Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Smile--again!

January 31, 2012—Poor, Jim. He’s back at the dentist for a redo.

We went into Los Algodones, to our dental office, yesterday. The first thing we found was that the office we had gone to is undergoing remodeling; it was closed. We were taken around the back to the larger office (same company, two locations), on the street behind the one we had frequented. We discovered that the dentist we had seen last summer had been fired. “Too many complaints,” the guide said.

Now we know why there were too many complaints.

We were immediately introduced to the newest member of Gator Dental, “Dr. Oscar [Cuevas].” His demeanor was completely different from that of “Dr. Edgar” our previous dentist. Dr. Oscar appeared interested in his patients; his competence oozed from him. Dr. Edgar, on the other hand, had seemed like someone who was waiting for 5 o’clock…or someone who was a lame duck in his position—uninterested and dismissive.

After a bit of a wait, Dr. Oscar was able to see me. Although Dr. Edgar was no longer there, the practice honors is guarantee. Dr. Oscar checked me out, listened to my complaints, identified poor biting spots, and then began to work on me. After about an hour of checking and grinding down high spots, he asked how my bite felt. I can honestly say it is better than I have had in probably 50 years.

Jim was next. Again, Dr. Oscar listened, identified the poor biting spots, and then started working on him. Only Jim wasn’t so lucky.

Jim had had crowns put on all of his upper and lower teeth. From the start, he never had a good bite. Unfortunately, it appears that the teeth were not put in properly. Grinding down the high spots would go down through the porcelain into the metal—an unacceptable option. (I suspect the teeth were not pushed into place properly; that had happened to one of my crowns, the one that came off after one month.) So, the alternative is to replace all the crowns—all 32 of them.

That’s why Jim is at the dentist now, and probably will be there tomorrow as well, and mostly likely the next day too.

The practice is honoring the guarantee. Unfortunately, they will not absorb the lab fee ($700). Oh, well. Even with this modest additional cost, it was still less than one-fourth of the same work done in Jacksonville. We would do it again.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Good-bye Quartzsite, hello Imperial Sand Dunes

January 29, 2012—Been there, done that—Quarzsite, that is. It was an experience, for sure. Thousands upon thousands of RVs, parked in the desert, in resorts, in dry camps, and off the highway. And the tent city! It was something every RVer should experience once.

And once is probably enough, especially if you are not fond of the desert. Quartzsite, as I think I already described in a previous blog, is a small community of perhaps a few hundred inhabitants from April through November of each year. Then come of the snow birds. And the venders.

We finally figured it all out (again, I may be repeating myself): The town hosts several large consecutive expos, the largest, perhaps, being the RV expo. This is held in a massive tent, which I estimate was at least 30 yards wide by about 400 yards long—big enough for several three-ring circuses. Hundreds of venders lined the aisles. Outside there were more. It was like a home show in McCormick Place in Chicago.

But that was just a fraction of the tent city. Several companies own land around Quartzite, such as Tyson Wells (the biggest promoter), Rice Farms, and Desert Garden. (There are more.) Each of these companies rents out spaces to venders, who sell everything from Avon products, to dried fruit and nuts, to leather goods, to hats and clothing, to specialized RV supplies, as well as, of course, typical carnival-type food. (The first day, after we had eaten a large breakfast, we passed a restaurant that advertised half-pound hamburgers for $5. Try as we might, we never could find that shop again!)

We actually bought several things for our motorhome (and us)—at good prices. Jim bought a more efficient water pump replacement. He replaced some of our interior lights with LEDs. He also bought a shut-off valve for our new Oxygenator shower head (this works very well, but it’s shut-off valve was cumbersome to use). I found a new wallet, and of course, we bought some “destination” tee shirts. We found a grocery that sold cereal and canned goods at very reasonable prices, and we bought some dried fruit and nuts.

Our biggest expense, of course, was buying into the RV membership club. We figure, however, that we will recoup that expense because of our planned travel over the next couple of years, especially since we really don’t like to dry-camp. (We now know we can do it, but choose not to if we have an alternative.)
Altogether, we probably made at least a half-dozen trips into Quartzsite to roam around as well as to purchase specific items.

