Yuma, Arizona

Tuesday, January 25:  A shout out to our dear friend Weezie who celebrated her birthday today… Cheers! Although we got up early this morning for an early departure to Yuma, we decided to stick around for a bit to enjoy the 8am “Cinnabon” pancakes-Yum with a capital Y!!! We can’t believe we’ve had Boomer pancakes three times since we arrived at Quartzsite.  But… the pancakes are delicious and all donations go to the Escapees’ CARE program (a win-win). Sadly, we are really going through our stash of pure maple syrup from the Cross Brothers’ Maple family-owned farm in Madison, OH. We love their syrup and stocked up for our trip at the Willoughby Outdoor Market this fall.

We left Plomosa Road around 9:30 and got to the Escapee KOFA Ko-Op Retreat in Yuma before noon. Boy, talk about leaving the desert dust behind. Everything was greener as we got closer to Yuma, and the citrus trees lining the streets were a sight for sore eyes. Early into our trip, Fester was concerned because the air brake system wouldn’t come up to pressure which could result in the brakes locking up. As Fester watched the air pressure continue to drop, he was nervous as he backed into our assigned RV spot, afraid he would lose the brake. The brakes did lock up, but he finessed us safely into place. We weren’t sure where the air was escaping, so we walked around the coach while it was still running. I heard air hissing around the passenger side’s back wheels and, upon further inspection, Fester located the leak on the driver’s side back wheels. Fester climbed under the coach and was able to remove the faulty part. Unfortunately, while in that position, he noticed the rear axel seal was leaking fluid – another problem! Our back home friend and mechanic, John Kraus, was able to give Fester valuable insight before we headed to a truck parts store. Fester couldn’t believe his luck. Not only was he able to purchase an identical replacement part, but while at the counter he met a truck mechanic who should be able to fix the rear axel issue. Now we just have to wait for the mechanic to let us know the parts are in and we’ll head to his garage.

Because the RV Park doesn’t accept reservations, we were only able to book a full hook-up site for tonight; tomorrow we move across the street to a dry camping site (basically boondocking). Before dinner, we decided to take a swim and were happy to learn the pool was heated (87 degrees). While relaxing in the pool, we talked to a resident, John, who told us a bit about the park, and how it operates as a co-op 55+ RV community. We were intrigued by the idea of owning a site at the park and will talk to the office manager while where here to get more information.

Monday, January 24:  Happy Birthday to Fester’s dad, Ken, in Asheville, NC! Seems we have been taking turns driving off-road, and I was today’s driver.  The trail was beginner level, except for a few “dicey” areas (i.e., fun).  Fester used the “Quartzsite Arizona Off-Road Atlas” to navigate our way from Plomosa Road to the Sunkist Trail, then to Road 0077 (which shared the Arizona Peace Trail for a while).  We eventually turned onto 0077A which lead us to a “guzzler,” which is an innovate way to provide water for wildlife in the desert.  A guzzler is a rain catchment device that collects and stores rain water for all types of small wildlife to drink. Rain falls on a large flat area (typically cement) that gently slopes towards a cistern that holds the water. A ramp at the mouth of the guzzlers allows the wildlife to walk in and access the water at any water level.   I saw a few animals (probably deer) scatter away upon our approach, but other than that, we didn’t see any wildlife.

We enjoy spotting different/unique types of rigs that people call home, and we weren’t disappointed as we neared the end of Road 0077 (parallel to I-10) and came across a live-aboard large trawler parked out in the desert. Amazingly creative, the huge white trawler had a rear entrance (with latter), as well as a door cut into the blue hull. Home sweet home.

Speaking of Land Yachts

We stayed out later than planned, but it was a good day and my off-road skills (and confidence) continue to improve.  As we were driving about, we made the decision that we were ready for a change in scenery and will head to Yuma, AZ, in the morning.  We made quick work of connecting the Jeep and loading/packing up our stuff.  As luck would have it, our neighbor, David, stopped by.  This was the first time we’ve met him, and immediately we noticed his t-shirt with a white blaze down the front – a recognizable symbol from the Appalachian Trail, which he and his wife, Celia, have section-hiked.  They are full-timers and have enjoyed a lot of adventures the last 4-1/2 years.  We wish we had introduced ourselves sooner, as David shared some good information on places to explore during our travels.  Almost as soon as it got dark, we could hear the crackling fire that Shout had just built, so we wandered over to enjoy the fire and say our goodbyes to Sauce and Shout (and their sweet dogs Flag and Neptune).  It turns out they are also leaving (to Phoenix) in the morning.

