Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Satellites and Pizza

I awoke early and tried to activate the Internet but couldn't connect. So I headed down to Tyson Wells and had breakfast at Gene's Smokehouse and then dropped by the Two Crazy Ladies to finalize an order for some name badges. I then went by Quartzsite Emporium to trade a couple of video tapes. I also dropped by the Post Office and mailed a letter. Wow, such imported matters.
i drove on down to the Main Event parking area and tried again to connect to the Internet. Still no luck. Evidently, there is a problem with one or more of the satellite transponders causing many people to change transponders which is tying up the Network Operations Center (or something like that).
I went on down to the Datastorm Users meeting where Scott (aka Dustyfoot) provided pizza for all. Thanks Scott. It was a nice meeting. I didn't have too much pizza. I've never found such HOT pizza before. My fingers said no more. I forgot my camera again. Pictures are available on wiser folks sites here and here.
I returned to the Crazy Ladies and got my name badges and then returned to the RV. I got connected to the Internet and checked mail and browsed for a while then went to Randy's Hamburger joint for some $1 hamburgers and onions. These are very good and I won't have another chance for such a cheap meal for a while.
I'm not going to leave this evening after all. I'll park in the free camp area and take off early tomorrow. While i have this connection, I'm going to use it!

Monday, January 30, 2006

More Seminars

I've attended a few seminars at Boomerville. Today there was one on use of the Direcway satellite Internet system and another on boon-docking (camping without hookups for free). Both were very interesting and informative.
There have been problems with the satellite so I wasn't able to get on line since yesterday morning except for about a 30 minute period this morning. Fortunately all is back in working order now.
I parked the solar panels and went downtown to get LPG. I've used quite a lot in the past 2 weeks. I also stopped by the two crazy ladies booth and ordered our SKP and Boomers badges. I then went by Randy's hamburger joint for a $1 burger for dinner. This is the same great burger with grilled onions that is sold for lunch with fries and a coke for $6. After 4 pm it's only $1 for the burger alone. With my Dr Pepper my bill was $2. Not bad.
I returned to the free camping just outside of town on E Dome Rock Road for the night. Tomorrow there is another Datastorm users group meeting and then I'll go to Blythe and then head north.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

NetZero VOIP Phone

I tried out the new NetZero phone service. I've been using Vonage in the RV and at home but sometimes it doesn't work too well in the RV due to the satellite uplink bandwidth. Has worked best at night, sometimes not too well during the day. NetZero has a satellite setting that seemed to work well for my test calls around noon today.
They have several account options from free (no incoming from real phones) to $14.95 per month (unlimited and includes a phone number so real phones can call). They allow for the first three months free and you can cancel anytime. I opted for the unlimited for 14.95 and got my phone number. Just like Vonage everything went well on setup and was working in a few minutes. Unlike Vonage, it's using my laptop for the calls but a USB adaptor is available that will allow use of regular phones. If it continues to work well, I'll order the adapter and set up the program in my NAP (Network Access Point) system. Here's hoping!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Boomers Camp

Today I moved out a little after 9am.
Quartzsite QIA Rock and Gem Show Quartzsite QIA Rock and Gem Show
Quartzsite QIA Rock and Gem Show Steve Cody
I went to see the QIA Rock and Gem show, another show that wasn't here a couple of days ago. Big show. I attended a lesson on how to cut and polish rocks, the easy way. Tempting to start a new hobby, but not right now. I walked by the market again for Milk and Orange Juice which I emptied last night. Each visit to the market I fill my backpack.
Quartzsite Boomerville Campsite Quartzsite Boomerville
Quartzsite Road To Boomerville
I then headed out to the free BLM area where the Escapees Boomers group is camped. These are a bunch (Birds OF A Feather in SKP terms) younger, possibly more active campers that get together to boon dock or dry camp at various locations. I'll probably be joining this group.
Right after I arrived, I attended a seminar about diesels. I don't have one and may not get one for a while, maybe longer after listening to the talk. It seems diesels are getting some air pollution controls applied to them, finally, and it may take the manufacturers a while to adjust their engineering. I hope this isn't another MTBE thing and the EPA has done their research first, this time.
Quartzsite Boomerville Show Quartzsite Boomerville Show
About 4pm I went down to attend the Jeroldine Awards meeting. It was unusual to say the least. Several Guys, dressed in drag competing in a beauty contest. Mind you most looked like Bluto, well kind of anyway. After that there was an initiation of new members. About 10 members did a skit something like 99 bottles of beer on the wall. I wasn't recognized as new, fortunately.
Dumb Cactus Smart Cactus
I noticed that some cactii are smarter than others. The one in the middle above left doesn't know which way to go?
Quartzsite Boomerville Sunset
We had a wonderful sunset. Just the right clouds to project onto.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Bike Ride

