college reunion, and was advised it was okay....the second time was the day we arrived (last Saturday)....we went to the registration desk and once again explained our purpose for being there, and made sure we were parked in the correct area.  We were told we were, and when I asked specifically if we needed anything in writing, or some sort of permit the lady replied "No, and anywhere on the property is okay".  So, I wrote that to write this......the security guy leans out his vehicle window and asks who owns the RV, and I stand up identifying myself.....he then says "Are any of you staying at the hotel?", and I reply that everyone else there is except for me and TLE, and I proceed to tell him that we had permission to not only park there, but to stay in our RV during the reunion.  He asks "Who gave you permission?", and I advised him of the two people with whom we had spoken.  The then advises that we are not allowed to sleep in our "vehicle", only to park it there.  I then advised him "No problem, we are leaving tomorrow morning anyway".  Thursday morning as I was getting ready to leave TLE found a notice on the front of the coach that we were in violation of their rules, but the printed rules did not prohibit specifically 'sleeping in your vehicle'......he hand wrote that on the notice......hmmmmm.  At any rate, no harm no foul......we won't be back there again anyway, right?  What's the old adage?  "Better to apologize than ask permission"....well, we did ask permission and had to apologize anyway......lol!

Since we had pulled out every single camp chair we have Wednesday night for our late night 'until next time' session, so I had to put them all away Thursday morning before we could roll....nonetheless, we were on the road and proceeding west on Decatur towards US-95 by 8:58 am!  We only had 86 miles to drive Thursday as our immediate destination was Pahrump where we planned to spend at least one night at the local Elks Lodge #2796 where they ask for a $10 donation per night to use 30 amps of electricity and fresh water.....they do have a dump station, which we will need before we head to Death Valley.

We arrived at the Elks Lodge around 11 am, found a spot (site 20) and backed in......perfect!  I walked inside and gave our $10 donation, and then we began to get set up for 2 days.....

Nice view of the valley

.....so, you might be wondering, why didn't we go directly to Death Valley as we had originally intended?  Well, they are getting their first hot spell with temps in the mid to high 90's through Monday......although there are some hookups in Death Valley they are all reserved.  No way I'm going to Death Valley with those temps and no electrical hookup to run the A/C.....of course, we could run the big generator, but that would be a lot of propane over 4 days.  We opted, instead, to spend 2 days in Pahrump to shop, and get some laundry done, then move back over to Tecopa Hot Springs (hookups once again) for two more days (Saturday and Sunday), soak some more, then head into Death Valley on Monday when the temps begin to decline back into the 70's and 80's making it much more hospitable for us.  We'll still have 3-4 days in Death Valley before we head back to SoCal for a week.

After getting set up we drove directly down the street to the local Walmart to pick up a few things, and were back at the coach by 12:30......since we are facing directly west we are getting sun on both sides of the coach during the day, and as a result we have, for the first time in a long time, deployed every single awning including the patio awning.  I spent the rest of the afternoon, and into the evening watching the first round of the NCAA March Madness tournament.....sweet!

We were treated to a beautiful Pahrump sunset........


......thanks for stopping by!

You will notice a new link at the very top of each daily blogpost.....an Amazon Affiliate Link.....if you do use Amazon please use my link when shopping and I will receive a portion of any purchase you complete.