Monday, November 28, 2022

Lazy Monday Afternoon...

Now that we have started on the 1.week of Advent I feel entitled to dig into a collection of the fine German Christmas Goodies, which we received in a package sent to us by a German cousin. 

She knows that it is hard to find these goodies in Canada and U.S. so this is very thoughtful of her indeed.

Nevertheless, Christmas is not Christmas without having my favorite lard cookies, which I pride myself having made every year. 



The recipe is from northern Germany and I learned it from my mom. Lard, sugar, flour, vanilla are all the ingredients. They must be mixt until a solid lump of dough is produced. One rolls out small portions of the dough to sausages, then cut appropriate small portions of the "sausage" and form it to cookies. Bake at 180F for 15minutes and let cool. You can make them as white cookies or with cocoa/chocolate as dark cookies. Both are great with coffee.

So besides of baking cookies I encountered a sudden problem with charging our batteries. Looking at our charge controller I discovered a loose wire. As soon as that was corrected, our 600W solar panels delivered power again. Solar power is a true blessing for RVing. And while solar panels used to be very expensive back in 2005 when we started using them on our RV, my 2 300W panels cost just $70/piece. They actually came with an extra charge controller, which I did not use, as I already had one. An incredible deal, I found at WISH.com. And they were sent from a ware house in Vancouver, BC. Of course, they are made in China, but so are also much more expensive panels. They have already served us 3 years without the slightest problem.

The afternoon was spent chatting with a neighbour and undertaking a nice walk along the scenic water canal.
 
A little bit of a breeze kept temperatures at a comfortable level around 70F.
 
Dixie rewarded us for driving the extra miles from TX to CA by giving us a show of wild exuberant racing back and forth in the desert. While usually being a very calm measured minded dog, she sometimes gives us the "crazy-dog" performance. That's when we know she is overly happy. And nothing else could make us more happy than seeing Dixie playing "crazy-dog".

Today it was my turn to prepare dinner. And I must mention "Opa's Sausages" made in Fredericksburg,TX. Many years ago we were staying in Fredericksburg and I had the opportunity to visit the producer of "Opa's Products". Already back then I loved their sausage products. It is made after old German recipes, thus the name "Opa's".

Under our short stay in TX a week ago I discovered their product in a grocery store and grabbed it. Naturally, I should have bought a bunch of them, as they keep well in unopened packages in the fridge. They are smoked and they contain real meat. I have never tasted better ones in North America. So today I made dinner with them. Since they are ready cooked, I just warmed them in gravy and served with potatoes and carrots. Just extremely good!

A New Day

Waking up in the desert is something most people don't know about, nor will they ever experience it.

In its intensity of an overall feeling it is comparable to waking up at a beach hearing waves rolling ashore.

There is the smell, the morning chill and the sounds or absence of such respectively.

I was up at 6am and the first curious look out the window was confirming that we would be having a glorious day of sunshine. The sun hadn't reached above the horizon just yet, but an orange glow had appeared announcing the sunrise.

I let Dixie out and I noticed that the air was quite cold. During winter months cold mornings are common in the desert. Within 1 hour I had thrown off my jacket. 30 minutes later we were already heading out on our traditional morning walk, down the camp ground and up again at the irrigation canal. By then I felt overdressed. Long pants were exchanged with shorts and the sweater came off as well.

First thing on today's agenda was a short drive to Holtville to get cash from an ATM and some drinking water. Of course I had to give in to the temptation and stopped at the Mexican Donut store. Their huge otherworldly donuts are worth every penny. And besides of donuts, they are also serving anything from breakfast sandwiches to full-blown dinners, also available as take-aways.  I also paid a visit to the local grocery market for milk, some vegetables and fruit. Then I dropped into a car wash to give the van a rinse as it was covered in grime from the day-long journey.
At the hot springs I filled another container with hot water which I later used to clean up the trailer with.

A check on the power gauge confirmed that our solar panels did what they are supposed to do - charging the batteries.

I started the inverter and we got 120V going right away.

Bea decorated our mini-Christmas trees and later I hung the solar lights.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing in the sun, listening to my favorite music which is "American Song Book".

I can receive radio channels on my phone and beam it via Bluetooth to the built-in stereo of our player.

After supper, which was chicken and rice, we went to visit fellow campers around the camp fire, where the most outstanding new travel stories were shared and most of the world's problems were "solved".

This is more or less a typical day in the desert, though there are also lots of other things we can do such as drives to a variety of local attractions, visiting flea markets, and attending events in the nearby towns.

An important part of camp life here at the hot springs is - the Hot Spring and its free use of hot shower or soaking in a hot tub. Where else can one do that?

Sorry, not many pictures today.



Dixie hoping for a "hand-out".

Sunday, November 27, 2022

The Arrival

After a cold night, (-3C) we woke up around 6am in this beautiful rest area along the I-10.

