February has been a superb month!!!!

To arrive in Casa Grande and meet with friends goes a long way to make up for the loneliness of Mercedes Texas. February marks the start of the 5th month of our '08 wanderings so The Oldtymers and Lou and Carole were sure the restorative we needed. Plus, like last year, the cold weather switch down here is thrown in mid December, and the warm weather switch in the end of the first week in February, so we can expect to be warm again. Yah Yah, I know ... how can we complain about cold weather after the winter you guys in the North have "enjoyed" this year. Well, after temperatures in the 100's F (37 C), temperatures in the high 50's (14 C) are not much appreciated. When it goes below freezing at night, the whining and whinging really starts in earnest. So ... the thought of warmer climes and good friends promises to make February a GREAT month.

Actually, we really didn't "do" a lot. We did what we are good at ... eat, sleep and meet friends! It was good.

Believe it or not, we got rain!!! And, I don't mean the usual desert rain fall ... 3 drops and it is over. I mean RAIN, as we have in Vancouver. Sunday was wet from morning to night. There must have been an inch of rain fall much to the delight of the weather man on the local TV channel that night. He was positively gleeful; rubbing his hands together with delight. I couldn't help but contrast his attitude with Wayne Cox's sadness when he has to tell Vancouver TV watchers that rain is in the forecast .... again. But, the desert is the desert I guess! Anyway, we survived it by staying in Harvey and spending the day reading. It was a good change, I suppose ....

Monday, the weather had improved greatly, so we hopped into the Toad and dropped in on Lou and Carole. They have bought a really nice spot in an RV Park a couple of miles outside Casa Grande. The Park has lots of activities for the owners and is really well kept. In fact, Carole is happy as there is a "Red Hat Society" formed there and just as soon as she can motivate them a bit more, she will be really busy. For Lou, as the Park is outside of Casa Grande city limits, the park has bought their own fire engine and set up a volunteer fire department. And as Lou is a retired Fireman ... or is it Fireperson or Firefighter??? ... anyway, he is in 7th heaven as long as he can persuade the others that he is retired and doesn't want to run the thing!!!!

They have the best of all worlds; they have a beautiful house and swimming pool in Osoyoos, and a really neat new trailer to haul south to their spot for the winter. Talk about "endless summer" .... Lou has always loved driving trucks so in order to pull the new trailer, he went hog wild and bought a new GMC one ton diesel dully 4x4 that could easily pull one of the huge 5th wheel trailers we see around here. He mentioned that when coming south, he had to look in the rear view mirror to make sure the trailer is still there. It is the perfect tow vehicle for any size rig!!!

We had a tour of their new trailer and boy have those things come a long way. They have a queen sized bed, all the modern conveniences ... micro wave/convection oven, large flat screen TV, surround sound stereo, super comfortable chairs and sofas, huge fridge ... the list goes on and on. Add all this to their outdoor patio and you have a place where you can easily spend a lot of time and yet still able to pull up and move to another spot if you want. Even the dogs, Mr. Bain and Belle are obviously comfortable... room for four and more!

One of the big commercial deals around here are gourds. Yeah, I know what can you do with a dried gourd that can make money, but believe me they can make a bucket. Elsie and Geri - Oldtymers - went to the gourd festival and lined up with the hundreds to see just what they can do. I stayed home ... anyone surprised???? To see what they can do with these things, have a look at the pictures on the link at the bottom of this page.

Did anyone not like the Superbowl this year? Not only was it a fantastic game, but we also got to watch the American ads. In too many previous "Stupidbowls", the ads have been more exciting than the game, but not this time.... This year, I thought it was as good a game as the Grey Cup always is. Unfortunately, the game was on just as it was getting cool here, so we had to watch it inside Harvey and not use the outside TV. Someday, I'm going to use that damn thing to watch a game!!!!

The rest of the two weeks went by quickly. Great lunch out with Lou and Carole and with The Oldtymers. Dinner at the Oldtymers was really noteworthy. Geri prepared one of Bruce's favourite meals in the slow cooker ... "Country Scalloped Potatoes and Ham". Talk about a stick-to-the-ribs comfort meal. WOW. There was even leftovers that Geri "forced" us to take home with us. The next day at lunch Elsie and I had to flip a coin to see who would be the lucky person ... no ...sharing was not an option! If you want the recipe for a great meal click here...

The weather forecast was for more great weather in Casa Grande and even warmer weather in Yuma, so after a great two weeks, we headed off to probably the official center for "Snowbirders": Yuma. In the past we have stayed out at Pilot Knob, one of the Western Horizon Chain, which is located about 5 miles west of Yuma. This year, due to the fact that Bob and Judy Davies are staying in a Private Park on the south side of town, we decided to join them there for the two week stay. They have always said that the Del Pueblo RV Park was the nicest one they have ever found, so we were off to see what all the praise was about. Being on the south side of town, we still could get into downtown Yuma using the back roads, and therefore stay away from the dreaded 32nd avenue and 4th street with all the insane traffic.  We came away from this trip with a much improved opinion of Yuma.

