Quartzsite, AZ, January, 2022

We have been hearing about the giant RV show and gathering of hundreds of thousands of RVs at the tiny town of Quartzsite Arizona on I10 just east of the California Border for many years. There are quite a few RV parks there for those spending the winter or for many who come with an off-road vehicle to drive in the open desert in the area. Getting one of the limited spaces to park your RV is limited to those who make reservations a long time in advance. The urban legend says that 750,000 of every type of RV show up and just park anywhere they want in the desert, mostly south of Quartzsite. It is true. RVs are parked for miles south of town. The count might not be RVs but campers (people).

RVs Everywhere
The Big Tent and surrounding Flea Market

The focus of this event is anything to do with RVs. The reality is that most of it is just like a giant flea market. Oh sure, there is a very big tent full of RV parts and accessories. And side tents ready to install almost anything you buy. But there were pots and pans for sale, socks and clothing, and lots more to everyone the barkers could get to stop for a second.

Outside the big tent for a few blocks in every direction, there were small shade canopies and bigger tents selling anything from nuts and bolts to shoes to hats to political trash. Susan bought a pair of Bamboo socks from guy from Minnesota. I bought a bag of red licorice from The Licorice Guy. It was really good, didn’t last long. And an eye bolt with a nut for 50¢. He didn’t have any washers. It is mostly the same sellers every year according to those who have been here before. There are some deals to be had but mostly not much different from what you could buy the stuff online. There was one company there that I knew, had 300 amp hr lithium batteries in an 8D size for $1600 each. $70 for shipping. Maybe that doesn’t mean much to someone not thinking about lithium batteries for their RV but it is a very good price for a quality battery. The problem is, that in Quartzsite the sales tax is 10.5% and the online price is $1699 with free shipping. So it was actually cheaper to buy them online, pay MN tax and ship them home and not have to haul them around.

So the big tent was interesting, the endless flea market junk was interesting, we were all done in under 3 hours. Lots of food vendors but we are nothing but an over-priced ice cream cone. There was a Chinese restaurant that was actually in a building that looked like it was there all the time. I was tempted.

We knew that Chris and Elka Lang and Lynn and Marilyn Sickle from Arkansas were there staying at the Quail Hollow RV Park. We went visiting, had supper with them and others they knew, and sat and visited for a while. I had sent Lynn some parts several years ago and they sent us 5 lbs of pecans from their farm. That is a lot of pecans. This time they gave us a big bag of rice also grown on their farm. Rice is their main crop. We have tried it, it is very good rice.

The Foretravel bunch circles the wagons about 8 miles south of town out in the desert like everyone else. Some spend the entire winter there, some a month or more, most a few days to a couple of weeks. This year there were over 40 Foretravels there at different times. We arrived at the end of the show and there were still about 25 Foretravels there.

Foretravels at Quartzsite

We were on the left in this photo taken by someone with a drone. I knew almost everyone there from the Foretravel Forum and met everyone that I did not. That does not mean I remember all their names.

Our friends from California, Richard and Betty, were in the middle of the circle and Chuck and Lynda were further down on the left. Hans and Marjet were there a couple down from us on the left and on the right Jeff and Sandy were at the end. Next to them were Tom and Marion who we met in South Dakota a few years ago. Chuck brought several boxes of grapefruit, a variety of oranges, and a few boxes of tangelos. Fresh fruit was great, Thanks, Chuck.

Hans and Marjet’s friends from LA arrived and parked near them. On most evenings there were as many as three propane gas fire pits going with people gathered around at our end of the Foretravels and a big wood burning fire at the other. The next day it was easy to figure who went where.

It was chilly, no one stayed out too late.

One day was Han’s Birthday. We made a carrot cake for all to share and in honor of Han’s entering into a senior level (mid-70s) of geezerdom we presented him with what all older folks need, a crumb-catching bib.

