Monday, November 29, 2021

Oops... It's The First Of Advent Already

With a strong sense for tradition of Christmas celebrations, I never miss the arrival of the festive season, beginning with the 1. of Advent. 
However, I'm not at home in New Brunswick and current weather hasn't indicated that we are indeed right there. 4 weeks from now and Christmas will already be over. So, it was time to pull out our Christmas decorations. For more than 15 years we have owned 4 little artificial Christmas trees and today they came out of their cardboard box. Bea decorated them and I put on the lights afterwards. We think it looks pretty in the dark desert.
 Bea also put on a pretty table cloth, and who knows --- tomorrow we might have more lights also inside our trailer. It is just a fun part of getting ready for Christmas. And when you have lots of time at your hands....

 We did spend considerable time in the shade of the trailer. It was warmer than the previous days as there was hardly any cooling breeze. 
Later, in the afternoon, Dixie got to her feet and started cuddling with us. Usually that means she wants something. We couldn't really figure out what it was she had in mind today, But Bea used the opportunity with her camera. 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

The Blueboy Blues


The  All-American Canal, irrigating the veggie fields of the Imperial Valley.

Camping in the desert means that you will have to be very self-confident and self-reliant. If you like to enjoy modern conveniences with endlessly running water and power from the energy company like you have at home, but still like to travel, you better not camp in the desert, but go to a full-service RV-Park with neighbours left and right of your rig. (You will never feel lonely there) We would never do that, because we just don't like it. Yes, we did try it - for shorter periods and in areas where our "Boondocking" alternative was not available. So if you are one of the people who camp "wild", (boondocking) than you would know about the Blueboy, a rolling wastewater tank, most of them in blue plastic (hence the name) You connect it by way of sewer hose to your RV. But then the adventure really starts. If you are in the desert you normally have no dump station near by,  After finding the nearest dump station you gotta figure out just how to move it there. You have a pickup? OK, be prepared to use a macerator pump to get the fluid to the level of your truck bed. The other possibility is that you use a hitch-mounted carrier. If it is low enough you can place the empty Blueboy on the carrier, then fill it.  If not, go back to the pump alternative. If you don't have a Blueboy or don't want to use it, you gotta move your entire rig to the dump station. We used to do that for years, but last summer I got a Blueboy from a neighbour. So we want to use it. The van's hitch receiver just begs about getting a carrier attached to it. So today, I was off to town and got myself inside a Harbor Freight store. They had a variety of carriers, some real fancy ones with an attached ramp to it, so you could roll something heavy onto it. (fex. a Blueboy) But they were large and heavy and I was thinking that would cause a problem the day we would go home. Where to put such a large heavy thing?? Besides, they were quite pricey. Finally, my inspections resulted in finding a small steel carrier without a ramp, and it had an angle to the receiver which could be mounted upside down, so it wouldn't be very high off the ground. And the price tag said $59.00 which I was delighted about. Weight limit was 300 pounds - more than enough for my use. So I ended up with purchasing that thing. The lose parts came in a handy cardboard box so I had to mount it first. Easy peasy, when you got all your tools with you. 

But I had to do another couple of stops in town. ALDI opened at 9am and I was the first customer inside, I was bound to find German Christmas specials, which I got successful with. 

Butter - Almond Christmas Stollen and "Pepper Nuts"

But they didn't have my favorite breakfast rolls, so next stop was at Wallyworld for rolls, bread and some dinner items. Being me and very forgetful, I remembered that Bea had given me a list with things she needed. Of course, that came to me when I was back in the parking lot. I decided to try yet another food store, and it was the Mexican Cardenas I ventured into next. Years ago I had been in there and the store sure hadn't lost any of its Mexican style. The aisle signs were in Spanish, which would sure pose a challenge to me. Yet, I found what I was after and got outa there again. Now, Bea would be so happy with me having remembered everything she had on her list. See, the problem I have is that all the product in a store gets me so side-tracked. Instead of looking for dinner items or a single condiment, I can be carried away by hanging out in the pastry department or in the candy aisle. The beer and wine shelves can also take considerable time to pass along. 

The weather was beautiful today and on my way to camp I stopped on the bridge to shoot a picture of the canal.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Canadians Honouring American Thanksgiving


Yes, it is Thanksgiving in America and of course, we wish all our American friends a Happy Thanksgiving. Hopefully you will be healthy also 2 weeks after your family gathering.

Out here, in the desert, we were invited to join a Thanksgiving Dinner between old and new friends. Naturally, we don't gather in a room, but stay outside. Everyone brought their own plates and cutlery and so we all stayed safe. The turkey was prepared in a big pot over the open fire. As we could witness, it was filled with lots and lots of stuffing. (we got stuffed too) A rich variety of vegetables was available and the dessert table offered yummy stuff as well. This was our first get-together in the desert after we arrived here.