We had been staying at the Colorado River Oasis on the Colorado River, at Exit 1 on I10, about 18 miles from Quartzsite. It is now our “home base” for this RV membership club. This morning we pulled up stakes and headed south to Winterhaven, Calif., eight miles west of Yuma, Ariz.

Garmina (our GPS) decided to take us on two-lane country highways. We had never seen such desolate country before! It was so arid I would be surprised if anything lived out there except some sage brush. Most of the land is owned by the federal government, and ATV enthusiasts have almost a free reign over it.

Eventually we spotted our infamous Imperial Dunes. (Remember my blog from last August, when our “toad” became mired in the sand?) In the pictures I’m posting you can spot the dunes by their contrasting color to the rest of the countryside. They are much lighter in color and look, well, like dunes, even from a distance.
The dunes are the light-colors at the horizon. 

This is taken out of the RV window. The dunes are the light colors at the horizon.
 Compare them with the desert in the foreground.


It turns out that our RV resort is located almost of stone’s throw from the dunes, in Imperial County, California. I doubt that we will be visiting them again; once was enough.

We drove into Yuma for an early dinner. What a difference from last August! Now the city has people in it—probably way too many. If I had to live in the desert for the winter, I would much prefer Yuma to Quartzsite. At least Yuma has amenities; Quartzsite has none.

Tomorrow we head south of the border, to visit our dentist. We will probably be here for a week, and then, who knows where?

All in all, it was a good birthday. (Oh, yes, I forget to mention that today was my 67th.) Calls from my kids, e-mails and greetings from siblings, a nice dinner out, and settled in for the night…what more could I ask?

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Friday, January 27, 2012

Giddyup!

January 27, 2012—About a million years ago (actually in 1965, 47 years ago), I rode my first horse. As a participant of the IU Junior Year Abroad Program in Lima, Peru, I was living with a family by the name of Galindo, consisting of mama, papa, Pacho (who was about three years older than my 20), and Cucha (a year older than me).

If I were to label this family, I would say they were upper middle class, by our American standards. They had more money, by far, than my family did. Sr. Galindo (papa) was an attorney who later sat on Peru’s Supreme Court. Sra. Galindo was a social climber who was extremely prejudiced against darker-skinned, mixed race individuals (cholos). Cucha was a high-school drop-out who occasionally worked for her father but whose real ambition was to ride and jump horses. Pacho was a ne’er-do-well—a college dropout who could not hold down a job. He was very charming, but lacked any ambition. (I later found out he was paranoid schizophrenic, which might account for his apparent shortcomings.)

I was in South America to study at the University of San Marcos, but before classes started, I had some free time. Cucha invited me to go to the stables with her and watch her ride and jump.

I went a few times to watch, but that became boring very rapidly. Horses are beautiful; riding looked like fun, and I wanted to try it.

Cucha boarded her horse in stables run by the Peruvian Army. Civilians were apparently allowed to ride the cavalry horses, and she arranged for me to have a go at it.

Aside from mounting an occasional pony as a child, I had never ridden a horse before, so I was excited. A soldier brought out a nice looking working horse and helped me mount. After a bit of instruction, I was able to walk him around the gated area, and I believe I even got him to trot. Unfortunately, someone had left a gate open. When the horse spied the open gate, much to my surprise, he took off in a run.

If I recall correctly, I held on anyway I could think of. I think I took hold of the saddle, or perhaps it was his neck. I was determined not to fall off, and I did not. I also tried reining him in, calling for his to “Stop” and “Alto!” Neither English nor Spanish worked. That horse had one thing in mind: to get back to his stable as soon as possible (and get me off his back).

He finally stopped; I dismounted, unscathed. As the soldier took the horse away, he told me that the week before he threw a woman who had been riding him. So much for horseback riding! For a while, anyway, I decided I would watch.

