About Us

Chris and Dennis are traveling around the country seeing the sights and occasionally volunteering at select locations. We avoid the interstate as much as we can and tend to stop for squirrels and shiny objects.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Vagabond–Back on the road.

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A happy grandma
Vagabond. noun. A person who wanders without home or job.

As a kid the word was used by my mother as a dire threat and a predicted outcome if I didn't complete my chores. I can still hear her voice “Pick up your room right now or you'll end up shiftless and a vagabond like those men living out by the tracks.” To this day I'm unsure what the correlation was but back then it always resulted in me cleaning my room.

This morning it struck me. Here I am, over a half century later, sitting at the dining table while using a laptop computer (didn't exist when I was a kid) to access the internet (nope, neither did it) to find the definition of vagabond. The fact we haven't been in a house for several years didn't even cross my mind until I read the definition and even then it was jumbled about with the thought that I really need to do laundry at some point today – and figure out where we're going next.

No job: check. Wanders: check. No home: in the classical sense, check.

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I don't think this qualifies as a crop circle.
Yep, I'm a vagabond.

And best of all, my room is picked up.

We returned to Wenatchee to complete our motorhome punch list with a modification to two of the slides and a replacement of our water heater cover. I really can't say it enough just how good All Seasons RV has been to us. 

Back in April we arrived with a myriad of items needing repair, replacement, or just tweaking and they really came through. They accepted the challenge of us being vagabonds (full-timers) with the need to have our home back each night and went the extra mile (see what I did there) to ensure each work session ended with a fully functional home each and every time. By coordinating the parts, work, and time in the shop, even though the total time-span was just over three months, the actual work was in the neighborhood of about 32 hours. This was broken down into 5 visits with no session greater than 8 hours which allowed us ample time to return the rig back to the park and continue our hosting duties. This was a novel approach for us and one we'll keep in our bag of tricks if we need it again.

So hats off to All Seasons RV in Wenatchee Washington.
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While All Seasons worked on warranty items, my brother-in-law created our first modification to the motorhome in the form of shelves in the bathroom. Outstanding workmanship using old growth fir that will definitely last a lifetime. Chris did the final finish work in sanding and staining and matched the rest of the coach's wood perfectly.
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Our tire pressure monitor system finally arrived! After backorders, redesigns and other delays the Tire Patrol system we ordered back in December finally showed up. I'm sure you're wondering why we waited 6 months for a system we could have got cheaper and quicker if we had gone with another manufacturer and answer is pretty straight forward. Simplicity, expandability, and customer service. Unfortunately, there have been some hurdles to clear on this state of the art system so both we and the company are learning new things. Once the dust settles I'll have a full review and lessons learned.

This morning we are in Sutherlin Oregon. We intended to stay away from Oregon until our hosting gig this fall but I couldn't shake the worry of our rig not having a documented oil change in the past two years. Being a lot orphan, Monster's (yes, we did name the rig) only mileage consisted of delivery, short moves around the dealer's lot, and our one trip to Arizona so while the miles were low, I just couldn't shake the idea of having two year old oil. Since we were free of hosting duties, had no set plans, and were close to the border, a quick trip to a no sales tax state to get the service job done seemed to be a good idea.
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Just one problem. Full campgrounds up and down the coast. Our only recourse was to stay inland and as luck would have it we found an open park we were familiar with just a short trip down the road. Timber Valley SKP. This beautiful, quiet, slow-paced park is where we had our first experience with the Escapee community and frankly, I have no idea why we had delayed our return until now. IMG_20170719_145024299_HDR (2)Okay, granted you have to dodge the occasional wild turkey while parking but I don't feel that qualifies as a down check. Peaceful? Oh yes! When a doe is comfortable enough to nurse her fawn on the side of the road it speaks volumes.

We'll probably stay the weekend. Oh darn.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Alta Lake State Park

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When faced with tasks which can only be described as drudgery, look outside the task and discover wondrous avenues to enliven the mind.




