2015/02/07-11 (S-W) In and Around Q

2015/02/07 (S) Bouse, AZ

We got up around 8 AM, got cleaned up, and had coffee and granola.  Linda then cut my hair, which seems to be a once every 4 to 6 weeks thing when we are traveling.  Butch and Fonda went to Yuma to meet up with Bell, Bell’s daughter, and Bell’s three grand-daughters.  Bell’s daughter was in Yuma with her Roller Derby team and the family came along.  We wanted to get out and do some more sight-seeing and decided to drive to Bouse, Arizona.

Cholla "teddy bear" cacti at Quinn's Pass on the road to Bouse, AZ.

Cholla “teddy bear” cacti at Quinn’s Pass on the road to Bouse, AZ.

Bouse is a small town located in the next valley to the east of Quartzsite, which sits in the La Paz valley.  It is on AZ-72 at the eastern end of Plomosa Road.  The western end of Plomosa Road is at AZ-95 seven miles north of the city limit of Quartzsite.  The first three miles of Plomosa Road heading east from AZ-95 runs through the BLM Plomosa Road STVA.  The road is paved its entire length and provided a fun and scenic drive out to Bouse and back.  We stopped at Quinn Pass to read the historical marker and ended up going on a short hike.  We have wanted to do this little trip ever since friends told us about it, but today provided an added incentive to finally go; the Parker 425.

The Parker 425 is an annual off-road race in the desert east of Parker, south of the Buckskin Mountains, and north of Bouse.  The course is a little over 140 miles in length and the race consists of three loops for a total of 425 miles.  It begins and ends at the Bluewater Resort and Casino in Parker.  Last year’s winner completed the race in just over seven hours.  That’s an average speed of 60 MPH, and there are plenty of curves and bumpy areas where it is not possible to go that fast, so the vehicles are really moving every place they can.

When we got to AZ-72 we crossed the highway, drove three short blocks, and made a left on Swansea.  I could see from the GPS that it was a paved road that continued in a northeasterly direction.  I had looked at a map yesterday and had a general sense that one of the spectator areas was out that way.  We did not have to drive very far before we saw Jeeps and ATVs parked on top of a big hill all facing the same direction.  We drove past the turnoff for that area and just around the hill was a large parking area full of cars and RVs.  The dirt road was closed, the Fire Department was set up there, and there was a checkpoint for the race.  I found a place to park and we got out to check out the action.

We stayed long enough to see a dozen different vehicles pass through the checkpoint and I shot photos from several different vantage points.  There are different classes of vehicles, but the ones we saw were of two types: highly modified small pickup trucks, and custom built off-road racers known as “grasshoppers” because of their long shape and the suspensions allow them to “bounce” over bumps in the road.

View looking NW from the Quinn's Pass area between Quartzsite and Bouse, AZ.

View looking NW from the Quinn’s Pass area between Quartzsite and Bouse, AZ.

The air temperature was pleasant but the sun was very hot so we drove the short distance back to Bouse, stopped at AZ-72, and quickly scoped out the town.  We spotted the Coachman Restaurant just northwest of the intersection and drove over there to have lunch.  We each had a garden salad and iced tea, and I had French fries.  We can pretty much count on lettuce and potatoes in any restaurant we visit.

Bouse was founded in 1908 as a mining camp but as a waypoint between Phoenix and Parker it now survives on tourism, agriculture, and retirees.  Measuring 10.1 square miles at 947 feet ASL with 996 residents (2010 census) the area enjoys sunny skies year-round.  We saw RVs of all types throughout town and in the dessert along Plomosa Road which is all BLM land.  There were also quite a few RVs in the Bouse Community Park.

We drove back to Quartzsite the way we came, a distance of 30 miles, because the only other ways back were via Parker (64 miles) and Phoenix (at least 250 miles).  Linda wanted to walk through the Tyson Wells market area one more time as this is the last weekend for the Craft Show.  We bought a cute hand puppet that we think grand-daughter Madeline will find very interesting.  We drove over to Barry’s Breads to get a loaf of his Barry’s Basic Bread but he was not open.  In fact, it looked like he was done for the season.  Activity really has slowed down here and he is presumably getting ready to move to his next venue.

We stopped at the Road Runner Market and bought a loaf of French bread and some red grapes.  We then drove to the Quartzsite Cemetery to take photographs of Hadji Ali’s (Hi Jolly’s) gravesite, which is marked by a small pyramid with a silhouette of a camel on top.  As long as we were there we wandered around the rest of the cemetery, which was an interesting and well-kept place.

