Our February and Early March '07 Wanderings



How to save on Gas Costs ... DRIVE HARVEY LESS


From Quartzsite AZ to Pilot Knob Campsite CA --- 8 miles west of Yuma AZ

1 hour and 59 minutes
From Pilot Knob to Gila Bend AZ
2 hours 4. minutes
From Gila Bend AZ to Casa Grande
1 hour 7 minutes
Jan 22nd to March 14th --- 51 days total
5 hours and 10 minutes



We were not too unhappy leaving Quartzsite! The weather had been up and down with everything from heavy rain and wind, to sun and heat. Along with this were the crowds .... As I get older, I much prefer ...





"Q" does have its pluses!!! Along with every RV "toy" and "can't get along without RV Gadget" know to man, there is the "Dolphin Club". This is one of the affiliate National RV Clubs with everyone who belongs, owning a National Product. This is our second "Q" Rally with this club and on arrival it is a little like coming home. We have met so many of the members here and at other National Rallys that we are already planning to return next year.

The drive to Pilot Knob is a real no brainer! You literally head south from "Q" and finally turn your steering wheel when you arrive in Yuma. The weather looked like it was going to finally begin to improve, and we figured that the 15 days here would be rest and recreation as we waited for the RV2WaySat Rally in Gila Bend. Much more on that later.

While in "Q" we had bought Harvey a "high voltage protection system" so that we would be protected if the park electric goes nuts and sends a huge spike down the line. We had had one occasion of this last year and lost several of our electrical appliances as a result. Now, when we plug into the Park system, we watch a little LED that shows us the Amps, Volts on both legs, and ensures that the pedestal is working OK. We also picked up a Tire Monitoring System that wirelessly reads the pressure in each of the 10 tires of Harvey and the Toad, and warns us if there are any changes. More about the latter gizmo in a second.

Pilot Knob was going to be where we checked out the power meter and install the Pressure Pro Tire monitoring system. As well, we expected to run into several of our RV friends so the entire 2 weeks should go pretty smoothly. Here we go again ... optimistic Paynters!!!! Slap down time you ask???? Well, not really!

The drive down, Monday January 22nd., took only just over an hour to do, but we had to stop to refuel before hitting Pilot Knob. We stopped in a Yuma Gas Station that is known for its low prices ( if that is not a complete oxymoron ... $2.45 per gallon for diesel I don't know what is) . This station we have used before as it separates the cars and RV's into two areas. This allows, usually, a very easy fueling process. Unfortunately this time, the diesel pump in the car section was out of order so all pickups/cars requiring diesel had to use the RV Island. It was a complete shambles. We pulled off the road and lined up -- of course there was a lineup -- in such a way that the pump would be on our right side as that is the filler location. I was waiting, not so patiently, as the truck in front of me completed his fill up when I noticed another truck come in to the back way behind the person still filling. This meant that the driver either could not see Harvey and Toad which are currently partly blocking the entrance to the station ... or he really did not care!!! On top of this, the pumps were VERY slow and even filling the 20 gallon pickup truck was taking 25 minutes. We needed approximately 40 to 50 gallons.

What to do with the errant pickup driver? We had been waiting then over 20 minutes, and the current fellow was just finishing up his fill. No Bloody Way was I going to put up with being "pipped at the pump" so to speak. Out I jump from Harvey and head over to the waiting Jerk. Lo and behold, when I got to the driver's window, I see the driver is a late middle aged woman, and the truck was set up to pull a 5th wheel. She should have known better! I very politely ( I had not planned to be polite but seeing that it was a woman ....) mentioned to her that I was first here, and that when the truck currently filling left, I was going to pull forward and begin my fill. She gave me an extremely dirty look, paused for a few seconds, and proceeded to teach me a few new words that I have rarely heard outside of a Rugby Changing Room. At the end of her tirade, I "thanked" her and went back to Harvey wondering just what she would do. Although Harvey is much bigger and heavier than her truck, I did not fancy a serious pushing contest at the pump. Fortunately, saner heads prevailed, and within a few minutes, she cranked the steering wheel over and leaving several thousand miles of tire rubber marking her ire, she screamed off. Whew ... I thought for a moment there that I would have to send Elsie out to lay a whumping on her......