Sunday, January 23:  Greetings from Quartzsite, Arizona! I’m finally taking the time to update the blog, as prompted by my father-in-law, Ken. A lot has taken place since my last post on January 11. We arrived in Quartzsite on January 17, coming from the Xscapers’ Annual “Bash” in Lake Havasu City.  Later this morning, after it warms up a bit, we’re planning an off-road adventure via the Arizona Peace Trail (AZPT).  The AZPT is a 675 mile Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) loop trail through Mohave, La Paz and Yuma Counties and is the longest off-road trail in Arizona. During our last few days in Quartzsite, we hope to visit some “tourist” destinations like the Hi Jolly National Monument, the Tyson’s Well Stage Station Museum, Celia’s Rainbow Gardens, the Indian Petroglyphs and Grinding Holes in Tyson Wash and the Bouse Fisherman (an Intaglio, also known as a geoglyph or earth figure).  

Quartzsite – BIG Tent “Card” Punched

Saturday, January 22: Finally… we’re among the many thousands of RVers destined to make the pilgrimage to the annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show, also known as the BIG Tent, which kicks off this morning and runs through January 30.  We arrived around 8:30, grabbed an info pack (with map) and a free shopping bag for all the “stuff” we collect along the way. Fester has been reading about the BIG Tent over the years, but we didn’t really know what to expect. Think of an RV/Boat Show on steroids with over 600 vendors hawking their wares.  We saw RV lights, batteries, solar panels, refrigeration systems, toilets and air conditioners, along with RV Resort and RV Club representatives. There were several organizations (two in Alaska) looking for work-campers during the summer months. We took a few brochures, because who knows? Aside from RV-specific wares, there were knives, pots and pans, Tupperware and cooking demonstrations. Pretty much you name it, and someone was selling it. After having only purchased some candied pecans, we can now say we’ve officially gotten our BIG Tent “card punched.” As we headed toward the Jeep, we saw that the regular vendors had opened for business and were already crowded with shoppers among the many rows of tents.

After an early lunch at Silly Al’s Pizza (yummy), we picked up Sadie for a ride down Plomosa Road to check out other camping areas.  Today turned into a chilly, gloomy day and it even started to rain a bit as we headed out. We saw some very nice BLM campsites that were way out there, providing campers with solitude and a remote camping experience in the desolate desert. While heading back home, we decided that this end of Plomosa Road would be a good training opportunity for me to get behind the wheel and drive Zephyr as we start toward our next destination (haven’t decided when/where we’re going). Other than a few “dips” and curves, the road is in great shape and is pretty straight, with very little traffic.  Considering I’ve only driven Zephyr at our local college, I can’t wait to get on a real road. We settled in for the night and while we were eating a piece of leftover pizza, we were pleasantly surprised when Jacque knocked on the door and invited us to join them at their new propane fire pit (which they purchased today at the BIG Tent).  

Below are just a few highlights of what we’ve been up to since my last post. I hope to catch up on these soon, as they were good times with great people!

Friday, January 21: Pancakes & Bacon Breakfast with the Escapee Boomers

Thursday, January 20: Cinnamon buns, Market Stalls, Beer Belly’s Adult Day Care

Wednesday, January 19:  Party at Plomosa!  Fester & Jacques fly the drone; Annual Happy Hour Hosted by Xscapers with the Status Crowes band followed by Karaoke by the fire.