Once we were back at the coach Linda sat outside and read while I transferred photo files from my camera to my computer and backed them up to our NAS.  I then continued selecting and processing images from yesterday’s outing to KOFA NWR Palm Canyon.  I was starting to work on the images from today when Linda cane in and started making dinner.

She decided to make “Mustard Greens and Beans” using Great Northern beans.  In addition to the usual onion and garlic, it had vinegar, a little sugar, and honey mustard.  It was very tasty and we agreed it was a keeper.  She served sautéed green beans on the side, cut up some of the French bread, and poured a couple of glasses of Franzia Refreshing White wine.  Sliced fresh strawberries and cookies for desert completed the meal.

Butch and Fonda got back from Yuma while Linda was cooking.  I gave Butch a call after dinner to discuss our TireTraker systems.  He needs to charge their monitor this evening and I asked him to check on the behavior of the LEDS on the 12/24VDC plug.

As we do most evenings, Linda read and played online word games while I worked on this post for a while and then resumed editing photos on my computer.  I checked e-mail again and had several regarding the upcoming Freethinkers gathering at the Liar Peg Leg Smith Monument boondocking area near Borrego Springs, California.  One of them posited the question of how often Friday the 13th occurs?  I did a quick online search and the answer appeared to be 1 to 3 times per year and every 12/7 or 1.714 times per year, on average.  That is 171.4 times per century or 1,714 times per millennium.  I posted that back to the e-mail reflector and went to bed.

Rocks and flora at Quinn's Pass, AZ.

Rocks and flora at Quinn’s Pass, AZ.

2015/02/08 (N) Another Meetup

I was up at 7:30 AM this morning and got the coffee made right away.  Linda did not sleep well last night but got up as soon as she smelled the coffee.  Breakfast was toast and preserves.  I was planning on putting in a long day at my computer and Linda was planning on doing laundry and some work for the bakery but our plans changed before we got started.  When I checked my e-mail I had one from Lou and Donna Rice of our FMCA Freethinkers Chapter indicating that they were at Mile Marker 2 on Plomosa Road.  We drove right past them twice yesterday on our visit to Bouse but had no idea they were there.

Plomosa Road is about seven miles north of Quartzsite on AZ-95.  We left at 10 AM and were parked next to their Jeep before 10:15.  We sat and talked for four hours before returning to our coach.  As soon as we got back I took our TireTraker monitor and charger over to Butch’s coach.  We tried our charger on his monitor and it worked fine.  We then tried his charger on our monitor and it did not work.  Between our four devices it was clearly our monitor that was defective.  I will have to call Darryl Lawrence tomorrow and see what we can figure out.

We each had a pear, some red grapes, and something to drink.  Linda gathered up laundry and I got to work editing consolidated blog posts.  In between loads she sat outside and read.

Fonda had two Poblano peppers she got at the Farmers Market on Wednesday and gave them to Linda.  Linda found a recipe for stuffed grilled poblanos.  The stuffing was white rice, scallions, black beans, tomatoes, vegan sour cream and cheddar cheese, and cumin.  It resembled Mexican rice but with a creamy/cheesy dimension.  She cooked the stuffed peppers on Butch and Fonda’s little grill and cooked the extra stuffing on our cooktop.  She served the dish with Clementine orange wedges and a glass of Franzia Refreshing White wine to make an outstanding meal.

After dinner we sat outside Butch and Fonda’s bus enjoying the cool desert night air and watching the lights of airplanes flying overhead.  It eventually cooled off enough that we returned to our coach where I continued to work on blog posts and Linda worked on the bakery accounting.  She eventually went off to bed and I uploaded survey items to the FMCA Education Committee folder in our Dropbox and sent an e-nail to the committee.  We have a committee work session tomorrow at 4 PM EST (2 PM MST).

Vehicles positioned east of Bouse, AZ to watch the Parker 435 off-road race.

Vehicles positioned east of Bouse, AZ to watch the Parker 435 off-road race.

2015/02/09 (M) A Bright Idea

Butch called around 8:20 AM to let me know that our light bulb order was at the Post Office awaiting pickup.  He and Fonda were headed to the Quartzsite Gem and Mineral Club for a day-long class on faceting, so he gave me the parcel slip so I could go pick up the package.

While we were eating breakfast it suddenly occurred to me that we should visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West while we are camped near Tucson next month.  Linda went to the website and discovered that it is in Scottsdale which is a northern Suburb of Phoenix and is closer to Quartzsite than it us to Tucson.  We selected a couple of possible dates and she went online to get tickets.  The “Behind the Scenes” tours are only done on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday.  She tried to get tickets for Monday February 16 but they only had one left.  She called but they would not sell us two tickets.  We waited way too long to think of this and painted ourselves into a corner so it may not happen on this trip to the southwest.