The next time I went with Cucha, she was to ride two different horses. As she practiced with one, a soldier was holding the reigns of another. I thought it would be nice to pet the horse. Uh…I didn’t know you were supposed to start at the front and work your way back. I started on the haunch.

The horse didn’t like that. He kicked me, right in the gluteus maximum! (I was fortunate that he missed my backbone.) I went home with a horse-shoe print on my butt and couldn’t sit very well for several days.
I think I went riding one more time while I was in Peru. I liked it, but I was a student, and I didn’t have time to go to the stables.

Fast forward about 18 years. I was living in a suburb or New Orleans and working for a distributorship owned by Miller Brewing Company. One of the sales supervisors, an African American and city-born and bred, had an unusual hobby: He was a quarter-horse judge on weekends. He was the only African American quarter-horse judge in Louisiana, if I recall correctly.

I didn’t know much about quarter horses, so he offered to show me some. We met at the place he boarded his horse, and the stable master saddled a mare up for me. I trotted around, thoroughly enjoying myself, until another horse—a stallion—suddenly took an interest in the horse (mare) I was riding. It was a short ride; I didn’t want to be in the middle of a courting ritual.

That was the last time I rode until today. We drove out to visit my friend Ann Louise, who moved to Buckeye, Ariz., from the Chicago area around the same time I moved to Florida in 1998. (She was kind enough to allow me to have a couple packages delivered to her house.) Ann Louise has a horse named Guayasutra. She asked if we would like to ride him.




How could we say know? I was doubtful, however, if I could mount him. Two knee replacements and a lot more weight than I had back in 1965 would make it difficult. I did it, though, and we walked and trotted around the yard. “Horsie” didn’t like listening to me, however. He’s a mama’s boy and would only go where Ann Louise led him, with or without her holding the reigns.

Jim also got to ride. He hadn’t ridden a horse in many, many years (probably since he was a boy), and he said he had never ridden using a saddle. When he was a boy visiting his grandparents in North Carolina, he used to ride bareback, a huge work horse. I must say that he looked comfortable in the saddle.




We didn’t ride very long, but it was fun and makes me want to do it again. I hope it doesn’t take another 18 years.



Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Assorted stuff

January 26, 2012—It is said that the U.S. Postal Service comes through, regardless of rain, sleet, or snow. Apparently a gate stops the mailman, however.

We purchased a tablet computer online while we were in McKinney. I asked a friend in Buckeye, Ariz., which is west of Phoenix, if I could have it mailed c/o her. She agreed.

My notification from the company said it was being sent via FedEx Smartpost—a deal FedEx has with the USPS. FedEx delivers to the post office; the post office is supposed to deliver to the house.

The package got to the post office in Buckeye, but it never made it to the house. And the post office people couldn’t find it, despite the fact that it had been signed for. (The Buckeye post office people were really nasty on the phone, too.)

Well, it turns out that my friend has a really good postman, very conscientious. When she told him that the package was apparently returned to the post office (she did not get a notification), he looked for it, finally found it, and delivered it. Turns out that a lazy or ill-trained substitute saw that my friend’s gate was closed and he didn’t try to open it to either leave the package or leave a notification with her. Worse, still, he didn’t fill out any paperwork when he went back to the post office. He just dumped the package somewhere.

We will pick it up tomorrow.

Another item…we decided that since we aim to travel a quite a bit in the next couple of years (in the last 12 months we already put on 10,000 miles), we bought into a resort membership that will give us free or very low-cost camping across the country. This type of thing doesn’t fit everyone’s lifestyle, but it does ours for right now. So, we’re happy with our decision.

No pictures to post today. Just taking it easy. Actually, I think I will try to remove some of the Arizona dust that has accumulated on everything in this motorhome.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Green or brown?

January 24, 2012—I think there are two kinds of people: Those who like green, and those who like brown. Jim and I? We like green. We like green grass (even if it is coarse St. Augustine turf), green trees, and blooming flowers. We are not brown people. I’m sure the desert has its beauty and blooms during certain seasons, but we have yet to see it. All we see is sand, dirt, rocks, and brown. Everywhere.

