Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Sand Dunes Of Glamis And The Site Of A Ghost Town

 After hanging out in camp for a couple of weeks it was time for another adventure. Shortly after 9am we left camp and headed up the "S33" with the goal of reaching up to Hwy 78 which ultimately meets up with the I-10. But we weren't bound to go all the way up north.

The S33 proved to be a road which I would not ever recommend to anybody. Large parts of the pavement is falling apart and unless you are test-driving your vehicle, chances are you gonna lose parts of it along the way. So don't....!

Highway 78 is of quite another quality. The road is not very wide, but in good condition otherwise. It brings us into the Imperial Sand Dunes and Glamis. 

"Mel Gibson" vehicle racing 
Highway 78 going up the dunes

The Picacho area mountains in the far distance

And this is how they camp in clusters, breathing in the dust they produce with their monster vehicles 

Glamis is not really a town or a village. Glamis is a place with temporary looking shacks, a gas station and a little place to buy food essentials. Maybe there is a bar as well - it wouldn't surprise me, given the type of clientele being around that place. Yes, people up here are of a special breed. I am talking about those men and women whose only recreational occupation is racing through the dunes with 60 mph, risking not only their lives (bad accidents happen there frequently) but also destroying the peace and beauty of this really unique area. We went up to a point of overview and I am telling you the noise from the huge engines of these truly Mel Gibson-style vehicles was ear-deafening.

For us it is unfathomable that something like this has the blessing of the government. But I guess it sorts under the American understanding of "Freedom".

We had to get out of there and find a more peaceful spot. Only some miles farther up the road, the fence of biggest US-Goldmine begins running along the highway. The Mesquite Mine was taken over by Equinox  Gold in 2018. 

Rainwater has produced an interesting pattern on the tailings.

Is this the core of an old volcano?
A few miles farther, Ogilby Road turns south for eventually connecting to the I-8 west of Yuma,AZ.

We drove down Ogilby Road and thankfully, there was a lot less traffic. The desert stretches out on both sides of the road and for some miles, it runs along some pretty rugged mountainous terrain. Eventually we came to the Historic Townsite of Tumco. 

It is on the east side of the Ogilby Rd. and opposite another turn-off to a tourist site with campground "Gold Rock".

We parked the van at the entry to the Tumco Rd. and walked the distance to the town site. I am a fan of ghost towns, but Tumco is really only the former site of a ghost town. There are no buildings left. Instead we found a few dugouts where the buildings had been sitting. 

Interestingly, we found the bottoms covered with rusty near 100-year-old tin cans - sending a clear message from former human habitation.

When ever I am on such historic ground I can feel some of the spirit of those long-gone days. Tumco was one of the earliest gold-mining towns in California.

Gold was discovered here by Spanish colonists moving up from Sonora. A legend tells about 2 young boys  who brought back loads of gold. The surrounding Cargo Muchachos Mountains were named after those fellows, the "Muchachos Cargardos (loaded boys)  Due to poor management and over expansion operations ceased in 1905 and the entire site was abandoned, only to be restarted in 1910 until finally gold ran out years later. It was first in 1910 that the site was named Tumco.

We didn't take the 1.5mile full hike up and around the entire town site, as we know Dixie gets very thirsty and we hadn't brought water for neither ourselves nor Dixie. Maybe we will go back there another time. Meanwhile, you can take a trip there.

Maybe there is still gold in "Them Thar Hills".

Monday, December 27, 2021

Walmart's Mail Order Service

2 weeks ago I ordered a clamp-on RV-bumper hitch receiver for our hitch carrier. The plan was to use the carrier on the rear bumper of the trailer but it looks like I have to scrap that plan. After researching availability online I found that Walmart had the part as a mail order. Shipping was only a few bucks, so I went ahead and ordered it.

Today, I picked up the package at the Holtville Post Office. I was a bit amazed about the light weight of the parcel. Shouldn't it be heavier?

Back again at camp I opened it and what I saw made me speechless. Instead of finding the solid steel receiver tube with clamps, I was greeted with 2 neatly fitting packages of PEACH OATS!!!!