I drove to the Quartzsite Post Office after breakfast and retrieved the package, only my second trip to the Post Office to transact business since we arrived in Q.  The first trip was to sign up for the P. O. Box.  Linda usually takes care of the mail while she is out walking and Butch usually checks the P. O. Box, which is at a different location that is not quite as convenient a walk from our camp as the main building.  We have not used the P. O. Box very much, but it has been invaluable when we have.

I worked most of the day on some of my blog posts for December 2014.  I took a break around 12:30 for a bite of lunch and then called Daryl Lawrence and left a message regarding our TireTraker TT-400C monitor which appears to not be recharging.

The Parker 425 checkpoint east of Bouse, AZ.  This race is a BIG deal with fire, EMS, and helicopter coverage.

The Parker 425 checkpoint east of Bouse, AZ. This race is a BIG deal with fire, EMS, and helicopter coverage.

Gaye Young called around 1:30 PM to make sure I was going to participate in the FMCA Education Committee work session at 2 PM.  (Gaye is the chairperson of the committee.)  There were only two items on the agenda and I had to give the status report on both of them.  Our work sessions and meetings are conducted by telephone conference.  They usually last an hour and today was not an exception.  If committee members provide me with additional input this week regarding an education survey we are developing I will have some work to do the last two weeks of the month in addition to working on articles for Bus Conversion Magazine, completing some minor repairs on the bus, finishing the cleaning/waxing of the exterior of the bus, and cleaning/waxing the car.

I managed to upload consolidated blog posts, including some photographs, for December 5 – 8, 9 – 12, and 13 – 16, 2014.  I did not take very many photos while we were traveling but once we got settled in Q I got the camera out and started using it.

I got a call back from Jeff at TireTraker support.  I explained what the monitor was (not) doing and he agreed to mail me a new one along with a new charger.  We will return the defective one to Daryl at Escapade next month.

Linda cooked up a couple of Tofurkey brand vegan Italian sausages with sweet onions and sweet red bell peppers and served some broccoli as a side dish.  After dinner I removed my bulbs from the Bulbtown shipment and checked the quantities and prices against my spreadsheet.  I then took the remaining bulbs over to Butch.  He had ordered 10 #4003 bulbs to use in his bay fixtures and realized when he saw them that he should have ordered #4004s.  Both are 24VDC bulbs but the #4003s have a single contact base whereas #4004s have a double contact base.  I think my bay light fixtures may take #4003s.  I will check tomorrow and if so I will buy them instead of Butch.

We sat outside with the lights off enjoying a glass of wine while watching the long lingering sunset backlight the mountains to our west.  As the sunset faded we looked at the stars and watched aircraft lights moving east and west high over the desert.  It still cools off here after the sun sets but not as quickly, nor as dramatically, as it did just  a week ago.

I combined the blog posts for December 17 – 20, 2014.  I had selected and processed photos for this post earlier so it was ready to upload at 11 PM but I did not want to go through the process at that late hour.  I dealt with a couple of e-mails and then went to bed.  A short time later Jasper threw up a large quantity of food so I had to get up and deal with that.  It looked like it had some hair mixed in with it, but I don’t know if that was the root cause.

2015/02/10 (T) Deionized

We were planning on heading to the Peg Leg Monument boondocking area on Thursday, spending the night in Indio, California and visiting Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP) on Friday before driving home Friday evening.  Ken Harrison from the FMCA Freethinkers indicated that he and Linda would not make it to Peg Leg until Friday.  That prompted us to consider flipping our plans, doing JTNP on Thursday and Peg leg on Friday.  Either way we will stay in Indio as we already have reservations at a motel.

The Polaris RZR ("razer") was one of the most popular 4-wheel ATVs in and around Q.

The Polaris RZR (“razer”) was one of the most popular 4-wheel ATVs in and around Q.

We had another stay-at-home day relaxing while getting things done.  Linda was going to drive to Blythe for groceries, but decided to go on Sunday as we will be away from camp all of Thursday and Friday and much of Saturday.  She is going to see if the Farmers Market is still operating tomorrow morning.  If not she will stop by the Road Runner Market.

As has been our pattern recently Linda went for a long walk (5 miles) while I continued to work on blog posts.  We had a light lunch when she returned.  I then called Teeko’s Coffee and Tea in Howell, Michigan and ordered six pounds of roasted coffee beans to be shipped to us here in Q.  We are approaching the midpoint of our snowbird season and are almost out of the five pounds of coffee we started with.  Jeff is going to roast two pounds each of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe half-caff, Sweet Seattle Dreams half-calf, and Cafe Europe Blend half-caff.  He will let it out-gas for a couple of days and then vacuum seal it in one-pound portions and mail it to us in a USPS flat rate box that will go to our P. O. Box in Q.  That should be enough to get us home even if we do not get there until late April.