4_alta_lake
5_lavenderI'm paraphrasing that quote from a college professor in a lecture I was fortunate to sit in on and though he said it decades ago it has stuck with me. Especially true when faced with some facets of a camphosting job that are not only repetitive but also far from intellectually stimulating at the best of times.
Alta Lake State Park has provided both this past month; the drudgery of watering lawns, cleaning fire rings, and picking litter countered with stunning scenery. The photos really don't do the place justice and when you consider the area was devastated by wildfires just 3 years so, the recovery is astonishing. (If you are curious, search for “wildfires Carlton complex”.)
2_bakeryOf course it wasn’t all work. Visits to local wineries and bakeries provided welcome diversions during our down time.
1_tsillanThe scenery, the outside visits and the occasional spell of surveying the local fish population provided some short term diversions the most rewarding was the opportunity to mentor a brand new camphost on her first gig. Pam, I know you'll be reading this at one point and I am not sucking up; it really has been a wonderful time working with you and we both hope we'll get to do it again in the future.
We're heading back to the Wenatchee area for some final warranty fixes before we return to wandering. Still haven't decided where, just know there will be grandkids involved at one point or another.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Campers–Lincoln Rock State Park

fred_marmotWhen I was fresh out of boot camp a wise old chief petty officer once told me, “Take it slow and keep a steady strain.” At the time I had no clue what he meant as I had just begun sweeping grass clippings off a sidewalk. Come to think of it, I still have no idea what he was talking about yet his words have obviously stuck with me for upwards of 40 years!

When we first arrived, spring break was beginning to wind down with the older kids headed back to school leaving the parents busy in an almost futile attempt to keep the younger ones contained yet entertained. I believe one prime example would be the one group who seemed to take hourly walks around the park. This special train consisted of two pre-school aged children obviously making their first forray into bike riding struggling to balance on the training wheels followed by at least a couple of adults voicing their encouragement minute by minute (I'm pretty sure there was an alterior motive behind this as I for one can recall the difficulty of carrying the bike AND the tired kid back to camp). The older siblings, while not getting the hands-on encouragement were shouted at all the same with such phrases as “Watch for traffic.” or “Keep off the grass.” and even the “Stop pushing your sister/brother over!” Being situated in the middle of the park as we are, we can easily observe the goings on and silently cheer for the obvious underdogs.

I think I still owe Chris on a lost bet or two of who would crash first. Next time I think I'll bet more on the parents.

Thursdays and Fridays are definitely the fun days with out of towners rushing into the park and around the loops so they can hopefully be the first to the popular sites. Since our full hook-up spots fill first and are guarenteed to provide the most entertainment, that's where you can usually find us just in case someone “needs our help”. For people watchers like us, there is not much that beats an arrival day at a campground. There is no end to the different ways people can bash their heads, splash themselves with the output of their grey and black tanks, or break a folding chair. Add sharp tools like an ax or hatchet and I am amazed we don't have an ambulance on standby. Recently, we did have one very talented camper who beat the odds and managed to accomplish all three goals and by only the slimmest of margins avoided the fourth. Quickly.

I guess what first caught our eye was the blur going past our window. Looking down the road the blur resolved into a very large combination of 5th wheel trailer towed behind one of those super large diesel powered dually pickups – you've probably seen similar, the trailer has a garage or party room in the rear and usually has a severe weather type name like Typhoon or Tsunami painted in large swooping letters. The camper had obviously been here before, knew exactly what site he wanted, and by golly no one was going to pass him along the way. Pretty inspiring if you discount the narrow, one way road and complete lack of traffic.

Making a beeline to one of the prettiest sites overlooking the rest of the campground our camper whipped into the pull-thru and arrived with the groaning of stressed steel and a loud thump the overcompressed hitch. What caught my eye first off was what appeared to me to be sort of a backwards order on the steps to set up. Usually it consists of leveling, slides, and then hookups but what our guy did was to hookup his sewer hose first thing. Not sure if there may have been an emergency need to dump the tanks or not but right after hookup he pulled his front gray tank valve.

All could have proceeded without incident except for what happened next. The guy went back to the truck and began moving back and forth to I guess find the most level parking spot. Of course while doing this, he unknowingly disconnected the sewer hose from the dump pipe. Fortunately, the tank had emptied itself in the time it took him to begin his maneuvering. No harm, no foul odors, and the driver is still without a clue of what happened.

After a good dozen back and forths on the site he must have found a spot he was happy with as he commenced to set jacks and unhitch. There is something to be said for automatic levelers for this was the one procedure we observed where things actually progressed normally. I apologize up front for the visuals to follow, you can shut your eyes if you need to.