No, I'm not kidding! And there was nothing else, except some bubble plast. Next I checked was the order number, which was identical with my order confirmation. 

So what to do? Was this a joke, or a simple mistake or was this the works of a criminal warehouse worker?

I tend to think the latter.

After doing some pondering I got back in the van and went over to the El Centro Walmart. Customer service was just as surprised as I was.

Supervisor arrives and asks me: "Sir, do you want a refund or the actual part?"

Me: If you gonna send me another parcel are there gonna be rice crispies next time instead of the part? No, I think I prefer the refund.

And that's what happened. Minutes later I had an email from Walmart with the refund message.

So what do you think? is there a thief at work at the Walmart warehouse, replacing package content with something worthless and stealing the original part? Or did this happen due to a computer failure?

Thursday, December 23, 2021


Dear Friends!

In case you still don't know what to have on the table for Christmas, here is some inspirational write-up. No, I 'm not the author , but I could concur with the content

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.
2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly, it's rare. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!
3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.
8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert, Labor Day?
9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.
10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:
"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate and wine in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming " " WOO HOO what a ride!"

           Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

A Balmy Night Before Christmas

Some people at home are quite surprised to hear that the "warm" desert gets down to freezing temperatures at night. Well, some times it really does. The coldest period is from the middle of December to the middle of January. After clear nights, I have already seen frost on the roof of our van several mornings, but if you wait 30 minutes after sunrise you can watch the mercury climb steadily until it reaches somewhere between 60 and 70F, which I must admit, is pretty comfortable for a northerner. Now, locals might still freeze as they are used to much higher temps during their very hot summer months.

But then we have had a few days when clouds have moved in from the coast, some times creating the most beautiful sunrises, and keeping the desert at a much higher night temperature. Right now it is 6:15pm and the temperature is still 63F. That is pretty nice and we won't have to start the furnace yet.

This morning Bea left camp very early. She was bound for Los Algodones, MX to stop by the "Purple Pharmacy" to get a supply of her medication. Actually she had taken what she thought was an ample supply for 3 months from Canada, but mysteriously, one of the pill containers had disappeared, WITHIN THE TRAILER!  We have turned everything upside down, but couldn't find it. Since US-pharmacies don't accept Canadian prescriptions, the solution was to go to Mexico, where you can get almost any medication (unless it's a controlled substance) without a prescription. To make sure she get the very same drug she had an empty labeled container with her. 

She had left shortly after 7am and came back with her filled prescription just about 2hrs. later. As a side-effect it only cost her a little above 10bucks for 1.5months where she normally pays over 35/month in Canada. It pays to go to Algodones, and if you are early, you won't have to wait for hours in a long line-up either. But the parking lot on the US-side had already started to fill up when she arrived there. However, most people won't start going back until the afternoon rolls around. 

So most of the day was spent relaxing in camp. Some new campers have started to come in, but the area is still sparsely populated. A change from earlier years are all the little van campers coming by. Many of them driven by women and usually they have a dog with them. Some of them are not permitted here as they don't have a mounted 10gal waste water tank installed. That's why we have a host here.

I truly enjoy going grocery shopping here as the stores are stocked way better than at home. The other day I went to the Mexican-style market "Cardeñas". I wanted to shop for veggies and fruits. I was overwhelmed when I saw the veggie and fruit department of this store. 

Everything was neatly presented and the whole store very clean. Going there, it is an advantage if one has a basic knowledge of Spanish as aisle labels are in Spanish and many typical Mexican products have no English declaration. But that can be expected if you are less than 30 minutes from the Mexican border.

With Glühwein into Christmas

 If you have ever visited a German Christmas Market you have probably had a taste of Glühwein. It is called that because it is glowing hot when you drink it and it continues to glow once you have swallowed it. So what exactly is it?

If you want to make it at home you start with a bottle of red wine. Don't take your most expensive bottle. Take a cheap one.

