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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Finalizing Another Winter Trip

Call me lazy,call me disinterested in blogging.The truth of the matter is a little of both.I’m hot to trot when travelling and seeing new country,that's why the “wandering”in my title,but once I hunker down and spend most of my time in the horizontal position watching the inside of my eyelids……Well that’s a whole new world….So give me some slack please,I’m pushing 75,and its hard to keep any interest up.

Since my last post I’ve travelled back home and gotten one heck of a lot of stuff done.My trip home started on Thursday the 24th of February,leaving the La Paz County park near Parker Arizona,taking the usual I-5 route north,travelling through just about every weather condition that you could imagine,from high winds across the Mojave,torrential downpours in central California,even some snow around Redding California, for starters.This was the time when San Francisco got snow and LA was predicting it.

I did my weather research in advance as always,for going over the hump into Oregon,and my timing was right on as it was a dry day with clear pavement,until the downside into Medford Oregon where the red slushy slop on the highway from the recent snow clearing,changed the color of both truck and trailer.What a mess!….But alas,the upcoming weather will wash it off.

I usually take 4 days from the Desert S.W. to Northern Washington State,then stop for the night just 2 and a half hours from home.Then the next day while rested up,I can deal with the border crossing and the unloading when I get home,plus getting my little Park Model trailer home up and running.

Well this year it started out a little hairy as I was packing up on the final morning,an ice storm hit,then after that stopped I got on the interstate and after about 10 minutes,ran into a raging blizzard that had traffic down to a crawl,and the snow building up on the highway rapidly.Now I’m searching for a place to get off and regroup,(aka Rest Area),but I had just passed one.Carrying on slowly,I noticed a small clear hunk of blue sky to the northwest and said to myself……self….We is gonna get out of this yet,and 10 minutes later I was driving on dry pavement in full sunshine for the rest of the way to the border……Be still my heart!

The border crossing was a pleasant surprise this time and when asked what I had to declare,I was prepared this time,holding up a clip full of receipts with the total listed,which was under my limit by a hundred dollars….He just said welcome back and have a nice day……Be still my heart again.Life is good.

Well, the dry pavement and sun stayed with me until about 10 minutes from home,which is 45 minutes from the border.This part of my little world,even though at the same altitude,sometimes doesn’t get the warm-up after a snow fall.It can be raining 20 miles to the west and still snowing in my area.And this was the case a few days earlier during a snow storm,leaving my little home park with a foot of snow.Thanks to good buddy Ernie who lives nearby,my driveways were both shovelled clear.Be still my heart again.Life is good.

So!….After 2 weeks at home,my income tax is done,house and driveways pressure washed of all the green slop from living under cedar trees ,Doctor appointment set up,….truck fixed……Yes,my baby got her face lift,…….going from this,my Tucson experience.

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Back to this.




I must say that the insurance from good old ICBC,, for those who don't know our socialist system,just like our medical,covered over $5000. worth of repairs and because of my good driving record,Winking smilewill not raise my rate next year.So I was out of pocket for $300. deductible.Yay!…Be still my heart,.. again.

Everything you see in the photo directly above,except fenders and RH side mirror,was replaced,including the skid plate under the motor where the truck came to rest on the tree stump..Thank you Toyota for putting a protective plate there.

I must say that I was pleased with Wally’s Auto Body in Chilliwack BC as they were very thorough.Parts replacement instead of Bondo is sure ok by me.

So,now… starting to have time on my hands,(sometimes not a good thing)and this past week I had to replace my Shaw/Direct Satellite TV “PVR” that has served me well for the past 3+ years,as it decided to crap out when I hooked it back up in the house after using it on the road this winter,….and with total reliability I might add.The hard drive locked up and would not boot up.

I lost many hours of pre-recorded programs though,but because I was also travelling with a new model PVR as a test, and double recorded everything because I didn't trust the new one anyway.Now the new one has saved my bacon by being my only source of all the missed recordings that were on the old PVR.I love having backup.

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So the old PVR is on its way back to S/D and replaced with a new model for $99. I now have 2 new model PVR’s,both working like a charm.They are so handy when travelling the winter season as I don't find time to watch anything other than the news and sports live,so all my favourite shows are recorded for when I do have time.Plus skipping through all those commercials is nice.