Remember the Grinch stealing Christmas?


 Soo funny: men doing the turkey while the girls doing the veggies.
Great Canadian Party for Thanksgiving

Some known faces from years prior, others new to us. Dixie had to stay at home for a coupla hours, and because the day temps were just 23C (73.4F) today, despite full sunshine, it didn't get hot in the trailer, Windows were open too and she was sleeping after a previous walk. And we did bring her some left-overs.

So lots of nice people here again and now we can start pulling out some Christmas decorations.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Dogs And The Desert

Traveling with Dixie has been subject of previous talks between us. Dixie is not your average dog. She is vocal when she meets strangers and she just not like a retriever or labrador who "love" all people at first sight. With some supervision she can be controlled, but it just requires more of our attention. Now, Dixie has always exhibited a friendly attitude to other dogs, which has been a blessing.

Yesterday, Dixie met "Snow", a Great Pyrenees. This was also the first time she met a dog bigger than herself. "Snow" weighs in at over 125 pounds, though he is only 3 years old. We met "Snow" outside of Dixie's territory and they found each other quite interesting. But when "Snow" started to show interest in jumping Dixie, she snapped at him, showing him the border.

Who is this?
                                 Nah....I'm not sure.
OK then let's see what kind of guy this is. You be there Dad?

Hm...seems like a nice guy
If Dixie gets too vocal when outside, we take her into the trailer, where she lies down for a sleep.

So, after being away from home since November 11, we were in need of replenishing our food supply and getting our laundry done. So we went to El Centro where we stumbled across a German ALDI-store. We love ALDI stores and their European slant of foods. So had to go there instead of Walmart. Great choice!

Afterwards we went straight to a laundromat, we had used many years earlier. I must say it's a very clean place and a world of difference compared to the dirty place in Holtville. 

While Bea was inside dealing with the machines, I took Dixie for a little walk up the residential street. As we followed up the sidewalk, we were "greeted" with a crescendo of dog barks from just about every house. Dixie got so annoyed by it, that she wanted to return to her safe "haven", the van. It is obvious that people are keeping dogs as guardians for their property in this area.

Yesterday evening we BBQed burgers. As you can see, Dixie was quite interested in our meal. Since she is a tall dog she can look across the table.

One of the wonderful things out here are the beautiful sunsets and sunrises over the desert.

Monday, November 22, 2021

OH My Oh My What A Day

One reason for us being here is that I knew I had to see a dentist in Mexico. Of course I could have spent 10-15 Grand in Canada, but why do it if you can get things done so much cheaper and even better in Mexico?

Since I have been dealing with toothache for a few weeks, I got an appointment right away after our arrival here and today was the day.

I drove the 40miles from camp to Yuma,AZ, went down Andrade Rd, parked the van ($6) at the Quechan Tribe border parking and walked across the border. Stepping into Los Algodones is like entering a completely different world. On the way to the dentist office I was approached 20 times by sellers who wanted to get you a shoeshine, or new eye glasses or sell you both booze and the latest discounted stuff from the pharmacy. If you have never been in a Mexican border town, you just can't imagine what it is like.

Anyway, I made it to the office and entered a miniscule waiting room, sporting one couch and a rather uncomfortable chair. After filling out the usual BS-form, I was left to the chair for about an hour, waiting my turn.

The examination was done by a very nice young lady in perfect English. Unfortunately, what the X-Ray revealed, was anything but nice or positively promising. But, it promised much trouble for me.

The culprit tooth had a root canal which had cracked, leading to deep inflammation. After consulting with a "specialist" the verdict spelled extraction of the tooth.

OK, I didn't think this to be a major problem, so I agreed. I was complimented out into the hallway waiting area, while "another room" would be readied for me. With the other room I also got another dentist - "The Surgeon". With a brash voice he called me into his "chamber".

Long story short, after administering anesthetic he started digging around the tooth. He twisted and turned and even drilled and the animated chatter in Spanish I heard brutal cracks. But the man never lost his patience. Me, I was in a different state of mind. After a full hour of hard work, the tooth was yet not out. It took another 30 minutes until he announced "Finished". So was I - completely.

A prescription was issued and a guy followed me to a pharmacy to pick up the pills. 

The last he did was showing me the way to the border. 

And what I was met with there exceeds everyone's imagination. The lineup of pedestrians was at least 700ft long and it proved to be moving at an extremely slow pace. Behind me 2 American males, all a bit overly intoxicated with cheap Tequila, started a loud conversation about all their military careers and how tax dollars were wasted in the military. It was simply digusting listening to this BS. And it didn't get any better after their drunk wives joined the chorus.

Morning walk with Dixie
"The Line" back into the US. Below: Part of the Trump wall.

