Pizza and da Boyz . . .

Today started off great!

I didn’t get awakened by a blown circuit breaker.

Actually it was a pretty quiet morning with coffee and some computer work.

Later in the morning I used the cartridge removal tool I got yesterday to remove my shower faucet cartridge. Or at least I tried to.

It wouldn’t quite work, so I had to improvise something to help get it out, but I finally got it loose.

Then around noon Nick and I rode over to Home Depot to see if I could find a replacement cartridge. I did find one that looked like it would work, but it had been opened and taped back together. It was the only one they had, so I didn’t have much choice.

And, of course, when I got home, inside the new cartridge box was the proper removal tool, which I wouldn’t have had until I got the old cartridge out and knew which one to buy.

Of course.

About 2:30 Jan and I drove back over to the Fortuna area, this time to visit some stores to solicit gift certificates as door prizes for the Gypsy Gathering Rally. We had pretty good luck, picking up 4, and being told to come back tomorrow to pick up prizes from 3 other places.

Getting back about 4:30 we soon were on our way back out to eat supper at Da Boyz Italian Cuisine on Main St. in downtown Yuma, along with Tom, Barb, Nick, and Terry.

We ate here last year, and it was just as good this time. This is really great Italian. We all had a little bit of everything, pizza, spaghetti, lasagna, and ravioli, and no one was disappointed.

We got back home about 7:30 and I started working on the shower faucet. It took a lot of fooling with it, mainly due to the fact that the instructions were in English, French, and Spanish, but they didn’t make sense in any of those.

Finally, I stopped reading the instructions, figured it out on my own, and got it working. No more drip!

Tomorrow Jan and I will hit some more places for door prizes, and then about 3:30 we’ll head back over to Gila Bend, 116 miles away, to be initiated into the Elks Lodge there.

Another busy day.


Thought for the Day:

"I’ve shot people I like a lot more,…for a lot less!" Raylan Givins


A Very Rude, Very Early Awakening . . .

Yes, very early . . . 2 am, to be exact.

And to add insult to injury, it happened again at 9:30 am.

The circuit breaker popped. Twice.

For no good reason. The floor heater was the only thing on. All I can figure is that several other things all came on at the same time. The heater, the water heater, and the refrigerator, for example.

Hopefully it won’t happen again this morning.

I tried to go back to bed, but ended up just making us coffee and getting off to a slow and slightly grumpy start.

Then a little after 11 Nick and I went back over to the gun show. I wanted a new holster for my Ruger LCP and I had also seen a disassembly manual for my M1 Carbine that I had my eye on.

Nick didn’t buy anymore avocados.

Right after Nick and I got back, Jan and I headed out on some errands. But as we were leaving the fairgrounds, this Boeing 787 Dreamliner on landing approach passing overhead. I had first seen it a couple of days ago and was curious why it was here.

The 787 is still in testing phase and won’t be available commercially until later in the year. It turns out that the Yuma area is one of a couple of places around the country that has a lot of good flying weather so they’re doing it here.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner


Here’s a better photo.


If you’d like some more information concerning the 787 from a pilot’s view, click here. More 787 Stuff.

Leaving the fairgrounds we first headed east toward the Fortuna area, about 9 miles away.

Fortuna is a very nice shopping area that’s essentially a suburb of Yuma. Our first stop was a couple of the dollar stores looking for some cleaning products.

Then since it was lunch time, we stopped in DQ. Jan had a Chili Cheese Dog and I had a Grilled BLT. Both very good.

Outside in the parking I saw this neat-looking car for sale. It turned out to be a 1934 Mercedes 500K replica, but very well done. At first I thought it might be on a VW chassis, but it turns out to be something much better.

Mercedes 500K 1

It’s got a Ford Boss 302 engine, automatic transmission, AC, power steering, and power brakes, all on a custom-built frame. Only $26,500 or OBO.

Very nice. I wonder how it would look being towed behind our rig?

Our next stop was right across the parking lot, at Al’s RV Supply. This is a really good RV supply place, with a lot of parts and gadgets you just can’t find at Camping World. Stop by if you can.

Then we walked next door to Fry’s. No, not the fun one, Fry’s Electronics, but Fry’s Grocery Store. But for what it’s worth, they were both started by the same family.

I wanted to buy some lottery tickets and we were looking for some other stuff.

Next it was back in the truck and back into Yuma to the Yuma Palms shopping area. Our first stop was Kohl’s where I was looking for a new vacuum cleaner. Then, when I didn’t find it there, I tried the Target next door, also with no luck. But I did come back to the truck with Cinnamon Dolce Latte’s from Starbuck’s, so Jan was happy.

