Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lake Havasu For The Winter Blast

Our campsite on a ridge above Lake Havasu
Sunday: (02/13) We were up late watching old Hunter TV episodes so that reflected into getting up later this morning. Lou thought it was the 14th so it was Valentine's Day. She gave me a card and I gave her some candy and then we eventually realized it was the 13th not the 14th so we'll have to do it all again tomorrow. Lou fixed corned beef hash and eggs for breakfast. We prepared to leave and head up to Lake Havasu. I had to glue a growing crack before we headed out and that needed to dry in the sun some before we moved. We also had to visit the dump and the General Store for some of their sausage before we left. Finally we hit the road a little after noon. We settled in at the BLM area at mm174 a couple miles South of the city and the same for the distance from the Winter Blast fireworks site. We got an excellent site high on the ridge so we should get a good view again this year. After we were settled in we drove downtown to the Winter Blast Street Faire. We had just enough time to make a quick walk through all the booths. Sine they have a Golden Corral buffet, we just had to stop there for dinner. We were home before dark and enjoyed a nice sunset over the mountains.

Monday: (02/14) Leftover corned beef hash for breakfast. We only had one egg so Lou had an egg and I had an English muffin. We went out geocaching after breakfast. There are two out the 4x4 road behind where we're staying. We drove out close and found the two caches quickly. Then we took a little tour further out the road then headed back on another road (wash) that eventually made it back to the highway. We then went on in to town and scheduled an oil change for the Jeep, did some looking around including discovering that most of the thrift shops are closed on Monday. Lou will return tomorrow to handle that task. We had lunch at the Golden Corral again. There is an advantage to being a senior there so it's cheaper than eating anywhere else and much better. After getting the oil change done I topped off the gas while Lou got milk and eggs and some vegetables then we headed back to camp. When we got back our little campground was much bigger. Per the host, about 10 units came in this afternoon. Fortunately, none took up occupancy by us, an advantage of a scary road and steep access. When we came outside after lunch, the sky was mostly cloudy and it looked like it might even rain. Before we left the market the sky was mostly clear and entirely clear before dark. Unfortunately, there was no wind tonight. Unfortunate because there were then mosquitoes. The wind keeps them away, the only advantage.

Tuesday: (02/15) Toasted English muffins with peanut butter and blackberry preserves for breakfast. On our morning walk around camp we introduced ourselves to some of our neighbors and their dogs. Lou was off this morning on her thrift store rounds. I remained at camp tinkering on the computer. A nice mostly sunny day, just a thin layer of occasional clouds. I had a ham sandwich for lunch.

Brunch With The SKP Boomers At The Steps Near Lake Havasu Brunch With The SKP Boomers At The Steps Near Lake Havasu
When Lou got home it was about time to go to happy hour with the SKP Boomers at a location known as The Steps, at MM165 about 10 miles South our location. Happy Hour is an SKP tradition that at 4pm all nearby SKPers meet for a chat and possibly a drink. Happy hour lasted two hours. Interesting folks. Lou fixed a smoked pork chop, macaroni and cheese and spinach for dinner.

Wednesday: (02/16) Brunch was with the SKP Boomers at  The Steps. Lou fixed a nice blue cheese potato salad. Lou got a knitting lesson from on of the Boomers. After brunch we went downtown again looking for a few things at Kmart and Wallmart. Lou broke one of our chairs so we picked up a couple of small chairs to keep in the jeep for use at happy hours and the like. We learned about the Food City Market and had to look around. It has MUCH lower prices than Wallmart or Safeway. Dinner was a lima bean soup that Lou started this morning in our slow cooker.

Thursday:(02/17) Lou baked some biscuits and made some gravy for breakfast. We headed into town and did our laundry after breakfast.