Obviously a lot of people like brown. If you are on a rise looking down at the valley, all you can see is thousands of RVs, many of which are camped on BLM land. In other words, thousands of people are dry camping in this arid countryside.

We are no longer among them.

Dry camping is OK while we are on the road—at a rest stop for the night, or at a Walmart, for example. One or two nights of dry camping is OK, as long as we know the end is in sight. But to live in an RV without hookups? No way. We tried it for several days, know we could do it, but we have no desire to live that kind of RV life.

We left the BLM dry camp area yesterday morning. Although we intended to rent a space at an RV camp in Quartzsite, that didn’t work out. (See yesterday’s blog.) We were fortunate, however, to take advantage of a three-night complimentary stay at an RV resort directly on the Colorado River.

The mighty river that carved out the Grand Canyon isn’t so mighty down here. It’s rather placid but inviting. This would be a great place to vacation during the summer, to beat the hot desert heat.





The park has its own beach area. Although we do not have a premium site adjacent to the beach, we are only a short walk away. If we were to stay here (which we will not), I would want to go fishing. I’m sure there are some great-tasting fish just waiting to be caught in the river.




This is a nice RV resort, complete with an activities room, laundry (which we do not need), TV room, showers, heated pool, spa, playground, and supposedly a pool table (haven’t found it yet). It’s well maintained. The only thing it is short on is shade, but then, again, we are in the desert, which doesn’t have too many trees growing in it.

It was really nice being able to take a luxurious shower, watch TV, and relax in a warm “house,” compared to staying in the desert, where we had to take Navy showers, limit our TV watching to the few hours we used the generator, and keep warm under blankets alone. (In the morning, the inside temperature would drop to the mid 40s. Yuk.)

Of course, when we were in the desert, we didn’t have the problem of the drains overflowing. Jim forgot to release the gray-water valve before we started doing laundry. Half-way through the second load of clothes, water was gushing up through the shower, all over the floor. Ah, well. The floor needed to be washed, anyway, along with the rugs and all the towels we have with us…

That little incident aside, it truly was nice to relax in our home-away-from-home, in the luxury of an RV park.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

London Bridge

January 23, 2012—I’ve never been to England, but I’ve seen the London Bridge…in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.

While we were at the RV Show yesterday, we were given a complimentary three-night stay at an RV resort on the Colorado River, which separates Arizona and California, about 20 miles west of Quartzsite. Jim called to see if we could get in this week (our only time here). It didn’t look promising, since we had not given any notice.

This morning, however, we decided we wanted to stay at least one night (and preferably more) somewhere with full hookups, so that we could dump tanks, fill up on water, and do our wash, which was rapidly accumulating. We found a place that advertised a modest $20 rate. Jim hooked up the sewer, dumped the tanks, and started filling the water tank. He then tried to plug into the electrical hookup. Surprise! This RV camp only had 110 outlets…no 30 or 50 amp plugs. We couldn't get any electricity.

Since we couldn’t hook up our electricity, we got our money back. Actually, we came out ahead, since we dumped the tanks and filled up on water. We headed back to our desert campsite.

As we were getting situated, I decided to call the Colorado River RV resort to see if our request for accommodations was confirmed. They were! So, here we are—back in civilization, fully hooked up, in a nice resort directly on the Colorado River, which is purported to the Riviera of Arizona.

Our original intent today was to visit Lake Havasu City, about 50 miles north of Quartzsite. The trip took a little longer from this RV park, but we decided we really wanted to see the historic London Bridge, which was dismantled and rebuilt in Lake Havasu City in the late 1960s. The bridge, along with a replica of an old English village, opened to the public in 1971. The city’s builder, Robert P. McCulloch, bought the bridge for $2.5 million. It cost an additional $7 million to reconstruct it.



video

It is a “working” bridge. We drove over it before we realized we were on it. We found a place to park in the visitors’ area, and then took a closer look at the structure. The village has a fountain (not sure if it is an authentic fountain, but is surely a replica of what would have been in London in the 17th century). The village is “guarded” by two dragons, which traditionally guarded the city of London.