Tuesday, January 18: Met Faith’s kids Karen & Greg who are boondocking at La Posa LTVA

Monday, January 17:  After laundromat we left Lake Havasu City, heading to Quartzsite; said good by to Jill & Cody’s ’04 Minnie Winnie, the “Big Taco”

Sunday, January 16: Fester & Savannah fly drone over Sara’s Park; Dinner with Savannah

Saturday, January 15:  Desert Bar  http://www.thedesertbar.com/; Cat Parade BBQ Dinner and Neon Night

Friday, January 14:  Dog Walk at Sara’s Park; the Xscapers’ official band, The Status Crowes

Thursday, January 13:  Our 2nd Off Road Group Jeep ride

Wednesday, January 12: , Seminar Building a Resume for Working on the Road; Wine Tasting; and Sandcastles; Xscapers Olympics & Unicorn Ride

Tuesday, January 11: Previously posted

Monday, January 10:  First dog walk at Sara Park – off leash Bob Ide & Grace; Debbie Powell and Pat with Black Lab Beauregard (Beau)

Off the beaten path…

Tuesday, January 11: With so many others sharing the cell towers, it seems my internet timing has been wonky, so I’m again writing the blog offline, and posting when I can (or remember to). Fester reminds me that a majority of the Xscapers at the Bash are working remotely from their RVs and need access to the cell towers more than we do.

After this morning’s group meditation, Fester and I met up with a group of folks to go four-wheeling somewhere past Parker Dam. There are three outings planned – today, Thursday and Saturday. Today’s route was considered beginner/intermediate, so Fester had me take the wheel. Amazingly, there were about 15 jeeps and/or trucks in our group. Having never participated in a group trek, we were glad for the company and expertise. There was one really rocky downhill, and one of the leaders acted as a spotter, giving the drivers signals as we made our way down. We learned that you always make sure you can see the driver behind you, in case something happens and they don’t show up, you know to turn around and see what’s up. Also, at intersections, you make sure the driver behind you can tell which way you’re turning so no one gets lost. It is very much a team thing. We had a blast. I even took a few crazy steep uphill detours (following the leader, of course), to kill time while we waited for the others. It was a wonderful way to explore the desert mountains – we were really “out there” and at times, grateful we weren’t on our own. I think I gained a lot of confidence and can’t wait to do it again. While out there, Fester and I talked about taking the Jeep to a remote off-road location while boondocking and camping out for the night. We’ve brought our tent, sleeping bags and water filter just for that reason, but really haven’t looked for the opportunity to do so. We will now. While I’m looking forward to Thursday’s session, I feel bad that we missed a few RV seminars while out driving.

After lunch and a quick nap (all that tension from driving was tiring), we headed over to Center Camp for the Mac and Cheese throw down. An annual competition where we get to be the judges. There were some delicious and creative entries, including a Thai Mac and Cheese and several with fun toppings like nachos or cheese puffs, or even jalapenos. We’re returning to Center Camp later to watch the Dueling Pianos. We will probably make it a short night.

Monday, January 10: The community-led seminars began today, and I attended a group meditation class at 7:30am, followed by a yoga class at 9. It was so nice to practice yoga with a group. My brother, Steve, and I liked to attend yoga classes together, trying out different yoga styles and studios once a month or so – something we haven’t been able to do since Covid. This past summer we did get to practice together a few times at Saturday morning classes at Point Park in Downtown Willoughby, thanks to Harmony Studios’ outdoor sessions. In the afternoon, Fester and I attend some interesting and informative seminars, presented by members of the Xscapers RV community including RVing in Canada, UV Protection for your RV, and Boondocking.

There was a Mexican food truck onsite serving lunch and dinner and another selling homemade ice cream. We skipped dinner and had ice cream instead (we’re adults and can make that decision if we want – ha!) We decided to stay up past our bedtime and play Bingo (the games were free, and an electric bike was one one of the prizes). The disclaimer, “this isn’t your grandma’s bingo,” lived up to it’s promise – there was a lot of hollering, drinking, joking and a little profanity (the game area was off limits to kids). We played six games, and neither of us got Bingo.