On Ferry Headed To Lake Havasu Landing Casino Lake Havasu's London Bridge
Our next destination was to visit the London Bridge where we caught the ferry over to the Havasu Landing Casino on the California side of the lake. We had lunch there. I had an Indian fry bread taco and Lou had a Chef's salad, all good. We looked around the area and casino. Lou lost her $2 and we went out and found a nearby geocache then caught the ferry back to the Arizona side.

RC Race Truck In Flight At Lake Havasu Park RC Race Truck In Flight At Lake Havasu Park
We walked around near the bridge and happened upon an RC car race track for little bitty desert racers. They were fun to watch. We then headed toward home and had dinner. Lou fried some fish and made some broccoli slaw and some rice. We then put away all our clean clothes and made the bed before the fireworks started. They actually start at 5pm but it's not dark until 7pm. The early stuff is low to the ground and is mostly training stuff. When it's closer to dark the big stuff starts. We have good weather tonight only a few high clouds and no wind.

Friday: (02/18) Corned beef hash and eggs for breakfast. Lou and I were off for a day at the Bill Williams National Wildlife Preserve about 15 miles South of our camp. We drove out the Planet Ranch Road into the preserve. This road supposedly goes on through to the Swansea Ghost Town but about 3.5 miles in the road is closed today. Good thing anyway because we probably wouldn't have gone further because it requires driving through the river and its 1.5-2 feet deep now. I did expect to be able to drive about 10 miles before having to turn back. The road may also have been closed due to some power line construction along the road.

Lou on road through forest at Bill Williams NWR Forest in Bill Williams NWR Near Parker Az
We hiked a few miles back and waded upstream through a gorge and also hiked through the cottonwood forest along the river. Not much wildlife to be seen but a nice hike.

Bill Williams River and Planet Ranch Road Don Wading in Bill Williams River on trail
The rocks were a bit much for us tenderfoots who came unprepared though. Next time we'll bring our wading shoes. On the trail we snacked on dried corn and peas and granola bars. After our hike we stopped at the Visitor Center by the lake and had a late lunch salad of red and green peppers with onions and hotdogs while watching the lake and lower refuge. We returned to camp in time to cleanup and be ready for another night of fireworks. Tonight was one of the nights that has regular public shows rather than just test and training firings. There was one really good group of fireworks and then just scattered firings from 5pm until 1030pm. The show didn't seem anywhere near as big as last year when the intense show lasted for over an hour. Hopefully tomorrows show will last longer but likely not due to the rain. For dinner we had a little macaroni and cheese and other nibbles. Toward the end of the evening it started to sprinkle and after the fireworks stopped it started heavier rain and rained all night.

Saturday: (02/19) We woke to still heavy rain. Actually more steady rain, green on the weather maps but it's been raining steady since last night at 10pm. Puddles are forming and the wash has some water in it now. Fortunately we don't have to cross the wash to get out. The rain eased up then disappeared afternoon and the wind dried things out by 3pm all was as it was except less dust in the air. We ventured downtown for a stretch. We walked the island side of the channel near the London Bridge then stopped at the market for milk and returned home. The evening fireworks were better than last night with several flurries of blasts. Breakfast was biscuits and gravy. Chicken pot pie for lunch. Leftover beans soup, beets, and cherry pie.

Here's a video I shot of one of the best volleys of fireworks. It was shot from 2 miles away where we were camped and watched the show. I used my cell phone handheld to shoot it. It didn't turn out too bad.

Sunday: (02/20) Sweet tomales and sausage for Lou and sausage and cereal for my breakfast. While the sky was clear for last nights blast, the clouds are back this morning. Hopefully they go away so we get some sun for the solar panels today. About 11:00 we headed downtown to the flea market  at London Bridge Plaza. With that examined we stopped for lunch nearby at the China Buffet. It was an excellent Chinese buffet. Then we toured the city looking at houses. We joined the SKP Boomers out at The Steps at Highway 96 and MM165 for happy hour then returned home to watch the fireworks again. The overcast skies turned to partly sunny and the wind died down so the afternoon was quite nice. This evening it is mostly clear again and the show was another good one. There were several experimental things tonight not seen before. There was also one flurry for 15-20 minutes. And this wasn't even a public show night. For dinner we had portobello mushrooms stuffed with jalapeno cheese and tuna served with a slice of apple pie for desert.