Today I rode the bike for the first time since I've been here, walking has just been easier. I rode North on Hwy 95 to the end of town then West to the end. I looked around on Moon Mountain Rd at some RV lots but none seem to be for sale. Headed then South back to Main Street. I then headed East on Main Street and stopped at the market and got some groceries, then continued East to the overpass then South to Rogers Ln, the back way in to my campsite. Long ride, but fun. I cooked a nice pork chop, Spanish rice and corn for dinner.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

New Campsite

Quartzsite Camp 2 Quartzsite Helicopter
My permit for the LTVA campsite in Quartzsite expired and I won't be here long enough to make it worth getting another two week permit, so I moved. My new campsite is on Kuehn St Southeast of town The Snowbirg Basecamp is a parking lot by the Incident Response Kitchen known as the Snowbird Cafe, a restaurant in a tent that is normally used to feed firemen at forest fires and other incidents.
This campground is actually just a dirt parking lot, not as nice as my previous camp but only $3 a day. One of my neighbors has a helicopter.
After I moved, I activated the new Link 10 meter. I then needed some materials to dress it up so I went on a walk. I stopped Randy's hamburger joint at the corner of Hwy 95 and Kuehn St. They make a nice burger with grilled onions, fries and a can of soda for $6.
I then continued over to Desert Gardens and looked at some vendors I haven't been to yet. I walked on West to the RV Specialties showroom, then to Kool Kovers factory showroom to see their tin buildings. I then made it to my destination at the Main Event where there is a dealer that has all sorts of electrical trimmings, connectors, fuse holders, shrink tube, cable tubing etc. I picked up what I needed and then went by another dealer to get a second RV mat to match the one Lou got earlier. We now have options for our outside mat.
After returning to the RV, I dressed up the wiring with the tubing I got and installed the new small inverter.
Dinner at the Snowbird Cafe of Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, nice mixed vegetables (peppers, squash, tomatoes, and carrots) and cake with drink for $12. A bit pricey but good.

Installed The Battery Monitor

RV Link 10 Meter Shunt Meter Panel
Electrical Compartment
I finally installed the Link 10 Meter. I got it last winter shortly after being in Quartzsite. After I installed the solar panels which I got at the same time, I didn't get around to installing the Link 10 battery monitor meter as I should have. It's great. Now I can see what's going on. Is the battery charging or discharging. How many ampere hours have I used etc. It can even be used to automatically start the generator but that, I didn't do, yet.
It was quite a task installing the shunt (top left picture) that is used to measure the current. It needed to be installed in the battery ground cable and that is behind the big inverter and at the back of the compartment. After a few hours work at arms length, and a few choice @%$# words everything was ready.
The meter was installed in the pantry area (top right picture) where the other electrical controls and the existing inverter control panel are. It doesn't look big, but it does a lot. The only adjustment that was needed was to set the battery capacity to match my system.
I dressed up the wiring with the tubing to make a neater appearance and to protect the wiring.
I also installed a new small inverter. I replaced the existing 400w inverter with a 700w inverter and installed a larger fuse to allow for more loading. Small is getting big. The small inverter powers up the Satellite system and the computers. It will also be used to power the bedroom TV. This inverter is always on and is used like a UPS system for the satellite system.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Quartzsite Day 13

One more day here in the LTVA, then I guess I'll move East of town and maybe drop by the Escapee Boomers Birds Of A Feather group campsite. Then?
RV Bathroom LED Lite
Today I went by the hardware store to get some small wood screws to finish installing the new LED light fixture in the bathroom. I installed it in the bathroom for a night light. It's made for boats as evidenced by the fact it has two operation modes, red or white lites. With the red lite on, I'll be ready to be able to see at night if I run aground.
I browsed around the RV's some more and dropped by the big top tent to get a couple of more LED flashlights.
I worked on the Map Project some more.. These maps use the Google Map Application Interface (API). It's now functional for all trip routes and campsites.
Here is the link.
There is more work needed but it's usable now.

Datastorm User Group BOGSAT

Quartzsite Datastormuser Quartzsite Datastormuser
Quartzsite Datastormuser Quartzsite Datastormuser
BOGSAT means "Bunch Of Guys Sitting Around Talking" (Thanks John Watson).
Today I cooked corned beef hash for breakfast. One of my favorite breakfasts. I tinkered around in the morning then went over to the BOGSAT about noon.
As it turns out it should be "standing around" not "sitting around". Don't know why but the guys stood around and the gals sat around. Gals are smarter!
It was a good turnout though a bit cool and windy. Nice get together and now there are some more faces to go with the names. Thanks Don and Joy Bradner and John and Jean Watson for having us all over.
I started looking into why the Map Project maps aren't showing the data points as they did. They haven't worked since I split the data up into individual trips and added more supplementary data. Something is wrong with my .xml data file that I just can't see yet. I'm persistent so it will be fixed some day.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Quartzsite, Day 11