You gonna heat it up on the range. And you want to add a few ingredients like cinnamon, clove powder (or whole cloves) a few almonds and raisins.  And most wines need a good portion of sugar as well. Don't roil-boil this concoction - just heat it cautiously. You might also want a kettle of hot water to thin this out. Some people like it really strong, others prefer it a bit weaker. All I can promise you is that it will warm you up if you are feeling the cold of a winter evening creeping into your bones. And that is precisely the reason why Germans like it so much when hanging out on a rather cold winter afternoon/evening in the Christmas Market. It is readily available at many of the festively illuminated Christmas booths. 

I know that some towns with a heavy German population in North America are having Christmas Markets. Whether they are allowed to serve the original Glühwein containing alcohol, is up to city or state ordinances. But you can make it from fruit juices like blackberry, cherry or black currant as well.

Bea and I had a good one today. And now we call it a day. Good Night.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

A Miracle Happened.

 Header Photo: Adam Woodworth Photography

Soon it will be Christmas and miracles might start to happen anywhere, but today we already got an early taste of that.

Remember that Bea lost her hearing aids yesterday?

Being on my way to Holtville this morning, I was just leaving the camp area when Jim, a dear camper friend was stopping me. His question to me was: "Did you lose a hearing aid?"

I was stunned at first but confirmed quickly that Bea indeed had lost hers. 

"I have it", he said and grinned.

It turned out that he had found it along the canal, where we use to do our morning walks. Bea had already surmised that she might have lost it on the early walk, but not noticed it missing until hours later after we had done our shopping tour.

I picked it up at Jim's rig on my return from town and handed it to Bea, who immediately confirmed it as hers. 

Now what do you think is the chance that someone finds a small hearing aid on a sandy road in the desert? I would anticipate it to be easier to win the top price at Lotto Max. 

Today, Bea was the happiest girl ever.

Reviewing the impact of last night's storm, we noticed that several camp neighbours had damaged wind barriers, one had lost his awning, while others had just gotten their furniture blown around. We had just very dirty windows, a load of sand on our outdoor mat and generally a necessary clean-up to do. The day was sunny, but on the cooler side, which was especially enjoyed by Dixie. With her thick fur she hates the hot weather.

Sorry. no pictures today. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Never A Boring Day!

 It started out as a quite innocent day. Despite the weather forecast predicting a grey sky and possible rain, there was no sign of imminent rain, nor were there any serious clouds in the sky this morning. We did our morning walk with Dixie along the canal enjoying the sunshine and the peace.

Today's agenda was to take a drive to El Centro for some groceries and possibly to find 2 new foldable camping chairs.

We were lucky enough to find the desired chairs at Harbor Freight and the groceries at ALDI and yes, Walmart. 

Shortly after being back in camp, Bea noticed that one of her hearing aids had gone missing. She had only been out of the van once at a Dollar Store in Holtville, so she quickly went back to try find it in the parking lot. IF she'd lost it there it would be on the ground, as we had parked in the last slot of the paved parking lot.

By now the wind had picked up a lot and it hit our trailer broadside. 

While she was gone I had made myself a sandwich and was just stepping outside, when suddenly the trailer was jolted sideways and a little backwards. EARTHQUAKE, was my first thought. Holy smokes, what was happening. Walking around the trailer I saw what had caused the sudden movement. The wind had rocked the trailer back and forth and finally pushed it off of the blocks we had put under the wheels for leveling. 

I quickly discovered that the movement had caused some damage on the rear set of electric support jacks. The side which had been supported with blocks, was now bent.

OMG, what to do? While the front jacks were OK, I wasn't even able to get the rear ones entirely moved up. 

A closer look made me think that maybe I could get it straightened out by tying a rope around the bent part and pulling it with the van. It should work. At least I may be able to use the electric again. 

But Bea was gone with the van!

After an hour she was back, but without the other half of her hearing aid. Too bad!

I hooked the trailer up to the van and pulled it forward, so I could get the van behind the trailer. I had borrowed a rope from a camp neighbour, and tied it around the jack with the other end around the hitch ball. Bea got behind the wheel and started pulling carefully. It only took a few seconds and the jack looked straight to me. I tried the electric motor  - and lo and behold - it worked. Wow, at least something was accomplished today. 