Our next stop was Sam’s Club to pick up some vitamins and other things. Sam’s can be a dangerous place, at least dangerous to the bank account. If you spend too much time there, you can always find something you absolutely don’t need, but just have to have.

Finally it was down the road a piece to Home Depot to get the Moen cartridge puller tool that I mentioned yesterday. I’ll probably wait till tomorrow to use it since there’s a chance the old cartridge will break coming out and I want to be sure I have time to get a new one before Home Depot closes.

We finally got home about 3:30, and by the time we had everything put away, Nick called to see if we were ready to go eat supper.

Of course! Did he really have to ask?

So a little after 4 pm, Nick, Terry, Tom, Barb, Jan, and I all headed over to the local Golden Corral for dinner. However when we got there the line was almost out the door, and wasn’t moving either.

So Barb called the Texas Roadhouse right next door and found out they had no wait, so we all scurried across the parking lot, (well, some of us scurried, some of us kind of waddled) and were seated in a booth ordering our drinks five minutes later. Neat!

And after a great meal, we got back to the rigs about 6 pm and settled in for the night.

Tomorrow Jan and I will start making the rounds of businesses soliciting door prizes for the upcoming Gypsy Gathering Rally that starts next week.

Busy, busy, busy!

More tomorrow. . .


Thought for the Day:

"Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Remember this, as it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him quickly and without hate." – Robert Heinlein


Trying not to be Taser-worthy . . .

My morning started about 10:30 (Jan’s started about 8:30), with a big pot of hot coffee, and luckily, no circuit breaker kicking out.

Jan did good.

While Jan read and watched TV, I worked on the layout map of the fairgrounds using the data Nick and I compiled yesterday. This will give us a comprehensive map showing all the hookups at the fairgrounds, making it easier to park incoming RV’s quickly and efficiently.

Around noon Jan fixed us a lunch of turkey sandwiches with cranberry horseradish and mayo with Tabasco. Nice and Spicy!

A little after 1pm Nick and I headed over to the gun show being held here at the fairgrounds. Neither one of us were looking for anything in particular, but did have some ideas.M1 Carbine Mag

I bought 3 magazines for my M1 Carbine. You can never too much ammo, or too many magazines to hold it.

As I was leaving for the gun show, I asked Jan if I could pick her up anything. She laughingly said “A Taser”.

I said I wasn’t sure that was a good idea since I’m the one she’s around most of the time, and I might not feel too safe.

She said “Just don’t do anything ‘Taser-worthy’ and you’ll be fine.”

So, riding that ragged edge as usual, I bought her one.

This one.

Cheetah Taser

Trying to avoid being ‘Taser-worthy’, and hedging my bets, I also bought her some handcrafted sterling silver beaded earrings.

Nick bought an avocado.

We got back to the rigs a little before 3pm, and I went back to work on the layout map. Then Barb Westerfield came by to invite us over for a tour of their new coach. Also spent some time getting to know their cat ‘Pansy’.

Getting back to the rig, I started taking our Moen shower faucet apart, so I can replace the cartridge to eliminate a slow drip. But the cartridge is apparently the original one that’s been there since 1999 and it’s stuck. So tomorrow I’ll have to get a cartridge puller to get it out without breaking something.

About 5:30 Nick and Terry came over and we all went over to EAT, our favorite local Chinese buffet. And as usual, we spent more time talking than eating.

You’d think Nick and I would be skinnier in that case, but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work that way.

Coming home a little after 7pm, we passed The Sticker Bus parked across the street from Wal-Mart.

Sticker Bus 1

Sticker Bus 2

We’re not sure what they sell, but we assume it’s stickers, since it’s called “The Sticker Bus”.  And although you can’t tell from these nighttime pics, it’s covered with thousands of stickers. Maybe we’ll get a chance to check it out in the daytime tomorrow.

Back in the rig, we spent a while longer talking with Nick and Terry, before calling it a night.


Thought for the Day:

Remember, effective gun control involves effective recoil management.


Blown Breakers and Bread Pudding . . .

We didn’t really do much today, but Nick and I got a lot done.


First off, I got a number of comments and emails thanking me for detailing how to weigh your coach at truck stop scales. Glad I could help.

One thing to note. Weighing this way will not be possible at all truck scales. I have seen many scales that either have railings alongside the scale platform, or the scale platform is elevated above the surrounding surface. I assume this is to prevent drivers from fudging their truck weights, but it makes if harder for us, too.

I was rudely awakened this morning by absolute silence…and “Sorry, Sorry, Sorry” from Jan up front in the kitchen. We have a white noise generator in our bedroom and when the power goes off, it gets very, very quiet.

Jan had gotten up about 15 minutes earlier, and forgetting that we only have 20 amps where we parked right now, she turned on the microwave without first turning off the electric floor heater.

That’s a no-no!