Quartzsite Sunrise
Quartzsite Sunrise
Sunrises before and after the crowd arived.
Wow how time flies here. 11 days already. My 14 day permit here at La Posa LTVA expires Wednesday so I'll probably move somewhere else then? Lou will be returning here on Feb 6th.
Today, I was up early, for me. About 8:30 I wandered over to the flea markets. They were just beginning to open. Some new people since I last wandered.
Quartzsite Big Top Quartzsite RV Show
Quartzsite RV Show Quartzsite RV Show
I went through the RV show again looking at some places in more detail. I joined Escapees RV Club, finally. I also took a long walk along Main street. When I returned, I was tired. This getting up with the sun is tiring. I took an afternoon nap. Now I can stay up late, like I like, tinkering and browsing.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

New Link Additions

This blog is about the travels of our RV which at sometimes includes just Don, other times Lou and Don, and occasionally Dawn, Lou and Don. Each of these folks may have thoughts of their own. I added Don's Random Thoughts a while back to remove my non travel related thoughts from this travel blog. I just added two additional links for Lou''s Thoughts and Dawn's Thoughts. Now they aren't as interested in sitting at the keyboard as I am but hopefully, they will start sharing some of their thoughts with us all.
They are also available using their own domain names:
Don http://donwood.info
Lou http://loumanners.info
Dawn http://dawnwood.info
Hey!, they had a domain name sale for $2 for .info names.

Quartzsite, First Day Of RV Show

Quartzsite New_s Neighbors
New neighbors arrived. I'm located pretty far from most other RV's except one old Airstream trailer about 100 feet away. So, in comes a couple and asked to park between us, OK.
Oh, our kids are coming so there will be a couple more RV's joining us, really.
Well now there are four more? Mind you, we're a small island of now 6 RV's seperated by several hundred feet of possible sites to park but they park here? Oh well.
Today the RV show started. The cars were already parked clear down Hwy 95 by the LTVA camps when I made my way there at 9 am. Big crowd. But to but looking at the vendors. Mostly the same vendors but a few new things as well. I lasted until about 1 pm, then headed back to the RV for Lunch. I made my way past everything before leaving. Some will get more scrutiny on my next visit.
My web server was down for the last two days so I wasn't able to get email and update the blog since Wednesdays post. My host Registerfly is good, and cheap but a little slow sometimes. Since all my domains are served by the one server, everything went down at the same time. All is well now.
Also, I don't think I posted a notice that evidently the problems with the Motosat/Datastorm system connecting to the Internet disappeared after we left Nevada. Interesting? Area 51 must have been the cause?
Quartzsite Q Mountain Sunset
Sunset over Q mountain.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Visit to Blythe

Thursday: Since we were in Blythe, Ca to see the vet, Lou and Dawn departed from there to head home. I did some shopping at the hardware store. I want to rig up a better mount for the solar so that all panels can have the best exposure to the sun, what there is of it. I also did the laundry and some grocery shopping. I then returned to Quartzsite. I needed to dump. We've been out dry camped for a week with the three of us and the tanks were getting full. I stopped and took a shower before dumping. There was a bit of a line at the dump but not as bad as it will be after all these people that have just arrived have been here a couple of days. I returned to our campsite and the chairs defended the site form the invading forces thankfully. I cleaned up the RV and made the beds etc. There are now 2-3 times as many people here as were here when we arrived. The RV show does draw them in.
Quartzsite Solar Tilt
Friday: I tinkered with the solar panel mounts. I was thinking of some elaborate means of getting the rear panels higher to avoid a shadow due to the low winter sun. Well, It seems i don't need to. I was able to set the rear panel back on it's mount, not just tilted but relocated back and that seems to do the trick. 25 amps of charge at noon. Of course that only amounts to about 100-120 ampere hours of charge per day. I am a big consumer, so I use more then 200 ampere hours per day. So some generator is still needed.
I ventured over to Q Mountain estates to check on RV lots. $60-140K. Interesting but too expensive and restricted.
Quartzsite Big Rig
I looked at an RV. It's roomy. Maybe my next rig?