I spent almost 3 hrs in that line. My feet were hurting and I thought of Bea back at the camp. Cellphones are jammed and not working along the border area, so I couldn't send her a message. 

Finally, it was my turn to get to the front of the line facing a CBP-officer. I showed him my triple vaccination CDC card and was released.

I made the drive back to camp just before complete darkness.

In 5-6 weeks I have to return to get 3 crowns, 1 bridge, a root canal and a deep cleaning all for USD 1,100. The extraction was 50 bucks. But next time I'm gonna drive the van into town. Cars go through the border much quicker and while you wait you can sit. 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

From Sunset To Moon Light

 Our adventures of traveling to the US for long stays in the desert began once back in 2005. Our first trip led us from Alberta through BC along the west coast to this southern part of California, ending up in the desert in the Imperial Valley. 

Ever since, we have had warm thoughts about this place and its people, who welcomed us with an open heart. So not so amazing that we began to consider this our second home. From years back we have collected many images of the area and today I was just clicking through previous postings when I noticed the many images showing the varying lights and colours of the sky and the area. From sunrise via sunset to the full moon, it has amazed us time after time again. 

    The All-American Canal running along the desert camp

Today was a sunny day, but we got some cooling northern winds which grew strong enough that we had to roll up our awning.

Our activity level is still very low and was limited to several walk-abouts in the area. A favourite walk is following the sandy road along the canal. For Bea, who is interested in "birding" it is a great chance to see and identify birds we don't have at home. And Dixie loves the many interesting places she can sniff out. We just have to keep her from venturing into the thick brush of salt cedars and creosote bushes. Snakes could be lurking there or she could encounter a bobcat there. 

You should also take a look at Bea's Blog, where she has pics of the Hot Spring and some birds of the region.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Just Waking Up This Morning Was A True Delight

 When I woke up this morning it was still dark. Is it possible to have jetlag when you travel by vehicle between several time zones? Whatever the reason, it dawned on me that today I didn't have to climb behind the wheel and move ourselves another 400miles down the road. So I allowed myself a leisurely pace by first letting out Dixie, then making myself my morning coffee and getting onto the couch. 

Right now and right here, first daylight shows up around 6am. But than it is pitch dark again at 5pm. So not a very long day, but that's OK. Seniors like us go to bed early. At 9pm you would hardly find an RV here with lights still on. 

So, today it was a true delight for me to just relax, doing almost nothing. I say "almost" because if you are doing this kind of camping, there is always "something" to do, like f.e.x fixing one of the drawers in my "work space" set up in the back of the van. Too many bumps on the highways had taken a toll on it. However, a few screws from my inventory, fixed it right up.

Drinking coffee and snacking a bit was part of the day. We did several walks with Dixie, met a few of our friends and saw a bobcat in the desert. 

The afternoon was mostly spent behind the trailer in the shade, Dixie right beside of me, guarding the place. 

But then I remembered the hot spring. Got into my fancy-pancy swim suit pants, grabbed a towel and my morning robe and drove the short distance to the I-8, where we have the luxury of 104F hot water spraying into the air, thus providing us with a free delightful shower. 

There are 2 hot tubs as well, but I refrained from using them as I am leery about the spread of Covid through it. 

But what is not to like about life in the desert?

Day 9: "Home Coming"

This last day of a 3200mile journey would get us our destination, for which we have only one big feeling: "Home Coming".

It is 7 years ago that we last arrived here and yet we had the feeling of coming home.  While getting closer and closer, I was imagining that we would meet old friends and that we would find our old spot empty and waiting for us.

And that's just the way it went down today. 5 hours of driving first on the I-10, later on the I-8 got us to the Holtville Hot Springs LTVA where we met a new-to-us host couple from Minnesota.

And then we discovered that some friends were indeed there to greet us. And another couple arrived the same afternoon. There was so much to talk about, so much mutual pleasure to see eachother again.

The ride over from Benson had been uneventful, though we had to get through the Tucson traffic chaos. It looks like every city in the south is growing so much and that infrastructure projects cannot keep up with developing population increase.

We also marveled over two mega big industrial developments along the I-8. 

The first was the 7000 acre huge "Paloma Dairy Company" and "Sunset Farms", owned by the Van Hofwegen family, Gila Bend.

The other company is theThe Agua Caliente Solar Project which occupies an earlier distributed agricultural land on the White Wing Ranch. The site was selected thanks to the availability of a lot of sunshine as well as the minimal transmission infrastructure. The Agua Caliente Solar Project was completed in 2014 and has a generation capacity of 290 MW.
The entire facility cost $1.8 billion to put up.

Tucson Skyline
Picacho Peak
An old Saguaro Cactus
Approaching Yuma

Like so many rivers this one is dry as well
I-8 east of Yuma

The Imperial Sand Dunes with the "All-American Canal" for irrigation

"Home" and set up for the next couple of months

Good night friends!