As I mentioned above, the pumps were working horribly slowly so it did take me almost 1/2 hour to pump the needed diesel. Good thing she didn't wait eh?

After registering at the campsite and setting up, we had most of the afternoon to "play". But after dry camping in "Q", we had to do a serious hit on Albertsons to replenish the larders. Once that was accomplished, it was Happy Hour ... what's a guy going to do eh?

The next day, was time to install the Pressure Pro Tire Monitoring System. I had thought long and hard over the past two years about purchasing this system. It is neat technology but very expensive, so I had always walked away from buying it. While at the Dolphin Rally, I was talking to several members, one of whom had the system on his RV. I asked him why he purchased the system; his comment was, "the horse was already out of the barn so why not." Huh???? His story sure put the fear of "flats" securely in my head. He was roaring down the highway at 60 mph when he had a sudden blow out on one of his right rear tires. Unable to stop, as he was in the middle lane, it took some distance to pull over to the shoulder. By the time he facilitated that move, the tire had over heated, blown apart, and resulting flipping rubber tire parts had removed most of the fiberglass side wall, and destroyed the brakes on that wheel. He was very lucky not to have been seriously physically hurt, but the $2,500.00 repair bill sure took a whack out of his wallet. After the repairs were complete, he rushed straight out and bought the monitoring system. So, what to do??? Would this ever happen to us?? Hmmmm ...!

The way this thing works is that you replace the valve stem cover of each tire with a little round object just a little smaller than a golf ball. In that gizmo is a wireless transceiver that "talks" to a small panel you install on Harvey's dashboard. It constantly monitors each tire and if the pressure drops 12% of the initial pressure, the panel will beep at you. If it drops even more, it will scream at you. Also, before you leave each park, and as you drive down the road, with a press of a button, you can see the pressure in all 10 tires. But, as I said, it is expensive. Each of the little transceivers for each wheel are $50.00 and the control panel is $190.00. For a grand total of $690.00 for the system. You can see why I hesitated so long before buying it.

But, it was time to install it ... another no-brainer that even I can do! ...heh heh. Off I go to each wheel and screw the new gizmo in place. Elsie is in the driver's seat with the panel making sure each receiver will send a signal. After I put the first one on, Else yells out, "shouldn't this thing be doing somethin?"

I yelled back, "Sure, as I screw on each one, just look in the little LCD window and tell me what the pressure is." Now, Elsie's question surprised me as the unit is 12 volt and works out of a cigarette type socket. I knew that the socket was live as I have run other items from it. Also, she had the instruction booklet on her lap. What gives?????

I come back into Harvey and sure enough, there was no power, what-so-ever, to the unit. What.....???? Twenty minutes of futzing with the damn thing, and I'm pissed! Why did I not install it in "Q" where the guy who sold it to me had his booth? Why did I wait until we were 100 miles away to find out the thing did not work? But, I did have his phone number so I called him to apprise him of this problem. "Oh" says he, "yeah, recently, some of the connectors to the panel have been faulty. I have had to return them to the manufacturer. I must have forgotten to check the one you got."

"No problem", says he. Just run into the Yuma market where there is another dealer, buy a new connection from him, and I'll reimburse you, by mail, the $10.00". Oh Fine! It was 3:00 in the afternoon; the market is on the other side of town, and it was almost Happy Hour! Off I rush to the Yuma Market trying to get there before it closes at 4:30; find the stall, and buy the item. I just made it, gasp gasp!!!! After he was convinced that I did not expect him to stand behind the other dealer's parts, he agreed to sell me a new one. I did insist that he check it out before I bought it though. Returning home, I completed the install and everything worked. All 10 tires checked with the press of a button. Wow !!!!! However. it would be several weeks before we realized just how well this gadget does work ...... Stay tuned!!!