Also, in Yuma at this time, were other friends we have made while traveling; Bob and Sue Sewell and Glenn and Sheila Simpson. It will be a busy and very enjoyable two weeks.

The Park is a beautiful place:  Bob and Judy were certainly correct.  It is a "destination" type resort ... one that is set up for people to stay for the winter with all the requisite facilities and activities.  This Park though, is one of the younger parks in that the residents are more in their 50's and early 60's.  This contrasts with the Park we were in in Mercedes Texas where some of the residents are certainly in their late 70's and even 80's.  The upshot of this is that Del Pueblo is a very lively, energetic place with lots of activities laid on by the residents themselves.  The owners themselves live on site and are actively encouraging people to get involved. 

Saturday, the 2nd night we were there, was the Valentines Dance. They use the Dance to raise money for various charities ... last year the money went to Breast Cancer research, and this year it was pledged to Prostate research. In the Park is a very active group of ladies who love to sew and design costumes. The deal is that about 30 guys were persuaded to dress up in a costume of their own design which was then made by the sewing club. On the Dance night, they were presented to the crowd, one at a time, to music of their choice. They circled through the dance floor making a complete fool of themselves, and ended up on the stage where the auction for their costume took place. For those of you who know Bob, you know he was into this in a big way. He danced into the Hall, grabbed Judy and several others and formed a Congo line back to the stage. The audience was howling with laughter and his costume was sold for $150.00 to a very appreciative observer .... right Judy?

At the end of all the presentations, a total of all the bids was made ..... can you believe it .... $6,400.00 was raised from the crowd, and the Park owners announced that they would match that sum .... $12,800.00 to Prostate Research and a hell of a lot of fun for all attendees. This is a rare Park indeed. I've got to say Bob, you were right! This is a fantastic place to spend the winter!!!

The two weeks went soaring by with catching up with Glenn and Sheila Simpson over a great lunch; fantastic lunches and dinners with Bob and Judy; and a lunch and great dinner with Bob and Sue Sewell.  I should mention a couple of things here.  Firstly, Glenn and Sheila run "Dish on a Stick" and have a booth in the Arizona Market Place.  The "Dish" of course allows a reliable connection to the Internet from anywhere you can get a view of the sky towards Texas. Unlike the one we have permanently affixed to our roof, this dish sits on a tripod that can be easily moved to ensure a clear signal. If anyone is interested in this kind of setup, I highly recommend these two. Glenn is a true "Techie propeller head" who can still quote Shakespeare, argue cogently about politics using historical precedence and still have a really different sense of humour. Conversations with him can start anywhere, go anywhere, but always end up with a deep chuckle. To see their home page ... http://www.dish-on-a-stick.com/

Bob and Sue Sewell, we first met with the second Pacnat Rally we had in Pasco Washington in 2005. Our paths only crossed once since then in Quartzsite, but we remained in close touch on the National RV Page on the Internet. This year we finally got to spend some time with them and enjoyed a great steak dinner at their RV. Now, I have to say that although they do have a National Tradewinds, it would be fairer to describe this vehicle as a "SEWELL" rather than a Tradewinds. Bob and Sue have made so many changes, improvements, to it that really is "Sewell's Creation". More plans for the future include new paint, decals etc and the list goes on. They are part of the growing "talented" group of RVers who have decided rather than spend umpteen thousands on a new RV, a renovation of the existing machine would give them a design that is tailored for them, and they would still end up with a "new coach".

I've got to mention one rather hokey thing. After a great Sunday Brunch, Bob and Judy and Elsie and I made a trip to the Pilot Knob area just west of Yuma. As I have mentioned in other epistles from previous years, this is the area that General Patton used to train his tank crews prior to sending them overseas. Today, there has grown a little town of Felicity CA.: population 12. It is more of a Monument than a thriving town. The Mayor has built a very well maintained Korean War Memorial. Somehow, he got the world to say that Felicity CA is "the center of the world". after paying 2.00 per person, you get a tour of the area and a chance to see a DVD that explains what he is doing. After that you go into the Pyramid Temple, stand on a spot on the floor, and have your picture taken as the guide welcomes you to the "Center of the World". He loudly announces the date and time for this memorable occasion and hands you an "Official, signed by the Mayor, Document" to prove it. Standing there, I felt a bit of a Boy Cub being presented to his Akela. Hokey, but still fun. There is, for some reason, a section of the metal stairs from the Eiffel Tower in Paris sticking up into the air on one side of the site. Apparently, when they decided to remodel the Tower, he bought a section of these steps and had them shipped to his site. Ironically, these were the selfsame steps that I climbed as a young traveler in Paris in 1969. Ahhh ... the memories they brought back ... mostly of me being too cheap to pay for the elevator ride, and if I wanted to see the top, I had to hoof three floors -- trois etages. But, what the hey .....