Marjet Feeds Hans His Birthday Cake

He liked it! He was a good sport. They are pretty nice, truth be told, Susan and I have them too. I used to have a “food shirt”, a t-shirt stained with the memories of meals gone by. This is easier when a messy meal is at hand.

So we went to Quartzsite, saw a bunch of folks we knew, made some new friends, and saw the big tent and the flea market. It was windy and dusty, cold at night, not particularly warm during the day. As far as Bucket List things it got a big ✔️ mark. It is quite likely we will not go again. But as always it was wonderful to see friends from all over.

More Later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

Justin’s Diamond J, Tucson, AZ, January 2022.

We arrived on January 1, 2022. Diamond J’s is a place we have been to three times before. When we made our reservations for Arizona, it was primarily to have a chance to see my cousin Sandy and her husband, Claus. Diamond J’s is a popular winter hang out for many Foretravelers. When we made reservations I knew of one couple, Jerry and Nona, who would be there when we were going to be there.

And then Jeff and Sandy from North Carolina and Hans and Marjet from South Carolina signed up. And we heard that Leslie and Rick from Washington were there but would be away when we got there.

And then my Sister and Brother in Law told us that they had made reservations at Diamond J’s which would overlap with ours. They are pretty new to the RV world, they bought a 2014 24 ft Leisure Travel Van with a small slide and a Murphy Bed a year ago. And when we arrived we were surprised to see Kent and Peggy from Oklahoma there in their Foretravel.

While we were there at least 8 Foretravels were at this park and 1 in the park next door.

Our site at Justin’s Dianmond J

Our neighbor to the passenger’s side of the coach was an interesting fellow. He and his wife were from Michigan and were towing a nice trailer with a pickup truck. Just a day or so after we got there he had traded his truck in on a much newer F150. No rust. A couple of years ago he was on the last chance list for a heart transplant. His had gotten so bad that he was on a mechanical heart pump powered by an external battery pack. And he had been using this artificial heart for a year and a half. And then they got the call, a heart was ready. He told me they had sort of gotten used to the artificial heart and the thought of the transplant surgery scared them a bit. But it was what they were waiting for. And now here they are enjoying a new chance at a longer life. It was an amazing story from some nice folks.

Our site was just a couple of sites away from Jeff and Sandy who were next to Hans and Marjet. We mostly hung out with this crew, not too far to walk. But we did walk, almost every day around the entire park, sometimes twice, and a tour of the neighboring park as well. On several days we rode our bikes around the park too. It was pretty easy to get in several miles.

We walked several times with Marjet and their two golden doodles, Jazzy and Storm and Sandy and Jeff and their golden retriever, Greta. Greta is getting along in dog years and gets lots of special attention.

Buddy and Greta.

I don’t have a picture of them walking with Greta but here are Greta and her son, Buddy, when they visited us in Hastings. Buddy passed away a while back so it is up to Greta to carry on.

Storm ready for a nap.

Storm is a bit bigger than Jazzy and is her son. He likes to nap.

Jazzy looking for a lap.

Jazzy is smaller and always looking for a lap. If it looks like a lap she hops right up. She is almost 30 pounds and has the lap sitting and just sort of collapsing into you thing down pat.

Storm, Jazzy, and Marjet

Almost every night there was a firepit going somewhere. In the firelight, Marjet got both Storm and Jazzy to climb aboard.

Sunsets at Diamond J’s can be pretty spectacular when the clouds are right.

As well as the full moon rising over the mountains to the east.

Susan, Judy, and Bruce

Judy and Bruce (sister and brother in law) came for dinner one evening. We brought walleye from home just for this dinner to share.

One afternoon Susan and I mixed up meatloaf and baked it on the grill. It works well doing it that way. We have done corn bread and pizzas too. Judy and Bruce came over to share the meatloaf dinner shortly after they arrived. And before we left we had a frozen lasagne that they bought somewhere. We went over to their Leisure Travel Van for dinner one day. We all fit in but it was tight quarters.