Sunday, January 9: We made our way down to Center Camp just as they started serving breakfast burritos and coffee at 8:30. Saturday’s Ferris wheel was already torn down, on the truck and ready to roll out of here. Breakfast was free this morning, but going forward, breakfast will be sold via a food truck. Coffee will be served every morning on a donation basis, with all proceeds going to the Escapees CARE CARE (Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees Program. Located at the Escapees Rainbow End’s RV Park in Livingston, TX, we saw this program in action during our 8-day stay their during the Thanksgiving Day holiday. Per their website, CARE’s mission is “to provide a safe haven with professional assistance at affordable prices for members whose travels are impacted because of age or temporarily interrupted because of health problems.” Because so many RVers have given up their “bricks and sticks” homes and live on the road fulltime, CARE provides aging RVers with an alternative to assisted living or a nursing home.

Our bacon burritos were hot and delicious. Fester even went back for a second burrito a bit later in the morning. Because we get up so early (and have already enjoyed our coffee and breakfast well before 8:30), I’m not sure how often we’ll go to the food breakfast food truck, but it’s nice to know it’s there. Later in the morning, Sadie and I cut through the Rodeo ring and sat just outside Center Camp to listen to “The Border Hookups,” a husband-wife acoustic duo based in rural Minnesota. They played their original music, as well as a variety of popular songs (both country and rock). Because dogs are not allowed at Center Camp, we had to watch from the sidelines, but it was worth it.

Based on the event agenda, there will be assorted food trucks at Center Camp throughout the event, serving lunch and dinner, as well as a cash bar.

Late afternoon, into early evening, there was a “Rig Crawl” (think progressive dinner & happy hour meets open house). Basically, each section (Family, Party, General & Solar) puts out appetizers, desserts and/or beverages and folks sample and taste their way from one RV to another, while taking a tour of those RVs with open doors. Like the Tucson event, Fester and I opted not to participate in the tour (or opening our coach to tourists) due to Covid. But, Sadie and I sat outside with some chocolate granola balls & brownie bites (and dog treats) so we could at least be sociable. It was a lot of fun and we met some interesting people (some were a bit tipsy by the time they made it to our row).

The Bash Begins

Saturday, January 8: We enjoyed a very nice patio lunch with our niece, Savannah, at Rosati’s Pizza near the London Bridge. We had expected to invite her to the Bash, but learned that admittance is restricted to attendees (you must have a windshield sticker and show a wrist band). We plan to meet Savanah later this week at Small Cakes (for a yummy ice cream & cupcake splurge). We indulged in Small Cakes a few times when we last visited Savannah and still remember the “smashed cupcakes with ice cream” and the “cupcake milkshake.” After Small Cakes, we’ll meet at nearby SARA Park to hike the 5-mile Mountain Park Loop Trail to walk off some of those calories. Turns out that SARA Park is directly across from the Rodeo grounds – we can see the mountains from Zephyr II. Savannah showed us a picture of her dad (my brother, Steve) repelling down a short section of the trail during his Thanksgiving visit. Because we don’t have a back seat in the Jeep, we can’t take any passengers (except, of course Sadie), so we can’t ride together.

The RVs continued to arrive today, and the place is filling up. It has been fun just to walk the lots and meet fellow Xscapers (and, of course their pups). I’ve been tickled (and Sadie intrigued) to see people out walking their cats. A lot of small dogs and many cats like to nap (or stand guard) on the dashboard so they can watch the action while they soak up the sun.

We met Regina from Kentucky during Boot Camp (see Friday’s entry). She recently sold her home and is RVing fulltime with her two dogs. Sadie got along great with her white Schnauzer “Sugar” who reminded us so much of our Schnauzer, Ripley, who shared many, many adventures in her 14+ years with us. Sugar’s bark reminded me of Candy Cane, a precious Schnauzer we watch for Melissa and Jason (church friends/neighbors back home).

We’ve met Romeo who wears a harness and gets walked around camp a few times a day. His owner says he loves to be outside with them, and when not walking, he enjoys his own “kitty camp, ” a very creative cage, complete with a litterbox. Our across-the-row neighbors, Digger and Picker, have a cat named Olivia who loves to be outdoors, but won’t walk on a leash (she’s an escape artist), so the gals have a “kitty cart” (i.e., mini stroller) that she gets to ride around camp.