Being a bit lazy, we weren't ready to roll out on the highway before 7:30. The drive towards Yuma,AZ was uneventful. Beautiful blue sky and bright sun was what we had been longing for.

Tucson

After well one hour we reached Tucson.

Pima Airplane Park

Traffic wasn't bad, probably because many people were still enjoying a Thanksgiving breakfast with family. The desert out here is almost lush green. 






Brittle Bush is blooming along the road shoulders.

At Gila Bend it was time for lunch. The local Shell Station also features a dump station, and although the holding tanks were far from being full, we emptied them right there. 

Now, I want to also say a warning to those who happen to drop in at this station for gas. 

Don't!!

Arizona gas prices have always been higher than in Texas, but this station orients its pricing after fuel prices in California. Today they were asking 4.79/gal. which is at least $1.40 above the price we paid in the Tucson area. Even as Shell in Gila Bend was the most expensive locally, other stations also charged way above $4.00/gal. We knew this when we got there, so we didn't have to fill up again. So, if you don't like to overpay for gas, just don't go there!

Cotton field along I-10

Yuma agriculture

After lunch we had about 2.5hrs driving left to reach Holtville. But we also wanted to stop by a Walmart in Yuma for some supplies. The latter proved to be dumb idea.

The foothills Walmart does not feature a huge parking lot and today was the day when absolutely no parking space was available. Not even for a single car! We just moved the rig along the building marveling about people being so incredibly in need of something that they would spend hours in a Walmart.

Before getting out of Arizona and entering California we wanted to fill up with fuel. Our App "Gas Buddy" recommended Loves Travel Stop with a gas price of $3.69/gal. 

When we got there we became witness of something I can only describe as pandemonium. Never in my life have I seen such a chaotic gas station. With our 32ft trailer and an overall length of 56ft, I could just barely make it off the road to get a place in line to a pump. People were losing patience everywhere, and I heard a lot of choice words. Mind you, people do behave strange when they eye a chance to save 5 bucks at a gas station. 

After getting what we came for, I was wondering how to maneuver the rig out of this melee. Then I discovered an opening towards the truck parking behind the station. I quickly passed across and over to that space and slipped through without a scratch. We then left the station in between the semis.

Less than an hour later we reached the Holtville Hot Springs LTVA, where we had spent quite a number of winters before. 

We said a brief hello to the host and found our old space still being available.

We felt a huge relief, and I swear I saw a big smile on Dixie's face. She immediately inspected the places where she had spent the previous     winter behind the   bushes.

We had barely finished setting up camp when the first neighbour came over for a chat. Gerald had escaped the bitter cold prairie of Saskatchewan and we had to catch up with one another for a while. 
It does get dark early here, and so it was time for supper, which Bea had prepared while I had been outside chatting with Gerald. 

Tonight, we will enjoy a super quiet night and we know that we will have a blue sky and a sunny day again tomorrow.

Friday, November 25, 2022

The Adventure Continues

The Escape

One could call it that, at least it felt like it.

Yesterday evening we were full of questions about just how long we would have to wait for better travel weather. The wind was having a good time with the tie-down of our solar panels, but we were tired enough to ignore the noise.

This morning it felt like a bad winter day, hardly any discernable day light, when I glanced out the window. Rain coming down on the roof. I checked the weather forecast. It looked gloomy. Snow across the mountains, but not much wind.

We talked it over and I think it was Bea saying: "Ok, let's go".

So we had a quick breakfast and got packing. Before I had the last jacks up, I was drenched. 

A short stop at the local gas station and away we went onto the I-10.

It's getting dicey

It didn't take long until we were driving in snow. But luck would have it that 2 semis were "plowing" the right lane for the following traffic, so we kinda hung on to them. The highest point turned out to be 4500ft. 

As we proceeded towards Van Horn the snow turned into rain, even though some still came down as sleet. But we had gotten across the worst part of the summit.

Cars and trucks waiting at a Border Patrol Check Point

It continued raining almost all the way into El Paso, where suddenly the sun popped out. 

Another hour up the I-10 and we were approaching Las Cruces. Looking east we saw snow covered mountain tops. But the I-10 turns west and towards Deming and Lordsburg. By then we had a blue sky and a bright sun.

We felt so happy, we could have started singing. The landscape was so familiar, how many times had we driven along here? 

The "not-so-grand" RIO GRANDE at Las Cruces

The San Andres Mountains at Las Cruces




Eventually, we passed the welcome sign of Arizona and as the sun had started its descent we pulled into a rest area where we found a great place away from truck parking.

From here, it is only 6hrs driving time left 
before we will be settling in for the winter.

Even Dixie must have noticed that mom and dad were more happy, at least she went all tail wagging along the rest area.

We made a couple of phone calls to dear neighbours at home, letting them know about the good outcome of our latest road adventure.