On 20 amps we can only use one heavy-draw appliance at a time. Which means the toaster oven, microwave, coffee maker, or the floor heater are one at a time.

So having to get up to reset the breaker, I just decided I was up for the morning. I also made sure that Jan now knows where the breaker is outside, so when she blows it again (and she will) she can reset it herself.

And I can stay in bed.

But since I was up, I decided to stay up and went ahead and made us coffee for the morning. Then about 10:30 Jan called Terry to see if she wanted to go to WalMart with us, but she said she would go later.

So Jan and I headed out to WalMart, by way of the Post Office to mail a letter, and Wendy’s for a Spicy Chicken sandwich lunch.

After we got back about noon, Nick and I headed out for our real job of the day. We spent a couple of hours driving around the fairgrounds, mapping all the electrical plugs and their location. Unlike a lot of fairgrounds, the electrical hookups here are scattered all over, hidden in nooks and crannies, and behind barns and trees. Last year we had to find the hookups on the fly, so hopefully this year will be a little more organized.

Of course, last year we also had rain, hail, and lightning, at different times, all on the same day we were parking incoming rigs. So anything will be an improvement.

About 5:00 Nick, Terry, Jan, and I headed over to Famous Dave’s BBQ, where we met Tom and Barb Westerfield for supper. As usual the food was great, and Jan and I couldn’t resist sharing a Bread Pudding with ice cream dessert.

We got home about 6:30 and that was it for today.

Yuma Fairgrounds

More from Yuma tomorrow . . .


Thought for the Day:

Just remember…if the world didn’t suck, we’d all fall off.


Weigh Stations and Fairgrounds . . .

We got up about 9am and got our hearts pumping with a big pot of Texas Pecan Hazelnut coffee. Then Nick called about 9:30 to say they expected to be in Gila Bend between 12:30 and 1, which gave us plenty of time to get packed up and then weigh the coach like we planned.

So about 11:30 we pulled out of our site into the adjacent parking lot and onto the scales.

Scales 1

When you park on the scales, make sure your front and rear axles are on two different scale segments, indicated by the black stripes on the scale.

Scales 4

Remember how yesterday I said you needed a long stick. These photos show why. Even when you’re at the right level, it’s still over a 3 foot reach to press one of the call buttons (one of the two buttons on either side of the speaker at the bottom).

Scales 3

You press the button and when they answer, tell them you’re a private coach and want a weigh.

Scales 6

This weigh will give you a front axle / rear axle weight, as well as a total gross weight for the coach.

Next I pulled through and back around, reentering the scales, but off to the left side, being sure that my left side wheels were completely on the apron and not on the scales. This allows me to weigh only the right side of the coach. This time I had to get out of the coach (with my long stick) to press the button. I now told them I wanted a ‘reweigh’. This saves me $5.00.

Scales 5

A ‘weigh’ is $6.00, and a ‘reweigh’ is $1.00. If you tell them both times you want a ‘weigh’, it will cost you $12.00. A ‘weigh’ and a ‘reweigh’ is $7.00.

Go figure. Just another mystery of life.

After pulling off the scales, I parked the coach and then Jan and I drove over to the office and picked up my weigh tickets, one for each time.

The first ticket shows that at 32,340 lbs., I’m about 340 lbs. over gross vehicle weight. Not exactly good, but actually only a little over 1% overweight.

As far as the front and rear axles go, I’m 120 lbs. under the max on the front axle and 460 lbs. too heavy on the rear. Again only a little over 2% overweight.

Time to jettison some books. Or a cat…a black cat.

Scale Weigh Ticket 1

The reweigh ticket has some good news. The reason for weighing one side by itself is to see if your weight is balanced pretty equally on each corner.

The front axle is perfectly balanced. 11880 lbs. total front axle – 5940 lbs. right front equals 5940 lbs. on the left side.


Scale Weigh Ticket 2

As far as the rear axle, 20460 lbs. minus 10340 lbs. equals 10120 lbs.

A little mismatch, but only about 2% again.

After we picked up our weigh tickets, we drove into Gila Bend one last time so Jan could get a McDonald’s Fish sandwich and some fries for lunch.

And about 15 minutes after we got back, Nick and Terry showed up. After getting in our hugs, and catching up a bit we hit the road to Yuma about 115 miles away.

A few miles out of town, Nick and Terry stopped to fuel up while Jan and I continued on to the Yuma County Fairgrounds where we would meet up.

Arriving at the fairgrounds parking lot, we found the rest of the Gypsy Gathering Rally advance team, Tom and Barb Westerfield, already waiting for us. Then a few minutes later, Nick and Terry pulled in. While Nick went to the fairgrounds office, the rest of us caught on old times.

When Nick got back we took our rigs over to our usual parking spots by the stables, luckily, uninhabited at the present.