(02/21) Pancakes and sausage for breakfast. I like mine with peanut butter and jam while Lou prefers maple syrup. We headed off to town for a quick look at the BLM office. However, we discovered that today was a holiday so they were closed. Hard to recognize those holidays from the ordinary days. So plan B. I need to get the RV smog check done and that has to be done in California. There are not many smog check stations out in this corner of the state. Blythe has two, one can't do a large vehicle like the motorhiome and the other one charged way too much and isn't a Gold Shield station so if it failed we would need another test that would cost the same. We can wait another month and a half and maybe will be near a better place. Strike two on today's tasks. Since we wont be headed to Blythe today, there's no hurry to leave so we headed North of town to Craggy Wash, another 14 day BLM camping area. First we stopped for gas near Walmart. Lou spotted a used Sea breeze at the Toyota dealer so we stopped in for a look. They couldn't find the keys for it but we looked at a couple of other nice motorhomes, then departed. We continued on to Craggy Wash. We wanted to see what it looked like as a place to camp for future visits. It looks pretty good, better than our MM174 site on the hill or The Steps at MM165. There are even trees there. We do like trees. We headed on out to the back end then explored some Jeep trails. Actually several turned out to be ATV trails and got too narrow for us. We came back to Highway 95 via different trails North of Craggy Wash. Some interesting steep hills, tight turns in narrow washes and a few dead end paths but we made it out. We called the Toyota dealer to see if they found the keys to the Sea breeze and they had so we stopped for a look. Not a good floor plan by in excellent condition otherwise. We then stopped for lunch at the Golden Corral. Costs less than a McDonald's stop and much better food. We returned to our camp about 3pm to find 2/3 of the other RVers gone. Just before dark I invited Lou out for another jeep excursion behind our camp. She wanted to visit the camping area further back to see who was there and I wanted some fun. The road was uneventful most of the way but as it came back close to the highway it had to go down a very steep hill and make a sharp left turn into a very rocky wash then back up to the highway. Lou thought is was thrilling as we slid down the hill into the wash wondering if the rescue party would ever find us in that hole. I did get to finally try out the Jeep's low range gears. Dinner, who needs dinner? We had a piece of apple pie for dinner.

Tuesday: (02/22) Leftovers for breakfast. Lou had the last of the homemade sweet tomales while I had pancakes and sausage. We went down to the BLM office to collect some information and get some questions answered. I found out we possibly were scofflaws yesterday when we took our little excursion out at Craggy Wash. The BLM guy mentioned the off road trails behind Craggy Wash are closed from January to June so the big horn sheep can do their thing. There were no signs and we made it out without seeing anyone with a badge so all turned out OK. Good thing public servants don't serve on holidays. We also had to make another stop at a couple of thrift stores Lou wanted to make sure they didn't have something new. She did find a couple of nice belts and a Pendalton shirt at one and I found a nice wedge pillow and a whisk broom at another. We discovered the jeep didn't have a broom yesterday. And, of course there was a stop at Basha's Market for a couple of things. With all those vital tasks accomplished, we returned to camp and pulled out just after noon. Destination back to the Yuma area at imperial Dam LTVA.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Quartzsite Without The Crowds

Our new Quartzsite Campsite
Wednesday: (02/09) We came back down to Quartzsite this morning. Our permit is still good so we'll take advantage of the services (dump, water, and garbage) when we can. We'll be heading up to Lake Havasu in a week or so for the Winter Blast fireworks shows. The weather is nice. We found a spot near where we were with some trees so it's more like camping. While we're here we'll do some geocaching and jeep roads nearby. Ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch. For dinner we went to the QIA where i enjoyed pancakes, sausage, and hash browned potatoes with gravy. Lou had corned beef and cabbage with jello.