Okay, what we have now is a 5th wheel trailer that is level (this is assumed as Chris and I both saw a thumbs up). Connected to the trailer is a sewer hose with the other end laying beside a closed dump pipe. Our camper goes to the front of the trailer and hits the side twice. Unseen by us was the guy's wife who had entered the trailer and was waiting for just such a signal to put out the forward slides. Once done, the guy went around the trailer and was out of our sight but I'm pretty sure he was getting the patio slide out. For a brief moment I thought he was not going to put the off-side slide out until he completed the hookups but out they came while we watched.

All would have been perfect but for one minor miscalculation. You see, the posts guarding the services area stick up about 42 inches from the ground. The bottom of the guy's rear slide sits at 38 inches from the ground (we measured it afterwards). Wouldn't have been so bad except apparently he had gone inside to run slide rather than have his wife do it while he watched. Only after the very loud “kee-runch!” did the slide stop coming out. The damage must have looked much worse than it was as he did manage to get the slide all the way back in.

Not letting a little thing like structural damage get in the way our camper went back to the patio side to set up all the little sundry things we carry to make our camping comfortable. Chris and I were just about ready to move on for some fresher entertainment when we saw the guy come around the trailer carrying a chair.

You know, the neat thing about 5th wheels is that you can stoop and walk under the front end by the hitch and shorten the number of steps it takes to get around the trailer. There are two problems with doing so however; bumping your head and, if you are really tall, the lower back strain from stooping. Our camper was tall and I believe he had a prior back injury. At least that's my assumption because he was really slow in picking himself up off the ground after slamming his head on the hitch. I'm sure it was the distance and wind that prevented us from hearing what he was saying.

Rubbing his head the guy took the chair over to his wet bay and sat down. I'm not sure if he was running through a mental checklist or what but he sat there for a good 5 minutes occasionally rubbing and shaking his head. Time passed and the camper began finishing his hookups – first electrical, followed by fresh water. Note, he still doesn't notice the unconnected sewer hose.

He pulled the black valve. Out came a brown torrent with the full force of a only totally topped off tank can provide. This tragedy could have been mitigated and been a minor clean-up if only the guy had kept calm. That and maybe not become entangled in his folding chair. All he had to do was reach over and close the valve; ignoring the splash back effect the flopping hose spewing I don't what to know.

Third time's the charm I guess.

This was all within 30 to 45 minutes of his arrival and while Chris and I would have loved to stick around to see what else might have happened, we are volunteers and need to report spills such as this as soon as possible. That and quickly become busy doing something very important somewhere else.

A side note here. Did you know you can tell an experienced camper from one just beginning by their ability to distinguish black and gray water just by catching a whiff?

Whoever did do the cleanup while we were busy with important stuff elsewhere did a good job. When we returned to clean the fire ring and pick up litter two days later you couldn't tell what all had occurred there. Our park has an outstanding staff!

campfireSee you next time. Take it slow and keep a steady strain.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Journey Back–East Wenatchee