After everyone got set up, about 5pm, we all drove over to Chretin’s, a local Mexican restaurant we’ve enjoyed in the past. They were really busy by the time we left, but luckily we got there early enough to beat the crowd.

After a couple of hours of swapping stories, we decided that, yes we DID have room for Dairy Queen, so we all adjourned to the nearest DQ to continue the evening’s fun and frivolity.

Ok, well it was fun, anyway.

Finally getting back to the rigs, we said our goodnights and settled in for the evening.

More tomorrow from Yuma . . .


Thought for the Day:

"One of the serious problems in planning against American doctrine is that the Americans do not read their manuals nor do they feel any obligations to follow their doctrine"

From a Russian warfare manual


"The reason that the American army does so well in wartime is that war is chaos, and the American army practices chaos on a daily basis."

A WWII German General Officer


Burritos and Carnitas . . .

Today’s our last full day in Gila Bend, and we started off with some Cinnamon Amaretto Pecan coffee (two scoops of Gevalia Cinnamon, 1 scoop of HEB Texas Pecan, and Amaretto Creamers). Hmmm Good!

I called Nick about 10:30 to coordinate our trip to Yuma tomorrow. We plan on meeting up with them here in Gila Bend as they pass thru on their way from Apache Junction.

A little after 11am Jan and I headed over to Sofia’s Mexican Food for one last shot at their Shrimp Burritos and Carnitas Dinners. And their salsa is great, too. Really hot.

Our last stop was the hardware store, again. I wanted to get another AC Vent Deflector and some steel mending plates. The deflectors are held to the vent covers by magnets, but my covers are plastic and the steel screws don’t have enough surface to hold the deflectors securely.

So I added the mending plates under the screws holding the vents on.

Deflector 1

This gives a good surface for the magnets to grip. This should hold them firmly. We’ll see tomorrow when we travel on to Yuma.

Deflector 2

Coming back to the rig, I dropped Jan off and then went over to the CAT scales to weigh our toad. We haven’t weighed it since we did it here in Gila Bend 3 years ago on our way to Alaska. And this time I had a long stick with me.

The call button that you press to get a weight is about 8 feet off the ground since it’s supposed to be pushed from a semi cab. So a long stick is needed for the pickup. In fact, it also helps in the weighing the RV too.

The toad weighs 5570 lbs. That’s about 300 lbs. less than 3 years ago, mostly due to the fact that on our way to Alaska I was carrying a spare tire that weighed 225 lbs. I carried the spare “just in case” because all the books said it was needed.

Of course, because I had the spare, I never needed it. Never had a flat on either the rig or the toad, so I ditched it as soon as we got back to Houston.

Tomorrow I’ll weigh the coach before we leave here.

After we returned from lunch I got back on the carpet project. I finally got all the carpet up underneath Jan’s chair, and all the staples either removed, or pounded flat. The black square in the center is the mounting base for the chair.

Chair 1

And this is with the chair mounting plate installed. The chair itself mounts on the plate with bolts thru the 4 holes. All the motors that move and configure the chair are mounted in the base of the chair.

Chair 2

After we get to Yuma for a few weeks I’ll pull the driver’s chair and remove the last of the carpet underneath there. Then it will be time to start laying the laminate. Wheeee!

More tomorrow from Yuma . . .


Thought for the Day:

All you Need to Know about Government and Bureaucracy:

Pythagorean theorem: …………………………………………………….. 24 words.

Lord’s prayer: ………………..…………………………………………………. 66 words.

Archimedes’ Principle: …………………………………………………….. 67 words.

10 Commandments: ………….…………………………………………… 179 words.

Gettysburg address: ……………………………………………………… 286 words.

Declaration of Independence………………………………………. 1,300 words.

US Government regulations on the sale of cabbage:  ……….26,911 words.


Gevalia and Gambel’s Quail . . .

We started today with some of the great Gevalia Cinnamon coffee that our friend Gina gave us a year or so ago. I thought we had used it all, but I found one last box in the back of the cabinet. And since it was still vacuum-sealed, it was still fresh.

Next I called my client Kim to tell her that I’d come up with a kludge to get all her phones working again. This doesn’t fix the real problem, but it does get the pressure off, and means that I won’t have to go back to Houston to get things working. The only problem will come when they have to add more computers and phones as the business grows. And since they’re just getting started, hopefully that will be a little while, at least long enough for me to fix the problem. I do have an idea, but I need to check with the VOIP company first.

When I went outside I got this shot of this Gambel’s Quail running around behind the rig. When I first saw them at a distance I thought they were roadrunners, but when I zoomed in I saw the difference.

Gambel's Quail

A roadrunner looks like this,

Roadrunner 3

or even this.