As you might remember, we were looking for a GPS that we could use in Harvey and the Toad as well. Up to this point, Elsie has been using Mickeysoft's Street and Trips which means she has to have the computer sitting on her lap as we drive. This is OK in Harvey, but in the Toad it is a tad cumbersome. One of those smaller units would just fit the bill. After exhaustive research, we find the perfect model, a Garmin 2720. Now to find where the best place to buy it. Camping World had the unit, and after seeing the price they wanted for it, I just gulped and thought that a little rethink on just what is required here was in order. After checking the web sites of all the biggies ... Best Buy, Computer World, etc, on an impulse, I checked with Amazon.com. There is was almost 50% of what Camping World was asking --- with free delivery. There was no problem having it delivered to Pilot Knob so it was ordered with a 5 day wait.

The next 5 days passed quickly with the arrival of several of our RVing friends. Judy and Al Carlo from Birch Bay Wa. had decided it was time to trade their Tropi-Cal in for something newer. Many hours of talking resulted, and Al even put in an offer on one Coach but the dealer was not hungry enough. Ray and Connie also arrived so Happy Hour took on new dimensions. We even ran into Ron and Diane Worth whom we had met two years ago. They were the people who talked us into going down to Kino Bay Mx in the first place. All in all it was a very pleasant time for us. Even the dogs were not responding to the frequent Helicopter flights over Harvey as the Homeland Security Boys swooped down on another group of illegal immigrants sneaking into the US. We were only about 4 miles from the border so there was quite a bit of activity.

Finally, UPS delivered the Garmin GPS. Time to Play!!! But first, we had to set the thing up! Neither of us are fond of reading instructions. You can imagine the resulting frustration levels we encountered.

With this thing, you enter where you want to go, click on find it, and a voice will tell you ... "turn left in one mile, turn left in 500 feet, turn left now, etc. We figured that with the complex highway systems here, warning like this could be invaluable. So, we plugged the gizmo into the 110 volt socket, and tried it out. Nothing! No voice! Zippo!!! After an hour of futzing, we thought maybe we should read the instructions. Out they came, and proved to be so skimpy that they were of no use at all. What to do? As we were fruitlessly searching the Garmin Web site, we remembered that Bruce and Geri "the old timers" had one of these so we emailed them. Several emails and even a phone call ensued, before we realized that the speaker for the unit is not in the unit itself, but rather in the 12 volt connector for the cigarette lighter. We had plugged it into the 110 volt system. Duh!!! We had not even unpacked the damn 12 volt thing ... how were we to know? Our rationalizations continued apace ... Just how the two of us survive in this technological world amazes me sometimes!

Anyway, now that the thing is working, time to test it in the desert. In a previous epistle several years ago, we mentioned the fact that General Patton had used the desert opposite Pilot Knob for training the American tank battalions just before the American involvement in Africa during WW2. The area is huge, ranging from the AZ/CA border north to Utah. The tanks are long gone with little left to show of their presence, but now another mechanical monster inhabits the area ... dry camping RV'ers. The Garmin showed lots of little roads leading to who knows where. Well, we have a sort of 4 wheel drive (the Honda CRV), so off we go towards the general direction of Gold Rock RV Park in the middle of absolutely "no bloody where". I'll show the area we got into in the pictures page, but it is worthwhile mentioning a conversation we had with a "local".

It has always puzzled us ... just what the hell do people do, dry camping in the middle of the desert? Are they rock hounds? Are they prospectors? Are they basically "anti social"? Are they hiding for some reason? Well, we had to find out!!!

As we were roaring, off road, through the sand, we saw three rigs parked together with people sitting outside in the sun. Never being one to be shy, I thought that this was our chance. So, we stopped, got out of the Toad and walked across to them to ask for their "raison d'etre". Now to put this into perspective, these guys are miles from a paved road, and 6 miles from the RV Park at Gold Rock, but hey appeared friendly as we approached ....

After I introduced ourselves, I asked them, nicely, just what was the fascination for them in the middle of "no where". They all chuckled, and explained that 10 years ago, they had met while they were volunteering at the Oregon Pipe Cactus National Park. Since then, they have met every year for a month here. Two of the rigs only stay one month while the other one stays there for 6 months. The total peace of the area, the lack of other RV'ers, the sky at night, all contribute to the reason they stay. After more intense grilling, it turns out that they stay there for free, and once a week they drive the rig into Gold Rock RV Park to empty the tanks and fill the fresh water. All of this costs $7.00. Every two weeks they jump into the toad and head into Yuma to fill their larders and replenish their booze supply. Well, 6 months is 25 weeks and at $7.00 per week, it costs the one couple the grand total of $175.00 rent. I rather think that the costs of the booze supply is probably the largest dint in their pocket book....