The event is sponsored by many RV-related vendors, including SYKL Power Bikes arriving all the way from Wisconsin. We visited their electric bike display yesterday, and plan to give them a test drive later this week. We’ve noticed more and more RVers travel with electric bikes, which makes perfect sense. The bikes give you the opportunity for exercise when you want it, and the option to throttle the power on if you’re going up an incline (or just feeling lazy). We’re currently “on the fence” about them and will keep researching, and thus delay our purchase. There are always considerations in regards to the purchase of toys and equipment, such as cost and additional weight. In addition to a variety of electric bikes, we’ve seen several folks using hoverboards, electric scooters, and skateboards to get around camp, and even a few golf carts. Mind you, these aren’t necessarily “young” RVers on the hoverboards – I give them credit for their bravery… or maybe they are just nuts?

The Bash officially kicked off at 4pm with a welcome session from the rodeo bleachers. We were introduced to the Xscapers new president and other club “officials,” and learned a bit more about the group in general. We get a chuckle when they describe prizes or anything of value as being “WAY less than a thousand dollars” when referring to anything money related, such as prizes. All of us newbies are called “Convirgins” since this is our first Xscapers Convergence. Shortly following the welcome, we posed for a group photo. After a quick dinner at Zephyr II, Fester donned his nautical cap as we made our way back to Center Camp to ride the Ferris wheel and dance. In keeping with tonight’s entertainment by the “Nautical by Nature” band, the theme was everything “nautical.” It was fun to watch the creative costumes some member wore, including sea captains, sailors, yacht club members, wenches, and even pirates. We returned to Zephyr II for dinner and a Sadie walk, before going back to Center Camp to ride the Ferris wheel, watch the band and mingle with fellow RVers.

Lake Havasu, AZ

Saturday, January 8: Unfortunately, our internet/cell coverage is very slow/non-existent at times. I tried to post last night, but it timed out, so I’m trying again this morning before too many people jam the cell tower.

Friday, January 7: Thanks to a friend’s comment, I realized that I never “published” (posted) my blog from January 3, so I am even further behind than I thought. Another quick “summary” of our trip so far (starting with today and working backwards).

This morning we headed off to RV Bootcamp Express from 9am – 6pm learning “everything RV” which included Basic Systems Common to all RVs, General Maintenance, Fire Safety, Weight Management (while I can certainly use it, the discussion was around RV weight, not mine), Propane Systems, Batteries and Electrical Systems. Fester is already quite knowledgeable in these areas, but it was a very good seminar for both of us and the Instructor was great. The seminar gave us a chance to meet other RV newbies. Greg and Sandra (New Year’s Escapees) were in our class, as well as our current “neighbors” Tina & Cody.

The Annual Bash doesn’t officially kick off until 4pm on Saturday. In addition to signing up for multiple seminars/classes, we’ll also have opportunities to participate in group activities like meditation, coffee group, yoga, dog walks, happy hours, and pickleball. And, did I mention… this is a party group, so there are numerous evening events such as happy hour, bands, & dancing, theme nights and more.

Leaving class, we noticed a giant Farris wheel being assembled for the bash. Based on all the gear/equipment being set up around here… this will definitely be a big deal. We understand that between now and the kick-off on Saturday, they are expecting close to 400 rigs… crazy! Fortunately, before entering the rodeo grounds, everyone has to show proof of their COVID vaccinations or negative test results. However, because of our personal Covid concerns, we plan to choose our activities and participation carefully.

Thursday, January 6: We arrived at the Lake Havasu Rodeo Grounds on Thursday afternoon (a few days early) for the Xscapers Annual Bash which runs January 8 – 16. If you missed an earlier mention on the Xscapers, here’s their moto: Xscapers is a community within Escapees RV Club created for working-aged RVers. A community with a passion for an active and free-spirited life of travel and Adventure.” Sounds just like us, huh? As mentioned below, we had recently departed the Escapees’ New Years Hangout in Tucson, and we’re anxious to see what the Xscapers are all about.