RoadRunner 1

About 11am I called American Coach to check about drilling a hole in the floor next to the driver’s seat. I need to bring in a 2nd cable for our new DVR and figured the best way was to come up from the compartment right underneath. They said there should be no problem. I’ll get to it in the next few days. Right now I’m just coming in the driver’s window and using a piece of pipe insulation to seal it.

Next I got back to pulling up the carpet under and around the computer area. It’s a real pain in the rear getting up all the staples around the edges.

About 12:30 we headed out to our other favorite restaurant here in Gila Bend, the Space Age Restaurant. Originally built in the 1960’s, the owner owned copper and manganese mines, and a plastics company, that all supplied materials for NASA. So he was really enamored with the space program. So when he built a motel/restaurant it had a space theme.

Space Age Restaurant

It’s even got a flying saucer.

Space Age Restaurant 2

Our next stop was the local hardware store  where I found a air deflector for the AC vents in the bedroom.  Air DeflectorThe way vents are now the air blows directly down on us in the bed. I’d been looking for deflectors, but could never find the right size. However these are adjustable in length so they fit perfectly and are held on by magnets. We’ll have to see if the magnets will hold while we’re on the road.

Getting back to the park, we stopped off at the gift shop/gas station to check their souvenirs. I also wanted to take a look at the two old tractors they have out front.

This one’s a John Deere, of course, but something I’ve never seen before

John Deere

are these bolt-on rubber tire covers.

John Deere 2

The second one is a McCormick-Deering, but the placard says it was made by International Harvester in Chicago IL.IH Tractor

Looking at these wheels makes me wonder if the John Deere above was originally like this, but then the metal teeth were replaced with the rubber covers. It would be a real problem to drive it on the highway like this.

IH Tractor 1

After talking to another client about a keyboard problem he was having with his laptop, we called our daughter Brandi to get the lowdown on Master Landon’s 6 month check up yesterday. Apparently everything was fine, and he won’t need another one for 3 months.

A little later I took down the curtains on the passenger side of the windshield to wash them. I noticed the other day that they were kind of dusty and this seemed to be a good time to take care of that.

About the time I was taking them out of the dryer, Nick called to say that they would be finished up mailing out the latest issue of the Gypsy Journal, and would be heading toward Yuma on Thursday. Hopefully we’ll be able to meet up on the way there.

A little after 4pm I drove over to the Elks Lodge to double check on my initiation on March 1st.

Then it was back to carpet pulling. Tomorrow I should be ready to pull up the driver’s chair to get the carpet under it. We’ll see.

For dinner Jan fixed up the last of yesterday’s hot dogs that I had grilled up. Still good.

That’s about it for today. More tomorrow.


Thought for the Day:

How to Fix Social Security —

If you start with $500 at birth, add $20/month, at 9% per annum (roughly the stock market gain over any 65 year period in history), after 65 years you have almost a $1 million to retire on.

Make the $500 an additional one-time tax credit, and put it in an investment account where it can’t be touched.

Give the parents a tax credit for the $20/month until the child starts getting a pay check. The $20 per month then becomes his FICA tax.

Wouldn’t you rather be paying $20 per month for your SS?


If you start at age 20 with $5000, and save $80/month, you will have over $800,000 in 45 years.

If a 20 year old wanted get in now, make the $5000 a low-cost government loan, like a college loan.


Thanks, Nick! . . .

First off, I want to thank Nick Russell for keeping all the bad weather over in Apache Junction with him. For the second day in a row, it’s been great here in Gila Bend. Sunny with daytime temps in the low 70’s and nighttime in the low 40’s. Couldn’t be nicer. Thanks, Nick.

Jan and I slept in this morning enjoying the cool temperatures so we didn’t get up until about 10am, to find a call from our daughter Brandi waiting for us. Yesterday was Landon’s 6 month birthday, and today is his 6 month checkup.

Brandi laughingly wanted to know if Jan could babysit Landon this Saturday. Sure, I mean it’s only 1250 miles back to Houston. No problem.

Though I think Jan would do it, just to get some Landon time.

After fixing coffee, I caught up on some computer work, while Jan read her new Janet Evanovich book. Then about 10:30 I got a call from the client that I did that one last job for right before we left Houston. And she had a problem.

All of her phones quit working this morning. They worked just fine on Friday, but when she came in this morning they quit working … one at a time.

I spent a good while on the phone with the VOIP company Tech Support guy with no luck. He didn’t know what the problem was, he just knew it wasn’t his companies fault. He kept wanted to blame our routers, but he couldn’t answer my question about why it worked for two weeks and then went down one phone at a time.

I guess tomorrow I’ll be spending more time on the phone, this time with AT&T.

Nick called a little after 11 updating us on their departure date from Apache Junction after they get the latest issue of the Gypsy Journal in the mail.