We also went with Judy and Bruce to a restaurant on the far side of Tucson, maybe 45 minutes away for a birthday dinner, mine. The dinner was very good. A person came to our table and made salsa from scratch. It had lots of flavor. Then she made us a batch of guacamole. Avocados, tomatoes, a bit of garlic, and juice from a lime. It had a very bright taste. Judy and I had a great green chili stew, Bruce had a boiling pot of molé and seafood. Susan had a chicken quesadilla. We all left full and with a takeaway box.

While we were at Diamond J’s, I helped Hans hook up a new DirecTV satellite dish that they bought while in Tucson. It didn’t work at first, I had a long coax cable that we used to connect directly from the dish to the TV. That worked. So then the issue had to be in their coach’s inside coax wiring. Hans checked it all out and figured it was one of the cable ends. He replaced it and then the new dish connected through his wiring worked.

Bruce and Judy had the same problem. We tried connecting their roof top dish to their box and then to the TV. The box to TV connection worked but not the dish to the box. I tried connecting the dish to the box directly with my long coax cable, it still didn’t work. There wasn’t anything else to try so I gave up after several hours of trying.

Their small, pedestal-mounted table was pretty wobbly. I added 4 more pop rivets to secure the plastic pedestal end to the aluminum post. It was much more secure than it was with just 2 rivets. I also added one wrap of clear packing tape around the top of the pedestal tube to make it fit tighter into the plastic part on the bottom of the table. When the changes were all done the table was much more stable.

The last time we were at Diamond J’s, Susan and I went to the Titan Missile Museum. None of the others we hung out with had been there so we made arrangements for 6 of us to go again. Susan and Judy went to the Sonoran Desert Museum and Marjet and Sandy were planning a shopping expedition. You can look back to our blogs from March of 2019 https://home2rv.com/2019/03/ for more on our first visit.

Hans at the ready.

The tour of the missile site included a stop in the launch control room. Hans (blue shirt) volunteered to be part of the launch crew. Hand on the key, 3, 2, 1, and turn. After 58 seconds of lights coming on, systems getting checked, and alarms going off, the missile was launched.

Lots of 1960s electronics.

But not really, just a simulation. It was an interesting visit, something most never see nor knew about back in the 1960s until the missiles were retired as part of an arms reduction treaty with Russia. There were 54 of these single missile silos. Each missile carried a 9 megaton nuclear warhead. How big is that? Much more than all of the bombs dropped during World War II by all sides.

After the museum tour, we drove to Tubac, about 20 miles further south. It was a small town with lots of local artists that is quickly expanding to be a tourist destination with much more than local artists. I explored a nice kitchen and food store, bought a package of molé spices and a jar of spicy chili bacon jam. Then we all met at a small deli for lunch and a bunch of Foretravel talk.

One afternoon we taught Han and Marjet how to play Quiddler, we played at a table in a screen room tent they had set up. They were quick learners and good competition.

Marjet and Hans
Roger, Hans, Susan, Jeff, Marjet, Sandy

On another evening we had dinner in the screen room with Hans and Marjet and Jeff and Sandy. It was fun. We liked the screen room so we ordered one. The directions say it takes 45 seconds to set up. Not the first time, it seemed complicated. But the next time it was much easier. It will still take some practice to get to 45 seconds

The Fishhook cactus and the prickly pear cactus were starting to bloom. Bright yellow flowers for both.

Prickly Pear
Fishhook
You can see the fish hook spines.

Three weeks went by quickly, it was time to head to Quartzite, 4 hours further to the west, almost to California.

More Later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

Fredericksburg, December 2021

We stopped at a smaller casino at Tonkawa, OK for an overnight on the way south and then at another in Thackerville, OK just before we got to Texas. We were trying for shorter driving days on the way south and these seemed to be spaced about right. All were good for an overnight stop. We would have done fine at Walmarts too but these gave us access to water so that we could flush out all of the winter water system antifreeze, get it disinfected and rinsed again and then add some fresh water for the remaining drive.

