Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Shopping in Quartzsite

With about a thousand vendors hawking their wares at this time of year, Quartzsite is a shopper's paradise.

A lot of the vendors lean towards gems and minerals, ranging from these raw rocks --

To these beautiful jade creations --

And everything in between.

But there's enough non-gem-related vendors to keep me amused. New this year -- a hat made out of honeycomb paper from aircraft wings. Guaranteed to stay on your head even in high winds!

The highlight of the shopping is at the BIG tent, the RV show.

Not for the claustrophobic, it contains all the newest gadgets for us RVers.

On the way home, I stopped at the grocery store. This dog was just laying on the horn. I can imagine his owner in the store wondering who the rude hornblower was!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wow! What a Fun Town!

After the Escapee Solos rally was over, I moved across the street to where the WINs were gathering.

We have over 150 people at our gathering so far. Here's Randy addressing the group at "Circle," our afternoon get-together. (Remember him?)

One evening we had a potato bake. I know it looks like all I do is eat!

A couple hundred potatoes were baked in a big campfire.

And we had all kinds of toppings.

A fellow blogger described Quartzsite as "Spring Break for Seniors." I can't think of a better description! A couple of the WINs invented our own dance floor, by first removing every single rock, then covering the area with sifted sand, and finally securing a tarp over the whole thing. I really didn't think it would hold up, but so far it's survived a week of pretty serious dancing!

The Quartzsite Yacht Club is a fun place to dance, with a terrific band. Our friend Millie, from Moab, sang a couple songs with the band. If you join the club here, you can actually get reciprical benefits at many other yacht clubs. A lot of people do that even though there is no water or yachts anywhere in town.

A young woman played a tub along with the band for a song or two. She was really enthusiastic.

I'm a sucker for cute guys wearing interesting t-shirts, but I digress....

Last night we went back to the Senior Center for a dance. Once again we had a great surprise. A young brother and sister, Frederick and Katherine King, from Zimbabwe, entertained us all evening. They are champion ballroom dancers, and here we cleared the floor so they could do the jive.

I talked to their mother, who is here selling African carvings in town. She told me the whole amazing story, but it was really hard to hear her. What I got was that they entered a dancing contest, unbeknownst to her, and won every single event. The prize for each event was $1 billion! But that was Zimbabwe dollars, and a billion dollars was worth only $20 US.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Eating and Dancing in Quartzsite

On Tuesday, I moved to the north side of Quartzsite, 2 miles out Plomosa Road, to join up with the Escapees Solos. This is a group that I haven't done much with, so I thought I would check them out. The first night we had a hot dog roast.

We had tacos another night.

Then a burn-your-own/potluck another night. Wow! I'm going to gain some weight if I stay here too long......

On Friday night, I went dancing at the Senior Center. I wasn't expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. Apparently, a semi-famous songwriter/entertainer named Jay Bonham (second from left) was passing through town and appeared with his brother's group, The Travelers, who are the regular band there. He had a great voice, and a lot of fans in the crowd.

This is how he looked in the old days when he was a member of the group "The Night Train."

I was so impressed I got his autograph.

He said he wrote 4 Number One hits, including this one, the Bobby Darin hit, "Dream Lover."

And this one, the 1961 Gene McDaniels hit, "A Hundred Pounds of Clay."

Unfortunately, I am a real Doubting Thomas. So before I did this post, I looked these songs up on the Internet. And if you look at my links, you will see he didn't write them at all, unless he wrote them and someone else took the credit. Hmmmmm..... Oh well, at least he had a great voice and I had a wonderful time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Is Winter Over???

Yay!!!! After the bad weather I had in San Diego, it's finally payback time. Yuma is the sunniest city in the US, but even so, this is great weather for January. Time to go a little north to Quartzsite.

But first, I made one last trip to Mexico. Waiting to get back in the US, I was in line right next to Doc and Marty.

While dumping at Senator Wash, I met a wild borro. He came to drink out of the leaky faucet.

In Quartzsite, I stayed first at MM99, south of town.