About noon Jan fixed a lunch of sandwiches and chips, then I went out and pulled out our Weber Q200 grill from the bay.

Weber Q200Our kids gave it to us for Christmas in 2007 right before we hit the road. We haven’t used it as much as we should have, but Jan had a hankering for hot dogs this evening so I wanted to be sure the the grill worked and had enough LP gas in the bottle.

After being sure the grill was working, I made a run into Gila Bend to the hardware store and the NAPA auto parts store. I was looking for a 3/4 wrench to make it easier to remove the rig seats to get at the carpet underneath them. I was also looking for a set of small snap ring pliers to let me disassemble our electric heaters to clean the dust and cat hair out of them.

Getting back to the rig I pulled the passenger chair and starting ripping up the carpet. It was slow going due to all the staples they used in the corners, but I did make some headway.

About 4:30 I started up the grill while Jan had already started the baked beans.

I grilled the hot dogs and the buns on the Weber and they both came out great. So about 5 we sat down to delicious hot dogs, beans, and chips.

Then after supper I did a little more on the carpet and then fixed evening coffee.

Tomorrow, more work on the carpet.


Thought for the Day:

“Our ancestors settled a continent, but we get upset if we have to go to both the bank and the dry-cleaners after work.”


The Best Shrimp Burrito in the World . . .

is found at Sofia’s Mexican Food in Gila Bend, AZ, at least according to Jan.

But more about that later.

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday in talking about getting diesel, is that we traveled 889 miles on the 102.7 gallons we used. This means we got almost 8.7 mpg, showing that driving 55 really saves $$. And there were a lot of hills in these miles, so that makes it even better.

Our site at the Pima County Fairgrounds only had 30 amp, but this time of the year that’s not a problem. However I would definitely want 50 amp in warmer weather.PimaCountyFairgrounds

The view to the south this morning was really nice, with the low clouds hanging on the mountain side. We’re supposed to run into rain on our trip today. Hopefully not too bad, though.


We pulled out of the fairgrounds a little before 8:30 heading for Gila Bend, AZ, about 138 miles away. We wanted to get to Holt’s Shell RV Park as early as possible since they only have 24 sites and can fill up quickly, especially since they’re a Passport America park, and the best deal in town. Last year we just lucked out and got the last site.

Traffic through Tucson wasn’t bad at all, probably helped by the fact that it was a Sunday morning. I remember a few years ago when they were redoing the Interstate through downtown, and you had to get off and on I-10 several times getting through town. It was really a mess, but today we breezed through at 55 all the way.

About 9 we were passing the Cortaro area and the Cracker Barrel where we spent the night in March 2007 while we were on our first RV trip in a rental Cruise America Class C.

Class C

We had attended the Life On Wheels seminar in Tucson, and before we headed back toward Houston, we wanted to see the Body Worlds exhibit in Phoenix, since we had missed it when it was in Houston.

Body Worlds Body

We really enjoyed the show and were on our way back out of Phoenix by 5pm.

Unfortunately it was all down hill from there! We had planned to drive from Phoenix thru Tucson and back to Las Cruces on our way home. I figured it would take us about 7 hours and we would be back in Las Cruces about midnight, and in fact, already had a paid reservation at a KOA there right off I-10.

But it was not to be.

Unfortunately, due to construction, Phoenix had decided to take the 6 lanes of I-10 and 4 lanes of I-17 down to TWO lanes…DURING RUSH HOUR!!!

It took us two hours to cover the distance that took us less than 10 minutes coming in.

Finally, about 7pm, we were out of the traffic and moving down I-10 toward Tucson.

Life was good.  Yeah, right.

We suddenly started seeing traffic warnings on the overhead electronic signs.

"Freeway Closed 85 miles ahead. Expect Long Delays."

"Freeway Closed 65 miles ahead. Expect Even Longer Delays."

"Freeway Closed 45 miles ahead. Expect Enormous Delays."

Well, maybe if we had really seen the last two we would have paid more attention.

After checking the computer we saw that a Flying J truck stop where we had planned to stop and refuel, was about 10 miles before this, so we decided to press on.

Asking at the Flying J, Jan was told that a car had collided with a gas tanker and they had both blown up. We were also told that they were rerouting traffic around the accident and there only about a 30 minute delay.

And we fell for it!

Almost 5 hours later we rolled back into the outskirts of Tucson. It was now after midnight.

We had gotten up at 6am and I was dead tired. Jan had been asleep on the couch since about 9pm. It had taken us over 7 hours to cover what had taken us less than 2 going up.

At the next exit I saw a sign for a Cracker Barrel and pulled off. Cracker Barrel is one of many companies that encourages/allows RV’ers to park in their lots. They even have large spaces striped out for them.