: (02/10) I had oatmeal while Lou had leftover corned beef and cabbage. We drove down to Andrade, Ca and then visited Algodones Mexico. Lou's had a cold for about 10 days so she picked up some antibiotics. We had our usual lunch of shrimp tacos and a vanilla milkshake. Even though our agenda was finished in less than an hour we still got to enjoy the usual 40 minute wait in line to get back to these United States. We picked up a few necessities at Joann's (thread), the Yuma Park and Shop flea market (a hitch receiver riser), Harbor Freight Tools (a tow strap) and gas. We were on our way by 2pm back toward Quartzsite. Dinner was chicken with rice and some avocado for me and chicken soup and some avocado for Lou. One problem of such small quarters is that there is no way I'll escape getting Lou's cold, eventually. We had some very steady brisk winds while heading down, while there and on our return trip. Fortunately the wind died shortly after our return home.

Friday: (02/11) Oatmeal and bananas with honey for breakfast. Leftovers ham sandwich and an apple with peanut butter for me and Lou had a chef's salad for lunch.  For dinner we went out to the Grubstake for the fish and chips. We relaxed at home all day. I did go out and get bread and water at the market and made a stop at K&B tools for some wood to keep in the jeep for extraction needs. I also tried the hitch riser out but can't use it until I get another receiver pin and something to extend the safety cables. Always something that's forgotten. Lou's feeling much better today but we watched a lot of the TV series Rumpole Of The Bailey today.

Saturday: (02/12) I fixed pancakes and sausage for breakfast. We took a walk around the Tyson Wells vendors in the morning. Lunch was shrimp and onions at Rice Ranch. We relaxed at home most of the afternoon. We did drive out around Q mountain and locate some geocaches as it was getting dark. Dinner was chicken enchiladas, leftovers from the freezer.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Swansea Ghost Town

Swansea Ghost Town Smelter Ruins Swansea ghost Town Employee Housing
Monday: (02/07) Swansea Townsite is a ghost town located East of Parker about 27 miles. We drove out Shea Road from Parker then turned onto the Swansea Road which is a gravel road for 17 more miles to the old town. You can also get to it from Bouse. While we probably could have made it there and back in the old Volvo, having the Jeep took away all the worries. Possibly the worst spots in the road were a couple of ruts that crossed the road where the Parker 425 racers entered and exited the road. They drove on the road for a few miles in between and wore some good ruts all along that section as well. We looked around the old town and copper smelter buildings. We also took a Jeep road out toward the Bill Williams River but stopped a few miles out when it was getting late enough for we amateur off roaders to get on toward home. Of course it took half as long to get back as it did to get out. Some spots in the road looked challenging but the Jeep made all with ease. We can now say we drove part of the Parker 425 route. It was probably the easiest part but that doesn't count. We'll have to return with friends and do more of the roads there.

We enjoyed the Blue Water Casino buffet breakfast. Our lunch was ham sandwiches and chips at Swansea with a fellow from Alaska who was camping there. We took advantage of the opportunity to ask some questions about Alaska.

Dinner was BBQ ribs with a baked potato and carrot and raisin salad.

Tuesday: (02/08) I had oatmeal while Lou had more hot and sour soup for breakfast. Lou started the day with visits to all the local thrift stores in Parker. I went trough the mail. We had lunch at the casino buffet. Can't beat the price. I went out to locate some geo-caches in the afternoon. Some were in Earp, Ca, just across the river where Wyatt Earp spent his last years. BBQ ribs with cottage cheese and carrot and raisin salad for dinner. Quite windy all day.

Wednesday: (02/09) We had breakfast at the casino before heading toward Quartzsite.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Desert Bar Near Parker, Az

Sunday: (02/06) We had hot and sour chicken soup for breakfast. Lou made a bunch last night and it helps fight off colds, or at least helps.

