Friday, January 27, 2017

Quartzsite, AZ - Quartzsite

Next to the ‘Q’ hill is a hill with an old abandoned mine, the Chocolate Mt. Gold Mine and Stamp Mill. We could see this from our RV and kept hearing it call our names. As we climbed the hill we saw others having fun in the desert.
We had hiked over early in the day to get the best sun.
In Quartzsite you can see the most amazing things. Cool car - from the rear.
And, from the front. Sure has taken some tender loving care and work to make this.
We heard a strange buzzing sound one morning and found this swooping around our ‘campground.’
A cute little camping combination.
We’re here for 6 days but some stay for much longer. We see loads of solar panels on lots of RV’s out here and we also see a few wind turbines. This guy has both. I also see some back-ups propane containers on the ground and I’m sure there’s a blue boy somewhere in the back. Don’t know what a ‘blue boy’ is? Hmmm. Well, it’s blue, it has a hose that connects to your waste tanks and - well, you can get the picture now.
Sometimes it seems as if everyone else has big toys.
And, classic RV’s.
The RV show itself was pretty busy over the weekend but , though it tapered off a bit during the week, it was had crowds.
We walked everywhere but others got caught in the traffic.
There was a ‘grocery’ tent and we strolled through. Or, rather I strolled through and Gary stood out side reading his iPhone. Everything jumbled in boxes but there were cake mixes, canned goods, toothpaste, protein bars, cereal, Q-tips - everything that a real grocery store has - except current dates. Most of the stuff here was dated.
Not only is the RV show going on but some of the rock and gem show vendors are still here. But, they have more than rocks and gems.
We love looking at the cloud patterns in the desert skies.
Quartzsite is surrounded by mountains. Here’s THE BIG TENT with a backdrop of the nearby peaks.
One day a dust storm blew up and I happened to catch a bit of it as it blew by. You can see the brown sand swirling off to the left.
Here’s a miscellaneous picture. We keep track of a lot of things. Here’s a map of North America showing all the places where we have bought fuel for the RV for the last 3 years. We have an iPhone app on which we keep track of all the fuel we buy for both our RV and our Jeep. It also keeps track of mileage, cost, and bunches of other things. But, one thing it gives us is a map.

Quartzsite, AZ - On the Desert

We’ve traveled up to Quartzsite, AZ to attend the RV show. Our goal is a propane heater so we’ll have heat when we are out on the desert without electricity. And, who knows what else we might find that we never knew we needed? Who knows? We were here 7 years ago but wanted to see it again. It was a real hoot with all the vendors, the attendees, the 500,000 or so rigs parked out on the desert where ever they fit in. AND, we knew just where to find the biggest cup of ice cream for the least money.

Towns in the Midwest usually have large water towers and they put their name on them. Out in the desert Southwest, they have no water towers and they put the town’s initial on the highest nearest hill. Here’s the ‘Q’ hill which rises behind the town.


We climbed it back in 2010 and took a picture of the area. All those white things are the tops of RV’s camped out on the desert.


You can see the Big Tent off to the left. Here’s where the majority of the vendors are, both inside and outside the tent. Well, not all of them. Quartzsite is a town of many flea markets and they not only circle the big tent, they also line the roads into town. Our RV and Jeep were in that picture and, though I have a general idea where, I can’t see our rig. It gets lost in the mass of RV’s.

This year we had parked closer to the ‘Q’ hill and found our rig right away. We’re the one with the red stripe on back.


Gary is on top of the hill in the first picture 7 years ago and I’m on top this year. Looks like the only difference is the wind direction.



On the way up the hill we saw this small balanced rock wall.


This year is was mostly sunny but the wind blew furiously most of the time. The sun warmed us up as the wind chilled us. We wore long-sleeve t-shirts, hiking shirts and nylon jackets. One of the vendors who was from Indiana told us he was freezing most of the time since he had brought mostly shorts and t-shirts to the desert. Funny guy - he thought the desert was always warm. He was just outside the big tent the first day being buffeted by the wind but moved inside the tent for the rest of the show.

The first time we came to Quartzsite it was sunny for the first few days but then it rained, and rained, and rained. Here’s the view from our front window and you can see the rivulets on the desert.


Of course, we decided to go out into the rain and see the rest of town. Here’s one of the local campgrounds, obviously lower than we are. You sure don’t want to see your RV like this.