When I went back and crawled into bed (I left Jan asleep on the sofa) I was the only RV in the lot. When I woke up about 3:30am and decided to get back on the road, I looked out and saw there were now 7 other coaches lined up beside me. Guess I wasn’t the only one looking for a place to sleep.

Anyway, back to the present, a little while later we passed Picacho Peak and the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch, an attraction we first visited in 2008 on our way to Alaska.


They have more than just ostriches. They also have deer, miniature Sicilian donkeys, Boer goats, and Rainbow Lorikeets.

Roosters 1

Rainbow Lorikeets are, despite the name, actually parrots, found mostly in Australia and New Zealand. And they are very friendly.

At one point Jan was covered in Lorikeets, feeding them the little cups of nectar.

Roosters 2

Me, however, not so much. I don’t what it was, but I only got one.

Roosters 3

These Lorikeets certainly live up to their ‘rainbow’ name.

Roosters 4

About 20 miles later we got off I-10 and onto I-8W on the last 65 mile leg heading toward Gila Bend.

About 20 miles out we ran into heavy rain, leading me to dread having to park and set up in a downpour. However, by the time we got to the RV Park, the rain had cleared and the sun was out.

We pulled into the park a little after 11am and found plenty of sites to choose from. After getting parked and set up, Jan fixed sandwiches and chips for lunch, and then we just relaxed for a while.

So relaxed in fact, that a nap was in order. And a very nice one it was, too.

We’ve stayed here 3 or 4 times and it’s always been a nice little park, and cheap too, since it’s Passport America at $12 a night.

Gila Bend RV Park

And the views are pretty good, too.

Gila Bend RV Park View

Along with this great sunset we saw here in 2008.

Gila Bend Sunset

Nick Russell called about 3:30 to check in and coordinate our arrival in Yuma to get ready for the upcoming Gypsy Gathering Rally.

Then a little after 4pm Jan and I drove into beautiful downtown Gila Bend to eat supper at Sofia’s Mexican Food. We discovered this place in 2008 and always eat here when we have the chance. It’s one of those little hole-in-the-wall places that often turn out to be great.

And Sofia’s is one of those.

Sofia's 2

Jan says this is the best Shrimp Burrito in the world. And she’s had them all over the country. The thing is just stuffed with large shrimp, along with a little rice and some chopped tomatoes.

Sofia Shrimp Burrito

I had the Carnita Dinner with well-seasoned shredded pork and all the fixin’s. And their chips and salsa are really good too, with a very spicy red sauce. Very, very good.

Sofia Carnita Dinner

After supper we drove around a bit and then checked out the location of the Elk’s Lodge that I’m going to join next month.

We got home a little before 6, just in time for Jan’s primetime viewing pleasure, the premier of Amazing Race, and a new Desperate Housewives. A twofer for her!

Tomorrow, if the weather holds, I’ll start removing the two front chairs to finish removing the last of the carpet so I can get started putting down the Allure laminate.

More tomorrow . . .


Thought for the Day:

The older I get, the more convinced I am that God tailors our lifespans right to the breaking point of how long each of us can put up with all the idiots we’re surrounded by before we decide we just have to pick up a gun and start randomly shooting morons.

The way things are going, if I had a 150 year lifespan I’m pretty sure I’d be on death row by year 98 or so.


Wind, Dust, and Tumbleweeds . . .

We left Las Cruces this morning a little before 9:30am, but right before that our daughter Brandi called to check up on us and give us the latest on Master Landon. He just starting eating vegetables, and apparently he really likes peas.

About 10 minutes out on I-10 I pulled over and let Jan drive for a while. She didn’t drive at all last year, so she wanted to get in some practice. And it only took her a few minutes to get back in the groove, especially after I put a small piece of tape on the dashboard to help her keep centered.

In about another 30 minutes we pulled into the Bowlin souvenir place at Akela Flats, one of our favorite stops. Jan always loves looking at the jewelry, although this time she didn’t buy anything. But I made up for it.

We did spend $380.00 for 102.7 gallons of diesel. That was $3.699 a gallon. OUCH! The last time I filled up was September 13 right before we parked for 5 months in Houston and it was $2.499 a gallon.

One thing that was interesting about getting diesel was that my Silverleaf computer engine display said I had 47 gallons left in my 150 gallon tank. And I put in 102.7 gallons.

You can’t get much more accurate than that.

Jan was a little nervous, but had no problems getting in and out of the parking area and back on I-10. I was really proud of her.

About 11:30 after a Rest Area stop I took back over the driving chores. The wind was starting to pick up, the tumbleweeds were out in force, and this was not to Jan’s liking.