Now falling into the “more money than brains department,”ever since spending that week this winter with Ivan at Corpus Christi Texas,camping on the beach,I was fascinated with his I-Phone and how many great uses that he put it to when we were travelling around the area.I spent many hours researching I-Phones and I-Pads,but kept coming back to the I-phone because of the portability of having in my POCKET,…a phone..a web surfer/e-mailer…a camera…..a video camera…an I-pod and photo library,and all those eye opening APPS that do so many great things…..Like the “Dishpointer AR Pro”designed for all you people who are wondering if you can see your satellite through the trees when setting up your TV or Internet dish.The camera view on the phone shows exactly where the satellite is……It was my first app purchase and all I can say is WOW!….Next time I enter a tree filled campground,I’ll just pull the phone out of my pocket,turn on the app and hold it up to the southern sky and actually see a red dot in my live camera picture, representing my selected satellite and just walk around until it clears all trees…I do have an align-a-sight,but this is so much better and faster……I do love my toys.

So! After all the research,decided on an unlocked I-phone 4 from Apple (Canada) that allows me to select any carrier and not having to tie into a contract...So I will use a (pay and talk/data) Sim card for Canada and another Sim for in the US or Mexico…I’ve had it for 5 days now and am loving it and all the things it can do,in fact the last 5 photo’s here were taken with it.

And I’m even using a 9 year old pay and talk account that costs $10. a month and has time built up that I’ll probably never use, because it was only used for an emergency travel phone that I kept in the truck.Around here for now I don't need the data part as I’m using my home wifi system to supply the phone.

Rambling time now….As I was passing through the town of Selma California,(The Raison Capital of the world) on the trip home,I stopped for some groceries and came across some really nice locally (made in Selma),raison bread.Its Sun-ripe brand raison bread with a cinnamon swirl,so I picked some up to try, and liked it so much that I was on a steady diet of it until it was all gone a day later….Yes life is good!


Now all you people reading this who are sharp in your observance, will notice some of the label is in French……Voila!……Its sold in Canada too.Much to my delight I found it in both the local Chilliwack BC Safeway and the new Super Wal-Mart…So as I said before,….Life is good,and many loaves now decorate my freezer…Its back up, you know.

And finally for those of you who personally know me and my situation….my first visit to see my wife Marlene in the nursing home after 4 1/2 months, was a bit of a downer as she no longer recognizes me.She had taken another tumble from her wheel chair in January due to a little staff negligence and landed on her already fragile head, and this has caused a further decline in her brain tumor condition.

I was all excited to tell her of my winter adventures,as she would always take it all in,smiling but not responding.So it was disappointing not to get the usual smile that I always got on my return………Just a blank stare…Several more visits since have produced the same disappointing result………So maybe life isn't always so great, as I said before.

Stay tuned for my next wandering adventure.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Old Home Week At La Paz County Park-Parker Arizona

I was going to title this “All Of My Old Rowdy Friends”but they are Bigger than me so mum’s the word…From left to right,That's Ron my next door neighbour back home and Frank who lives 5 minutes away from us.There is also another couple from home,Bill and Wendy,but they were away on a side trip for a few days as I was setting up this blogs photos.


I had concerns about coming to this park after having a bad experience the only other time that I had come here several years ago, when my travelling companions and I were turned back at the entrance gate by the “Greeting Nazi's”.But that's a whole nuther story.

This time I drove in unchallenged and found my friends from our park back home, and set up across the road from one of them,up on the grassy knoll…And look at all the nice dry camping spots that are empty.That's me in the centre of the 2nd photo.All those others are across the road on the waterfront row.

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This park is situated along the Colorado river just a few miles from Parker Arizona.

As the layout map below shows,its quite a large County Park,about 1 mile long and a quarter mile wide.There are no sewer hook-ups,just electric and water.There is a 4 hole dump station plus a couple of blue boy dump stations on each side.You can see the rows of Ramada sites that number about 114, plus unlimited dry camping area’s scattered around the open green spaces seen in this map.Actually I was pleasantly surprised when I finally got to see the inside of this place.

La Paz County Park-2

So we will take a little photo tour around.Starting with a sunrise panorama shot of the lagoon area on the far left of the map.