For an interesting read about this place click the link ... http://www.roadsideamerica.com/sights/sightstory.php?tip_AttrId=%3D2036

Throw in the obligatory rest and relaxation periods that are necessary, the reading breaks we love, the odd earthquake, and our two weeks came to what seemed to be a very quick ending. But, next week will be fascinating!!!

As you drive the Interstate Highways, have you ever wondered where all the million dollar rigs that pass by you in a roar, go to spend the winter? Well, we found where a lot of them go ... Outdoor Resorts Motorcoach Country Club in Indio California. One day, while surfing the net, I came across a web page for this group that included, to show off their park, a 5 night free coupon -- of course this is only for Class A Motor Homes. How could we resist? It was time for us to see just how the other half live!!!

Indio is one of the many suburbs of Palm Springs, and the Park is really located in La Quinta. But for some reason, they still use the Indio address. Maybe it is a classier address???? As Yuma is only a couple of hours away, we land at the park at 11:00 AM. Most parks use that time for the incoming coaches to arrive. We pull up to the Check In Building, we were not even at the manned sentry post that allows the anointed to pass into the sanctuary, only to be told that check in time was 1:00 and "no we could not leave our RV in their parking area". I asked what we should do and their answer was to drive around, and if we could find a spot to park, wait until 1:00. Now these women were not RVers. Just what do you do with 55 feet of RV and toad in the lunch time traffic of Palm Springs? I got Elsie out of the office just before she posed that very question, in a very forceful voice, to these mindless bureaucrats. She was ready to alter, radically, their body shapes!!!!

We drove around and found a Mall that was still being built so the parking lot was empty, and we could dock Harvey with no problems. There was even a Subway nearby so lunch was available. Two hours later, we return to sign in.

This time everything proceeded with no hitches. Elsie had cooled off enough, but to make sure, I stayed in Harvey and quivered. But, all was well, and we drove up to the Sentry Post where we were greeted by a very formally dressed guard. After looking sadly at our rig, he did allow us to proceed. I was reminded of the butler Jeeves in a British sitcom I saw a number of years ago.

Now, I freely admit to suffering from RV Envy; a disease that is only cured by the purchase of a 45 foot Prevost Chassis motor home. They do grab my attention every time I see one. Well, rather than going on and on here -- as is my wont, I will give you a few facts. From the gate to our spot, we counted 13 Prevosts, 5 Newells and a large lump of other 45 foot coaches. There are 400 spots in this site, and the average replacement cost for each of the RVs would range between $900,000 and 1.2 million dollars. You do the math ... around 400,000,000 dollars worth of coaches .... and Harvey.... sigh.

When we first got there, the spot beside us was empty, so I met the couple who were from Vancouver one site over. They had a 43 foot Monaco Signature (top of the line Monaco ~ $750,000.) But, they freely admitted to buying it, used 2001,and getting a really good deal on it. They were like us in that they were amazed at the coaches in this Park. The next day, I was sitting reading and gazing out over the grass sward to the canal watching the electric boats cruise by, when I heard the sound of air brakes being applied. Sure enough, there was an apparition behind us that took up all the road space behind our rig, the next door space and a bit of an other. Our neighbours from Texas had arrived.

They say in Texas everything is bigger, but this was unreal! The coach was a 45 foot brand new Liberty Elegant Lady ~ 1.5 million + ~ that was towing a 40 foot enclosed trailer. With the hitch, that would make the length well over 90 feet. I thought I heard Harvey groan a little...

Out of the trailer, pulled a brand new Mercedes 380 CLK convertible, then a brand new Harley Davidson Tricycle, and finally a golf cart. I had enough .... I went inside to try to console Harvey! It was a considerable struggle for me not to run through the Park screaming .... "OH YEAH .... WELL, OURS IS PAID FOR!!!"

Five days of this was all we could take, and we happily headed off to one of our favourite Western Horizon Parks only 30 miles down the road in Desert Hot Springs which is just across the I 10 from Palm Springs. Time for the wonders of the three natural hot tubs to prepare us for the run home. We leave here on the 13th and head north through the Siskiyou Summit into Oregon. We will spend a couple of resting days in Junction City and then head onto the Oregon coast for a beach walk or two at Cannon Beach. We return home on the 29th of March.

Since we left Casa Grande, the weather has been just as superb as the month has been ... highs sometimes into the mid 80's and lows at night sometimes into the high 40's. How does it get any better?????

This 6 months has gone quickly for us. We are not even home yet and Elsie is planning our next trip ... maybe away for a year??? Who knows .... but such is the live style of RVing!!!


Joe and Elsie

The Lords ... Stanley and Thurston.

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