donkey1We have been traveling in company with my sister and brother-in-law; on their first adventure in their new to them, 2007 Winnebago Journey. Way out of character for Chris and I, we actually had sat down and planned our trip back north; surfing the forums for suggested routes and things to do. We had plenty of time so the need for running on the interstate never materialized and looking back we've all come to the conclusion taking highway 95 was probably the best decision we could have ever made. Excellent roads, light traffic, and either touching or in very close proximity to all the folksy Americana you can ask for in one trip. Our last blog entry is a fine example of what I'm talking about and if memory serves (it does, I looked it up) we left our readers in Oatman with the donkeys.
IMG_20170321_115400801Picking up from our last entry, I would be doing a disservice if I didn't mention Moon River RV Resort in Fort Mojave. The park had just changed hands and there was talk of the planned improvements. At the time of our visit it was still gravel, close sites but with good room to maneuver. Having the standard amenities, Moon River makes for a good, quiet, overnight stopping place. At the time of this writing, I could not recommend it for any long-term stays.
From Fort Mojave we continued north and again had a short travel day. It just so happened our next stay was to be in Pahrump, Nevada at the Wine Ridge RV Resort. This planned two day stop allowed us to thoroughly check the rigs for anything that may have rattled loose after being parked for such an extended period and gave us time to see the area a bit better; popping into some of the nearby attractions easier. IMG_20170321_120617694_TOPThat was the plan, what actually happened was we spent a good amount of time indoors avoiding the results of a cold front that had come through. No worries, being next door to a winery did have its advantages.
IMG_20170322_154225807Before we could even try to find some of the neat places to go in Pahrump, it was time for us to leave with our longest, and what could be considered our most boring leg ahead of us to Winnemucca. Over 470 miles. Seven driving hours which makes for close to ten on-the-road hours. IMG_20170321_120942453Of course the cold front that had plagued us during our stay wasn't quite done shaking things up with and generated several storm and flood watches. All reported constantly by the Garmin along our route. These alerts, which consisted of heart stopping beeping and with minimal information, quickly became a thing to dread and ultimately to despise as each alert while along our route was well ahead of us in distance. By the time we reached an area of one of the watches, the storm had already passed; usually only leaving a damp stretch of pavement.
Arriving in Winnemucca in the early evening we could finally see the sad results of a flood warning with some side road closures and flooded fields. Get your notepad ready, if you are ever in this neat little town, stay just a bit outside at the New Frontier RV park. The park is brand spanking new with paved and gravel sites generously spaced apart. The “club house” has tons of room with an attached mini market/store, a TV room fit for any superbowl party, and from what we could see, a steam line for snacks and such during the season. Of course, being Nevada there is the obligatory casino and grill next door.
IMG_20170326_150007Still on highway 95 but soon switching over to OR-78 our next destination is one I've mentioned several times before – Crystal Crane Hot Springs. This was our original reason for taking 95 before finding out how nice a road it was as offered the shortest, most direct route to our most favorite stop. We had actually made reservations early on so we were able to park in two of the three full-hookup sites with a very short walk to the springs. While the pond is free with unlimited access if you are in an RV spot or cabin, for a small fee you can book one of the huge private hot tubs which is what Chris and I did this time round. You see, spring break was in full swing there and we really couldn't see ourselves getting caught up in one of the numerous spontaneous water fights. After all the road time, the quiet soak was just what the doctor ordered.
We got to spend two very relaxing days at Crystal Crane and our brother-in-law Randy has become a convert; swearing they'll be coming back in the very near future.
IMG_20170329_145809416While our next planned destination was Prosser Washington to revisit the tasting rooms, we had a day to kill before arriving so we opted to take to the hills and come into Pendleton Oregon via the back way. What a simply stunning drive and while sure, there were a couple of grades and lots of curvey roads just north of John Day, it was nothing we hadn't seen before nor was it overly difficult. Four hours took us from the scrub desert of Crane, through the mountain meadows of Sylvie Valley Ranch and the high timber of Battle Mountain to the high plateau grasslands of Pendleton and the tribal lands of the Umatilla. It is really hard to pass up on the all you can eat buffets and senior specials at the Wild Horse Casino - nor having a shuttle bus at our beck and call from the RV park to the casino or the cultural center.
IMG_20170331_150338875Wine Country RV in Prosser is quickly becoming another favorite of ours. Not due to the proximity of several tasting rooms but really in large part due to the friendliness and professionalism of the staff and of course the part itself. Wide, long pull thrus with 50amp full hookups, grass patios with picnic tables and ample room between even the tightest sites. We could have easily gone directly to our next hosting gig from Pendleton but this park deserves a visit; even when it took us 20 miles out of our way.
Okay, I'll admit it, the wine wasn't bad either.
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That's it, we've been sitting at Lincoln Rock State Park for the past week picking up our campground hosting duties like last year and just trying to keep warm. Seems this year we may have come north just a bit too soon.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Touristy Stuff and a Departure - Yuma

CastleDomeOur stay in “Canada's Southern Most City” wouldn’t be complete without hitting some of the tourist sights in the area. So much to see and do in a short time so buckle up, this ride makes frequent stops and detours.

As a trading and transit hub, the Yuma area is rich in history and diverse in culture. Any visit here can be quickly filled with the quirky, the oddball, the normal, and endless combinations of all three with little or no effort on the part of the visitor. So we’ve found out for ourselves this winter season along with the fact one visit is simply not enough if we wish to see it all.