Sorta supports the validity of the old definition of an RV'er ... someone who spends $500,000.00 on a rig so they can spend their time looking for cheap places to live!!! Go figure!

Our 15 days finally came to an end in Pilot Knob, and it was time to head to Gila Bend for the RV2WaySat Rally. Never heard of the big city of Gila Bend? Don't worry, most haven't! There is not a lot there but Augies Quail Trail RV Park. It has the largest parking sites for RV's that I have ever seen, and when you go into town, it has lots of gas stations, and even a Wendys! What more can a man want?

This Rally is totally concerned with internet satellite communications that RV'ers use. There are two types of satellite connections; one is separate from the RV on a tripod that must be manually set up each time, and the other is on the roof of the RV and is set up automatically. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but I guess I don't have to tell you which one we have. Spend 1/2 hour futzing with the tripod each time you get to a park, or push a button and wait 3 minutes ... hmmm no brainer ... right?

Much of the Rally dealt with Tripoders, but there certainly was a lot for me to learn. You all know that I am a real "technophobe" and stuff like this comes hard to my tiny brain. By the end of the Rally I felt like the Gary Larson cartoon of the little kid in classroom with his hand up asking the teacher " Can I go home now? My brain is full!"

Not only did you have to know about volts, amps ohms etc. but also crosspolls, latencies, routers, WPA/WEP, firewalls, offset adapters, frange utilities ...the list was endless. Many of the hours I spent in the seminars might have well have been in a different language for all I knew! But, I struggled through and came out a winner ... of sorts. I certainly learned a lot, but to Elsie's joy, we won the "50 50" draw to the tune of $83.00 (in real money not that Canadian stuff), and in the last night draw, we won an LCD lamp, and The Claw!!! The Claw was worth over $50.00 so we did well at this rally. Yeah yeah, I know ... what the hell is the Claw? Well, it came from the aircraft industry. It is a contraption that they used to tie down aircraft wings in a wind storm. What value is it to us, you ask? Well, if you have a tripod, you don't have to worry about using sand or water as a ballast to hold it upright in the wind. And ... I do have a tripod. If we park in a site that the trees do not let us "see" the TV satellite because our dish is on the roof of the coach, I simply run a cable out to a clear area, set up a little tripod, and Voila ... TV reception. We certainly did well in the prizes department....

To see the Itinerary for this Rally, click here for the Word Document.... What fun ... eh?

Now came the decision time ... just where do we go for 4 weeks until we have to head home for the Tax Man. Our choices were, Texas, Mexico, or stay in the Arizona area. The weather in Texas was not encouraging. In fact, it was damn cold there. The cost of vehicle insurance in Mexico was expensive for only 4 weeks. The weather in Arizona was improving, and for the same cost as buying insurance for Mexico, we could stay in the very upscale Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort in Casa Grande for a month. We got lazy. Save the fuel costs, insurance costs, and stay in luxury!!! What can I say? Palm Creek here we come! http://www.palmcreekgolf.com/




This is a Google of the area. From North to south is about 1 mile and from east to west is about 1/2 mile. It houses 1916 sites for either Park Models or RV's. It is HUGE!! The dark area is an 18 hole golf course.The green arrow indicates where we are parked. Just north of us are more rigs with the streets not named yet.When we arrived, the place was FULL. All this from the Satellite .... Big Brother is indeed watching us!






We finally have made the last plans for this winter ... 4 weeks at Palm Creek (Feb 14 to Mar 14th), one week at Salome AZ and one week at Pahrump NV and then home to taxes April 3rd!!!

The next epistle will deal with our time in Palm Creek luxury ... now if I only golfed ...


The 4 of us are doing well! Lord Stanley is tolerating his brother. Lord Thurston is showing rare glimpses of normality, and we are enjoying the sun.

Till next time!


Joe. Elsie and the Boys.

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