And, the wash looked like this. Washes look so innocent when it’s sunny. You can walk through them, run ATV’s through them and put golf courses in them like they do in Palm Springs. But, when it rains, it’s ‘Katy, bar the door.’ The water surges and you can’t even stand up straight in it. I took the picture from our car window as we drove by. I’m not getting out in the rain.


This year no rain and we looked like this in the sun (that gleaming sunshine sure covers up the dirt).


We noticed that there were fewer RV vendors than in 2010 and fewer rigs out on the desert. We found lots of jewelry, cooking, beauty products, food, clothing, etc and not as many RV-specific products like sewer hoses. We were a bit disappointed but, then, we weren’t looking for anything in particular. Oh, yes, the ice cream. Sure enough, we knew where the biggest scoop for the least money was - and, it was still there - after 7 years.

BTW - we did not find a propane heater at the show. BUT we did find one at a local RV store. We’re all set for cold weather on the desert.

Quartzsite, AZ - Huh?

Just read online that the Russian Parliament voted 350 to 3 to: decriminalize domestic violence. And, we want to be buddies with this nation?

Back to Alaska for a bit. We loved the highway signage we saw in Alaska. Not always what we’re used to. We know ‘Stop’ and ‘Yield’ but found some others pretty descriptive.

We quickly learned to depend upon signage like this at the side of the road. Obviously, this meant ‘ya better slow down or you’re gonna bounce off the clouds.’ Nice to know in a motorhome.
Here’s a double: first you know that the road will be bumpy but then it turns to gravel.
Better look both directions for those trucks. They’ll get you coming or going.
And, so will those bus kids.
Moose are pretty special in Alaska and we saw several of these signs. This was in early July 2016 so we assume that this meant that 235 had been killed since July 2015. We saw these signs in several towns with different numbers on them.
This is another moose sign but it was in jest.
Lots of logging around here. In Iowa, we have tractors on our signs.
And, then, there was the person with a real sense of humor.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Mesa, AZ - Getting Lost in London

NO, we did not take a detour on our winter journey through Arizona, we’re not in London. However, bear with me here. I’ve been reading a book on life in the London of Charles Dickens, ‘The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London’ by Judith Flanders. You groan. Another one of her history blogs. Wait, don’t pass this blog up. I was particularly intrigued by her description of streets and street patterns. What are some of the things we count on when we drive through any city or town?

        street names


        street signs & traffic lights


        street lighting


        some kind of pattern in streets

        street condition

Names? Many streets did not have names. They had just evolved from lanes and alleys as more and more people crowded into London. And, sometimes, even having a name wasn’t much of a help. In 1853, London had twenty-five Albert and twenty-five Victoria Streets, thirty-seven King and twenty-seven Queen Streets, twenty-two Princes, seventeen Dukes, thirty-four Yorks and twenty-three Gloucesters – and that was without counting the similarly named Places, Roads, Squares, Courts, Alleys or Mews, Rents, Rows, Gardens, Places, Buildings, Lanes, Yards and Walks. You could have: Albert Place, Albert Lane, Albert Walk, Albert Garden, Albert Rent, etc.
Addresses? They were descriptive. Kind of like: ‘opposite the King’s Head Public House in a Street leading out of Winfell Street being the first turning from the Black Hell Flash House there’ or ‘at a Potatoe Warehouse next door to a Barley Sugar Shop about 30 Houses from the beginning of Cow Cross (street).

Street signs? like ‘Yield’ and ‘Stop’ and ‘No left turn’. Absolutely nonexistent in merry old London. Go when you want.

Traffic lights? Nope, see ‘street signs’ above.

Lanes? nah, everyone went where they wanted. There was no separation of traffic depending upon direction you were going. You could drive your carriage or ride your horse wherever you wanted in the street, left, right, middle. In fact, most people preferred the middle, the central lane, which usually was in the best repair - because, when people threw ‘slop’ out of their home, they usually hit the side of the street and not the middle.
Street lighting? Not much and what there was was along the main streets. Side streets - none. Many of the rich hired lantern carriers to run in front of their carriage to light the way. Much of the city was lit by a lamp lighters who went around nightly to light the lights and in the morning to douse them. Most sections of London had no lights and no way to see your way at night. Beware of thieves.
Maps? Ha! If there are very few street names and no Google, who’s going to map the city? However, maps were not often needed since most people strayed very little from their home.

