Saturday, November 30, 2013

Football weekend

A guy at the T-Day dinner announced that a “jeep caravan” would leave for the desert at 9 a.m. today.  A bunch of folks from our section of the Fam Camp drove off just after the appointed time, so it seemed like a low key day for the rest of us.

Unless you were watching college football.

Last night Jim’s OSU (Oregon State) lost to Oregon (who just a few weeks ago was touted as possibly being the best team in the nation) by just one point -- 36-35. Jim is such a good fan.  Even though his team got the short straw, he thought it was a good game and that Oregon State played well.  It would have been better if OSU had won, of course, but Jim is more than a fair-weather fan.

Today we watched another one-point game when my OSU (Ohio State) beat Michigan 42-41. I could barely stand it and had to take a couple of timeouts of my own to go for a walk. One of our neighbors, Bob, was watching the game on an outside TV, so Bob and I had a football conversation every time I made a lap.   He was rooting for Michigan (but was later gracious about the OSU win.)  At halftime Jim and I walked over to the base rec center so we could exercise while watching on the rec room TVs. A heart monitor said my heart rate got up to 160 -- most likely because I was on a stair stepper, but it seemed like it was because of the game.

And then there was that Auburn-Alabama game. To quote an Alabama player whose lips we read:  OMG.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

The good news is we had a great potluck Thanksgiving Day dinner with about 50 other people from the Yuma Proving Ground Fam Camp.  The bad news is we have no leftovers. Unless you count salad, which was our contribution. It was a very good salad made of spinach, arugula, iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, broccoli, pickled beets, cucumber and avocado.  But a salad nonetheless.

The other food was wonderful.  And of course there was a lot of it. We sat with a fun and interesting couple, Gene and Molly, who live in Idaho (although Molly is originally from Minnesota). The conversation eventually veered to a favorite full-timer topic:  RV near disasters, as in “So and so pulled out of their campsite while still hooked up to the electricity and water” and “An RV was on the road behind us and the slides popped out.”  

Hope everyone had a Thanksgiving full of kindness. We are grateful for our families (who were in our thoughts today - we love you), our friends, and to be able to be on the road.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Get along little burros

One morning last week we heard feet crunching in the gravel near our rig.  A lot of feet.  We also heard voices that seemed pretty loud for 7 a.m. and mentioned it to each other, but didn't think a whole lot more about it -- until we found out the Fam Camp burros had been lounging on our campsite.

And no, the voices we heard were not those of the burros.  They were our Fam Camp neighbors talking about (and then chasing away) the burros relaxing on the cement patio near our door. 

I didn't even notice the burros until about 7:30.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash out the window and looked up to see someone a couple of rigs over taking a photo with the camera aimed (I thought) at our bathroom window.  About 10 seconds later the real subject of the photo appeared: a burro.  And then another.  And another, another, and another.  Three pretty good sized burros with two babies were causing the camp discussion and the picture taking.

I grabbed my camera and joined the crowd.  Turns out the burros had not only been hanging out near our rig, but were also drinking from a bucket of water in which I was soaking rocks I'd collected during my rock hounding expedition.

The next day the base police rounded up the burros and gently chase them off.  One officer  said he'd rather remove rattle snakes because he has some sort of "snake catcher" implement.  Personally, I'd rather deal with burros.

Anyway, after the burros were gone, one of officers jokingly said "Move along, nothing to see here."
A mama burro and her baby in front of a rig that is kitty-corner from our rig.
Cooper guards the rig. When he first saw the burros, Cooper barked.  They ignored him and then he returned the favor.
After checking out our Class C motor home, the burros apparently decided to get a closer look at a 5th wheel.
Jim and I would like to take this one back to Salt Lake, but I'm afraid she'd brutalize our lawn. 
After touring the Fam Camp, the five burros slowly made their way to an area where equipment is being stored.
The next day a police office opened the burro escape gate next to our rig.
One officer blocked the road with his truck, while the other one herded the burros out the gate.
The police shut the gate and Voila!  No more burros.  Until next time.

Friday, November 22, 2013

It never rains in Yuma. Except when it does.

I read where Yuma normally gets between 3-4 inches of rain annually.  It seems like we’ve had close to -- or more than -- that in the last 24 hours, but the TV news tonight gave the official tally as .87 inches.