 

 

 

MardiGrasStPattyWhat happens when you get a bunch of 'seniors' in one place with temperatures in the 80's? We've found the usual result is just about any excuse for a party. What has me puzzled is “Where did these people come from?” “How did they get here?” and what have they done with all the serious parents and grandparents we knew as we were growing up. Prime example: we are no where near New Orleans but someone in the park heard “Fat”, another heard “Tuesday”. They put the two together and a park-wide Mardi Gras was formed. Last week one of the residents mentioned how much he enjoyed corned beef and cabbage. You guessed it, St. Patty’s Day party followed shortly after.

PDesertbarrel_and_skullIn the “normal” category; a day trip the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge, Lake Martinez and the Painted Desert Trail. Starting at the visitor center we met a fellow volunteer host who was trying out camping in the desert for the first time. A hard worker for sure, the center was clean and well kept with perhaps the exception of some pretty old and beaten up mounted animal displays. Outside, the rains of January and February had yielded an explosion of blossoms in plants, bushes, cactus and of course weeds.

tortoiseA pleasant surprise was the desert tortoise habitats around the perimeter of the visitor center building. I couldn’t tell you the difference between a tortoise and turtle on the best of days but I can definitely tell the difference from a rounded boulder and something that isn’t a rounded boulder. Especially true when the not boulder blinks. I know it was a desert tortoise because there was a placard proclaiming that very fact.

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flowerbushflowercactusA short distance down the road from the center is the Painted Desert Nature Trail, a 1.3 mile trail from gullies to ridgelines and back again, featuring the variegated colors and terrain of the seared land. After the hike in the overly warm temps I could swear there had been mistake in the length of the trail with someone reversing the numbers!

 

CastleDome2Later in the week brought us a a touch of oddball mixed with historical in a visit to Castle Dome, a recreated mining town featuring abandoned buildings and artifacts dating back to the late 1800's.

CastleDome3Similar to many towns of the west, this ghost town of silver mines showcases items not only of mining endeavors but the simple, everyday things used to make a living and life out in the desert. We all found it amazing people seemingly dropped everything and walked away when it no longer remained profitable.

 

CloudMuseumFor a touch of quirky blended with historical the Cloud Museum, just outside of Bard California, fills the bill. IMG_20170314_143249939Covering over 2 acres the museum , as noted by the Model T Ford Club of America, “probably the largest collection of Model Ts in the world; each and every one lovingly returned to running condition by Johnny Cloud. No idle boast as Johnny will gladly start up any of the vehicles despite the dilapidated, rusty, exterior.

Though mostly known for the vehicles, there is also an eclectic collection of period tools ranging from industrial applications to those commonly found in the home in years gone by. Mr. Cloud is usually less than a shout away and seems to have a sixth sense if you have a question regarding any of the exhibits or artifacts.IMG_20170314_144517567

IMG_20170320_150056790Oatman1For truly oddball we recalled information from our travels down here last year describing another mining town where the tools of the prospectors left to fend for themselves are now in charge. I speak of the donkeys of Oatman and while they are considered wild because no one owns them they are demonstrably quite civilized in their behavior. This calm demeanor could be their personality but I’m thinking a good portion of their considerable patience results from waiting for the next opportunity to part tourists from purchased carrots and feed pellets. The cost to the donkey? Enduring camera flashes and an occasional scratch behind an ear.

Oatman2Located on old route 66 which is also the main street of Oatman, the donkeys can be found wandering outside and in some cases inside the shops filled with local artwork, curiosities and sundry trinkets in this quaint assortment of Americana.