La Paz County Park

The lagoon area is really nice and has random camping around a fair amount of its edge,if you like parking lot style camping with your own Ramada.

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Of course this is a County Park,not just a campground,so when they have an event like a kids fishing derby……Winking smile ………..It looks like this…


Ramada row looks congested but not bad when you have a Ramada between each site,like Ron's on the left and Franks on the right…..Oh Oh!…There’s Franks better half Alison, looking for him.He’s in trouble again….

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AH! Its a truce moment with the Bickersons.


Back to the tour….They have a nice open walkway behind Ramada row as seen below.

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Some of the open dry camping areas of the park.

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All photos were taken only on the left half of the map,so you can see just how large the park is.

This will be my last stop before heading for home next week and may be the last blog also for this winter’s trip,only time and conditions will determine that.I hope to be back home in B.C. by the end of the month. So far, weather conditions don't look too great for this 4 and a half day run.

I have a question that's been bothering me for awhile………In all those “Capital One”commercials on TV……How come all the Nordic Vikings all speak with an English accent?………..Love those commercials.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How “Not” To Hook Up To A Trailer.

Well old Willy wins the Darwin award again.I got away with this simple careless oversight before,but this time it came back to bite me big time.

Monday morning as I was preparing to leave Tucson’s Gilbert Ray campground,I decided not to rush as it was a nice sunny morning and I only had just over a hundred miles to go that day.

As I was backing up to align the hitch/ ball…I use a mirror but the glare was causing me to not see it properly and consequently I bumped against the hitch…..I moved the truck foreword a few inches and jumped out to see where I hit,forgetting that it still was in drive(a cold motor still on high idle)……..As I reached the rear of the truck I noticed it inching forward on its own……As I turned to scramble back to the open drivers door to stop it,I slipped on the loose gravel falling flat on my face……I got up again as it was gaining speed and made another attempt,falling again as the truck went over the embankment across the road…….And this was the result.

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As I lay in the road face down watching this dilemma taking place,a crowd of neighbours came racing from all directions to see if I was ok….But alas,all was ok outside of some scratches and reopening of some knee wounds that I acquired when I tripped over the hitch on the first night leaving Texas……Time to hang up the driving boots you say?

As you can see it actually sheared off a sizable Palo Verdi tree and in the first shot note that the branches of this very thorny tree did considerable scratch damage all the way back to the front doors.I had actually removed most branches before taking these photos as the (picture taking) was an afterthought as I was waiting for help to arrive.

It would not move when I tried to drive it back out….Just dug in until I realized that the front suspension was hung up on the broken stump of the tree I just flattened.And it was no small tree.

The park host for our area went and got one of the maintenance men and a chain saw on a long pole,I guess used for trimming trees up high,but perfect for this job as access to the stump was surrounded with cactus….Well,he cut out one section and the truck dropped,jamming again,so he cut another section and this time it freed the front suspension and I was able to 4 wheel it back to the road.My heart sank as I backed into my campsite, the truck steered funny and was making strange noises,but it was the first time I had ever used 4 wheel low and wasn't familiar with the resulting experience.So after going back to 2 wheel it seemed fine.

I did a once around in our camping circle then after thanking everyone for there help,took off to the commercial area just outside the park to a garage where I have had work done before on my Jimmy….They put it on the hoist and inspected the underside……It seems that the annoying heavy duty skid plate that has to be removed every oil change was my saviour this time as it took the brunt and all was well…..The mechanic wouldn't accept any money for his service but he got paid anyway.

Outside of the many scratches and a broken grill trim,I’m amazed at the lack of damage considering how large the tree was.

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Id say that is one tough old Texas built Yota.


The remains of the stump centre right and the rest of the tree dragged back for access to extract the truck.

So with wounded pride and truck, I Carefully”hooked up and departed for the 14 day BLM boondocking spot at Why Arizona.

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This particular parking spot is an old favourite that I have used before.I was happy to see very few here this year as its normally more busy,although the new sign at the entrance may be a deterrent as it reads that we may encounter smuggling traffic in the area……Hey,that threat has always been here anyway.And this spot is special as its where I posted my very first blog entry two years ago.