It is very close to Red's Place, the "Desert Opry," that offers free jam session shows Monday and Thursday afternoons. Ten musicians take turns singing, and they're all very good.

It was also close to Crystal Hill, where rock hounds go to find crystals.

There were lots of quartz lying around.

But this is what the hill is famous for. This one is about as long as my fingernail, and is lying on a mirror.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Year at Yuma

After San Diego, I headed back to Yuma to join up with the WINs at the same piece of BLM land behind the VFW that I stayed at in November. It was a lot more crowded this time, with about 100 WINs joining in.

We danced almost every day. Our favorite is "Keepin' It Country," who play 3 times a week at the VFW. Notice the train going by in the background -- added entertainment!

I enjoyed watching the hummingbirds, and playing with my new camera.

One day we went on a 4-wheel drive trip, that ended up being one car and lots of ATVs.

Usually when that happens, its hard for the car to keep up, but Carol was fearless.

We went over the mountain to the east of us to the little town of Wellton for lunch.

New Year's Eve we started out partying at dusk at our circle area.

Then we headed over to the VFW for finger foods and more dancing music from "Keepin' It Country."

Bagpipe Bob entertained us during their break -- those WINs never stop dancing!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Just How Much Do You Spend on the Road?

Several readers have asked this question. Well, I can tell you exactly what I spent for the last 2 years!


Auto & Trailer --
__Equipment, Repairs, Tags_____1400_______2450
Camping Fees_______________1900________450
TV, Internet, Telephone________1600________1300
Photography, Computer_________900_______2150
Health Insurance_____________3900_______3450
Medical & Dental_____________2800________550
Entertainment, Eating Out_______1800________750
Miscellaneous "Stuff"___________1800_______1900


Some notes:

Why was 2008 so much more than 2007? For several reasons. Gas was higher because I traveled farther, and gas was more expensive. Camping fees were higher because I stayed in some expensive parks in San Diego, Branson, and Bandera, and traveled in areas where boondocking is not always available. I also ate out a lot more, and I guess I'm better dressed.

These numbers include everything except income tax and the cost of new vehicles. (Or, alternatively, the decrease in value of those vehicles.)

I bought a new rig and a new computer in 2007. The cost of the rig is not included, but the cost of improvements, new equipment and $500 in sales tax is.

I'm not trying to be particularly frugal. If there's something I want to buy, or something I want to do, I don't hesitate. I just want to get the best deal possible!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My Top Ten Adventures of 2008

I thought it would be fun to look back at 2008 and remember my favorite adventures this year. I found that my favorites fell into 2 categories -- Places I've always wanted to go, or places that surprised me.

Here's the countdown:

Number 10 -- My very first NASCAR race in Phoenix.

Number 9 -- The House on the Rock in Wisconsin.

Number 8 -- The gathering at Paul's house, near Chicago. We had lots of fun on his property here and here, went to Chicago here and here, and visited Place de la Musique.

Number 7 -- Grand Marais, in northern MN. It's a great town, and the WINs were there during the annual Fisherman's Picnic.

Number 6 -- Branson, MO. I had never been here and it was amazing. In addition to shows in town, I went to Silver Dollar City, where there was a Bluegrass Festival going on, and I rode the Ducks.

Number 5 -- The zip line at Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park in Mackinaw City, MI.

Number 4 -- The hot springs at Safford, AZ.

Number 3 -- The 4-wheel drive trip to Crystal Mill in Marble, CO, a popular photographic destination that I have wanted to see for a long time.

Number 2 -- The Dance Rally in Bandera, TX, the Cowboy Capital of the World. What a great time I had! It started out with a weenie roast, then there were lessons, nights out on the town here and here, a Fifties dance, and a Wild West Dance Hall Night.

And my number one adventure of the year? (Drum roll please!)

Ely, Minnesota, gateway to the Boundary Waters! The #1 vacation destination of Charles Kuralt, he wrote that "The people who live here say that you could paddle a canoe for 100 years and visit a different lake every day." Maybe a slight exageration, but not much, in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. I went on a float plane trip, and if that wasn't enough, I also went on a short helicopter flight.