About 12:30 we were coming into Lordsburg, NM and I saw the signs for Kranberry’s Family Restaurant and asked Jan if she wanted to stop. We had eaten here last year coming thru the area and knew the food was good, and maybe more importantly, they had RV parking in the back.

The only real problem with the RV parking however, is that it’s just a big gravel lot with no markings, so everyone just parks willy-nilly, everywhich way. In fact, we pulled in thru the front, out the back exit, down a block to turn around, and came in the back, heading out toward the front. This to be sure we wouldn’t get blocked in, and would have an easy exit.

As usual, our food was good, but coming back to the rig, we found this bad omen. If tumbleweeds are blowing thru the parking lots, what’s the Interstate going to be like?

Tumbleweed 1

When we got back in the rig, I realized I hadn’t taken my phone in with me, and Nick Russell had called to check up on us. He said the weather was really lousy in Apache Junction, and wondered how it was with us. I said it hadn’t been too bad so far, but we could see dust clouds on the horizon, and figure it was going downhill.

And it did. But luckily, not too bad. The high winds got worse, but we got out of the heavy dust areas fairly quickly, and never had a visibility problem.

We did have several instances of the rig wanting to change lanes without me turning the steering wheel, however. Not good. I think we had some gusts in the 40-50 mph range, but they weren’t as bad as when we were coming into Dawson Creek, BC in April of 2008, and the 60-80 mph gusts were blowing semi’s off the road, and trying to open our big awning. And on top of this it was 19 degrees.

I don’t even want to think about what the wind chill was.

SandStorm 1

We finally pulled into the Pima County Fairgrounds, still in one piece, about 4:30pm. Then our biggest problem was finding where to go to check in. The sign at the gate said ‘RV Office’ straight ahead.

However straight ahead would have taken me right into a big crowd of kids and families all milling around. They were having some sort of high school event and the place was really crowded. So I finally found a place to park off to the side of the lot and took off on foot looking for the office. After getting two sets of bad directions, I eventually found it and got checked in. And one of the staff was nice enough to bring me back to the rig by golf cart. Much appreciated!

We got parked and hooked up, and then set off for Poco & Mom’s, a really great Mexican place that our friends Al & Adrienne Cox had introduced us to about a year ago.

Pocos And Moms

It’s a small place, only about 10 tables and 4 counter stools, but boy is it good! I had the Green Chile Pork Stew and Jan had a New-Mex combo platter. Here’s a shot of my Pork Stew.

Green Chili Pork Stew

New-Mex is like Tex-Mex, only different. They have more pork dishes, and use a lot of the Hatch red and green peppers. MMMM Good!

Of course, this being Arizona, why isn’t it Ari-Mex?  Or something?

For dessert, Jan and I split a fruit-stuffed Sopapilla. Since we couldn’t decide on apple or cherry, they did it half ‘n half. Really, really good!

And cheap, too. Only $2.50!  My kind of food. Good AND cheap.

And, of course, lots of it.

Fruit Sopapilla

Leaving Poco’s we headed over to the nearest Wal-Mart, according to our GPS.  However it was not a SuperStore and didn’t have groceries. So we went by a Fry’s that we’d seen on the way and picked up some stuff to fix in Gila Bend, since the restaurant choice there is lacking.

Coming back to the rig, I stopped to get gas, figuring it would be even more expensive out in the middle of nowhere in Gila Bend later this week.

But in finding a place to fill up, I ran into one of those mysteries of life. You know. one’s like

“If the early bird gets the worm, why does the second mouse gets the cheese?”


“If you’re going to shoot a mime, do you need a silencer?”

In this case there are two gas stations. One on either side of the street from the other. The first, a ‘Gas City’ station, is selling regular unleaded for $3.259. The other, a Diamond Shamrock, is selling regular unleaded for $3.059. That’s a 20 cents a gallon difference! Helloo!

Why does the ‘Gas City’ station have any business at all?  Are people just too lazy to make a left turn at the light into the Diamond Shamrock? Or don’t they realize that $3.259 is larger than $3.059?

Just what is it?

Anyway, getting back to the rig, I decided not to set the sat dish up since there was nothing we wanted to watch or record. We thought we’d just watch some of the stuff we’d already recorded on the DVR.

And therein, I found a problem. Apparently, if you are not connected to the satellite, the DVR won’t let you watch anything you’ve recorded.


Tomorrow we’ve got a 137 mile run to Gila Bend, AZ. We’ll be there for several days, while, hopefully I can get the rest of the carpet up and start putting down the new laminate. Then, as soon as Nick and Terry finish up getting the latest issue of the Gypsy Journal in the mail, we’ll meet them in Yuma to start getting ready for the Gypsy Gathering Rally starting March 7th.

More tomorrow from Gila Bend.


Thought for the Day:

"Most men would rather die than think. Many do." – Bertrand Russell