FYI, this event is boondocking/dry camping only (no hook-ups), so we’ll have 11 days without power, water or sewer. This will be an excellent test for the six solar panels Fester installed prior to our trip. Prior to arriving, we filled our fresh water tank, dumped our sewage (gray and black water tanks) at Lake Havasu State Park. We had filled our propane tanks before we left Pima Fairgrounds. We’re expecting mostly sunny and/or partly sunny days while we’re here, so the solar panels should be able to keep us powered (although we have to closely monitor our microwave/coffee pot usage since they are big draws). This is very much like living on the boat, always juggling your power supply vs. needs. Fortunately, we have a generator we can use to charge up the batteries if needed.

The Rodeo Grounds are sectioned off into areas for Solar (no generator use), Family, General (that’s us) and Partyers. Thanks to the many Xscapers’ volunteers, we were signed in and parked in the General Section in no time. Even as we were setting up camp, we started meeting fellow Xscapers. Greg and Sandra from Escapees New Year rode by on their electric bikes to say hello. Not surprisingly, Sadie is a “people magnet” and folks are drawn to her and that starts up quick conversations.

Wednesday, January 5: We arrived at Lake Havasu State Park in time for a 2pm check-in. After setting up camp and settling in, we jumped in the jeep and headed for Angelina’s Italian Kitchen for a pasta fix. They’ve been in business since 1989 and aside from the online reviews, we knew they were good when people started arriving when their doors opened at 4pm! We weren’t disappointed with our meals or the service and took home enough leftovers for at least two full meals. I think we’ll return – if for nothing else than to try their desserts which we passed on because we were stuffed. After dinner, we picked up Sadie and drove around Lake Havasu, refreshing our memories from our last visit with Savannah. BTW, we connected with Savannah and will meet for lunch or dinner on Saturday. This is a beautiful state park – we’re just a short distance to the beach and there is a very nice walking trail that leads to a beautiful native cacti garden.

January 3 :& 4: We arrived in Quartzsite, AZ after an approximate 5-hour drive from Tucson. Based on an New Years Escapee’s suggestion, we ended up at the Plomosa Road Camping Area on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) property for two nights of boondocking (free, no hook-ups). We absolutely loved it! There’s a lot more to cover about Quartzsite and its “Quirky” RV Community, but this will do for now.

Sunday, January 2: It was bitter cold when we woke up Sunday morning and we were happy to learn the day promised sunshine and temperatures in the lower 60’s. Once again, Cheryl and David chose a unique event for this morning. The group would meet at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in time for the 10am Raptor Free Flight Show.

We attended a farewell dinner (Mexican buffet) at the Sunset Cantina at the fairgrounds. Sitting with a new group of Escapees including Jan, Jeff, Terry and Laura, we enjoyed hearing about their RV travels and their upcoming plans. Jan , aka “Glamper Jan,” is traveling in a Ford Campervan. Turns out she lives in the Sandusky, OH area in a park model trailer from April until October 1, then takes off in her campervan for the winter and has been a snowbird for about five years. Jan is a vivacious solo traveler, probably in her late 60’s/early 70’s. She runs Nomad Sewing from her van – making and repairing RV curtains, etc. Of course the other three Escapees have interesting stories as well, and I hope to provide a glimpse at a later time. When we headed back to Zephyr II for the night, it was obvious that the temperature had dropped and it was even windier than when we went to dinner. The wind was so bad, that we had a tough time falling (and staying) asleep. Since we’re such newbies, every strange noise made us wonder if something was breaking off the coach or something.

Saturday, January 1: We kicked off New Year’s Day with a Potluck Bruch, which was a lot of fun and gave us a chance to sample a lot of delicious options. Escapees posted their recipes, so I started a “go to” list with new possibilities for the next potluck (in Lake Havasu). The afternoon event was a hike/drive in nearby Saguaro National Park. We opted to skip the hike and take a nap instead. Afterwards, we took Sadie on the Fitness/Natural Trail. Because of all the rain we had Friday night, the trail was filled with puddles, but Sadie managed to keep all four boots on for the entire walk!

The Escapees evening event was the Elf’d production at the Gaslight Theatre. More on that later.

One of these days, I hope to update these posts with more details and photos… please stay tuned.