The trip to see the bridge was as interesting as the bridge itself. The highway followed the Colorado River north. It also meandered through a wide valley and up the mountains. These mountains were different from the ones we passed through to get to the resort. They are still rather barren, but they were reddish in color, rather than brown.

Communities—mostly RV resort communities—lined the river on both the Arizona and California sides. I could see the appeal; the water was inviting.

Our little trek to see the London Bridge took more than an hour each way, but it was worth it.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda 

Monday, January 23, 2012

The RV show

January 23, 2012—I haven’t yet talked about the big RV show. That’s because there really isn’t much to talk about.

The RV show is like a huge home show for RVers. Hundreds of vendors exhibit in booths in a huge tent; many more exhibit outside of the tent area but within the “official” show site.

We went down to the show the first day, along with thousands of others. The aisles were so crowded we could hardly get through. What was worse was the fact that the wind was blowing. It wasn’t gusty; it was just plain windy, with 15 to 20 mph winds. The winds themselves, although chilly, weren’t the problem. It was the dust they stirred up. It got into everything. Jim forgot his sunglasses; he had to go back for them to protect his contact lenses from the dust.

The first day we looked at the various exhibits for a couple of hours. Jim studied some brochures he gathered, and yesterday we went back for more information. The crowds were still heavy, but much better. At least we could get down the aisles without losing each other.

Of course we signed up for a number of drawings, including one for a free vacation in Alberta, Canada. I had my picture taken with a real Canadian Mountie. He didn’t have his horse or a dog with him, however.
Jim was able to get information and actually purchase some products at a reasonable price that he needed. But, there were no seminars. That was a disappointment.


Today we are going to move the RV to a park, so we can can dump, take on water, and do the wash. We are also going to go up to Lake Havasu City, about an hour north of here, and see the London Bridge. Tomorrow we may be driving back to Buckeye to pick up the packages (a tablet computer and a wifi gadget) we had delivered in care of a friend I have there.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dry camping

January 20, 2012—Until we bought Baby, I had only been camping once in my life. I had been dating Dennis, a real outdoorsman, who loved hunting, fishing, and camping—tent camping.

It must have been July or August. I was living in Indianapolis, and I put the kids on an airplane to visit their dad on the East Coast. Dennis and I planned a weekend getaway to the Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana. He said he would take care of it all: He had the tent, fishing poles, stove, dishware, coolers, and sleeping bags. He also bought the food. All I had to worry about was packing a few clothes and my guitar.

I wasn’t too sure about this adventure. I had never been camping before, and we were to be camping in a primitive area. There was an outhouse across from the campsite, but no showers. We would be washing in the lake.

Dennis did take care of everything. Once we arrived at the campsite, he set up the tent lickety-split. And he cooked the evening meal. The only help I lent him was to show him how the sleeping bags could be zipped together.

What I discovered during that weekend was that I liked camping as long as I didn’t have to do anything; primitive camping does nothing for your hairdo; and food does taste better cooked over an open fire. In other words, camping wasn’t out of the question for me, but it wasn’t high on my agenda, either.
Now to the present: We have been “camping” in Baby off and on for about nine months. This type of camping is nothing compared to the tent camping I had done 35 years ago, especially when we are in an RV park where we have full hookups.

Dry camping, on the other hand, is another story.

I didn’t mind dry camping (also known as boondocking) while we were enroute from point A to point B. But I have to admit that I am not so fond of it here in the desert.

To dry camp, you have to conserve energy resources—both electricity and water. During the day, our batteries charge up thanks to the solar panels on the roof of the motorhome. Since it is not too hot, we can open the windows and be comfortable. But, we cannot run too many appliances and we must watch how many lights we have on.