Now, instead of putting the low side on blocks again, we rather dug a hole in the ground on the high side and rested the other side on flat plastic levelers. The whole thing took about an hour and a half to straighten up.

And we are really glad that this happened in the afternoon and not now, while the wind has increased dramatically over the last couple of hours. Even after the wind turned to the west hitting our trailer only from the rear, it is rocking like crazy. While we were having supper a rain shower came down hard on us, but lasted for a few minutes only. 

According to the weather men, the wind is gonna die down after midnight.

Looks like we never have a boring day.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

An Exciting And A Bit Disappointing Day

 You may know the feeling: You have been visiting in a beautiful place years ago, and suddenly you have the chance to go there again, but when you get there, you notice all the changes that have happened and you feel disappointed. 

Since we started this journey just about one month ago I wanted to go back to Picacho State Recreation Area. It's an 18-mile dirt road starting from Winter Haven, running mainly north to the banks of the Colorado River. There is a camp area, and space for day use. Quite beautiful, and the road to it, even though being a dirt road used to be very drivable for just about any vehicle, maybe except bigger trailers and motor homes. 

It's looking much better than it is. This road has been criticized by many users on TripAdvisor. Most of it is a terrible washboard with deep sandy holes. Users have noticed shredded tires and even a broken axle along the road.

The next 3 pictures are from earlier years showing the beauty of the area

Today, any camper would have fallen apart, if such an attempt would be made. The road is so unbelievably bad and rough that after 5 miles in on it, we decided to turn around. Our van has All-Terrain tires, but I got afraid we could lose stuff from the vehicle if we would continue the remaining 13 miles - and have to go back that way. It just wasn't worth it. A sign recommending 4x4 vehicles should have served us as a warning. That sign has never been there before. While we were still jolting down the road, we met a convoy of fast-going Jeeps. All of them with huge tires. We also saw ATV's of all kind. It is obvious that it is that kind of traffic that has destroyed the road. The off-road people's demand must have been valued higher than regular visitors who came for enjoying the peace and tranquility of nature. So sad. It is a shame that the State of California does not maintain this road.

But, once out if the area, we continued to a better destination. We went to Squaw Lake and the beautiful area of the campground and boat launch. 

Beautiful Squaw Lake

Bea photographing birds.

Right away I noticed the very few campers around, and the boat ramp was totally deserted. We parked close to the ramp and set out chairs for a relaxing time at the water's edge. Home-made sandwiches are always my favorite lunch food and I had coffee as well. Bea did a lot of photographing birds. There were all kind of ducks and she even saw a Great White Egret. As a birder she is eager to add more first sightings to her ever-growing list of species.

This was definitely the highlight of our day.

But eventually we had to move on and our next goal was the Mittry Lake Wildlife Refuge. Along the way we passed the CLOUD MUSEUM. It's a pretty wild-looking collection of Model-T Fords. 

We camped at Mittry Lake many years earlier and wanted to see the place again. It is a dirt road as well, but in much better shape than the one to Picacho. And the scenery is beautiful!

Where our van is parked was our last campground years ago
Since it was Saturday, we saw a lot of human activity here as well. Unfortunately, again it was the noisy off-roaders throwing up the dust. I just have to shake my head about so much stupidity. How can such traffic be permitted in a bird sanctuary???

Eventually, we found our old campsite, but now camping was not permitted there anymore. Instead the administration had made a huge parking area on the other side of the road. Noisy people there as well. Again, so sad.

Looking across the water the peace is still there, but with the traffic on the road, this would be no place for us.

Leaving Mittry Lake Road we ended up in the City of Yuma. Yuma is a buzzling city which has grown a lot over the years. Traffic is terrible here but gas is a lot cheaper here than in California so we had to take advantage of it. A few groceries were also purchased, before we found ourselves heading west on the I-8 again. Made it home 30 minutes before sunset. I whipped up a nice salad with tuna and we had it with fresh toast.

PS.: Remember to visit "SIDEWALK", Bea's blog. She is the photographer behind many of the images you have seen here as well.