Butch is always looking out for us and trying to help us spend our retirement dollars so he sent me a link to a portable two-tank water de-ionizing system that is available from RVupgrades.com.  The system is intended for washing/finishing cars and RVs as de-ionized water has had all of the dissolved minerals removed and does not leave spots on surfaces when it dries.  It is not, however, considered suitable for drinking.  The two tanks are plumbed in series and use special resin beds that have to be replaced when exhausted rather than recharged.  The first tank removes cations and the second removes anions, leaving the water completely deionized.  The cations are the positively charged ones typically “removed” by water “softeners”, such as calcium, iron, and magnesium, through ion exchange with sodium.  The anions are the negatively charged ones that water softeners typically do not remove, including fluoride and sodium.  The dual tank system is about 33% more expensive than a single tank portable water softener, but given the time, expense, and frustration I am experiencing trying to clean and wax our motorcoach I am seriously considering ordering one tomorrow.

I uploaded two consolidated blog posts yesterday and another one this afternoon.  I consolidated the posts for December 21 – 26, 2014, selected and processed the photos, and then took a break to sit outside and just enjoy the weather.  No book, no iPad, no computer; just ahhhh.  It was 78 degrees F with 19% relative humidity, a steady breeze from the northwest, and a hot sun shining through absolutely clear blue skies.  Linda and I agreed that it was the most perfect weather day we have had so far this winter.

Linda had some seitan ‘mock’ beef in the freezer that she heated in a saucepan and served with basmati rice accented with soy sauce.  Very simple but very tasty.  After dinner I uploaded the December 21 – 26 consolidated blog post along with 12 photos, entered all of the tags, and published it.

I got an e-mail yesterday from Cherie Ve Ard of Technomadia asking if we would be interested in previewing/testing another new website.  I said ‘yes’ and she responded with the URL for the development site.  When I was done with our website I went to the new one and created an account.  I got an activation e-mail, clicked the link, and was able to login.  I spent an hour looking around the site and captured my impressions and suggestions in an e-mail back to the development team.  I took a few minutes to investigate portable water deionizers but by then it was too late to get involved in any serious research so I went to bed.

2015/02/11 (W) Update This!

Hi Jolly's (Hadji Ali's) gravesite in the Quartzsite Cemetary; allegedly the most visited place in Q.

Hi Jolly’s (Hadji Ali’s) gravesite in the Quartzsite Cemetary; allegedly the most visited place in Q.

Linda’s cell phone rang just before 8 AM.  It was Barb.  She and Jim were up, dressed, and had the golf cart out and ready to go to the Farmers Market.  When we mentioned it yesterday Barb said she wanted to go and Linda indicated that it was open from 8 AM to noon.  Somehow that got translated into leaving at 8 AM to go to the market.  Linda, being a good sport, got up, got dressed and walked over about 8:15 and said she was ready to go.  No breakfast, no coffee, just the “git er done” spirit of the old west.  I stayed behind and got the coffee ready to brew when she returned.  I then got to work on computer stuff in the true “git er done” spirit of the new/virtual west.

They returned from the Farmers Market around 9:30 AM.  Linda bought another Romanesco brocciflower, some Brussels sprouts, grapefruit, and oranges.  To our delight Barry’s Breads was also there and had a few loaves of Barry’s Basic Bread.  He told Linda he will be around, at least at the Wednesday Farmers Market, through the end of this month.

As much as I would like to have de-ionized water available for rinsing the coach as I wash it, I decided not to speed hundreds of dollars without first doing deeper research into the available technologies and their life cycle costs.  I had enough other stuff to do today that I did not want to make time to dig into this new topic.

Linda saw a photographers vest at the Salvation Army resale store the other day but did not buy it as it was $15, pricey for the SA, and she wasn’t sure it would fit me.  We drove over to the store to see if it was still there.  It was, and it was too small for me.  It also had a defective zipper.  For a moment I thought we were going to have to buy it so I could take it home and cut it off.  I managed instead to pull it off over my head like a t-shirt and Linda was then able to get the zipper undone and put it back on the rack.  This was my first time in the store so while we were there I found two pairs of shorts for $2 each, a third pair for $0.50, and a lightweight, lined, waist-length London Fog jacket for $0.25.  Linda found a white hand-held mixer with two beaters for $4.  Deal.