Yesterday morning,being a nice warm day I did a little wander around with camera in hand and noticed a few Palo Verdi trees nearby…..I thought the truck looked a little uneasy with its headlight eyeballs shifting around……But for those of you who haven't seen one close up……They are really thorny,so the trucks paint job didn't stand a chance.

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At least my visiting friend the Phainopepla likes thorny trees.


And finally a shot of the many dry washes here.Very wooded, making this nice free boondocking spot a great place to just relax and bird watch or drink beer if you preferWinking smile


…..Oh! And by the way….The Pima County park officials in Tucson told me I didn't have to pay for the tree damage,so that was a relief.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Little Tucson Area Tour.

We have been coming to this area many times over the the past 13 years of snowbird travel,and I cannot even count the amount of times that we have stayed here at Gilbert Ray Campground,which is a Pima County Park.


My site in C section.I seem to keep gravitating to this area of the park lately.

Some scenes across the road and down the road.

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This park is very large and well spaced,costing $20. per night with electric and randomly spaced water taps.

And not very far away is the Saguaro National Park,so we share the same beautiful landscape.

Also just down the road is the well known “Old Tucson Studios”where many a movie and TV series was shot over the years,including the 2 John Wayne Rio Bravo movies and such well known TV series as Bonanza, Little House On The Prairie, and High Chaparral.

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Its been about 10 years or more since I last had a tour inside and sat in Diamond Lille’s saloon being serenaded by one of the dancing girls,and watching the shootout re-enactments around the town and down on the High Chaparral set.

When I stopped in the parking lot yesterday just to take these pictures,I noticed that they still have the “piped in” movie, western sound, for effect.

And that famous mountain below,with my truck parked in front, has been seen in so many movies and TV as a backdrop……Many is the time you would see Hoss and Little Joe throwing someone out of the saloon with that mountain showing in the background….I guess its the biggest dead giveaway as to where the movie or TV series you are watching has been filmed.Watch for it the next time you see an old western…By the way two of the more resent films done here were The 3 Amigo’s and Tombstone.


Since its Superbowl Sunday,I thought a little morning tour into the city was in order as I needed groceries anyway…I thought I would take the scenic route over Gates Pass…You can see the cut in the hillside where the road goes up and over in the centre right of the picture.


And a view from the top,looking down at Old Tucson Studios with a corner of our campground just to the right of it.

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Then a look the other way toward Tucson,down in the notch below.


I spent a bit of time just driving around the downtown area as it was fairly quiet being a Sunday morning.

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Then I decided to find where all the shopping was,so headed north on Stone Ave and came to Tucson’s biggest mall,called….wait for it…..Tucson Mall…2 levels and over 200 stores and almost empty because I always pick the wrong time to visit these things.Just a few stores were open being a Sunday morning,maybe I was too early.As I left at 11AM some others were opening but I wanted to get to a Bank and then find me a supermarket.

I carried on out the other side of the mall on Oracle drive into one of the northwestern suburbs called Casas Adobe where I found a small shopping mall with a bank and a Safeway store that would suit my needs being that I’m a Safeway shopper……Well… maybe you guessed it but…….


Yes…This was the spot that caught the worlds attention last January the 8th when an Assassination attempt was made on Congresswomen Gabrielle Gifford,wounding her and killing 6 others including a little girl…..Gabrielle had her kiosk set up right in front of the area where the red car has its tail lights on in the pic above.That’s just to the left of the Safeway entrance….There are no signs of the tragedy in evidence now,just a few signs in the store windows advertising a gathering in a weeks time for a heeling process.

I must say as a Safeway shopper,I was impressed with this store and its staff.Maybe they are still feeling the effects as they had to shut down for a week after the tragedy just to regain any composure.There was a quiet but friendly feeling among the staff members of the store.It seemed that every time I stopped and looked up at the aisle signs searching for an item,a staff member would be right there asking if they could help.

This seems to be a close knit neighbourhood store. All in all I found it to be a strange experience to be here after watching so much footage on TV during my stay in Mission Texas….I found it to be a much smaller shopping area than the TV view gave.

All in all an interesting final day here as I move on further to the west,positioning myself for the final run home in a few weeks…….Goodbye Tucson…I’ll be back.