The precip started early yesterday evening.  As luck would have it, our rig’s awning is broken.  In a loosely extended position.  Which means we can’t close the awning and we also can’t make it fully open and flat.  Bottom line:  We’ve got a sagging awning/rain water collector.  About every 15 minutes one of us goes outside, pushes up the awning with a broom, and the collected water flows off.

Before the rain hit, our big concern was wind.  Jim used straps tied to lawn chairs, a bucket of water, the bag of rocks I collected two days ago, and a duffel bag full of gravel to anchor the awning so it won’t flip up and break in a gust.  We’ve also called a mobile repair service and they’ve ordered a part -- but it will be about ten days before the part arrives. On the plus side, the repair guy said good things about our Lazy Daze, adding  “they’re built like tanks.”  The awning...not so much.

In other exciting news, last night about 9 p.m. I saw a flash of light out a corner of the rig window and simultaneously heard one of the biggest claps of thunder I’ve ever experienced. I thought it might have hit one of the nearby rigs, but we didn’t see obvious damage this morning, nor did we see an exploded saguaro. 
Since I took this photo of how Jim reinforced the awning (so the wind won't catch it and break it),  he added one more strap attached to a bag of gravel.  Looks like a hillbilly motor home.  Or, as we like to say, efficient but not elegant.
View of puddles (the TV weather caster called it "ponding") as seen from our rig door this morning.
Jim pushes up on the awning and collected rain water starts to cascade over the edge.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Rock hounding in Yuma

A group of fellow campers her at the Yuma Proving Ground have what they call "four o'clocks."  At 4 p.m. every day, whoever feels like it pulls up a lawn chair and chats before dinner.  At a recent four o'clock, fellow camper Linda told me a group goes rock hounding.  I love pretty rocks and asked if I could go along, so I got an invite for yesterday. Linda's husband, Scott, went with us, as did a fellow camper named Marv. Jim bowed out.

Linda decided we'd hunt for "desert roses."  There are different types, but the ones Linda was looking for are white, sparkly and contain rosette-type formations.  Our search site was BLM land about 25 miles northwest of the Fam Camp and not far from Lake Martinez.

One of the views while rock hounding. You probably wouldn't want to drive the dirt path we were on in a regular car.  At one point it was so bumpy it felt like we were in a  washing machine with an agitator.
Two small piece of "desert rose" that I found.  Per Wikipedia, "Desert rose is the colloquial name given to rosette formations of crystal clusters of gypsum or baryte which contain abundant included sand grains."
Some of the sand/dirt was very loose, and in one of those places I slipped, landed on my elbow, and then skidded about six feet on my rear.  Afterwards I tried to take a selfie of my elbow wound; the one above included my rock hounding companions.  To the immediate right of my bloody arm is Marv from Washington state.  In the distance are Scott and Linda from Idaho.
Marv sitting near a vein of desert rose.
I asked Marv to better document my rock hounding wound.  Afterwards, Scott doused it with antiseptic and covered it with gauze.  Last year Linda fell, was knocked unconscious (briefly, I think/hope) and was Life-Flighted to the hospital.  She broke her wrist and a rib and lost her glasses -- which she found this year.  Fortunately for me, my fall was down a much smaller hill.  Linda is fine now, but everyone had a scare.
Linda and Scott  gave us these rocks that they collected and then polished in a tumbler.  They said it takes one month in a tumbler and several grades of grit to get rocks to this level of shine.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Desert Kayaking: Mittry Lake in Yuma, AZ

Today we both went kayaking for the first time in two months.  The place: The Mittry Lake Wildlife Area.  The lake, along with its serpentine waterways and marshes, is jointly managed by the state of Arizona, the BLM and the Bureau of Reclamation. Its on the Colorado River and upstream from the Colorado's Laguna Dam.

We got our boats in the water about 10 a.m. and were on the water until 1:30.  We saw hundreds of birds but very few people -- just two boats of folks fishing and a few others fishing from the shore.