In the evening, we turn on the generator. We can then watch TV, put on as many lights as we desire, and be comfortable. However, about 10 p.m. or11 p.m. it is time to shut off the generator. (In RV parks, generators are not permitted after 10 p.m., generally, because of the noise.) We are out in the middle of the desert, but we do have neighbors, and we try to be courteous, so we shut off the generator.

Without the generator, we have no heat. (I guess we actually could turn on the propane furnace, but we don’t, since the blower would use electricity.) By morning, we are definitely cuddling under the warmth of our down comforter. The other morning it was 43 degrees outside; today, it was 47. It was so cold that both of the cats slept at our feet and enjoyed the warmth of the bed.
Neverending stream of RVs coming to Quartzsite. 


Another downside of dry camping is water conservation. Obviously, using our clothes washer/dryer is out. But aside from that, dry campers have to take very short “Navy” showers (wet down; soap up; rinse off). Purists save the water they bathe in and use it to flush the toilet. We haven’t gone that far, yet (and I hope we won’t). We’ve found creative ways to conserve water while washing the dishes and brushing teeth.

Despite our conservation efforts, however, our gray water tank was filled this morning, and our water holding tank was almost empty. So, it was off to the place where we could dump the tanks and fill up on water. This, after only two days in the desert!

No, I cannot say that I am fond of dry camping. But a lot of people must be. They just keep coming in here. We now have a lot of neighbors, with more expected as the week progresses.

We’ll probably stick this out, although we always have the option to check into an RV park with full hookups. We’ll see.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Quartzsite: A HUGE flea market

January 19, 2012—Many years ago my sister took me to the Orange County (California) Swap Meet. I had never seen anything like it before—acres upon acres of venders selling all types of things out of tents— luggage, purses (including knock offs of famous brands), dresses, tie-dyed t-shirts, brushes, combs, scarves, belts, boots, shoes, bicycles, tricycles, and baby carriers. And the food! Pizza, tacos, hot dogs, sausage, kettle corn, ice cream, soda…and anything you could think of that could be deep-fried.

I don’t remember if I bought anything at that swap meet, but I got hooked. I love to go to flea markets and roam the aisles and tents. Jim does too. He and I go to Beach Blvd. Flea Market in Jacksonville regularly. It’s where we buy charcoal and flavored tobacco for our hookah, batteries for our watches ($5 installed), and tomatillos for green salsa. Last year when we bought “Baby,” we needed a VCR to watch the video that gave an overview, we found one for $15 at the flea market. And just a couple of weeks ago, we found a replacement bicycle ($30) for me for the one that was ruined by the Palm Tree Incident in December. (See Palm Trees, http://reluctantrover.segallenterprises.com/2011/12/palm-trees.html.)

We had heard that Quartzsite in January was something that every RVer needed to experience. We read that there were several shows—a couple rock and mineral shows and a big RV show—during January, and that up to a million RVers congregated and camped on BLM lands surrounding the town. Other than that, we did not know what to expect.

The best way to describe Quartzsite is that it is the hugest flea market I’ve ever seen, reminiscent with its makeshift storefronts of the gold-rush mining towns of the old west.


The tents are pitched along the main town streets and supplement a few “regular” stores. (Yes, Quartzsite is a real town, with year-round inhabitants. Its population just swells to beyond capacity during the winter. The regular stores we saw include an RV repair place, a couple of restaurants, a grocery, a Beall’s Outlet, and a Family Dollar, plus a couple of gas stations.) It extends so far in every direction that Jim and I only covered about one-quarter of it today, and we are exhausted. (We had to come home and take a nap!)

Who buys from these venders? People from all over the country—especially those from cold climates. I saw license plates from Utah, Wyoming, Kansas, New Hampshire, and Nevada—and that was just in one block.

People are pouring in here. Some stay at RV “resorts,” which have permanent mobile homes as well as spots for RVs. Most, like us, stay in the desert, on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. You can camp for 14 days free of charge of BLM land. (The government charges a fee for long-term camping in designated areas.)