Desert Bar At Parker Az Desert Bar At Parker Az
We visited the Desert Bar today. There is a rather thin church there. There is a front wall which is also the back wall and a steeple and that's it. We enjoyed a beer or two and a tri-tip sandwich. I've always heard that the only food there was dry hamburgers and hot dogs. Bun and meat only, no cheese or veggies. Not so. Those are there but there is also another food stand there now that serves nice sandwiches.

Desert Bar At Parker Az
A view of the desert bar from above.

Dinner was more pizza from the casino.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Parker 425 Desert Race

Thursday: (02/03) After leaving Plomosa road I headed up to Parker to do my laundry, buy groceries and to look at the Parker 425 racing machines.

Yesterday was ground hog Day. Any desert rat, where I was the past few days 10 miles North of Quartzsite, would have said it will be a late spring this year since the high the past two days was 38 degrees. However, just North in Parker Az, where I moved today it's a balmy 68 degrees. What a difference a day makes, or 25 miles?

First, I did some grocery shopping. I had intended to do my washing first but the laundromat we usually stop at in the Safeway shopping center was gone. After shopping I headed downtown to another laundromat. With clean clothes, I stopped and restocked the LPG tank and the fuel tank. Then I parked downtown and looked around at all the racers that will be in the race.

Parker 425 Race Vehicle Preview Parker 425 Race Vehicle Preview
There are many classes of vehicles in the Parker 425 race.

Parker 425 Race Vehicle Preview Parker 425 Race Vehicle Preview
Some look somewhat normal, some not.

Parker 425 Race Vehicle Preview Parker 425 Race Vehicle Preview
A good opportunity to look at the vehicles and talk with the drivers and crews.

Parker 425 Race Vehicle Preview Parker 425 Race Vehicle Preview
Red seems to be a popular color.

Parker 425 Race Vehicle Preview Parker 425 Race Vehicle Preview
There was only one bug in the race and it won it's class. Surprise. It did finish with no damage unlike most of the other vehicles. The older car on the right was there but not sure why. It certainly couldn't make it far on the course.

Parker 425 Race Vehicle Preview Parker 425 Race Vehicle Preview
Above are some Jeep Cherokee's something like our Grand Cherokee. They've done  few mods to theirs.

Indian Fry Bread Taco
Unfortunately my lunch, an Indian fry bread taco, looked too good so I had eaten much of it before I took this picture.

Parker 425 Race Vehicle Preview Parker 425 Race Vehicle Preview
There was a nice little street fair as well. The jeep club piles their jeeps on top of each other to put on a good display.

Interesting machines. Might be more capable in the desert than our Jeep?

Above is a video of the racers departing downtown.

Lou has started her return trip and is in Bakersfield for the night.

Blue Water Casino
I moved out to the Blue Water Casino where the race vehicles are spending the night. The vehicles will be staging in the parking lot here at the casino at 6:15am and leave here for the start line downtown at 7:00am for the race to start downtown at 7:15am. The finish line as at the casino 425 miles later. I guess I'll be a morning person Saturday. I understand that access out to the desert race course will be closed at 5am until the race is finished. That puts a crimp in my plan to see the start and finish and a lap of the race. May not get to see a lap.

I had the buffet dinner in the casino, joined the players club and won my dinner with their $10 Thursday old timers free play.

Parker 425 Race Vehicle Inspections Parker 425 Race Vehicle Inspections
Friday: (02/04) I fixed a ham Don McMuffin for breakfast. There was a lot of deep throated rumbling as some of the racers parked nearby started their engines and move out into the inspection line. The rumble is mightier than a big rig truck or Harley but fortunately doesn't really bother me or my sleep. I sauntered out and took some photos of the racers in line for their vehicle inspections. It was a long day for those at the end of the line. Started at 9am and was still going at 6pm. I also walked through the show and inspection area. Some people must have a lot of extra cash? These aren't your mother's VW dune buggy. I spoke to one of the mechanics and he said the trophy trucks get about 2 mpg. Finally a vehicle that makes our RV and Jeep look economical!

