Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Soon to be southbound

We've been home for the holidays in Salt Lake City since December 10.  Tomorrow -- New Year's Day -- we're taking off south again in our tow car.  We plan to spend the first night just south of Las Vegas and will then head for the  Yuma, Arizona, Proving Ground, where we left our rig in storage.  We'll pick up the rig, and -- if a spot is available -- stay a few days at the Yuma Proving Ground Fam Camp.  If the Fam Camp is full -- and most likely it will be -- we'll find a place to dry camp near by or even stay a night or two at a new hotel that was supposed to open up on the base.  After that, who knows?   Maybe Organ Pipe National Monument on the AZ/Mexico border, or maybe straight to Tucson.  We'll talk about it on the way to Yuma.

In the meantime, we had a nice Christmas with kids and grand kids and spent time with friends.  Hope everyone out there had a very Merry Christmas.
Thanks to the Yuma Proving Gound Facebook page for this slightly photoshopped photo.
Ever since my kids were very young, I've bought matching (or coordinating) pajamas we wear on Christmas Eve. Back row left to right in this year's PJs are:  Jim, Bev, grandson Marshall, daughter Ashley, son Paul.  In front:  Son-in-law Shad and granddaughter Amelia.  Other PJ recipients not in this photos is our Oregon contingent of daughter Season, SIL Lee and grandsons Owen and Conner; and Shad's sister Serene and wife Jessica, who were married December 20, the day same-sex marriage became legal in Utah.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cold in St. George

We’re on our way home to SLC.  Yesterday we drove from Yuma to St. George, UT --  little over 400 miles -- and spent last night for free at a hotel called the Crystal Inn.  We stayed there last year, had a bad experience, and got a gift certificate for another stay to make up for it.  What the heck, we thought; we’ll give it another shot.  This time the service was great. The St. George Crystal Inn also has a good set up for dogs --- a sliding glass door from the parking lot lead directly to our room, so we didn’t have to walk Cooper down the hallway.

After leaving balmy Yuma, however, the temperature in palm-tree-filled St George is a shock. The headline in this morning’s newspaper read “Deep freeze sets records” as the thermometer hit zero, which was 11 degrees lower than the previous low temperature for a December 9.  On the other hand, another local headline read “St. George dons rare winter chic for residents,” which goes to show it all depends on your attitude.  
Icy crystals at the St. George Crystal Inn.
Our car parked in front of our room.  Jim was a little worried about the ice cycles, so this morning we didn't use the sliding glass door. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Awning update and almost home for the holidays

The plan was -- and still is -- to leave Yuma tomorrow and drive back to SLC for Christmas.  The plan almost got derailed, however, by our rig awning.

I mentioned a few posts ago that something happened to the mechanism that rolls the awning into its metal case.  So the awning has been fully extended for the last couple of weeks through the biggest rainstorm Yuma has seen in a while plus some wind.  Jim did a great job of creating a system of straps and cement blocks to hold it the awning in place so it wouldn’t break or tear. But until we could do something with it, we couldnt move the rig. And we wanted to put the rig in storage tomorrow and drive home in the tow car.

A mobile repair service looked at the awning and ordered a part.  The part arrived Thursday and Friday the repair guys came out to the Fam Camp -- only to discover they ordered the wrong part.   But they were able to get the awning rolled up and secured.

The repair guys drove back to their shop to see if they had an old part they could use. Meanwhile, Jim and I discussed options if there was no used part:  1) Stay in Yuma until the correct part arrived; 2) Have the repair guys order the part and fix the awning when we return to Yuma 3) Remove the awning, throw it in the trash, and buy a new one down the road.  After a lot of back and forth, we decided on Option 3.

There was, as expected, no used part available.  However, it also appears that the awning is attached very, very well  -- that sucker is not coming down without a huge fight.  So we switched to Option 2.

In a couple other pieces of news:

--Last night my OSU (Ohio State) was beaten by the Michigan State Spartys in the Big 10 championship game.  I was glad Urban Meyer didn’t play Marcus Hall, a senior starter who gave the double finger (Jim’s been calling it, the “double Buck You”) to the crowd as he left the stadium after being ejected from the previous week’s game.  I know the players are kids, but that’s classless.  Maybe Hall's not playing impacted the outcome of the game; I doubt it.  Congrats to MSU and Go Buckeyes!

--The burros are back.  Cracks me up.  Yesterday our next-door neighbor saw them on the other side of the Fam Camp fence.  Today the burros are once again roaming around the RVs. In preparation for leaving Yuma, I shut off the fridge and moved food to a cooler we'll take home.  It's chilly tonight, so I was going to leave the cooler outside until I thought about the burros.  They would have had a feast.  So the cooler is spending the night in the car.
Jim's MacGyvered system of cement blocks and straps kept our awning from blowing away.
The awning is now rolled back into its case and held shut with plastic zip ties.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Kayaking: Lake Martinez, AZ

We’ve only paddled our kayaks once since we’ve been in Yuma and decided it was time to get in the water.  

So Friday we went to Lake Martinez.  It's north of the Yuma Proving Ground Fam Camp and was created back in 1935 when the Imperial Dam was built on the Colorado River.  

We put the boats in at the Marine Corps’ Lake Martinez Recreation Facility, a funky, friendly and isolated military campground right on the lake.  I say funky because it’s a little beat-up looking and has no RV sewer hook ups or dump site.  But the people we met, including the Fam Camp manager (who said “don’t worry about it” when we went to pay the day-use fee) were very welcoming.  And it's isolated because it's even further from Yuma than the Yuma Proving Ground where we are staying.

The lake has lots of little inlets which made it a great place to explore.  
This heron and a big white egret  were walking around the dock and seemed very comfortable with people.
The lake had a lot of reeds that were fun to glide through. We talked with a  couple of fellow kayakers while on the water, including a man who was fishing from his boat.  He was camping at the Lake Martinez Military Fam Camp in an Air Stream and said he owned five of them, including one built in 1956 that he was about to remodel.
How "Wilson" got in the upper left branches of this dead tree is a mystery to us.   
 From a distance we thought these American White Pelicans were barrels that had floated out into the lake. They are big boys and girls with black-tipped wings.
Jim watching the pelicans, which are about five feet long, weigh about 16 pounds, and have nine-foot wing spans.
Closer shot of a single pelican.
Not far from the funky Fam Camp were some nice lakeside houses. Also nearby is the beautiful Imperial Wildlife Refuge,which we visited last year.   
The Fam Camp manager told us Lake Martinez's water level was low because of recent rains.  Sounds counter intuitive until you realize that water from the the Colorado River irrigates Yuma-area farms.  And when it rains (like it did two weekends ago) local farmers need less irrigation water, so less water is released from upstream dams into Lake Martinez.