We arrived yesterday afternoon about 4 p.m. A campsite host welcomed and registered us and answered questions we had concerning emptying our waste tanks and getting fresh water. A few minutes later, we drove a short distance and chose our campsite. We could have driven far into the desert, but we opted for a level area not too far from the road. (If we don’t like it, we can move!)
Since our arrival, we have seen many new arrivals. The most popular type of RV seems to be Class A motorhomes, followed by 5th wheels. The neighborhood is growing fast!

We’re getting settled in. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about dry camping.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Donkeys, goats, ostriches, and birds

January 18, 2012—You just never know what you’ll find in the desert. We found ostriches.

As we were driving out of Tucson this morning, we saw a sign advertising Rooster Cogburn’s Ostrich Farm, which had donkeys, goats, deer, and rainbow lorikeets as well as several hundred ostriches. A $5 admission charge got us a cup of animal feed and an ounce of nectar (for the lorikeets).
video



We usually think of petting zoos as being kid-friendly. Well, I guess we were kids at heart, because we had a great time feeding and petting the animals.

First were the donkeys—all sizes and colors. The swarmed near the fence, eager to get a bit of food from our hands. They were gentle; not a one bit us

.
Next came the deer. We had seen a few deer alongside the Texas highways, especially as we drove at night. These deer were people-friendly. They also wanted to be fed. Some were more aggressive than others and tried to get all the food. Few, however, would allow themselves to be petted after being fed.
 

The third animal attraction was a penthouse full of goats. Apparently these goats are cousins to the ones that explore high, rocky places in the mountains. They like to be up high. The sign said that when they are let out in the morning, they rush to get to the penthouse, they like it so much. To feed them, we had to put the food in a cup and crank it up a long belt. When the cup reached the top, it emptied into the feeding pan.


We had more goats to feed. These were in a “house” where they looked out of windows. The sign suggested getting “kissed” by a goat. I did. I put a pellet in my mouth and let a goat “kiss” me for it. Fun!


Finally we came to the ostriches. They can bite! I was daring, however, and let a few of them eat out of my hand. They nipped a bit harder than our geese do. After being nipped a couple of times, I decided it was better to pour the feed into their cups and let them eat for themselves.
video


I had hoped the farm would have some ostrich meat for sale; unfortunately, all they had were eggs. Did you know that one ostrich egg is equivalent to 24 chicken eggs? We passed on buying one for $20. It would take a party to eat that omelet!


Our final stop at the petting zoo was the lorikeet aviary. The young woman who sold us the feed told us to keep the nectar in our pocket, hidden from view, until we were ready, especially if we wanted to take pictures. She said the birds would flock to us and would actually pry the lid off the plastic container.
video





She was right! As soon as I took the nectar container out of my pocket, the birds were all over me—on my arms, shoulders, and even my head. I had to restrain them from taking the lid off, until Jim was ready with the camera. (And no, they did not poop on either of us, thank goodness.)

A sign in the aviary said that lorikeets, which are related to parakeets, are beautiful, inquisitive, and active birds, but they do not make good pets--for two reasons: They require a specialized diet (the nectar), which is difficult and expensive to prepare. And, they eat a lot. Their daily calorie requirements are equivalent to a 150 pound person needing to eat 476 cheeseburgers each day! Good thing those little birds are so active, otherwise they would weigh a ton!

I don’t know if I would want to stop at the ostrich farm again—unless, perhaps, some of my grandkids were with me. But we did have a great time, a nice side trip on our way to Quartzsite.

I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,
Linda

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Desert traveling

January 17, 2012—Last August when we drove to Arizona, we took I10 all the way. This time, we detoured up to McKinney, Texas (north of Dallas). Our Garmina (GPS) routed us down to I20, which transcets northern West Texas, until it connects with I10 in the south. This was the first time I had been through that part of Texas.

What we saw was a bit different from what we had seen last summer.

Although we did not pass directly through Texas Hill Country, the last was hilly and provided vast vistas. It became arid, but in a Texas desert way, which is different from the desert in Arizona and California.