When we got back Linda called the Prince of Tucson RV Park and made a reservation for the evening of Thursday, March 5th.  Lou and Val Petkus will already be there and this will allow us to caravan into the SKP Escapade at the Pima County Fairgrounds first thing Friday morning.   By coming in together we will be able to park together which will make our staff photography work more convenient.

My computer indicated that it had a large number of updates to install; 34, to be exact.  It was a 334 MB download so I turned on our Verizon Mi-Fi and switched my computer over to it.  The Mi-Fi is much faster than the Wi-Fi and I find that with large downloads the faster I get them done the more likely they are to complete successfully.  When those were done downloading and installing I had to restart my computer to finish the installation.  I also had an updated driver available for the NVIDIA GeForce graphics processor, so I downloaded and installed that.

 

I figured that if I had updates for my computer Linda would have them for hers.  I switched her computer over to our Mi-Fi and checked for updates.  She had 20 recommended and 4 optional.  I selected all 24 and the download was 980 MB.  That’s a lot of updates so I started it and let it run.  As always, finishing the installation required the computer to be rebooted.  When it restarted her computer the screen was once again functioning normally.  Go figure.  She also had an Adobe Creative Cloud update so I started that.  It failed at the 29% point so closed it and restarted it.  The second time it ran to completion.

Linda needed to work at her computer so we both sat at the dinette table and did our respective computer things.  She brought our financial records up-to-date in Quicken and I compiled and then uploaded a consolidated blog post for the last six days of December 2014.  I had e-mails going back and forth with some of our fellow FMCA Freethinkers regarding the Peg Leg gathering and ended up joining the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  I’ve meant to do that for a while and the electrons finally aligned just right this afternoon.

Hi Jolly's pyramid gravesite marker is a State Historical Site.

Hi Jolly’s pyramid gravesite marker is a State Historical Site.

Somewhere during the course of the afternoon we had sandwiches for lunch and snacked on dried fruits and nuts.  Kathi Slater called to check on Linda’s travel arrangements, after which I made popcorn.  Linda borrowed a small cooler from Butch and Fonda for our 2-day trip to California and back.  Fonda came over to go through the chores involved in caring for the cats while we are away and Linda gave her a set of keys to the bus.

I had seen a quick notification from the RV Internet Resource Center (Mobile Internet Aficionados membership website) that WiFiRanger had finally released their new firmware upgrade for the WiFiRanger Mobile.  Using my iPad as the control panel I switched our WFR-MT from the Wi-Fi/DSL connection to our Verizon Mi-Fi.  Again, I wanted to make sure this upgrade got downloaded as quickly as possible through the most reliable connection we have.  The download was reasonably quick but the installation took quite a while.  My iPad eventually lost contact with the WFR-MT and I just left it to finish and went over to visit with Butch and Fonda and Linda.  We came back to our coach when their dinner was ready and the WFR-MT firmware upgrade had finished installing successfully.  I switched the connection back to the Wi-Fi/DSL that we get to use as part of our “rent” while we are here.  I switched our laptops back to our internal Wi-Fi network and then shut the Verizon Mi-Fi off to let it recharge.

Neither of us was very hungry after snacking late this afternoon so Linda sliced the remaining tofu and pan-seared it.  She caramelized onions, added BBQ sauce, and served it open faced over the tofu.  After dinner Linda made a list of things we needed to take tomorrow while I made a final check of e-mail.  I e-mailed Lou Petkus to let him know that we were booked into the Prince of Tucson RV Park for March 5th.  I sent a message to Curtis Coleman via RVillage to accept his invitation to boondock in his driveway and see if March 3 and 4 would work for him.  He phoned back to confirm that it would be OK and then sent his address via TXT message.  I also had an e-mail from Kate de Fuccio and replied to that.  I checked for updates and my computer had several more to install so I started that process.  I checked Linda’s computer but she did not have any updates pending.  Although we got a lot of other things done today it felt like I had mostly dealt with computer updates.  Update days are often like that and you cannot schedule them because you never know when Microsoft is going to drop a big ‘update bomb’ in your lap.

Linda went to bed around her usual time.  I turned in shortly thereafter and much earlier than I have been.  We plan to get up at 6 AM tomorrow, have a light breakfast, finish packing for our trip, and be on the road at 7 AM.  We will stop at Albertson’s in Blythe, California for some water, ice, and other snack items to get us through the day to dinner at Native Foods in Palm Springs and give us something to eat on Friday while we are at the Peg Leg gathering.  Albertson’s opens at 6 AM PST, which corresponds to our 7 AM MST departure time.  We should arrive at the south entrance to Joshua Tree National Park around 7:30 AM PST which will give us a good, long day to explore the park.

 

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