Friday, December 31, 2010

And a Happy New Year!

Every year the WINs spend Christmas and New Years on a tiny piece of BLM land behind the Yuma VFW. This year there are 121 attendees - amazing how we can all squeeze in here.

I found a good spot behind a dirt mound that masks the train noise somewhat.

This guy, not a WIN, pulled in the next day. Nice guy, with lots of solar panels, but -

His bus looks like it's been put together with spray foam!

One day our host, Bob, arranged a tour of the Yuma Proving Grounds. Unfortunately, it fell through, but I got a kick out of this sign - 3 whole days without an accident while going 5 mph?!?!?

Since we didn't get our tour, we spent some time looking at their collection of tanks.

The Sherman tank, "Ol' War Horse," from WWII was my favorite. You could still see the indentations where it had been shot.

Another day we went to Algodones, the tiny Mexican town right across the border where there are lots of inexpensive dentists and pharmacies. This store was something new - a health food store! All of those bags on the floor are different kinds of medicinal teas.

I also found a painting of the Disney princesses. Looks like they could use some dental work, and maybe a shave!

Near the Mexican border, on the US side, is a large pet cemetery where I buried my Molly a year ago. All year I've been meaning to do a better headstone for her. This is the new one, and I left the old one as a footstone. I felt that the old one didn't really look like her.

This one looks much better - I just hope the paint is waterproof, or I'll be doing another one next year!

glitter graphics

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas!

You would think people who live in RVs would not decorate very much for Christmas. Guess again! On 55th Street in the Yuma Foothills, where lots of RVers live, are the best Christmas lights around.

Each lot owner takes a part of "Twas the Night Before Christmas," and then tries to put the most lights they possibly can on their property.

I got there early so I could see the decorations before it got too dark.

Here's a shot of the same place later on. It's definitely easier to get a good shot before it gets too dark.

I remembered this tumbleweed-man from 3 years ago, but he's lost his little woman, and his clothes -

This is how it looked back in 2007. Maybe someone else bought the lot and took most of the decorations with them.

Even the animals got into the holiday spirit.

And how about a Christmas rooster? (Don't worry - he's not real...)

Everything gets decorated -

Even the cactus.

And the rest of the Foothills are very decorated too. This lot near where I am has 27 artificial trees on it!

And I loved the lights on this RV

The Foothills also has a Parade of Holiday Lights, where people decorate their cars, dune buggies, pickups, golf carts, etc. They were going too fast to take pictures, but I got a short movie.

I wish everyone a very merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Top Ten Adventures of 2010 - Part II

In my last post, I listed numbers 6 through 10. I think I've finally decided on my top five. In each one, you can click on the link(s) to read the original post(s).

Number 5 - Napa, CA
I decided to go to Napa because my son was visiting there at a time when I could meet him. Little did I know I would have such a wonderful time there.

There are lots of beautiful wineries, and even though the wine tastings are no longer free, the sightseeing is.

And the wine-connoisseur and his mother got to meet up several times. You can read the original posts here and here.

Number 4 - Highway 395 in California
Even though I've been down Highway 395 many times, it still managed to make the Top 5. The hiking here is out-of-this-world - this is a picture from my favorite hike here. Another post on hikes in the area is here.

Another great thing about Highway 395 is all the natural hot springs. I did a post on the Bridgeport area here and the Hot Creek area here.

The ghost town of Bodie is also right off Highway 395.

Number 3 - The Hike to Grinnell Glacier
This hike, on the east side of Glacier NP, is one I have wanted to do for a long time, and it did not disappoint. It involves 2 boat rides and a long climb. The scenery and flowers were spectacular.

A marmot was working the trail, and was an excellent model. More pictures are here.

Number 2 - The Twenty Lakes Basin Hike
Another great hike that I've always wanted to do. This one involved less elevation gain, so it got ranked higher. Located at the east side of Yosemite, it also involves a boat ride -

Some hard parts -

And some of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen. I highly recommend this hike - it's a 5 1/2 mile loop, but not too much elevation change. More pictures here.

And now, drum roll please!

Number 1 - The Lewis and Clark Trail
Considering I'm not much of a history buff, I was amazed at how interesting this trip was. Our WIN group met up in St. Louis, MO on May 14th, exactly 206 years after Lewis and Clark departed on their epic journey. We arrived in Astoria, OR on August 19th, going considerably faster than L&C did, but taking our time nonetheless.

Along the way there were several Lewis and Clark interpretive centers. It is incredible that these two men, their dog Seaman, Sacajawea, and the rest of the party made the journey all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Thanks to Carolyn for organizing this trip. It's truly something I will never forget.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Top Ten Adventures of 2010 - Part I

Every year I go back through the blog and pick out my favorite places. Once again, they seem to fall into two categories - places I've always wanted to go, or places that surprised me. For each one, you can click on the link to read the original post.

Let the countdown begin!

Number 10 - The Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD
Although my father said I was here when I was a kid, I don't remember it, so it was all new to me. Besides, they change it every year.

The individual pictures are beautifully done, with different shades of corn. You can read the original post here.

Number 9 - Bentsen State Park, Mission, TX
I'm not a big birder, but this park on the Rio Grande River is full of colorful birds found nowhere else in the United States but deepest South Texas. And because of the blinds that are set up, they are very easy to see. More pictures are on the original post here.

Number 8 - Los Angeles
This sounds like an odd favorite, but it is an area I have always avoided in the past. But I had a wonderful time, and it wasn't nearly as hard to get around as I thought it would be. Some of my favorite things were the Queen Mary -

And the Mission San Juan Capistrano. I also loved the La Brea Tar Pits and the Santa Monica Pier.

Number 7 - The Hiawatha Bike Trail
This trail, on the Montana/Idaho border, is one of my favorites because it is ALL DOWN HILL! Over the 10 miles, you go over 7 high trestles -

And through 10 dark tunnels. The first one is 1.7 miles long, and you can see I was happy to make it all the way through. More about my ride on the trail is here.

Number 6 - Pierre, SD
This town was a real surprise - besides having a lovely capitol -

It is one of the friendliest towns I have ever been in. They even put us on the front page of their paper! Read all about it here.

Stay tuned for the Top 5!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Things I Forgot to Mention

On my last post I forgot to mention that if you buy solar panels, or add anything to your solar system, you are eligible for a 30% federal tax credit! Wow! And some states also have a solar tax credit. Arizona, for example, has a one-time 25% credit.

That means that if you pay both federal and Arizona taxes, you can get 55% off your solar panel, regulator, and inverter purchase. I often hear that generators are less expensive than solar panels, but you don't get a tax credit for a generator!

I showed you my big inverter in my last post, but I also have a couple little ones - one to run the TV and receiver, and one to run my computer, printer, etc. The one for the TV is plugged into the DC outlet by the antenna connection.

The one for the computer is hard-wired to the light above the table. Just cut off the plug end and wire it to the DC wires for the light. (The other wire in the picture is for a DC plug I have down at the table.)

While I'm sitting here in Yuma, I have a chance to put out a hummingbird feeder. I think this is a female Costa's hummingbird.

And here is her hubby. See how long his purple beard is.

And this looks like an immature male to me, just starting to grow his purple facial hair.

Clearly I have too much time on my hands, because I was going through the stats on Blogger to see where my Google traffic comes from. Google "naked Santa ornaments" and you'll see that I am Number One! (We all have to be Number One in something...)

And of course I've been doing lots of dancing. This is one of the most unique spots, the three-walled VFW, where you can dance and watch trains at the same time.