Our own role as tourists has come to the end for we are now slowly wending our way back north. We are hoping to drag a bit of the summer with us as we come. We’ll have to see.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Where are the little people? – Yuma


This week will mark the second month we've been down here and it just dawned on us, probably due to the grandkid's birthday; there are very few little humans about. Okay, I'll grant you school is in session so they've been locked up as they should but even on weekends we've not seen much more than a handful. Short of creepily hanging out at playgrounds and schoolyards, we probably won't see the critters much and to be honest, I sort of miss the miniature terrorists.
Of course, when I do begin to ponder on such critical things invariably along come proofs where it is not a lack of the children but rather my observation skills having fallen woefully short once again. An example was just last night when, while minding my own business hunting down the not so illusive ice cream parlor, a sound rivaling at least a hundred screeching chalk boards arose. Thinking they were filming another episode of Jurassic Park I rushed to see what was going on. Sadly, upon rounding the corner the truth was revealed as we were presented with a 3 foot tall tantrum spewing young male of the species who simply was gong to die if he did not have the bright orange shoestrings instead of the lime green ones.
Now that I write about it, more examples begin to flood back into my mind as I review the memories. Its sort of like playing a movie of a train wreck over and over to capture each and every nuance. For instance when I was observing the cereal aisle theorem of snowbird Walmarts versus local Walmarts I do now recall seeing the crumb snatching, curtain climbing, mucus factories loudly proclaiming what brightly colored box of sugary fluff they preferred and had to have RIGHT NOW!
Don't get me wrong, I like children, especially those who go home with someone else. As a keen observer of the human condition there is quite a bit of entertainment to be had when you have parents and their children out in the “wild” so to speak. The interaction and resulting chaos stemming from adults attempting to create structured environments outside of the home is something to behold and definitely defies description.
If you are just starting as an observer you will quickly find this is not true when it is grandparents out with their grandkids. First off, while they may be considered adults, grandparents are often times living through their second, third, or more childhood (or have simply forgotten they are adults). Yes, there is a possibility I'm speaking from personal experience.
I digress. Back to the subject at hand, one of the primary reasons for the grandparent/grandkid contradiction is simply put, because the children do eventually go back home with someone else. This relieves the grandparent of any obligation of creating a structured environment and/or establishing any rules of conduct. For my son when he reads this, now you know why we buy the loud, obnoxious toys instead of the soft quiet ones. We can easily imagine all the fun you are having.

Enough drivel. I wrote about kids because I find myself missing our grandkids this week as they celebrate their birthdays – yes, we did mail off some loud, obnoxious toys. To Rebecca and Ariel, happy birthday. Talk your parents into taking you to the store. Visit the cereal aisle.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A little of this, a little of that - Yuma

rainy_day_HDRLast week we had high winds and dust storms followed by an odd occurance for Yuma - rain. Being past camp hosts in Oregon and hence considered experts in the quality of rain, I must say we were impressed. For almost a full 24 hours we had a steady albeit light rain fall; some say it seemed like the yearly rainfall for Yuma all wrapped into one day. After the 3 days of strong winds and dust storms it was a welcome relief and an air cleanser for sure. Now to dispose of the sand dunes inside the motorhome.

One of the questions we got this past month is “What neat things have you seen?” and that brings us to a confession of sorts. For the most part, we have tended to stay close to the motorhome and not really do the tourist thing. We work on our hobbies, read, do maintenance and basically just kick back. It boils down to what we are doing and full-timing is a lifestyle, not just a never ending vacation. Shoot, if we stayed in vacation mode every day we would quickly become totally exhausted and definitely pennyless. So, we do what most people do in a home, ours just has wheels and okay, yea, we go vacation mode alot more often.

roadrunner2Case in point, my sister and brother-in-law will be arriving down here in about a week and in anticipation of their vacation, we have put off visiting some of the more popular sights so we have something we can experience together. I figure this coming month will be our vacation too. Of course that doesn't mean we haven't already done some neat stuff on our own.

As you might have gathered in our last entry “Observations” we do spend a good deal of time people watching and in order to do so, we have had to visit those places where people tend to congregate. While Walmart can be an outstanding place to observe the human condition, another more realistic one is a venue called The Arizona Marketplace. This outdoor flea market initially had us envisioning something like the massive market we found in Quartzsite last year. marketplaceSadly, that wasn't the case during our first visit with vendors outnumbering the shoppers probably 2 to 1. At first I was a bit confused, here we were in a relatively warm, sheltered marketplace with all sorts of things to see and yet there weren't very many people. Okay, I'm just a tad slow – the reason there were so few people was they were all at the show in Quartzsite! Since the RV show concluded things have picked up in earnest and our weekly visit to the marketplace is now often met crowds that make it difficult to walk the aisles without bumping into someone.