Street patterns? Many of our cities have avenues and streets running in opposite directions. If you’re going to 1301 4th Ave. North, you go to the 13th street and the 4th avenue. Easy. In London there were East-West streets going into and out of the city. But there were no North-South roads. You had to go through a small lane or an alley or around the city.

Street condition? Dust, food, garbage, sewage, horse leavings, coal, ash, sand, grit all ground to dust by horses’ hooves and cart’s iron wheels. In wet weather it was shoveled to the sides of the roads before being loaded onto carts by scavengers employed by the parishes. These were called ‘crossing sweepers.’ Sometimes businesses hired boys to do this so that their clerks arrived at work with clean shoes and clean pants. The streets were terribly narrow; one popular street was 20’ wide. Most carriages were 6’ wide. If a brewers van needed 3 large horses harnessed abreast to move, it took the whole street.

And, the manure!!! Oh, my. In 1850 a study showed 1000 vehicles an hour passing through some streets during the day. All pulled by horses. Imagine the manure which had to be removed from the streets. Street sweepers attempted to keep the streets clean of manure but it was like using a thimble to empty the ocean.

Cattle were driven through the streets until the mid 1800’s. In an article for Household Words in March 1851 Dickens, with characteristic sarcasm, describes the environmental impact of having live cattle markets and slaughterhouses in the city:

"In half a quarter of a mile's length of Whitechapel, at one time, there shall be six hundred newly slaughtered oxen hanging up, and seven hundred sheep but, the more the merrier proof of prosperity. Hard by Snow Hill and Warwick Lane, you shall see the little children, inured to sights of brutality from their birth, trotting along the alleys, mingled with troops of horribly busy pigs, up to their ankles in blood but it makes the young rascals hardy. Into the imperfect sewers of this overgrown city, you shall have the immense mass of corruption, engendered by these practices, lazily thrown out of sight, to rise, in poisonous gases, into your house at night, when your sleeping children will most readily absorb them, and to find its languid way, at last, into the river that you drink."
Be thankful that you’re driving around today. But, again, most people walked wherever they needed to go and most did not stray further than a mile from home.

One other little bit I read: there was even a trade in used tea leaves. In most households, after the tea had been made, the leaves were rinsed, dried and sprinkled on the carpets before sweeping, to help collect the dust. Once this had been done, some charwomen sold the leaves to unscrupulous dealers who mixed them with new tea leaves, selling the tea at bargain prices.

Oh, yeah, here’s another bit: until the late 1800’s London residents were still drinking water from the river Thames where open sewers discharged. And, they wondered why there were cholera epidemics.

And, there you have it. Glad to be living in 2017.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Yuma, AZ - It Looked a Lot Closer

Well, you know, if it’s Nancy and Gary, it’s gotta be a hike. Yep, we look around every place we go and find the highest point - that is reachable. (not just the highest point but a reachable high point) And, that's where we want to go, where we want to be. Our goal. This time to the antennas.
Look close, don’t they? That’s what I thought too. Not a long hike, easy peasy. Well, what I didn’t note is that there are two ridge lines here and a valley between. Up to one ridge line, down into the valley, then up to the antennas. You can see this better in this picture: each ridge line is a different color. But we were intrigued by the couple in front of us. He had on Florsheims and she was dressed in her finest white capris and sneakers.
OK, we’re over the first ridge and look what’s ahead of us. Glory be ! Just in time.
Antennas are looking a lot closer.

The ocotillos were looking very healthy. All of them with bright green leaves. They’ve had lots of rain in this area this month.
Getting closer.
Oh, oh. Looks like the antenna maintenance guys. To them, driving this road is just a day’s work. Me? You couldn’t get me to drive this.
Yep, that pick-up keeps right on truckin’. Check out that trail below.
Ah, here we are. Looks like a bit of wind. And, we sure hope that storm goes north.
The truck got up here and now is backing up to the antenna they’re going to maintain. No way to turn around at the top, gotta back up the hill.
Great views out over the valley. Looking east.
Looking west towards Yuma with Interstate 8 in the background and Fortuna further on.
Looking back over the trail.
Time to head back down. Nothing but down.