Mittry Lake is only 6 miles from our campsite at the Yuma Proving Ground, but the road is a little rough so it took us about 20 minutes to get there. It was a gorgeous day to kayak -- maybe 75 degrees with a slight breeze.  Not so for the entire country, however:  When we got back, Jim was watching TV and noticed that it looked like all of Ohio was under tornado watches and warnings. So I called my Mom who said it had been nice all day but "now that I look out my window is does look like the wind is picking up." Hope all is well back there, Mom.
This is the first time we've kayaked near palm trees.  Jim is to the right.
Selfie of a happy kayaker.
We saw hundred of coots and a bunch of them is called a "raft."  Here a raft moves a few yards away from our kayaks.  They just kind of run across the water and then settle back in. 
A coot close up.  I thought coots were ducks, but they are not.  They are an order of bird called "rails" and are more closely related to Sandhill Cranes than to ducks, but they do dive like ducks.  One of the sounds they made is like a gate with a rusty hinge being quickly moved back and forth.  Errk errk.   Pause.  Errk Errk.  Pause.  The closer we got, the shorter the pauses between the errk errks   So yes: they swim like ducks and dive like ducks, but they don't quack like ducks.  And they probably don't quite walk like ducks, because they don't have webbed feet.  
We also saw a heron (above) and some osprey.
And in the continuing burro saga, these two guys wandered behind our rig (on the other side of the Proving Ground fence) while we were watching the Oregon-Utah Game. Should have stayed outside and kept watching the burros.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Burro update

Jim’s burro -- or a reasonable facsimile if it were bigger and had longer ears - was on TV tonight.  For their end-of-newscast-cute-animal story, Yuma’s KYMA TV station ran a piece about a burro at the Yuma Proving Ground.  Per the news anchor, the burro had a habit of turning on the water spigots at the base to get a drink -- but didn't turn them off.  Seems like turning off the water is asking an awful lot of a burro. Anyway, here’s a photo of the newscast burro nuzzling a water spigot at what is obviously (to us) a camp site at the Yuma Proving Ground Fam Camp.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Brief burro

Jim saw his wild burro tonight. The burro was between our rig and a chain link fence that’s about ten feet away. Jim saw the burro through the rig's back window and then ran outside to see it being chased away by someone in a golf cart. The black and white animal was bigger than he expected -- more donkey or horse-like than cuddly-little-burro-like -- and had really long ears.  

I grabbed my camera and followed the burro/golf cart trail, but the burro was gone. Turns out the chaser was Diana, the Fam Camp manager.  She said this particular burro (who’d been leaving calling cards all over the campground) was big and mean and she’d been trying to get him to leave.  She said she chased him not only out of the campground but through a gate that put him off the base.

Jim said it kind of looked like the donkey in Pinocchio or maybe Shrek.  Bottom line:  it was a cartoon donkey/burro being chased by a golf cart.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Burros, Coyotes and Exploring

Last year we heard burros here at the Yuma Proving Ground.  Despite Jim's searching for them,  he never saw one in the flesh.  It looks like we won't see one this year either: Diana, the Fam Camp manager, told us that 14 burros were rounded up and moved from the Yuma Proving Ground just last week.

But apparently coyotes are around. Per Diana, a couple of boxer-type dogs were recently attacked and injured on the Proving Ground by a pack of coyotes. She urged us to keep Cooper on his leash, but that won't be a problem because he's almost always leashed. And unless he's with us in the car, he never leaves the rig after dark -- which is when the coyotes show up.

As for today's activities, we explored nearby Mittry Lake and visited a very tiny church. A couple of photos and a few details are below. We also stopped at a restaurant/ farm stand called "From the Farm" where I bought a date milkshake and Jim got a cookie. While I was waiting to pay, a woman behind me holding a variety of cookies started telling me how great the lemon bars are. Turns out she's the baker. She gave me a sample and she's right.  We'll have to go back.
  We want to do some boon docking (camping without electricity/water/sewer) at Mittry Lake, a nearby wildlife area managed by the both the BLM and the state of Arizona, so we scoped out the area for good camping spots near the water.  The big shallow lake will be fun to kayak. 
Here's a field of lettuce we drove by on our way to the farm stand.  I'm pretty sure this is butter lettuce.
And here's Bev in front of a tiny church in the middle of a farm field.   It has room for 12 slim-hipped worshipers to sit and I read that it was built by a farmer in memory of his wife.   I also read that visitors should beware of a nearby one-eared pit bull, but we didn't see him.  I hope the coyotes didn't get him.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Yuma Day Two

Today is our first full day back at the Yuma Proving Ground's Desert Breeze Fam Camp. After breakfast and a quick work out at the base recreation center, we drove to town to pick up a prescription for Jim at Target.  I noticed that in a post I did last year, I said it was a 10-mile drive to Yuma from the military base.  Actually, it's more than twice that. Maybe Jim was driving fast and it only seemed like 10 miles.