On the bright side, the large number of people make for excellent people watching conditions and unlike Walmart we get the added bonus of the occasional people with pets. Interesting side note here: things can get really fun if you happen to have a squeaky toy. Not that I would ever carry a squeaky toy – out in the open. We'll leave it at that.

Tonight we'll be cooking outdoors. Nothing special since we usually do so when the weather allows. I only mention it because we will be dining with the sunset.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Yuma – Observations

IMG_20170206_111228881What is RV'ing? To travel to new and exciting places so you can park and fix the things you broke while traveling to new and exciting places.

In the urban dictionary a snowbird is an elderly yankee who travels south when it is too cold in the northern climes of New York, Ohio or Michigan. Meriam-Webster generalized the brand more by saying a snowbird is “one who travels to warm climes for the winter”. While this last definition makes it difficult, I maintain Chris and I are not snowbirds but rather declare we are Weather Explorers. Further, we specialize in discovering and residing in mild to moderate weather areas. This tough job is fraught with risks such as mornings with frost and even the odd chance of having to use an air conditioner.

Probably easier to simply think of us as storm chasers without the storms.

Being weather explorers in constant search of our speciality we find ourselves residing in places typically associated with the snowbird genre. As a result we also quite often become erroneously classified as snowbirders. To clarify this common case of mistaken identity, Chris and I have come up with several characteristics to assist the observer. While some of the differences may be very subtle, two techniques have a proven track record and by using just these you can quickly spot snowbirders in their natural environment - out in the wild so to speak.

row_end1When first encountering what you believe may be a weather explorer or snowbirder you will need to make a gender assumption. If the gender is believed to be female, your next observation will at the head. If male, your next look should be directed at the feet. The reason will become clear shortly.

Weather explorers, particularily those with a mild to moderate weather speciality tend to not worry too much about their hair. Headgear such as hats are not for style but to provide shade or protection from variances in the weather (usually encounterd during moderate conditions – see rain). Snowbirders on the other hand are usually well turned out and take great care in not developing “hat hair”. When hatless, the female snowbirder can be quickly categorized by the purple, blue, or pink hair tints. Note, some experience is now required to distinguish intentional coloring from unintentional consequences of attempting to hide grey or white hair.

The male snowbirder is easily spotted by the combination of knee socks and sandals. A confirmation of this will be the bright plaid long golfing shorts worn in combination. Conversely old, worn, flip flops are a virtual sure sign of a weather explorer.

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Obvious snowbird trap. No challenge. Avoid when possible.

There are many other differences and we highly recommend those of you who wish to perfect your observation skills to identify potential snowbird gathering areas. We recommend honing your skills while still challenging yourself by avoiding the obvious areas such as flea markets, anywhere in Florida, or Branson Misouri. Here are three common and easy ways to spot gathering areas:

First up, look to the grocery stores. Areas with multiple stores in fairly close proximity will need a bit of scouting out to ensure your time is not wasted. Yuma Arizona is a fine example with multiple Walmarts, Albertsons and some other grocery stores. A really quick and easy way to see if the store caters to the locals or to a snowbird population is to visit the cereal aisle. Any store that is fully stocked with sugary, cartooney covered cereal boxes yet has a descimated shredded wheat shelf (or other fiber type cereal) will definitely be a target rich environment heavily frequented by snowbirds.

Another dead give away? This one applies to stores having food court or other fast food type restaraunt within. The first clue will be if there is a line of shopping carts outside of the eating area with groceries bagged and waiting. Almost guaranteed, if you take a peek inside you will hit the jackpot with a plethora of snowbirds in their habitual light cotton plaid shirts, bermuda shorts and socks inside their sandals. For the most part, they will all be having a small ice cream cone.

A bit tougher one is the restaraunt and can require some research combined with on-scene scouting. Establishments offering buy one get one free, all you can eat, or have a history of serving very generous portions that can be split will be excellent candidates. If the parking lot is full between 4:30pm and 6:30pm yet empties out completely by 7:30pm your chances have improved expotentially. With this in mind, understand thepossibility of snowbird spotting is dramatically reduced the closer you approach the 7:30pm nesting time.

There are so many other ways to spot the snowbird and Chris and I encourage you to discover your own particular style. Just know there are also Weather Explorers like us out there and we aren't afraid of snow or bad storms; we just prefer to stay within our specialty.

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