Our last day on the way to Fredericksburg had us going around the northwest corner of Fort Worth and then west on I20 and south on US 281. Traffic and construction around Forth Worth was busy. We could have (should have) headed west from Denton and picked up US 281 further north and missed all of the construction and traffic. Next time.

US 281 leads to Johnson City and then west on US 290 towards Fredericksburg. When we first visited Fredericksburg several years ago there were mostly ranches between Johnson City and Fredericksburg and a couple fledgling wineries. Now there are about 40 wineries along this route, a couple of distilleries, and craft breweries too. And more wineries heading south of Fredericksburg too. None of the vineyards are big enough to make the volume of wine to support these operations so grape juice is trucked in from other growers, mostly California, to make up the difference. As long as it is 10% Texas grapes it can be called Texas Wine.

We got to Fredericksburg, checked in, and pulled into our site. We didn’t do much more than that. We went for a walk around the campground, fixed some supper, and had an early night.

Our site is about as roomy as they get. Trees on three corners. The sun goes down just behind us, looks nice.

The next day we finished setting up. Got some Christmas decorations out, and hung the red chili pepper lights on the side of the coach.

We came to Fredericksburg, TX for the Weihnachtzeit or the Christmas season. This smaller Texas town is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year and as they do every year, they go all out for decorations.

The town square, the Marktplatz, is all lit up at night and even has a skating rink, a very large Christmas Tree, and a 32’ tall traditional German Christmas Pyramid. Most every shop down Main Street is decorated as well. It is really quite attractive. We are going back to Johnson City on Monday, we hear they are quite decorated as well.

There are usually several homes and nearby ranches that are all decorated and are open for tours. Last year and again this year there are no tours. We were disappointed but it gives us a reason to return.

No snow here but the weather has been nice, mid 80s for Christmas day, much warmer than normal. We got our new three wheeled recumbent bikes out for a spin yesterday. Lots of fun.

We hope your Holiday Season is safe, healthy, and wonderful.

More Later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

Time to Head South. December, 2021

We decided to head South again this winter. The plan was to leave in late November. But as often happens, life’s events dictate what happens.

So we are off towards warmer places. A couple of weeks late but on our way in any case. But not before we got a very nice December snow. It made everything white and fresh and quiet. Our destination is Christmas in Fredericksburg, TX. We are staying until the end of December. Getting there late is a disappointment, we missed the Christmas Parade but we will be there to enjoy the season, see the decorations, see friends, and get in some shopping.

The drive today was highlighted by almost every tree on our way through Minnesota coated in frost from some overnight fog. The fields were covered in a light snow. The roads and sky were clear. The afternoon sun was quite warm.

Tonight we stopped at a casino in Osceola, IA for the night. It is a pretty old RV park but functional for its purpose.

Tomorrow we are headed to another casino in Tonkawa, OK. They seem to be spaced about the right distance apart. It was a very busy summer, more about all of that coming up.

More Later, Much Love.

Roger and Susan

Away again. July 2018.

So we are heading for Michigan for a while to see what the lower part is like. Many we know have raved about it so we are going for a sampler. We have been to the Upper Peninsula many times now and this trip will be no different. Through the UP on the way over and back.

That means once each way across the Mighty Mac, the Mackinac Bridge. More than 25,000 feet long and 155 feet above the water, it ranks as the 5th longest suspension bridge in the world. For Susan’s sake we will drive in the lane furthest from the edge.

We will spend some time in St Ignace near Mackinaw Island, a few days near East Jordan on Lake Charlevoix, then a week or so down near South Haven at Van Buren State Park on Lake Michigan during the Blueberry Festival and then up to Orchard Beach State Park. Over the bridge to Sault St Marie for a ship watching time, Munising for some beach time and Ontonagon near the Porcupine Mountains for some quiet time on the South Shore of Lake Superior.

All present and correct.

Traffic control gives the clear to launch and we are off.

More later,

Roger and Susan