Goodbye Mr Milo

RV_Milo_as_Co-pilot Mr Milo's Turn as Co-pilot
Mr Milo On the Road Mr Milo Sleeping
Mr Milo at work Mr Milo On Lap
Wilton  MrMilo Wilton  MrMilo and His Bird
Thanksgiving Mr Milo Thanksgiving Mr Milo
Co-pilot Mr Milo Pilot Mr Milo
Goodbye Mr Milo. You are missed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Good Veterinarian

When you travel you can't go to your known veterinarian. The phone book doesn't really give reliable references. When MR Milo began having problems here in Quartzsite there was only one vet listed and because it was after hours, they referred us to a vet in Blythe. Circle H Veterinary Hospital, 13165 W Hobsonway, Blythe, Ca 760.922.3136. Our vet, Dr Thomas Jones, was new to the clinic but obviously very experienced. You have to worry when taking your feline to a horse doctor. Not too many vets in Palo Alto have corrals, but I don''t think we could have found more caring and competent folks. Rates were extremely reasonable. The total of the four visits, including the emergency visit was only about $205, less than a regular visit at home. Dr Jones had the best bedside manners we've seen. It is unfortunate that MR Milo didn't survive but that in no way is a reflection on the excellent service we got at Circle H. If we were to move nearby, we'd have a good vet.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pet Emergency

Tuesday: We left the RV around 11am today and scoured the flea markets some more. I returned about 4:30pm to find Mr Milo meowing and stuck on the side of the bed among the stuff. I lifted him onto the bed and noticed he didn't move his rear legs. I called Lou and she and Dawn returned. We thought he might be constipated, but he didn't seem to feel his rear legs. We called the emergency vet in quartzite and were referred to the vet if Blythe. We dashed him over and the vet assumes he may have had a blood clot (Saddle thrombosis). He gave him a shot to try to dissolve it and we'll return in the morning to see what the prognosis is. Lou and Dawn were going to leave Mr Milo and me here tomorrow morning and return to Palo Alto. Their departure is delayed until we know. It's going to be a long night.
Quartzsite Mr Milo Last Photo
Wednesday: We were at the vets door when they opened. Mr Milo had not improved so he received another shot. We stayed around home with "himself" hoping that he would get better. We returned to the vet in Blythe again at 5pm for another shot.
Thursday: Mr Milo got worst during the night, the rest of his body may be affected now. We had an appointment with the vet first thing again and due to Mr Milo's condition and lack of improvement we had him put to sleep. He'll be returned to his favorite place, our back yard, but now he can stay out all night and won't have to be on a leash. He was the best cat. Nice manners, good traveler, able to "talk" (make his needs known). Considering he broke both hip joints before he was a year old and made it to be more than ten years old, he ended up with a good life. We'll miss him a lot.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Windy Day In Quartzsite

We went to breakfast at Sweet Darlene's, a nice restaurant in a tin building. Many of these fine dining establishments bake their own pies, muffins, and Cinnamon rolls.
Quartzsite New RV
We looked at some of the newest RVs at La Mesa RV, one of the several RV dealers in town. This fine RV is fully self contained including it's own outhouse, a solar shower (garden can) and a wood burning stove. It probably gets better mileage than Most of the bigger rigs since the Model T engine is so efficient.
It's extremely breezy today, as it was yesterday evening and all night. i lowered the dish and put away the stuff that was outside so it wouldn't blow away. Seems like just yesterday we needed more wind. You just can't please us. I think if we tried to fly our kite in this breeze, we'd end up in Phoenix.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Quartzsite Flea Markets

Another day at the markets. We started at the Main Event, the vendors in Northwest Quartzsite. This is the better market. Right now there are an awful lot of rock vendors at all the other markets. The RV Show begins the 21st, next Saturday.
Lou and Dawn thoroughly examined the market while I casually looked and made my way back to the RV. Their last stop was to attend a flint knapping class, making arrowheads out of rocks. They learned a lot form Jerry Nine Fingers, the instructor. ??
One thing I looked at was a wind turbine generator. The idea has always impressed me. When the solar panels loose the sun because of clouds, there is often wind to come to the rescue. A 400 watt turbine should be capable of supplying as much energy as the solar panels do at a significantly lower cost, just $620, a little more than one solar panel. So it looks like something to do, right? Well, maybe not, the vendors ammeter only showed 2 amps during some very brisk gusts today when i looked at it, Should have been in the 15-20 amp area to be equivalent. So more looking is in order.
Quartzsite Solar Panels
Speaking of solar, I tilted up a couple of the panels and at noon I was getting 20 amps charge, 15-17 amps at 10am and 3pm. Not bad. Unfortunately, I can't tilt all the panels due to shadowing. I need to devise a way to elevate as well as tilt the rear panels. I'll start tinkering next week.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Quartzsite Day 2+3

Fleamarket looking. Had a nice breakfast at Gene's. It's as good as last time. I like the smoked pork which is kind of like bacon. Lou and Dawn are more dedicated. I came back to the RV to tinker, relax, put up barriers against ATV attacks, etc. They looked around till 4pm when the vendors start closing.
Quartzsite Kite Quartzsite Moon
We had a nice breeze in the aternoon and tried flying our kites. It was a little too intermittent to keep them up. Nice weather both days. The moon rises just before sunset and brightens the night.
Quartzsite Campsite Quartzsite Campsite
Quartzsite Campsite
Our campsite is quite nice.
Quartzsite Q Mountain
Q mountain near our camp makes a nice outline on the evening skyline.