The farther west we drove, it became apparent that oil still reigns as king in that part of the country. Oilrigs, looking like the dinosaurs pumping thick, black energy from deep within the ground, were everywhere. We also passed several oil refineries. With the abundance of oil and gas in the Texas countryside, you would think diesel and gasoline would be cheaper than in other places in the country. Not necessarily so. We did find some bargain prices around Sulpher Springs as well as in McKinney, but in oil country itself? Not so.

West Texas also had a lot of windmills. We saw a number of them last summer, especially in New Mexico. But windmill farms, each with more than 100 rotating mills, seemed prevalent all the way down I20. One farm had a windmill close to a rest area, and we got “up close and personal” to it.




video



Last night we stayed, as planned, in a Texas rest stop. This time we got there before the trucks did, and we had a prime location. I went to bed early and slept well. This morning, we headed out fairly early (9 a.m.), and crossed over into Mountain Time about 90 minutes later.

We have driven through New Mexico and are now in Arizona, climbing ever so subtly higher through the arid mountains. In the distance, though, we saw one mountain that had was topped with snow and surrounded by clouds. Nice sight!


No “adventures” so far (let’s keep it that way). The cats seem to be getting used to traveling. Charlie even came out of his hidey hole a little while ago—in broad daylight, no less.

Nothing else to report right now. We're stopping in Tucson tonight. Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,
Linda

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Party hearty!

January 15, 2012—It was quite a party. And for me to say that (because I hate parties) means that it really was a great party
Mom and her birthday cake
.

The primary purpose for us to come to McKinney, Texas, was to celebrate mom’s 90th birthday, which will officially occur January 20. We also celebrated the birthday of my niece Pam, whose birthday really was yesterday, as well as my birthday, which will be January 29.

We planned for this occasion months in advance. We had gone back and forth: restaurant or rented room with a caterer? We even considered just having it at Judy’s house. The rented room with catered Texas barbeque won out.
Nancy with the quilt she made for mom.


Thanks to the efforts of Judy and Dawn, who did most of the preliminary planning, and Nancy, who came early and acted as hostess for Judy (who was in Surinam and returned the day before the party), everything came off great. Judy had baked and frozen quiches prior to her vacation; she also accumulated soda, wine, water, and beer. Nancy cooked and entertained as people came in; and siblings who were available pitched in to decorate the clubhouse where the party took place.








It was actually a first for the Jefferson clan: In the past, we have only reunions at funerals. This time everyone was still breathing and upright!











Mom and dad were responsible for quite a progeny: Seven children (who each currently have a spouse), 11 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. If everyone (including spouses—all seven of us are currently married) had been able to attend, there would have been 39 people. Unfortunately, not everyone could attend—Rob and his family, Sally’s husband and two children, Dawn’s son, and Scott’s daughter. (Scott couldn’t come to the party, but he was at brunch today.) As it was, we still had a crowd. We had a total of 30 who feasted on Texas barbeque and birthday cake. There was enough food left over to feed us again the next today at Judy’s house.




I felt for a few people at the party—the “newcomers” to the family who had never met anyone else, as well as for the somewhat “newbies” like Jim, who knew most everyone, but still became confused concerning who belonged to whom. (Jim: Let me explain again…Lisa and Laura are Nancy’s kids, and the little redheaded girls belonged to Laura and Bill. Derrick was the bearded young man, who is Jessica’s significant other, and Jessica herself is Dawn and Glenn’s daughter. And the skinny young man was Michael—John and Anne’s son—who was with the nice young lady, Suzanne. Get it?)

Laura and Bill and their kids left this afternoon to visit with his mother in Tyler (Bill’s a real Texan). Dawn and Glenn left, because they are leaving Tuesday for Australia. (I’m not sure if Jessica and Derrick left with them.) The rest of us will have one more meal together tonight at a Mexican restaurant, and then everyone will go home tomorrow. Except us. We’re heading further out west.


And that’s where I’ll pick up this blog again.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,
Linda