While Jim got his prescription, I looked for a new pair of shorts. The thermometer hit 85 degrees today and it's supposed to hit 90 next week, but it is November after all -- so Target is selling mittens, winter hats, heavy leggings and almost no shorts except for a small display of Miley Cyrus-type pants cut barely below the butt and I just wasn't feeling it.

Next stop was our favorite Yuma restaurant for lunch:  The Pint House. Then we picked up some groceries.  By the time we got back to the base it was almost 6 p.m. and time for me to start reading and for Jim to see what was on TV.
Jim clearly misunderstood when I told him to go stick his head in the oven.  Actually, our kitchen faucet quit working. Here's my technical explanation of the repair job: Jim took apart the sink innards, determined something was clogging the line, and now it works.  That pretty much sums up Jim's technical explanation, too.
In yesterday's post I said I'd do a little catch-up posting because I skipped over a couple of places we visited before we got to Yuma.  Here's my two-cent review of Las Vegas:  We spent three nights at Sam's Town, a casino/hotel/RV park just south of Vegas.  This is the view out the back of our rig. We were tired, didn't feel all that well, and spent most of our time doing…well, really we didn't do much of anything except…

...On Saturday we wandered through the smoke and into the casino's sports area to watch Ohio State beat Purdue 56-0.  Just part of the televised events are shown above and included football, dog racing, and horse racing.  Sitting next to us was a guy we later dubbed "Drunk Uncle" (which will mean something if you watch Saturday Night Live, or if, in fact, you really do have a drunk uncle).  DU kept up a constant stream of comments aimed at the ten-plus football games being televised.  A few that I remember:  "Don't run into your player, run into the end zone, what are you drunk or something?"  "Marshall, Marshall, Marshall," and "How come you got Air Force on three screens?" (Good question, actually.)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Hot in Yuma

I’ve been neglectful of my blogging duties.  I thought I’d post a few times while home in Salt Lake.  Didn’t happen.  After we got on the road I was tired, then sick.  I’m better now and it’s time to suck it up and get writing.

We spent three weeks at home and then got back on the road last Friday.  Originally we were going to leave October 31 right after the grandkids' Halloween parade at my daughter’s office complex. We planned to make a one-night stop in southern Utah and then spend a few days in Las Vegas.  But the parade was changed from Halloween morning to the afternoon, so skipped southern Utah and drove straight to Vegas on Friday. That's a 427-mile trip and the most mileage we've done in one day in the RV.  
From Las Vegas we went to Lake Havasu City, AZ, and today we left Lake Havasu for Yuma.  First thing I did in Yuma after we leveled the rig was to change into shorts  and a light weight shirt.  It’s hot. Feels good.

Yuma is pretty low-key, so I’ll have time try to do a few catch up posts about Vegas and Lake Havasu -- especially Lake Havasu, which was great.
Granddaughter Mia turned four while we were home.  Here she listens to the family's rendition of "Happy Birthday to You."  She's wearing her mermaid/princess gown, which she also wore for Halloween.  I asked Mia what she wanted to be when she grew up and she said something having to do with mermaids.
Grandson Marshall in his bat costume being held by his Mom (our daughter), Ashley, who dressed as Flo the Progressive Insurance lady. Shad (our SIL) went to work dressed as Larry Czonka.
The kid's Halloween parade wound through dozens of offices and I bet we walked at least half a mile.  It was slow going with Marshall, who stopped at every locker to do quality control.  Later Ash and I did some quality control of our own: we told Mia she probably wouldn't like the Reese's Cups and Almond Joys and that Grandma and Mom better eat them.  Mia probably won't fall for that next year.
And here are the tow car and rig parked in Yuma, AZ.  We're staying at the Yuma Proving Ground campground, where we spent some time last year. There are empty spaces here now, but this place will be full by New Years. And we'll most likely be somewhere else.