The race will be about 425 miles consisting of three laps of 140 miles with a few odd miles getting from downtown to the desert course after the start and back to the casino for the finish. The trucks carry about 75 gallons of gas which, I was told, barely makes a lap. I should say fuel. It probably isn't cheap regular gas. There are lots of racing fuel trucks around the lot here at the casino.

Parker 425 Race Vehicle Inspections Parker 425 Race Vehicle Inspections
They do all sorts of inspections, Features, safety equipment and they mark all the tires so they will know who littered if they find one left on the course.

Parker 425 Race Vehicle Mustang Look Inspections Blue Water Casino Sunset
I really liked the one on the left. it was the only one like that and looked a little like a mustang on steroids. A nice sunset that night.

Lunch was a slice of pizza at the casino.

Parker 425 Race Vehicle Preview
About 2pm I took a walk out to the other side of the Parker Airport. That's where the main pit area is and I was curious to know if there would be a good spot to see the the racers pass. Lots of fancy pit crew camps but it didn't look like it would be anything but dusty. Above is one of the big contingents chase fleet. No shortage of money by this group.

I ended up Southeast of the town when Lou called and said she had arrived so she picked me up. I showed her around the the car craft fair. Shock absorbers, helmets, fire suits on display. Pretty crafty. Dinner was baked potatoes, a green salad and chicken.

Saturday: (02/05) Up at 6am with the sounds of deep throated engines roaring. Not much interesting where they were collecting for the escort downtown so we headed downtown for the start of the race.

Parker 425 Race Start Line Parker 425 Race Start Line
Ready to start the race. They let one vehicle go about every minute.

Parker 425 Race Start Line Parker 425 Race Start Line
Kind of a noisy place with their engines revving. Lots of advertising everywhere.

Parker 425 Race Start Line
They closed down Highway 95 through town where the race started. a few blocks later they make this turn onto the actual race course.

After the last one, the only little VW bug, was off we drove out Shea Road to watch them pass.

Parker 425 Race Course Parker 425 Race Course
Our first stop gave you a nice close view but every passing racer raised such a cloud of dust that you couldn't see anything, even the departing racer. There were lots of people seeing the arrival of each racer and not the departure. We headed on out the road to an area on a bluff over a wash. Much nicer viewing. After a while we had seen enough so we headed back to the casino for the finish.
Out on Shae Road the race course parallels the road at several locations. Some were very dusty. The above right is at a location where you observe from a bluff. It's also in a rocky river wash so little dust.

Parker 425 Race Finish Line Parker 425 Race Finish Line
The finish line was up the beach a ways North of the casino. There was a real finish line where there were almost no spectators and a photo and interview area up by the casino where each racer was interviewed. At the real finish line there was a nice hill the racers had to climb (above left) as they started each successive lap.

Blue Water Casino Snack Bar
This is the casino snackbar where we get some wonderful pizza. We had chicken soup and pizza for dinner.

Parker 425 Race Finish Line Parker 425 Race Finish Line
I ventured back down to the finish line at 8pm and vehicles were still limping in. There were still an awful lot out trying to finish and an awful lot permanently out of the race waiting out there somewhere to be picked up. I was the only spectator down at the real finish line. Up at the interview area the only spectators were crew members and family of each racer, a small ever changing crowd.

Sometime about 8pm they stopped allowing racers to start another lap. You did have to come in before 1am or wouldn't be interviewed. It took nearly three hours for all the vehicles to be started since each one started a minute or so apart. Each racer was racing the clock so it was difficult to know who won just by when they crossed the finish line. There were also lots of classes of vehicles so they weren't racing all the other vehicles only those in their own class. All a little confusing for a normally non racing fans like ourselves.